Internationally revered Pastor Rick Warren slipped into the conference hall unnoticed Tuesday night, comfortably mingling with the hundreds of pastors gathered at the 19th annual National Conference on Preaching, before stepping on stage to deliver a sermon that reminded the audience why Warren is one of the most popular pastors in the world.
In his sermon entitled “Growing Spiritually,” Warren recounted the runaway success of his book The Purpose Driven Life – the best-selling book in history behind the Bible – to the audience gathered at Woodbridge, Virginia, in the US. The sermon was based on the story in Exodus 4 about the scene where God tells Moses to throw his staff on the ground and it transforms into a snake.
“That question, ‘What is in your hand?’ is one of the most important questions in life. What is in your hand?” Warren asked his audience, citing God’s question to Moses in Exodus 4:2.
God tells Moses to throw the staff in his hand on the ground and “something that was dead comes alive”, Warren emphasised. The pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California then made two points: God never does miracles to show off and God never asks questions that he does not already know the answer. God asks questions for our benefit, said Warren.
He went on to explain the significance of the staff which represented Moses’ identity as a shepherd; symbolised his income because wealth was tied to livestock back in those days; and symbolised his influence – Moses used the staff to pull or push his sheep.
“‘Lay it down and it will come alive, but Moses every time you pick it up it’s going to die,’” said Warren. “That simple little experience was the turning point in the history of the world.”
After that scene in the Bible, it was never again referred to as Moses’ staff but always called the Rod of God. The Rod of God was used to part the Red Sea, to turn the Nile River into blood, to perform miracles in front of pharaoh and to make water come out of a rock.
“It was just a simple stick. There was nothing magical about it, but once Moses surrendered it to God, it became the Rod of God,” Warren noted. “Pastors, what is in your hands?” the speaker challenged.
Courtesy of Christian Today