A summary of the talk I am giving at Stauros recovery ministry recently

How many of you remember the Generation Game?

Apart from Brucie’s chin and rotten jokes the thing I remember most about the Generation Game was when they used to get the contestants to try and throw a pot on a potter’s wheel.

You know what happened, nearly every time, the clay went wonky and the whole thing became a disaster not a pot. The contestants made a mess of their pot and after Brucie had made fun of it the clay was taken off the wheel and thrown away.

I want you to think about that picture for a moment, of someone trying to make a pot but it going wonky, turning into a mess and being dumped.

I wonder how many of you realise that picture you have just conjured up in your mind is a really deep bit of theology? That picture of a piece of clay which was meant to become a beautiful and useful pot but instead turning out a mess is a picture that God uses in his Word to help us understand some stuff He really wants us to understand.

Just listen to this ….

Jeremiah 18:1-6
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”
3 So I went down to the potter’s house,
and I saw him working at the wheel.
4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;

I know Brucie is ancient but he wasn’t around in Jeremiah’s day and so instead of telling Jeremiah to turn on the tv and watch the Generation Game, God told him to go down to the local potter. Jeremiah did what he was told and saw the potter making a mess of a pot, just like in the Generation Game, it went wonky and turned out a mess. God told Jeremiah that he was to think about that picture because it was a message for His people.

God wanted Jeremiah to understand that the clay and the pot were his people. You see God had created Israel, the people of God, to reflect his character to the world, to serve his purposes. But just like the pots on the Generation Game and in this potter’s house, it had gone wrong. The people of Israel made a mess of being God’s people. They disobeyed God, they made bad decisions, they ignored God and his ways and so instead of the people Israel creating a beautiful nation that God reflected God to the other nations, they made a mess of of their national life, it was a disaster.

I don’t know about you but there have been times when I have felt like my life has been like one of those pots that have gone wrong?

I have tried to shape my life but because of the bad decisions I have made its gone all wonky and my life has ended up just like being a mess just like those lumps of clay.

I wonder if that is what you feel like tonight?
That your life has turned out a mess?
That it’s not turned out the way you intended?
That somehow just like the clay in the contestant’s hands in the Generation Game it all went wonky in your hands and has turned out a disaster?

On the Generation Game the pots that turned out a mess, that were a disaster, after people had laughed at them, got thrown away. They were treated as being useless and worthless.

That’s just like what happens when you make a mess of your life isn’t it?
People ridicule you, they make fun of you, they either laugh at what you had done with your life in front of you or behind your back and you end up feeling worthless and useless.
That your life doesn’t have any future?

If you feel that you have made a mess of your life
If you feel that your life is worthless and useless
I am really glad you are here tonight
The reason I am glad you here tonight is because God has some significant and life changing he wants to tell you.

YOU SEE … God didn’t take Jeremiah down to the Potter’s House just to see a pot going wonky and becoming a mess. He didn’t want Jeremiah just to understand that Israel had made a mess of being his people. The message he wants you to understand about your life from this pot that’s gone wrong isn’t just that you have made a mess of your life either.

Listen to what happens next

“so the potter formed it into another pot,
shaping it as seemed best to him.”

If it had been me, I would have dumped that piece of clay in the bin. I’d have thrown it away, after all it was useless and worthless.

I am sure Jeremiah expected the Potter he was watching to do exactly that, to take that mess and bin it, chuck it out

But that is not what happened is it?

Instead the Potter took it in his hands and began to work with this lump of messy clay and gradually he reshaped it into what he had wanted it to be all along, he reshaped into a valuable and useful pot.

I used to be the minister of a church in Manchester and we had potter and sculptor in our congregation. I remember visiting David and watching him create these stunning figures out of clay. He let me have a go and the inevitable happened, in my hands the self same clay became a mess.

David took that self-same bit of clay and worked it with his hands and created something beautiful from the mess I had made with my hands.

The reason that God brought you here tonight was to tell you either for the first time or remind you again that he is like that Potter Jeremiah saw and like my friend David in Manchester and not like me.

Just like them he can take a mess and shape it into what he intended it to be originally, something valuable and useful.

6 “O house of Israel,
can I not do with you as this potter does?”
declares the LORD. “

Do you see what God is saying to the nation of Israel?
He is saying, you might have made a mess of your national life but I can do something with that mess, I can reshape it into something useful and beautiful.

What’s God’s message for you tonight?
It’s the same as it was for the nation of Israel back then

” .. can I not do with you as this potter does?”
declares the LORD. “

If you feel like you have made a mess of your life
If you feel like your life is useless and worthless
If other people look down on you and laugh at what you have become

God has a message for you

” … can I not do with you as this potter does?”

God says just like that potter did with the clay, I can take your life and reshape it into what I intended it to be all along, a life of beauty and value, a life that’s made in my image.

Do you really understand the implications of what God is saying here?
He is saying, that no matter what mess you have made of your life, that he sees potential in you. He doesn’t believe that your life deserves to be thrown away instead he wants to take into his hands and reshape it into what he intended it to be.

You might feel your life is a mess but God sees potential in that life?

But that doesn’t happen automatically

Like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, O house of Israel”

God says that Israel would only be like the clay in the Potters hand that was reshaped into something beautiful and useful if they were willing to put their national life in his hands

Israel would only be reshaped by God if they were willing to put their lives in his hands


If you have made a mess of your life
God says he can only reshape your life if you are willing to make the decision to put your life in his hands.

My friend David could only create something beautiful from the messy lump I had created when I took it out of my hands and put into his hands
He could only reshape when I stopped trying to shape it myself.

It’s the same with God
God can’t won’t try and reshape our lives if we keep hold of it in our own hands and keep trying to shape it ourselves

I wonder if you have ever made that decision?
To put your life in God’s hands?
Have you ever admitted that you have made a mess of your life shaping it yourself?
Have you ever come to God and said here it is God, here’s my life, I am putting it in your hands, will you reshape it as you see fit?

I used to help run a 12 step recovery programme.
I want to read to you the first three steps:

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviours. That our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

In practical terms that’s what it means to put your life in God’s hands
You admit you have made a mess of your life
You admit only God can reshape your life
You make the decision to stop trying to shape your life yourself and instead put it in God’s hands


Obedient to God’s Word
Dependent on God’s Spirit
Connected and accountable to God’s People

Are you willing to do that?
To do that for the first time ?
Or recommit yourself to doing it?

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