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Friday, November 20, 2015
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"Lessons From The Master Potter"
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"O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand" (Isaiah 64:8). "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you My message" (Jeremiah 18:2).
Have Thine own way, Lord!
Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.
Many of us have tried our hand at making pottery all the way back to our art classes in Grade School. The results may not have been quite to our liking, at least for those of us who are artistically challenged. Perhaps you remember the art teacher displaying the pottery students had made including mugs, ash trays, and other small projects. Mine (in this case Brooksyne's) didn't look nearly as nice as other artistic students, but after I brought it home Mom put it out on the coffee table showing it off to others. Interestingly, among the report cards, trophies, and ribbons she saved over the years I don't have any of my special pottery pieces among them!
We recall some powerful sermons we've heard using a pottery wheel to demonstrate the points in a very illustrative way. One of the most memorable took place about twenty years ago when we were visiting the Great Passion Play near Eureka Springs Arkansas. Just prior to the Passion Play there is a short dramatic presentation called "Parables of the Potter." The "potter" was a man dressed in authentic-looking Bible costume who looked like the typical image we have of Jesus. He dramatically explained the symbolism of the potter illustrations from the Old Testament while he formed a vessel at the potter's wheel. What especially touched us was that he gave a very impassioned testimony of his own personal faith in Christ.
Early the next morning as we left the Mom and Pop type motel we had stayed at Ester and I noticed that the man cleaning the motel sure looked like the Potter but we didn't say anything. However Brooksyne, who was following us out, made the same observation and, with no hesitation, asked him directly. Sure enough, he was!
As she talked to him she noted that his voice also sounded similar to the voice of Jesus in the Passion drama and asked him if he also played the part of Jesus. Yes, indeed he played the role of Jesus. And there he was early the next morning cleaning the small hotel, which it turns out was owned by his in-laws! He indicated that he and his wife try to help his in-laws with the motel over the weekends. You learn a lot by asking! We were also blessed to see his servant's heart and working with a good attitude!
Today let's consider a great lesson that took place about 2,600 years ago. God directed the prophet Jeremiah to go down to the potter's house for a teaching lesson. Jeremiah obeyed God's directive and learned a powerful lesson that is now part of the Holy Scriptures.
I expect God to teach me in the mundane experiences of life and He will if my eyes and ears are attentive to His instruction. The Master Teacher used the ocean, birds, fields, house construction, and even little children to teach lasting lessons in life. In fact we often use observations in nature and everyday life as a basis for these daily encouragements.
Our first daily text expresses an attitude of submission to the Master Potter, "O LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand" (Isaiah 64:8). God has not changed and Isaiah's statement is directed to each of us as well. Many a songwriter has made this connection. Perhaps most famously are the words from the classic hymn, "Have Thine Own Way" which we quoted at the beginning.
"Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you My message" (Jeremiah 18:2). After Jeremiah observed the potter at work God taught him great truths we do well to remember. God, the Master Potter, providentially shapes our will as we submit to His caring hands. At times the Potter's pace may seem slow and we grow impatient at the progress. Occasionally the actions of the Master Potter may not make sense to us. We may squirm or even complain, considering the Potter to be quite abrupt in His actions. It may be painful to us and we may even think we know better!
And yet a deep settled peace and assurance comes to those of us who wholeheartedly place ourselves in the caring hands of the Master Potter. "You are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, too often my heart becomes hard, unpliable, and unmoved because of my stubborn will or due to my own ignorance. My pride convinces me that I know best and I become reckless along the way. I want to trust You as the Master Potter when You break my will to remove my imperfections. Though it is a painful, humbling and deliberate process I invite You to realign my heart's desires and reshape my will according to Your purpose. As I go through this purifying process help me to stand firm during the testing periods of my life. I want to be a vessel of honor that brings glory to You. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
Note from Brooksyne: When I was a child growing up in Tulsa we lived about three miles from Frankoma Pottery in Sapulpa, OK. I was spellbound as I watched the potters at work. I remember from my childhood experiences and our visits to Sturbridge Village in New England that the potter often took a piece of clay that he had formed into a lovely vase or pitcher and would suddenly crush it with his hands. He'd put it back on the wheel and start all over again. Though the untrained eye could not detect a defect in the work the Master Potter knew it was there and would reshape the vessel so that the quality was pleasing to him. It's a wonderful analogy of what Christ does when He saves us and applies His sanctifying work all along the way.
Here are four truths concerning the Master Potter:
1) The Master Potter is always in control.
2) The Master Potter is "hands on" (genuine pottery products are not mass-produced).
3) The Master Potter takes time and changes His work a number of times in ways that can be mysterious to the observer as he works on the finished product. As living pottery, changes in our lives can be mysterious to us also!
4) The Master Potter has the ultimate good in mind for His work.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Have Thine Own Way" Video Booth Brothers
"Potter's Hand" Video Hillsong
"Take My Life And Let It Be" Video Brian Doerksen
"Living Sacrifice" Video Chris Christian
Here's another story of someone who looked like Jesus in a play we saw in Branson. "Look, Grandma! Jesus Is Playing The Piano!"
Special Thanksgiving Resources
We offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will leave them up through Thanksgiving.
We appreciate singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not hear this season.
"Be Magnified" Video Kim Hill
"In Everything Give Him Thanks" Video The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"In Everything Give Thanks" Video Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter This song will bring joy to your heart!
"Now Thank We All Our God" Video Best Loved Hymns
"Come Ye Thankful People Come" Video Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video
"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come) Video Studio Musicians
"Give Thanks" Video Don Moen
"Thank You Lord" Video Community choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.
"Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul" Video Holland Davis
"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" (printable web page).
"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.
A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (web page) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.
A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)
"Thanks" Video Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers
"I Want To Thank You" Video Karen Peck and New River This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith. From the Gaither Homecoming series.
"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me" Video Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb
"Come We Thankful People Come" Video Traditional version Here's a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.
"I'm Forever Grateful" Video Willow Creek
"Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart" Video Don Moen
"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done" Video The Cathedrals
"Worthy Is The Lamb Crown Him .. Crown Him With Many Crowns" Video Travis Cottrell
"Thank You, Lord" Video Dennis Jernigan
"Thank You For Loving Me" Video Tommy Walker
"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" Video Matt Redman
"For These Reasons" Video Lincoln Brewster
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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