I’m a Pot, You’re a Pot – Part Five

 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (II Corinthians 4:7)

People respond to a pot that’s got Jesus showing in it. They are turned off by pots without His prominent presence.

Gandhi of India was intrigued by Christ. A friend asked him, “If you are so intrigued with Jesus Jesus, why don’t you become a Christian?”

Gandhi replied, “When I meet a Christian who is a follower of Christ, I might consider it.”

There are many who follow Jesus commendably. Unfortunately, Gandhi never met one.

Mao Tse-tung came to America eager for a western education and for an exposure to Christianity. After observing Christians around him his curiosity turned to disillusionment, and his heart and mind shifted to Marxism. He returned to China and led that country into atheistic Communism.

Upon hearing this has the question occurred to you … if Ghandi met you would he have seen Jesus? If Mao had known you would he have been inspired to turn to Jesus as a follower? All around there are people like Gandhi and Mao observing people like you.

Now the metaphor shifts from the content of the pot to the pot itself.

A pot is the product of a potter, one who makes pots.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah relates a personal experience that gives all hope.

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make”  (Jeremiah 18:3, 4).

The Lord declared through Jeremiah, “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand” (Jeremiah 18: 6c).

Perhaps the clay spoken of in this passage is indicative of your life. As the potter was fashioning what he designed for the clay it became misshapen.

Many lives get “misshapen.” Something happens that keeps the life from being all the Master Potter had in mind for it.

Notice the potter didn’t throw away the clay. He shaped and molded it and put it back on the spindle and made another different, but useful vessel.

Perhaps there has been an experience in your life that has kept the Lord from shaping your life as He originally desired. Don’t despair. He isn’t through with you yet. He wants to put you back on his spindle and remold you. Though you can never be the vessel He originally intended, you can be another beautiful, a useful vessel. He, the Master Potter, wants to make you a functional person, a vessel in which He is alive.

A useful pot is begot by yielding to the Potter and allowing Him to shape and fill you. It is called obedience.

One day the spiritual Arc De Triomphe, the Pearly Gates of Heaven, will be in your gaze. Do you have assurance that you will be in the celestial triumphant procession to enter?  Are you assured that Jesus is alive in you by faith in Him?

I’m a Pot, You’re a Pot – Part Four

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (II Corinthians 4:7)

We are depicted as pots. Many characteristics of a pot typify us spiritually.

A useful pot is not dirty. God can use an old pot, an ugly pot, a broken pot, but He will not use a dirty pot. 

I enjoyed orchid culture for a time. I always sanitized a pot before using it. It has to be clean to be used. So must we.

The fanciful stories of King Arthur and the Knights of his Round Table are intriguing. There is a line spoken by Sir Galahad when his strength is noted. He said, “My strength is the strength of ten because my heart is pure.”

“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”  (II Timothy 2:22).

The difference in the treasure and the pot are noted in order to show human weakness presents no limitation to God’s purpose.

A reading of the limited list of persons who faithfully served the Lord is noted in Hebrews chapter 11. Reading of their exploits is inspiring. We tend to think of these persons as larger than life. They were not. They were people with limits and liabilities like us. The explanation of their achievements is given after a summary of names in Hebrews 11.

“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:34).

What a useful pot’s got is revealed in challenging times. 

II Corinthians 4: 8, 9 notes some.

DISTRESS: “We are hard pressed on every side.” Does that have the ring of reality in your life? It is a reference to normal irritations.

An oyster is motivated to produce a pearl by an irritation that comes into its life. Perhaps it is a grain of sand that gets into its shell. The oyster coats the irritant with the best of itself. It continues to lay down layer after layer of coating on the irritant until it becomes a valuable pearl. The oyster giving the best of itself.

PERPLEXITY: “We are perplexed.”  This is a reference to uncertainty about the future. Such a time is a marvelous moment for you as a pot to reveal the Jesus within you.

In those times when you are uncertain about the future, when you have no idea what is coming next, you have an occasion to show forth Christ.

PERSECUTION: “Persecuted.”  This may be physical or verbal persecution.

One of the greatest forms of slavery ever to exist prevails in America today. It is persons, particularly teens, held captive by peer pressure.  The drive to be accepted, approved of, and acknowledged is strong. It takes dramatic courage to stand alone because of a “Thus saith the Lord,” that conflicts with “Thus saith the gang.” It’s a good time to show Who is within you.

STUNNED: “Struck down.”  There are those dramatic moments in life when a sudden and unexpected event gives us a stunning blow. It is a shattering experience. That is a revealing moment. A moment in which to reveal Jesus.

I’m a Pot, You’re a Pot – Part Three

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (II Corinthians 4:7).    

Here believers are characterized as being a clay pot. Like a useful pot there are certain things we are not.

A useful pot is not intended to call attention to itself. We are not to call attention to ourselves, but to Jesus. Each of us has a sphere of influence. Within that sphere we are to use our influence to show forth Jesus.

There are athletes who use their platform with its advantages and adversities to call attention to Jesus, not self. By their quiet, tenacious, competitive spirit, and inexhaustible effort as well as by a concise word expressing faith in Jesus our Lord is honored.

The sweet spirited saint with a major infirmity who suffers in such a manner as to show forth the sufficiency of Jesus is allowing his or her broken vessel to glorify Jesus.  

The vivacious and dynamic student who lives a joyous consistent life radiating Jesus reveals the treasure of Jesus within.

The loving loyal parent who sacrificially ministers in his or her household is showing forth Jesus.

The career person who lives out faith in Jesus in the marketplace is revealing Jesus, the indwelling treasure.

Fra Bartolomeo, a renowned artist in his day, threw away his canvas and brush saying they came between him and his Lord. Such devotion is admirable. In his mind he was doing what Jesus commanded the rich young ruler whose riches separated him from the kingdom of God to do. Indeed we should remove any obstacle serving as a block between us and our Lord.

Someone suggested to Bartolomeo that instead of throwing away his brush and canvas that he use his significant skills for the Lord. They urged him: “Why should you not paint for the glory of God?” Thereafter, he painted as never before. To this day his paintings inspire awe and worship in all privileged to see them. He painted to the glory of God.

His paintings are easily identified in spite of the fact he never thereafter signed one. They are identified by the words he always painted on them in very small letters: “Pray for this painting” or “Pray for the painter.”

A useful pot is not to call attention to itself.

A group of hot-shot young executives were gathered in the company conference room waiting to meet their new CEO. These energetic young power brokers jockeyed for position to be seated near the new CEO. They amused each other with their personal exploits that they were confident would impress the new CEO. Finally one of them said, “When is he going to get here?”

The man who had quietly been walking around the room pouring coffee said, “He is already here.” With that he set the coffee pot down and took his seat at the head of the table continuing, “And he had already learned a lot.”

Humility is so uncommon it often takes us by surprise.

My fellow pots, let us show forth the treasure in us, Jesus Christ.

I’m a Pot, You’re a Pot – Part Two

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (II Corinthians 4:7).

Clay pots in the biblical era were actually large earthen jars, used for storage. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in such jars.

The ancient writer Plutarch described the victory of General Aemilius Paulus (167 B.C.) and his triumphant return home. As was the custom, victors returned in a triumphant processional. Great arches still dot Europe that were designed to celebrate certain victories. Through them the victorious army marched.

The Arc De Triomphe in Paris was begun by Napoleon as a tribute to his army. In Italy there are the Arch of Titus, the Arch of Trajan, the Arch of Constantine, and others.

The army of the defeated foe was paraded in disgrace. The treasures confiscated were often put in large clay pots and carried in the procession.  Paulus is depicted as returning with 3,000 men carrying 750 clay pots filled with silver coins.

In II Corinthians 2: 14 the concept of such triumph is used as an illustration: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…”.

We are Jesus’ clay pots in which He deposits His riches.

What an item of value is contained in it doesn’t diminish its value. The content of a vessel enhances its worth. For a pot to contain that for which it was created gives it its greatest worth. 

In II Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian believers a question: “Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” 

In referring to Jesus being in you it is not speaking poetically or metaphorically. He meant that Jesus Christ is literally dwelling within us.

Just like the Corinthians, we believers today need to realize this fact about ourselves. Christ isn’t outside of us as some kind of Helper in our time of need; He actually lives in us and is with us all the time. An abiding awareness of this gives assurance He dwells within us as a GPS to guide in the smooth sea and the turbulent tide. 

“Christ…lives in me,” clearly showing us that Christ lives in His believers. Because He lives in us, the Christian life is not a matter of trying to behave like Jesus, but of allowing Him to live in and through us.

Let Him guide you that you may daily live so as to reveal Him as a triumphant treasure. Let others see Jesus in you. Don’t just sing it, live it.

I’m a Pot, You’re a Pot – Part One

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  (II Corinthians 4:7).

Jesus desires to fill your life and give you a sense of dignity, worth, and pride.              

Much is said and written today about self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-worth. The Scripture before us gives us a beautiful self-perspective.   

Emphasis on self has grown dramatically in recent years. Self-loving and self-interest are considered universal facts. As a result, in many quarters God is no longer the object of devotion, but a means by which to get what is wanted. For many, God has become a supernatural Tool. This type of religion is “hot tub religion” because it makes you feel good and requires nothing from you.  Churches that advocate it are called by Charles Colson “McChurch.”  Millions are being fed, but no one is being fed a balanced spiritual diet.

It is essential to encourage people to love and respect themselves. It is basic to say the church must teach how God’s word helps us with modern problems. At some point the church is going to have to tell people we are intended to love God first, not self.  Only when we do love Him first can we love ourselves properly. Then we come to know who we are.

When asked, Who are you? How do you respond?

Globally oriented people might say, I’m an American.

Sports fans might say, I’m a Braves fan.

Politically minded persons might respond, I’m a Federalist.

How about, “I’m a pot!”  A pot?  A pot!

In describing a Christian, II Corinthians 4:7 uses the term “earthen vessel,” The Greek word “skeuos” literally means a clay pot.

A pot’s not so hot because it’s a pot. What makes it valuable is what it’s got. That is, what is in it makes it valuable.

The text in describing us as pots speaks of Jesus as being in us. That is what makes us valuable.

A pot doesn’t diminish the value of what it contains. What it contains determines its value. Jesus in you makes you a valuable person.