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IN THE HANDS OF THE MASTER POTTER

By Jill Austin

...the Lord says to you. "There’s a price. Do you want My presence and My miracles? Do you want Me? There’s a price behind the anointing. You must be willing to take up your cross and follow Me."
Now imagine you’re sitting in church singing the same songs and staring at the same walls when suddenly the room fills with the fragrance of Jesus. You turn to see some awesomely beautiful vessels of God enter the congregation. Their transparent glaze wondrously reflects the image of Jesus, and you immediately know they’ve been in the higher fires. They’ve paid an incredible price for the powerful anointing they carry.
In your spirit you can see Jesus walking up and down the aisles with wedding gowns on His arm. He’s saying, "I’m calling you to be My bride."
"I’m calling you to come into the high fires to let My glory fall upon you, but it will cost you," He says. "You’ll have to die to your reputation, your theology, and all your ‘religious formulas,’ You’ll have to let go of your fears and your control. Do you love Me enough to come, or will you be content to live in the back rows of the church?"
You sit and wonder what to do. Did those beautiful vessels follow Jesus into the high fires? Was that how they became so filled with His presence? You know you can decide to stop growing - some of your friends have even fallen away. The journey seems dangerous. It could cost you your life. But you know that Jesus said, "He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it."(Matthew 10:39)
Let’s take a look at the journey each Christian must make.
Do you remember the day God saved you?
Remember the agony you felt as you cried out for Him to rescue you from the ash heap? God heard you and He knew exactly where to find you.
He found you in the potter’s field.
In Biblical times, all the shattered vessels were thrown into a garbage dump outside the city known as the "potter’s field." This field represents the world - a place where broken lives are thrown away. Do you know that when you’re no longer useful to the world, they throw you away?
That’s when the pain causes you to cry out, "Jesus, if You’re real, please save me!"
Then the Master Potter, God Himself, walks across the potter’s field. He sees your broken life and gently picks you up. "Even though you’re a shattered clay vessel - I love you," says the Lord. "All your hopes and dreams have been destroyed, but I have vision for your life."
Then the Lord carries you back to the Potter’s house. "I know you," He says. "Your substance is not hidden from Me, for you are beautifully and wonderfully made. When you were in your mother’s womb, you were My chosen instrument. And I have a calling for you."
"‘Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.’ Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.’" (Jeremiah 18:2-6)
The Master Potter is a creative artist. There are thousands of different vessels in His house, yet He knows each one intimately.
What kind of vessel are you? Are you a pitcher to pour forth prophetic words, a bowl brimming with the fruit of the Spirit, or a perfume vial filled with healing oil? Are you a basin to wash feet, a fine goblet fashioned for the King’s table, or are you a large platter to hold the bread and meat of His Word? Each of you is uniquely made in the gentle hands of Jesus, and He alone knows your color, shape, and purpose.
Now that your broken vessel has been taken to the Potter’s house, the long journey from salvation to transformation has begun. As the Master Potter picks up a rock and begins to crush the broken pieces of clay, you cry out, "God, how can You crush me after everything I’ve been through!"
But the stone beats down on you again and again until the hard clay becomes a fine dust. Then, with His own scarred hands, He reaches into the depths of your heart saying, "I will take out all the rocks and thorns - all of the debris you picked up along the highway of life."
Next He places the dust in large bins and pours in clear living water which proceeds from the Throne of God. This living water is the worship and praise that flows over you when you first come to Christ. You’re continually drenched in it until it has been absorbed into every pore of your being and you say, "Lord, I can feel Your love like never before."
Then the Lord scoops you up with His mighty Hands and places you on the Potter’s wheel. It’s there you begin to hear His voice of promise: "I have measured you. I know exactly what your destiny will be. I will center your inner man and take away the double-mindedness and confusion."
Then slowly His gentle hands go down into the center of the ball of clay. You find yourself delightfully spinning and turning in the hands of the Lord as He reaches into the very core of who you are, saying, "I am Lord of your life, and I will build within you a sure foundation based upon the Word of God."
All eyes are smiling as He begins to pull up your walls - everyone loves watching a baby Christian grow!
Now the Lord speaks more promises to you, but His ultimate plan is still a mystery. If you knew God’s plan you might be tempted to jump prematurely out of His hand - that’s why such an intimate dependency must be created between you and the Lord.
It was during this season on the Potter’s wheel that the Lord spoke blessings to a young dreamer named Joseph. His family saw only a shepherd boy filled with vain imaginings, but the Lord had a destiny of great power and authority for him. God spoke to Joseph in a dream revealing the anointing on his life, yet the fulfillment of that dream would be many years, many miles, and many tears down the road,
Are you a dreamer? Do you have visions from God? If you’re on the Potter’s wheel, a mystery is taking place as God shapes you into the vessel He has created you to be. Your time on the wheel is one of great favor and blessing, but just when you think it will last forever - the Lord lifts you off and places you on the shelf.
The Lord has placed you on the shelf to dry, and for the first time you feel the scorching desert winds. You cry out, "Lord, I’m afraid! The winds are so hot. My family doesn’t understand me, and my finances are drying up!"
At first you assume it won’t last long, but after a month or two you say, "Uh... Lord, I’ve been sitting on the shelf for a long time and I’m really dry. Where are You? I don’t feel You anymore. I seem to be in a wilderness!"
"You’re right," He answers. "You’ve been promoted."
"But Lord, I thought promotion was getting to start my ministry!"
"Promotion is the wilderness," says the Lord. "My Holy Spirit led My Son into the wilderness to be tested. Now I’ve called you there so you can learn to recognize My voice. I’m testing your heart. Will you continue to seek My face in this wilderness, or will you turn away in anger?"
Joseph’s time on the wheel of blessing was also followed by a time of testing. In Canaan he knew his father’s love and God’s favor, but that seemed to end abruptly when he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Once the beloved son of a righteous man, he was now a bond-slave in the house of an Egyptian.
What did Joseph choose to do in his "wilderness" experience? He served the Lord, and his Egyptian master, with faith and integrity. He continued to seek the Lord in the wilderness.
The Lord will ask you to do the same. After months - or even years - on the shelf, you’ll finally fall on your face weeping and saying, "God, I don’t understand! I don’t know why I’m still in the wilderness! All I know is I need Your living water!"
You’re very dry - and very fragile. You wonder, "Does God really have a destiny for me? Did He really speak those promises to me?"
You’ve learned all the worship songs, read the books, been to all the seminars - yet you feel like the Lord has forsaken you. On the wheel you felt such intimacy with God and everybody said wonderful things about your future! Now, everyone seems to have forgotten you! And even worse, they’re beginning to say, "Why don’t you have more faith?" No one understands that God has taken you into the wilderness.
The greater the call is on someone’s life, the greater the misunderstandings will be.
You entered the wilderness as Jacob, but God wants to change your name to "Israel." So He comforts you and says, "My child, I want you to find the streams of living water beneath the desert. You don’t need the approval of man - you need to be planted so deeply in Me that the storms of life will not uproot you."
Yet while God works out His perfect plan, your soul is still wrestling and aching. Then one day you stop struggling and pray a prayer of resignation: "Lord, I’ll stay in this wilderness forever if I have to. I’ve found You here... and You’re all I need."
Just then the Lord says, "Now is the time for Me to take you out of the wilderness."
"You mean now, Lord? All those dreams, all those words - those things can now be fulfilled in my life? Lord, I’m ready!"
And God takes you at your word.
The Lord walks down the aisle of your church gathering each dried vessel and tenderly carries them into another room. The vessels are incredibly excited. They know they’ve been promoted. But as the Lord and His angels start shutting all the doors and windows, and as fire starts coming through the floor and ceiling - you realize He’s placed you in a kiln.
As the sweat starts to drip, you look at the people next to you and decide don’t like them. You see, the Lord never fires one vessel at a time. He takes a whole church, a family, a group of friends, and sets them all on fire to expose their hearts. In the intense heat all the impurities start to melt away. Resentment, bitterness, anger, and greed all rise to the surface in the midst of the flames.
As the fire moves from bright red to blazing orange, your best relationships become strained and you’re persecuted at work. You cry out, "Lord! If You love me You’ll turn off the heat! Everything in my life is dying!"
Joseph experienced this fire. Perhaps he cried out, "Lord, isn’t it enough I’m a slave in a strange land? Isn’t it enough that I’ve lost my whole family? Why am I being unjustly accused and sent to prison? Why is this happening?"
Are you feeling like Joseph? Is God using your ministry, family, finances, and relationships to fuel the testing of your heart?
Finally the door is opened and the Lord removes the clay vessels.
Now you’ve been "fired" - but you’re still not "glazed." Water can’t be poured into an unglazed pot because it will leak, and grain can’t be stored there because bugs will get inside. Nothing can be done with these vessels except to place them back on the shelf.
But now you’re so relieved to be out of the fire that you’re really happy to be on the shelf! Now you know God is dangerous. He’s not a divine Santa with a sack of warm fuzzies - He’s an awesome, holy, and powerful God. A God that will do His will in your life no matter how much you protest.
And so you begin to make little choices. You think maybe you stepped out too far and God was punishing you, so you decide to sit in the back of the church. You still pray for people occasionally, but when the Holy Spirit stirs your heart you say, "No, Lord. Others might judge me if I give a word - or I might make a mistake. Find someone else."
Once you were bold for Christ, but now you play it safe. You’ve learned to become religious, careful, apathetic, and... boring! You don’t want to make waves. You’ve made it through the fire - you’ve paid your dues. You’re a warrior for the Lord, even if your last battle was years ago. So you perfect the art of living in the shadows of the church. Your first years in the Lord were full of glory and excitement, but now you hide your giftings under a cloak.
But one day while you’re sitting in the back row of your church, God begins to nudge your spirit. He says, "When you first came to Me you said, ‘Lord, I don’t want to be lukewarm. I don’t want to be religious. I don’t want to be a controller.’ You wanted to be free. But now you think others are too free and you hate their freedom in the Holy Spirit. Are you willing to settle for this, or do you want more of Me?"
You’re not sure how to answer the Lord’s question, but something deep inside you begins to stir. It’s that sense of destiny you felt as a new believer. You say, "Lord, I don’t want to stay in the back row and die! You made me to be a lover of Your people - to find broken vessels and bring them into the Potter’s house."
The Lord reminds you of the price behind the anointing as you hear the sound of the trumpet going forth. The Lord is calling you, and those around you, to a deeper place in Him. Each person understands they’ll pay an incredible price for the anointing, yet many are making the choice to follow the Lord into a huge room filled with tables.
In this room angels are taking pitchers from one table and placing them with cups on another table in preparation for the high firing. There’s a soft sound of weeping as vessels that have been together all their lives are separated. God is starting to prepare His vessels to fulfill His great commission. Some will be staying home, but some will be traveling to foreign lands.
The angels carefully brush the glaze onto each vessel before carrying them into a large kiln.
Once again the fire moves through the kiln - but this time it’s more intense. As the fire becomes a brilliant consuming yellow, you move quickly from a time of testing into a time of death. There are impurities in each vessel that only fire can cleanse. One of those impurities is competition. -You’ve been comparing yourselves one to another," says the Lord. "I will purge out that need for position." And as the fire gets hotter He says, "I’m purging out your religious intellect and your critical nature."
Then the Lord shuts all the dampers. This cuts off the oxygen and the kiln moves into a black fire where heavy smoke, flames, and black soot consume every vessel. The fire is so intense you can’t hear or see those who have been your comforters, intercessors, and friends for years. Competition, position, and pride are all being consumed by the cleansing flame.
Joseph experienced this death in prison when God stripped everything from him - reputation, comfort, family, position, and even understanding. Could he remember the dreams God had given him? Was God real? Had God forsaken him? Would he die in this dark dungeon? What was God’s purpose in allowing him to endure two years of such great pain and loss? And the Lord says, "Just as My Son had a Gethsemane, so you must have one too. All that can be shaken will be shaken, and then I’ll build you solidly upon the Rock."
In the midst of the black fire you feel like you’re going to explode as the pressure builds. But instead, a mystery takes place. This is the hidden time when all the brilliant, most beautiful colors are pushed deep into the clay. These colors are formed in the darkest hours of agony and grief, just like diamonds, rubies, and emeralds are formed by hot fires inside the earth.
Then, at the exact second you’re sure you’re going to die, the Lord opens all the dampers.
As the carbon and black soot flow out, oxygen pours in and the fire starts to burn clean, white, and fresh. You’re no longer looking through the haze of ego, pride, or religiousness. As the resurrection light of the Lord fills the kiln, you can see with new clarity in the Spirit.
Suddenly you see the Lord and His angels in the midst of the white-hot Glory Fire. God places coals of fire on stammering lips to ignite the prophetic giftings promised years before. New anointings are released and renewed visions are etched like fiery scrolls into open hearts. Healing, deep repentance, and intercession fill the kiln as hungry hearts cry out for more of God.
There’s been a time of anointing, a time of testing, and a time of death. But in this high fire each vessel will go through a time of resurrection as they begin to move in the authority that comes with the anointing.
As the glaze melts like molten glass in the Glory Fire, it forms a mirrored surface. Now as the Lord walks through that fiery room, He can see Himself reflected in each vessel "Now that you reflect My face and My glory," He says, "I can send you out to all the world."
The kiln is turned off and the angels open the door to reveal the breathtakingly beautiful vessels of celadon green, royal purple, and brilliant turquoise shimmering with gold. Wheat, living water, and fragrant oils are then poured into these vessels as they are prepared to bring healing and salvation to a hurt and dying world. The Master Potter has perfected His work of art. These vessels can now he trusted to reflect His glory.
One of God’s most beautiful vessels was Joseph. His long journey ultimately crowned him with incredible authority. Even the Egyptian Pharaoh said to him, "... there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house... only in the throne I will be greater than you.’ And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’" (Genesis 41:39-41)
What a testimony of God’s faithfulness! Joseph wasn’t just an idle dreamer anymore. He had become a righteous man who wielded the scepter of power over a great nation. And Joseph harbored no bitterness. He wept as he forgave the brothers who betrayed him and said, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good..." (Genesis 50:20)
Joseph went through the Glory Fire and came out praising God. He paid the high price behind the anointing.
Are you willing to go into the Glory Fire to let God perfect His destiny and calling in your life? Will you stop hiding in the shadows of the church and answer His call? Will you surrender your neat little agenda to become His glorious bride?
"Oh My people, will you let Me mold and shape your lives?" asks the Lord. "Will you let Me press My color, design, and destiny within the very fibers of your being?"
Will you, like Joseph, walk through the fire in order to be resurrected into the greater destiny God has prepared for you?
The choice is yours - and yours alone.
Jill Austin, as founder of Master Potter Ministries, used drama, music, and the potter’s wheel to portray the loving heart of the Father. She also taught seminars on hearing the voice of God and spoke on how to move in His anointing. Jill passed away in January 2009 and will be missed greatly.
(Author: Jill Austin)

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