Thursday, December 29, 2005

Past, present, future

To close this lesson “Live in Worship” based on Romans 12:1-8, ask members to recall a time when they served God and others. Ask how it made them feel afterwards? Can they identify what spiritual gift they exercised? Do they still possess that same spiritual gift today? Can we lose a spiritual gift? Can we change spiritual gifts?

When was the last time you changed your mind about some matter? Did you do it as a result of seeing it from God’s perspective? Has this lesson changed your mind in any way?

We can stay in the past or we can move ahead in the future by dedicating ourselves to serve God and others using the spiritual gifts given us. Will you change your mind today and follow God? Encourage someone today about his or her past, present and future with the Lord!

Notice the WLT in the pictured sign. Puzzle out with the class a summary thought based on this lesson. For example, Worship Living Transformed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Serving others helps avoid pride

For this step “use your gifts,” based on Romans 12:4-8, in the lesson “Live in Worship”, Paul teaches proper motivation for using diverse spiritual gifts by way of analogy to a functioning body that has many parts. The nut of verse 3 is that we avoid pride by serving others. Verses 4-8 names representative gifts that we use in service to others. In Romans 1:11-12, Paul wanted to use his spiritual gifts to encourage the Christians in Rome.

After covering these verses, discuss with members how serving others using our God given gifts help us not to think more highly of ourselves. If every believer has a God given spiritual gift, why doesn’t every believer use his or her gift in service? Can a gift be exercised in a wrong way?

Look at this poster board made with hands and feet that are labeled with acts of service. Could you lead your class to make such a board?

Regarding the ‘body’, note that God did not create the body to be served, but to serve using its various members. By the way, what gifts did you get as Christmas presents?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Not conformed, but transformed

I’ve mentioned that creating tension is a means for gaining interest in the classroom. For Romans 12:2-3, the verses comprising the next step in this lesson “Love in Worship”, John Piper creates tension in the following text:

“How does the command not to be conformed to this world relate to Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some”? How is becoming all things to all people not conforming to the world? Or how does the command not to conform to the world, that is, to be counter-cultural, relate to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:32-33? “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” How does not being conformed to the world fit with not giving offense to the world? You can’t always do both. How does not being conformed to the world fit with pleasing everyone for the sake of salvation?”

Use Piper’s article as a basis for discussing Romans 12:2-3. The idea of ‘transformation’ can be illustrated with the caterpillar/butterfly example, the transformer toy example, or by the character Scully from the popular X-Files show of a few years ago. Scully started the series as an antagonistic, spying skeptic on partner Mulder, but by the end of the series, she was a full-fledged believer in the X-Files. Although the illustration is offbeat it does illustrate the idea Paul had in mind that transformation is a repeated process of changing one’s mind to see matters from a Godly perspective.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Need to serve

I find the Study questions for Romans 12:1-8 from very helpful. We previously commented on Romans 12:1 noting that serving God is only logical in view of His mercy. The study guide, however, makes the point that service is a “need” we have. In other words, there is a gap in lives that cannot be filled unless we worship God thru service to Him and others. Do you believe this? Ask members to comment on why this is so. I was praying out loud once and our pastor was present. I mentioned in the prayer "our need to serve" to which he said "amen" during the prayer. It made an impression on me and reenforced the point in my mind that we do have a God given need to worship God by serving Him.

Take a look at the Lifeway Adult Bible Extra since it makes a couple of helpful suggestions regarding Step 1 of this lesson “Live in Worship.”

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ignorant and wanting

Conclusion: Read Revelation 12:13-17. I watched the Barbara Walters special on “Heaven: Where is it” this week. The program failed to make the point that Heaven is where God is. Also, it is where Satan is not!

In a bit of elitist humor, the token atheist on Barara's program said, “If heaven is so great, we’d all be busy hanging ourselves.” But her ignorance ignored God’s purpose in salvation to reach all men with the Good News using born again believers as witnesses. In other words, we live on earth with a purpose—tell others about Jesus Christ.

Writing against a backdrop that 80% or more of Americans believe in God, Baxter Black makes the point that faith is mysterious, but not complicated. Someone blind to the truth is waiting to hear the Good News this Christmas from you. Do you believe that?

Blessings to you all and Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Praise God for the Good News

Step 4. Read Revelation 12:12. The writer tells all heaven to be glad because of the news that salvation has come. Satan is still free to destroy, so why should heaven rejoice prematurely? What must be known if heaven can be overjoyed at this point?

The ultimate end of Satan is known. The lake of fire (Rev 20:10) has been prepared for him. At sometime in the future he will be cast into it, never to emerge again to deceive and destroy. While we are thrilled to know of his ultimate end, our main attention is on the One who has won the victory. His name is Jesus Christ. He defeated even death. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, especially the Good News! Check out the origin of the Doxology. Does it inspire you to praise God?

While out shopping this week, I noticed some parents buying gifts for their son. The joy in their voices and actions as they discussed and selected various gifts conveyed their desire to give the perfect gift to their son. How it must have pleased our Heavenly Father to give us the perfect gift. Praise Him for giving the deep blessing of Jesus Christ as savior. Have you taken time to praise God personally in this busy holiday season?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Report the Good News

Step 3. Read Revelation 12:10-11. What news is announced? News of the arrival of salvation and the power of the kingdom of God is spoken with a LOUD voice. What else is reported? The authority of Christ is announced.

Satan is cast out of heaven! Yeah, he no longer has access to the Father to make accusation against the brothers (Christians). For reasons He understands, God has allowed Satan to come before Him and accuse believers of wrong doings. We know that Jesus lives to make intersession for us (Heb 7:25). As a result of losing the war with Michael and his angels, however, Satan is no longer permitted by God to bring accusation. We are not told when these events will happen. For commentary you can read this article from Bible Gateway.

Reread verse 11. Notice that the brothers overcame by the blood of the lamb—Jesus’ blood shed on the cross, and by the word of their testimony. In other words, believers bought with the blood of Christ share a testimony about Him with others. They simply tell what Jesus has done for them.

What is your testimony about Jesus Christ? Can you simply say how Christ has changed you? How did you feel after you last shared your faith? What circumstance were you last in when you shared your testimony about Jesus Christ? Can you replicate that circumstance with a different person this Christmas?

The Lifeway Adult Extra for this lesson “Declaring the Good News” mentions a wedding ballad "Wake the Town and Tell the People." Consider other good “news” that we regularly announce and report on such as graduations, births, etc. We report these to family, friends and acquaintances in several ways. Are any of these ways appropriate for reporting the Good News of Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bad news for Satan is good news for mankind

Step 2. We are to receive (hear) the good news of the birth of the man-child that will rule the nations (Rev 12:5). How can we claim that the birth of Christ is good news? A simple way is to observe Satan’s reaction, which is given in Revelation 12:7-9. He was so angry over the birth of Jesus that he starts a war in heaven. In other words, the birth of Jesus Christ was terrible news to Satan. What's bad for Satan must be good for mndanki, right? The nation Israel (the woman) was an object of Satan’s anger and fled (see Rev 12:6).

How did we 'hear' the news of the birth of Christ? Who first told you about Jesus? Was it a surprise when you heard it, or was your emotion one of fear like that of national Israel?

What inspires you about the war pictured in verses 7-9? Do you think Jesus referred to this war when He said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18)? Can you think of someone who might listen to the message of Christ if they heard that Satan hated the birth of Jesus so much that he started a war in heaven?

Holding the door open

Step 1. To introduce the lesson on Christmas out of Revelation 12, set the context of John writing in apocalyptic style from the isle of Patmos. As an apostle of Jesus Christ, John had a message that he felt compelled to communicate. Part of that message was to remind others of the birth of Jesus Christ. He was able to overcome the barrier of exile on a remote island to deliver the message of Christmas. List the barriers we have today that must be overcome if we are to share the Christ of Christmas with other people.

Read Revelation 12:1-6 and comments on Revelation 12 by Jim McColloch, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Turley, Oklahoma. Explain that the pregnant ‘woman’ is a figurative sign representing the nation of Israel. God had long promised a child from a woman who would defeat Satan (Gen 3:15). That promise was extended down through Abraham, Issac, and Jacob (Israel). In verse 5, John indicates a child was born who will rule the nations with an iron scepter. Jesus Christ was born, died on a cross and ascended to the Father. He is there now making intersession for believers.

The other sign mentioned in verse 3 is a dragon representing Satan. He deceived angels (stars) and he wants to destroy the man-child born to the woman. Satan operates thru people and he used Herod to kill all the infants under two years old in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus.

John goes on to explain that after the child is taken up to God’s throne, the nation of Israel fled to a place of God’s protection. As we learned last week in Romans 11, God is not thru with the nation of Israel. He will use their future awakening to pour out a great blessing (Rom 11:12). We look forward to that day for sure!

In the meantime, God is holding the door of heaven open so to speak, until the full number of Gentiles comes in (Rom 11:25). To hasten that day, we should be telling as many people as possible about the good news that Christ is born and now peace with God is possible.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mystery of Christmas

Our church is not having adult Bible study this Sunday due to the Christmas holidays, so I won’t be commenting this week on the Lifeway lesson “Declaring the Good News”. Instead I thought I’d study the little known “mystery of Christmas” as revealed in Revelation 12.

For those who are teaching this Sunday, an idea is to parallel the steps of the Lifeway lesson using Revelation 12 instead of the traditional passage out of Luke. We can tell the same message of the birth of Jesus Christ, but from a heavenly perspective that includes God’s plan for the nation of Israel. This fits well with our study last week of Romans 11, which addressed the question of “What about Israel?”.

As you prepare this week, try listening to Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Have you ever taught the Christmas story using Revelation 12? What was your experience?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Magnetic group

Trey Turner commenting on this lesson “Concern of God” from Romans 11 challenges believers to adopt a sympathetic view of people who have not accepted the gospel. Why? Because that “patient attitude” is the concern of God. God’s favor is based on God’s love. He challenges Christians to win people by loving them to Christ rather than judging them from a distance. Unbelievers might be saved thru jealously when they see what God is doing in the lives of Christians. He asks us to find ways become a magnet for Christ and build bridges to specific unbelievers.

As an illustration, take a few magnets to class and demonstrate their attraction. Demonstrate how the same magnet can also repel. Pass them around and let people play with them. Make the points of Trey Turner as a summary to the close the lesson.

Friday, December 16, 2005

All can be saved? Explain! Romans 11:28-36, 12:1

This week’s lesson “Concern of God” is based on Romans 11, but the conclusion of chapter 11 is found in Romans 12:1. For Step 5, I’ll make the point that it is only reasonable, or logical, that we serve God. He will have mercy on all who are to be saved.

The homework guide asks us to list attributes of God identified in verses 33-36. I’m leaning toward doing that in class as an exercise and explaining the cycle of God given in verse 36. In all things He gives blessing. He then operates in all things. All things end up in Him. His ways are unsearchable! All people can be saved even though we cannot fathom how God works to accomplish it! Rick Warren said, “It’s like trying to explain the Internet to an ant.” Or even easier, after watching this video, try explaining a man passing thru solid glass.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Make someone jealous today!

Step 4. Romans 11:-15, 25-26a reveals the mystery of a partial hardening of Israel until the full number of Gentiles are grafted in (salvation). Believers are to inspire jealously while avoiding conceit. We have forgiveness, hope and a relationship with Jesus Christ, which they do not have. Do they “long” for these? On the other hand they seem intolerant, suspicious, hostile and hardened.

James McCullen writes, “Could jealousy cause someone to be saved? Does God use jealousy to bring some to salvation? What motivated you to come to accept the message of Christ?” These are all excellent questions to help create discussion in the class.

Eric Taylor writing in Tennessee Baptist & Reflector takes it a step further: “Yet, here is the question you must ask: “Am I living for Jesus in such a way that I am making unbelievers jealous for Him?” “When people examine my life do they want what I have?” “Would they find what they are searching for by looking at my life and walk with Jesus?”

Witnesses for Christ today need to go where the “gold” is (go where God is working) and take advantage of the present favorable circumstances; they will not last. Make someone jealous today!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ask a question

I like the comments by Troy Bush on the lesson “Concern of God” because of his explanation that Paul is writing to the church in Rome to address the “tension or conflict” between Jewish and Gentile believers. This creates a question in my mind: what was the cause of the tension in the church?

Step 3 is based on Romans 11:5-6. The point is that Jews and Christians do not think alike. To make this point, use the illustration given by Moishe Rosen (see Rabbinic Evangelism section) of asking a question: “Two men fall down a chimney. One comes out clean and the other dirty. Which one washes?”

Unbelievers and Christians do not think alike either. Read the article “Rabbinic Questioning—A Better Way to Evangelize” before class and present the nut of it in a slide covering its basic principles. This is an opportunity to be very practical by engaging members to think of questions they can ask unbelievers. In doing so, they are practicing the “Concern of God” to rehearse how to help unbelievers experience salvation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Discouraged, but encouraged

Step 2 of this week’s LifeWay lesson “Concern of God” is based on Romans 11:1-4. I get the idea that in Paul’s day very few Jews accepted Jesus as the messiah. This was as discouraging at the time as it is today. But there is encouraging news there also. Paul says that the Jews have not been rejected (given up). Extending this truth to all men, the LifeWay commentary on page 34 says, Paul “declared God does not give up on reaching those without the gospel.” Based on your understanding of the Bible, do you think this conclusion is correct? (See Mark 3:28-30 and Matthew 7:23) Discuss this with the class.

God encouraged Elijah by letting him know about 7,000 other believers. Are there unbelievers about whom you are discouraged? We cannot fathom the ways in which God works, but we know that He is working to manifest His mercy and grace in the lives of all men.

In this step, after covering the verses I will allow class members to discuss their discouragement about specific unbelievers. After doing so, my prayer is that they will be comforted as God comforted Elijah.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Irrevocable call

We’ll learn in this lesson “Concern of God” based on Romans 11 that God has not given up on unbelieving Jews. They did not stumble beyond recovery.

Paul uses the illustration of bread dough to explain the mystery that God has saved some Jews already and will restore others after the “full number of Gentiles has come in.” The idea is that the first part is like the whole. Those who have received grace already are the forerunners of the remainder that will be saved later. Based on this, how do you describe the concern of God?

Paul also uses the illustration of grafting tree branches to explain how Gentiles are made part of tree whose root is Jesus Christ. Has God given up on certain people you know? If we are growing to be like Christ, what should our concern be?

I found the Exciting Bible Study for Romans 11 by David Williams and the study questions from Net Bible Institute posted on the web. They might be useful to you. I'll start with a PPT slide.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Greeting wars

“Christmas 2005 is the year of the "greeting wars" between Christians and American retailers.” Bill O'Reilly of Fox is on rant, too, but whose job is it to carry the message of Christ to unbelievers?

I don’t think we can blame a secular world for not carrying the message of a “Call to Faith” for us. It would be nice to have them as leverage, but we simple can’t rely on them to tell the world Christ is born. Each Christian should be doing that with or without the help of secular businesses. Any person who greets us with "happy holidays" is identifying himself as a potential unbeliever who should receive an immediate verbal witness for Christ, not a lambasting about corporate policies!My 2 cents. What do you think?

In thinking about concluding the lesson “Call to Faith” based on Romans 10: 1-4, 8-18, 21, I read Pastor James McCullen’s post and he asked, “Have you ever heard these verses called the Indian verses because of the word “how” being used five times?”

I’ve never heard that. Have you? Interesting. Likewise, I wonder how many unbelievers would say, “Interesting. Tell me more” if they heard a verbal witness about Jesus Christ from a believer?

Unbelievers are “dying” to hear the gospel. As Clint said, “They are spiritually lost, eternally lost and relationally lost” until they hear it and respond. My prayer is that unbelievers will hear the “Call to Faith” this Christmas thru all of us who read this post. Amen.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Power of found

Clint Smith preached last night at our church and I thought of Step 4 in this week’s lesson “Call to Faith”, based on Romans 10:14-18,21. He spoke about being LOST and the power of FOUND, that is the joy in heaven over finding one lost sheep, or coin, or one prodigal son (see Luke 15).

Clint challenged us to get in on the “power of found?” How can we experience the joy of being part of a lost one’s finding?

One idea it to hide an object in the classroom before class and then for this step have members search the room for the item. Discuss afterwards what they had to do to find it. Members had to be deliberate in their search. They had to actively look. They had to encourage one another. They had to have a concern for the lost item otherwise they wouldn’t have searched. If the item happened to be animate, they could have called out and by hearing the lost one could have been found. Discuss the feelings of finding the item. Thru analogy and discussion encourage members to experience the power of found.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pealing a banana

Step 3 of this lesson “Call to Faith” is based on Romans 10:8-13. Illustrate the right way to God is by faith using the story of “The Right Way to Peal a Banana”. Take a few bananas to class and after reading the focal verses ask, “What is the right way to peal a banana?” Call on a volunteer to demonstrate his technique. Then read the student’s tale as told in the story.

Like the strangeness of pealing a banana from the opposite end of the stalk, the Jews rejected the idea of salvation by faith. They thought their privileged position as children of Abraham would lead to automatic salvation, or they thought that keeping the commands of the law would provide salvation.

I think it is important to offer an opportunity for any member that desires to do so to “confess” out loud “Jesus is my God.” You never know how the Spirit might be leading, so don’t pass on an opportunity for an invitation! Try it this Sunday in your class.

P.S. Future lesson titles are posted below as a head’s up on what’s coming from Lifeway.

Explore the Bible

Spring 2006 Study Theme: Isaiah, Micah: Trust the Living Lord

UNIT 1: Trust in the Lord's Faithfulness

March 5: Do You Rebel? (Isa. 1:2-5,11-20)
March 12: Do You Volunteer to Serve? (Isa. 6:1-11)
March 19: Do You Take God at His Word? (Isa. 7:1-14,16)
March 26: Do You Think You Are Unaccountable? (Isa. 17:1-3,7-9; 18:1-7)
April 2: Do You Live According to God's Truth? (Isa. 28:14-18; 30:12-18)
April 9: Do You Take Your Burdens to the Lord? (Isa. 37:10-12,14-20,33-37)
April 16: Do You Share the Good News? (Easter Evangelistic lesson) (Matt. 28:1-10,16-20)

UNIT 2: Find Hope in God's Greatness
April 23: Take Comfort in God's Strength (Isa. 40:1-8,10-11,27-31)
April 30: Worship No Other (Isa. 44:16-22; 46:1-5,8-9)
May 7: Recognize God's Ways (Isa. 53:1-12)
May 14: Accept God's Free Offer (Isa. 55:1-13)
May 21: Get Real (Isa. 58:3-14; Mic. 6:8)
May 28: Praise Our Incomparable God (Mic. 7:8-20)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Leaders' Ignorance

There is a phenomenon in business called the innovators dilemma. It occurs when nimble competitors use disruptive technologies to overtake a leader that is unwilling to cannibalize its own business, one that is based on traditional technologies. I liken it to Christian faith overtaking Jewish legalism.

In Mark 2:18-22, Jesus was questioned about his disciples not fasting when the Pharisees were doing so. His answer about old wineskins and garments implied that old ways hamper new ways. This speaks to the innovators dilemma. Jewish leaders resisted the newness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Reading Romans 9:30-33, the Jews were the religious leaders. However, in a dilemma they stumbled over the disruptive arrival of “righteousness from God”—the person of Jesus Christ. Their tradition was salvation by works. They were in a dilemma because they chose to cling to their old ways rather than by faith accepting God’s righteousness as a gift.

Romans 10:1-4 indicates the ignorance of unbelievers (Jews in this case) and their stubbornness to not submit to God’s righteousness. The smartest guys were the most ignorant. They were blinded and trapped by their system of beliefs built around a meticulous legalism. How is this also true of unbelievers today? I think of cults, which you might want to check out specific ones at Watchman Fellowship. On their web page you can locate the video of Oprah insisting that Jesus “can't possibly be the only way” to God”.

Step2 of this LifeWay lesson “Call to Faith” summaries the teaching in Romans 10:1-4 as “We cannot save ourselves.” Capture and play the video of dialogue with Oprah and talk about the issue of “ways to God.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

In a rut

Sometimes I feel I’m in a rut (teaching-wise). The lessons become predictable, like a bad plot. Members know the ending one minutes into it. A pastor once defined a rut as a grave with both ends kicked out. He made his point. Change, and change now.

This week’s LifeWay lesson “Call to Faith” based on Romans 9:30-10:21 pertain to people in a rut (unbelieving perspective). Not in the focal passage are two key questions in verses 6 and 7: “'Who will ascend into heaven?'" and “'Who will descend into the deep?’”. In other words, unbelievers (Jews in this case) were still asking for a Messiah to come down, or to rise up. They didn’t recognize Jesus as Messiah.

Unbelievers today are no different. Like unbelievers of old they still ask questions about the coming of a savior. Here are some of the questions you might hear today. According to Evangelism Explosion executive vice president Tom Stebbins. "Back then it was, Is the Bible true? Today it's, Is there a God after all? Is there really life after death?”

To get started, first read in class the entire focal passage and then work on this list with members. I think people are searching for meaning by asking, “What is truth?” About some key issue, others will say, “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” You get the idea?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Be clear

In preparing this week the deep subject of God’s sovereignty, it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal. Eric Taylor writing for the Tennessee Baptist & Reflector cautions us not to miss the overall teaching of this passage: “God who is sovereign acts according to His own will, and we receive mercy not judgment because God chooses to act with mercy.” As I studied this week, Proverbs 28:13 came to mind. To help establish our aim, I’ll insert the pictured PPT slide after the introductory slide and then repeat it as a conclusion asking members to pray for specific unbelievers by first name.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Step 4 of the LifeWay lesson “Need for Mercy” is based on Romans 9:19-24. The commentary calls out God’s patience in dealing with the unsaved. He endures the unsaved in order to demonstrate to those that are saved (objects of mercy) just how glorious the Lord is. The riches of His glory speaks to me some measure of His greatness that we can know.

Many images come to mind to help me comprehend such greatness. Included are the Grand Canyon and giant redwood trees. This image by Kush, though a bit abstract, does convey the idea of a measure of greatness.

The Leader Guide asks a good question on page 20. “How does knowing more about God help strengthen our relationship with Him?” And back on the Election topic, the Leader Guide makes the point on page 20 that “no pot left in the common state is there against its will.” But I would note, too that, No pot in the honorable state remains there against its will either. In other words, the saved want to be saved and cannot resist God’s will (vs. 19).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mercy, mercy, mercy

I’ve prayed many times for unbelievers, particularly atheist, but these verses 6-18 in Romans 9 make me question my motives. Do I want unbelievers saved just so I can be proven right about God? To the contrary, Paul was anguished about the future, ultimate condemnation and judgment unbelievers face. He wanted them to be saved, but as verse 16 reminds us, “it does not depend on human will or effort, but on God, who shows mercy.”

Election is a difficult doctrine, particularly if you accept some limitation on God’s sovereignty. For example, does man really have free will? Verse 18 says, “He shows mercy to whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills.” Paul was emotional about the status of his unbelieving brothers. How does the truth in Romans 9:14-18 make you feel?

On page 18 of the LifeWay Leader Guide, the commentary says that verse 18 “does not mean God ever violated the human will of Moses or Pharaoh or anyone else.” The commentary goes on to say that “…God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work together…and not in contradiction to each other.” How can we explain this “togetherness” as teachers and at the same time teach that salvation is from God alone? I’m confused, but I thank God for His mercy and grace. The good news is that God through Jesus Christ purposed to save any of us.

I’ll use a PPT slide with a picture of kiln on it. The pottery is hardened inside the kiln. It illustrates to me that the clay is what it is and the heat of the circumstances around it causes it to harden. Who made the pottery? Who put it in the kiln? Who turned up the heat? The potter. Remember God’s mercy and thank Him!