Saturday, June 11, 2016

What is That in Your Hand?

When God created man, He put within him a seed to reproduce after his own kind, just as He did with the animals and the vegetation.

"Then God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them'; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good." (Gen 1:11-12).

In this manner, apple trees produce apples and reproduce apple trees, orange trees produce oranges and reproduce orange trees, cats reproduce cats and birds reproduce birds. Apple trees will never produce oranges and dogs will never produce humans, nor will humans produce cows. The seed God has placed within enables us to produce after our kind.

When God blessed Adam and Eve and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it (Gen 1:28), He put within them the seed to fulfill that command. Likewise, when God created each one of us, He created us for a purpose. He put within each one of us certain talents and abilities. When we come to know Christ and He baptizes us with His Spirit, we also receive gifts of the Spirit. So we all have these talents, abilities, and gifts from God -- some more and others less. We must commit these to God, consecrating them for His service, so that He would be glorified by our lives. Then He will take those and use them for His glory in ways that go beyond anything we ever imagined.

Let's look at some examples from Scripture of how the Lord does this.

Moses Delivering Israel from Egypt
In our first example, we have Moses, whose parents noticed when he was a baby that he was no ordinary child. God had given talents and abilities from birth. Then he was raised in Pharaoh's household. He was "educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds" (Ac 7:22). But look at how he saw himself when God called him at age eighty to deliver His people from Egypt.

Then Moses said to the LORD, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."  (Exo 4:10). That's typical for someone to view themselves as not having what it takes when in fact God has given them all they need.

When God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, Moses replied, "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.'" (Exo 4:1). Listen closely to what God said to him. "The LORD said to him, 'What is that in your hand?' And he said, 'A staff.'"  (Exo 4:2).

Moses did not have to go and find something he didn't have. God used what he already had in his hand, which was a common staff. God told him to throw it down on the ground, and when he did God turned it into a serpent.

Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail"--so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand-- "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."  (Exo 4:3-5)

And thus with this staff Moses confronted Pharaoh, performed signs and wonders, parted the Red Sea, and delivered the people of Israel out of slavery. God used what He had put within Moses at birth, and He used the very staff that was already in Moses' hand.

Likewise, God will use the talents and abilities He has put within you, so that you can fulfill the purpose  for which He created you. He will use what you already have in your hand.

Saving Faith
It's the same with saving faith. Listen to the apostle Paul.

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Rom 10:6-10)

See how it works? God has given each person a measure of faith inside their heart. When they hear the gospel, they already have a measure of faith. They simply need to get it to come from their heart, to their mouth, and out. With your heart you believe, but it is with your mouth you confess and are saved.

Confessing publicly before men that Jesus is Lord is essential to our salvation. I know a brother who spoke to his daughter the night before she got married. She had received Christ into her heart earlier in life, but he asked her if she had ever publicly confessed to anyone that Jesus was her Lord and Savior. She had not, so he encouraged her to do so. And when she did, her walk with the Lord changed in a wonderful way. She met up with other believers and began to grow. That marked the turning point where God changed her life.

We don't have to go looking elsewhere for a priest to confess our sins to, or a holy river to bathe in as the Hindus do, or a holy city to travel to on pilgrimage as the Muslims do to Mecca or the Catholics do to Rome. The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.

In fact, that's the way God created the universe. "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible." (Heb 11:3). God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. Whatever He wanted to create, He spoke it into existence, because He is God. Since He is God, He had within Him the Word necessary to create everything. And when He created you, He put within you what is necessary to accomplish the purpose He gave you in life.

David Defeating the Giant
Another great example is when David defeated Goliath the giant. Here were all these great warriors of Israel, older, stronger, more experienced in battle than David. But they were afraid of the giant and allowed him to curse the living God.

However, David did not put up with that. With the king's permission, he fought the giant. It was not with the king's armor that he did so. He could not wear the armor of someone else. Just as he had killed the lion and the bear who attacked his sheep without any armor, so he fought the giant without armor.

But David said to Saul, "Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you." (1Sa 17:34-37)

It was his faith in God that made the difference. God was his strength and his shield. By faith, he took his stick in his hand, his sling, and chose five smooth stones.

"He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine." (1Sa 17:40)

You see how he did it? David slew the giant with a sling and five smooth stones. The giant mocked him for coming at him with sticks and stones, but by faith, David defeated him. God used what was in his hand.

Jesus Multiplying the Fish and Loaves
The final example I would like to give is our Lord Jesus multiplying the fish and the loaves.

"Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, 'Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?' This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, 'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.'" (Joh 6:5-7)

Do you see the question the Lord asked to test them? "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?" This was to test them, because the Lord already knew what He was going to do to feed them. When you survey the situation you find yourself in, you may be wondering, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?" Your task may not be feeding a multitude of five thousand people as on that day, but it may be feeding your own family. Or it may be feeding those who come to your gospel rescue mission that you operate. Or it may be some other task that is unrelated to feeding people, but you may be wondering where you can go to find the resources you need to accomplish the task.

In Mark's gospel, he records Jesus asking the question of His disciples, "How many loaves do you have? Go look!" (Mar 6:38a). This is the same way the Lord taught Moses when He said, "What's that in your hand?" He was teaching His disciples that they could do all things through Him with what they already had on hand.

Here is how they replied to His question: "One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 'There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?'" (Joh 6:8-9). Mark's gospel says, "And when they found out, they said, 'Five, and two fish.'" (Mar 6:38b).

All Jesus needed was what they had on hand. As soon as they told Him, he commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass.

"And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish." (Mar 6:41-43)

The apostle John recorded it like this in his gospel: "Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted." (Joh 6:11)
Once they had sat down, He gave thanks, blessed the food, and broke the loaves. Then He kept giving it to the disciples to set before them, and He did the same with the two fish. So once again we have the same lesson as with Moses and David. God's supernatural power enabled the disciples to feed thousands with the food that one single boy had on hand.

Ex-Convict Finds Her Purpose
A friend of mine, named Jerry, works in a faith-based organization that helps people who have been in prison to get back into society and lead productive lives, rather than ending up back in prison. Normally the rate of recidivism in the USA is now about 77% (i.e., three out of four ex-offenders go back to jail in less than three years). But his group's rate of success is between 77%, and sometimes as high as 85%, meaning these participants get a job and stay out of prison. 

He told me the story of one woman, who had been incarcerated for a while and told him that she had never held any job at all and didn't "know how to do anything but sell drugs." Her mother had been a prostitute and she did not know her father. As Jerry was counseling her on what she could do in life now that she was out of prison, he asked her what was the last thing she remembered doing that was really enjoyable to her.

She said, "Well, drug dealing wasn't fun. That was scary." As she thought further, she said something like, "I remember one time helping my father take care of some animals, and I really enjoyed it." She helped brush their fur. So Jerry asked her what kind of animals, and she said, "All kinds -- cats, dogs, bunnies..." He asked if she minded picking up their feces or anything like that, and she said it didn't bother her at all. So he said, "That's it! That's what your supposed to do." Now she has a job working with animals, caring for them.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from Scripture in these examples, the Lord will use whatever you have on hand. Once you have committed it to Him with thanks and prayer, He will by His supernatural power enable you to do whatever is necessary, in order to bring glory to His name.

It's easy for any of us to think we don't have anything to contribute, and to see others as more talented than we are. You might look at a concert pianist and wish you could play like they do. But they started with a raw talent and then honed it. The same goes for an artist who paints beautiful pictures, like Danny Hahlbohm. He told me it took him years to hone that talent. People don't come out of the womb painting with such skill. It has to be developed. But when we commit it to God, the Holy Spirit can do anything He wants to with it.

Let me ask you today, "What is that in your hand?" What are your talents and abilities? What are the skills you possess? What resources do you already have in your possession -- monetary and non-monetary? Once you take inventory of them and you know what you have on hand, then commit it to God with thanksgiving and ask Him to use it for His glory. Take what you have and put it to use. Then watch and see the great and marvelous things that God will do with your life.

Now I'd like to ask you an even more important question below....

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB
Author's note: If you would like to be equipped to use what's in your hand for God's glory, please consider enrolling in our international Doulos Training School. You are invited to read The Kingdom of God is Like This, Multiplication, The Link Between Two Realms, Be a Star for Jesus, God's Supernatural Hand in Crisis, Being a Witness for Christ, The Sin of Silence, Baptized with the Spirit, Gems from Heaven, Give Me Children or I'll Die!, and Covenant Prayer. You may find more articles about being fruitful and multiplying on the Home Page of this blog. You may also find my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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