Lord, You have recast me from a vessel or wrath to a vessel of mercy. Use me accordingly.
Read Romans 9:19–29
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”
“In the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28 For the Lord will carry out
his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”
29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:
“Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isa. 64:8).
In the previous verses, Paul quoted from the stories of the patriarchs and the exodus. Now he moves to the prophets, particularly to the exile where God had judged and remade his people. The central image, the potter and the clay, is found in Isaiah and Jeremiah. The potter’s aim is to make a pot through which he can fulfill his purposes and promises for the world. He is making “vessels of mercy” (23, AV), people through whom his mercy can be shown to the world. The raw material is not inanimate clay, however, but fallen flesh-and-blood human beings who are resistant to his will. So the pot has to be remade. Paul quotes from Hosea: God’s people would have to be “not my people” for a time (25,26). Then from Isaiah’s prophecy: God’s promises would be fulfilled through a remnant of Israel (28,29). The precedents show that God’s dealings with Israel are ultimately for the sake of the world, not for Israel’s sake alone.
These reflections about Israel are part of a longer argument. They have an application to the church. At an individual level we may read every situation from the perspective of its effect on us. God’s love for us is not in doubt, but his concern is for the impact of his love and mercy through us. That is our purpose. Because we are secure in Christ we can risk ourselves for others. If we are absorbed with ourselves, then the potter needs to remake us.
At a church level, local or denominational, we do not exist for our own sake. We as a community exist for God’s purposes in the world. We need to remain open to the potter’s remodeling. God will fulfill his promises, but he wishes to act through his people, not despite them.
When is the last time you told God no? Do you realize the folly of this? The thing being formed should not reply against the hand doing the forming because that same hand can completely reconfigure the vessel.
While clay remains soft, the potter can reshape it. Lord, keep me from growing hard. Remake me as You will. Use me to share Your mercy.
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