Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

What! Another New Year Already December 31, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 12:50 pm
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Perhaps like me, you are asking, “How in the world did it get to be 2013?” Growing up in a home where my parents believed we were living in the last days back in the 1960’s, I surely thought that Jesus would have come by now. Actually, I thought He would come before I graduated from High School, or got married, or had children. And what about those years in between then and now? Are they not much like a vapor, as if they simply passed through my hands?

 

Regardless of how we look back on years gone by, either with joy or regret, it is more beneficial to look forward to that year which we are soon to embark upon ~ 2013. The Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3: 13-14). This new year comes with great upward opportunity to do many things. Do we not all love new beginnings? I know that I do. I love to let the past be the past, wipe the slate clean, and get a fresh start. That is what 2013 holds for us, if we will see it through those lenses. Maybe then, we can look forward to this new year with great anticipation.

 

The thing I look forward to most is new revelations from God, His Word, and His ways. I am awed at what I now see that only 12 months ago, I did not see. You may ask, “How does that happen?” It happens a little at a time. To describe it as the Bible does, it comes “Precept must be upon precept….line upon line….here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). You see, we cannot withstand ALL of the revelation of God at once. He told Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me, and live” (Exodus 33:20). WOW! We should be grateful that God gives revelation only as we are able to accept and absorb it.

 

We are to be ever-seeking, ever-increasing in the knowledge of God. That is His plan for us, to slowly but surely allow His Spirit to bring the light of God into our very beings. We must have light to live. We must have light to grow. We must have light to mature. Light literally “dawns upon us” gradually as we seek the face of God. I’d like to think I could have a Damascus Road experience, but it hasn’t ever worked that way for me. It comes as I ask for it and as God chooses to grant it. He, being all-wise, knows what I am ready for and what I can receive. I must be grateful for whatever He chooses to give.

 

With any new revelation also comes the taunting sin of pride. Don’t you hate it? About the time pride tries to enter my heart over a fresh revelation, I am reminded of the clear fact that there are still vast unknown truths and mysteries of God yet unrevealed to me. I must remember that humility is the key to more revelation, and to that I bow my head and humbly say, “Thank you” to the Gracious One who gives opening of the eyes, here a little and there a little.

 

May 2013 be a year of revealed truths in our lives. Let us ask the Father to open our eyes to see them; ask Jesus to enlarge our hearts to accept and receive them; and ask our Holy House Guest to make us consciously aware of them when they come our way. If we do those things, 2013 will be a year of great revelation! Are you ready to press even more for the prize of the upward call of God? I know that I am, and I will be writing about those very things in the coming year. I hope you will join me on this 2013 journey, and invite a friend to join us as well. Happy New Year to all! ~ Janie Kellogg

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On Empty After Christmas? December 26, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 1:30 pm
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For many years I wondered why this huge, empty hole in my heart lingered long after the holiday gift-opening and family-feasting had passed. Was it a let down from the hours of planning, shopping, wrapping, baking, and cooking that had zapped my strength, or was it something more? I truly didn’t know; I just knew that it showed up very year in the hours following Christmas. It seemed that I made a big hype about something, and when it was over, I was left with questions—and emptiness. Maybe that’s your experience too.

 

Today, I think I know the answer. Not that there is anything wrong with giving gifts to those we love or preparing a meal fit for a king, but God designed human beings with a hole in our hearts that can only be filled with Himself. No matter what we do to fill that hole—intended for Christ alone—we can’t seem to satisfy its hollowness. It doesn’t take years to discover that “more earthly possessions” are not the answer. In my case, a gnawing hunger for something greater loomed large in my spirit, reaching beyond what I had attained in my spiritual life. Could it be the intent of the heart of God, the Hound of Heaven, ever drawing me by His Spirit away from the unsatisfying things of the world and closer to Himself? I now think so.

 

For the first time in my entire life (more years than I care to count and announce), I feel full at the end of this Christmas Day. The very real presence of my God living inside me satisfies my soul. Why me? Why this? Why now? I’m not sure I know those “why” answers, except that a continual hunger drives me closer to my Lord, ever seeking more of Him, and always searching for writers who seemed to have found what I still long for.

 

This has been an amazing year of discoveries as my Holy House Guest guides my journey, leading me to writers that pen words of living water for my thirsty soul. My most recent discovery is Ann Voskamp, author of “One Thousand Gifts,” a book given to me by a dear friend. This best-seller has forever left its mark on my life.

 

Although I was still swaying from the depth of revelations coming from this one small book with a bird nest on the cover, I subscribed to Ann Voskamp’s daily blog at www.aholyexperience.com. One of the first emails I received included a link to John Piper’s website “Desiring God” to hear an interview with Ann. I challenge you to listen to it. The title of the Interview is “What our Christmas desperately, especially, needs this year.” Go to her website and look for the link on the right-hand side of her home page. Hearing the humility in Ann’s voice made me weep with her as she shared an experience of passing by a tarnished piece of jewelry lying on the ground—a cross.

 

The best Christmas gift I received this year is a new vision, not of the manger as you might expect, but of the cross. As I saw the cross more clearly—the pain, suffering, and agony endured by my Savior—I gained a deeper appreciation for that Holy Babe in the manger. You see, we cannot separate the two—the manger and the cross. Both are enormously significant. Both are totally essential, as one without the other lessens the meaning of either. We needed both—God gave both. We must believe both. We must embrace both. We must weep over both. We must rejoice over both. We must celebrate both. Their message intertwined is one great swelling announcement: GOD LOVES US! He loves us so much that He spoke it through a manger—He spoke it through the cross. He is ever-speaking His unfathomable love to us, hoping, longing for us to hear His voice, believe His message, and respond to His love.

 

Have you heard? believed? responded? Meet Him at the manger. Meet Him at the cross. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal their message of God’s great love for YOU. Allow the deep-satisfying presence of God Almighty to fill your spirit to full! That, my friends, is God’s desire for each of us—to be filled with all the fullness of God Himself (Ephesians 3:19). How can we have emptiness when we know the One who fills? We cannot. We must not.

 

R. C. Sproul said, “The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in.” Believe Him now—He fills empty hearts! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

The Gift of Today December 19, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 1:52 pm
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While I will never understand why it takes the difficult to make us appreciate the important, it is true nonetheless. Whether it comes as a heart-jolting diagnosis delivered only days before Christmas, or the pain-staking battle with a disease that refuses to lose, or a shortage of small caskets for five-year-old bodies in Newtown, Connecticut that leaves us stunned by a world gone amiss, we are sharply awakened from our indifference. Such grievous events stop us dead in our tracks, cause us to take notice and make new commitments to value what we have.

 

After one such event in my own life, I learned the priceless value of a day. I began to view every twenty-four-hour rebirth of life as a gift from God Himself. In fact, each day-gift comes graciously wrapped in the splendor of a sunrise, the grandeur of a sunset, and everything in between is ours. As we unwrap the gift, we find that carefully tucked inside each day is the inherent opportunity to grow, to share the joys of life with another, to bear the pain of the suffering, to reach out to the less fortunate, to meet a challenge, to make a new discovery, or perhaps to reach for greatness. What we do with it is up to us. It is our choice. We can live it to its fullest and make a difference in our world, or we can simply allow it to pass through our hands.

 

We’ve all heard the popular slogan, “What Would Jesus Do?” Jesus knew He had a divine purpose for His appointed time on earth and used every second of it to accomplish that purpose. He often spoke of time being short and much work to be done before His departure. How fitting for the day in which we live. While our purpose may not seem as divine as that of Jesus, there is also much work to do before our departure. There are multitudes of lost souls to reach with the Gospel, untold pain and suffering to relieve, and the overwhelming issues of a complex and terrorized world to address. How valuable is each day that we are given the opportunity to do something about it.

 

God is such a good Gift-Giver. Unlike us human beings, who search out the bargains to be had or a generic just-as-good-as-the-original brand, the Master Creator custom-designs and handcrafts each day especially for us. We can be assured that this day will perfectly fit our lives. Let us be careful not to insult the Giver by hurriedly passing over His gift to open another. Cherish this one. Make this one of those days of which it shall be said, “Those were the days!” Let us make memories today that we will hold dear for eternity.

 

A gift can never be fully ours until we accept it, unwrap it, and experience it. Today is God’s gift to you. Receive it as such. Oh, in keeping with the rules of gift-giving, we must remember to recognize the generosity of the Giver; open the gift in His Presence so as to bring joy to the One giving; unwrap it with anticipation and excitement; and never, but never, forget to say “Thank You.” While it may not be just what we wanted or even what we asked for, we should treasure its value because of Who gave it to us. ~Janie Kellogg

 

The Most Expensive Gift December 12, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 1:08 pm
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‘Tis the season to be shopping! Relentlessly, we shop ‘til we drop. While enduring crowded malls and long lines, we are sustained by the thrill of getting our hands on the perfect gift for those we love. We search with diligence until at last we find it. Almost in unbelief, we pick it up and carefully examine it for any slight imperfection. Finally, we check the price tag to determine if its value is worth the cost. To our disappointment, it is simply too expensive and more than we are willing to pay. We place it back on the shelf and walk away. Perhaps we can find a more affordable, less costly gift.

 

But that was not the case on that first Christmas morning two thousand years ago when God gave the most expensive gift of all—the gift of His Son. The cost would stretch from the starlit hill of Bethlehem to the darkened hill of Calvary. It would be wrapped in swaddling clothes woven with pain and stained in blood. A ribbon of mercy would adorn this priceless gift of love. Oh yes, God knew in advance the cost of His gift. The cruel cross was in full view as God pondered His decision. The price tag would be high—the cost enormous.

 

It has been said that a friend would perhaps die for a friend, and many would die for their own child, but only the Son of God would die for a sinner such as I. You see, my life was laced with self-righteousness from feeble attempts at being good; my will bent on having my own way; my attitude in need of adjustment; my pride out of control; my body imperfect; and my destiny one of destruction. Yet God chose to pay an extravagant price to rescue me.

 

Only when we comprehend the tremendous cost of God’s gift will we have gratitude equal to its worthiness. Only when we recognize our pitiful state had the gift not been given will we grasp its significance. Only when we acknowledge the pain it brought to the heart of God will we understand its high value. And it is only when we accept the generosity of God will we adore the Gift and worship the Giver.

 

There has always been just one true message of Christmas even though it is often camouflaged among cheerful holiday ado. As we observe this Christmas, it is only fitting that we celebrate the most expensive gift ever given, the gift of Jesus. ~Janie Kellogg

 

Finding Nemo ~ Finding Jesus December 5, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 5:40 am
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A popular children’s movie a few years ago was the story of a father fish that goes looking for his cherished son, Nemo. He was determined to find and rescue him at any cost. That story reminds me of the Heavenly Father who goes looking for His lost children—us. He too is determined to find and rescue at any cost.

 

 

As the Christmas season is upon us once again, some will have a vacant chair at the table this year as the family gathers together for this holiday celebration. Whether our loved one has been called to fight a war in a far away land, or we have the permanent loss of one we know will not be coming back, the emptiness is undeniable. Many have lost jobs due to a stressed economy, and yet others face uncertainty because of enduring illness or a diagnosis that just wasn’t what we had planned for. Nonetheless, Christmas is here, and we simply must by an act of our faith discover once again the reason to celebrate.

 

 

I propose that like finding Nemo, we must find Jesus. While the commercialization of Christmas attempts to make us focus on anything but its real meaning, it is still there. It may be obscured among the hustle and the bustle, the mythical versus the divine, yet its message cannot be diminished. That powerful expression of love by our Heavenly Father in the extraordinary gift of His Son is tucked inside every carefully wrapped package we give and receive. It is found in the glow of every candle that transmits its soft light into a darkened room reminding us that the light of God’s love still shines in a dark and seemingly terrorized world. If we look closely, we can find Jesus in the twinkle of each tiny tree light as it blinks a message of hope for a brighter tomorrow. Oh, Jesus can even be found in the image of a cute little snowman when it brings a smile to the face of a child. And believe it or not, we can find Jesus in the ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’ of jolly Ole Saint Nick, if in any small way it softens the heart of a Christmas scrooge.

 

 

While I once complained because the season seems to start earlier with each passing year, I have decided it is actually a wonderful thing that we celebrate more fully and completely the most miraculous event in all of history. For the coming of the promised Messiah into a lost and undeserving world merits much celebration! As you decorate your home with lights, color, and warmth, at the same time decorate your heart with the love, hope and peace that come from knowing the Savior. Like the shepherds on that memorable night so long ago, seek the One who is worth finding. Let us look for Jesus in every Christmas jingle we hear, every shopping trip we endure, each musical program we attend, and certainly in the midst of every gathering of family and friends. May we allow the generosity of God to overtake us as we look for ways to share our blessings with others, and in so doing, help them find Jesus too. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really all about—finding Jesus? ~ Janie Kellogg