Hearing From God
Text: Jeremiah 18:1-5
Text Background: Jeremiah has been delivering these messages to the Lord and they are not pleasant what he has to say. It is not received well and people have plotted to take his life. This message was different in that God revealed it in a different way this time.
II. Principle #1: We need to be in a specific place to hear from God (v. 1-2)
A. Physical – if we are in places we should not be, or we are engaging in things we should not be a part – it will be tough to hear from God.
B. Social – not with people we should be
C. Emotional – we are all over the map
D. Financial – we are too well off or too money focused
E. Spiritual – too proud or self-reliant
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 - “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Often the reason we are not hearing from God is because we are not spiritually where we need to be. Calamity, disappointment, tragedy, trials, etc. may all be instruments to make us humble before God. Maybe we are too presumptuous on the nature of God. We are too condescending to Him as if He must answer our beck and call. Rather we must come to that place where we recognize that we are bankrupt in every sense of the word and we would be all the worse were it not for the God who made us and loves us.
Practice #1: Go where you know you should go. Be where you know should be.
III. Principle #2: God is always at work – even before you get arrive (v. 3)
A. God is at work
Illustration: Experiencing God – did not give us a call to full-time ministry. It clarified what we saw God doing which was drawing us to full-time ministry. When we see God at work and inviting us to be a part of it, it is so we may align our lives with what He is doing. Consequently, we can align our lives with the purpose for which we were created.
John 5:17- Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
B. God is doing the work
Quote: If your picture of God is that He is distant and not involved in your life or this world, you need to have your vision checked.
Illustration: God is at work. We have seen what He s up to. Marriages being reconciled. People being healed. Baptism of Mackenzie included testimonies of these young people who were publicly taking their stand for Christ and to follow Him. We have seen what He has done in our lives as He has provided. We have seen how God is at work as those who love us are falling on their faces before Him on our behalf. He is drawing them to Himself. Changing them as they plead for us.
Practice #2: Concern yourself with what God is doing (I might) rather than what you think you should be doing.
IV. Principle #3: God uses a process to shape lives as He sees best (v. 4)
A. Usually messy and lengthy
Working with clay is messy and takes time.
After the clay had been extracted from the ground, it was brought to the workshop and prepared. Foreign objects were removed and water added as a softening agent.
The clay was "wedged" (pressed to remove air) by a process of kneading or treading
Sometimes potters employed levigation, a method of removing impurities by suspension in water
Tempering agents were added to harden the clay to reduce its propensity to crack. Among the tempers used at various times were straw, sand, salt, animal dung and grog (ground up pieces of broken pottery.) Catch the illustration here – that which had previously been broken was crushed and used to strengthen the next vessel.
A formed vessel was air-dried to a leather-hard condition. Wherever possible, pottery was dried in caves; the cooler temperature allowed for slow, even drying.
A vessel might be decorated with a slip (a thin, colored coat of watery clay) or an incised pattern.
Pots were stacked in a kiln and baked. The kiln had to be hot enough for the pottery to glow red - about 1,472o F (800o C) - a temperature that had to be maintained for two or three days.
B. The result is different than originally thought or intent
Rom. 9:21 - Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Do not pin your hopes on what you think, but on the One who created you to think.
Quote: C. S. Lewis – Miracles – For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo. Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.
Practice #3: Prepare for something different than you expect.
V. Principle #4: God reveals His right message at the right time in the right way (v. 5)
Matt. 7:7-11 - “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Too many times we ask of the wrong person. We will follow Oprah or some other celebrity. We will look to the stars or read New Age books or the newest self-help guru. We will try to align our chakras or look internally for balance. We seek and ask in all the wrong places. Even in our prayers we too often pray to some god we have imagined and made in an image in our minds rather than passionately pursue the One True Creator of the Universe.
Psalm 1:1-3 - Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
A. God showed the message before He told the message
The Bible is replete with pictures of Christ before Christ came. (i.e.; Gen. 3 – the picture of man crushing the head of the serpent; In Ex. As God’s people are walled in between Pharaoh’s armies and the Red Sea – we see God providing a way of deliverance; Ruth and Boaz – the Kinsman-Redeemer. Jesus often taught in pictures through parables.)
B. The message was what Jeremiah needed to take the next step.
It was not for the next 40 years, even though it may take that long. It was for the next moment; the phase, the next chapter. Certainly God has a long-range plan for all of us. He gives just what we need to move confidently in the next step toward whatever it is.
Practice #4: Step out in faith with what you know God has said.
Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
If it does not require some measure of faith, it is probably not entirely what God had in mind.