By: Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

Jeremiah 18:4 (NKJV)

“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”

When Jeremiah penned the 18th chapter of his book, the Lord instructed him to go to the house of a man who made pottery out of clay. There he found a great artisan busy at work. He noticed right away that the potter had to destroy some of his work, then begin anew to create a new piece. Sometimes he had to discard the old clay because it was defective, then start fresh with new clay. Either way, he had to change from his original intent. Everyone who has attempted to create a work of art has experienced similar results. But what is clear is that the end product is in the hand of the artist, whatever he/she decides is best.

I’m always fascinated by the work of creative people who take little to nothing and create incredibly beautiful things. There are artists who take a palate of paint or just a simple pencil and create wonderful works of art, architects who draw buildings that are just mind boggling when built, song writers who arranged musical notes that create music that touches the human soul, and sculptures’ who take shapeless rocks and make national monuments. Some of these creations sell for hundreds, thousands, even millions of dollars. These incredibly gifted people have mastered the art of taking something that has no worth if it were left alone, and transforming it into works of art. But it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process that sometimes requires changing from the original intent.

Most of us have some gift of artistry whether we use it or not. When I used to paint abstracts, draw, and mix music as a DJ, I can clearly remember having to change from my original intent when the materials I was working with weren’t up to par, or things just weren’t working out as planned. I had to change from my original intent so that the creation, whether it was a work of art or a mixed record, was satisfactory to me. Even the best artists are sometimes forced to change from their original intent.

Jeremiah was sent to the potter’s house to learn a lesson that he was to share with the men of Judah and Jerusalem. He was to tell them that they were in the Lord’s hand like the clay in the potter’s hand. He was to tell them that the Lord would make them into what seems good to Him. Unlike the clay that has no say as to what the potter shall make of it, we do. The Lord desires for us to be fruitful and to prosper; to be the best we can be. He gives us the opportunity to control whether or not He will fashion us into useful, fruitful, and prosperous vessels or not; “If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I have thought to bring upon it” (v8). That’s it! It’s our choice! If we choose to be useful vessels, we will be. That is God’s original intent for us. What type of vessel will you become?

God Bless.

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen here or by phone at 626-226-1448. Be sure to friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook or email us at

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