The Potters House
God uses many images to describe His relationship to His people. He speaks of the shepherd and sheep relationship, the husband and wife relationship, a Father and His children, just to name a few. All of these are wonderful and teach us many valuable lessons about life, ourselves and our Lord. However, while we like the sheep are protected and provided for by the shepherd; and as a wife, we are loved without condition by the husband; and like children we are constantly under the Father’s loving and watchful care; there is another aspect of our lives that needs to be factored into the equation.
After all, Jesus did not save us from our sins just so we could go to Heaven and avoid Hell. He saved our souls so that we might be free to live a full and happy life, and be actively engaged in His service here on the earth. Now, if we are to be His servants, we are going to need His power to get the job done. Never let the child of God think that he can do it on his own. John 15:5 says “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing“. This makes our dependence upon Jesus crystal clear.
Therefore, perhaps one of the greatest portraits of God and His people to be found in the entire Bible, related to this matter of service, is the picture we see in our Old Testament Scripture today – of the Potter and the Clay. In these brief verses, we can see the plan of the Heavenly Potter on display. So let’s take a few minutes now and look into these verses together as we enter into – The Potter’s House.
Some of you will know that I myself have a great interest in fine porcelain and period pottery. I marvel at the procedures used in
the Pottery to transform a lump of dirty clay, into an amazingly beautiful and useful object. I am truly amazed that the fine china tea pot on my table was once just a dirty piece of clay.
Let me teach you today that the Heavenly Potter always sees us as the finished article, – even before we were born! Like the Potter, God has a pattern and plan for your life and mine, long before he began the work to mould and make us into the image of His Blessed Son, the Lord Jesus. We are (to one another) always simply a “work in progress” but to God, we are “a finished and prized treasure”. Glory to his name for ever!
Consider with me first of all …
THE POTTER AND HIS MISSION
and ponder The Potter’s Intentions – The Potter has a singular purpose. He plans to take a regular piece of clay and from that clay produce vessels. He wants to make vessels that will bring a profit; that will be found useful; and that will bring honour or praise to him. The pieces he manufactures are intended to be useful to him and to others.
This is God’s intention as well. He excels in taking ordinary regular people and transforming them by His grace into vessels of honour and glory. Jesus saves the sinner by His grace and then He begins the process of changing that life into a vessel that will produce a profit for the Kingdom of God, one that will be useful to Him in His work, and one that brings honour and glory to His Name. God can take even the worst of the world
and change them into the best of the Kingdom.
Consider also … The Potter’s Ingredients – In order to accomplish this lofty goal, the Potter must work with materials that leave much to be desired. Clay as it is found in the ground is not suitable for use. It is dug out of the ground and brought to the vicinity of the pottery and allowed to weather for weeks. The dry material is then dumped into a cement-lined tank or wooden trough and covered with water. When the lumps have softened they are stirred in the water until all have disintegrated and a thin slimy mud or “slip” has been formed. In coastal cities, the potteries are all near the sea, as the sea-water is considered better for the “slipping” process.
In other words, the clay, as it is taken from the ground, is worthless. It must be transformed into a useable state and this is a process that takes time and energy on the part of the Potter.
This is a perfect portrait of those lost in sin. We are all worthless to God in our natural condition. However, because he sees the finished product, He is able to see what the vessels can become. Therefore, He begins the process that will bring us to a place of usefulness. Like the clay, He digs us out, washes us clean and dries us up.
This is a clear picture of the process a sinner must go through prior to salvation. Through the hearing of the Word, the heart is pricked as the conviction of God begins to work. The sinner is led along in little baby steps until he reaches the place where he receives Christ as Saviour. At that point, God begins the moulding, the transforming process.
Consider too … The Potter’s Instruments – The potter uses several implements to bring the clay to a place where it is usable.
He starts with A Shovel – This is the tool he uses to dig the clay
from the ground. This is a picture of the Spirit of God who comes to where we are in sin and speaks to us in convicting power and draws us out to Jesus. We did not choose God, God has chosen us. We should Praise the Lord for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said it best when speaking to Saul on the Road to Damascus – “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” Acts 9:5. This may be where some of you are right now. If the Potter is digging around in your life, He is calling you to come to Him. and surrender to Him, – do that today! You will never regret it!
Then the Potter uses a Mallet – After the clay has been cleansed and processed, it is placed on a table and beaten with a wooden mallet. The Potter does this to remove any air bubbles that might be trapped in the clay. If he doesn’t the air bubble will form a pocket that will produce a weak spot and cause the vessel to spoil in the kiln, and turn out fragile and unusable.
This is a picture of the trials, calamities and chastisements of life that tend to work together to shape us in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ – 2 Corinthians. 4:17 says …
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
We may not like the pounding of the mallet, but its sole purpose is to make us more usable and pliable in the Potter’s hand. You see, the Heavenly Potter is in the business of making us look
like Jesus – therefore, every stretch is a good thing!
Then we must consider the Potters Wheel – This is where the clay is placed. As the clay turns, the Potter will place His hands in water, and then apply them on the lump of clay and shape it according to his will. Remember he always knows what the
finished article will look like, right now it is a work in progress, … just as we are!
Again, these wheels are symbolic of the circumstances and situations that life brings our way. Life often times seems like a large circle. It seems that we just get past one trial when here it comes around again. These things are hard to take and leave us confused and burdened, but we must remember that the Potter controls the speed of the wheel and it only rotates according to His will. Never forget that God is still in control, regardless of what you are facing in life, and that all things are eventually going to work out to your good – Romans 8:28.
But don’t overlook … His Hands – While the clay spins around on the wheel, it is never out of contact with the Potter’s hands. He is in constant contact, moulding, shaping and stretching the clay along through His loving guidance. If he were to ever remove His hand, the clay would spin right off the wheel and would be lost. Therefore, he remains there with the clay and waits until it becomes shaped to what He desires it to be.
What a picture of the Heavenly Father. There are times when God seems remote or removed – millions of miles away from us and from our needs. However, He has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He will ever be with His children always. Matthew. 28:20.
The child of God need never fear that the Lord will walk out on us and leave us to spin out of control. No matter how fast the wheels of life spin, or what stretching comes our way, we can rest assured that the Lord of glory will never remove His hand from us. He is always in touch with His clay!
So much then for the Potter and His Mission.
Now let us consider
THE POTTER AND HIS METHODS
Imagine first … A Problem With The Vessel – Even in the Potter’s hand, things can still go terribly wrong. The fault is not with the Potter, but with the clay. There are times when even with the best of care, the vessel still gets out of shape.
Isn’t this the way our lives seem at times? We are going along just fine and we are growing in the grace of the Lord, then along comes a temptation or a trial and for one reason or another, we are thrown off balance and we become marred in the Potter’s hand. Every turn of the wheel makes the blemish more visible.
It soon becomes evident that God cannot use us in our present shape.
Never be guilty of believing that this cannot happen to you. There are many people in this world that started out running well for the Lord, but along the way they got weak and out of balance in their lives. Before long, they were found to be vessels of dishonour. They never planned it that way, but it happened
just the same. So, never think that it cannot happen to you.
The Bible is strewn with the wreckage of lives that began well and ended disastrously.
Imagine next, … The Perception Of The Potter – Because his hand is resting on the vessel, the Potter knows instantly when a problem arises. He senses the changes in the clay and he begins taking whatever steps are necessary to correct the problem.
The same could be said for the Lord. There are times when we are all just cracked pots. Yet, because He knows everything about us and because His hand rests on our lives, and His Spirit
dwells in our hearts, He is therefore immediately aware when things aren’t as they should be. At that moment, He takes the necessary steps to get us back in usable condition. Never think, even for a second, that you are going to hide something from
the Lord. He sees it all. Proverbs 15:3 says …
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil
and the good.”
God is aware of every thought, every deed and every motive
and will allow none to pass before His gaze unchallenged.
If God knows when I have a need, it stands to reason that He also knows when I have a fault or some flaw in my attitude that needs His correction. I am kidding myself if I think I am keeping a secret from the Lord. The best thing I can do is be responsive to His touch and yield to His control in my life. The sooner I can reach the place He desires me to be, the sooner He can use me for His glory.
Imagine too … The Patience Of The Potter – Even though the clay is misshapen and deformed, it is still in His hand. The Potter can take the marred vessel, press it back into a lump and begins again. This time, the vessel may turn out well, but it may also be deformed once again. If so, as long as the clay is mouldable and pliable in His hand, the Potter will rework it and reform it until He is able to produce a vessel that satisfies Him.
Again, this is a beautiful picture of the work of the Heavenly Potter in our lives. There are many times along the way that I can look back to, and see myself deformed and misshapen upon the Potter’s wheel. At those times, He loving pressed upon me with His hands and began the process once again. You may
have given up on me, but God will never give me up!
This process is not always pleasant! There are times when the Lord has to bring His chastisement into our lives. He does this because He loves us and wants us to enjoy His best. When the vessel is marred, the Potter does not throw the clay away and start afresh with a new piece. There is a reason for this. He has already invested too much time in salvaging the clay from the soil and in preparing it for use. He has a vested interest in what happens to the clay. Therefore, He can afford to be patient and to keep working in the clay until it begins to resemble that image that He desires it to bear.
By the same token, never has the Heavenly Potter thrown His clay away. He has paid the ultimate price for His clay. He died for it to redeem it from sin and from disuse. Now, He is determined that He will make something special out of it. Therefore, the Christian need never fear being thrown out by
the Potter. What God saves, God saves to keep – forever!
Now, I will say this, there are times when the clay becomes no longer pliable to the Potter’s touch. When this happens, the Potter has no choice but to set aside that hardened vessel and chose another lump of clay with which to work. That is not a picture of losing one’s salvation, but it is a picture of being shelved. There are times when the Lord removes His hand of blessing and places us aside and uses another vessel instead. However, we can be sure that this never happens to us if we remain mouldable and yielded to His hand.
So we have considered the Potter and His Mission,
& The Potter and His Method
In conclusion let us look to
THE POTTER – FOR HIS MESSAGE
It’s A Message About Control – According to Jeremiah 18 verse 6, the Potter has absolute control over what becomes of the clay. It is in His hand and He makes of it what He desires.
(remember as I said at the beginning, God always sees the finished article)
What a message to the people of God! He is in control of our lives and He makes of us what He wishes. Some are sturdy vessels that are used over and over again. Others are very fine and delicate like expensive china. They are used only on special occasions, but are glorious to behold at any time. Even others might be used in ways that make them like vessels of dishonour.
Yet whatever the usage, it is according to the will of the Potter and those types of choices are totally up to Him. The clay has no right to question the Potter’s judgment in the matter of what kind of vessel He makes of it – Isaiah 45:9, says “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! … Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?”
The whole point here is that God decides what He wants you to do and to be. You duty is to submit to His will for your life. God does not want you to be like me, nor does he want me to be like you, but he wants us all to be like JESUS! God is in control, trust him (the Heavenly Potter) to make you a beautiful person, and a treasure in his hand.
Then the Potters Message is A Message About Compliance –
As I was saying, the only duty that the clay has, is to yield to the will of the Potter. If we want the blessings of the Lord and want to be vessels of honour unto Him, then let us be what He has
equipped us to be. All I am saying is that we are to grow where we are planted and use our gifts for His glory. If we will place ourselves in His hands and genuinely allow the Lord to work His will in us, then we will be blessed and we will be vessels of honour unto the good of others and the glory of God.
Can you honestly say right now that you are totally yielded to the will of God for your life? Or, would you have to say, that there are areas where YOU are still in control. There are parts of you that you haven’t given to the Potter. There are circumstances that you face that you are still trying to control and work out? Are you like “putty in the Master’s hands” today?
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
Many years ago in the “horse and buggy” days, a man and his wife were driving along a very narrow and dangerous stretch of road. The woman became extremely nervous, and in her fright she grabbed one of the reins. As calmly as possible the husband responded by offering her the other strap, “Oh, no,” she cried, “I don’t want them both – I could never manage that animal alone” “Well, then,” he said gently, “you must make your choice.
It’s either you or me. We can’t both drive the same horse!”
The frightened Woman quickly surrendered full control of the carriage to her husband. Everything was once again
in good hands, and they journeyed safely onward.
Your life and mine is only ever “in good hands” when we have surrendered control to the “Heavenly Potter”. I recon that what he is planning to make out of you, will far excel any plans you have, so give it all over to him today.
God Bless You. Amen.