Summary: We hold in our hands those things which God can use to advance His kingdom.

The Rod of God

Exodus 4:1-12

1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ’The LORD did not appear to you’?"

2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied.

3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.

4 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.

5 "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."

6 Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.

7 "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.

8 Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second.

9 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."

10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

God had given Moses his marching orders, but Moses was still reluctant. And so God asked Moses (vs.2), a simple question, the result of which became the turning point in Moses’ life. God asked, “Moses, what is that in your hand?” Moses replied, “A rod.”

Now a shepherd’s rod was a simple thing—a wooden stick about 6 feet long. It was his tool—a symbol of his work, his life.

God said, “Cast it on the ground.” Moses did and the rod turned into a snake. God had Moses pick it up again and it turned back into a rod. From the ordinary to the glorious. That’s what God can do with whatever we have—if we give it to God!

Instead of waving it to redirect straying sheep, it would be lifted high and provide the motivation to courageously fight to bring victory.

PRINCIPLE: There are things in our possession that have the potential to be serpents or instruments of blessings. In our hands these things can be deadly—when given back to God they can bring deliverance to many.

 A plain bar of iron is worth $5.00

 When made into a horse shoe it can be worth about $50

 When made into needles this same bar can make as many as $5,000 worth

 When made into springs for Swiss watches, this bar of iron could be worth as much as $500,000.

It all depends on how it is used!

Let’s think together about some “Rods” that God has places in your hands.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Moses. His life can be divided into 3 equal portions of 40 years each. The first 40 were spent in the palace of the king of Egypt (the place of privilege).

The next 40 years were spent in the wilderness as a shepherd (place of preparation). The last 40 were spent leading the children to the Promised Land (place of perseverance).

What we’re going to do now is look at one incident that occurred during the time when Moses was a shepherd. In the 3rd and 4th chapters of Exodus we’re told that one day Moses led the flock belonging to his father-in-law through the sparse grazing lands up alongside of Mt. Horeb. As he plodded along leaning on his staff, picking his way over rough terrain, he would occasionally prod a reluctant sheep and re-direct a straying one with the rod in his hand.

Suddenly an angel of God appeared to Moses out of a bush that burned but was not consumed. God spoke to Moses and gave him the task of leading the Israelites out of slavery. Moses protested, giving many reasons why his leadership would not be acceptable: (1) unworthy, (2) ignorant, (3) lacked eloquence, (4) others would not believe him.

You see, Moses knew his insufficiency. He feared the consequences to himself, so he tried to get out of it, just like we often do.

To steady him, God gave Moses some unprecedented assurance. He said 3 things:

 “I will be with you.”

 “I will stretch out my hand.”

 “I AM that I AM.”

And He gave Moses 3 signs: The rod, leprous hand healed (vs.6,7), water of Nile became blood (vs. 9).

Here are the 4 rods that you hold in your hand.

1. Time

We all have time on our hands. And time means opportunity!

Opportunity to use the moments and days and hours in a manner which will glorify God.

If you had a bank which credited your account each morning with $86,400 which carried over no new balance from day to day, and allowed you to keep no cash in your account, and every evening canceled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use that day, what would you do? You would draw out every cent and use it every day, of course!

Well each of us has such a bank and it’s name is TIME! Every morning it credits us with 86,400 seconds. Every night it rules off, as lost, whatever of this we fail to invest to good use. It carries over no balances. It allows no overdrafts. Each day it opens a new account with us. Each night it burns the records of the day. If we fail to use the day’s deposit, the loss is ours.

There’s no going back. There’s no drawing against tomorrow. We must live in the present—on today’s deposit.

What are you doing with the rod of time? You hold it in your hand.

Illus.: “Bad News and Worse News” (Illustrations Unlimited, Hewett, p. 477)

A man had a checkup and then went in to see his doctor to get the results. The doctor said he had bad news and worse news for him. Which did he want to hear first. The man was a pick shocked and said, “Well, give me the bad news first. The doctor said, “The bad news is that you only have 24 hours to live.” At this the man jumped up, totally distraught and said, “24 hours to live? What could possibly be worse than this?” The doctor replied, “The worse news is that I was supposed to tell you yesterday but I forgot.”

Take Time!

 Take time for God—its life’s only lasting investment.

 Take time to pray—it will draw you near to God.

 Take time to worship—its the highway of reverence.

 Take time to love other—its the secret of fulfillment.

 Take time to work—it’s the price of success.

 Take time to be holy—for without holiness no man shall see the Lord

How Do We Value Time?

 How do we value ONE YEAR? Ask a student who failed a grade.

 How do we value ONE MONTH? Ask a Mother whose baby arrived prematurely.

 How do we value ONE WEEK? Editor’s of weekly newspapers know.

 How do we value ONE HOUR? Ask someone who lies terminally ill waiting for a loved one who is late.

 How do we value ONE MINUTE? Ask someone who missed a plane, a train, a very important engagement that would never be rescheduled.

 How do we value ONE SECOND? Ask and Olympic Medalist, someone who just missed having an accident, or someone saying good by to a loved one they will never see again.

2. Energy

We hear much these days about the need to conserve energy resources—fuel, water, oil, gas. And these are legitimate concerns. But there is an even greater energy crisis—that which exists within the Body of Christ. We’ve run out of gas. We’re so busy making money and acquiring things and having fun and getting and education and being a success, that when it comes to God and prayer and the church, we’re just too tired to get very involved. We’ve expended all of our energy on things that will not last!

What are you doling with energy that God has given to you? Do you give daily your first and best moments to God? Do you have stamina for the long haul?

Are you a worker or a shirker? Don’t drift along. Any dead fish can float downstream. It takes effort to serve God and make progress. Amen?

I read about a jockey who always whispered this to his horse to motivate him: “Roses are red, violets are blue; horses that lose are made into glue!”

What’s that in your hand? Why its energy! It came from God. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Two guys talking one day. One says to the other, “I didn’t know you knew Ronald.” O, yea, he and I slept together in the same pew for years.”

Illus.: “The Motivated Typist”

One day an eager young man from Stanford University applied for a part time position at the school. The man who was doing the hiring said, “All I need now is a typist.” “I’ll take the job, said the applicant. “but I can’t start until next Tuesday.” On Tuesday he reported for work. The employer said, “Why couldn’t you come until today?” “Because I had to rent a typewriter and learn to use it!” Do you know who the student was? Herbert Hoover!

I don’t remember how many times I have watched college and professional athletes with serious injuries, suit up and play through the pain. The determination to be a part of a winning effort motivated them. May God help us to expend the necessary energy to accomplish His purposes.

3. Possessions

What is that in your hand? A checkbook? Keys to your car? Keys to your house? Who owns these things? Are they yours? Do you deserve them because you worked for them? Who gave you the intelligence and talent and energy to acquire them?

The Bible view is that God is Sovereign—Lord over ALL! We are stewards; we manage for Another.

Illus.: Compolo: “The Gift Is in Your Hand” (p.239, Illustrations Unlimited, Hewett).

Tony Compolo was giving a major address at a women’s conference. At the point in the program when the women were being challenged with a several thousand dollar goal for their missions projects, the chairperson for the day turned to Dr. Campolo and asked him if he would pray for God’s blessing on the women as they considered what they might do to achieve their goal. To her astonishment, he went to the podium and graciously declined. He said, “You already have the necessary resources to complete this project right here in this room. It would be inappropriate to ask God’s blessing when God has already blessed you. The necessary gifts are in your hands. As soon as we take the offering and underwrite this projects, then we will thank God for freeing us to be generous, responsible, and accountable stewards. When the offering was taken, the missions goal was overreached. Then Dr. Campolo led them in a joyous prayer of thanksgiving.

Martha Snell Nicholson wrote a few verses directed at a Christian and his possessions:

Let me hold lightly things of this earth;

Transient treasures, what are they worth?

Moths can corrupt them, rust can decay,

All of their beauty fades in a day.

Let me hold lightly temporal things;

I who am deathless, I who wear wings!

Let me hold fast, Lord, things of the skies;

Quicken my vision, open my eyes!

Show me Thy riches, Glory and grace,

Boundless as time is, Endless as space!

Let me hold lightly things that are mine—

Lord, Thous hast giv’n me all that is Thine!

4. Ability

All of us are naturally gifted in some way and all believers have received one gift from the Holy Spirit to minister to others. Peter, in his first epistle, writes, “As each has received a gift from God, so let us all use such gifts in the service of one another, like good stewards of the grace of God."

The church needs every gift that a person possesses. It may be that of preaching, teaching, counseling, hospitality, writing, organization, working with children or youth, visiting the sick, and the like. It may be a craft or skill which can be used some way for God. There is no gift too small or insignificant.

Illus.: Aesop’s Fable: “The Thirsty Crow”

An old crow was out in the wilderness and very thirsty. He hadn’t had anything to drink in a long time. He came to a jug that a little water in the bottom of it. The old crow reached his beak into the jug to get a drink, but he couldn’t quite reach the water. So what did he do? He started picking up pebbles one at a time and dropped them into the jug. As more and more pebbles were added the water rose until finally he was able to taste the water.