There are truths that I know and accept intellectually, but even with unquestioning acceptance, that truth staggers my imagination. All of us know what a fingerprint is. All of us know that each of us has a set of fingerprints. All of us know that each set of fingerprints is distintinctive--no two people's fingerprints are identical. Fingerprints are so distinctive, so unique, that you can be found and identified by your fingerprints no matter where you are in the world.

That staggers my imagination. Of all the people who have ever lived, of all the people who ever will live, no two people will ever have the same fingerprints. Of all the people living in the world right now, you and I have fingerprints that are so unique, so distinctive that we can be identified by our fingerprints.

If our fingerprints are all over it, it is our work.

God has fingerprints, and His fingerprints are also distinctive. Anyone can learn to recognize God's fingerprints. The certain way to learn to recognize God's finger- prints is to learn to correctly identify God's work in your life. Commonly we learn to identify God's fingerprints by looking at past experiences and seeing how God was at work within us. It is by seeing God's fingerprints in His past work in our lives that gives us the courage to confidently place the present in God's hands.

  1. One night God directed Abraham to take Isaac, the son God promised Abraham, and kill him by offering Isaac as a sacrifice on an altar (Genesis 22).
    1. Abraham got up early the next morning and made preparation to sacrifice his son quickly, his son that God promised him, his son that he deeply loved.
      1. He split the wood to be used in the sacrifice before he left.
      2. He took the fire with him so that he could make the sacrifice quickly.
      3. He took two young servants with him to assist him in making the journey as fast as possible.
      4. He was an elderly man, so he rode a donkey to make certain that he completed the journey.
      5. As he neared the site of sacrifice, he told the young servants to stay behind so that they would not interfere with the sacrifice.
      6. It took three days to get to the place God specified; that is a long time to knowingly take your only son that you love to his death.
      7. At the place God designated, Abraham built an altar, placed Isaac on it, and would have killed him if an angel had not stopped him.
      8. The angel said, "I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."
      9. Why was Abraham ready and willing to quickly sacrifice a son that he waited twenty-five years to be born?
        1. He could look back from the time that he was 75 years old and see God's fingerprints all over his life.
        2. He could see God's fingerprints during the twenty-five years that he waited for God to give him Isaac.
        3. He looked back and saw how God repeatedly did the impossible in his life.
        4. Because he saw God's fingerprints on his past, he did not hesitate to entrust his present to the hands of God.
    2. If ever a teenager experienced the best and worst of life, it was Joseph (Genesis 37).
      1. Of Jacob's twelve sons, Joseph was the favorite.
      2. His rich father gave Joseph the best his world had to offer.
      3. But because Joseph was such an arrogant brat, his brothers hated him.
      4. They hated him so much that:
        1. They captured him in the wilderness.
        2. They sold him as a slave to the Midianites.
      5. As a slave he grew up fast and became honorable, trustworthy, and a diligent laborer (Genesis 37:39-41).
        1. He refused the sexual advances of his owner's wife.
        2. She was angered by his rejection and accused him of attempted rape.
        3. As a result his deceived, very angry owner had him imprisoned in the royal prison.
      6. In prison he was a model prisoner and was appointed a trustee.
        1. He was so responsible and trusted that he was placed in charge of all the prisoners, and the warden did not even supervise his work.
        2. He helped the king's cup bearer whom the king put in prison, and all he asked was for this servant to remember Joseph when he was released and restored to his position.
        3. The servant was released and restored to his position, and promptly forgot about Joseph.
      7. Opportunity came for Joseph to interpret the king's dreams, and as a result the king made him the second most powerful ruler in the nation of Egypt.
      8. In that position as a powerful ruler, he saved his father, his brothers, and their families from starvation.
      9. After his father died, the brothers were terrified that Joseph would take vengeance on them for selling him into slavery.
      10. Joseph assured them that he would never take vengeance, and said, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive" (Genesis 50:20).
      11. As he looked back over his life, Joseph clearly saw God's fingerprints.

  2. It is relatively easy for Christians to look into the distant past and see God's fingerprints.
    1. For example, you and I can look back at Jesus' betrayal, trials, and execution on the cross and clearly see God's fingerprints.
      1. God's fingerprints at the crucifixion are so obvious to us.
        1. God was not only at work, God was doing His greatest work.
        2. We look and the cross and see God's fingerprints in:
          1. Forgiveness.
          2. Redemption.
          3. Justification.
          4. Atonement and propitiation.
      2. You and I owe every spiritual blessing we have to God's work in the cross of Jesus.
      3. Every Sunday morning we declare our faith in God's work through the cross by taking the Lord's Supper.
        1. We consciously reflect on what Jesus did for us by dying on that cross.
        2. We remind ourselves of what God did for us by letting him die.
      4. But the believers who watched him die did not see God's fingerprints.
        1. All they saw was the victory of evil--evil won; it killed God's son.
        2. They saw no divine plan, no divine purpose, no divine accomplishment.
        3. It is all to common to be unaware that God is at work when God is working.
    2. Isn't that the way it always works?
      1. We look back at the arrogant, self-confident, take-control Peter and see how God remolded his heart and attitude, but Peter could not see that as it was happening.
      2. We look back at the murdering, blaspheming Paul who hurt and destroyed men and women who placed their faith in Christ and see how God remolded his heart and attitude, but Paul could not see it as it was happening.

  3. When I look back through my life, I see God's fingerprints on my life so clearly in so many situations.
    1. During Joyce and my mission work in West Africa, due to some bureaucratic misunderstandings, the government closed our work down for six months.
      1. For six months I could not visit any of the congregations, could not preach, could not have contact with national Christians, could not explain to them what had happened.
      2. If I had attempted to do those things, we would have been deported, the church would have been banned, and Christians who defied the ban would have been put in prison.
      3. The missionaries took ever possible course of action to resolve the misunderstanding.
        1. We were finally reduced to sitting, praying, and hoping.
        2. That is when God really taught me what faith is--I thought I knew what faith was, but I didn't.
        3. And in that adversity, the church made progress I never dreamed possible.
        4. In time, the misunderstanding was corrected, and the problem was resolved.
    2. In the past two weeks, God's finger prints have been evident in our lives in a prominent manner.
      1. We had a difficult time finding a buyer for our house in Oxford.
      2. We had a difficult time closing the sell.
      3. There were lots of ups and downs, lots of uncertainties, lots of problems, and lots of delays.
      4. But when Joyce was hospitalized, I saw God's fingerprints, and felt greatly blessed and deeply grateful.

  4. Can the people closest to you see God's fingerprints on your life? Your heart? Your attitudes and emotions?
    1. Husband, can your wife and children see them?
    2. Wife, can your husband and children see them?
    3. Children, can your parents see them?
    4. Christians, can your friends, your coworkers, your boss, your fellow students, your neighbors see God's fingerprints in your life?

There are places that we despise seeing fingerprints. No one who wears glasses likes to see fingerprints on his or her glasses. We don't like fingerprints on any kind of window, any kind of mirror, around light switches, on shiny counters or glass table tops. There are many, many places that we never want to see fingerprints.

But there is one place I want to see fingerprints, and see them clearly. The fingerprints I want to see are fingerprints on my heart. And I want them to be God's fingerprints. I never want God to stop molding and shaping my heart. When I let God mold my heart, the rest of my life follows.

I want my heart to be just like this play dough. I want it to be soft and pliable in God's hands. I want God to constantly shape my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions, my attitudes, my motives, and my outlooks. I want God to constantly touch my heart. And each time He touches my heart, I want Him to leave His fingerprints.

Who's shaping your heart? God or Satan is. If it is hard and unfeeling, if it is cold and judgmental, if it is lifeless and stiff, Satan is shaping it, and his cruel fingerprints are on it.

If it is soft and yielding, if it is kind and compassionate, if it is repentant and gracious, God is shaping it.

Who do you want to mold it? Whose fingerprints do you want to be on your heart?

Have you ever been baptized into Christ? Do you know what baptism is? A person sees the handprints of God on the Cross. A person decides, "I am no longer going to live as I did." Baptism is the point where one takes his or her heart and gives it to God and says, "Here it is. It is yours."

Do you realize what a mess you make with your life if you are molding your own heart? It would be our joy to assist you with turning your heart over to God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 7 September 1997

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