Is Your Territory Contracting or Expanding?

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

A fully committed heart—that was and still is the secret sauce to a life of ever-increasing favor from the Lord. If you want to advance the ground that you have gained, that is the way you do it.

Going Deep // Focus: 2 Kings 10:32-33, 35

At about that time the Lord began to cut down the size of Israel’s territory. King Hazael conquered several sections of the country east of the Jordan River, including all of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh. He conquered the area from the town of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge to as far north as Gilead and Bashan…When Jehu died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Jehoahaz became the next king. In all, Jehu reigned over Israel from Samaria for twenty-eight years.

Jehu was an army commander whose rise to the throne of Israel was in direct fulfillment of a prophetic word. He was God’s instrument of choice, and a blunt one at that, to rid the land of the unspeakably wicked rule of the dynasty of King Ahab (historically, this was known as the Omride Dynasty—Omri was Ahab’s father). Jehu not only viciously removed the royal family, he also got rid of the priests of Baal and anyone else of significance who supported the atrocious system of false worship. It was a clean and brutal sweep of the land under Jehu.

Yet Jehu was not fully devoted to God, and at the end of the day, God began to remove bits and pieces of the territory he had gained over his twenty-eight years of rule. The Lord raised up another man, a foreign king named Hazael, as an instrument of judgment upon Jehu for his tepid commitment to the God of Israel. Why was the Lord displeased with this man he had raised up as an instrument of reform?

Jehu did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin. (2 Kings 10:29)

But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. (2 Kings 10:31)

Jehu lost ground that God had given because he wasn’t fully committed to the Lord. Contrast that with another Israelite, a humble man by the name of Jabez. He wanted to expand his territory, and his prayer was answered because of his full commitment to the God of Israel.

There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

What about your territory? I am not speaking necessarily of real estate, but what about the ground you have gained through your influence? Is your career continuing to advance, are your financial goals making steady progress, is your career path on an upward trajectory, do you continue to exert spiritual influence with the people you love? Or are you losing ground? Of course, there are times when the sovereign God removes the things we have gained in order to refine us even though we are living a righteous life. But if the removal of his favor has come as a result of spiritual drift in our life, that is something we can correct through repentance and a return to full devotion to the Lord.

The message we receive over and over through the examples of these Old Testament characters, polar opposites like Jehu and Jebez, is that God will bless the obedient but will remove that blessing from the disobedient. The word of the Lord given to the people of that day is still at play for you and me today:

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicle 16:9)

A fully committed heart—that is still the secret sauce to a life of ever increasing favor from the Lord. If you want to advance the ground that you have gained, that is the way you do it.

Going Deeper With God: Memorize 2 Chronicles 16:9. Use it in prayer each day this week to ask the Lord to give you an undivided devotion toward him.

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