The Potter

Posted on 06/04/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband

TRANSCRIPT:


Good morning, and welcome to CyberChurch. For both those who are new, and those of us who have been part of this fellowship from the beginning, we will do well to remember our purpose for being here.

Our purpose for gathering together today is to point to Jesus, giving him the glory and honor that are due his name. Our purpose for coming here together is to put our attention on him, drawing from the presence of God who is present in a special way when we gather together in his name. Our purpose for being here today is to surrender ourselves to the Potter, as he puts us on his potter's wheel, allowing him to shape us from a formless clump of earth into something beautiful.

Sometimes we don't like being shaped. Sometimes we think we should be one way, while the Potter has something else, something more wonderful, in mind. But today we gather together to say,

"Lord, I trust in you. You created the heavens and the earth. You created me, building me by hand in my mother's womb. You made my mind, my emotions, and you know my every thought and desire. You alone know the source behind my feelings, my drives, my desires, and you alone see perfectly clearly why I think the way I do and what in my life will steer me toward becoming whole, fulfilled, and complete.

"And so today I put my trust in you, Lord."

Perhaps you have not yet made your peace with God. But you're here today, and you are here for a purpose. It's no accident or coincidence that you have come here today. God is calling to you, as deep calls to deep. He knows the time alotted to you. And he is calling you today for a reason.

Surrender to his love today. Just speak to him now, saying, "Jesus, I surrender my life into your hands. Take me, I am yours. Shape me, form me, bring my life out of obscurity and into line with your perfect plan. Forgive me for my sins, and come into my heart now, as my Savior, my Lord, my King, and my Friend. Thank you Jesus! Amen."

Let's all stand up now and worship the Lord together. Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's enter into the wonderful presence of the Lord together.


*** to join us in worship, choose your connection speed and listen to the audio ***



I'M TRADING MY SORROWS

I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

We say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I'm pressed but not crushed
     persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed

I am blessed beyond the curse
     for his promise will endure
That his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
     His joy comes with the morning



THE RIVER OF GOD

The river of God
     Sets our feet a’dancing
The river of God
     Fills our heart with cheer
The river of God
     Fills our mouths with laughter
And we rejoice
     For the river is here

Down the mountain
     the river flows
And it brings refreshing
     wherever it goes
Through the valleys
     and over the fields
The river is rushing
     And the river is here

The river of God
     Is teaming with life
And all who touch it
     Can be revived
And those who linger
     On this river’s shore
Will come back thirsting
     For more of the Lord

To the mountain we love to go
     To find the presence of the Lord
Along the banks of the river we run
     We dance with laughter giving praise to the Son



CROWN HIM WITH MANY CROWNS

Crown him with many crowns,
     the Lamp upon his throne
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
     all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
     of him who died for thee
And hail him as thy matchless King
     through all eternity

Crown him the Lord of life,
     who triumphed o'er the grave
And rose victorious in the strife
     for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing
     who died, and rose on high
Who died, eternal life to bring,
     and lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of peace,
     whose power ascepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
     and all be prayer and praise
His reign shall know no end
     and round his pierc-ed feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
     their fragrance ever sweet

Crown him the Lord of love,
     behold his hands and side
Those wounds, yet visible above
     in beauty glorified
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
     For thou hast died for me,
Thy praise and glory shall not fail
     throughout eternity!





Thank you Lord for meeting with us here today. Speak to us now through your Word, and may we be drawn a little bit closer to you today. It's in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

You may be seated.


I would like to illustrate today's passage with a little story, after which we will pray and meet next door for fellowship. Our passage today is from Isaiah chapter 64 and verse 8, and the title of my message today is "The Potter."


"But now, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; and we all are the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)

Little Peter loved to go into the shop where his father worked every day, and just watch him.

With fascination, he would watch his pappa take a formless lump of clay, and throw it onto the potter's wheel.

Round and round the clay would go; the final form, Peter did not know.

But bit by bit the lump took shape, as Peter imagined what his father would make.

Would it be a water pot? Or a dainty vase? Would it be a jug? Or a cup? Or a bowl? Or would he invent something new? Peter did not know.

Peter's father kept a bowl of water nearby, so that he could keep the clay from becoming dry. Dry, hard clay cannot be molded into something useful.

After some time, Peter's father stopped the wheel and sat down in a chair. He called Peter to him, and sat him on his knee.

For a moment the father just looked kindly at Peter, his eyes sparkling with love. Peter smiled from ear to ear, and his father chuckled and smiled in return.

"My dear boy," the father began, "you and I are like this lump of clay." He placed some clay in Peter's hands.

"At first we just don't seem like very much. Then our father God, the potter, throws us on his potter's wheel, and round and round we go." With that, he put the clay on the wheel and it began to spin.

"Do you see how this clay is not in the center of the wheel? Everything is wobbling, and we can't make anything good and useful out of it.

"God's will is his wheel. If we don't stay centered in his wheel, things will get pretty wobbly, and he won't be able to make what he wants to make out of us."

Peter watched the wheel wobble for a minute. Then he asked, "Pappa, how can we get in the middle of the wheel so we won't wobble and so we can become something useful for God?"

"Do you see how the wheel moves and turns round and round?" Peter nodded. "But the very center looks as though it is staying still." Petter nodded again.

"God's Word does not move. It is solid and sure. Everything else revolves around His Word. As long as we center our lives -- everything we do, say, and think -- on God's Word, we will be in the center of God's will, the potter's wheel. And just as the center of the wheel is still, when we are in the center of God's wheel, we will be at perfect peace."

"Is the Bible God's Word?" Peter asked.

"Yes, my boy, it is. Jesus quoted the Scriptures many, many times. He said the Scriptures cannot lie. They are perfect. If we live our lives by them, God can begin to shape us into something useful and good."

"So is that all we need to do, Pappa? Will we become what God wants us to be if we obey the Bible?"

"Yes, my boy. If we obey the Bible, we will pray every day. We will be filled with the Holy Spirit. We will ask for and seek after the gifts of the Spirit. We will deny the lusts of the flesh and instead live our lives according to the Spirit of God.

"The Holy Spirit was given to us to give us power for sharing Jesus with others, and for helping us obey God's Word.

"The Bible teaches us about the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit teaches us about the Bible."

Seeing that Peter looked a bit confused, his father said, "You don't have to understand everything, son. The Bible says that we have to become like a little child if we are to enter God's Kingdom. He doesn't ask us to be really smart and have everything figured out. He only asks us to trust and obey.

"People think they're really smart, and have life all figured out. They think they can find all the answers with their reason and understanding. But everyone who does this comes up with different answers."

Picking up the old Bible off the table, Peter's father turned the worn pages until he came to a passage in the 29th chapter of Isaiah. Then he began to read:

"Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?"

"People think they're too smart to need God. Some people think they're so smart that there isn't any God. But the Bible tells us that '...the fool says in his heart, there is no God.'

"What he asks of us is so simple that anyone can understand, if they will just become like a child:

"Trust and obey."

"God is good. He loves us. He will only tell us to do things if those things will help us and build peace and joy in us. And he will only tell us to not do things if those things will hurt us. We won't always understand why we should or shouldn't do things, but if we trust and obey, everything will work out right."

Peter's eyes lit up, as he exclaimed, "I get it!!! God is the potter, and we are the clay! If we stay in the center of his wheel by obeying the Bible, and are watered by the Holy Spirit, God will make us something good and useful!" Peter was again smiling from ear to ear.

His father once again chuckled and gave him a hug. "Yes, my boy. That is right!"

Placing the clay right in the center of the wheel, the wheel turned smoothly. Taking Peter's hands in his own, he began to guide his son's hands over the clay, gently and patiently forming it into something useful and good.

From time to time he would dip Peter's hands in the water, to keep the clay soft.

But there was a lump in the clay. A slight scowel stole over Peter's face, as he said with concern, "What do we do now, Pappa?"

Turning off the wheel and sitting down, Peter's father picked up the Bible and took Peter in his lap.

"Let me read you a story from the Bible. This is something that happened a long, long time ago."

He turned to Jeremiah chapter 18 and began to read:

"The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 'Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear my words.'

"Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he made 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 into another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

"Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?' says the Lord. 'Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

"'At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will turn away the evil that I thought to do unto them.

"'And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it does evil in my sight, that it does not obey my voice, then I will turn away the good wherewith I said I would benefit them.'"

Peter's father placed the Bible back on the table. "Son, we all have lumps in us. And God, the potter, will always find them. They will keep us from becoming what the potter wants to make out of us.

"Things may happen in our lives to soften up those lumps. Bad things might happen to us. God doesn't do evil things, but he will let them happen so that good can come out of it.

"A wicked person, as we all are by nature, who turns to Jesus and surrenders to him, will be put on the potter's wheel and formed into something good.

"A country that is founded by men who love Jesus, and who dedicate that land to his glory, that country will be blessed. But we just saw in the Bible that if they don't turn from their evil, God will take away those blessings and they will be destroyed.

"Once again, my boy, it's all very simple. If we want to become something useful to God, and have peaceful and joyful hearts, all we have to do is trust and obey."

Peter looked quite pleased at this simple conclusion. Then his face betrayed one last question.

"What is it, by boy?" his father asked.

"Are some people more important than others? Some people are doctors, or presidents, and other people can't even learn how to read and write, and can't talk right. Why is that, Pappa?"

"That is a good question," his father said with care. "The Bible tells us God is no respector of persons. The people we think have no purpose on this earth are just as important to him as the doctors and presidents."

Peter's father once again picked up the Bible and turned to one last passage, in Romans chapter 9, verses 20 and 21:

"No, but O man, who are you who replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, Why have you made me like this? Does not the potter have power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?"

"You see," the father concluded, "there are many things we will never understand. And what do you think we should do when these things come our way, and we have unanswered questions and are a bit confused or dismayed?"

Peter's father waited for an answer. Peter's little face lit up with delight, and with relief he answered, "Why Pappa, we simply trust and obey!"

"That's it, my boy!"

"But now, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; and we all are the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)



Please stand to your feet as we close in prayer. Anyone on the ministry team can come to the front.

Lord God, thank you for your love for us, for your endless mercy, and for your patience.

Thank you that you created us, lumps of earth, with a beautiful and masterful purpose in mind. And thank you that all we need to do is trust and obey, surrendering to your hand so that you can fashion us from a formless lump into a beautiful masterpiece.

As one heart and one mouth, for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters, we confess that we have not always surrendered to your will. We have not stayed in the center of your wheel. We have resisted your hand, and have not allowed you to make us into the masterpiece you placed us on this earth to become.

Forgive us Lord. Wipe our slate, and make today a brand new start. We choose to surrender to you, to seek daily to remain in the center of your wheel, and to draw ever closer to you through daily fellowship with you.

Pour out your Holy Spirit fresh and new upon us. Fan the flames and burn out the chaff, and everything that displeases you, so that we can come unhindered into your glorious presence, where we find total peace, unexplainable and unquenchabe joy, and where that empty space inside of us is completely and wonderfully filled.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus. Thank you Lord! Amen.


This altar is open. Feel free to come kneel and pray, just you and God. If you want to get in the center of God's wheel and surrender to his hands, come up to the front. If you would like prayer or ministry, please come up and start an IM with one of the ministry team.

To the rest of you, please stick around for our time of fellowship in a few minutes next door.


Now may the grace of God bring you through every season of your life, may you remain in the center of God's wheel, and may the hand of the Potter be upon you as you surrender to his marvelously divine plan. Amen.