From the Pulpit of a Holiness Preacher
An email newsletter ministry of Richard D. Swift, publishing the sermons of Rev Reed A Swift (1899-1973), a holiness preacher.
The following sermon was preached in the Free Methodist Churches of the Yale, Ball, and Buel Michigan Circuit, Caro Michigan, Glendale, Hollywood, and Pomona California, Jonesville, Winsboro, and Jena (1944), Lousiana.
The original sermon is hand written on front and back of six sheets of paper. Another is on the backs of two revival advertisement cards (3 by 5). The revival ad reads thus:
Revival Meeting Free Methodist Church 220 Belmont Avenue (directions given) April 25th-May 9th Services Each Evening 8 O'Clock Old Fashioned Congregational Singing Evangelist R.A. Swift- Former Presiding Elder of the Lousian Conference. A Spirit Filled Man "Come Thou With Us, And We Will Do Thee Good"- Numbers 10:29 A Hearty Welcome Awaits You Fred R Horton, Pastor
Note: This is a very encouraging sermon! I hope and pray it encourages you as much as it did me.
The Potter's House
Scripture Reading Jeremiah 18:1-10 and II Timothy 2:19-26 Text Jeremiah 18:1-4.
Here we have what may be considered a parable of God's dealings with souls. The Bible is sort of a geography of Christian experience. It will point out the mountain peaks of our experience and also the dark valleys, but if we learn that He will attend us as much thru the dark valleys as He does on the Mt. of Transfiguration it would save us many a heart ache and many a young convert from being discouraged and going back.
John Bunyan says the one valley of humility is easier to get out of than to go into. People hate to go into the valley of humility and humbleness by humility with Christ and are usually qualified to easily get on a mountain top experience which will lead out of the darkness of the valley.
We are often perplexed and confused at the sudden changes in our spiritual atmosphere. When we descend from a high hill of ecstasy into a valley below there may be doubts and fears that we have lost everything and have backslidden when that is not the case at all. If we know the geography of our Christian experience we can readily locate ourselves, and we find that this is merely a part of the program for a Christian. When he comes out of the valley he may enjoy the hill tops the more.
In traveling over mountains in the west and also the east, both valleys and mountains make up the journey. There cannot be mountains without valleys between. Didn't you know that? There must be valleys between the mountains. Someone has said that is one thing God cannot do is make mountains without any valleys between. So in our Christian experience there will be valleys between the mountain top experiences. But remember dear friend and don't get discouraged. You perhaps have less religion than you think you have when you are on the mountain peak of blessing and more, much more sometimes than you think you have when you are going thru the valley of trial and temptation.
Now for example in this lesson as God here likens Himself to the potter and Israel to the clay. But, He can also take the individual who has backslidden or been marred or failed in the hands of the Potter, or at least take the man who perhaps satan has made to feel that there is nothing he can do or everything he has tried has failed. And yet I say God the Potter can yet make a vessel to honor of your life. Glory be to God!
God says He will have a tried or prepared people for His eternal kingdom. But, as in what we will call the Parable of the Clay, we must meet certain requirements.
I. The clay had to be separated from the clay bank and brought to the Potter. This denotes effort. You who have used the pick and shovel in digging out clay know it is work. It is just this way with the soul who gets converted. There is in most every conversion an effort on someone's part before they are convicted and converted. Some ministers tell how many souls they have converted to God, and maybe all they have done is preach a few sermons of course that may make him tremble under the responsibility. But, at the same time, maybe a poor old mother or father or both and many other loved ones and saints have fasted and prayed and lost hours and hours of sleep weeping and praying for that boy, girl, man, or woman. Then, maybe they died before they saw the answer to their prayers. But, some evangelist says, "I have so many thousand souls". He doesn't know how many he has! One may sow and another waters, but it is God who gives the increase. Praise His
It also says that he who sows is nothing, nor he that waters, but He that giveth the increase. God alone does that. Now, in the case of the man who was dying of TB in California. He said his mother perhaps went to the grave on account of him being so wayward. But she prayed before she went and shed many tears. I do believe God used me a little in helping him to God and tell of his conversion.
We can be instrumental in helping a soul pray clear through to a definite experience. Don't give up because of devil pressure, but pray through for souls. The prisoner- the young lad in L.A. prison [illustration- unfortunately, the testimony is not wrriten down here.]. The idea is it will mean effort to get the material out of the rough for God to make a vessel for His use out of it. You see that, but are you putting forth the effort is the question. It will take soul travail and soul burden, but God will give the increase. Hallelujah! God will separate a man from this world and give him a justifying experience.
II. Next, the clay after reaching the Potter's hands had to be thoroughly purged from all foreign substances such as gravel, sticks, weeds, etc. After being brought to Christ and receiving His favor, there is a substance within man's soul that must be removed. It may look pretty good on the outside, but if you get to digging around in it, you will find the other elements as sticks, etc. The same is the heart when carnality remains. It will cause trouble if it remains in there. But God can remove it. David saw his need of it when he said in Psalm 51:7, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow", and in verse 10, "Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me". Isaiah 6:5- "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." A seraphim with tongs flew with a live coal and touched his lips and purged them. Also at Pentecost. Millions Of God's
children in all ages have found need for cleansing.
III. The clay must be made passive so it can be easily fashioned. So it is with the soul that is cleansed and filled with the Holy Ghost. It is passive in the Lord's hands to go anywhere, do anything, and suffer anything for the Lord.
Then your wife can hit you down over the head with a plate or anything and you will keep passive and sweet. If she isn't quite that dangerous, and all she does is nag at you continually, you can keep sweet under that. Someone said they hated a dog worse that just kept nipping at his heels than one that grabbed ahold. That is about the way with a nagging man or woman. There is one thing worse than a nagging woman, and that is a nagging man. Now can you stand this? Most anybody can give way to impatience, but not everybody will have it taken out. I know a man whose wife nagged at him at meal time until he took his plate of food and sat it down on the table with such force that he broke the plate to pieces, but that didn't help matters.
IV. The next point of interest about the clay is the Potter placed the clay upon the wheel to fashion and shpe it for special service. This was the means to make a vessel out of clay so it would be serviceable. Most folks think when they get sanctified that it is the end of their struggles so now they can ride on easily into Heaven. But that is not the case, for we will still have trials, temptations, and hardships. They think now that they have done right and paid up all their old bills and made a clean record and are living right and aiming to do right by all mankind, that everybody will love them and try to make it easy for them, but that is not the case.
This fashioning on the wheel may have the spiritual definition of a chain of circumstances which will make a sanctified man a vessel to honor and meet for the Master's use. We wish to notice a couple of examples in Job and Joseph of this fashioning on the wheels.
A. Job was made a monument of patience to all generations.
1. God put him on the wheel of poverty. Some people think that if a person lives holy and sanctified, they will always have plenty of everything. This is not scriptural, for Job and Paul were both holy men, and Paul said, "As poor yet making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things." John Wesley didnot have much of this world's goods when he died. Job lost his herds, but he didnot curse God for it. He said, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the Name of the Lord." Are we where we can say that if necessary?
2. Next, holy sanctified Job was placed on the wheel of affliction. He was covered with sores. This is one of the most trying of any experience to have the body racked in pain and affliction. This doesnot necessarily denote sin either. God's grace is sufficient even in sickness.
3. Job was placed on the wheel of domestic trouble. Evidently, Job's wife married him for his money and looks, for when he lost his property and health and was put on a heap of ashes, she told him to curse God and die. She made trouble in his home. Every Christian must decide sometime and somewhere who will preeminence in his heart: God or his family and relatives. Sometimes some ungodly relatives will come on Sunday and you can't afford to stay home from church to humor them. Tell them to get ready and go along to church, that it is the Sabbath Day in case they may have forgotten. They can damn your soul if you don't obey God. It will always pay to stick to God and the "narrow way" though the devil says you will lose your husband, wife, or home, etc.
Job, covered with sores from head to feet, sat on a heap of ashes and was sneered at by his wife and mocked by his friends. Yet, he held his integrity to God. Now don't think people will always pat you on the back and call you a good fellow.
B. Job's was more of an external nature, but now we examine Joseph's case and we find his more of internal grief.
1. First in Joseph's life in preparing him for the throne, was sorrow. Are you called to go through sorrow? Remember, God will go with you through the valley, and as I have said before, the most beautiful flowers with sweetest fragrance grow in the rough crags and valleys.
2. Next, Joseph was placed in the midst of temptation but proved his moral integrity to himself and God.
3. He was placed on the wheel of slander and loss of reputation, being accused wrongfully. Jesus said, "Happy are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven.
4. Fourth was the wheel of imprisonment or the "shut in life". This no doubttried his grace, faith, and patience, but God helped him to hold steady and be true.
Conclusion: Are we in a place tonight where we could be put upon these various wheels to be made into a vessel which the Potter chooses us to be? God often heads off our plans and shuts us in as He has something better for us when we are tried.
Now the latter end of Job was better than the beginning, and God was preparing Joseph for a throne. God in His wisdom wants to make us a vessel for service. Corn never grows more rapidly than in the shadow of a warm summer night, does it?
The airplane always faces the storm or wind as it arises to make its flight. The eagle in the time of storm looks up toward the clouds and lets out a screach and away it goes until the storm is beneath it and it is above the clouds where the sun is always shining.
In the case of Jesus Himself, the scripture says immediately after the heavens were opened to Him, and the dove like form of the Holy Ghost sat upon Him, and the voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased", He was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Never-the-less, angels ministered unto Him. God gives us a rich blessing to prepare us for a wilderness trial of some kind. Accept the blessing and go through the trials, and His grace will bring you off victoriously. Praise God! Then more blessings follow and you will be ministered to by servants from the glory world.
God has a hazardous task for you. Will you faithfully risk your all to obey His wishes? How much unlike Job and Joseph is the weak man who gives way to the world, the flesh and the devil.
1. That accepts the offer of the world for prosperity and goes down with it.
2. That accepts the invitations to gratify the flesh with its lusts, drunkeness, etc.
3. To get revenge or destroy a dearest friend and damn his own soul.
Character is the real man, not reputation.
Spreading Scriptural Holiness,
Richard D. Swift