Summary: This message is about recognizing our identity and understanding that we are not an accident; a freak of nature; or a mistake. We were created with purpose.

I Am Clay

Scripture: Jeremiah 18:1-6; 19:11; Ephesians 2:10

The title of my message this morning is “I Am Clay.”

Two Christmases ago Jackie, a family friend, gave me this coffee mug that a friend of hers made. This mug was crafted by the potter Melissa Streeter and has become my favorite mug. It holds almost four cups of coffee and it has a little lip on it so that I can sip my coffee versus pouring it directly in my mouth and burning my lips off. When I first saw it I knew it was handmade versus being massed produced on an assembly line and man I have grown to love this mug. Actually I love it so much that I asked my friend to have another one made just like it. Well the second one is not exactly like the first one but what was interesting to me is that when Jackie picked it out the potter told her that some of the cups had imperfections so Jackie chose the one with the lesser imperfections. I wanted to open with this story because both mugs serve their purpose. While they have some imperfections, I know that no one else has those exact two mugs. That is what you get when something is individually made versus massed produced on an assembly line. To hand make those mugs took a knowledge and understanding of the mug making process, and it took time, effort, focus, patience, a sense of caring, determination, and pride in a job done right. (Oh, if you would like to have one of Melissa Streeter’s personally crafted mugs I can get you her information.) I want you to keep this in mind today because I am clay and my Potter is still molding me.

Two weeks ago I shared with you the story of Rahab and how the two spies came to Jericho to spy out the land. This event happened 40 years after God originally brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Forty years earlier Moses had done something similar. Do you remember the record about Moses sending out 12 of Israel’s tribal leaders to spy out the Promised Land? Ten of them came back with a bad report of the land because they were filled with fear and anxiety. In fact, Numbers 13:33 records how they saw themselves when they looked at some of the people of the land. They said, “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, who come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Man did they quickly take on a “grasshopper’s mentality”!

Have you ever felt like a grasshopper: Unimportant, inferior, low-down, less than someone else? Have you ever felt worthless, defeated, or good for nothing? These are the feelings that these ten tribal leaders had when they saw the giants in the Promised Land that God had already given to them. When they saw the giants they forgot who they were. While they were impressed with the land, a land flowing with milk and honey, a land full of promise, they were more afraid of what they saw – the inhabitants of the land. And get this; they totally forgot that they were, now listen to me, God’s promise. And this is where the problem began. You see, New Light, we are talking about men who were the heads of their tribes. Today we would say they were the leaders in the Church. People listened to them. They were so afraid of the inhabitants that they were overwhelmed with their own inferiority. Now understand this, when they felt inadequate and inferior, they shared what they felt with the people who were under their leadership. And, because of this, they saw with eyes of unbelief versus seeing with eyes of faith like Joshua and Caleb. Unbelief will always see “not enough.” You see, when a person feels a certain way about themselves for so long they begin to think everybody else feels the same way about them. So if a person feels inferior, they begin to believe that others see them the same way, which further supports their own feeling. Can you see how damaging this can be?

But look at what Joshua and Caleb said in chapter fourteen verses seven through nine. “And they spoke unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, ‘The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us; a land which flows with milk and honey. Only rebel not against the LORD, neither fear you the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.” (Numbers 14:7-9) What a difference in a person who has God-confidence! That person is not moved by what he sees because he counts on the resources of God not on his own resources. That person looks to and expects victory because truly they “can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.” (Phil. 4:13) This is what the ten leaders lacked causing the children of Israel to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years. This morning we are not going to talk about them but about the spirit that rested in Joshua and Caleb.

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