I have always been told there are several ways to do things.
There are “always” several ways to “get things done” by the “right way.”
There are always several ways to get things done by the “legal” way.
By My Way!
By Your Way!
By No One’s Specific Way!
By Everyone Else’s Way!
By Any and ‘All’ ‘Legal’ Means Necessary!
By the Highway!
By the Churches Way!
By the Book – step by step by step!
By the Manufacturers Manual!
By the “Bosses” Manual! (Who is the ‘Boss’?)
By the “hands on” Way which is generally found somewhere in between!
There is the way of man defined and shaped and molded by their own hands.
Then there is the Master’s Way ….
The Master’s Way which is(?) held to be Sovereign above all other ways.
So, now we have the place where resistance and conflict inevitably collide.
Just who is “The Master?” “Who is Sovereign?” “Who is it who holds sway?”
Deep Questions … Shall a Mighty Debate now Ensue between “the Master’s?”
Or should one “Master” simply recognize their sovereignty is as nothing?
We are aware there is a well-known hymn entitled, “Have Thine Own Way.”
The first line of this hymn says,
“Have Thine own way, Lord! . . . Thou art the potter, I am the clay! Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”
When Adelaide Pollard wrote the words to this hymn she was speaking of the ancient biblical imagery of God as the Master Potter, which is used many times throughout the length and breadth and width and heights of God’s Scriptures.
The prophet Isaiah used the imagery of the potter to stress God’s sovereignty.
For example, Isaiah 29:16 says, “Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me?’ Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding?’”
God’s Prophet Isaiah was saying that people have no perception of the ways of God, and to question Him is foolish, for we are just weak and fragile vessels.
Romans 9:21 The Apostle Paul used the imagery of the potter when people were complaining that God is unjust.
He asked, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” Paul was saying, “Who are we to question God? He can do whatever He wants with our lives!”
From our biblical text today, we are going to look at how Jeremiah used the imagery of God as the potter, as he was trying to communicate the Lord’s sovereignty concerning his life and our lives.
Let’s pray we can see what our Sovereign God led Jeremiah to share with the people of Judah, or southern Israel, and let’s try to apply it to our lives today.
Jeremiah 18:1-6 Amplified Bible
The Potter and the Clay
18 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will make you hear My words.” 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house and saw that he was working at the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled by the potter’s hand; so, he made it over, reworking it and making it into another pot that seemed good to him.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” says the Lord. “Look carefully, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Jeremiah went to the potter’s house as the Lord commanded him, and while he was there, he saw a potter spinning his wheel and molding a piece of clay.
The potter’s wheel in that ancient day and time was actually two wheels linked together by a pedestal. The potter would spin the bottom wheel with his feet, while the clay spun on the upper wheel to be moistened, shaped by his hands.
Jeremiah was standing in awe as he watched the potter fashion a piece of clay.
He saw the potter’s fingers ever so naturally and gently glide along the slippery clay, shaping and molding it with the slightest touch.
The potter with his vision, only had to touch the tip of his finger against the clay, and its shape would be changed. Jeremiah said that the clay was marred in the potter’s hand, and he made it again into another vessel that pleased him.
If a potter is displeased with the shape of the clay he is molding, all he has to do is squash it flat and start over again.
Jeremiah realized that this is a picture of our lives. Our lives are as fragile as wet clay in the hands of a potter, and the Lord has the ability to reshape our lives.
The potter uses several implements, or tools, to bring the clay to a place where it is usable:
First, he uses a shovel.
This is the tool he uses to dig the clay from the earth.
This is a picture of the Spirit of God who comes to where we are in sin and speaks to us in convicting power and draws us to Jesus.
Secondly, he uses a mallet.
After the clay has been cleansed and processed, it is laid on a table and beaten with a wooden mallet.
The potter does this to remove any air bubbles that might be trapped in the clay.
If he doesn’t, the air bubble will form a pocket that will produce a weak spot and cause the vessel to be fragile and unusable.
This is a picture of the trials . . . and chastisements of life that tend to work together to mold us and to shape us into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thirdly he uses the wheel.
Jeremiah saw the wheel turning constantly, bringing the clay against the potter’s hand.
The wheel stands for the turning circumstances of our life, under the control of the Potter . . . As our life is being shaped and molded by the Great Potter, it is the circumstances of our life, the wheels of circumstance . . . which bring us again and again under the Potter’s hand, under the pressure of [His] molding fingers.
Fourthly he uses his hands.
While the clay spins around on the wheel, it is never out of contact with the potter’s hands. He is in constant contact, molding, shaping and bringing the clay along through his loving guidance.
If the potter were to ever remove his hand, the clay would spin right off the wheel and would be splattered everywhere in the room and lost. Therefore, he stays there, in contact with the clay . . . until it become what he desires it to be.
As the Great Potter, God’s desire is to make us into a beautiful creation that is useful to Him. The key we must remember is that the Lord can only shape us if we stop “naturally resisting,” submit to His loving hands, allow Him to do so.
You Can Be Remolded (vv. 5-10)
Jeremiah 18:5-10Amplified Bible
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” says the Lord. “Look carefully, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. 7 At one moment I might [suddenly] speak concerning a nation or kingdom, that I will uproot and break down and destroy; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will [a]relent and reverse My decision concerning the devastation that I intended to do. 9 Or at another time I might [suddenly] speak about a nation or kingdom that I will build up or establish; 10 and if they do evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will reverse My decision concerning the good with which I had promised to bless them.
Judah had been disobedient to the Lord by worshipping other gods.
Through Jeremiah, the Lord informed the people of Judah that if they didn’t repent, they would be destroyed. While people are in God’s hands, meaning under His shaping influence, it is much easier to humble oneself and repent.
Proverbs 16:1-3 Amplified Bible
Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
16 The plans and reflections of the heart belong to man,
But the [wise] answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes [and he may see nothing wrong with his actions],
But the Lord weighs and examines the motives and intents [of the heart and knows the truth].
[a]Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him],
And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].
In other words, beloved Children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, when God asks us to repent, we had better do so before we decide to go our own way.
Pay close attention, dear Body of Christ, God’s Church in God’s Neighborhood,
Once He allows us to make our own choices, then our way leads to destruction.
The late Country Music singer John Denver said,
“The potter’s wheel takes love and caring, skill and patience fast and slow. The works it makes are easily broken, once they survive the potter’s throw.”
What he meant is that when the clay survives the throwing and molding process on the wheel, and then becomes fired in the kiln, at this point it is easily broken.
If someone drops a pot that has been hardened as glass, it will so easily shatter.
While clay is still wet in the potter’s hands it has a chance to be reshaped, made into a new creation, but once it has been set and fired in the kiln and made hard, it cannot be reshaped.
The only way it can change its shape after it is dried is when it’s thrown on the ground and shattered into tiny pieces, which not a shape to be desired.
In Isaiah 30:14, the prophet told the people of Israel that if they failed to repent, then God
“shall break it like the breaking of the potter’s vessel, which is broken in pieces; He shall not spare. So, there shall not be found among its fragments a shard to take fire from the hearth, or to take water from the cistern.”
If the nation of Israel became set in her ways and did not listen to the Lord, then she could no longer be molded.
The nation would soon be dropped and broken into countless pieces.
If the Lord is speaking to your heart this evening to accept Jesus Christ, then you had better do so before it’s too late.
If you continually deny Jesus, then your heart will become hardened to Him, like a pot that has been fired in the kiln. If you harden your heart to Jesus, then you are no longer moldable by the Great Potter. You are heading for a great fall, and when you hit the ground, you will break! It’s not going to be a pretty sight!
You Must Repent Now (v. 11)
Jeremiah 18:11Amplified Bible
11 Now then, say to the men of Judah and to the citizens of Jerusalem, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am shaping a disaster and working out a plan against you. Turn back, each of you from his evil way; correct your habits and change your actions for the better.”’
God spoke through Jeremiah and told Judah to repent. He said that if Judah didn’t turn from her evil ways immediately then she was heading for destruction. When God said, “I am fashioning as disaster and devising a plan against you,” He was telling Judah that He was getting ready to drop her on the ground to be shattered to pieces. We know the outcome of this situation. Judah was indeed shattered and broken to pieces when her people were taken captive by other nations and separated like a glass jar that has burst apart and its pieces scattered abroad.
Revelation 2:25-27 Jesus says we should be faithful to Him until the very end.
He says of those who are unfaithful,
“They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels.”
If you have not given your life over to Jesus Christ, then you are headed for destruction. I encourage you to give your life to Him now, before it’s too late.
Jeremiah said everyone then and ergo, now, is to
“return now from his evil way.”
To “return now” means this very minute.
You see, we don’t know for certain if we have another minute left to live.
We could die as we leave for work or shopping today, or Jesus could return to take His people home. We are not guaranteed another minute, so we should accept Jesus Christ into our hearts right now. Paul said, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2b).
Time of Reflection
What Jeremiah has revealed to us is that the Lord continually and continuously loves us and desires for us to be in contact with His loving hands at all times.
He wants us to drop our natural resistance, welcome His touch, connect with His entire vision for our lives, be sensitive to the shaping forces of His fingers.
If we are choosing to remain naturally insensitive and go our own way and do our own thing, “shape our own vessels” then we are saying that we don’t need His sovereign guidance. We are saying we are already in our preferred shape.
If we fail to give our lives to the Master Potter, then He will let us be whom we desire.
We may be some ugly, deformed pot and not even know it, but the Lord will send us to the kiln to be fired as we are.
If we do not innately turn our lives over to the Potter and remain in His hands to be continually remolded and made anew, the Lord will stop shaping us, and He will let us alone. When He lets us alone, we are in a very fragile state. One wrong move could send us unceremoniously crashing, shattering all over the ground.
If you have never known God in an intimate and personal relationship, then you need to allow the Potter, Jesus Christ, to make you anew.
Hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. From our death, raised unto new life, He will come into your heart and give you a newfound joy if you will allow Him to do so.
He who has Ears – let them Hear!
He who has Eyes – let them See!
He who has a Mouth – let them Speak!
He who has a Voice – let them Sing!
He who has Hands and Feet – let them Serve!
He who has THEIR OWN ‘SOVEREIGN’ WAYS …. What do you do NOW?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen