Peninsula Community Church
The Potter and the Clay
October 22, 2017
Jeremiah 18:1-6 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Last week, we discovered that we have a great treasure in jars of clay. What a powerful realization! We have His treasure, the treasure of grace and mercy, in clay pots which are fragile and easily broken. This was done so that we understand the power within us, a power that surpasses all other powers. It is the power of the living Christ. He chooses to fill us with His power, so we are empowered in our weakness to do the impossible and do the unimaginable.
Over the next couple of weeks, I would like for us to look at Jeremiah 18 and the story of the potter and the clay. In this process, we will look at the calling of Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house. We will look at this story from the perspective of the potter and then from the perspective of the clay. In so doing, the goal is to establish our identity in Christ and understand the calling we of God on our life so that we are able to accomplish all that He has for us.
To be honest, I wanted to jump right into the subject of the potter and the clay, but as I was reading this and was preparing for the message, I was struck by the calling of Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house to see what God was doing. One of the things that struck me about this is that God uses the everyday mundane things to teach us about His love and His grace. He wants to use the everyday things we encounter to show us deep spiritual truths. The problem, however, is that we can miss things in the busyness of life. We can ignore the instruction of God, because we are blinded to the truth being revealed. We can miss what He is saying, because our focus is on our problems and not on the will of God.
So with that in mind, let us take a few moments to look at this passage. First of all, note that Jeremiah had been given a word from the Lord. Here is the deal, God spoke and He continues to speak to us today. He speaks through His word. He speaks through the impressions of our hearts that are confirmed through His word, in prayer, and through counsel.
God calls Jeremiah to do the following. “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” It is interesting that in the ESV that God says He will “let” Jeremiah hear His words. Notice this, the word of the Lord was spoken to Jeremiah to arise and go down to the potter’s house so that he could hear God’s word. In other words, I am speaking to you to go to the potter’s house where I want to teach you a powerful lesson.
In this regard, let me make a couple of comments for our inspiration and spiritual growth. First, we must know that God speaks but let us be sure it is God speaking. I have had people come to me to say they have a word from the Lord about doing certain things. This may or may not be true, but we must use the phrase “a word from the Lord” sparingly, as we can potentially blaspheme the name of God if we use this term lightly or under false pretense. The problem I have is that we use this phrase as spiritual blackmail, by using it to leverage our will against another’s will.
We must be careful and know that God is speaking when we infer that He is. Using this phrase unwisely is a form of control, as we believe that if we say we have a word from the Lord then it forces the hand of the person to which we are communicating. It is a form of pride, as we can present this in a way that infers we have a corner on hearing God, while others do not.
We see here that the first thing that God calls Jeremiah to do is to arise. It is my belief that God is asking Jeremiah to be attentive to what God is calling him to do. The word arise is a word that calls for action. In other words, do not be passive. Do not sleep or slumber when God speaks and shares a word that will forever transform our life. The Bible warns us about being asleep and missing what God is doing in us and through us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:6 Paul warns us So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. Therefore, arise in this instant speaks of having a listening ear and an open heart to what God is doing.
Then Jeremiah was called to go down. To understand that God is calling us, requires an action on our part. God wanted to position Jeremiah so he would hear and receive a word. This was an act of obedience. Notice Jeremiah did not move until he was called by God. He heard and he responded. He went where God called him. So many times, we have the nudge from the Holy Spirit. We have that voice that is calling us to do something and act on God’s plan for our life. We can hear from God, but we must also be positioned to obey what He is calling us to do.
To go down is the very essence of faith in action. Notice that Jeremiah did not know what the end result was, He only knew that he was to respond to the calling of God. This is not a passive faith where we sit back and wait for something to happen. When He speaks, we act. We are obedient to what He calls us to and no more. We do not do anything, unless we hear His voice.
The third part is that God promises that if Jeremiah does this, God will let Him hear His words. Here we find a couple of lessons. One, if we listen, God will speak. The question is do we have ears to here what He is saying. Are we too busy, self absorbed, or uninterested? If so, then it will be extremely hard to hear God’s voice. His voice will get lost in the noise of life.
Secondly, God is always communicating. I love this. He is communicating through His word. He is communicating through the people we encounter. He is communicating through our experiences in life. He is communicating through nature. God is in the communications business. He is communicating and He wants to communicate with us in very real terms. The question to be addressed is, are we listening? Are we listening to the noise around us or to the voice of God? Have we become deaf to the voice of God? Notice too that it is “my words!” It is God’s words and not man’s word. It is not the pastor’s words. It is not a friend’s word. It is His word. Now God can use all of these, but we must be sure that it is God’s word confirmed through Scripture.
In all of this, there was a required action. Once Jeremiah understood the call, He had to act on that calling, one step at a time. There is a tendency in the church to speak about the sin of commission, but do not address the sin of omission. The sin of commission are things like lying, stealing, murder, and the like. The sin of omission is knowing God’s will, or knowing what God’s word says about a certain thing, and failing to react to that word in a positive way.
James reminds us whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin (James 4:17). If we do not respond to that which we know to do, then for us it is a sin. Remember the quote; The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. So sin is not just in the doing, but it is neglecting that which we know to do and that which we have been called to do. Like all sin, there is redemption and forgiveness at the cross for those sins committed and those that come by way of omission.
There is no neutral ground, we are either actively obedient or disobedient. We are never neutral. We cannot be on the fence. We must decide what we will do. That is why Jesus stated that we will be either cold or hot but we cannot be lukewarm. Lukewarm water is spewed out of the mouth of our Lord (Revelation 3:16). Joshua understood this principle when he stated that Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:14-15) Joshua confirms we are to decide whom we will serve and then serve that person with all of your heart in obedience to His will and purposes for our life.
Notice that Joshua states, whatever you choose, it does not matter, but I am going to choose to serve God with all of my heart. May it be with us also. No matter what everyone else does we will choose to follow after God. We must choose whom we will serve and why. Will we, like Joshua, make a decision to fully engage our lives in obedience? If we do, the benefits will be out of this world. If we do, God will show us some amazing things in our life. He will reveal things to us that we could not achieve on our own. So, are you listening the voice of God? If so, are you hearing and responding to that voice?
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom