God can use what you’ve got

Posted Jun 9, 2021

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Daily Scripture

Exodus 3:2-10

2 The Lord’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up. 3 Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up.

4 When the Lord saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

Moses said, “I’m here.”

5 Then the Lord said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” 6 He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.

7 Then the Lord said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. 8 I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey, a place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all live. 9 Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. 10 So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

Exodus 4:1-5

1 Then Moses replied, “But what if they don’t believe me or pay attention to me? They might say to me, ‘The Lord didn’t appear to you!’”

2 The Lord said to him, “What’s that in your hand?”

Moses replied, “A shepherd’s rod.”

3 The Lord said, “Throw it down on the ground.” So Moses threw it on the ground, and it turned into a snake. Moses jumped back from it. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out and grab the snake by the tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a rod in his hand. 5 “Do this so that they will believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God has in fact appeared to you.”

John 6:5-9

5 Jesus looked up and saw the large crowd coming toward him. He asked Philip, “Where will we buy food to feed these people?” 6 Jesus said this to test him, for he already knew what he was going to do.

7 Philip replied, “More than a half year’s salary [or two hundred denaria] worth of food wouldn’t be enough for each person to have even a little bit.”

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, 9 “A youth here has five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that for a crowd like this?”

Reflection Questions

When younger brother Ian said they didn’t have what they needed for their quest, Barley told him, “On a quest you have to use what you’ve got, and this is what we’ve got.” * Moses, sent to challenge Pharaoh’s powerful army, asked what he should use for that task, and God asked, “What’s that in your hand?” Facing a hungry crowd of 5,000 (with no supermarket handy), Jesus' disciples couldn’t see what use a boy’s small lunch could be. Turns out God is good at using what we’ve got!

  • Moses didn’t feel strong enough to carry out God’s astonishing call. Go as one man, with no army at all, and demand that Pharaoh let most of his slave labor force go just because God told him to? But God responded, “I’ll be with you” (Exodus 3:12). What limits do you see on your ability to live for God? How (if at all) does it change your view of those limits if you trust God will be with you?
  • Feeding the huge crowd seemed impossible to the disciples. Andrew brought a lad’s small lunch saying, “But what good is that for a crowd like this?” As you recall what Jesus did with that small lunch (if you don’t recall, read John 6:10-13), what talents and resources do you have to offer to Jesus? Can you trust him to creatively multiply your gift and bless others through it?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to offer you any gifts and talents I have, as the lad offered what he had. Use and multiply my abilities to bless others, and thank you that you bless me in the giving. Amen.


* Onward quote from https://lolalambchops.com/

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Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

Can it really be that simple? Pause, breathe, pay attention. That seems to be the sum of the spiritual life. Pay attention to what is right front of me, right now? What is just inside of me, hovering in my chest, right now?

Yes, this is what God will use to transform my life. To transform the world.

In Exodus 3, Moses pauses to pay attention and sees a bush burning with flame, Holy Presence right in front of him. In Exodus 4, when Moses feels inadequate to the task God sets out, God’s question is “What is in your hand?” It is the immediate stuff of our lives where God shows up and uses whatever we have now to call us, like the Israelites, like Ian and Barley in Onward, into more spacious freedom.

God is not waiting for me to first transform myself into a better version of me. God is not withholding some powerful blessing until some future time when I am worthy.

It is our lives, just the way we are, right now, that are the holy ground of the burning bush. If only we will stop and look, pay attention.

Today, what is in your hand? (Exodus 4:2)

I offer this poem from Mary Oliver as our prayer today:

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
--Mary Oliver, Thirst *

* Found at https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/414333-praying-it-doesn-t-have-to-be-the-blue-iris-it

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