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God’s Masterpiece

 

Jeremiah 18:1-4

 

Jim Davis

 

We may not look or feel like God’s masterpiece, but we are. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We go through life seeking an identity for ourselves. We aren’t much different from the ancients. We turn the world upside down—we travel to the far reaches of space to discover our origin in hopes of discovering beginnings. It is really a search for our true identity. Listen to some of the questions we ask ourselves. They are about discovering our true identity.

 

“What is the purpose of my life?”

“Why do I exist?”

“How do I find meaning?”

“How do I satisfy my need to be significant?”

 

We turn the world upside down to discover the answers.

 

Isaiah 29:16

16 You turn things upside down,

as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!

Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,

"He did not make me"?

Can the pot say of the potter ,

"He knows nothing"? NIV

 

When we seek answers to these questions down the wrong paths the search leads to some most troubling questions:

 

“Why are my relationships in shambles?”

“How did I get so far in debt?”

“Who am I trying to please, anyway?”

“How did I get caught up in the rat race in the first place?”

 

Do you know anyone who ever won the rat race? Our material standard of living has skyrocketed, but our moral/spiritual/relational standard of living is in a nose dive. Our desire for instant gratification has led us down the wrong road.

 

“In late 1955 the church publication Christianity and Crisis commented grimly on America’s ‘ever-expanding economy.’ It observed that the pressure was on Americans to ‘consume, consume and consume, whether we need or even desire the products or ever desire the products almost forced upon us’ It added that the dynamics of an ever expanding system require that we ‘be persuaded to consume to meet the needs of the productive process.” (Patrick M. Morley, The Man in the Mirror, Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, pg. 12. 1990.)

 

We are living at the apex of human knowledge and human potential. I gave Jared a ride to church Wednesday night. He made a remark I shall never forget. He said, “Grandpa, did you know that we can learn more in a day than many in ancient times could learn in a lifetime.” Our technological advancements and creature comforts are unbelievable.

 

2 Peter 2:20-22

20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." NIV

 

Peter says to have knowledge and not use it is like a dog returning to its on vomit. This is the spiritual condition of the world today. To know what the world knows and live as the world lives is to live without a conscience. No generation of people will be judged more severely than ours.

 

God sent Jeremiah to visit a potter to bring him to an understanding of God.

 

Jeremiah 18:1-4

18:1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message." 3 So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.  NIV

 

God’s the Master Potter. He is in charge of shaping our lives according to his desires.

We may not be that familiar as the ancients with the image of a potter molding a piece of clay, but we know how the world seeks to shape our lives. The biggest battles in mass media today are around who will shape our thinking.

 

The majority are seeking an identity without God.

 

Isaiah 64:7-9

7 No one calls on your name

or strives to lay hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us

and made us waste away because of our sins.

 

8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.

We are the clay, you are the potter ;

we are all the work of your hand.

9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;

do not remember our sins forever.

Oh, look upon us, we pray,

for we are all your people. NIV

 

Shaping Lives through Service

 

Jesus came to minister to us. Amazingly, he didn’t come to be served by us.

 

Matthew 20:25-28

"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve , and to give his life as a ransom for many."  NIV

 

Jesus came in the example of service, for he knew we become what we do. Jesus taught it is more blessed to give than receive. The giver receives more than the receiver.

 

2 Corinthians 9:7-9

7 You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,

 

"Godly people give generously to the poor.

Their good deeds will never be forgotten."   NLT

 

Real spiritual growth occurs through engaging in personal ministry. Eric Swanson surveyed his congregation asking, “To what extent has your ministry or service to others affected your spiritual growth?” Ninety-two percent indicated their service contributed to their spiritual growth. Sixty-three percent indicated their service was equally as important as prayer and Bible study. Over half those who were not actively ministering to others felt either “not satisfied” or “somewhat dissatisfied” with their spiritual growth. (Eric Swanson, What You Get from Giving, Leadership Journal, Spring 2003, p. 37.)

 

Knowledge leads to growth through practical use of knowledge. I am always surprised that through trying to do something for the first time leads to knowledge. Doing can and often leads to knowledge. Numerous times I have sought to repair something on my car I knew nothing about, and surprisingly in doing it, I learn how to do it—my knowledge grows. It is actually rewarding when I spend $200 on what would otherwise cost $1,000 at a garage.

 

Learning through doing is a realistic approach to learning. Babies learn to walk by walking. They learn to talk by talking. A teacher learns more through teaching than one would learn as a student.

 

Families survive by each member doing his/her part. Noah’s family survived as each member did their part. It makes little difference how big or small the family is. The family’s maturity expands as each member does their part. The critical part of any family is each member doing their part. If this is done a family will be able to sustain itself, regardless of how small or large.

 

Connecting with Christ comes through service to others.

 

Ephesians 2:21-22

21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. NIV

 

We connect with God through spiritual sacrifices.

 

1 Peter 2:4-5

4 As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. NIV

 

Serving is an important aspect of building the body of Christ.

 

Ephesians 4:11-13

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. NIV

 

Ephesians 4:15-16

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. NIV

 

Christians connecting in service has innumerable benefits.

 

        Being connected increases our effectiveness.

         Being connected increases our strength.

         Being connected increases our worth.

 

 

It is hard for us to understand God wants us in ministry. We may ask, “What do I have to offer?” Paul picks up on the metaphor of a potter in Romans.

 

Romans 9:20-21

20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"   21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? NIV

 

Think of those God used in the past—Gideon—Samson—Jephthah—we want to be a Solomon. You don’t need a lot of self-confidence, you don’t have to be the sharpest person in the crowd, and you don’t have to be the most level headed person in the fellowship.

 

2 Timothy 2:1-3

1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. NIV

 

The Message of the Gospel

 

The message of the gospel is simple and clear—God wants to come to life in you. Anything short of this message isn’t the message of the gospel.

 

Think about what God wants to do with you.

 

Ephesians 2:1-3

2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. NIV

 

God has saved us to custom design our lives.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV

 

We come into Christ to live a new life in Christ.

 

Romans 6:8-11

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

 

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. NIV

 

It all begins by clothing ourselves with Christ in baptism.

 

Galatians 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. NIV

 

 

 

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