Bible Ballistics: Vol. 8 No. 10 What’s That In Your Hand???
There’s an old song that I love because its message is such a beautiful reminder to trust in Jesus not only for our salvation, but also for our living, serving and ministry opportunities. It paints such a clear picture of using what we have for Jesus, and following “HIM” rather than seeking recognition, popularity or worldly success. God is The One who calls, who equips and who sends us as HE sees fit for His glory, our good and the increase of HIS Kingdom.
Jesus referred to this when the disciples wanted Him to rebuke those who were working in “HIS” name, but weren’t part of their “group”. Jesus answered them succinctly:
“But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part. 41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” Mark 9:39-42
Jesus reminds us even now that our goal is to follow Him and to not be distracted by what others are doing for Him, or anyone else. And He also warns us that those who speak in His name, and on His behalf better beware of offending the innocent ones. Jesus isn’t saying that we aren’t to speak the truth clearly to all, but that we are to do His work with genuine compassion and sensitivity to those we are sharing with. We are to speak according to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of our own gift/gifts we are to walk in the Spirit NOT the flesh (See Galatians 5:15 & 25). Claiming to belong to Jesus doesn’t excuse meanness and unkindness. We are told how to speak.
“But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Matthew 10:19-20
We are to speak wisely, truthfully and with the love of Jesus as the Spirit directs on any particular given opportunity (but this doesn’t mean we don’t study and prepare our hearts and minds with His Word).
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11
“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” Psalm 119:133
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:5-6
As someone once said, “God’s Word will keep us from sin, or sin will keep us from God’s Word”—the choice is ours.
And that’s the point I’d like to share today, we are to be “redeeming the time” and living filled by and with grace as we testify and answer the world of “the hope that is in you” (See 1 Peter 3:15). Another thing the Word tells us is that we are to do what “WE” can do through Jesus. God hasn’t called me to be a world famous teacher or speaker, but He has gifted me and given me various opportunities to share His word in many different venues. We are each to do what we are called and equipped to do, where God places us. God gifts each believer and we are to use our gifts for Him. And old adage says, “God doesn’t called the equipped, He equips the called”, and I believe that is a Biblical view. God wants us to use what we have received from HIM when we are saved (See 1 Corinthians 12:7). Moses had an encounter with God about that very thing. “What is that in thine hand?”
“And the Lord said unto him,
What is that in thine hand?
And he said,
3 And he said,
Cast it on the ground.
And he cast it on the ground,
and it became a serpent;
and Moses fled from before it.
4 And the Lord said unto Moses,
Put forth thine hand,
and take it by the tail.
And he put forth his hand,
and caught it,
and it became a rod in his hand:
5 That they may believe
that the Lord God of their fathers,
the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob,
hath appeared unto thee.” Exodus 4:2-5
God asked Moses what he had in his hand, not because God didn’t know, but because He wanted Moses to KNOW! And Moses replied, simply a rod. God isn’t asking you to do anyone else’s job—He is asking you “What is that in thine hand?” If we’ve been born again, God has gifted and equipped each one for His service, what are we (YOU) doing with our (YOUR) gift/gifts? Are we following Jesus or others? Are we so concerned about what God is doing in the lives of others that we miss what He is asking us to do? Jesus rebuked the Apostle Peter in this very regard after His resurrection in an encounter with several of the disciples. In this incident, Jesus had restored Peter after his failure during the crucifixion, but when Jesus had told Him that he would die for His Lord, Peter is distracted and asks Jesus a question:
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
When thou wast young,
thou girdest thyself,
and walkedst whither thou wouldest:
but when thou shalt be old,
thou shalt stretch forth thy hands,
and another shall gird thee,
and carry thee
whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” John 21:18-19
Do you see that, even when Jesus told Peter how he would die a martyrs death, He called Peter to do one thing, the same thing that He calls us to do— “Follow me”? Jesus called this giant of a man, this big fisherman, this impetuous man who often had to pull his foot out of his mouth, this man– Jesus called him to “Follow me”!!! Take what I have put in your hand, and follow me!!! And the call hasn’t changed today, but then neither has human nature! Peter and these other disciples who had been with Jesus for some 3-3 ½ years still had a lot to learn. And just like many of us today, Peter immediately missed the lesson, and tried to get out of the hot seat by changing the subject.
“20 Then Peter,
seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following;
which also leaned on his breast at supper,
and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus,
Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him,
If I will
that he tarry
till I come,
what is that to thee?
follow thou me.” John 21:20-22
WOW!!! Just like we so often do, Peter wanted to know about John! Yet Jesus refused to answer that question, and reminded Peter that his only job was to “follow thou me”! And that is His call to us, “follow thou me”! Follow our Lord with what He has put in our hand. But we see even more about human nature—here in the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in His resurrected body, these faithful men missed the point, and apparently helped start a “rumor” that was not based in fact. We must be careful to share truth and not rumor. We must know what Jesus has said and share that truth with the world that He places in our path. Don’t be spreading rumors and causing jealousy and attention to be distracted from the Lord Jesus. Just speak the truth in love (See Ephesians 4:15).
“23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” John 21:20-23
So how are we to behave with our gifts? Peter, much later in his life than the event with Jesus and John, wrote to believers that we are to handle our gifts with integrity, humility and submission to God, and the power of His Spirit.
“As every man hath received the gift,
even so minister the same one to another,
as good stewards
of the manifold grace of God.
11 If any man speak,
let him speak as the oracles of God;
if any man minister,
let him do it as of the ability
which God giveth:
that God in all things
may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom be praise
and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
We are to minister as servants of God and His Son Jesus Christ. We are to use the gifts that God gives, to please our Lord, to follow His indwelling Holy Spirit, to bring Glory to God, and to increase the Kingdom. So the question that we need to answer is, “What is that in thine hand?” What has God gifted YOU to be and do? Are YOU being faithful with the gifts that He has blessed you with? Are you a child of God’s? Because if you aren’t you won’t understand what I’m talking about. You need to come to Jesus in recognition of your own sin, and your inability to do anything about your sin, and trust in the sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross, where HE paid for your sins, if you will but believe and follow Him.
And those of us, who belong to Jesus, are called to be faithful with that which has been entrusted to us. Are we being faithful with “what’s in our hand”, or are we waiting for some “great” thing to do? Jesus addressed that!
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10
The emphasis is on faithfulness not the size of the gift. While Moses was told to pick up a serpent by the tail—and we all know you don’t pick up a snake, and even if you did want to you wouldn’t pick it up by the tail!!! The important lesson is that He obeyed God. The serpent/snake had been a rod/staff in his hand, but God had transformed it into a serpent/snake, so Moses knew that the God who changed the rod could and would protect him from harm, even if he picked it up by the tail, as GOD told him to. This wasn’t a lesson in “snake handling”, but rather a lesson in trust and obedience. Now, I have to add that God hasn’t told me to pick up any snakes, and I surely am glad, but the issue isn’t “WHAT” is in your hand, but will you faithfully give it to God to do as HE pleases with it and YOU? Are we willing to follow Jesus regardless of where HE leads us? Yet we must be sure we are listening to the voice of Jesus and not the other voices calling for our attention, and bombarding us on every hand.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit,
but try the spirits
whether they are of God:
because many false prophets
are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
So how do we “try” the spirits/voices that we hear? We must be grounded in the Word of God, and walk closely with His Spirit moment by moment. One hour a week in a church service won’t suffice. You must apply yourself to know God through HIS Word continually, day by day, moment by moment!
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane and vain babblings:
for they will increase
unto more ungodliness.” 2 Timothy 2:15
While we are called to “rightly” divide (use and understand) the Bible. Implied also is the danger of those who will “wrongly” divide the Word! If you don’t know truth for yourself, you are subject to fall for the lies. We are also called to depend on the reliability of the Word and its supernatural inspiration through the Spirit of God, in its authorship as well as the Spirit led understanding of it.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine,
for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God
may be perfect,
unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
But the catch is, you have to open the book and study it, to benefit from it, after all it is God’s love letter to us. He sent it to YOU and me. May we avail ourselves of it to be sure that we are truly “following” Jesus!!!
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
So, ‘what’s that in your hand’? Have you been wasting God’s time and yours, or are you being faithful in that which is least? If we will be faithful in what HE has given us, then He will be glorified and honored and we will “grow thereby” (see 1 Peter 2:2)…. Won’t you follow Jesus with me, if you are HIS sheep? We don’t have any time to waste!!!
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:27
And here’s the song I mentioned at the beginning, may it bless your heart today as it has blessed mine through the years…….
By Ira Stamphill
“I traveled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care,
The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair,
I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him so so tenderly,
“My feet were also weary upon the Calv’ry road,
The cross became so heavy I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful weary pilgrim, the morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to me.”
“I work so hard for Jesus” I often boast and say,
“I’ve sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune; I’m worth a lot to thee,”
And then I heard Him gently say to me,
“I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross,
But now we’ll make the journey with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to me.”
Oh Jesus if I die upon a foreign field someday
‘Twould be no more than love demands, no less could I repay,
“No greater love hath mortal man than for a friend to die,”
These are the words he gently spoke to me,
“If just a cup of water I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water is all that I demand,”
But if by death to living they can thy glory see,
I’ll take my cross and follow close to thee.”
May we each “take my cross and follow close to thee”!!! Today, with whatever God has placed in your heart, your mind and your hand press on and follow JESUS! Let’s go!