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WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR HAND?

Moses was called by God ("The Angel of ADONAI" - probably a Christophany - pre-incarnate appearance of Christ) to return to Egypt and deliver His message to Pharaoh, King of Egypt. The message was "Let my people go". 400 years that Israel was in captivity and slavery was enough! God appeared to and commissioned Moses from the burning bush. (Exodus, chapter 3). Moses was given a divine assignment.

How fearful we become when God calls us for a task. How nervous and anxious we are when God assigns us a commission and entrusts a ministry to us. How quickly we can become like Moses to be fearful, make excuses and demonstrate reluctance. Moses was confronted by the God of Holy Service! Christians must not shirk or avoid rendering a holy service for God, when He provides an opportunity for us. ". . .through love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13) ". . .rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man. . . ." (Ephesians 6:7) "Serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 10:12) "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15) "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord." (Romans 12:11)

When called by God for a holy ministry and divine service assignment, Moses offered up a number of excuses to exempt himself from obeying God's call to service:

a. "They will not believe me" - Exodus 4:1

b. "They will not listen to my voice" - Exodus 4:1

c. "They will say the LORD has not appeared" to me - Exodus 4:1

d. "I am not eloquent" - Exodus 4:10

e. "I am slow of speech and of tongue" - Exodus 4:10

f. "Please send someone else" - Exodus 4:13 It could be that Moses was saying: "I need some help." So God sent Moses' brother Aaron to provide that help.

Notice his excuses all focused on "I", on himself and his perceived limitations and weaknesses. What are our excuses? We can understand why Moses was reluctant to accept God's assignment to return to Egypt to give God's message.

Moses, though a Hebrew, was raised in Pharaoh's royal court by the King's daughter. As a young man, when Moses saw a fellow Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian,, he killed and buried the Egyptian. When confronted by two observers of the killing, he feared for his life and literally ran to Median. He became a sheep herder for his father-in-law, Jethro. (Exodus, chapter 2) So, Moses was convinced that if he returned to Egypt, he would be killed for his crime. Also, a sheep herder was an abomination (reproach) to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34) In his mind, Moses believed he would not have any authority and would be totally disrespected. So, Moses was very comfortable where he was, doing what he was doing in Median. He had a wife, two children, a job, a place to live and good relationships, etc. Thus, Moses told God: "I cannot do this assignment."

However, GOD IS NEVER WITHOUT A PLAN AND PURPOSE! Moses' answer of "No" was not going to stand! God wanted His people to be released from Egyptian bondage. His plan was deliverance, freedom, redemption and salvation. (Still His plan and purpose for people today!) "Their (God's people) cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel - and God knew." (Exodus 2:24-25)

Note this for encouragement! God knows you and me and He remembers His promises. He hears our cries for rescue and He moves in our direction to answer us!

In response to Moses' excuses, God asks Shepherd Moses this question: "WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR HAND?" Moses replied: "A staff, a rod." (Exodus 4:2) Now this was a shepherd's staff, a common, ordinary rod. There were many just like it all around Median; it was not unique. The staff was probably well worn after 40 years of use. It was no doubt dirty, chipped, jagged, cracked and blood stained,

The rod or staff was in Moses' hand. It was readily available. It, in fact, symbolized Moses' (outer) life. The staff was usable, something Moses already had in his possession. He knew it well and how to use it effectively. It was in a sense a sign of his authority over sheep.

Moses admitted he had a common, beat-up shepherd's rod in his hand. It thus became a "yielded up" staff. God told him to "throw it on the ground." So, in obedience, Moses cast it down to the ground and it became a serpent! Then God told him to pick it up by the tail and Moses obeyed. It became the same old, beaten-up staff back in his hand. God said: ". . .that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." (Exodus 4:2-5) They would believe GOD, not only Moses!

Here was the demonstration of God's power and authority! This power was and would be orchestrated by God, using Moses as His instrument. The power and authority was not in Moses, not in his hand, not the staff and not in the casting of the staff on the ground. THE POWER AND AUTHORITY WAS GOD AND HIS WORD! Moses' obedience was the vehicle God used to manifest His great power and authority!

God had dealt with Moses' outer life - the staff in his hand. Now God dealt with his inner being! YOU SEE, BEFORE GOD DOES ANYTHING THROUGH US, HE MUST DO SOMETHING WITHIN US! "Put your hand inside your cloak" and when he took it out , his hand was leprous! Moses was instructed to place his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out it "was restored like the rest of his flesh". (Exodus 4:6-7) God told Moses, they will believe one sign or the other.

When Moses quit making excuses, God gave him these reassurances:

a. Tell them "I AM" has sent you - Exodus 3:14

b. The King of Egypt had died while Moses was in Median - Exodus 2:23

c. "ALL those who wanted to kill you are dead" - Exodus 4:19

Two truths to seriously ponder relating to our response to God giving us an assignment for service to Him and His work here on earth:

1. Is there something we need to surrender to God and His Lordship over us? It could be: our vocation, our career or job; our comfortable position in life (we like where we are and what we're doing and don't want to be bothered); our possessions; our marriage or children; our finances; our fears; our self-will, etc.

2. What is the "rod" in our life? Is there something we already have in our possession; something very common, something we don't consider unique? It may be beaten-up, old and may appear to be of not much value. But it is in our hand and God wants to use it for His plan and purpose! However, to be used by God, we need to surrender it to God! From our hand into His hand!

For you see, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT IS IN!

- A baseball in my hand is worth about $5, but in the hand of Shohei Ohtani, pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, that baseball is worth 2 million dollars. IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT IS IN!

- A tennis racket in my hand is worth about $25, but in the hand of Polish tennis player, Iga Sweatok, it is worth 25 million dollars because IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT IS IN!

- A basketball in my hand may be worth about $20, but in the hand of Stephen Curry, professional player for the Golden State Warriors, it is worth close to 48 million dollars. You see, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT'S IN!

- A soccer ball in my hand retails for about $20, but in the hand of Lionel Messi, Argentinan born soccer ball player, it is worth about 650 million dollars. For, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT IS IN!

- A violin in my hand may be about $200, but in the hand of Hilary Hahn, it is worth $150,000 per booking. IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT'S IN!

- A Gibson Guitar in my hand could be worth up to $6,000, but in the hand of Tim Henson, famous guitarist, it is worth up to 48 million dollars. You can be sure that IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT IS IN!

- A medical scalpel in my hand is worthless, but in the hand of Dr. Ben Carson it is worth about six hundred thousand dollars per year. That is because IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT'S IN!

- A shepherd's staff in my hand is just a stick, but in Moses' hand it is used to part the Red Sea. IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHOSE HAND IT IS IN!

We also have something that may seem very common and ordinary, like Moses' staff. It is already in our possession and readily available. Most of the time, GOD CALLS US TO USE WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY; HE DOES NOT REQUIRE US TO FIND SOMETHING NEW OR DIFFERENT! It might be be a spiritual gift He's given us, a talent, an ability, our voice, our wallet/purse, a car we don't need anymore, a spare bike, an extra TV or computer, clothing, etc. Any of these and more when surrendered to God will be used of Him to enable us to do our God-appointed task.


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God has blessed me with a long and fruitful ministry! I have over 40 years in pastoral ministry, retreat speaking, Evangelism, teaching and Christian Radio broadcasting.

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