Sunday, February 4, 2007

A Vessel for the Master's Use

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
"Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words."
Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought 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 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? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
~ Jeremiah 18:1-6
A vessel is a hollow utensil used as a container, a person considered as a receptacle, a craft as a boat, a blood vessel... Today’s lesson deals with just a simple vessel that is used, such as a cup or a bowl!

In our lesson today we find that the Lord uses the potter to teach Jeremiah a profound lesson about His sovereignty and His right to discipline Judah until she conformed to His plan.

God said to Jeremiah , "Go down to the Potter’s house and there I will cause you to hear My words." As Jeremiah was watching the potter He saw that the vessel the Potter was making was marred in the hand of the potter. So He made it again. Perhaps a hard lump in the clay ruined the vessel as it spun on the potter’s wheel. The potter must remove the lump to achieve his purpose in reshaping the vessel.

This morning I want us to look at our lives as vessels.

I. First, I want us to consider who the potter is in our lives and the clay He uses.

The Hebrew word means to form, to make , a fashioner.

Look at Genesis 2:7:
And the Lord formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
In Ephesians 2:10 Paul says:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
We were not made by just any potter but by the Master Potter, God!

Look at Jeremiah 18:3:
Then I went down to the potter's house, and there He was making something at the wheel.
Making something! Making something out of a ball of clay! Clay is a substance from the earth that the chemist describes as a hydrated silicate of alumina mixed with a variety of impurities in varying proportions. The clays used in Palestine were for the most part secondary clays. Because there were impurities in it, the Potter would wash it before He could shape something out of it.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holt Spirit. ~Titus 3:5
2. The making of the vessel.

The most common way of making pottery was by hand.
But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and you our potter; And all we are the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Your hands have made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity. ~Job 10:8
I watched a potter as he made a vessel. He took the ball of clay and put his hands around it and as I watched the ball of clay began to take the shape of a vessel. At this point it only looked like a vessel because the potter was not done yet. When he had the clay looking like a vessel he began to put his hand right down in the very middle of the clay. The vessel began to take on a shape different than before. Then the potter told us that the vessel that he had made was not done until it had gone through the fire.

Our scripture lesson in Jeremiah 18:4 tells us that the vessel was marred in the hands of the potter. But the scripture did not stop there. It goes on to say, "So he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make."

In our lesson I want us to notice to types of vessels.

A. The marred vessel.

I got to thinking about the marred vessel and I researched it. The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible says: "The marred clay would be put aside and when there was enough broken and marred pots the potter would then grind them up into powder and then add water to them and began all over again to make a vessel." God never throws anyone away but keeps on trying to made something out of us!

B. A vessel of use

We don’t get to choose what kind of vessel we get to be. Acts tells the story of Paul’s conversion. In Acts 9: 15 God tells Ananias to go to Paul and lay His hands on Him that He might receive His sight.
"Go, for He is a chosen vessel of mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel."
"But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will 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, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?" ~Romans 9:20 -21
God may want us to be just a coffee cup and not a big bowl!

4. A useful vessel

A. Vessels are made for different uses.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." ~2 Timothy 19-21
Think about the words in this scripture, "A vessel of honour, sanctified, for the Master’s use, prepared unto good works."

2. Vessels can only be used when they are full.

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut." ~Matthew 25:1-10
Think of the five wise virgins in the scripture. The Bible says they were ready when the bride groom came for them.

What kind of vessel are you? You may be just a small tea cup but are you being the best tea cup you can be?
"You are who you are for a reason.
You’re part of an intricate plan.
You’re a precious and perfect unique design.
Called God’s special woman or man."