Summary: God shapes us like clay to be used for His purposes
Sermon for 5/2/04 7 p.m.
SBC Philippi, Philippi, WV
In the Hands of the Potter
Primary Purpose: God uses various means to shape us and mold us for His purposes.
When I was in 10th grade, I took an art class. We had drawing, painting and scratch board and even some photography. I love drawing and painting. I hated trying to work with the pottery. You sit down next to a wheel and push down on a pedal to control the speed of the wheel the clay is on. Then with water on your hands you mold the clay in the shape you desire. It can be frustrating, but the good thing is that as long as it hasn’t been in the kinnel, then it can still be molded and changed. God is showing Jeremiah how Judah is like a piece of clay in His hands. (Read Scripture)
The first thing I want you to notice is this: God doesn’t give up on marred clay. Jeremiah is living during a time when idolatry is running wild in Judah. There is a lot of immorality and evil taking place in God’s house and with God’s people. God describes them as marred- which means blemished or disfigured. Some of you may feel like that. The good news is that the church is a place where God takes what is marred and makes something useful out of it.
In 1502, in Florence Italy there was a large block of marble given to a church in Santa Maria, the church immediately hired who they thought was a professional to sculpt this enormously huge piece of rock. The man was not a professional and soon after commencing this great task the man drilled a whole right at the bottom destroying this magnificent piece of marble, so that the church decided just to drape a huge sheet over it not knowing what else to do, since it had been damaged beyond recognition and repair. A certain man, Michaelangelo caught word of this large stone and how it had been destroyed, so out of curiousity he went to check it out and thought “Hey, I think I can do something here.” After a time he began work and sculpted; and what was once thought to be a lost cause became one of the greatest statutes of David ever built. There are people today who feel like that gigantic slab of marble, things have been done to them and something is broken inside. But in the capable hands of the Lord, they can be molded into all that Jesus has called them to be. (by Jeffrey Poms)
Remember it was Jesus who the Pharisees asked about when they said, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners.” Matthew 9:11 Jesus reply to them was that “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus was there to heal and forgive and to make something new out of the marred clay in Judah.
One thing about molding with clay, there comes a point when the pottery is fired. Then, it becomes hard and isn’t moldable anymore. Some people are like that because of sin and for other reasons. I think the Pharisees were like that. When it’s glazed like that it would have to be broken before it could become moldable again. Sometimes God also has to break us, bring us to the end of ourselves in order for us to be willing to acknowledge that God is right and we are wrong. If you know someone today that is like that glazed piece of pottery, you need to pray that God would break them, so they will be moldable and useful for Him one day. Lately, I’ve been going through some of the neighborhoods in our community, talking to people and prayerwalking. One of the first things I pray is that God would break some of them. Bring them to a point where their cold hearts are open to the gospel. I talked to this one man who was about 50 years old. He had on a t-shirt that had a skull on it with fire coming out of it. I asked him if he had a church home. I invited him to our church. I pray for him, that God would make him aware of his need. As long as a person is self-sufficient,they will never repent.
I was like that as a teenager. I had plans that didn’t include God. I was going to leave the church and go make a bunch of money. God allowed me to go through a period of depression. It caused me to look up a seek Him. I would attribute a lot of what happened in my life to my mother’s prayers. She prayed for me with persistence. When are we going to have a burden for our community, our friends, our neighbors our family like that?