TO BE LIKE HIM
Part One – Prelude to Renovation – Does the clay have a say?
Last day we spoke concerning the ‘calling of the Master.’ Let me apply this passage from Romans 8:28-30 as our ‘jumping off point’ for our next series of messages.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, [AND] to them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Underlining added)
First of all, let me clarify something concerning this section of Scripture. For many in our churches the phrase ‘I love God’ rolls easily from the tongue and by implication therefore all things must be working for their good in their lives. However, this is a false assumption! Persons of this ilk often only quote the first part of the verse. The verse they refer to actually states two prerequisites for ‘all things working together to them for good.’ “All thing work together for good to them that” FIRST, love God, and SECONDLY, are called according to his purpose. So it becomes critical that our Christian walk conforms to His purpose and that we are not simply living out our own walk. The prerequisite is two-fold – to love God AND to be called according to His purpose FOR YOUR LIFE! Then, one can expect all things to work together for good. This does not limit our loving God from taking the bad things that have occurred in our lives and turning them to our good once we determine to walk according to His purpose for lives.
Digging further into this section of Scripture we find that God has foreknowledge as to who would be part of the ‘whosoever’ – who would choose Him, choose to love Him AND choose to be CONFORMED into the image of His Son. I entitled this first message, ‘Prelude to Renovation,’ because being conformed implies renovation. This passage continues by mentioning that those that God foreknew would be open to His offer of salvation, He called. Last day we discussed this ‘calling’ of followers. Today I wish to discuss one aspect of what happens after one accepts the Master’s call.
Allow me to express our fallen state as a people to that of a series of computer messages, indicated in quotes below, that I have received over time that may add some levity to our serious situation. Perhaps you can suggest others.
We all know the account from the garden where Adam and Eve exhibited “user error.”
This resulted in, “Systems crash has occurred.”
Followed closely by, “Disconnected from Server.”
Adam and Eve tried to remedy the situation with fig leaves – the message received was, “Failed to initiate properly.”
The good news followed. “Not deleted, nor moved to trash.” Praise God for His mercy.!
God provided the means of redemption and the message delivered is, “Do you want to save changes?” Yes, yes, yes!
A little humour I trust but the underlying reality is true. From that regrettable beginning, God has been in the process of renovating fallen lives. Let Him renovate what needs be changed in each of our lives. And may we have the courage to “want to save His changes.”
Allow me to borrow some thoughts from Max Lucado from his introduction to his book Just Like Jesus. In it he compares the renovation and decorating he and his wife undertook upon purchasing a new home, to that which God busies Himself with once He ‘purchases’ a new heart. Max states that ‘God loves to decorate – God has to decorate.’ 1 Let me replace Lucado’s house decorating efforts with that of my own. Ellie and I purchased a century home in Waterloo many years ago and set to renovating and decorating to fit an image we had for the place. Rooms were gutted; new ceiling supports put in; new bathrooms, a country kitchen; new porches, wiring and plumbing. Looking back I am amazed at the diligence and attention to detail that was required for such renovations. All this for a temporary earthly home. And temporary it was indeed. The home no longer stands. New owners, years later, tore it down and build anew upon the lot. We have been purchased of God by the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19). We have an eternal home with Him sometime down the road. He has promised it is so, and encourages us to “store up treasure in heaven where neither moth nor rust nor thief will destroy.” I may add, nor new buyers tear down. He owns us as new homes, new dwellings for His Holy Spirit. However, “It is not enough for Him to own you; he wants to change you. Where you and I might be satisfied with a recliner and refrigerator, he refuses to settle for any dwelling short of a palace. After all, this is his house – your heart! No expense is spared. No corners are cut.”2 As Ephesians 1:19 reminds us,
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.”
And just as we would not leave a new house as it was, but change it to our liking, so He will never leave you in the state He found you. He is constantly remodelling, renovating each of us into the image of His Son – into the image of Christ.
So, God has purchased each of us who believe, with a price far above the market value. He has purchased use according to 1 Peter 1:18-19 that was mentioned earlier but is quoted here.
“Forasmuch as we know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversations received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as with a lamb without blemish and without spot . . .”
Since He purchased us He owns us. Since He has called us He has authority over us. Since He is the Potter and we the clay, He has the right to mold us, to decorated us, to renovate us. And once we submit to His loving adjustments to our lives we will find that indeed all things do work toward good for our lives.
“THE POTTER’S RIGHTS
Through the prophet Isaiah, God reminded the Israelites He is sovereign over all of creation because He is the Creator. Then, He pronounced two woes on those who question His sovereignty:3
“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ Or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?”’ (Isaiah 45:9-10 NKJV)
The object made has no right to question the Maker. There are two porcelain manufacturers that operate out of New Jersey. The one, Boehm Porcelain of Trenton New Jersey which makes some of the finest fine-china porcelain in the United States, while American Standard is in the business of making bathroom porcelain fixtures. Does the porcelain, clay, in either business have a say in what comes out of its molds?
Does the clay have a say? Of course not! Earlier in Jeremiah’s account the prophet was instructed to take a clay vessel and shatter it upon the ground. The Lord spoke through Jeremiah with these words to Israel:
“Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the LORD. ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!’”
The apostle Paul picked up on this theme in Romans 9:20-21:
“But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour?’” (NKJV)
After all, “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7)
“God is the Potter. We are the clay. Who are we to question His authority? Paul said the potter could destroy the vessel if he chose (Rom. 9:22). But he also could choose to make it a vessel of mercy.”4 And, vessels of mercy we are! As our computer messages stated, we are neither deleted nor cast into the trash. We have been redeemed! And God is continually at work shaping us into vessels of mercy, containing His Holy Spirit, and becoming like unto Jesus! The clay has no say!
Jesus said the following about Himself:
“Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39 KJV)
How long do you suppose it would take you to know completely the book of John? A year? Longer? And what about the entire New Testament? How many years? A lifetime? Beyond? And what about the entirety of the Bible, how long? And then there is more still. To know Him, how long? This was the Apostle Paul’s desire as stated in Philippians 3:10 – “That I might know Him.” But there is more still – there will always be more still. Listen to John 21:25.
“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”
This is our potter! This is the One who desires to renovate and decorate your life in Him.
“No matter how much you know, there will always be more. There will always be so much more. No matter how much you know of Him, you’ve only just begun. And that’s how you must always come, as one who doesn’t know the half of it, which will always mathematically be the case. So you must come as a little child, as one who knows there’s so much more to know, and for whom everything is new. Never stop seeking Him. Never stop pressing on to know Him – to know more of Him – and more than that. For eternity is the length of time it takes to know him – and a lifetime is just the beginning of eternity.”5
So then, this One who not only can count the stars but also name each one of them; this One who can number the hairs upon your head, is the One who wants to take you into His loving, all-knowing hands and mold, and renovate and decorate your life to such a high extent that you will shine as the stars of the sky. Who would not want to trust such clay to such hands? Who would not desire to see such finished products? This requires that we embrace the picture Romans 12:1-2 gives us.
“I beseech you therefore brothers and sisters, by the mercies of GOD that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto GOD, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable and perfect will of GOD.”
Our all loving, all merciful, all knowing GOD is waiting eagerly for us to get back onto His Potter’s wheel. The Artesian is ready to continue His work in us. He will not force us onto the wheel, He rather invites us. And it is through His mercy that He is willing and able to perform His good work upon us. Earlier we read that He has predestined us to “Be conformed into the image of His Son.” Here, we are urged to “Not be conformed to this world.” We have a choice set before us. We can let the world conform us after its image or allow GOD to conform us into the image of His Son Jesus. The former conforming leads to death – in every aspect of the word whereas the latter conforming leads to such a transformation that we will be scarcely recognizable. And one of the innumerable benefits will be the fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 13:12 which states: “. . . But then shall I know even as also I am known.” Have you ever watched one of those home renovation shows where the owners return to see their house now newly renovated. The look of sheer joy and excitement expressed upon their faces will pale in comparison to ours at the moment we see ourselves repaired, remodeled, restored and renovated into the image of Jesus. So, continue the work Father GOD.
And know also that during our time here on earth, our re-shaping proceeds under the spoken blessing of our LORD and Saviour Jesus. Listen closely to Luke 24:50-51
“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass while he blessed them , he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”
“It was the end of a course, and of Messiah’s ministry on earth. So what exactly happened? He blessed them and then ascended? No it doesn’t say that. It says that He lifted up His hands and blessed them, and while He blessed them, He was parted from them. It’s not that He blessed them and then left, it’s that while He blessed them, He was parted from them. The significance? He never ended the blessing – not on earth – His blessing never ended. You see, Messiah’s blessing has no end. It has no limitation, no expiration, and no ceasing. It’s an unending blessing. It’s not limited to the first century, or to Jerusalem, or to the disciples, or even to the Book of Acts. He doesn’t only bless them, He blesses you. And the blessing He gives you has no end. It doesn’t stop because of your failures, your falling, or your sins. It has no end. There’s just as much of it now as there was when He blessed them as He left. The blessing never runs out, never ages, and never fails. So receive it now, as new and as powerful as it was on the day He gave it. And as the blessing keeps going, you do the same. All things of this world must end – except this, the blessing, it has no end.6
So, as we remount the Potter’s wheel, we are not only under the hands of the merciful Father who knows us far, far better than we know ourselves, but we are also under the hands and blessing of the Son into whose image we are being transformed.
To be like Him; to be just like Jesus. This is the Father’s will for us – it should be our will for ourselves too. Amen
1 – 2 Max Lucado Just Like Jesus Introduction page ix-xii
3 Harold Summers Israel My Glory page20-21
5 Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries day 362
6 Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries day 363
Let us pray.
Father God we recognize You this morning as the Sovereign LORD over all of creation. You reign supreme; Your word goes forth and all the creatures of the earth are fed; all the stars and galaxies maintain their motions. You separate the darkness from the light and set the boundaries for the seas. Your voice is heard from the depths of the oceans to the heights of heaven. It is by Your will and Your will alone that all life draws its next breath. What is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou visits him? (Psalm 4:8) And yet, You have shown mercy toward us – a rebellious people – a fallen people. You have provided Your most precious Son to be a propitiation for our sin. He has come, with healing in His wings, to be our Kinsman Redeemer. Praise be to You – You whose wisdom far outstretches even the heavens above. And as believers in Your offer of salvation we continually kneel, amazed that You care for us so much. We are humbled when we contemplate the absolute detailed love You possess for us. We wish we could love You more, O Father! We have nothing of real value to offer to You except our love. And this You cherish most of all. So, this day, we offer up our love to You along with our praises of thanksgiving. We offer up ourselves, these lumps of clay, and ask that You continue to mold us into the image of Your Son. Don’t loss heart next time we slip away off Your potter’s wheel. You who are the source of all patience, be patient with us and continue to seek us and call us back under Your wings and into Your hands. We pray, as well for others who have yet to feel Your gentle caress – who have yet to come and taste and see that the LORD is good. Our friends and relations who still find themselves stumbling in the darkness, O LORD let Your light so shine that they, like us, will find their way to the shelter and love of Your presence. We pray for those among us who are facing trials and stress in their daily walk. LORD grant them Your peace – Your healing virtue – Your gentle touch to see them through. Help us each to walk in the obedience You so richly deserve. We thank You so much for Your care to us-ward – for Your attention to the tiniest details of our lives. LORD, this day and for the days to come, bless us continually; bless our fellowship; bless our community and bless our nation. May we all return with full hearts to the comfort and security that is only in You. Blessings, and honour, and strength and glory be Yours. Amen