• Pastor Bowler

What's That in Your Hand?

I want you to think about the question God put to Moses at a period of crisis in his life. The question is found in Exodus 4:2—“And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand?” Have you ever failed to see the woods for the trees? The solution to our situation can be right under our noses. We can become so familiar with the scenery that we miss its beauty.


Everybody knows about Moses. He was the great Lawgiver and Emancipator of the nation of ancient Israel. He was under a death sentence at birth. He was placed in an ark in the Nile River by godly parents. He was adopted by the princess to become her son and grow up in the palace. At the age of 40, he abdicated the throne to champion the cause of his enslaved people.


In the process of protesting brutality, he killed an Egyptian. Moses was accused of murder and fled to the land of Midian at the backside of the desert where he lived in obscurity for 40 years tending to his father-in-law’s sheep. At the age of 80, Moses had no plans but to live and die as a shepherd. But God had different plans for him.


One day surrounded by his sheep at Mount Horeb, he was brought up short by a strange sight. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb” (Exodus 3:1-2). A desert bush, a thorn bush, was ablaze but was not consumed. Moses drew near to check out this remarkable phenomenon. Then God spoke out of the burning bush to tell Moses two things. First, to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). And secondly, that he must return to Egypt, confront Pharaoh and deliver his people out of their 400 year-long prison host of slavery (Exodus 3:10).


We are not surprised that Moses squirmed and tried to back out.


  • He pled in incompetence—“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (Exodus 3:11).

  • Then he pled lack of credentials (Exodus 4:1).

  • He forecast failure, and that no one would believe him (Exodus 3:13).

  • And then he begged to be excused because he was slow of speech (Exodus 4:10).

One by one, God answered Moses’ fears.


He would be with him, and mighty miracles would bring Pharaoh to his knees. The nation would go along, and Aaron, his brother, would be his back-up, and possess the eloquence Moses did not have. The whole story, a thrilling story, is told in the opening chapters of the book of Exodus.


As a final answer to Moses and his excuses, God asked him a question in Exodus 4:2—“What is that in your hand?” Of course, it was the shepherd’s staff Moses had used for years.


God said: “Throw it on the ground.” He did and it became a writhing serpent, frightening the daylights out of Moses. Then God told Moses to take it by the tail. He did, and it became a shepherd’s rod again in his hand.


And, as if that were not enough, God told Moses to put his hand under the folds of his tunic. He did, then pulled it out white with leprosy. Again, at God’s command, he thrust his hand back into his garment, and it emerged as healthy as it had ever been (Exodus 4:6-7).


This is the story of the call of God, and the miraculous confirmation of that call. It was God’s guarantee that world-changing things would take place if HE could take total control over a shepherd and his work-blackened staff.


  • In Egypt, that rod caused water to become blood. (Exodus 4:9; 7:17-20)

  • At the Red Sea, it was held out and waters receded to make a highway through the sea. (Exodus 14:16, 21-22)

  • At Horeb, when the rock was struck with that rod, living water flowed out to quench the thirst of a murmuring in multitude. (Numbers 20:8)

What is that in your hand, Moses? A shepherd’s rod. God used it to change the course of history and to reveal His redeeming power and to work miracles of grace. With that as a background, I want to ask you: “What is that in your hand?” I am not asking what you would do if you could pray like Peter. I'm not asking what you would do if you could preach like Paul. I'm not asking what you would give if you were as rich as Bill Gates. What do YOU have in your hand?


God is not asking for what you do not have, but He IS asking you and me to give HIM what we do have. Time, talent, influence, mind, heart, bank account, voice. Did you know that God delights to work with the things that are not, to bring to naught the things that are? For then, no one can glory in man. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). All glory goes to God. When Jesus would feed 5,000 men besides the women and children, He allowed a lad with a basket lunch of five buns and two small fish to be His partner in the miracle. And God used fishermen and tax collectors to turn the world upside down. And He used Gideon’s 300 to defeat the combined armies of the Midianites.


What I am trying to say is that God is not waiting for the rich and famous to step forward to build His church and witness to the world. He wants you! What do YOU have in your hand? Even if it is as small as the widow’s two mites, He can make it greater than you could ever imagine.


Well, what do we have? We have life to give to God, influence to wield for God, talent to use for God, a voice to speak for God, a heart to love Him, hands to serve Him.

“What shall I give Thee, Master? Thou hast given all for me,

Not just a part, or half of my heart, I will give all to Thee.”


I want you to think of several things that everyone has in their hand to give.


  • You have this day. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come. But you have this day, a day of opportunity. A day for decision. A day to pray. A day to call on the Lord. A day to kneel before Him.

  • You have a “never-dying soul.” Your soul was purchased with His blood.

  • You have influence. No one lives unto himself and no one dies to himself. Let your light shine before men (Matthew 5:16).

  • You have an open door. “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

  • You have choice. “Choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15).

  • You have prayer. Call upon Him, for He hears. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee…” (Jeremiah 33:3).

  • You have a song to sing, a witness to give, a phone to use, a letter to write, a smile to share.


What is that in your hand?

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