Crossroads: Clay in the Potter’s Hands – Jeremiah

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Jeremiah 18:1-12

My Story

Have you ever tried to make something out of clay? I remember when I was in elementary school, we were given an art assignment to make a piece of pottery out of a lump of clay. All of the kids in my class were given the same size block of clay, and we were told to form this clay into a nice piece of pottery. Our teacher said we could make anything we wanted to make from our block of clay, but she warned us that we might want to try something easy – maybe something like a plate, or a saucer, or even a bowl. She said anything with a handle would be much too difficult to make, so she discouraged us from making something like a coffee mug.

Well, I have always enjoyed a challenge, and this sounded like a good challenge to me. If a coffee mug was a difficult piece of pottery to make, then that’s what I was going to make. After all, how hard could it be, right? A coffee mug seemed fairly simple to me.

Full of pride in my decision, I set out eagerly to make my coffee mug. Quickly, however, I learned that my teacher was right—coffee mugs were very hard to make! I could not get the rim of my mug smooth or even. The handle kept falling off the side of the mug. And my mug would not sit level on the table—it kept leaning to the side like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I changed my mind and turned my coffee mug into a simple plate. Being a potter—a person who makes things out of clay—is a job that requires a tremendous amount of skill and talent.

Your Story

Can you remember a time when you tried to make something out of clay?
• How did you do? What did you make? How did your project turn out?
• What was the easiest part of working with clay? What was the most difficult part?
• Why are some people better at pottery than others? What kinds of skills do you need to be a good potter?

Maybe you never attempted a pottery project, but you probably remember playing with Play-Doh.
• What were some of your favorite things to make with Play-Doh?
• What was your most challenging Play-Doh project?
• Why is playing with Play-Doh so much fun?

The Bible Story

Jeremiah was a prophet of God for the nation of Israel. He was born about 625 years before the time of Jesus. He grew up in a small village called Anathoth, which was just a few miles north of the big city of Jerusalem. Many of the people in Jeremiah’s family were priests who served God in the temple in Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s family was faithful to God, so he grew up learning about God, loving God, and worshiping God in the temple.

In our verses for today, Jeremiah shares an important lesson he learned from God in a very unique way. God told Jeremiah to go to the house of a man in his village who made pottery, and once he got there, God would reveal an important message to Jeremiah. So Jeremiah went to the potter’s house. When he got to the potter’s house, Jeremiah watched as the potter took some clay and began making a pot. But as the potter worked, Jeremiah noticed that the pot was not forming the way the potter wanted it to be shaped, so the potter changed the shape of the pot. When the shape of the pot changed, the potter was then pleased with his creation because the potter liked the new form of the pot better than the older form.

Then God said to Jeremiah, “I wanted you to see the potter remake the pot into a different form. You, Jeremiah, and all the people of Israel are like the clay in the potter’s hand, for you are in my hands. I will form you and make you as I want you to be. Trust me, and let me create you as I want you to be.”

God was also warning Jeremiah. God was saying that sometimes people can make themselves the way they want to be instead of allowing God to make us and mold us in God’s way. God’s message to Jeremiah was that we should always trust God and allow God to make us the way God wants us to be.

Discussion

• How would you feel if you made a star out of Play-Doh, but the Play-Doh decided to make itself into something different? Is that how God feels about people sometimes when they don’t listen to God and they do their own thing instead? Describe how you think God feels when that happens.
• Would you rather be the potter or the clay? If clay had feelings, how might it feel when the potter makes it into something new and different?
• What’s the most difficult thing about being a potter? What’s the most difficult thing about being the clay?
• What happens to us when we don’t listen to God? How can we be better listeners to what God wants for us?

Prayer

Thank God for loving us enough to mold us and make us the way God wants us to be. Ask God to forgive you for times when you chose not to listen to God and instead did what you wanted to do. Ask God to help you become the person God wants you to be.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Kevin Head began serving as Minister to Young Families at First Baptist Roswell, Georgia, in February 2012. He has pastored three churches in Kentucky and more recently served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, North Carolina. In 2007, Kevin and his wife, Amy, began a ministry-based counseling practice called New Perspectives for Life in East Cobb, Georgia. He is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D., M.Div.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Belvedere, South Carolina. His model of ministry is based on John 8 and the amazing, continual grace of Jesus Christ. Kevin and Amy have two children, Jenna and Joshua.

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