In the Potter’s Hand

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 7:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 18 (ESV).

Spoiled Clay (vv. 1-11)

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. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

God/Jesus is our potter. We who are Christians, by faith in Jesus Christ, are his clay. He designed us for a specific purpose, which is to give honor and glory to him through our lives. Yet, many people today who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not honoring him by their lives. In fact, many of their teachers are telling them that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ or to his cross. They make the gospel of salvation out to be an “entitlement gospel,” which is very “me-focused.” It is, thus, not focused on God/Jesus, and what he wants from the relationship, but solely on what they, the adherents, can get out of the relationship, and not on what we are required to give to God at all.

And, so, what these teachers are producing are “spoiled” children who think God is there to grant their every request and to meet all their needs, but that he is ok with them still floundering in their sins, for he should be so grateful that they decided to “believe” in him. They give this notion of God’s grace as though it is a free pass (carte blanche) to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, as though Jesus died just to cover our sins but not to eradicate sin from our lives. And so we have a large number of these spoiled (clay) children who think a mere acknowledgment of Christ is enough to get them into heaven, and thus they can continue to live for themselves and feel no obligation whatsoever to submit to Christ or his cross.

Since they are, because of their choice to follow this false gospel, not fit for the purpose the Potter first intended, God has in mind to do what needs to be done in their lives in order to remake (revive) them, and to mold them into his image, and to make them into the likeness of Christ. Since they have not turned from their evil ways, even though his Word teaches them that they must, and so they have ignored God’s Words, and have chosen to go their own way, instead, God has in mind to judge (discipline, chastise) them, but not to destroy them, but so that he can remold them. So, he is calling out to these “spoiled” children, and he is saying “Return, everyone from his evil way, and change your ways and your deeds.”

But They Say (vv. 12-17)

“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’

“Therefore thus says the Lord:
Ask among the nations,
Who has heard the like of this?
The virgin Israel
has done a very horrible thing.
Does the snow of Lebanon leave
the crags of Sirion?
Do the mountain waters run dry,
the cold flowing streams?
But my people have forgotten me;
they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
not the highway,
making their land a horror,
a thing to be hissed at forever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
and shakes his head.
Like the east wind I will scatter them
before the enemy.
I will show them my back, not my face,
in the day of their calamity.”

Even though God’s Word is abundantly clear on what it means to be “in Christ Jesus,” by faith in him, many, many professing Christians are continuing to follow their own plans and to act according to the stubbornness of their own human hearts, which are being given over to wickedness on a daily basis, in many cases. They willfully ignore the scriptures which convict their hearts of sin, and they cling to the ones which make them feel good about themselves, even in their sins, because they take the scriptures out of context to make them say what their itching ears want to hear.

Yet, God’s Word says that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and that we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. It says that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. It teaches us that faith in Jesus Christ means we conduct our lives (lifestyles) no longer after the flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. It tells us that God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin, but that it instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return.

And, yet, even though God’s Word teaches this clearly throughout the New Testament, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ have willfully forgotten their Lord and his instructions to them in order to continue to live however they want. And, so, they follow after humans, the world, their culture, and the gods (idols) they have made for themselves, giving their hearts, minds, emotions, devotion and passions over to what is sinful in God’s eyes, instead of over to God and to his will for their lives. They are, thus, not traveling the highway of holiness, but they have wandered off to follow the ways of the flesh, which is why God plans to do what is necessary in order to bring them back to him to follow in his ways and in his truth.

Good Repaid with Evil (vv. 18-23)

Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”

Hear me, O Lord,
and listen to the voice of my adversaries.
Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you
to speak good for them,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Therefore deliver up their children to famine;
give them over to the power of the sword;
let their wives become childless and widowed.
May their men meet death by pestilence,
their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.
May a cry be heard from their houses,
when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them!
For they have dug a pit to take me
and laid snares for my feet.
Yet you, O Lord, know
all their plotting to kill me.
Forgive not their iniquity,
nor blot out their sin from your sight.
Let them be overthrown before you;
deal with them in the time of your anger.

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, burdened in heart for God’s people, the church, who are wandering off the pathway of righteousness to follow after the gods of this world, and if you care enough about your wandering brothers and sisters in Christ to speak the truth in love to them, you may find yourself right where Jeremiah was. You may find that your words, spoken in love and concern and conviction of the Spirit of God, will not only fall on deaf ears, but that you will be rebuked, criticized, ridiculed, mocked and even falsely accused because you cared more about them than you did about your own life and reputation.

Even though you intended good by your words, they will return your good to them with evil by slandering you and intentionally causing you harm, and by speaking evil against you in order to make other people reject you, too. Yet, we must trust God with our lives, believe in his sovereignty, and know that he is working all things for good for us who love him and who are called according to his purpose. We must remember God’s Words to us warning us in advance that we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and that we will be rejected even by those in our own households, and by those of our own towns and in our local church congregations, too. Yet, this is God’s will for us that we should suffer for the sake of his name, and for the sake of his gospel, so we should not fear what humans might do to us.

God has all things under his control. He has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, so trust him, rest in him, believe him, and keep pressing on in being who he has called you to be and in doing what he has called you to do, and trust him with the results. His Word will not return empty, but it will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (See: Is. 55:11).

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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