Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Extreme Makeover: God Edition!

Extreme Makeover: God Edition.
Jeremiah 19,20

Probably one of my favourite memories of art class back in JH was the pottery wheel. It didn’t have to have any clay on it really, but most of the guys were drawn to it. We would just love to make that thing spin. Then, there was the field trip to Blue Mountain and BM pottery and that was another memorable experience to see the kind of creations that would be made from the slab to the incredible smooth finish. The pieces were either decorative or bowls or containers of some sort that carried the purpose of holding flowers, drinks…you name it.

God led Jeremiah to Blue Mountain pottery, well, not exactly, but to the potter’s house once again to give him a real visual lesson on the kind of business that He was in and the kind of relationship that He wants to create. This morning we will discover what business our Father, the Potter, is into!

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.

The first thing that really stood out to Jeremiah –

The Potter is in the Makeover Business - He into the 3 Rs rework, remold, reuse, actually 4 He also Re names!

You see the potter didn’t throw the clay out. He keeps molding it, he keep working on it, but He does not throw it out.

He is not a throw away God and maybe you say, well I know, but let it sink in because we live in a throw away society. The value of many products have come down so much that it is often is cheaper to just buy new then even think of getting an item like a microwave fixed. Now back in ’89 when we were married those suckers were around $350- for the low end… Now the low end run for about $60-…so, why would you fix it? That kind of mentality has spilled over into relationships.

Maybe it has spilled over into your relationship with God and you are just finding it every bit as difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Why? You have struggled with a certain sin and you just don’t have the energy or the belief that God wants to see you again about the same mistake or maybe because maybe you feel that God has moved on…without you. The point I need to make is this…- He’s waiting for you

At the same time you really need to realize that He is calling the shots – Romans 9:20,21

Philippians 1:6

The Potter Exposes the Cracks in the Foundation

5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

The crack in the nation

God detected a flaw in the nation, a serious flaw and Jeremiah knew it all too well.
When we truly allow ourselves to be held in the light, it can become all too revealing.

The potter’s wheel has been likened to the constant circle of life, the things that always have to be done and never seem to get done. It speaks to the routine of life and at times it really gets hard to separate one day from the next. Sometimes it can really seem hard to see if there is any real change; however the big changes come only as we remain there, ready to be continually shaped, compressed and sometimes brought low.

The prophet has cracked under pressure…v18-23

It is obvious that Jeremiah knows that he is not being received well, he hears the rumours, the slander and how they are seeking to literally get rid of him and he lashes out. Now realize that by now he has been on this mission for 20 years with no results. In any normal business the HR team would have redeployed him or gave him the ‘package’ Its obvious that he wanted God to lower the boom and we still see him as a prophet in process.

Jeremiah is definitely reaching one of the lowest points of his ministry at this point

Jeremiah 19v1-6 When the Potter’s Housewarming gift is met with rejection.

God called Jeremiah to go on a field trip to the Valley of Hinnom and bring the city elders and priests with him. It was the headquarters of the pottery industry, the city dump and a cemetery of sorts. It was home to a shrine for pagan worship of the god Molech complete with the burning of their very own children. Josiah is dead now and Jehoiakim is on the throne. So with his captive audience, Jeremiah delivers his message and smashes the jar.

In that culture when a person wanted to renounce or end a friendship and bring a curse, he would stand in front of the person’s home and break a clay jar at the front entrance.

God is essentially saying that we have nothing in common anymore. You live in such a way that is completely devoid of me or what I value . The key is the end of verse 19 - 'stubborn and would not listen to His words…'

OR the biggest little word in Scripture is ‘IF’ If my people 2 Chronicles 7:14,15

2 Timothy 2:20,21 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Drowning in sorrow to dividing the sorrow

The Potter is in the business of creating us for noble purposes.

strong friendships, alliances.

Notice that in Jeremiah 19:14 the passage is being written in the third person. God had brought a friend into his life, someone else is on the scene and there is another person to carry the burden, Baruch, his scribe, most likely.

There is always hope. You may seem gone but never are you forgotten. He knows how to pick up the pieces. God is still at work, never forget that!

The most noble purpose of all - 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

To carry the living presence of Jesus wherever we are…

I have been going door to door delivering flyers with Sebastien and Samuel. The one thing you quickly realize is that people give you one of three responses – rejection, token interest, real interest.

Carrying the living presence of Jesus permeates everything I say and do. It is a heightened awareness to pay attention to what is going on in my life.

When death is at work in me – what brings that death about? Death to self is when my highest priority isn’t to be noticed, to determine what is in this for me.

Life is at work in you!

What I do with my life makes a big difference in how I relate to others. So, when I am not so concerned with running after my own ambitions, I take the time to realize the needs of others.

That is what Paul did. He knew that it wasn’t about his own comfort or his own status. God just keep shaping me for your purposes. The prayer wasn’t ‘why me’ The prayer was ‘why not me’. The prayer wasn’t make this go away, it was how can we see what God is doing in the midst of all this.

I have been reading about the life of Henri Nouwen. In the book ‘Spiritual Direction, he spoke about two interior voices that have been there all his life.

One voice said Henri be sure you make it on your own. Be sure you become an independent person. Be sure I can be proud of you; and another voice saying, Henri, whatever you are going to do, even if you don’t do anything very interesting in the eyes of the world, be sure you stay close to the heart of Jesus, be sure you stay close to the heart of God.

He goes on to write how he tried to resolve this by becoming a sort of hyphenated priest – a priest-psychologist

The prayer he prayed…..Lord Jesus, you know me and love me with an everlasting love. Let me know where you want me to go, and I will follow you. But please be clear about it. No ambiguous messages

I’ve come to bring you greetings of Jean Vanier

He knew enough about what he did. So he said, ‘oh, that’s nice Thank you, what can I do for you?...She replied, ‘No, no, no,’ she answered. “I’ve come to bring you greetings of Jean Vanier.”

Again he said, ‘Thank you, that’s nice. Do you want me to talk somewhere or writes something or give a lecture?’ ‘No, no,’ she insisted. “I just want you to know that Jean Vanier sends his greetings.’

It would be Jean who would tell Henri that maybe ‘we can offer you a home, a place where you are really safe, where you can meet God in a whole new way.’ He didn’t ask him to be useful; he didn’t ask him to work for handicapped people; he didn’t say he needed another priest. He simply said, ‘maybe we can offer you a home.’

In 1986 He went to take the call seriously on his life, he left Harvard University and went to France for a year working with mentally handicapped people before coming to Daybreak the same kind of L’Arche community that works with around 150 handicapped people.

The Takeaway.

Being is more important than doing and doing things together is more important than doing things alone!

Becoming clay in the Master’s hand means being ready to be shaped in many different ways. It means that often God may shape you very differently so that there will be many different angles that God may want people to have of you. Ultimately it will always be done so that others may see the treasure, the unmistakeable presence of Jesus

As it was said of the disciples, ‘When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.’ Acts 4:13

Questions For Discussions and Small Groups from Spiritual Direction by Henri Nouwen

1. What moments in your life with God stand out as crucial in your spiritual journey? Describe those moments succinctly and indicate their intellectual, emotional and spiritual significance.

2. When you think of the three major disciplines of the spiritual life (looking within to the heart, looking to God in the Book, and looking to each other in community) where do you see your greatest gifts and your greatest needs.

3. What persons, books, movements, ideas etc., have played a significant role in your spiritual growth.

4. How has a period of discontent in your life or an encounter with a special person challenged your life or changed your life course?

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