When you go out in the country at night and look up at the sky, you can see far more stars than you can in the city. The darker the night sky, the brighter the stars shine. The darker our world, the brighter God’s people can shine.
That’s what we’re talking about in our message series “Shine in a Dark World.” Rather than getting upset with the darkness, we can see it as an opportunity to let Jesus’ light shine through us.
Today, our message is entitled “Trusting God’s in Control.” Or sometimes, closer to home, we fear that the situations of our lives are out of control. But nothing could be farther from the truth. The Bible teaches us that God is completely in control at all times.
Psalm 135:6 (ESV) Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
No person, no spiritual being, no situation can stop God from doing what He desires to do. God is sovereign, which means that He has supreme authority and power over everything.
Matthew 28:18 (ESV) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
How much authority or power does Jesus have? All authority. Where does Jesus exercise His authority? In heaven and on earth, which encompasses everything there is. We can rejoice in God’s sovereignty because He is also loving, good and righteous. God always does the right thing, the loving thing. He does what is best for every person, for every nation and for our world.
Even though God is sovereign, He has given the people He created free will. Free will is the ability to make choices, either good or bad in this life. How can God be sovereign and man have free will? We may not be able to reconcile these two truths with our minds, but God’s Word affirms both of them.
As human beings, we have a choice to make. The right choice is to surrender our free will to God’s sovereign power. When we do that, God works in us to give us the best possible life we can have.
John 3:16 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God in His sovereignty, offers eternal life to everyone. Yet, we must choose of our own free will to believe in Jesus in order to receive God’s free gift of eternal life. Today, we’re going to learn how to trust that God’s in control in our dark world. And we going to discover how to submit ourselves to His will in all of life. To introduce our message today from the prophet Jeremiah, let’s watch a video called “The Potter’s House.”
Jeremiah 18:3-4 (ESV) So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 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.
The potter works by shaping a lump of clay into a beautiful vessel of one kind or another. A potter can make a cup, a kitchen bowl or a large container, all out of clay. The clay represents people, either individual people or nations.
We remember that God created human beings from the dust of the earth, the clay of the earth. He molded the first man Adam from the earth, shaping him into God’s image. We read here that a vessel was spoiled in the potter’s hand? How could that happen, especially as the potter represents the Lord? A vessel made of clay could only be spoiled if the clay did not submit to the potter’s hand. When that happens, the potter did not just throw the clay away, he began again and created a new vessel, perhaps different from the first vessel.
Jeremiah 18:5-6 (ESV) Then the word of the LORD came to me: “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.
The Lord’s immediate application of this illustration was to the nation of Israel. The point is that God is sovereign over people, He creates, He reworks, He is in complete control of the clay. The clay cannot instruct the potter what He is to do or what He is to make. So too, we are clay in the Lord’s hand.
This illustration of the potter and the clay is used multiple times in Scripture. Although, it can and does apply to nations, we are going so concentrate on how it applies to our individual lives. The Bible teaches us that God begins the shaping process of our lives in our mother’s womb. Everything that He does to each of our lumps of clay is designed to teach us about the potter, our creator.
Not only does the potter want to teach us about Himself, He wants to shape our lives into vessels of honor that bring Him glory. That can only happen, when we, just lumps of clay as it were, submit our lives to Jesus Christ. Once you understand that you are clay in the Lord’s hand, it is a source of great comfort. God is the one at working shaping your life into something to bring Him glory.
If you sin and get off track with God’s plan, He is always willing to start again and remold you into another beautiful vessel. Know that you are clay in the Lord’s hand and …
Jeremiah 18:7-8 (ESV) If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.
This next section refers to the prophesies of Jeremiah regarding nations. In fact, these verses teach us some important principles regarding prophecy and how God works in our lives. Prophecies are not just about foretelling the future, they are intended to bring about a change in people’s understanding or behavior.
The first example is of a prophecy that says a nation, for example, Israel is going to be destroyed. That prophesy may seem to give no hope for the nation. However, if that nation repents in the light of looming judgement, then God will not bring about the prophesied judgement.
An example is the prophet Jonah, prophesying at God’s command that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days. The people of Nineveh repented and so God did not destroy them. Was Jonah a false prophet? Not at all, repentance is able to avert God’s judgement. The reverse is true as well.
Jeremiah 18:9-10 (ESV) And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
If a prophesy is given that a nation will flourish, yet the people do evil and do not continue walking with God. Then the Lord will bring about, not the promised good, but the appropriate judgement. Ezekiel 33 shows that the same principles apply to individual people as well. Jeremiah then applies these principles directly to the land of Judah.
Jeremiah 18:11-12 (ESV) 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.’ “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’
The Lord was saying to Judah that their sin was resulting in a coming disaster. To avoid this judgment, they needed to repent of their sin and return to the Lord. The response of the people was not to accept God’s offer to repent. Instead, the people determined to follow their own plans, to stubbornly resist God’s plans. They refused to submit to the Lord’s hand.
In this illustration of the potter and the clay, we as the clay, have a decision to make. This is not a one-time decision, but a decision that plays out on a daily basis. The decision is whether we are going to submit to the potter’s hand or go our own stubborn way. If we submit to His hand, He continues to make us into the beautiful vessel we were created to become.
One temptation that was followed by Judah is to follow your own plans for your life, not God’s. This is like the clay telling the potter how He should form you or even worse, trying to form yourself into something.
Let’s think for a minute about how the Lord, our potter, shapes our lives. Everything that happens in your life has been permitted by God. That includes both the good things and the things we may think of as being bad. The people that God brings into your life, the situations, the circumstances, all are directed by the hand of the potter.
Some of these things may indeed be evil. Yet God is able to use even evil things for our good, to shape us into the person He created us to be. Every experience in life can therefore be used by the Lord to bring about good and shape us into a vessel of beauty. Choose to submit to the Lord’s hand, which means …
Jeremiah 18:13-14 (ESV) “Therefore thus says the LORD: Ask among the nations, Who has heard the like of this? The virgin Israel has done a very horrible thing. Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams?
Jeremiah continues with God asking a series of rhetorical questions. Does the snow leave the mountains or the mountain waters run dry? And the answer is no. Has anyone heard of a nation turning against their God like Israel? And the answer again is no. Israel had chosen to resist the Lord’s hand.
Jeremiah 18:15 (ESV) But my people have forgotten me; they make offerings to false gods; they made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient roads, and to walk into side roads, not the highway,
Rather than worship the Lord alone, they had chosen to worship false gods, idols. These false gods made the people stumble in their lives. Rather than walking with God on His highway of holiness, they had become lost in side roads of their own making. Though the offer to restore them was always there, it had to be accepted by repentance.
Jeremiah 18:17 (ESV) Like the east wind I will scatter them before the enemy. I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity.”
If Judah continued to resist the Lord’s hand, eventually, the enemy would come and bring about destruction. Rather than God being with them, face to face, He would turn His back on His people. With His back to them, they would no longer be protected, but would face His judgement.
Jeremiah was the one chosen by God to give the people of Judah God’s final warnings. Yet, we know that Judah did not repent and God’s judgement eventually came when the Babylonians invaded. There comes a time when it is too late to repent, when there is no staying the judgement of God. Thus we mustn’t resist the Lord’s hand when He calls us to submit to Him.
God’s warnings of judgement and calamity if we resist His hand in our lives are real. As God is merciful and He gave Judah so much time to repent, they thought that judgement would never come. They were wrong, it did come in a horrific way.
Today, God calls people to repent of their sin and become believers in Jesus. He calls on people to turn to Him while there still is time. The time to repent is not forever, it lasts at most as long as our lives. For some, who continue to resist the Lord, He stops calling on them by His Spirit. The point is that God’s warnings are real.
When He convicts us of sin, we must repent and make it right. He can then continue to work as the potter in our lives. For those you may know, who are resisting God’s call on their lives. Continue to pray for them, that God would soften their hearts. That they would submit their lives to Jesus 100% before its too late.
There are those each of us know, that were once believers, but have back-sliden and turned against God. Pray that God in His mercy would also draw them to Himself, that they would return to Him before its too late. Don’t resist God’s hand.
Each one of us is clay in the potter’s hand, the Lord’s hand. This is a wonderful comfort, the God is in control of our lives. He is the one that shapes us into the people He created us to be. Yet, we must choose to submit our lives to the Lord’s hand.
He desires for us to see everything that He allows into our lives as part of His plan. He is able to turn things meant for evil into good. He able to use the difficult circumstances of life to make us more like Jesus. So, we must be careful not to resist the Lord’s hand. To make sure that we don’t think our plans and ways are better than His. As we daily place ourselves in the potter’s hand, He will make you into a beautiful vessel in God’s kingdom.