December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ‘A staff,’ he replied. The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. ‘This,’ said the Lord, ‘is so 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.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Put your hand inside your cloak.’ So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow. ‘Now put it back into your cloak,’ he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh. Then the Lord said, ‘If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.’”—Exodus 4:1–9 (NIV)
Today’s passage covers a lot. God reveals His power to do miracles to Moses. He turns a staff into a snake and back into a staff, gives Moses’ hand leprosy and then cures it, and reveals He can turn water into blood. And while it is absolutely amazing that God can do all of that, today we’re going to focus on the first two verses.
Here, Moses asks the Lord, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” The Lord’s response to Moses is truly so powerful and profound and, if you understand it, life changing! He simply asks Moses, “What is that in your hand?”
Let that marinate for a second . . .
So, what was in Moses’ hand? A simple wood staff.
Friends, did you catch that? It’s not about Moses or what was in his hand. It wasn’t about his ability, his resources, his influence, his speaking skills, or his strength. What made Moses great was declared all the way back in Exodus 3:12 (NIV) where God said, “I will be with you.”
Similarly, it was nothing that Gideon did or possessed that made him a “mighty warrior” or Israel a “great nation” or the disciples amazing miracle workers, evangelists, and church planters. Instead, what made Gideon a mighty warrior was that the Lord was with him (Judges 6:11–16). What made Israel a great nation was that “the Lord loved [them] and kept the oath he swore to [their] ancestors” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8 NIV) to “make [them] into a great nation” (Genesis 12:2 NIV). What made the disciples amazing miracle workers, evangelists, and church planters was that they remained in Him and He in them and that “[He] chose [them] and appointed [them] so that [they] might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16 NIV).
Whether it’s a staff, water from the Nile, a robe, a rock, containers of water, five loaves, or two fish, it’s God who is amazing! In His hands—not yours or mine— all things are possible, miracles can happen, walls can come down, lives can be changed, hearts can be healed, breakthrough can take place, strongholds can be broken, relationships can be restored, and all things can be restored, redeemed, and made new!
What’s our role? Well, it’s the same role Moses, Gideon, and the disciples had . . . to be obedient and to surrender! Our greatest ability in the kingdom is humble availability. When we listen to the Lord, obey Him, go where He leads, live open handedly, put in His hands what’s in our hands, and live on mission, God will work because “it is God who works in [us] to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV).
So, I ask you now, “What’s in your hand?” and I implore you to offer it to the Lord!
Pause: Why does God so often work through flawed, broken people who aren’t very skilled?
Practice: Get into the habit each day of praying to the Lord that He use you to do whatever He wills and then be open handed and open hearted to His guidance and work.
Pray: Heavenly Father, whatever I have in my hands and heart—every talent, ability, treasure, and all my past experiences, triumphs, tragedies, and all my time—I surrender into Your hands to will and act in order to fulfill Your good purposes. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.