May 25, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO BE THE POTTER (part 3)

Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

We have seen the POTTER, the PLAN, and the PROCESS.God is the Potter, and God’s will is the Plan, and God’s work is the Process.

The fourth thing we see in this passage is the PROBLEM.
“The vessel…was marred”. Vessels are made to be filled. By the way, so are you and I. We are filled with the Spirit of God, or we are filled with our flesh. Vessels are made to be used for something. Vessels are to be useful, valuable, and to serve a purpose. This vessel did not stand up to the pressure. We do not know if it was marred on the wheel, or maybe in the heating process. The heating process will often cause clay vessels to break and crack. We can simply wonder “what happened”. As is so often the case in the lives of some Christians, marriages, and ministries. “What happened”? What happened was when friction or heat came their way, they cracked. We all show our true selves whenever the heat is applied. Every vessel normally looks nice, pretty, and strong, until it hits the heat. Only then do we know if there are any imperfections in the clay. That is why as a pastor, we try hard to invest in young people; praying that when friction or heat come, they will stand up to it. All around this area are houses tonight full of people that are out of church, away from God, not being used, having no purpose and we could sit down and ask, “what happened”. Our churches are full of marred vessels.

One thing before we move on I must comment on. If you will notice, the clay was in the potters’ hands as he put it on the wheel and turned it. It was in the potters’ hands as he molded it. And the vessel was in the potters’ hands when it was marred. It was in the potters’ hands through the whole PROCESS, but the Potter did not discard it after he saw the crack. He just started making it over. My dear friend, we are never out of our Fathers’ hands no matter if we crack under the pressure or break under the heat. We are always and will always be in God’s hands.

* Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

May 24, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO BE THE POTTER (part 2)

Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

The first thing we see in this passage is the POTTER:
We discussed this subject thoroughly in the last devotional. We have already established the roles we each have in this illustration. God is the Potter, and we are the clay. So, we need to keep that in mind as we look at this passage. God is represented by the Potter in this story, and you and I are the vessel that is being formed.

The second thing we see in this passage is the PLAN:
“He wrought a work”. That is the plan. For God the “Potter” to make us into what He wants us to be. We see here that He does the work, not us. The Potter is the one in control. It even says in verse six of this passage, “so are ye in mine hand”. Look at this verse:

Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

You see, in this story, the potter had already envisioned what he wanted vessel to be, and God already has a plan for your life, and my life. The potter, here, had a reason for every action, and that reason was to make it according to his plan for that vessel. The vessel had no say so in what it wanted to be. We are to be formed according to His plan, not ours.

The third thing we see in this passage is the PROCESS:

He wrought a work “on the wheels”. The wheels were rough and hard. The wheels provided friction. The potter controls the wheels, and he controls the vessel. The potter knows how fast to turn the wheel, how much friction needs to be applied to the clay, and how hard or soft he needs to touch it with his hands. This is what God does to us. It is never fun for us to be on the wheel, to feel the friction, to be molded and changed, but it is necessary. It may be that you are on his wheels today. Maybe God is applying pressure or friction in your life currently. I know it is not a fun process, but we would never be changed without it. We would never become a useful vessel without friction. We would never be molded without pressure. Trust God’s “process”. He has a reason for everything He is doing.

May 23, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO BE THE POTTER

Isaiah 64:8
8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all
are the work of thy hand.

You know, for anything to work right, those involved need to understand the person in
charge, their position, and their purpose. Things are not going to be productive if the
wrong people try to assume authority. Things will not work correctly if people do not
know what they are supposed to do, or why they are supposed to do it. God takes care
of all questions in this passage.

“Thou art our Father”, “Thou our Potter”

This is very clear. God is the one in authority. He is “Father”, which means that He
created. He is “Potter”, which means that He controls. God made us, so God has the
right and responsibility to mold us. Things do not go well if we decide, for any reason,
that we should be in charge. Think about it. We would never be molded into anything
useful because we would not put ourselves through difficulty. We need to just get
comfortable with the fact that God is the Potter. He is the expert. The Potter does not
explain things to the clay. He is not required to defend every decision or change he
makes.

“We are the clay”

The only job of the clay is to simply submit to what the Potter is doing. To be pliable is
the main requirement. We are to accept what the Potter is doing to us in the molding
process.

“We are all the work of Thy hand”
The purpose in this whole thing we call life is to be what God wants us to be. We will go
no further in our spiritual life till we understand that. It is not important what we think we
should be, or what we want to be. We are all a “work” in God’s hands. He is
accomplishing a purpose. He is building a work. He is forming a vessel. God wants us
to be a useful vessel, and He wants us to useful in accomplishing His perfect will.
Before we look further into this passage, we will get nowhere until we get this all straight
and understood. God is in charge. We are not. God is creating a “work”. We are the
“work” He is creating. Whatever vessel God makes us into should be used according to
His purpose.
If you think about it, we have the easiest job in this process. He does all the work. He
does all the forming. He turns the wheel. He heats the kiln. When it is all done, we get to
be filled and used. God is able to be the Potter, and we are not!

May 22, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO BE RIGHT ON TIME (part 7)

John 11:43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

At this point, Lazarus had been dead for four days. It would seem that Jesus was a little bit too late. Even Martha told Jesus that the body was already beginning to decay. It was as if she was saying, ‘thank you for all your efforts but it is just too little too late’. So Jesus commands them to roll the stone away from the cave that served as Lazarus’ grave. And when He did, He called out to God the Father. Listen to what Jesus said:

* 41………And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

Jesus wanted to make sure that the “critical crowd” and the family understood what was going on. Jesus wanted to make sure that God the Father was glorified by this. In fact, Jesus says to Martha:

* 40 …..Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

Jesus then calls Lazarus forth and as we all know, Lazarus came out in his grave clothes. Then Jesus commands the grave clothes to loosen from Lazarus, and the fabric that they bound Lazarus in, when they buried him, came off. The Bible says that many believed that were there that day, and then some of them ran straight to the Pharisees to tell them what happened.

What is interesting to me is that we are not told a lot about the reaction of Mary, Martha, Lazarus, or Jesus. There is no ‘I told you so’. There is no ‘take that you critical, contaminated, cynical crowd’. Jesus just does the miraculous, and then heads on to the next task. I don’t know if Mary and Martha fainted, cried, screamed for joy, or fell at Jesus feet. I do not know if it was a mic drop moment, a Holy hush moment, or a worship moment. I don’t know if the crowd started cheering, talking, or if they just stood there with their mouths open in amazement. I do not know if you have ever wandered about these details of this story. Jesus was doubted by everyone there that day. Everyone thought He was, at best, too late. But we are not told everything that the crowd did, nor anything that Mary, Martha, or Lazarus did. I guess because none of this is really about any of them. This was all about the Glory of God, displayed through the persons of God the Father, and God the Son. You know, nothing in our lives should be about us. Everything should be about the Lord. Usually, while we’re are busy doubting Him, He is busy doing the miraculous. May we remember that Jesus is never late, He is always on time. May we remember that the glory of God should be the ultimate purpose in everything we do. Finally, may we determine which “crowd” we are going to be part of.

May 21, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO BE RIGHT ON TIME (part 6)

It bothered Jesus that these people that He loved were hurting. It bothered Jesus that Lazarus was dead. It bothered Jesus that they were not trusting Him. It bothered Jesus that some of them felt betrayed. Then some of the Jews there said some hurtful things (as people normally do).

* John 11:36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

This was a sarcastic statement by these Jews, “Behold how he loved him”. In other words, they were saying that Jesus didn’t really love Lazarus or He would have been there before Lazarus died. They criticized that if Jesus did some miracles for others, why didn’t Jesus do this for Lazarus? This really bothered and hurt Jesus. And it would hurt you to. There will always be people that will say some ignorant things to you, but they are somehow convinced that they are justified in doing so. Trust me, it happens all the time. You never hear a positive comment about anything from some, but they are quick to correct or criticize you. It is just part of the territory. But it still hurts. That is what happens when you do things different than people think you should. They do not know your heart, your motives, or even the whole situation. Jesus was doing what was best for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. And Jesus was doing what would glorify God the most. And yet the negative comments come. The Bible never says that Jesus ever said anything back to their criticism. He just went on.

May I encourage you today to consider making some commitments.
1. Determine that you will not be part of the “critical crowd”. Don’t be the person that discourages. Don’t be the person that only comments when they have something negative to say. Don’t be the person that makes themselves a self-appointed judge. You are not helping like you think you are. You are hurting.
2. Determine that you will not be part of the “controlling crowd”. Don’t be the person that expects everyone to have the same opinion that you do or wants things a certain way like you want them. Don’t expect everyone to do what you think they should. Realize that sometimes your opinions are wrong, even if you think you are right. Some people cannot stand it if they are not in control.
3. Determine to be part of the “committed crowd”. Determine to be the kind of person that just keeps serving God, even when the “critical crowd” speaks up. Just go on like Jesus did. Lazarus would still be in the grave if Jesus would have let all those comments control Him. Yes, it hurts, and yes, it is unfair, but you have a “life” to live, so don’t let them bring death.
4. Determine to be part of the “comforting crowd”. These kinds of things used to hurt me more than they do know. It still hurts, but It has happened enough now, that it just gives me the desire to not give them the satisfaction that it affected me. I am not going to let them control me. We have things to do, people to help, and there are plenty of people out there that appreciate it and do nothing but encourage. Thank God for the “comforting crowd”. Determine to be just that. Determine to be the one person that unexpectedly comes and compliments. It is hard to stay positive when you work with people, so be the person that brings positivity into a person’s life.

May 19, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO BE RIGHT ON TIME (part 5)

John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept.

Let’s make sure we get the whole picture:

1. Jesus saw her weeping
2. Jesus groaned in the spirit
3. Jesus was troubled
4. Jesus asked where they laid Lazarus
5. Jesus wept

Beside the fact that verse thirty-five is the shortest verse in the Bible, and the verse that we all claimed as a memorized verse when we were kids and were required to memorize verses, this verse gives us great insight to the heart of Jesus.

When Jesus saw Mary and others weeping, the Bible says that Jesus “groaned” in His spirit. This word means to be angry with, almost with indignation. Then the verse says that this “troubled” Jesus. Literally, this really bothered Jesus. We will get into the specifics of that tomorrow. Notice here a few things.

1. JESUS SAW HER WEEPING.
Jesus has a special way of seeing. Jesus sees things that other people do not see. Jesus sees past the face into the heart. Jesus looks through the tears into the very soul.

2. JESUS SENSED HER WEEPING
Jesus “groaned in the spirit”. He literally felt what she felt. Jesus was troubled. The Bible says that Jesus is touched by our trials. He feels them when we go through them.

* Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

3. JESUS SHARED HER WEEPING
“Jesus wept.” Jesus cried to. He was troubled, and He was touched. Jesus was touched by cities:

* Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

And we see here that Jesus is touched by people. May I remind you today that Jesus is touched by the things that you go through. He sees it, He senses it, and He shares it.

* Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: ………. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:…