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1 Chronicles 4:9-10

MOVING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Intro: Everybody has a Comfort Zone. There is a certain temperature at which we feel the most comfortable. There is a way of life in which we feel at ease. There is a crowd of people with whom we feel most comfortable. When we are around the wrong crowd; in the wrong situation; in the wrong place; and doing the wrong things, we can feel very uncomfortable and out of place. When we find ourselves outside of our “Comfort Zone, we can become a little nervous. There is nothing wrong with this; it just proves that we are interested in being comfortable. However, there is a sense when comfort can become a thing of concern.

It is easy to reach a place as individuals where we become satisfied with the status quo. We so structure our lives to the point that we can almost predict what will happen from one day to the next. For many, this kind of stability provides a deep sense of security and well being, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is when this same type of comfortable living invades our spiritual life that will cause us trouble.

There is nothing wrong with being satisfied with your job, but when you become satisfied with your service to the Lord you have problems. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable with your home, your automobile, or your financial standing, but when you become complacent about your prayer life and satisfied with your spiritual progress, you need to move out of the comfort zone spiritually. We should never reach a place as a child of God where we are totally satisfied with our walk and our witness to a lost and dying world.

Ill. If any Christian had ever reached a place where he could be satisfied with his spiritual progress, it was the Apostle Paul. Yet, he remained unsatisfied and always reached for more – Phil. 3:12-14.

Not only do many individuals live in a spiritual comfort zone, but so do many churches. When the attendance is up and the offerings are good, we may be tempted to back off and take it easy. We may not pray for the church as we should. We may not invite others to join us as we should. We may not be as active as we should. It is so easy to become satisfied with the way things are. But, the sad truth is this, when a church and a church family becomes complacent, that church begins to die! It may take years before the final death knell is sounded, but the church begins to die when she becomes satisfied with her spiritual level and her growth. A church is in serious trouble when it becomes satisfied and complacent in its comfort zone.

Now, how do we move out of the Comfort Zone? I think the answer can be found in the verses we have read today. In this prayer of Jabez, we can see some facts that can help us to move out of our Comfort Zones, both as individuals and as a church. Let’s notice these facts as we think about, Moving Out Of Your Comfort Zone.

 

I. V. 9 JABEZ AND HIS PERSONALITY

(Ill. Three noteworthy things are said of this man in this verse. They reveal a lot about his character and about his desire to rise above the ordinary in his walk with God.)

A. His Place In Life - 1 Chron. 1:1-4:8 is the genealogy of the nation of Israel. For the most part it is a collection of “begats broken only by a few insights into the lives of a few of the more notable people such as David. When we come to Jabez, we are confronted with a man whose life is like an oasis in a dry, barren desert. Most of the others simply state that they begat sons and daughters and that they died, it appears that Jabez wasn’t content to be like everyone else. It turns out that Jabez was a giant among pigmies. Like cream, the life of Jabez rose to the top. He was a real somebody in a sea of nobodies!

 

(Ill. There are very few among us humans who rise above the crowd. There are very few who leave an indelible mark on the world. Most of us are content to live like everyone else around us. But, isn’t it sad to think that your life and mine might be condensed to a few “begats and then he died? Wouldn’t it be a tragedy for your life to come down to no more than a few lines on a tombstone?)

 

(Ill. Those who have departed. Some names are mentioned often, while others never come up. Why is that? It is because some left a greater mark and cut a wider path as they moved through this world. Ten years after our deaths will it matter that we lived at all? Sadly, few people leave an indelible mark on this world; fewer still leave such a mark on eternity.)

We should never be satisfied to be like everyone else! God has called each of us and had gifted each of us in wonderful ways, 1 Cor. 12:7-26. He has given us the means whereby we can stand out from the crowd and be different for His glory. Some people are different just for the sake of being different, that is not what I am talking about. Some folks thrive on being weird!

What I am saying is that we need to be different because the Lord has done a work in our hearts and lives. The question is this, 10 years after you die, will people remember your life and the contribution it made to the Kingdom of God? That can happen, but only if we determine that we will be different from the rest of the crowd.)

B. His Problem In Life - His mother named him Jabez. This name literally means, “The Son Of My Sorrow; Pain; Affliction; He Will Cause Pain. Many people would take a name like that and figure they were doomed from the start. They would do everything in their power to see that they lived up to their name. (Ill. A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash)

It doesn’t have to be that way! We have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to break free of the chains of our past. Just because everyone thinks we will fail, doesn’t mean that we have to. Just because we were taught some bad thing growing up doesn’t mean we have to live that way now. Just because our family was a certain way; we were raised a certain way; or we have a certain reputation; does not mean we have to remain that way forever! All I am saying is that we have the ability to rise above ourselves through the power of God, 1 Cor. 15:10.

 

(Ill. God is able to take like He finds us and transform into what He wants us to be! Ill. Jacob His name means Supplanter; trickster; Heel grabber. God transformed him and changed his name to “Israel, which means A Prince With God.”)

 

(Ill. You can rise above your past and the circumstances of your life. Some of you may have heard of Wilma Rudolph. She was a successful Olympic athlete in the 1960’s, but most do not know her story. She was born the 16th of 18 children in a poor black family in middle Tennessee, weighing only 4 lbs. and 1 oz. At the age of 4 she contracted polio and lost the use of her left leg.

The battle with polio left her weakened and she immediately developed chronic pneumonia and scarlet fever. Even though she managed to survive those deadly diseases, she spent the bulk of her childhood as a cripple. It was only through years of therapy, which her mother carried her to on her one day off a week, and determination that Wilma was able to regain the use of her left leg.

She went on to play high school basketball setting a single season record for most points scored: 803 in 25 games. In 1960, Wilma Rudolph represented the United States in the Olympics, which was held in Rome, Italy and she won gold medals in all three of the events in which she competed. In both the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash, she finished at least three yards in front of her closest competitor. She tied the world record in the 100-meter and set a new Olympic record in the 200. And in the 400-meter relay she brought her team from behind to win the gold.

 

At the very least, we can say that Wilma Rudolph rose above her circumstances, her destiny some would call it, to grasp that brass ring and claim a better life.)

 

C. His Performance In Life - The Bible says that Jabez was “more honorable that his brethren. This simply means that “he was worthy of more honor than the rest of his family. He just looked at how they were living and decided that he could do better! Jabez was not remembered as a great leader, prophet or preacher. He did not make his mark on the battlefields of life as a great leader of men. His name is remembered because He was a man of prayer. His name is remembered because he was a man of God in a godless day!

When will we learn that we do not have to do like everyone else? When will we understand that the Lord has made us an individual and we do not have to fit into the crowd nor do we have to please anyone but Him? (1 Cor. 10:31)

D. This information regarding Jabez merely demonstrates that he refused to be forced into anyone’s mold. He was determined to live for the Lord, in spite of what everyone else did. This should be the heart’s desire of every child of God! (Ill. Rom. 12:1-2)

 

II. V. 10a JABEZ AND HIS PRAYER

A. Jabez Prayed For Prosperity - Jabez’ prayer for prosperity is two-fold. First, he prays for the Lord’s fullest blessings upon his life. Then, he prays for his boundaries to be extended. It would appear that Jabez was not satisfied with the status quo. All Jabez wanted was two things:

1. He Asked For God’s Best - Jabez wanted the fullness of God’s blessings to be upon his life. Who among us does not want the same thing today? Folks, there is nothing wrong with wanting the best God has for you and there is nothing wrong with praying for God to place His richest of blessings upon your life. Whoever told you that praying for yourself was wrong lied to you! You see, we aren’t talking about money, possession, and power etc.; we are simply talking about obtaining God’s best for your life. Seeking that glorifies the Lord.

 

(Ill. Do not be satisfied with the mediocre! God wants you to enjoy the richest of His blessings, Mal. 3:10. Refuse to dwell in the comfort zone. Break away from the ordinary and watch God bless and use your life in extraordinary ways.

Ill. The Disciples in John 21:1-6, they tried to operate in the energy of their flesh and were unsuccessful, but when they began to do things God’s way, they were rewarded with an abundance.)

 

2. He Asked For God’s Blessing - In praying for his borders to be expanded, Jabez is asking the Lord to help him to have more influence in the world. It would seem that Jabez is not content to dwell in his comfort zone. He wants to break out and do more for the Lord.

 

(Ill. As believers, we must never be satisfied with the status quo. God wants us to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to a lost world. As long as we are satisfied where we are, we are going to be limited in our outreach, but when we allow the Lord to move us out of the comfort zones of life, He can extend our borders and give us a greater influence into the world.)

 

B. Jabez Prayed For Power - Jabez asked the Lord to put His hand into his life. Jabez was not content to be like others when it came to the power of God. He wanted more! I want you to know today that Christians do not have to settle for weak, powerless lives! I am convinced that when we begin to live as the Lord desires, we can expect Him to put His hand of power upon us.

Why is it that some people seem to have God all over their lives? Why is it that some people seem to be effective in whatever they do for the Lord? Why is it that some people seem to have power with God? Simply stated, they have refused to rest in their comfort zone, but they have willingly paid the price before the Lord and as a consequence, He has blessed them with power in His work! (Ill. Paul - Weak in body, and contemptible in appearance (2 Cor. 10:10), yet a powerhouse for God, (Acts 14:8-12).

(Ill. I fully believe that the awesome power of God is available to every Christian who is tired of business as usual and who will pay the spiritual price tag. God wants to fill you and to use you for His glory - Eph. 5:18; Acts 1:8. Given the chance, God will amaze you with what He could do with you and your life. Ill. D.L. Moody – Uneducated, inarticulate, but a powerful weapon in the hand of God.)

 

C. Jabez Prayed For Protection - Jabez continued his prayer with a request for protection from sin and evil. He knew that when sin comes in, trouble soon follows, Pro. 13:5. Jabez simply asked the Lord to help him to live for God.

This should be the attitude taken by every child of God. We ought to hate everything that brings dishonor to name of the Lord. David said it best when he said, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me, Psa. 101:3. I believe that every child of God ought to pray for this same thing! After all, God has promised to provide a means of deliverance from every temptation - 1 Cor. 10:13.

 

D. This would be a good prayer for God’s children to get into the habit of praying. We ought to want God’s blessings and an expansion of our influence and outreach. We all should want God’s power on our lives and in our church. We should pray for help in facing life day by day and in staying pure for the glory of the Lord. This is not a selfish prayer and that is born out in the next phrase.

 

III. V. 10b JABEZ AND HIS PROVISION

A. God heard the prayer of Jabez and answered him by giving him all the things for which he prayed. Why did the Lord do this? God did it because He honors prayer that honors Him - James 4:2-3.

B. We serve a God today who has promised to hear and answer our prayers, Matt. 7:7-8; Jer. 33:3, Isa. 64:25. Therefore, we can make our requests in absolute confidence knowing that the Lord has heard us and will give us that which we seek, 1 John 5:13-14; John 14:13-14; 16:23.

C. As we think about these things, let’s look at our lives and at out praying and see whether or not we are asking for these things. If not, there is no better time to start than now.

 

Conc: Now, I am not Jabez and neither are you, but if we are willing to move out of our comfort zone then the Lord can and will hear our prayers and will give us the things we seek in life. I suppose the real issue that confronts us after a message like this is whether or not we are guilty of being complacent.

Are you satisfied with the growth of the church? Are you satisfied worth the spiritual level of the church? Are you satisfied with the outreach of the church?

Now, what about in your own life? Are you growing like you should, or are you satisfied with where you are right now? Are you satisfied with what you are doing for the Lord? Are you happy with your level of spiritual growth?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then let me remind you that the Lord is waiting to make the necessary changes in your life. All that remains is for you to come to Jesus.

 

 

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