What’s in your hand?

What’s in your hand?

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As you can imagine, since I’m almost 70 and have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I’m

looking at life a little differently than when I was 45 and extremely healthy. I’m still very healthy

except for the cancer but this stage of my life I’m taking my life more seriously. I am considering

how I spend my time, energy, money and resources more carefully because I can see the end

of all that more clearly now.

Now I understand why God said to put elders—older people— in charge of churches. When

you get older, you usually get a wiser perspective on life and on God then you might have had

when you’re young.

Youth tends to give us the false security that we can take care of ourselves and that life will go

on indefinitely without any major problems.

That assumption is usually challenged as people get older. Older people tend to realize how

fragile and needy every person really is for God’s grace, God’s love and God’s wisdom.

Older people come to realize that they have lived most of their life already so they need to be

careful and wise how they use the remaining few years they have left on earth so that they can

please the Lord in every way possible and love people as well as they can.

Older people realize they have to make wiser choices if they want their lives to count to the

maximum for God and others. Some of us here are older and some of us are younger. I hope

that all of this will benefit from this sermon series on how to be good stewards of our lives.

They say that young men regret what they have done… and old men regret what they

have not done. I think there is a lot of truth to that.

My Five Hopes

1. I’m hoping that this series of messages in November about how to be good stewards of our

lives will help all of us avoid as much regret as possible when you reach old age and

when we reach heaven.

2. I’m hoping that as we reflect upon our lives this month, we can take some time to express

appropriate gratitude to God for all that he has given us and for all that he has done for us

already

3. I’m hoping that we will be able to make wiser choices in the months to come to use all that

God has given us for his glory and for the blessing of many people.

4. I’m hoping that this review of what God has given us and how we can use those resources

will not be a source of guilt to us but instead a healthy and holy challenge to maximize

the impact and potential God has given to each of us here on earth in our families, and our

work, are communities, our ministries and in our personal relationship with God.

5. I’m hoping that at the end of the series, we will all have:

1. A greater understanding of who we are in God’s sight.

WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

2. A greater awareness of our potential to do significant things for God and for

others by discovering what God has put in our hand: what he has put in us, what

opportunities he has put around us and what callings he has on our lives.

3. Finally, I hope this series grows within each heart a greater sense of adventure to

partner with God in living our lives to the maximum potential each of us has. We

only get one life to live on earth and then there’s eternity. There are things we can do on

earth that we could never do in all of eternity. Remember the exciting promise that God

made to each of us in Eph. 2:10?

So let’s go into the series with holy curiosity and childlike delight in the good God who has

given us so much already. Let’s embrace a bold sense of adventure to see the possibilities of

what we could yet do with all the resources God has given us.

As William Carey, a famous missionary said, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great

things for God.”

Why Are We Stewards?

Made in the Image of God (Gen. 1:26-27)

First, let’s agree that God created man to learn how to be made in the image of God. That

means that in many ways we are like God. It means that we have a mind, they will, emotions

and the ability to make choices between good and evil, between the good and the best.

God the Father

Like any good father, God knew that he would have to give his children opportunities to make

choices about how they would live their lives and use the resources you gave them according to

his will. No child will mature unless they are giving increasing ability to choose right from wrong

themselves. Forced obedience rarely produces healthy mature adults.

So, God made Adam and Eve responsible for the garden of Eden and all that was in it. He gave

them all the plants to eat there were edible, he gave them all the animals to name and enjoy as

companions of the garden and he gave them one prohibition: don’t eat from one tree.

As we know from the Bible, Adam & Eve seemed to do a good job as gardeners and keepers of

God’s animals. They were good stewards of the garden. But their stewardship of God’s one

prohibition was a complete failure in all of mankind has suffered because of that one failure.

As the Book of Romans reveals, sin entered the world when Adam sinned and sin brought

spiritual death to all of mankind. So as we all know, God sent another “Adam” called Jesus and

through his death all men can live as they put their faith in Jesus–as John 10:10 declares.

Finally, one of the most encouraging reasons God has made us stewards of our lives is that

God is preparing us to rule and reign with Jesus in heaven.

If we are faithful with the little here, God will give us much in heaven. In a real sense, we

are qualifying ourselves for leadership in heaven by how we live here on earth with what God

has given us. This is why the Scripture says that the first shall be last in the last shall be first.

WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

Simple, humble people who live out their lives faithfully and fruitfully can end up in heaven with

great responsibilities and authority.

Spiritual stewardship

There are many different kinds of stewardship but spiritual stewardship is the most important.

God calls us to respond wisely and obediently to what we know about Him. Those who do are

greatly blessed and those who do not suffer great loss. The story of Adam and Eve is the first

story in the Bible about the failure of spiritual stewardship.

In fact, most of the Old Testament tells the sad story of how the nation of Israel refused to be a

good steward of the spiritual revelation God gave them. They suffered great loss and the

nations they were supposed to be a witness to also suffered a great loss.

So what’s in our hand?

As most of you know, this phrase what’s in your hand comes from the story of God calling

Moses to rescue the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt in the book of Genesis. When

Moses was standing before the burning bush in Exodus 3, he balked at accepting God’s

assignments to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh and the Jews that God wanted the Jews to be

set free.

Moses gave God several excuses why he was not the right man to do the job. Moses said that

the people would never believe him. So God asked them, “What is in your hand Moses?” There

was a staff – – a wooden stick – – something so common and so ordinary that most people in

that time would not have even noticed if someone had one. Moses thought the staff was just for

walking and herding sheep.

God saw this staff in a completely different way. God showed Moses that if he were willing to

trust God and obey God, that ordinary staff could do more miraculous things.

So the truth of that story of Moses and his staff is a key principle in this series of

messages on stewardship: whatever God has given us, even though we may not see it as

important, even though we may not even notice it on a daily basis, even those things God can

use to do extraordinary things that we will listen to God, trust God and obey God.

Moses would never have known what was in his hand if he had not been standing before

burning Bush talking to God. In those moments of divine revelation, Moses discovered who

he really was and he discovered what that staff really was.

1. Find Your Burning Bush

Where and how do you really connect with God? When you read Scripture? When you worship?

When you were in a prayer group? When you spend time just listening to God?

The first step in becoming a good steward of our lives is to use get to know the One who

has made us to be who we are. Only God knows who we really are. People cannot know that

and most of the time we do not see ourselves as God sees us. He always sees much more than

we do. We are always much more important to him than we are to ourselves. He knows our

WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

potential and capability more than we do. So having encounters with God is the quickest way to

find out who we are and why we are here on earth.

My own life has been shaped more by encounters with God over the years than by any other

thing in my life. Because I was so broken when I was younger, I needed lots of reassurance

from God that I was loved and God gave that to me in many ways. His love defined my identity

as a son. That changed me forever.

In the late 90s, I and other people would meet in a trailer behind Kempsville Presbyterian

Church each week to worship and pray for one another. Jean Allen was part of that group. The

prayers on the prophecies of that group transformed me and others in remarkable ways. I used

to call it a birthing room because parts of my identity and parts of God’s calling of my life were

burst in those intense prayer times. I recommend meetings like this to all of you.

If I were you, I would begin to pray now for a small group of people that I could pray with on a

regular basis. After you have worshiped and prayed for whatever needs are on your heart, take

some time to listen to the Lord and pray for one another.

Lay hands on one another and bless one another. The Lord will often reveal things about us

in prayer meetings like this. these revelations from the Holy Spirit and help us discover who we

are in God’s sight and what he has called us to be and do here on earth. This kind of ministry

is a wonderful way to love one another. I hope each of you will seek to be part of such a

group if you are already not in such a group.

This is a picture of what I hope will happen to each of us in the weeks to come. I hope that we

will discover more of who we really are in God’s sight and what we really have in our

hands. The results of that discovery could be life-changing for us and for others and bring God

greater glory.

Desmond Doss discovered who he really was when faced with possibility of entering WWII as a

soldier. God spoke to him and it changed his life in a way that still makes grown men cry today.

Hacksaw Ridge Trailer.

2. Say Yes to God

The second principle we can glean from the story of Moses at the burning bush is that he had

to a good steward of the revelation He got at the bush. Prior to the burning bush, Moses saw

himself just as a shepherd of sheep. God said that he was also the liberator of an entire

nation. Moses had to make a choice. Now Moses was accountable to God to respond to what

God had said to him.

Accountability

Everything we learn about God whether it’s through the Scriptures, through personal encounters

in prayer or through demonstrations of God’s power and signs and wonders makes us more

accountable to God.

Jesus made this abundantly clear when he prophesied that it would be more tolerable in the day

of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for the cities where He had done many miracles like

Capernaum and Chorazin. because God revealed who Jesus is through his signs and wonders,

WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

those cities were more accountable to say yes to Jesus than cities who had never encountered

Jesus and his miracles.

Jesus also says that to whom much is been given much is expected. This is a principle that is

demonstrated in many places throughout the Scriptures. The clearest New Testament example

is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. I’m going to read this parable in the message

version of the Bible:

The Story About Investment

14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and

delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a

third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to

work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the

single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with

them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His

master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s

investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my

partner.’

24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate

careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might

disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and

sound down to the last cent.’

26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like

that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could

have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have

gotten a little interest.

28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-itsafe”

who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

Let’s be honest, this is a difficult parable to hear from the lips of Jesus. We know that were

saved by grace and not through works and yet Jesus clearly teaches that were accountable to

use well what he has given us here on earth. The overall teaching of Scripture seems to indicate

that every Christian’s life will be evaluated by God on judgment day for the purpose of

determining what degree of heavenly reward they receive. Some people’s works are seen by

God as a wooden stubble and the works and lives of others are seen as precious jewels. Both

kinds of people come into heaven but received different levels of reward for the way they have

lived their life. God would not be a just God if such a system were not in place.

I love what God said twice in the parable of the talents: His master said to him, ‘Well done, good

and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things;

enter into the joy of your master.’

WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

That’s what I want God to say to me and to all of us when we stand before him one day.

Obviously, just the fact that we are allowed to come into heaven through our faith in Jesus is the

greatest reward any of us could ever hope for. But God has work for us to do in eternity and

he wants to give us opportunities now to show him what we do with a little on earth so that he

can give us more in heaven.

God’s desire is always to promote us to higher levels of blessings in this life and the next. The

opportunities and resources he gives us now are given so that he can see our faithfulness and

promote us and reward us more generously. Everything he gives us is an opportunity he has

arranged to bless us more. However, he is looking to see how we respond to what he gives us

here on earth.

How to Be Faithful

So what is God looking for in our lives? How does he expect us to be good stewards of our

lives and resources?

Obviously, many of the things he has given us have been given to take care of ourselves our

families, our loved ones our neighbors and friends.The Book of James even says people

shouldn’t be idle but they should work so that they have things to share with others. Clearly,

God expects us to use our resources to help ourselves and others.

So, what you have in your hand?

If he has made us to do good works is Ephesians 2:10 says what has God shown us about who

we are? What has God put into our hands that he wants us to use for his glory and for the sake

of others? What does God want us to invest so that he receives a dividend on what he has

given us?

I have about 240 months left to live if I live to be 90. I could go home to heaven tomorrow. That’s

true of any of us of course. We only get one shot at this life. There are things we can do on

earth we could never do in heaven. There are people here who may never get to heaven unless

we do some of those things.

This message is not the main meant to make us feel guilty or sad or discouraged but rather to

emphasize how important each of our lives are to God.

Clearly, God is waiting to see how we will spend our lives. God is waiting to see what decisions

we will make that he can bless and that will bear fruit unto eternity.

God’s goal is to give us opportunities to grow more like Jesus, to make God more famous on

earth, to work with the Holy Spirit to do the good works that God has made us to do.

It doesn’t matter whether are president of United States or whether we stay at home and raise

six children, clean dishes wash clothes or just work as a mechanic in a garage. It’s not what we

do it’s how faithful we are to use whatever God’s given us for his purposes and glory.

So this month I’d like to explore more what it means to be responsible to God for everything we

have and everything we are.

WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

I think the Lord wants to encourage us to take ourselves more seriously as his personal

representatives as his witnesses to the people of earth.

I think the Lord wants us to use our time well as it says in Ephesians 5 so that we can

maximize Impact on earth and our preparation for heaven.

Our stewardship of our lives here on earth is just preparation for our rulership with Jesus in

heaven. God wants us to be a success on earth and in heaven more than we do. He so

proud of us already. He knows what our real potential is and is far more than what we would

think of ourselves

So what’s in your hand? What’s in your schedule, what’s in your bank account, what’s in your

education, within your skill sets, in your location, what’s in your resources that God could use to

better prepare us for heaven and to bring him greater glory here on earth. Let’s spend a few

moments contemplating that now right was see this powerful clip from the movie Les Mis.

Les Mis clip.

Like Jean Val Jean, we have been redeemed at great cost to God to live a life that brings honor

to God and love to others. In that scene with the priest, Jean Valjean discovered who he really

was in God’s sight in his life became a beautiful example of humility and love in the service of

others. Let’s take a few moments now and ask God how he sees us and how he wants us to

use our lives and our resources to fulfill our calling, to finish the good works he has made us for

and to prepare us for our lives in heaven ruling and reigning with Jesus.

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