TEXT: "Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it." (Jeremiah 18:3-4)
My question today to you is this: are you the potter or are you the clay?
I want to talk to you about the difference between being the potter, the one who makes and forms the clay, and being the clay, that which is molded by the hands of someone else. For whichever one you decide to be in your Christian life will determine whether you will be submissive to God and do whatever He wants you to or be stubborn and go your own way and do your own thing.
Just like there can many servants but only one master there can also be many lumps of clay but only one potter to mold them.
By definition, clay is nothing more than any earth that forms a paste with water and hardens when heated or dried.
Since we were made from the dust of the ground I don't think that anyone would argue the point that we are the clay. (Genesis 2:7) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
I understand clay because I have a Bachelor's degree in art and I have a lot of experience in both making clay and throwing it on a wheel. I understand what it takes to make something out of virtually nothing and how important it is for the potter to control the clay and not the other way around.
The Right Ingredients
In order to make clay that is useable you have to start with just the right mixture of earth and water. If there is too much water in the clay and it is too wet it will not harden. If it is too soft it will be too weak to hold up and nothing will be able to be formed from it. If it is too dry it will crumble and break apart and will be just as useless. There must be a perfect combination of the two ingredients in order for clay to be useful.
Spiritual application: In order for man to live he must have a proper mixture of certain "ingredients" in his environment. Physically we need water, food, and air in order to survive. These are our most basic needs. We also need heat to keep us warm, light in order to see, clothes to protect our bodies and shelter to protect us from the elements. We must be able to sleep and eat in order to strengthen and nourish our bodies.
Just like we need certain "ingredients" in our lives for our physical well-being we also need certain "ingredients" in our lives for our spiritual existence and growth. We need to read our Bibles every day in order to know about spiritual matters. Why is Bible reading so important to the Christian? What effect does the Word of God have on us?
- Knowledge comes through the Word of God.
(2 Peter 3:5) For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
The Bible is the only Book that tells the true story of the Creation. According to this verse the lost man is willingly ignorant of this truth. He doesn't want to believe it. Dr. Kent Hovind, the creationist (believes in the creation account), says "willingly ignorant" means "stupid on purpose." The Bible contains the truth, men choose to ignore it.
1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us that, " ... the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The lost man cannot fully understand the things of God but the Christian should, if not with his mind then with his faith. Whatever the Bible tells us, we should believe, whether we understand it or not. No one fully understands the Creation, there are many mysteries to it, but we should believe it because it is God's account of what happened.
- Faith comes through the Word of God.
(Romans 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
How can you have faith in something you have never seen, heard, touched or felt? How can you believe in God when you have never seen Him? How can you by faith accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour when you have never seen Him? The only way is through the Word of God. The Bible tells us that God exists and is real. The Bible tells us that salvation is by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith can only come by reading and believing in the Word of God.
- Salvation comes through the Word of God.
(1 Peter 1:23) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
The only way we know about true salvation is through the Word of God. My husband was saved by reading the Bible. He started reading in the New Testament and by the time he got to the book of Romans he knew he needed to get saved. My mother was saved by hearing the gospel preached through the radio ministry of Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Many people have been saved by reading gospel tracts. The Word of God will bring salvation.
- Worship comes through the Word of God.
(Acts 13:44) And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
One of the main reasons that we come together as a church is to learn from the Word of God. Yes, we sing and worship God in song and we have a time of fellowship with other believers before and after the service. But the main reason for the church service is to learn from the Bible something God wants to teach us. Could we learn these truths on our own? Maybe. But God gives a pastor special insight into the needs of His people. So it is important to be in church to learn from God's Word.
- Protection comes through the Word of God.
(Ephesians 6:17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
A soldier's greatest weapon is his sword. We are in a spiritual battle. How can we expect to properly defend ourselves if we do not have a weapon? Our weapon is the Word of God. It is what Jesus Christ Himself used against the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness. Three times He said, "IT IS WRITTEN" in resisting the temptations of the devil. Don't be so foolish as to think that you can handle the devil on your own. You can't.
(Zechariah 3:1-2) And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD (Jesus Christ), and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? There is no scriptural evidence for any man or woman rebuking the devil on their own. Mortal man does not have the power. Only Jesus Christ has the power to rebuke the devil.
Even Michael the archangel knew this. (Jude 1:9) Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. When you rebuke the devil, and you should whenever you are tempted, you do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? That is the only name that the devil is afraid of.
- Judgment comes through the Word of God.
(Hebrews 4:12) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
If our hearts are pure then the Bible will convict us of our faults, our weaknesses, our wrong attitudes and our sins. If you are not convicted when you read certain passages of Scripture then you have a problem with pride. The Word of God is meant to get us right with God if we allow it to. Don't quench the Holy Spirit when you are reading by refusing the admonition that He is giving you. The Bible is a mirror to your heart. Take a good long look and then fix what is wrong.
- Victory comes through the Word of God.
(1 John 2:14) I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
David said in Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." James 4:7 tells us to, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Paul said in Romans 12:21, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." You can get victory over sin and the devil but you have to work at it. Willing or desiring it will not make it so, you have to guard and aggressively defend yourself against the devil. Know God's Word. Use it as a weapon against the enemy.
- Blessings come through the Word of God.
(Luke 11:28) But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
God blesses those who read and learn His Word. How do I know? Because He blessed me in ways that I never dreamed possible. One year I read my Bible through from Genesis to Revelation SEVEN times. I was working a full-time job, had to drive one hour to work and one hour home every day, was in church 4 times a week and took care of my house (cleaning, cooking, shopping, etc.) I literally read from evening, when I got home from work, until about one o'clock in the morning. God opened my eyes to passages of Scripture that I had read for many years but never understood or didn't really even notice and He gave me new insight and knowledge of them.
When my husband and I were preparing for our wedding I told him that I had to finish reading through the Bible or we would have to postpone the wedding. He asked me where I was in my reading. I told him I was in the book of Jeremiah. It was two weeks until the wedding. Well we were married on the 28th of May and I finished Revelation on the May 26th. God is important to me and comes first in my life just like He comes first in the life of my husband.
I was challenged by a New Year's message my pastor preached on going the extra mile (kilometer). He said if you normally read 5 chapters a day, double it, and read 10. I was already reading 10 so I decided I was going to read 20. The book of Genesis has 50 chapters so I thought, why not 25, exactly half of the book. Well when I sat down to read Genesis I read the whole book at one time. I also did that with the next 4 books and off I was reading through the entire Bible in one month. I was so overwhelmed by what I learned that I did the same thing the next month and again the next. By mid-April I had read the Bible through three times. Over the next 8-1/2 months I read it through again 4 more times.
I offer you the same challenge. Go the extra mile (kilometer) with God. Then wait for the blessings. They may not come tomorrow but if you remain faithful they will come.
- Rewards come through the Word of God.
(Revelation 6:9) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
Many millions of people have died over the years so that we could have the privilege of owning a Bible. There was a time that people were tortured and put to death for being found with a Bible in their possession. In many countries today people have to meet to worship in secret for fear of imprisonment or death. There is a Christian website on the Internet dealing with the persecution of Christians around the world. There are literally hundreds of new stories added each day. You need to pray every day for those that are being martyred for their faith. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. They will receive the martyr's crown in glory.
Our second spiritual "ingredient" is our prayer life. We need to have a consistent prayer life so we can communicate with God. If you want answers to your prayers then whatever you pray for make sure that it is accordance with God's will. God will not honor selfish requests or things that go against the Scriptures.
Bible reading and prayer are our two most basic spiritual needs. God teaches us and speaks to us mainly through the Scriptures but He also speaks to us through our communication with Him in prayer.
How does God speak to us in prayer? In answer to our requests He either says, "Yes," "No," or "Wait." "Yes" we have no problem accepting. "Wait" is a little more difficult. And "No" is close to impossible. But remember this, when God says nothing at all then we know that we are in real trouble. That usually means that we haven't been in prayer enough for God to even pay any attention to us. You will have to take the time and make the effort to show God that He is important in your life in order for Him to take you seriously. He needs to see you as someone who really loves Him and not just as someone you talk to when you want something.
Just like the proper mixture of earth and water in clay we must have the proper balance of Bible reading and prayer in our lives. You can't have one without the other. Too much or only Bible reading and you may have knowledge but you will definitely not have any power. Too much or only prayer and you will have neither knowledge nor power. They must go hand in hand.
The Kneading Process
Once you have mixed the right amounts of both earth and water the clay must be kneaded or worked with the hands in order to incorporate the ingredients or mix them together.
The reason for the kneading process is two-fold:
- You must get out all the air bubbles. Any air pockets that are left in the clay will cause the piece to explode when it is being fired in the kiln.
- Any grit or foreign particles that are left in the clay will create imperfections and cause the clay to weaken and to fall apart when it is being thrown on the wheel. The potter can feel these in the clay as he works it with his hands.
Example: How many of you have ever kneaded dough to make a pie or bread? It is the same principle. You have to knead the dough until it is easy enough to work with.
Spiritual application: In order to be used of God, all the junk, all the imperfections, all the sin, all of self, must be gotten out of your life. God cannot use YOU if there is still some of YOU left in YOU.
Only when you become an empty vessel can God fill you. If the Holy Spirit tries to fill your life and there are still some parts of YOU left in there then only part of Him will be able to fill you. Some of Him will still be left outside. You will not be totally filled by the Holy Spirit and He will not have total control. You will still be in there interfering and resisting and trying to be in charge. It just won't work. In order for you to be totally filled with the Holy Spirit, you must be totally empty of self.
ILLUSTRATION: A jar of water that has rocks in it. When you take out all the rocks you will find that there is room for more water.
During the kneading process the clay is handled roughly by the potter as he works out the impurities in it. At first the clay itself is abrasive and unresponsive but the more time the potter spends kneading it the more elastic and pliable it becomes.
Example: Have ever had to have a massage for a strained muscle or a sore back? It is the same principle. At first it doesn't feel very good. As a matter of fact at first it usually hurts. But as the person doing the massage works the sore area with his hands it begins to feel good. And the better it feels the more relaxed you become and the tension and the soreness soon disappear.
Spiritual application: If we really do indeed want to be used of God then He has to put us through the kneading process. If we are responsive and yield to Him then it will be much easier for Him and easier on us. But the more we resist God the more roughly He has to deal with us. It is only when we finally submit to Him totally and willingly that His "kneading" of us becomes soothing and relaxing and we are healed in our spirit, too.
I went through some kneading several years ago. Yes, I was saved when I was 15 but I was in a church that did not really teach the Bible. I thought I was doing fine spiritually. When I finally found a Bible-believing church I was shocked at what I heard. But I didn't resist the Spirit's leading. I surrendered to it.
The first thing God spoke to me about was the way I dressed. I wore pants, jeans, mini-skirts, shorts, all the wrong kinds of clothes for the daughter of a king. Yet when God showed me that it was wrong I got rid of all that and started dressing according to the Scriptures.
The next thing God spoke to me about was music. I never listened to rock and roll even though I grew up during the age of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Thank God He spared me from that. But I loved show music. I was a tap dancer and good enough to be in many Broadway-style shows for many, many years. But the Holy Spirit convicted me of that lifestyle and I gave it up. Now I only listen to good gospel music, not Christian rock, but doctrinally sound gospel music.
The next thing to go was the television. Over the years I watched less and less but that was not good enough for God. He wanted it out of my life completely so out of the house went the television set. I know of one preacher that actually took his television set outside and shot it with a gun because he hated it so much.
Now, do I miss any of those things that I got out of my life? Absolutely NOT! Why? Because God hated me having them in my life. He was kneading me in preparation for something much better.
The Right Atmosphere
Once both the air bubbles and the foreign particles are worked out of the clay it must be kept moist until it is ready to be used. It has to be kept covered so the moisture stays in it and it doesn't dry out. It must be kept in a proper environment in order to survive until it is ready to be shaped.
Spiritual application: Until God is ready to use us we must also be kept in the proper environment. Once we are saved we must "come out" of the world. Now how can we do this when we have to live in the world? (1 John 2:15-17) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
There are a few things that we can do in addition to those we have already discussed. Attend church faithfully and fellowship with the right people. When you are with worldly people you will have the desires of the world. When you are with godly people you will desire the things of God.
(2 Corinthians 6:14-15) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? Do not fellowship with unbelievers and infidels. Christians have no common ground with lost people other than to witness to them. And this should be our first priority when dealing with them.
Christians will not enjoy the same interests or forms of entertainment that the lost do. The lost will not understand our dress code, wives' submission to their husbands, our taste for god-honoring music or our "obsession" with the Bible. We should not be interested in the latest Arnold Schwarznegger movie plot, who the father of Madonna's next illegitimate child will be, or who Bill Clinton is sleeping with now that he is no longer president.
Oil and water do not mix, ladies!
(1 Corinthians 15:33) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Be careful of what you hear and whom you listen to. Listening to and spreading gossip is a sin.
Don't listen to murmuring and complaining people, especially Christians who murmur and complain. It is sin. God hates it. Do you remember what happened to the Children of Israel in the wilderness? The Bible says the whole congregation murmured and complained against Moses and Aaron. Or so they thought. Look what Moses said in Exodus 16:8, ".for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD."
When we murmur and complain or listen to murmuring and complaining people it is the Lord who is the object of that discontentment even though He may not be the subject.
God hates murmuring and complaining. It is a sin. But what is worse than doing it ourselves is when we involve others or others involve us. Then it becomes an abomination to God. It is called sowing discord among the brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19) These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Don't listen. Run away! Why do murmuring and complaining people like to involve others? Because they believe they are right and they want to find someone else who will agree with them. If they can then they can say, with PRIDE (which is a sin in itself), "I have found someone that agrees with me therefore I'm right. It's not me that's wrong."
A murmuring or complaining person would rather ruin someone else's spiritual walk than admit that they themselves are wrong. This kind of person is filled with the devil. Stay away from them! Tell them you will pray for them, but pray they get right with God, NOT that they get their own way.
Remember the admonition of Galatians 5:9, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Leaven in the Bible represents sin. Sin is like a cancer. Once it gets into a person or a church it can spread and destroy whatever it touches. Don't be a victim.
Now the clay is ready for the potter.
God is the Potter. I don't think there is any doubt about that. If there is, look at Isaiah 64:8, "But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." It couldn't be plainer.
It is the potter who does the molding and shaping of the clay. He knows what He wants the finished product to be and look like. The clay is totally under his control. It has to be 100% yielded to him, not 50%, not even 99%. The clay MUST YIELD to the potter's hand if it is to become something useful. We yield to God by surrendering our will.
Spiritual application: A spiritual principle taught by my husband, Dr. Michael Todd, is that as we respond to the light, which is Jesus Christ, God gives us more light. John 8:12 says, "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
There is a great spiritual truth found in John 7:16-17: "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
Even Jesus Christ, God the Son, had to yield to the will of His Father. If Jesus did then why shouldn't we if we are followers of Jesus Christ.
If you want spiritual truth, if you want to know God more personally, if you want the Holy Spirit to fill your life completely, if you want to understand the Bible more, if you want to see more answers to your prayers, if you want to see more people get saved and you personally want to lead more people to Christ, then yield to God COMLETELY and do God's will. Then God will give you more spiritual truth, reveal Himself to you more intimately, give you more understanding of the Scriptures, answer more of your prayers, and bring people to you that need to be saved.
A lot of Christians spend their whole lives seeking God's will and never find it. I can tell you right now what God's will is for each one of you. Be faithful in church, read your Bible every day, pray without ceasing, tithe to the Lord's work, tell people about Jesus, lead sinners to a saving knowledge of Christ.
If you do this then God will let you know what He wants you to do for Him above and beyond this. But don't just sit there. Do the Lord's work while you are waiting. If God cannot count on you to do the things I mentioned then don't expect Him to call you to a mission field or to be a pastor or a pastor's wife or to any other kind of service.
My husband and I have seen young men who wanted to be preachers sit around and wait until they could get the opportunity to preach. But they would not hand out tracts, would not witness to anyone, and some were not even faithful in coming to church. God will not call a man like that to be a preacher.
Don't make the same mistake. Maybe God's will for you is to just do the things I mentioned above. AMEN! If that's what God wants for you then He will bless you and reward you for doing it.
The Finished Work
The potter has several choices to make while he is working with a piece of clay. He can finish the piece he started if he thinks that it is responding to his leading. He can reshape the piece he is working on as he goes along if he feels it would be better as something else. He can throw away an unresponsive piece of clay if he feels that it is not going to come out the way that he planned. (Isaiah 30:14) And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
Spiritual application: Sometimes we are going in one direction, serving the Lord, and we come to a place where we have to make a choice. God requires something extra of us to prove how much we love Him and are willing to serve Him.
I had a great spiritual awakening in my life in 1997. I was living for the Lord, I was faithful in church, I was handing out tracts, I was going to Bible Institute and I was also working a full-time job and living alone. One day in the early spring of that year I came home from work and plopped on the couch exhausted. I remember thinking that I had everything that I needed and I was very grateful to God for a nice home, food on the table, a great job, good health, etc.
It was then that I felt God speak to me, in my heart, and say, "If I asked you, would you give up everything you have for Me?" I didn't stop to think about it, I just said, "Yes." A great peace flooded my heart and I never thought about it again. Little did I realize then that a year later I would be living in Ukraine. I had never been to a foreign country before in my life. I didn't even have a passport.
After my husband and I got married I sold everything I owned: my house, my furniture, my personal belongings, EVERYTHING and I came over here with all the clothes I could fit into two suitcases. Am I poor? No! God has provided the necessary money for us to live. Do I regret it? No! I have never been more at peace in my Christian life. Will I regret it someday? NO! Because I was surrendered to God when he asked me to do it. God has blessed me in ways that I never dreamed possible. Yes there have been trials and testings.
Am I'm any more spiritual than anybody else because of my calling? No, I know there are those that have made greater sacrifices. Will this be what God requires of you? I don't know the answer to that, only God does.
BUT ... settle it in your heart now. What will you do if God requires a great sacrifice from you? The Bible says in Luke 21:14-15, "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."
In other words, know now what your answer will be so you don't have to think about it when the time comes. And be prepared for others not to understand your decision or to try and change your mind. Why? Because they know they couldn't do what you are being asked. And they also know that you will grow spiritually beyond them and they are jealous. What, Christians jealous? Yes. I have seen it. But don't let these people stop you from doing what God wants you to do.
The Final Touches
It is the potter who decorates each piece and gives it its beauty. It must also be glazed for protection so that it doesn't become marred or damaged.
(2 Timothy 2:20-21) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
Spiritual application: Our decoration is the talents that God gives each of us. He gives these to us to be used not for selfish gain but for Him. He loans them to us. It has been said that if we don't use the talents God gives us then He will take them away from us.
What talents do you have? You may not think you have any. But everyone has at least one. It may be an ability to pray. You say, "That's a talent?" Yes, it is. There are many things you can pray about and many people you can pray for.
The Power of Prayer
A missionary on furlough told this true story while visiting his home church in Michigan.
While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point.
On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time witnessed to him of the Lord Jesus Christ. I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident.
Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, "Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards."
At this I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone out in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however, and said, "No sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone."
At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day that this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story: "On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong that I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?"
The men who had met together that day stood up. The missionary wasn't concerned with who they were - he was too busy counting how many men he saw. There were twenty-six.
This story is an incredible example of how the spirit of the Lord moves in mysterious ways. If you ever hear such prodding, go along with it. Nothing is ever hurt by prayer except the gates of hell.
Find out what your talent is and use it for God's honor and glory.
The Furnace of Fire
The last step is the firing process. The piece cannot be finished or used until it survives this final phase. The fire is needed to make the piece strong so it will last a long time. If there are still some tiny impurities in it that the potter couldn't get out then the piece will crack or explode and be useless.
There will always be a test. God almost always tests us with something that is very special to us or important in our lives.
Let's take a brief look at three men of God and how they each handled the test in their life.
Job was a godly man. The Bible says he was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Job had seven sons and three daughters, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels and five hundred asses, and a very great household of servants. He was the greatest of all the men of the east at that time. Yet in one day, in one moment of time, he lost all he had. Job went through a major testing process.
His best friends, who claimed they were trying to comfort him, only blamed him and criticized him. They told him he must have sinned in order for God to punish him like that. His own wife failed to support him in his darkest hours. Yet he never gave up on God. He never blamed God. He never quit on God and when his testing was finished God gave him a double portion of everything he had lost.
The book of Job was written to show how the righteous suffer, not how sinners suffer. It is a "type" of the Tribulation period. It shows us how frail we are without God's hedge of protection around us. It is meant to strengthen our faith. What people fail to realize is that even though God allowed Satan to afflict Job, God was still in charge and had total control over Satan. If you are a Christian, and you are in a period of testing, God is still in control of the situation. Don't ever forget that. You are not going through that trial alone. God is only a "prayer" away.
- David was a great shepherd.
He killed both a lion and a bear with only his hands. (See 1 Samuel 17:34-37)
- David was a great fighter.
He killed the giant Goliath. (See 1 Samuel 17:45-50)
- David was a great king.
He was loved by the nation of Israel. (See 1 Samuel 18:16)
- David was a great musician.
His music soothed the soul of Saul. (See 1 Samuel 16:23)
He was a designer of instruments. (See 1 Chronicles 23:5)
- David was both a humble and an honorable person.
He had the chance to kill Saul twice, as revenge for Saul trying to kill him, but he didn't. (See 1 Samuel 24:1-12; 1 Samuel 26)
David was also a great sinner. He committed two sins that in Old Testament times were deserving of the death penalty. Yet God forgave him because David was also a great repenter.
David's test came in the form of lust over Bathsheba which lead to adultery. Make no mistake about it, he failed the test but he got right with God. He didn't let his sin destroy him or his relationship with God. When accused of his sin David confessed and God forgave him. (2 Samuel 12:7 and 13 - And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.).
I have always found this verse interesting because it makes 1 John 1:9 so real. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." David confessed and as soon as the words were out of his mouth he was assured of God's forgiveness.
David had to pay the penalty for his sins, just like we do, but God did bless him and use him and he is part of the Messianic line.
Peter went through one of the greatest tests of all. Of the twelve disciples Peter was one of the three men that was closest to the Lord. He was rough and unpolished in his manner and often put his foot in his mouth when speaking but he had a big heart and loved Jesus very much. His test came when Jesus was arrested. He was even told ahead of time what his test would be. He knew in his heart that he could pass it. How could he deny the Lord? But when the test came he failed it. He denied His Lord three times.
Like David, Peter was sorrowful, and he wept bitterly and repented. And God forgave him. Peter went from being a rough fisherman to one of the greatest fishers of men in the Bible. Peter didn't give in to his failure. He got right with the Lord and God used him. There is a great passage in the Bible that tells us this.
(Acts 9:32-35) And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
Not a "few," not even many, but ALL that saw him, turned to the Lord. What a testimony. What a witness. What a blessing from God. Would that have happened if Peter hadn't gotten right with the Lord? No, of course not.
Job stayed right. David and Peter got right. There are many more examples in the Bible of people who failed the test and God didn't use them anymore or He didn't use them in the way that he originally intended. (Saul lost his kingdom because he took his eyes off the Lord, Moses couldn't enter the Promised Land because of disobedience.) There are many examples of men that passed the test, some after going through tough times, and God used them greatly. (Joseph went to jail rather than commit adultery and he became a great ruler and a saviour of his people, Paul murdered Stephen but was the greatest apostle the world ever knew, the three Hebrew children survived the fiery furnace because they would not compromise and worship idols.)
Spiritual application: Everyone will be tested by fire. Some make it and some don't. Even the most spiritual looking on the outside can be flawed on the inside. It is a matter of the heart. If the heart is not right with God then the Christian will surely crack under God's firing process. My husband and I have seen it over and over again with many Christians who say they want to serve the Lord with all their heart no matter what happens. Yet when they were subjected to the fire they cracked and exploded and became useless for God's service.
What are you going to do? What will your test be? Will you succeed or fail? If you fail, will you stay defeated or will you humble yourself and get right and rise again to be used of God? The choice is yours.
Don't be a casualty. Don't be a statistic. Settle it in your heart today.
Now let me return to my original question. Are you the potter or the clay? Do you still want control over your life or are you willing to submit to His authority? Are you willing to let God be God? Will you allow Him to "knead" you and help you work out the problems in your life? Will you let him decorate you with talents and then use them for His service? Will you let Him put you through the fire and, like the three Hebrew children, stand WITH YOU in your testing?
Have Thine Own Way, Lord
An elderly woman at a prayer meeting one night pleaded, "It really doesn't matter what you do with us, Lord, just have your own way with our lives."
At this meeting was Adelaide Pollard, a rather well-known itinerant Bible teacher who was deeply discouraged because she had been unable to raise the necessary funds for a desired trip to Africa to do missionary service. She was moved by the older woman's sincere and dedicated request of God.
At home that evening Miss Pollard meditated on Jeremiah 18:3-4, our text verses.
Before retiring that evening, Adelaide Pollard completed the writing of all four stanzas of the hymn, Have Thine Own Way, Lord, as it is sung today. The hymn first appeared in published form in 1907.
Often into our lives come discouragements and heartaches that we cannot understand. As children of God, however, we must learn never to question the ways of our God but simply to say: