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In The Potter's House Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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November 22, 2022 1:00 am

In The Potter's House Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 22, 2022 1:00 am

Most of us go about our business, thinking we’re in control of our lives. But God sets the agenda, and He knows what is best. In this message, we study the imagery of clay on a potter’s wheel, being molded to suit the Potter’s purposes. Imagine how this paradigm shift will shape our love for God and others!

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Many believers have never seen themselves as clay on a potter's wheel, being molded to suit the potter's purposes. But the sooner we understand that, the sooner we'll be fruitful members of the body of Christ. Today, lessons from a wheel and a furnace during a trip to Israel.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, to be thought of as lumps of clay, goes against the grain for most people who see themselves as able to determine their own destinies. Dave, I have to say that this is one of the hard passages of the Bible. And yet frequently throughout the Scriptures, we discover that God is the potter, we are the clay, and that gives the impression as if we are simply inanimate objects, which of course is not true. But God is making a point.

He is the one who determines what happens in his world. It's a sobering concept. You and I, Dave, have been to Israel together.

And when you go there, you can often be taken to a potter's house and see exactly what Jeremiah saw, which he describes for us. This is a critical message. But I want to pause here and remind people that during this Thanksgiving season, Christmas is just around the corner. And as far as I'm concerned, it cannot come one day too soon. We're making a very special resource available to you. I know that all of you know about Handel's Messiah. But let me ask you a question. When is the last time you actually listened to it?

Well, this is a very special recording by the Cambridge Singers. We'll be saying more about that. But for now, let's listen to Jeremiah's experience in the potter's house.

Today I'm speaking on the topic in the potter's house. All of us have gone through experiences in life, I'm sure, that have been disappointing. Our dreams have been shattered. If we could go up and down the aisles, we'd find people today who would say, I hoped for a happy marriage, but it hasn't happened. Someone else might say, I hoped for good health. I hoped for a satisfying career.

What is God doing in the midst of our pain, in the midst of our disappointments, and in the midst of our shattered dreams? Well, today I want you to come with me to Israel. How many of you have been to Israel? Can I see your hands, please?

Not nearly as many as I thought. But we're all going to Israel today. And I want you to bring your camera.

You know, everywhere, people have cameras on their phones. So bring your camera along because what we're going to do is we're going to go into the potter's house. We're going to take four snapshots so that when you get back from Israel, you can show your friends what you saw in the potter's house. Jeremiah chapter 18 is the passage of scripture where Jeremiah was asked to go into the potter's house. And if you didn't bring your Bible, I hope that you use that pew Bible. Jeremiah is one of the big books and it follows one that is even longer, namely the book of Isaiah. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah chapter 18. 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 that he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand and he reworked it into another vessel as it seemed good for the potter to do.

I know that in context this is a reference to the nation Israel as Jeremiah explains in the next verses. But today I want us to see this passage from God's standpoint and our standpoint and what God is doing in our lives and what it's like to be a vessel in the potter's house. Now I told you to bring your cameras because the first picture that we're going to take as we walk in to the potter's house is a picture of the potter himself who in this particular story is God.

But let's look at a potter that you might find in Israel. He is so intent on what he is doing that he doesn't even know that we have walked into his store, into his room. He is very intent and as we look more carefully we notice that he is working purposefully. He has a plan in mind. He has a good idea of what this vessel is going to look like and he determines whether it's going to be a flower pot, whether it's going to be a water pot, whether or not it'll have handles, how big it will be. All of that is in his mind as he works purposefully.

He's not like children, preschool children playing with Plato who are just making things that perhaps have no particular shape and he's not blindfolded as the evolutionists say that he is working blindly throwing things together. There is a plan and there is a plan that God has for your life. Clearly in the book of Romans it says that that plan is that we should be conformed to the image of his son.

Today as you're listening to me whether here or on the internet or the radio, keep in mind that God has a purpose in what he's putting you through because he sees you in a way that you don't see yourself. He has a plan in mind. He is working purposefully. Let us also realize that he is working patiently. We may think that as we see the potter go through all of the various motions as he's looking at that vessel, it might seem as if it's good to us, but it's not yet good to him and he's taking his time. He does not want to sacrifice beauty for speed, so there he works. And the divine potter sometimes works that way too. Have you ever noticed how long it sometimes takes God to remake somebody?

And we'd like to be able to put it through the assembly line, do it quickly God, do it in a few weeks, a couple of months, surely not years, but God is working patiently. But he's also working authoritatively because he has in mind the kind of vessel that he has and we'll see this when it comes to the second vessel, the remade vessel, it says that he remakes it as it pleases him, as it seems good to him. God works with authority. Doesn't this bring to your mind Romans chapter 9, that very difficult passage that all of us struggle with? Regarding Pharaoh it says, for this purpose I raised Pharaoh up and I hardened his heart that I might show my glory throughout all the earth. And of course an objector says, well wait a moment God, this doesn't make sense. Doesn't Pharaoh have free will?

How come you are still blaming him if you're the one who raised him up? And you remember what the Apostle Paul says, who are you to reply to God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why have you made me this way? Does the vessel say to the potter, why have you made me thus? What if God wants to make his glory and his power known? Does he not have the right to make some vessels onto honor and some onto dishonor? He works with authority and God works with authority. And yet as we look at the text we notice that from our standpoint at least it looks as if the potter has a mixture of success as well as a mixture of failure because clearly this vessel is not turning out the way in which he intended. So naturally we face the question does God ever fail?

Does he intend to do something and want to do something but then he's blocked because of our stubbornness? Well there are two ways that we must view this. First of all let us understand that God's hidden purpose, his hidden purpose is always achieved. There's no doubt that he works all things after the counsel of his own will and the will that you and I do not see because there's so much that we see that we do not understand and we cannot understand God's purposes. That hidden will is always achieved. He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say unto him what doest thou? His eternal hidden will is always achieved. But there's another sense in which his visible purposes here on this earth are sometimes thwarted by us, by our hardness of heart, by our rebellion, by our failure to take human responsibility.

So that's the other side of this coin. But as the potter sits there working he is working authoritatively because he does have an end in mind. Do you have a picture now of the potter on the camera of your mind? Do you see him there sitting on a stool working intently dressed in brown clothes?

We're working with brown clay. That's the first picture, the picture of the potter. Well let's move on and let's take a picture now of the wheel. The wheel, you'll notice it says, and he was working at his wheel last part of verse three and he was making a vessel on the wheel.

So what is the wheel? The wheel is real life experiences in the analogy. And he is working in our lives through two different venues broadly speaking. First of all, circumstances. God brings circumstances into our lives and the Bible says that all things work together for good to those who love God. And that little word all should be emphasized and underlined. All things work together for good. All the circumstances of life, including your struggles with your health, and as we shall see in a moment struggles with other people.

But notice circumstances. It says in the Old Testament regarding Joseph. It says that Joseph, when he was exalted and he was next to Pharaoh because he was working with Potiphar who was Pharaoh's secret service agent, it says, and the Lord was with Joseph and he was exalted in Egypt. And then he becomes falsely accused, you remember, and he's thrown into prison and it says, and the Lord was with Joseph when he was in prison. May I say to you today that God is with us in our promotions, but he is also with us in our demotions.

The potter uses both. He uses health as well as sickness. He also uses not only circumstances, but people. Have you ever noticed how God irritates us with people? You know, we all love humanity.

As Charlie Brown says, it's just people that we can't stand. To live above with the saints we love. Oh, that will be glory, but to live below with the saints, I know that's another story.

And here it is. God puts us all together and he says, enjoy one another. Now, how does God use people? God uses people to teach us, to mold us. If we were to look at that potter, as we would see the clay spinning around on his wheel, we'd notice that he has a knife and he is using that knife very guardedly, very carefully so that the excess clay might come off and he is doing that. And that's exactly the way in which God tests us and develops us. You students that are here today, the roommate that God in his providence has given you for this semester may be the very knife that God intended to use to make you into the vessel he wants you to be. But you know that the vessel has no right to tell the potter you can't use that person or that circumstance.

You have no right to do that. A potter can use whomever he wishes. Think of it this way. In the case of the apostle Paul, the potter used Satan, a messenger of Satan to trouble Paul and to give him the thorn in the flesh. In the life of someone like Peter, what you find is that God used his own deception and his own unwillingness to follow Jesus Christ. And in the case of Joseph, whom I spoke about earlier, God used his brothers. His brothers were the wheel that God used to produce within him Christ-like character, because that's what God is after. And indeed, the Bible says all things work together for good.

That's the wheel. There was a very wise Chinese man, I read the story some time ago, who had a son and a horse, and that's all that he had. But his son let the horse out of the barn, so the horse ran away. So this man's friends gathered together and they said, we want to sympathize with you over the bad thing that happened. And the man said, how do you know that this is bad?

Next day, the horse returned and brought 10 stray horses with him. All of his friends gathered together and they said, we want to we want to celebrate with you regarding the good thing that has happened. He says, how do you know that this is good? His son was trying to break one of those new horses and the horse threw him off and the boy broke his leg. Everybody gathered around and they said, we want to comfort you regarding the evil, the bad that has happened. How do you know that it's bad?

Next day, soldiers were coming through the countryside looking for young men to fight and his son was exempt because he had a broken leg. Oh, let us gather together and let us, well, you know, this story could go on for a long time. As Christians, we do not make superficial judgments. All things work together for good to them that love God. That's the wheel upon which God places us. All right, we have looked now and back behind that wheel, my friend, is God. So we've taken two pictures. We've taken a picture of the potter. We've taken a picture of the wheel. Now it's time to take a picture of the first vessel. That's the third picture that we take.

Notice what it says. He was working at his wheel, verse four, and the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand. We look at this vessel and there was something within it that resisted the potter. Possibly it had some lumps within it. It is as if this vessel was rebelling against what the potter wanted to do and these lumps were creating difficulty.

The lumps showed that there was also a lack of symmetry. Symmetry is very, very important to the potter. And as a result of that, this particular vessel, despite the fact that the potter was working authoritatively, this particular vessel was marred, it was spoiled, it was ruined in the hands of the potter. Well, this is a remarkable passage of scripture and of course I've given it a lot of thought. I've preached a message on it. You've heard a part of that message and I have to say that sometimes we are so puzzled by the fact that we are likened onto a pot, onto a vessel that is being made by a potter. But you and I have to understand that it is God's desire to shape us into the image of his dear son. And during this Thanksgiving season and of course Christmas is just around the corner, the best way to allow God to do that is to spend time worshiping the Almighty. I'm holding in my hands the Messiah, that is to say, two disks, Handel's Messiah, the complete work, the Cambridge Singers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Rudder. Now I have to say that there is no better way to be led in worship than to listen to the Messiah. That's why we're making it available to you.

We think it's going to be a tremendous blessing. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, but I want to remind you and thank you in advance for your support of this ministry because of people just like you running to win us in 20 different countries in four different languages and of course through the internet heard around the world., of course, rtwoffer is all one word, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Ask for Handel's Messiah, the complete work. We want to make this special resource available to you. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Today, a heartbreaking story from an anonymous couple who need serious help. My wife and I are desperately seeking advice. Our son married a woman who regrets that she did not marry another woman. She now wants to be in a same sex relationship.

They have three children. Our daughter-in-law claims to be a Christian and yet refuses to repent. She wants to leave the marriage to pursue what she thinks is a more fulfilling relationship. What do we do?

Well, my first inclination is to say that there isn't too much that you can do. But now that I've said that, let me back up and tell you what I think your response should be. I think what you should do is to take your daughter-in-law aside and help her to understand why the decision that she wants to make is a very bad idea.

And it's a bad idea because it's a sinful idea. Help her to understand that the consequences are going to be far-reaching, that it's going to affect their family, it's going to affect the witness that she is trying to have to her children, hopefully a good witness that she wants to have, and that she cannot simply pursue her own desires as if to say those desires have to be elevated above all of the implications for her husband and children. It's a very, very difficult decision fraught with all kinds of dangers.

So I think that needs to be said. The second thing that I think needs to be said is that you will continue to love her and continue to do all that you possibly can to help the children. Then beyond that, there isn't much that you can do except, of course, to pray, to intercede. After all, she is an adult, and oftentimes adults say, I'm going to do what I'm going to do no matter how it's going to smash relationships, no matter what the consequences are. Like somebody says, I'll join hands with the devil and go across the bridge and then deal with the devil later. Tragic, but that's the way it often is in the lives of people determined to pursue their own way.

The next thing is if she follows through, it'll be your responsibility to help the children to process this. Through prayer, through supplication, through your own witness, through your own love, we pray that they will not be too badly damaged by the actions of her mother. And then to remind yourself that Jesus Christ came to this earth to repair the irreparable. He came to this earth to help people with their messes, with their brokenness, with their great need to bind up the broken hearted, yes, to forgive those who trespass and to help us in our need. So I want to leave you here with hope, hope that in the midst of all of this, God still is glorified by showing His grace in the midst of disobedience, in the midst of heartfelt pain. God will be with you.

Keep believing, keep trusting, and you'll see God even here. Some compassionate counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Seeing ourselves as clay helps us avoid the I'm in charge attitude we all too often project. As the potter, God is in charge. He has a purpose we can't see, a purpose that takes us through the fire so that one day we'll come out as gold. So, are you content being clay on God's pottery wheel? Next time, join us for more on what kind of vessels God wants to make out of you and me. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-22 12:55:05 / 2022-11-22 13:03:26 / 8

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