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The Potter’s Rights: Romans 9.17-21

We are a curious people.  We have questions in our minds and we want to know why things are the way they are.  In Romans 9 we have some answers.  Romans 9 taps into our curiosity and provides us with a greater framework for understanding.  We don’t quite have all the answers.  The people of the Bible we encounter as we study didn’t have the whole story yet.  They lived these things.  They didn’t have the ability to turn the next page to see what happens.  We know the whole story.  They weren’t sure how God would work things out. 

God has everlasting purposes for what He does.

            For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Romans 9.17 (ESV)

Paul is taking us back to Exodus to the time of Pharoah.  God’s people were set free from slavery.  Israelites were held captive.  God was going to deliver his people.  Nobody had more power than Pharoah.  We all know powerful people.  Sometimes we become fixated on powerful people, watching the news and seeing what’s happening, etc…  Sometimes we even think this has to be the greatest thing on earth!

God was using Pharoah for a greater purpose.  This story is about God’s people coming out of Egypt and how God will make of them a great nation.  It’s not about Pharoah.  This is a reminder that even those people who are powerful are not ultimately in control.  The ultimate purpose is God’s name proclaimed in all the earth.  God will use people, even powerful people to make His name great.

Jesus, while here on earth, went on trial before Pilate.  Pilate convicts Jesus and they determined Jesus should die, but God had a different plan.  It is God who determines what these events mean in the span of eternity.

            The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16.4 (ESV)

God has a purpose for what He is doing in your life.  We are a curious people.  What’s this mean?

God’s sovereignty does not remove my responsibility.

We are still responsible for our choices.

                    You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Romans 9.19 (ESV)

Pharoah wasn’t ultimately in control, BUT Pharoah still made a choice.  Because of Pharoah’s choice Egypt suffered many plagues.

            “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ezekiel 3.20 (NLT)

Not everyone responds to the Gospel the same way.  Our response is that we want to give God our lives.  Not everyone responds this way.  Some people stumble over the truth of the resurrection.  If you have difficulty understanding you need to give your life to God to be set free.  Are you sure you want to follow Jesus with your life? 

We can also become disillusioned about sharing the Gospel.  We think people have already made up their minds.  We tell ourselves it’s not our responsibility, but this is what we are on this planet for.  Ezekiel 3:20 gives us two areas of responsibility.  First, what we do for Jesus, whether or not we give our lives to Jesus.  Next, all of us are responsible for whether or not we share the Gospel.  In our creation of clergy we tend to move that responsibility onto the shoulders of our pastors.  God places people in your life for a specific reason for you to share the Gospel with.  You don’t have to be able to preach like a pastor.  We are called to testify who God is.  We need to be willing to share about what God has done in our lives.  We ARE responsible!  God might ask us one day if we shared with the 17 people He sent our way.  We cannot dismiss this.  We cannot just say God will work all this out for His purposes.  Sometimes we tell ourselves just to not worry about it.  This isn’t meant to be a burden.  It’s an opportunity to live out our purpose.  God has placed you where He put you.  God puts us where we are for His purposes.

I am clay.

We are where we are, and we are shaped the way we are for a purpose.  We don’t understand why sometimes.  We begin to wonder… why am I this way?  There’s something bigger.  We can get preoccupied and miss the greater thing God wants to do in our lives. 

            Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Romans 9.20 (NLT)
We have all argued with God:  Why have You made me like this?  Why have You put me here?  It’s not wrong to ask God questions and seek understanding.  It is wrong to say to God, “You made a mistake when You made me.” 

God made you on purpose.  God didn’t make a mistake.  When we challenge God we are out of our league.  We say God doesn’t know what He is doing.  We humans, who lose our remote control and take ten minutes to find it, challenge the God of the universe?  This is a fruitless endeavor!  We are terrific people made in God’s image.  We have abilities, but we take this too far thinking we are equal with God.  This is called relativism.  Relativism says we make our own truth; God doesn’t determine truth.  If I feel like a woman today, I’ll be a woman.  If I feel like a man today, I’m a man, for example.  We all fall guilty.  We think we can determine ultimate realities.  We don’t have to determine what truth is.  We just go into God’s presence and recognize who we are: CLAY.  We ask the wrong questions sometimes.  Come to God’s presence, accept truth and move forward with life.

God is the potter.

            When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Romans 9.21 (NLT)
This seems harsh but this is the reality of the potter’s rights.  Have you ever watched a potter?  A potter can make anything.  God makes us the way He wants to.  God has a purpose.  Instead of being dissatisfied and full of complaints we need to recognize we do not have all the pieces to understand why God placed us where He placed us.  It’s a wrong move to question God’s design.  It’s a waste of our energy and emotional strength.


We don’t always understand but we can accept God’s purposes are greater than we are.  Will you be the clay and let God be the Potter?

Prayer:
God, open us up to the truth of who we are.  Sometimes we think too high of ourselves and sometimes we don’t think enough of ourselves.  God, even if we don’t’ understand we want to glorify You.  Thank you for forming us and for placing us here.  Help us accept who You made us to be.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.

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