Molded and Shaped God's Way
As a senior at Mars Hill College, I found myself having to make a decision about classes I needed to take in order to fulfill the requirements needed to graduate. I had to take an aesthetic class which is the study of art. I had two choices: Square Dancing or Pottery. I always was fascinated in how pottery was made so it was a no-brainer to take pottery. Besides, a few weeks into the semester and I blew out my knee playing basketball and I would have been dancing really square...
Any way, I went to my first pottery class and stood there watching Professor Wing, a master potter, form a lump of clay, wedge it, place it on the potter’s wheel and within just a few minutes, formed and fashioned this pot. He made it look so simple. Then he said, “class, you will learn how to do this in this course over the semester. You will be graded on your ability to fashion pots.”
I kind of smirked, and thought, well this is an easy A.
Some of the requirements for the class included being quiet so that you could reflect and allow your inner creativity could shine forth and of course not harbor the flow of the creativity of others.
I learned how to wedge the clay to get out any impurities so the best pot could be made. I learned by using one’s hands and just the right amount of water, you could form a beautiful pot. Then it came my turn to be on the potter’s wheel. I carefully wedged the clay, put it on the potter’s wheel and sprinkled some water on my lump of clay, then turned on the switch of my potter’s wheel and placed my hands on the clay.
Before I knew it, I had slung mud all over my professor, my classmates and the whole class room. I can still hear Dr. Wing say, “well Mr. Marlowe, looks like we have lots of work to do.”
Needless to say, I barely got out of that class with a C-, but I did make some very useful and beautiful pots.
Somewhere, there are incredible artifacts that have been stored in some national museum of art....at least that is my hope since I can’t seem to find them anywhere.
Since my failed attempt at pottery, I have always been fascinated to watch those that are so gifted as the mold and shape a lump of clay into something beautiful.
Way before Jeremiah was a bullfrog, and the subject of Three Dog Night’s number one song in 1971, Jeremiah was a prophet and was called by God to help Israel return to their God.
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
As we are honoring our graduates today, I want to give them some wisdom that I have learned from this passage. However, I believe that this wisdom is not just for the graduates as they move forward, but it is timely for each us as we discern God’s will for our lives.
Jeremiah gives us a front seat look at how we can be molded and shaped by God just like this potter molds and shapes the clay. There are at least three things in this passage that we can glean that will prepare us and allow us to be be molded and shaped by God and His word.
Recognizing the Word
Recognizing the Word
Jeremiah was able to recognize the Word of the Lord because he has sensed God’s purpose from a very young age.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
There’s that phrase again, “the Word of the Lord came to me.” In fact, you can find it through out the Book of Jeremiah. So it begs the question, how does one recognize the word of God?
Become a student of His written word.
God is not a God of contradiction, He will never tell you to do something that is contrary to His word.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”
I Samuel 15
The point is that God will never contradict what He has told us in His word. So if you want to recognize God’s Word like Jeremiah, you must become a student of His written word.
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
2. Learn through God’s word how He consistently spoke to those He called.
a. He spoke to Moses with a burning bush
b. He spoke to Jonah with a whale
c. He spoke to Balaam with a donkey
d. In the New Testament God consistently allows His people to recognized His word through the study and preaching of His word.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
By being a student of the word and studying how God consistently reveals Himself to those in God’s word, we can learn how to RECOGNIZE GOD’S WORD.
React to God’s Word
React to God’s Word
So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.
Jeremiah recognized God’s word and recognized that he had to REACT TO IT.
Jeremiah was told by God to go, so he went. How many times has God told you to do something and you did not do it? How many times did you God say something to you in His word and you didn’t follow up with it? You probably underlined that verse and thought, “I need to study that more and cross reference more to get that fuller meaning,” but it never happened. When God tells us to do something, it is for our benefit!
Remember, delayed obedience is disobedience.
When we react to God’s word by obeying it, we are becoming more like we are called to be.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
So you can recognize the word of the Lord, you can react to the word of the Lord, finally, Jeremiah shows us here that you can be REFORMED BY THE WORD!
But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Do you see what happened here? Jeremiah recognized the word of the the Lord, then he reacted to the word of the Lord. Jeremiah was reformed by the word of the Lord!
Reformed by the Word
Reformed by the Word
I am not talking about a religious ritual. I am talking about being reformed, changed, improved, regenerated, and renewed!
But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Jeremiah saw an opportunity to relate the work of the potter to the Nation of Israel. The word of the Lord recognized causes its hearers to react and then ultimately be reformed.
As I have studied this, I am convinced that the Lord wants to mold and shape me, getting rid of the stuff that