What’s In Your Hand?

, , ,

Obedience releases God's power to transform, restore, and conquer.

Exodus(35) (Part of the Rescued(34) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on October 8, 2023 (Sunday Morning(343))

Obedience(34), Omnipotent(3), Restoration(1), Trust(24)


What’s In Your Hand?

(Exodus 4:1-9)



In 2000 Capital One started the marketing slogan, “What’s in your wallet?” ​​ It was used as a way to say, if you had a Capital One credit card in your wallet, you had buying power. ​​ The sky was the limit. ​​ You could purchase anything you wanted. ​​ Nothing was out of reach


Long before Capital One asked this question in their advertising campaign, the Lord asked a similar question of Moses. ​​ He wanted to know what was in his hand. ​​ God was going to use it to show His power.



  • ME

    • What’s in my wallet?

        • I had a Capital One card for work when we lived in California

        • While it was a company card, the credit limit was based on my personal credit score

        • The benefit for me was that the ministry allowed me to keep the miles earned on that card for my own personal use

        • I racked up a lot of miles, because they used my card for overseas and domestic airfare, plus other purchases

        • After leaving that position, I opened a personal Capital One credit card and transferred all of the miles to that new card

        • Judy and I eventually used those airfare miles for ourselves

    • What’s in my hand?

        • There are many things in my hand that God’s power can use for His glory

        • He has given me the ability to play guitar and sing

        • He has given me basic knowledge about vehicles to do certain maintenance and repair work

        • He has given me knowledge about computers, the internet, and other electronics

        • He has given me a love of learning, reading, and research, especially with His Word

        • He has given me the ability to speak publicly and preach His Word

        • The list could go on-and-on of how God has put various things in my hand to use for His glory


  • WE

    • How about us?

    • What abilities and gifts has God given us that He can use for His glory?


The Lord had promised to go to Egypt with Moses and had given him His name – I AM! ​​ He explained that the elders of Israel would listen to him and go with him to talk to the king of Egypt. ​​ Moses was still hesitant after receiving all of these promises and assurances. ​​ In order to ease Moses’ mind, the Lord gave him three miraculous signs he could use to convince the Israelites that God had sent him to deliver them. ​​ Moses had to be obedient and return to Egypt. ​​ He was going to find out that . . .


BIG IDEA – Obedience releases God’s power to transform, restore, and conquer.


The same is true for us also. ​​ When we obey what God is asking us to do, He will prepare and provide resources for the task. ​​ Our obedience releases His power.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Exodus 4:1-9)

    • Power to transform (vv. 1-5)

        • Doubt

          • As we learned in chapter 3, Moses saw a burning bush that was not being consumed

            • The Lord spoke to him from the burning bush

            • He realized that he was in the presence of the God of his forefathers

            • He was standing on holy ground

            • The Lord told him what name to use with the Israelites when he returned to Egypt – I Am!

            • He reassured Moses that the elders of Israel would listen to him

            • All of this just was not enough for Moses

            • “He does not share or embrace God’s optimism.” ​​ [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, 70]

          • Belief

            • ​​ “Moses was not doubting God’s promise, but he certainly was afraid the Israelites would doubt it.” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 129]

            • Perhaps Moses was still plagued by the Israelites rejection of his authority over 40 years ago

            • Were the Israelites going to accept his authority as God’s chosen deliverer – that was Moses’ concern

            • Would the Israelites believe that the Lord had appeared to him?

          • Application

            • How often do we doubt that others will believe God has spoken or appeared to us?

            • We know what God has called us to do, but we are fearful that others will doubt that calling on our lives

            • So, we file a formal protest with God instead of being obedient by faith

            • We forget that God is sovereign, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever present with us

            • I’m grateful that God is patient with us and listens to our concerns

          • God did not negate Moses concerns, but rather gave him some tools to boost his confidence

        • Ordinary

          • God asked Moses what was in his hand

          • He replied, “A staff”

            • As a shepherd, Moses main tool was his staff

            • It was an ordinary stick – a piece of wood

            • “‘What’s in your hand?’ God asked Moses. ​​ ‘A shepherd’s rod,’ Moses answered. ​​ ‘That’s what I’ll use,’ said God.

              ‘What’s in your hand, Paul?’ ​​ ‘A pen. ​​ I’m a scholar.’ ​​ ‘I’ll use that,’ said God. ​​ ‘You will write a great portion of My Word.’

              ‘What’s that in your hand, Peter?’ ​​ ‘A net. ​​ I’m a fisherman.’ ​​ ‘I’ll use that,’ said God. ​​ ‘You will be a fisher of men and haul people into the kingdom.’”
              ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis—Job, 241]

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – “God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.” ​​ [Enns, 109]

              • Take a moment to think about something you use every day for your work (computer, hammer, basketball, apple, forklift, teacher’s manual, etc.)

              • What is it made of?

              • Have you ever thought that God could use it to do something extraordinary for His glory?

              • “God gave you gifts when you were born simply waiting to be activated when you were born again.” ​​ [Courson, 241]

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Offer my ordinary tool to God, so He can do something extraordinary with it.

          • The reason the Lord asked Moses what was in his hand was because he was going to use it to do something extraordinary

        • Extraordinary

          • Moses’ obedience

            • The Lord told Moses to throw his staff on the ground and he obeyed

            • Obedience releases God’s power to TRANSFORM, restore, and conquer.

            • After Moses threw his staff on the ground, God transformed it into a snake

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God has the power to transform anything!

              • Do you believe that?

              • I have seen God use seemingly ordinary items and circumstances to transform people’s lives

              • I know that some of us are struggling to believe that God can transform anything or anyone, because we have been praying a long time for a family member or friend to be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ

              • We may still be waiting for the transformation to take place

              • Hold on to the truth that God is all-powerful and can transform anything or anyone

              • Continue to obediently cry out to Him for your family member or friend

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s all-powerful ability to transform anything or anyone.

            • When Moses’ staff turned into a snake, he reacted like most of us would

          • Moses’ reaction

            • Moses’ reaction, to this transformation, was to run!

            • I don’t normally run away from a snake, but I definitely make sure there is a safe distance between us

            • I am not knowledgeable enough to determine quickly if it is venomous or not (unless I hear a rattle, then I know!)

            • I know that some of us here today react to snakes in the same way Moses did – you run!

            • Some of us will not even agree that the best kind of snake is a dead snake

            • In their mind, the best kind of snake is a nonexistent snake

          • Facing fear

            • Moses obviously ran when his staff turned into a snake, because he was afraid

            • Now the Lord is asking him to not only get close to the snake, but to pick it up by the tail

              • Most snake handlers do not pick a snake up by the tail, because the head is free to strike

              • They will use a snake hook to trap the head, so they can pick it up behind the head (controlling the head protects them from being bitten)

            • We are not told how long it took Moses to obey the Lord, but we know that he did

            • When he took hold of the snake it turned back into a staff

              • “‘Snake’ is the same word as was used of the serpent in Genesis 3, and this suggests that the sign also indicated divine control over evil in general.” ​​ [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 90]

              • The Pharaoh’s headdress had a cobra on it, which represented his authority

              • The fact that God had the power to transform a staff into a snake and back into a staff showed His authority over the Egyptian gods and Pharaoh

              • God is ultimately in control of everything

            • Obedience releases God’s power to TRANSFORM, restore, and conquer.

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God has the power to transform anything!

          • Explaining the sign

            • The Lord told Moses that this sign (transforming a staff) was so the Israelites would believe that the Lord had appeared to him

            • The author identifies who the Lord is by adding that it was the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob

            • He would not be confused with any of the gods of Egypt

        • The Lord immediately provides a second sign as a backup to the first one

    • Power to restore (vv. 6-8)

        • Diseased hand

          • The Lord directed Moses to put his hand inside his cloak

            • It would have been the folds in his cloak above his waist

            • Perhaps he rested his hand there often

            • It was a place where he could conceal his hand from view

          • Moses obeyed and when he removed his hand it was leprous, like snow

            • The Hebrew word used for leprosy was also used for various skin diseases

            • The descriptive words “like snow” are not part of the symptoms of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) today. ​​ Some of the symptoms of Hansen’s disease are: [https://www.cdc.gov/leprosy/symptoms/index.html]

              • Discolored patches of skin, usually flat, that may be numb and look faded (lighter than the skin around)

              • Growths (nodules) on the skin

              • Thick, stiff or dry skin

              • Painless ulcers on the soles of feet

              • Painless swelling or lumps on the face or earlobes

              • Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes

            • It was definitely some kind of skin disease that caused the skin to have a flaky white appearance

          • The Lord did not leave Moses’ hand in a state of disease

        • Restored hand

          • The Lord directed Moses to put his hand back into his cloak

          • Moses obeyed and when he removed his hand it was restored

            • Obedience releases God’s power to transform, RESTORE, and conquer.

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God has the power to restore.

              • God has authority over disease and sickness

                • We can cry out to Him when we are experiencing disease and sickness

                • Jesus healed many people while on earth

                • God healed many people through the Apostles

                • God continues to heal today

                • He is sovereign, so He knows what is best for us

                • Paul’s thorn in the flesh may have been some kind of disease or illness and God told him that His grace was sufficient for him, for His power is made perfect in weakness (1 Cor. 12:9)

              • God also has the power to restore relationships

                • Maybe you are currently experiencing a broken relationship with a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor

                • You may feel like the relationship cannot be restored

                • I want to encourage you to cry out to the Lord for the relationship – start praying for the other person and watch what the Lord will do (don’t pray selfish prayers, but rather prayers of blessing over the other person)

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Cry out to God to restore ___________ (health/relationship/etc.).

            • Moses experienced the restoration power of God

          • He would be able to use this second sign if the Israelites did not believe the first sign

        • Reason for the second sign

          • The Lord explained to Moses that if the Israelites did not believe him or pay attention to the first sign they may believe the second

          • “In the present context these signs are intended to point to Moses’ divine commission, enabling the Israelites to believe that YHWH has sent Moses to them.” ​​ [Alexander, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 97]

          • We know that the Israelites did believe Moses after the signs were performed (Read Genesis 4:29-31)

        • The Lord had one final sign if needed

    • Power to conquer (v. 9)

        • The Lord told Moses that if the Israelites did not believe the first two signs or listen to him, he was to take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground

        • God would transform the water into blood on the ground

        • “Turning water into blood symbolizes God’s power over the elements, similar to the burning bush. ​​ It also symbolizes the power of Israel’s God over the power of the Egyptian gods and the Egyptian nation, whose life force was the Nile.” ​​ [Enns, The NIV Application Commentary, Exodus, 110]

        • PRINCIPLE #4 – God has the power to conquer.

          • This principle is a precursor to God’s power to conquer the nation of Egypt and set His people free from slavery

          • The ten plagues will overwhelmingly prove to Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt that the God of the Israelites was all-powerful and in control of everything

          • Obedience releases God’s power to transform, restore, and CONQUER.

          • The same is true for us

            • When we are obedient to God and His Word, His power is released and He can conquer whatever has us enslaved

            • What are you enslaved to today?

              • Alcohol or drugs

              • Pornography

              • Video games

              • A desire to be loved and not alone

              • Debt

              • Pride and selfishness

              • Gossip

              • A dead end job

              • A desire to have stuff

              • You fill in the blank with what has you enslaved

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be obedient to God and His Word, so He can release His power to conquer ______________ in my life.

          • Do you want to be set free today?

        • There are a couple of principles that encompass the entire passage we learned about today

    • Application

        • PRINCIPLE #5 – God will provide supernaturally what we lack naturally. [Martin, 20]

        • PRINCIPLE #6 – “God prepares and provides resources for the tasks to which He calls us.” ​​ [Martin, 22]

          • Aren’t you glad that God will not ask us to do anything without providing supernatural ability and resources to do it

          • These two principles should give us confidence and courage to share with others in our neighborhood, at work, and at home

          • Dr. Tony Wood, Pastor of Mission Bible Church, said, “We gather to worship and go out to witness.”


  • YOU

    • What ordinary tool are you ready to offer to God, so He can do something extraordinary with it?

    • Who or what do you need to trust God to transform with His all-powerful ability?

    • What do you need God to restore?

    • Are you ready to be obedient to God and His Word, so He can release His power to conquer whatever is enslaving you?


  • WE

    • What tools do we have as a body of believers that God can use to do the extraordinary?

    • Who or what do we need to trust God to transform?

    • What do we need God to restore in our congregation?

    • Are we ready to be obedient to God and His Word, so He can release His power to conquer whatever is enslaving us?



“In a recent issue of Christianity Today (January 2013), a Muslim man describes his commitment to follow Isa al Masih, Jesus the Messiah. Surprisingly, a rather ‘ordinary’ miracle caused this man to open his heart to Jesus. Here's how he described the miracle:


One night the only food my wife and I had was a small portion of macaroni. My wife prepared it very nicely. Then one of her friends knocked on the door. I told myself, The macaroni is not sufficient for even the two of us, so how will it be enough for three of us? But because we have no other custom, we opened the door, and she came in to eat with us.


While we were eating, the macaroni started to multiply; it became full in the bowl. I suspected that something was wrong with my eyes, so I started rubbing them. I thought maybe my wife hid some macaroni under the small table, so I checked, but there was nothing. My wife and I looked at each other, but because the guest was there, we said nothing.


Afterward I lay down on the bed, and as I slept, Isa came to me and asked me, ‘Do you know who multiplied the macaroni?’ I said, ‘I don't know.’ He said, ‘I am Isa al Masih [Jesus, the Messiah]. If you follow me, not only the macaroni but your life will be multiplied.’”


Source: Gene Daniels, "Worshipping Jesus in the Mosque," Christianity Today (January-February 2013).