Western Trail Cowboy Church
Unformed Clay
  • Introduction

    In life we see many things that are built.
    We see bridges and roads.
    We see fences and pens.
    We see saddles and boots.
    We see horses and dogs.
    We see many different things being made or formed.
    The one thing we see in this is many things have no say in their development. Like roads, bridges, saddles, and such. But horses, dogs, and us people do have a part.
    God is molding us into what He desires and if we cooperate, we are rewarded. But if we rebel and fight, we receive discipline like a dog or horse does.
    There is one difference in our training a dog or horse compared to what God does in us: He is perfect and we are not. The dog or horse may sense that something is wrong and we do not see it. God knows exactly what is right and wrong and He places us always in places and situations for our growth.
    Sometimes we find ourselves in positions that are really bad because we failed to follow God’s grand design.
    So, He alters what He was doing and starts working on us from that way. All the while He is shaping us to be what He has set for us to be.
    We see this example clearly in the section of Scripture we will examine this morning.
    In Jeremiah 18:1-6
    Jeremiah 18:1–6 ESV
    1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
    A spoiled vessel was reworked into something different because it did not cooperate. It may have been originally meant to be a beautiful vase but now will become a chamber pot.
    It did not cooperate. Remember that part. It became spoiled because it had something lacking in it. The potter made it into something as he saw fit. He did because he was not going to waste what he had made. He just shifted from that direction and made it into something else.
    That is what God does for us if we “spoil” in His hands. If we do not cooperate we may well go from having success to being a chamber pot.
    That is what we are going to look at in this section. First we are in God’s hands and no one elses. Second we will be formed to His design regardless what we do. And finally we as living clay can do our part in this development.
    So first we are...

    In God’s Hands

    In this story we see three things.
    God is the potter, we are the clay, and life is the wheel.
    God put us in life and He is forming us in this life. If we mess up and become spoiled, life keeps going and God makes us into something else that still is part of His will.
    I want us to think about this concept of being in God’s hands.
    We are in His hands. We have Him shaping and guiding us. He is working us into what He wants. What a blessing that is. God, the creator of all things, the all-powerful God who is above all things and keeper of all things, has us in His hands.
    He desires to use us and make us into something. That is a great honor and privilege. Just think about this when something comes before you that makes you want to spoil in His hands. Remember that He has you and is forming you. Let Him work.
    God is the one working in and on you. It is Him making you into the person He desires you to be. It is not your neighbor, it is not a friend, it is not a spouse, it is not your job, it is not the things you have, it is not money, or anything else that defines you. No it is the Lord of all that defines you because He is the one who is designing you to be who and what He wants you to be.
    We have no control over what He makes us into. He has a design. He has a plan. He is the one who set you on the wheel. He has a purpose for you before you were even on the wheel of life. Let Him work. Let Him design you and make you into what He has desired.
    We all to often think we know what we want out of life. We think “man if only I had this or that, I would be so happy, I would be better able to give more to the church. I would be better able to serve the Lord. I would be better able to do whatever.”
    God is shaping you now where you are. Serve Him now. Serve Him in everything. Do not become spoiled in His hands and have to be reworked.
    Proverbs states that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9).
    The same book tells us that “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Prov. 19:21).
    Our hearts have evil in them even after salvation. We can become so twisted in our desires that we take good things and make them bad.
    We can turn helping our children become good workers with a great work ethic into them seeing that god is not a priority because we are always working or showing or rodeoing rather than being at church gathered with our fellow members of the body.
    That was a good thing that turned bad. We became spoiled in the hands of the potter and He began reworking us. Our hearts may have been right but they were not in alignment with the Lord.
    We need to always ask ourselves when we begin to do something if it is the Lord’s will or not. Will it be more beneficial for my children to go and do all these things that are temporal or will it be better to get them a solid foundation and a habit in the Lord?
    Will this couple hours from working on Sunday hurt what I am doing that bad? Or will missing church every Sunday for months because the work needs done hurt me more and cause God to begin to rework me?
    What am I missing when I am not joining in fellowship with my fellow body members when I am chasing all these dying things and forsaking the eternal?
    The Lord still has you in His hands but those gentle forming hands may become a bit harsher and have more pressure bearing down when we become spoiled by our hearts desires and world chasing.
    We must remember that no matter what when we are His we will be...

    Formed to His Design

    Whether we become spoiled or we work out just right, we will be formed to His design. We will be worked into what He wants.
    This can happen with joy and happiness or it can be painful.
    We must realize that regardless what we want, what we desire, what we think we should be: God has the right to make us into whatever He wants.
    We do not have a say in what He makes us into. We may become something we have never dreamed we would be.
    I know for a fact this is true.
    I was subbing this week and I went and stood by a window and looked at the sky. I thought about all the years I spent riding beneath those clouds and sky. I loved it. That was what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to be a cowboy and nothing more.
    God blessed me with that line of work and an ability to learn it and do it well.
    I loved it and would never have thought I would give it up.
    So, now I was looking out the window thinking about all this then I thought about what i was doing. I was subbing at a school. I hated school. I wanted out of it as soon as possible.
    But there I was subbing in a school telling kids to work hard and learn because it would benefit them.
    Also, I am in school now myself. I am earning a master’s degree. Also, I am a pastor. Just a few short years ago if anyone would have told me I would be a pastor, earning a master’s degree, and subbing at school; I would have called them a liar and a lunatic.
    Yet, here I am. This was not the path I thought I should be going down, yet here I am.
    God had plans for me and for a few years I felt the disciplining hand of Him on me because I was refusing to be formed to His design. I was forming myself, I thought, to my design. Yet, I spoiled in His hand and He reworked me.
    He took all the stuff I felt i should be doing away and made me despise it for a time. He showed me that all that stuff was not His plan but a God I had made.
    You see, when we chase anything that is not of God it has become our God.
    This is anything. It can be family, work, shows, rodeo’s, education, or anything else that takes away from God because you are focusing on it more than Him.
    Whenever we disregard joining with our fellow believers to chase that other stuff, we are following a God off our design. We are forming to that God over the Lord God who is forming us to His design. He has the right to form us.
    Look at verse six again. It asks, “can i not do with you as this potter has done? Like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand” (Jer. 18:6).
    He is who is forming you, but when we chase things of this world over Him we are trying to form ourselves and follow our god’s we want.
    We make all kinds of excuses to do this too.
    We say things like, “but this is teaching my kid to work.”
    “If I don’t do it now I won’t be able to later.”
    “I have to do this today.”
    “The rodeo is today.”
    “I worked too hard late into the night and need to sleep.”
    “We got in late and just were too tired to get up.”
    “I have worked all week and needed rest.”
    We say this and many more excuses because it is so much easier to allow the world form us than to allow God to form us into what He wants us to be.
    Sadly, it does not matter what we do, He is going to form you into what He wants. It is just up to us whether that forming is painful or more joyful
    Which leads to the final point...

    Our Part

    Wait a minute. You may say. If it is God who forms us, then how do we have a part?
    Great question. God is forming us and we unlike the clay, have a part in this. We can either cooperate with the Lord and work with Him, or we can sull up and pout because we do not like what He is doing in our lives.
    God has placed us on the wheel of life. He is shaping us and molding us.
    He is working in and with you and me to be what He has in mind, but we must cooperate.
    We are new creations in Christ once we believe (2 Cor. 5:17).
    We are to present our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord and not be led astray by the world but be transformed by renewing our minds (Rom. 12:1-2).
    We are to learn the word of God and allow it to train us so we can be complete and equipped for everything (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
    We are to join together and worship the Lord and help one another grow and become faithful believers (Heb. 10:24-25). When we do this we stir each other up to service and love for the Lord and others.
    We are to love the Lord with our everything and our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-39).
    We are to love our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord as ourselves (John 13:34-35).
    This is our part in His forming of us.
    If we are so busy with the world that we cannot join together regularly if not daily, then we will not grow as we should. We will begin to drift and begin to spoil in the hands of the potter.
    Think about like this.
    When someone is training a colt they ride them daily. Now that horse improves daily and is better and better as the work continues. But if the trainer starts only riding the horse once a week the horse begins to drift. He will become sour to work. He will begin to balk at things he had been doing willingly only a few days earlier. He will maybe even begin to buck and throw fits.
    The issue is the horse was not being used on a regular basis and he lost touch with what he was supposed to be doing. His mind began to become for himself and not what he was supposed to do. He became sour in the potters hand and was not much use and need to be reworked.
    That is us if we only appear once a week, once a month, or miss several months in a row.
    Yes, one may say “I can have church anywhere I don’t need to be here in this building to do that.”
    Yes, that is true to all who are in the body of believers. But I have discovered that all those who say this never do. They say that but they never give God more than a thought and a nod when they are out in the pasture or field with Him rather than meeting with their fellow members.
    Also, say you honor Him then, are you doing anything else during the week? Are you meeting with other believers and gaining strength from them through the study of God’s word?
    Most people are like that meme I have seen of the zebra’s and the lions. There is a group of zebra’s in the distance and one is off alone being chased by a lion. The statement with it is “People who say they do not need the church to make it.”
    Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). He wants you out there thinking you can make it without other believers. He wants you missing fellowship. He wants you working, showing, rodeoing rather than being in church and in small groups.
    Satan loves it when believers forsake the assembling together. It is a field day for him. He comes in and plants thoughts and massages your pride so when you here someone come down on putting work, play, sports, shows, or anything else before God, you become angry and frustrated.
    We then begin to build defenses up against those who call us out for forsaking God for the world rather than taking a good long look inside to see if we are doing that.
    Our part in God forming us is to stay focused on Him above all things and seek to grow with what He is doing and to trust Him when we fear the most.
    We may fear that missing this day of work, this show, this rodeo, this sporting event, will cause us to lose out or not make it.
    Trust the Lord in all of this. He is bigger than all of that. He has a plan and it is far superior to anything we could ever put before it.

    Conclusion

    Now, this section of Jeremiah is a warning to the nation of Israel for their failures to follow God and what He designed for them.
    In Jer. 18:11 God tells Jeremiah, “Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’”
    Shaping disaster for you if you do not return and amend your ways. I believe that this is still applicable for today.
    If we do not seek Him and seek to continue in His way, we may very well face disaster and painful situations.
    The Lord has a plan and a purpose but when we put Him not even on the back burners but off the stove in the garage under junk, we may very well be in for some pain and heartache.
    This may come in the form of good things. Like this story.
    Once there was a man who was such a golf addict that he was neglecting his job. Frequently he would call in sick as an excuse to play.
    One morning, after making his usual call to the office, an angel up above spotted him on the way to the golf course and decided to teach him a lesson. "If you play golf today, you will be punished," the angel whispered in his ear.
    Thinking it was only his conscience, which he had successfully whipped in the past, the fellow just smiled. "No," he said, "I've been doing this for years. No one will ever know. I won't be punished."
    The angel said no more and the fellow stepped up to the first tee where he promptly whacked the ball 300 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Since he had never driven the ball more than 200 yards, he couldn't believe it. Yet, there it was. And his luck continued. Long drives on every hole, perfect putting. By the ninth hole he was six under par and was playing near-perfect golf. The fellow was walking on air. He wound up with an amazing 61, about 30 strokes under his usual game. Wait until he got back to the office and told them about this! But, suddenly, his face fell. He couldn't tell them. He could never tell anyone. The angel smiled.
    But so many now have such a seared conscience that this would not stop them. They would tell away and laugh.
    The thing is, people on this planet may find it okay and acceptable but the Lord the judge of all will not and disaster may come to you.
    The question that I leave us with today is “Do you want to remain as unformed clay just getting by chasing the world, or do you want to be a piece of clay that may not have much in this world but will be blessed in eternity?”
    I can guarantee this world will fail us and let us down but the Lord will not.
    You may not see tomorrow, the next minute even. This life is unexpected and harsh. It will absolutely let you down and especially so if your god is in this world or is this world. So unformed worldly desirous clay or a godly heavenly focused piece of clay that is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ?
      • Jeremiah 18:1–6ESV

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