“WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?”                                By Pastor YAU

Text: Exodus 4:1-6                                                    September 2, 2007.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    Something you shouldn’t do: Zookeepers who handle snakes as part of their job will tell you that you should never grab a snake by its tail. It can coil around in a split second and sink its fangs into your hand. The right way to handle a snake is to grab it by its hand. (Either way, you shouldn’t try this at home.)

2)    Something God wanted to do: Picking up a snake by its tail is exactly what God wanted Moses to do. (Exodus 4:4) Moses who must have encountered snakes many times in the Median Desert knew that was not a wise thing to do. God asked Moses to throw his shepherd’s rod to the ground and immediately it became a poisonous snake. Then God wanted him to reach out his hand and pick up that snake by its tail. He assured Moses that if he would trust Him and do just that, the snake would turn back into a staff in his hand. Moses did just that and it happened exactly as God had commanded. God told Moses the reason for this miracle: “The people of Israel may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, had appeared to you.”

 

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS STORY:

1)    There is an urgent need: The good days Joseph, his father Jacob and all the people of Israel enjoyed in Egypt had came to an end after these patriarchs had died and a new Pharaoh came to power in the land who didn’t know Joseph and the good things he did for his country. This new king was so jealous on the Israelis and had treated them with cruelty wanting to eliminate them from his land. The Israelis suffered so much under their job-masters and they cried to God for relief. These were God’s people, descendants of Abraham to whom God had promised to increase as many as the starts of the sky. There is an urgent need to bring relief to these  people. God won’t allow His people to suffer any longer. (1:8-22)

2)    There is an urgent call: In a burning bush in the Median Desert, God told Moses that He had seen the suffering of His people and had heard their cry. He said He has come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Then God told Moses, “Now the cry of the Israelis has reached me and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelis, out of Egypt.” (3:7-10)

3)    There is no other choice: Having witnessed with his own eyes the suffering of his own people in the hand of the Egyptians, (2:11) Moses was very much aware of the terrible situation his people lived in. When he ran for his life after he killed  an Egyptian, the once the hopeful for the Israelis became a family man, married, had children and lived a quiet life by tending the flocks of his father-in-law. At this time when life is peaceful and easy, God has a new assignment for him: go to the Pharaoh and to lead the people of Israelis out of the land of oppression. God has created ways to preserve his life and has put him in the Egyptian courts to be raised with the princes of the land so he may be the man God needs to carry our His plans of rescue. There is no other choice.

4)    There is a hardened heart: With all the preparation God has put in his life, Moses was determined to decline the call. Five times he used many questions, statements and excuses to rebuff God’s call. He didn’t argue the need of calling such a person. He didn’t argue the authority of God in calling someone to do this much needed job. But he argued in many different ways that he was not that person for this job. He even suggested that God should know there must be someone else better suit for this job. It is in this situation God showed him His power in 2 different ways so he would know that this is the God who would supply him all his power and needs to carry out His plans. (4:6-9)

 

THE LESSONS OF THIS STORY:

1)   God knows all our hurts: The fact that the best seller book, Where Is God When It Hurts, written by Philip Yancey, sold millions of copies is because many of us doubt if God knows when we are hurting. In the first few chapters of Exodus, God shows us He knows all our hurts and He has a plan to deliver us from those hurts. Just as the Israelis cried to God in times of great hurts and needs, many of us have that same experience. When God told Moses He has seen the suffering of His people and has heard their cries, we are reassured of God’s all-knowing power of our needs and hurts. No one and his/her hurts is beyond God’s knowledge.

2)   God has a rescue plan: In the late hours of yesterday, August 1, one of the bridges crossing the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed, trapping many people in cars now under the concrete and the water of the river. Rescue workers are trying hard to save lives in the first few hours after the collapse. The city admitted that they did not have a plan for something like this. That is not what God says when He talked to Moses. God has a plan to rescue His people, by the million at that time, from oppression to freedom, from being slaves to owners of a good and spacious land flowing with milk and honey. God will never do things as an aftermath. In all His wisdom and power, God always has plans for all our needs.

3)   God has prepared someone: God in all His power and knowledge will never be surprised with anything that may happen in history. He always has a plan and an agent prepared for the job. He raised Moses in miraculous ways, trained him in the courts of the Pharaoh and the Median Desert for the job He wanted him to take. God also prepared Esther way back to rescue her countrymen in crisis years later. God also prepared Paul, a well trained Jewish rabbi under the most revered scholar and a dedicated missionary Barnabas so he was able to bring the gospel message to the Roman world. The words of Mordecai to Esther should remind us how God has plans to prepare us in advance for a need. “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) The fact that you have come to this place at this time is in the plan of God for the need God wants you to meet.

4)   God wants a willing heart: With all the preparation God has done for a job like this, Moses won’t take the job God assigned him. He has a family, a good job, has children, lives an easy life in friendly neighborhood and is too old for the challenges of the job. Moses gave God all kinds of reasons he just couldn’t do what God wanted him to do; from the nature of the job to the suspicious nature of the people, to the fearful Pharaoh to his inability of speech, he told God he was not the right person for the job. In fact, he was so afraid of the job. He didn’t want any change of his life. Isn’t his arguments are our arguments when God calls us to meet a certain need or to fill a position of service? What God needs from you is a willing heart. He will provide all the power you need to do His job.

 

WHAT IS IN YOUR HAND? (Exodus 4:1-5) Instead of a shepherd’s staff in the hands of Moses, we have many other things in our hands God wants to change into something more dramatic and useful. God used that little miracle to show Moses His power and evidence of His presence. God can also use the things in our hands to show His power our lives.

1)     You have your life goals: Most of us have our life goals. We form or dream of life goals even when we were still small children. We wanted to be someone important, useful and to live a life that matters to us and others. These goals are in our hands. We can hold them fast. We can change them from time to time. We also can add things into the goals to make them more effective and meaningful. What part of your goals of life reflects the purpose of God in you? Which way you steer your life so it may impact the pursuit of God’s Kingdom besides your own benefits? It is your life and it is in your hands. You have the opportunity to make it better, reaching further and create much more lasting effects.

2)     You have your calls of God: As Paul stated in Ephesians 4:11, God has called different people into different positions with different gifts so they may accomplish the different tasks God has given them. What is the call of God in your life? What are the gifts God has given you so you may use them in His ministries? The call of God and His gifts are in your hands. You may ignore them, hide them or even bury them as did one of the servants entrusted with treasure of their master. Or you may use them wisely and diligently to bring results to the Master and receive praises of the Master and enjoy His lavish blessings. The choice is yours because they are in your hands. Answer the call and use His gifts for His glory.

3)     You have your opportunities:  The way people choose to use opportunity determines the kind of people they will become. Most of us are ordinary people and have only few opportunities to expend the measures of our lives. When opportunities come our way, they are in our hands. Whichever way we choose to use them or to allow them to slip through our fingers will determine the outcome or usefulness of our life. Suppose Moses insisted on refusing God’s call to lead the Israelis out of Egypt, God will have another man do the job and His plans for the Israelis won’t change a bit. No one can stop God’s plans. But Moses will never become a great hero of obedience, courage, faith and victory, revered by the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims, almost half of the world’s population. Never allow opportunities slip thru your fingers.

4)     You have your resources: The only resource Moses had is his shepherd’s staff. When he obeyed God to let go of his staff, God performed a miracle to assure him of His power and call. What do you have as resources God may use to accomplish His purpose? Your time? Your talents? Your energies? Or your possessions? Moses used that same staff to accomplish God’s purpose to divide the Red Sea so millions of Israelis could crossed the river to safety. He used that same staff to lead the people across the wilderness to the Promised Land. Are you willing to surrender your resources to God so He can use them to accomplish His much greater purpose? Invest your resources in God’s Kingdom. They will bring much greater returns for more lasting values.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)     See what’s important: Many people have difficulty in making important choices. These people end up spend their life in unimportant things they regret. Choose what is in God’s will for your life and trusting His power in carrying you through. He will make you a blessing to many people.

2)     See what’s in your hand: God has given each of us many resources. Do an inventory list and see what you have and how you may use them to serve God and people. Do not make excuses or decline God’s call to accomplish His purpose. Do something with what you have for lasting value.

3)     See who may help you:  Few people have the wisdom or opportunity to do great things. But God can make anyone a hero if he will trust Him and His call. Ask Jesus to enter your heart and make Him Lord of your life. He will show you the right path to a meaningful and successful life.