Audacious Cracked Pots
Audacious Cracked Pots Based on Romans 9:18-21
Last week we talked about the incredible mercy of God in His dealings with Pharaoh. Ten times ( the biblical number of completeness) He gave him the opportunity to repent. Pharaoh refused. Oh at times he would relent and promise to let the people go, but then he would change his mind after the plague had passed.
Sound familiar? How many times do we make deals with the Lord? In crisis we cry out, ďyes Lord, if you get me out of this jam, then I will follow you. Then I will be obedient, then I will believe your promises. But when the crisis passes, God becomes a distant speck in our rear view mirror.
God is merciful and patient, but there comes a time when His patience runs out, and we need to learn to respect that truth. So letís return to the text where we left off last week:
Ro 9:18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
The Lutheran commentator Rosenius puts it this way: The presence in the mind of God of the will (His will) to harden and destroy a person is due to that personís resistance to grace. This condition may be evident or it may have been foreknown in Godís omniscience.Ē ( That is, His ability to see the whole picture outside the framework of time.)
Jesus had some interesting things to say about this in Mt 11:25-27
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.
26 "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. (Jesus is saying, whatever Father, Your in charge here.)
27 "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (NKJV)
We learn a couple of things from these verses. First of all in the context of Matthew 11, Jesus had just spent a good amount of time speaking about the ways God, in His mercy seeks to spare people from hell and damnation.
He said, John the Baptist came to you with stern warnings to repent. I came to you with all the joy, and the miracles of the gospel, yet you wouldnít listen. Then He said if the miracles that I have done for you wouldíve been done in Sodom, it would still be here. But the Jews ignored the stern warnings of John the Baptist and the merciful wonders of Jesus and they are still paying the price today.
So once again we see His patient mercy in dealing with these people. Secondly, we see the type of person who is willing to listen and cease resisting Godís grace unto repentance and salvation.
The wise and the prudent have these things (salvation) hidden from them, but the babes have them revealed unto them and they are saved. Why?
Because the wise and the prudent are self-sufficient, filled with their own wise and learned ideas and since they are so wise, they are filled and satisfied with what they have and God cannot give them what they need for salvation. They wonít receive it. They perceive they donít need it.
The babes however are those who lack everything and realize their emptiness. Having nothing, God can fill them with everything! The Father has arranged salvation so that nothing should be required of us, that it all should come from Him. And it comes to those who have humbled themselves as a child.
When one is sufficiently humbled he is ready to meet the Savior of the Bible. He is ready for the Word to transform him and work in him, for in no other way can a poor sinner ever come to know God.
Mt 18:3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, (who do nothing but cry out and receive) you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)
In verse 19, Paul once again anticipates the challenges of those who would cry foul against Godís prerogative to extend mercy to some and harden others.
Ro 9:19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"
Oh but you see, He finds fault because we resist His Word! We ignore it, we donít believe it, we donít put it into practice, and quite frankly we just donít believe in the existence of God or that it is His Word we find in the Bible.
Because if we did, if we really believed that this Word was spoken by an all powerful and merciful God we would turn ourselves inside out in order to follow itís precepts and obey itís teachings. Pharaoh ignored and resisted the Word that was brought to him by Moses and we do the same.
Pharaoh says, ďI will decide when and if the people will be let go! It will be under my terms. Ē And we say, ďIíll decide if I will divorce. I will decide if I will tithe! I will decide if I am going to carry this baby to term.Ē I will decide when and with whom I will have sex! I will decide what I will say about other people. I will decide.
And so we resist His Word or become apathetic toward it, but as Pharaoh ultimately could not resist what God does with such stubborn people so it will be with us who steel our hearts against the Word of God.Ē
Itís true, we cannot resist the will of God. What He wills, comes to pass. And if we want to be on the merciful side of His will, then we must learn to surrender and quit resisting His Word.
Then Paul says something that should absolutely stop every mouth. This verse ought to be required memory work for every man woman and child of the Christian faith. Just think of itís implications.
20 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?" 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Does anything that you form with your hands, anything that you manufacture have the right to say to you, ďWhy have you made me like this?Ē When a potter makes a pot, does he seek to debate with it?
Did the Yugo have anything to say about how it was made or how it was to be used? If the potter wearies of a pot, cannot he throw it in the trash? If he cherishes, it, does he not have the option to display it prominently and permanently?
If God wearies of our constant resistance to His Word and His grace, does He not have the right to cast us into Hell? And if we cherish and believe His Word does He not have the right to cherish us and keep us with Him always?
Should we then, who were created by God, ďfearfully and wonderfully madeĒ as the Psalmist put it, debate or argue with God about who goes to heaven and who doesnít? God will decide for He alone knows the heart! He put it in the vessel and He knows whether it has stayed good or gone bad. Case closed!
But look at the other implications in this passage. Look how they relate to the matter of self-esteem. Those who struggle with self-esteem are in effect saying to God, ďWhy have you made me this way?Ē
Itís a bad question and it will not help your self-esteem to ask it. And that should tell you who is behind the question. Itís the accuser...the devil. God made you that way because He has a purpose for you. The proper question is ďnow that you have made me this way, what would You have me to do?Ē
The only claim you and I have to self-esteem is the fact that God thought we were important enough to give us life, and that He so loved us that He gave up His own Son to die on our behalf. If we want more than that, we are no better than the whining Israelites who never saw the bigger purpose God had for them. Instead they spent their time complaining.
Do you like hanging around complainers? I donít think God does either. Not one of the complaining Israelites made it to the Promised Land. Maybe we could learn from that.
Still another implication of this passage is the right to life. If we are the pots and God is the potter, and He fearfully and wonderfully makes every single pot that comes into this world. How dare we take a fellow pot and end itís life.
How dare we say that this pot doesnít fit my lifestyle therefore I must get rid of it? How dare we say that there is not enough room in the world for this person. God created the person, donít worry, Heíll find shelf space for it.
How dare we say that this pot is deformed in our eyes, and we are doing it a favor by eliminating it. There is a purpose even for the handicapped. God does not make junk. Oops is not in this Potterís vocabulary. Before we start eliminating fellow pots because of imperfections, weíd better stay away from mirrors.
Have you ever interacted with someone with Downís Syndrome? I hope so, because they will teach you more about unconditional love than anyone else on this earth. One of the saddest statistics I have ever seen is that the number of babies born with Downs syndrome is declining at a rapid rate..almost 50%.
Why does that make me sad? Because there has been no cure, which tells me that these children are being hunted down in the womb through amniocentesis and other technologies, then destroyed.
But why God? Why do you make such severely handicapped children? Maybe itís an opportunity for us to demonstrate the same kind of love He demonstrated toward us!
Honestly, the most hideous person ever born is naturally more attractive than we are in our fallen spiritual state. We are spiritually hideous, but God so loved us that He gave His only Son to die for us. He loves us while we were yet hideous sinners!
Oh memorize these verses. 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?" 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Because it puts so many things into their proper perspectives. He is the Potter...we are the clay! Deal with it!
Why did the Potter allow Katrina to move into the gulf states and scatter and smash so many fellow pots. I donít know, but I do know what our response needs to be. We need to be thankful that we are unscathed and to express that thankfulness by helping those in need.
You know, we are a bunch of audacious cracked pots arenít we? We like to shake our fist at God and say, ďHey, I didnít allow you to bring me into this world so I would have to deal with this!Ē What a ridiculous notion and yet we say it all the time.
Or the fact that in His grace and mercy, the Potter has even put up signs that show us how to live and stay out of trouble. We ignore His warnings and create all sorts of messes and again we shake our fist at Him and say ďwhy are you allowing this to happen to me?Ē
Why did you ignore His signs? Repent and deal with the results of your disobedience. Maybe in Godís mercy, He will restore what the locust has taken away.
Joe 2:25 "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.
Sometimes we get mad and shake our fist when another fellow pot rises up and makes some wrong choices that affect us adversely. But again, how foolish! Rather realize that you are a pot!
God will deal with that other pot.
The Potter has you there in your circumstances for a purpose. he loves you and will not allow your circumstances to crush you. Trust Him, rely on Him. He knows when to pull you out of the fire....you donít.
Running to anything else for aid in trying circumstances...things like food, alcohol, drugs, money, or any other form of addiction is like going to a flower pot and asking for help. Run to God! Run to the Potter!
DO you think if a pot had the choice that it would remain in the kiln as the heat is turned up? Highly unlikely, but the Potter knows what He is doing! And He knows what He is doing in your life.
He is the Potter, we are the clay. Let that sink in for awhile. It will change the way you live your Christian life. For God has said what He will do with hardened clay and He has said what He will do with pliable or soft clay.
To the hardened clay he says;
Isa 29:15 Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, And their works are in the dark; They say, "Who sees us?" and, "Who knows us?"
16 Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, "He did not make me"? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? (NKJV)
Here we see the foolishness of the clay who thinks the potter doesnít know what they are up to. They harden themselves to the point of doing what they please... Because ďthe Potter doesnít know.Ē
We see the same thing in the 2nd psalm:
Ps 2:1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us."
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion."
7 "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'"
Look at the end of the rebellious hardened pot. Dashed to pieces with a rod of iron.
Now letís look at the lot of those vessels with soft hearts, hearts that remain pliable in Godís hands.
Ps 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
The word ďdelightĒ in the Hebrew means ďto be pliableĒ Hmmmm Isnít that what clay should be in the Potterís hands? That speaks of being responsive to the commands and demands of the Potter. Where do we find those commands? In the Word of God.
When the Holy Spirit, given to us at our baptism, the sanctified water is added to the clay and readies us to respond to Godís Word, when we do, we become pliable, moldable, and although we may need a good smack every once in a while to get us to conform to what God would have us to be, at least we are not dashed to pieces.
And look at what awaits the pliable one, the one who delights in the Masterís hand?
The desires of your heart!
Now donít go racing off with that like Homer Simpson and start thinking about the desires of your heart, because you will likely end up contemplating the desires of your flesh.
Rather, do what the verse tells you to do. Be pliable in Godís hands...let Him take care of the results. He knows the desires of your heart like no other, He is the Potter, He put them there.
So what would you rather be, dashed to pieces or receiving the desires of your heart? Sounds like a no-brainer to me. The choice is yours, just as the choice was Pharaohís. God has come to you with His Word, you can either resist it or receive it. We resist it when we donít heed it, and we receive it when we actively obey it.
Let me say one final thing. No matter what stage of hardness you are in, as long as you are within earshot of Godís Word, you have hope to change your situation.
After the plague of darkness descended on Pharaoh and Egypt, Pharaoh had an interesting conversation with Moses.
Ex 10:28 Then Pharaoh said to him, "Get away from me! (Iím not going to church anymore, and even if I do go, Iím not going to listen, Iím not turning on those Sunday morning preachers anymore, Iím not going to read my Bible anymore Get away from me Word of God!) Get away from me. Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!"
29 And Moses said, "You have spoken well. I will never see your face again." (NKJV)
And the door of mercy for Pharaoh was closed.
Do you see what Pharaoh did? He took himself out of earshot. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God! He forbade Moses to come to Him with Godís Word anymore, and he lost any hope of salvation.
Understand this. The fact that you are here today, means you are still within earshot of Godís Word. There is nothing you have done or are doing as an audacious cracked pot, that HE will not forgive, Nothing! Every act of rebellion every sin that you have committed was paid for in full by the blood of Jesus.
And the first act, the first sign of a pliable heart is to receive that truth, to believe it and to come to Jesus as a child, and receive the gift of His forgiveness. Then allow the Holy Spirit to continue to work with your lump of clay, through the water of Godís Word, obeying it, and trusting that He will then give you salvation and the desires of your heart!