Just Pick It Up!

by Reagan McClenny


Scripture: Ex 16:1-4 Jan 14, 2024

Reagan delves into the simplicity and profundity of obedience to God's commands, as demonstrated through three biblical narratives. The sermon highlights God's power to abundantly bless through the provision of manna in Exodus 16, reinforces Christ's authority to decisively command illustrated by the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2, and underscores our ability to simply obey, exemplified by the recovery of the axe head in 2 Kings 6. Reagan urges us to appreciate the minimal effort often required on our part to receive God's generous blessings, to recognize His rightful authority, and to accept that we are indeed capable of fulfilling His commands.


Oh, can, could you pick that up for me please? Thank you. What a simple request. Just pick it up. Easy to understand. Easy to obey. Four months ago I got a few shakes of the head, didn't it? Four months ago. I guess this is mid-September, is that four months ago? I was talking with one of my mentors and we were both discussing as we'd been reading through the Old Testament in our private study.

How many times we see God, or one of the messengers of God, tell people To just pick something up. Parents who are instructed to pick up their children who are raised from the dead. Widows who are told to pick up jars that are miraculously filled with oil. And example after example after example of people who were told to pick up And we resolved, the two of us, my mentor and I, that we would preach a lesson on this idea of just pick it up, and then we would compare notes when we both got finished.

And so he preached his, The next Sunday, and here I am four months later preaching mine. I'm grateful for your presence here this morning. May I suggest that just pick it up is a really great way to express the beauty of simply obeying God's commands. Of obeying God's often simple commands. And this concept found throughout scripture emphasizes at least three things that I'd like to examine this morning in three passages.

And the first of those passages is found in Exodus chapter 16, if you would turn over there, Exodus chapter 16. Three things that I want us to consider as we think about this concept of Just Pick It Up. Number one, God's power to abundantly bless. Number two, Christ's authority to decisively command. And number three, our ability to simply obey.

Again, thank you for being here this morning. I see a number who are visiting with us. We're grateful for your presence. I think we have a larger number on our live stream than normal. We're grateful that all of you are tuning in. And it's our prayer and it's our hope that the things that we do here this morning will be pleasing to God, that He will be grateful, grateful to us.

And isn't that an incredible? Incredible thought that the God of heaven and earth desires something from us and is grateful when we give that thing to him Our lives, our devotion, our praise and our worship. And I hope that the things that I share with you this morning will be helpful to you as you strive to be more who God has called you to be.

So let's think about this idea of just pick it up. Just pick it up shows us these three things. The first of which is God's power to abundantly bless. And if you're there in Exodus chapter 16, read with me beginning in verse 1 if you would. Exodus chapter 16, beginning in verse 1. We are seeing people who have already been abundantly blessed from God in that they are brought out of Egypt and out of slavery, away from Pharaoh.

And they find themselves now in the wilderness. They have been delivered from Pharaoh, and yet they have not yet reached Mount Sinai to receive the law, and so problems start to arise. Begin reading with me in verse 1. And they journeyed from Elium, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of sin, which is between Elium and Sinai.

On the 15th day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. Now, this will be an ongoing theme of their complaints in the wilderness. But what was it this time? Well, verse 3, And the children of Israel said to them, O, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt.

When we sat by the pots of meat, and when we ate bread to the full. For you brought us out into this wilderness to kill, this whole assembly with hunger. Then the Lord said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day that I may test them.

Whether they will walk in my law or not. And he goes on to describe the specific requirements of gathering this bread from heaven that is going to come to them. And if we drop down to verse 11, let's continue reading. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel.

Speak to them, saying, At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God. So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of the dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small, round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.

So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, What is it? Which is where it gets its name, manna. For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded. Let every man gather it according to each one's need.

One Omer for each person, according to the number of persons, let each man take for thee those who are in his. Then the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less. So when they measured it by Omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one's need.

And Moses said, Let no one leave any of it till morning, notwithstanding. They did not heed Moses, but some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank, and Moses was angry with them. So, verse 21, they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.

Manna. What is it? Is what manna means. Manna, bread from heaven provided by the Lord. And I want you to think about for a moment the idea of feeding this number of people. This happened six mornings a week. Enough food to feed people seven days a week. And by everyone, we're talking about a group of people that numbered from anywhere on the low end in the hundreds of thousands to as many as 2.

5 million people every day. For 40 years, they had enough to eat from God, and it just appeared with the dew in the morning. If that is not abundantly being blessed with your daily bread, I don't know a better illustration from the Bible to show what that looks like. Here, they depended upon God to provide these blessings to them, and God provided those blessings according to His Word over and over again.

And God, our God, is a God who loves to bless. And He has always loved to bless His people. In the New Testament, in James chapter 1 and verse 17, James says, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Whether it is bread from heaven with manna, whether it is the Word of God, which is what James is specifically talking about, every good and every perfect gift, every true blessing we have in our lives comes from God. And this is what God wants to do. God's blessings are so great, and yet so often, in comparison, so very little is required of us for such abundant gifts.

Many times, all we have to do, whether literally or metaphorically, is just pick it up, so to speak. Because very little is required of us to receive the blessing. So many of God's blessings are like this. It's right there. All you have to do is pick it up by faith. And I'm afraid sometimes we, we know that we're supposed to give our all to the Lord.

That we should be willing to give everything to Him. That should be our attitude. That we're, I'm gonna give everything that I am, everything that I have belongs to the Lord. And that's right, and that's true, and that's biblical. But I'm afraid sometimes we almost oversell that. How many of us have really had to give everything that we have for the Lord?

I mean, that should be our attitude. That should be what we're willing to do. We should be saying, everything that I have is the Lord's. And yet so many of us, probably every one of us in this room at least, have been given so much more than what we need. And God has asked of us so little in return. Now that's physically, what about spiritually?

And giving His Son, and giving us the path to eternal life, life, and life more abundantly, and asking so very little in return from us. I'll admit, I look at people that I know, people that I love, and sometimes I just want to take them by the shoulders and shake them and say, This is not the life that God has in mind for you.

This is not what your life could be and should be if you would just submit yourself and follow the plans and purposes of God. He desires to bless you and bless you abundantly. But it requires you submitting yourself to His will, and when He says pick it up, whatever it is, that you're willing to do it.

Our physical needs, contentment, purpose, peace, even salvation, just pick it up. Because we have to pick up what He requires at His command. And so the second thing that we see, and another passage that deals with this idea of picking it up, is Christ's authority to decisively command. If Christ tells us to pick it up, you know what we ought to do?

Now I'm going to put three scriptures up on the board. These are the Synoptic Gospels. Each of the three Synoptic Gospels has this account. You can turn to Luke 5, Matthew 9, or Mark 2. I'm going to turn, I think, to Mark 2. I hadn't really decided until this morning which one of these I was going to turn to.

Each of these accounts gives us some little nuggets of detail that the others do not. But the overall story is the same. It's the same occasion. And let's look at I'll be reading from Mark's account. You can read along in one of the others and see some of those little details if you'd like. But I'm gonna begin reading in Mark chapter 2 and beginning in verse 1.

And again, he, that is Jesus, entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house immediately when they heard it. Many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door, and he preached the word to them. Then they came to him, bringing a paralytic, who was carried by four men.

And when they could not come near him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was. They made a hole in the roof. The roof was normally made of of some rough plaster with different kinds of straw and so forth and so it's something that they could pull that roof out and then lower him down and that's exactly what they did.

They uncovered the roof where He was, so when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their face, He said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven you. Do you think that's really what they were going for here? I mean, Jesus fame has spread. This is pretty early in His ministry.

But His fame has spread throughout Galilee, and He is known to be a great healer. On a number of occasions, He heals. He heals every single person who comes to him. He heals them fully of whatever their infirmity was. And so they go through all of this trouble, which, coincidentally, don't we all want friends like this who'd be willing to do this for us?

Go through all this trouble to get up on the roof, make a hole, lower him down, and Jesus says, Son, your sins are forgiven you. But Jesus has a point that He's making. Verse 6, And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, Why does this man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?

But immediately when Jesus perceived in His Spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven you? Or to say, Arise, take up your bed, and walk. Well, you answer that question. Which is easier to say?

If someone were to come and to be placed at the front of this congregation, which would be easier for us to say to that person, Your sins are forgiven you? Which cannot be verified in any sort of scientific sort of way, or pick up your bed and walk. Which of those two would be easier to say? Well, it'd be easier to say, your sins are forgiven you.

And that's Jesus point here. Verse 10, But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, arise, take up your bed, pick up your bed, and go to your house. Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this.

I want you to think for a moment. What is the greatest manifestation of God's power that has ever been seen by men? The flood? The parting of the Red Sea? The plagues of Egypt, the sun standing still, an angel destroying the Assyrian army. The creation itself and all of its glory that we see and observe on a daily basis.

Some other miraculous deed performed by Jesus or someone else? What if I told you God's greatest manifestation of power seen by men was none of those things? No! His power is manifested more clearly and more powerfully in And the difficulty of greater things than even the creation of our universe or the bending of its laws to His will.

The greatest manifestation of God's power is drawing often rebellious, free will beings to Himself. Everything that has gone into the forgiveness of our sins. And Jesus says to this paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you. And ask the question, which is easier to say? Well, it's easier to say your sins are forgiven you.

But which one? Which one is actually easier for Jesus? It's easier for Him to just heal this man. He created this man and everything around him. But the power to forgive sins, that's what Jesus is demonstrating on this occasion. And He showed that He had that power to do the harder thing by doing the easier thing.

But there's another element to this occasion. Not just that Jesus had the power to command and to forgive, but that the lame man had the ability, we might say, to obey. Have you ever thought about raise your hand if you've heard this story before in the Gospels. Raise your hand. Most of us have heard this before.

Some of you just don't want to raise your hand. That's okay. I'm cool with that. But I want you to imagine for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of these people. Put yourself in the shoes of this paralytic. Have you ever thought about how silly this command must have sounded to those who were there to witness it?

Especially if they had never seen Jesus perform a miracle before. Or even to the lame man himself. Pick up your bed and walk. You can imagine someone in our day and I think our culture is such the idea of obeying a command is a little bit more difficult for us than it would have been for us. for other people in different cultures.

You can imagine someone in our day and age saying, sorry, you know, I'm lame. I can't do that. You're telling me to do something that I cannot do. But here's the kicker. And please hear me clearly on this. God never asks us to do something that we are unable to do. Most of us who are parents have experienced something similar with our children.

Have you ever, have you ever told your child to do something and they say, not in rebellion but in Uncertainty about themselves and their own abilities. You tell them to do something, they say, I can't, I can't do that. You know what my response is to my daughters when they've said that to me is, Yes you can, because I'm your dad and I'm never going to ask you to do something that you can't do.

And it's the same thing for God. God never asks us to do things that we don't have the ability to do. Now, maybe we need His help, maybe we need His tools, maybe we need the things that He provides in order to perform those things, in order to do those things, but He asks us to do the things ability to do.

And yet so often I'm afraid that we put limitations on ourselves or we allow the world to put limitations on ourselves, even spiritually, that God never intended. I've never seen a flea circus. In fact, I've never met someone who's actually seen a flea circus. Maybe there's somebody in here who can tell me about it afterwards.

You know that those things really exist. Maybe they still exist in some parts of the world. People would put out a blanket, and they'd have different fleas, and they're jumping at different heights, and those sorts of things. Have you ever wondered about how they, how do you train a flea to do something?

Well I saw a video of this, and in fact I took a while to actually use this illustration, because I wanted to confirm that this was actually true, not just some old wives tale. But I saw a video where they did a time lapse and actually show that, showed this. Do you know how you train a flea to jump a certain height?

You put some fleas in a jar, and the first day, you know what you hear at the top of that jar with the lid on it? Because those fleas are jumping, and they're hitting the lid. You wait a day or so, and you know what you hear?

They're still jumping, but they're not hitting the lid as often. Then after about three days, supposedly, this is how long it takes, you know what you hear when you come to that jar? Exactly. And for the rest of their lives, short though they may be, Those fleas, even if you take the lid off and let them out, they will never jump any higher than this ever again.

And in fact, they've done studies on this. It's crazy, isn't it? Multiple generations often will only jump this high, of the descendants of those same fleas.

May I suggest that that's what the world does to us with our spiritual potential. What we can do and accomplish in the name of God, who we can be, because we have been called to be Christians. The world wants to put a lid on our potential and say, This is as good as you can do and no better. And what God wants to do is take the lid off before it's too late and say, No, you can be more than that.

You can't do more than that. And too many people are walking around believing the lies that the world is telling them over and over about the limitations of their spiritual potential. You can't overcome that sin, the world says. You can't control your lust, or your temper, or your language, or your pride, or your greed.

The world looks at us and says, look around at this world, you can't be happy. You can't find contentment, certainly not with God. Contentment isn't possible, not for you, maybe for other people, but not for you, because of your trauma, because of your victimhood, because of your poverty, because of your illness.

You can't bring other people to Jesus. That's what Satan wants you to think. You don't know enough. You're not good enough. You're a hypocrite. You're too busy. You're too young. You're too old. But brothers and sisters, beloved, if God asks us to do something, if He commands us to do something, we have the ability to do it with His, with His help, with His power.

God takes the lid off and says that you can. And if God says you can, you know what? You can. And when Christ commands us to do something, It is because we have the ability to do it. Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am not talking about a standard of perfection, and God is not talking about that either.

But He is talking about walking in the light as He is in the light. Practicing righteousness. Where we do the things that He commands us to do, and don't do the things that He commands us not to do. And then finally, and really this is the passage for me that was the basis for looking at this concept in the first place.

Number three, just pick it up, shows our ability to simply obey. Would you turn to one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament? 2 Kings chapter 6, beginning in verse 1. Now in times past, I've done an entire lesson out of this passage. There are some really interesting and cool points that we might make, but there's only one that I'd like to make this morning.

In the days of Elisha the prophet, which is during the period of the divided kingdoms, And specifically with the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel, that's the, the kings to whom and the people to whom Elisha was a prophet, we see that there were sons of the prophets, we might call them disciples to use New Testament terminology, who followed Elisha around and wanted to learn from him.

And this is a story about them. Beginning in verse 1, The sons of the prophets said to Elisha, See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell. So he answered, Go. Then one said, Please consent to go with your servants.

And he answered, I will go. So he went with them. And they came to the Jordan, and they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron axe head fell into the water. And he cried out and said, Alas, master, for it was borrowed. So the man of God said, Where did it fall? And he showed him the place.

So he cut off a stick, and he threw it in there, and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, Pick it up for yourself. So he reached out his hand and took it. This was a big deal, especially for somebody who was trying to do what's right, trying to follow the commands of God. This axe head was borrowed, and because he had lost it into the river and he couldn't get it back, that meant, then, that he had to replace the value of the axe head plus another 20% to whomever he borrowed it from.

Then he had to make certain sacrifices because of unintentional sin to make all of this right with God. And so this guy says, Alas, Master, for it was borrowed. I didn't have the money to buy one for myself to start with. Now I've lost the one that was borrowed and I have all of these requirements if I'm going to make it right in my life.

And so Elisha works this great miracle on this occasion. He says, where did it go in? He throws in a stick.

And he's commanded by God's prophet, by Elisha, to pick it up for yourself. I love, I love the simplicity of that, don't you? Pick it up for yourself. So, he reached out his hand and he took it. Pick it up, he picks it up. There's a simplicity in this command and the obedience to that command. There's no misunderstanding, there's no argumentation, there's no hesitation.

There's only obedience and gratitude. That I know what to do, I've done it, and I recognize what God has done for me because I have obeyed His command. And maybe When it comes to so many of the commands of God, we should simplify it in just the same way. Think about some of these biblical commands. Okay, I'm not going to give you all the passages and so forth to go with these commands, but I'm going to read a list.

I want you to think about the simplicity of obeying these commands. Ready? Husbands, love your wives.

No misunderstanding. No argumentation. No hesitation. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, respect your husbands. Children, obey your parents. Do not worry. Be angry and do not sin. Repent and be baptized. Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as Christ also forgave you. Abhor what is evil.

Cling to what is good. Pursue hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. And how many more could we list? And I know at this point you say, that's oversimplifying it, preacher.

There's so much more that is in those commands. End. There's some truth to that. There's some depth there. There's some understanding there. There is some reality of, I need to study God's Word to see how I'm going to fulfill those things. But when it gets right down to it, when the rubber meets the road, you know what my attitude should be?

Okay, I'll do it. No misunderstanding. No argumentation. No hesitation. Only obedience and gratitude. Yes, obedience. There is work that we must do. And I'm, I've preached, and I want to make clear, we are not saved by meritorious works where we earn our way into heaven. That I deserve to go to heaven because of all the works that I have done.

The only way we could do that is if we were totally perfect, we never sinned in any way, we only did what God wanted us to do our whole lives. That's the only way we could say, I earned it, I deserve it because of my own works. But, we have, each and every one of us, a God given part to play in receiving His blessings.

There is work for us to do, though God is giving us these blessings. He is commanding us what to do. so that we might receive them. And our part is to simply obey according to our ability. Now, like many good preacher stories, this story comes to me fourth hand. I knew I was going to be preaching this this morning.

And how often do illustrations just walk into the church building? But that's exactly what happened on Friday. One of the members here came in and we were talking and he said, You know, I heard this story. Have you heard this? And I hadn't heard it. Now, he heard it. From a blog of a preacher that he had written it down, and that preacher had read it from somewhere else, and the person who wrote that supposedly had heard this about a father and his son.

So, take that for what you will. Fourth hand. Now, fifth hand to you, maybe? Is that the way that works? But the story goes that there was a father who had some young sons, and this was a, a farmer. And he said to his sons, When you get to be twelve years old, I will tell you the secret to life. When you get to be twelve years old, I will tell you the secret to life.

And so, when one of his sons reaches twelve years old, He says to him, okay, you're ready. I will tell you the secret to life. And at this point, the brother who's coming and telling me this, he's looked in his phone because he wants to get it exactly right, and I'm just dying, right? Like, what is this wisdom going to be?

Here it is. Cows don't give milk.

Your face is very much what my face was when he said that to me. Cows don't give milk. Why is that? Because we have to go and we have to get it.

Now there is a sense in which, of course, cows do give milk. It's a great blessing to be able to receive this. I wonder who the first person was going back into antiquity that said, you know what, I bet, I bet this would be good if we did this.

But something must be done. In order to receive that blessing, a willingness to work is often lacking. Even among those who have some desire to come to God. And yet God requires of us to do our part. And thinking back to our story not our story, but to the biblical account that's found in 2 Kings chapter 6, I assume that a God who is powerful enough to make iron float, if iron can float on top of water, I assume that that same God could make iron float on top of air and kind of levitate over to this person and just drop it right there in his hands.

But God didn't do that. God required of him to do what it was he could do. He couldn't get the axe out of the water. He couldn't go down in there and make it float himself. He couldn't find it. But when it was floating on top, he could reach out and take it. And so that's exactly what God required of him.

And God's saving grace always requires something from us. Our small part in order to accept it. In order to pick it up. And what is our part? Simply this. Whatever God commands. Amen? Whatever that is. And we can sit down and study, and if you're not sure about what God commands you in order to be saved, I would love to sit down and study with you more about what that is.

But our attitude has to be from the very beginning, whatever God commands, I am willing to do. Because of how much He is willing to bless me. So God gives the gift, which means He sets the requirements. And for this man in 2 Kings 6, it was reach out and take it. And God was clearly the one who saved him from this predicament by His grace, but he still had to just pick it up.

And whatever God asked, I will do. Because it is so small in comparison to what He has done. So, to sum up our study this morning. Our obedience affords no reason for pride because it is so small in comparison to the blessings that God abundantly offers. Our obedience is demanded, however, because of the authority.

of the one who commands us in Jesus Christ. And our obedience is possible. It is. Because it is asked of us by the one who knows us better than we know ourselves. Who knows exactly what we are capable of and what we are not. He is the one who commands. In any of these stories, these accounts that we've covered, the three primary ones that we've talked about, what would have happened if they didn't just pick it up?

Well, starvation if they didn't pick up the manna, disability if the man didn't rise and pick up his bed, and punishment under the law. If he had not picked up the axe head and what will happen to us if we do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ on describing the judgment day, Paul describes the righteousness of God in judgment in second Thessalonians one versus eight and nine when he describes God coming in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God, Not those who've never heard of God, but those who don't have a relationship with Him.

And, on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those are the ones who will be separated from Him. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. And from the glory of his power. But if we will just, you know, pick it up. Oh, the blessing that can be ours.

Spiritual bread, spiritual healing, spiritual pardon? Just call on the name of the Lord in belief, repentance, confession, and baptism, and enjoy all of the blessings of the one who loves to abundantly bless. And if we can help you with that, even this morning, come now together, we stand. And while we sing.