Willing Clay: The Path to Spiritual Maturity



Isa 41:25 “I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter treadeth clay.”

If you keep in mind the main point: you must internalize the word of God, this will go much quicker.

I’ll preface this with what The Lord spoke to me the other day while driving. “Some people have destiny written all over them. It’s too bad they don’t develop the maturity to achieve what they are meant to do.”

In simple terms, being mature is knowing what to do in any given situation. Full-grown, complete. In a time of crisis, we turn to those who are mature to lead us through.

God wants this church to become mature. God wants the individuals in this church to mature. Even children can become spiritually mature, how many times have our kids told us just to trust God and they exhibit the peace knowing He’ll work it all out, and they were right. I’m talking about that kind of maturity.

I wanted to talk about Christmas, but you really can’t talk about Christmas without talking about the cross, and you really can’t talk about the cross without Pentecost, and you really can’t talk about Pentecost without talking about the reason the Holy Spirit is given. (Again, I let the cat out of the bag, the Spirit is given for you to be able to internalize the word of God.)

John 16:13 says, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…”

Why is the Spirit leading you into all truth? So you could be a know-it-all and you could argue with all other religions? No, so you could learn to handle every situation with grace and with glory.

God’s Spirit comes into your life so He can remind you of His promises. If you or someone you know is facing sickness, there’s a remedy for that, if there is a financial situation, there is a remedy for that. The Spirit will prompt you to pray for someone, the Spirit will remind you that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Let’s talk about being mature in the Spirit. Jesus slept in the boat while the storm was raging. Why? Because He was mature in the Spirit. He was good at listening to the Spirit’s voice that reminded Him of everything that was written, everything that was forever settled, and that there was nothing to worry about. Praise God! If you are facing a situation where you have no answers, and yet you have a peace that passes all understanding, and the Lord works it out perfectly in His time, I’d say you are on your way to being mature. At least in that situation.

On the other hand, if I have a tendency to get stressed out, worry how something will get done, get short-tempered, wonder why no one is helping me, and wonder why no one cares, I am now what I think is called immature. We see kids act this way all the time. “It’s not fair!” But we don’t see Jesus acting this way. He never said it’s not fair as they pounded nails into His hands, or beat him to a pulp, or ridiculed Him or challenged Him or accused Him of all sorts of things that weren’t true. He looked beyond to the heavenly purpose.

Jesus started by ruling His flesh. Every action, every thought, and every attitude, was sprinkled with heavenly purpose. Can we become spiritually mature in this manner? That is what God is calling us to do.

Let’s look at how Jesus became spiritually mature.

Luke 2:52 (KJV) “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

I’ve wondered recently, can God learn? If He knows all things, by definition, there’s nothing more that He can learn, right? However, when God became a man, all of a sudden He could do something He never could before, learn like we do!

Now Jesus being the perfect example, He wanted to show us how it is done. In this Luke passage, ‘increased’ means ‘propelled forward!' Jesus was on the fast track. We just saw how this is possible through the Spirit of God: He was propelled forward into wisdom, through the Spirit of God, He quickly understood how to apply the word of God and the promises of God.

He was also propelled forward in favor. He gained spiritual authority and He gained earthly authority.

He started with authority over His own flesh. He did it God’s way, not a human way. He was Spirit-led, not human-emotions led, not human-logic-led, or by the rules that humans set up. We have God’s thought’s, God’s guide-rails, God’s ways, instilled in us through the power of His Spirit in us. This will propel us forward to affect others around us, to achieve God’s purposes in this world, to reconcile a lost and dying world to the One who created them, and to give people purpose and destiny as a Body of Believers, fitly formed together and working together in perfect unity. That is the New Covenant in a nutshell. 

I left out zeroing in on one word right in the middle of the verse, the word  ‘stature.’ This word literally translates to ‘maturity.’ This brings us back to our main point: it is God’s will that you become mature.

Here’s a little formula:

Bible reading + Holy Ghost leading = being propelled into spiritual maturity

Joh 14:26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

It is pretty hard to remember something you never learned, you never read, you never studied. This is why the combination of Bible reading and letting the Spirit of God lead you is so important.

Bible reading + Holy Ghost leading = being propelled into spiritual maturity.


Rom 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

When you’re looking to be transformed, don’t be ‘con’ (meaning ‘with'), conformed to the world. What form do you want? Jesus’s? Or the world’s?

By internalizing the word, and changing your mind to conform to a pattern, you can become mature. But you need the right pattern.

Carving Tools: You have to be willing. Notice this is the first part of our title, ‘Willing.’ The wood has to be willing to be carved, submitted to being changed. Let go of old habits and ways, develop new habits, and adopt new ways.

Measuring tools: These tools have to do with accountability. (Accountable, make sure it is on track) Even down to a fraction of a millimeter. Same thing, we have to conform to the image of Christ, it is an exact image, and we are ever-changing from glory to glory, into the image of His son!

2Co 3:18  “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

By what? By being willing to let the Spirit of God take control.

So in our equation,

Bible reading + Holy Ghost leading = being propelled into spiritual maturity

Having a willing attitude is key to becoming mature. God is all-powerful, His Spirit can work out anything in you, but are you willing?

That’s the funny thing about the words ‘will’ and ‘willing’:  both contain the word ‘will.’ This word ‘will’ can be defined in the Bible as an ‘inclination,’ a slope, which way you are bent, what you gravitate toward. If you have an ‘inclination,’ you naturally roll a certain way.

Joh 15:7  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

The word ‘will’ and ‘willing’ have a something in common.

Again, Bible reading + Holy Ghost leading = spiritual maturity. But in this scripture, spiritual maturity unlocks all sorts of possibilities and manifestations of the will of God. (Read it again, it shall be done unto you!)

In other words, if you internalize His inclinations, (First part of the verse), when you ask according to what God is naturally inclined to do, or bent, or gravitates towards, He’ll do it. You become a partner of God, a powerful agent of change when you understand God’s will, internalize it and ask Him to move into areas He already wants to move into and has prepared for you to move in with Him.

Example: I’m under Pastor’s authority. But I might blatantly disagree with him on how things are done. If I ask him to do something a certain way, against his wishes, do you think he’ll give me the church credit card, much less free rein and the go-ahead to do whatever I want the way I want to build the church? Of course not. That’s divisive. But If I internalize his vision and we see eye to eye, he’ll give me jobs, responsibilities, roles to play, and open up resources I can call upon at any time to accomplish the purpose, goals, and visions set before us. The same with God.

Jesus said it this way in Luke 22:42 “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

(There are those two words ‘will’ and ‘willing’ in the same verse again).

That word willing means ‘intend.’ And ‘will’ means inclination, what you are bent toward, or gravitate toward. Not what I am bent towards, but what you intend. Also key is in the words ‘my,’ and ‘thy’ which means ‘my own’ and ‘thy own.’ Simply put, you need to own it:  Jesus as a human had a will that was owned by a human, but Jesus as God owned a different will. Which one did He choose? God’s will. And He owned it. You need to not only understand God’s will, you gotta own it! 

He put aside the human part and chose the God part.

This finally brings us back to our title, willing clay. 

There is quite a process that clay goes through to become a mug. A few things to focus on:

Extraction and Refinement

  1. Take out stones (stubborn, hard to work with, unbendable, sharp)
  2. Become malleable (tread upon!)
  3. Additives (new things added to become easier to work with, soften up, sand, water, change consistency, maybe need to change consistency of prayer, study, attendance, gather with body, willingness to serve, help, all makes you easier to work with)


You must be willing to become something else. “When I grow up I’m going to be something else!” Caterpillar and butterfly. Are you willing to give up what you think you want and find out what Jesus wants you to become? It’s all in His word. Some of you need to pray and be willing to see what it is Jesus is developing you into. Maybe some stones need to be taken out as well in order to reach that form.

Solidifying new form

The last step once the new design is implemented is being put in the fire. The heat is meant to make something permanent in you, to prove what is that good and acceptable will of God, so that your new form can be a permanent thing. There’s something a little scary, the potter’s field is filled with shards of pottery, things that when heated exploded and didn’t survive to become a beautiful piece of pottery with purpose. These pieces of pottery didn’t survive the heating process, because of an unseen design flaw. Some of you need to take the hidden things of the heart and lay them before the Lord to take out, to rework, and to transform.

If you are perfectly designed by the Lord, the heating process will transform the clay into a vessel of honor, able to deliver blessings to the people it serves. (Like a coffee mug, you were meant to carry something glorious to bless someone.)

Whether a violin or a coffee mug, you were meant to be instruments of God’s glory.

2Ti 2:20-21 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Charles Li.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!