Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

There’s a Whole Lot of Living Going On January 29, 2013

It continues to baffle me. No matter how hard I try to conquer it, this slimy flesh of mine wiggles its way out of the squeeze, jumps off the anvil, and springs back into action. I have gone so far as to condemn it to death, taken it outside the city gates, and crucified it there. Killed it. Buried it. Done.

 

It didn’t last. I had to do it again. And again. And once more, again. A hundred times or more. I documented it in my journal, “Today, self died.” Months later I wrote again, “I attended a funeral today—mine!”

 

Defeat has triumphed over me. Victory has eluded me. It’s not that I don’t have the desire for self to die—I do. I really do. Perhaps I just don’t know how to kill it. A few years ago I wrote a profound statement: “I am going to die to self if it kills me!”

 

I suspect I am not alone. Actually, I’m certain I’m not, since the Apostle Paul described a similar battle in Romans 7. This chapter has perplexed me for years. I know it by heart. It is me—my testimony. Paul’s and mine. I still wonder how Paul could have described my exact struggle:

 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do….As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me….So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (vs. 15-23; Emphasis added).

 

The only word in this chapter I must correct is the gender of the one with the heart-wrenching admission: “What a wretched woman I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (vs. 24)

 

The word wretched is a hard swallow. It means: worthless, base, despicable, inadequate, inferior, shameful, and vile. O despicable me! How perfectly that describes the way I feel when I mess up, fail my Lord, allow my flesh to rise from the dead, and once again do what I do not want to do.

 

There is, however, a vast difference in Paul’s outcome and my experience. He heralded his success in the very next verse: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 25) His victory statement is simple, concise, and matter of fact.

 

Why can’t it be like that for me? Why can’t I find the key that Paul found to unlock the mystery of conquering self? At least a million times I have asked that same question.

 

I must resolve the issue. I cannot move on until I do. I’ll keep asking and searching, searching and asking. There is an answer; yet not easily found because of the war waged against my finding it. I am sure God isn’t teasing me—He wants me to find the key to this age-old mystery.

 

I make one helpful discovery: There’s a whole lot of living going on between Romans 7:24 and Romans 7:25. There was for Paul, though his declaration of victory was so certain that he stated it as if it had just happened.

 

My Lord slowly grants seeing eyes. And I’m close—so close I can taste it, feel it, sense it, and believe it. I claim it as mine.

 

Join the journey. ~Janie Kellogg

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The Inverted Gospel January 23, 2013

God wants me to get it. His heart longs for my eyes to see what He sees; my heart to feel what He feels; my mind to grasp the inverted gospel message of Jesus Christ that says to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). I struggle with this upside down thinking.

 

God’s intent from the beginning has been to make Himself known in the earth—His greatness, His love, His mercy, His ways—all of which are different than ours. And how did God plan to do that? Through the lives of His chosen people (Galatians 3:8).

 

“The world judges our Christ by our fruit,” said Cora Harris MacIlvary. If that is true, perhaps we need to inspect our fruit to see what we are producing. Do we present an accurate picture of Christ to the world around us?

 

Some fruit inspection guidelines could be these:

Jesus said to humble ourselves—we remain proud.

He said to forgive others—we hang on to our hurts.

He said to love others as ourselves—we despise those with different religious or political views.

He said to judge not—we accuse, convict, and condemn with one sweeping thought.

He said to be merciful—we want mercy, but refuse to give it.

 

Sometimes I question who Jesus will be talking to when He says: “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Will it be me?

 

Jesus told the disciples that “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). What part of deny do I not understand? Could this be what Jesus meant by deny: “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:29-30)?

 

God truly wants His children to get it—to grasp the meaning of the gospel:  God loves sinners. His heart is breaking for them because they are lost, and for us because we don’t get it. Sometimes I fear that I am part of the problem instead of part of the solution, as Jesus intended for me to be.

 

It may be time for a spiritual checkup:  Am I living a Christ-centered life that reflects the merciful kindness of a loving God, or a self-centered life as one who has been duped into believing that I have rights that must not be violated—the right to my own way, my possessions, my opinions, my attitudes, or as Oswald Chambers said, “the right to myself?”

 

Jesus clearly said to deny myself and follow Him. I am certain He meant it. Yet, there is a gap between my thinking and Jesus’ instructions. There’s even more between my life and Jesus’ selfless example.

 

God is searching for those who will reflect the truth about Him. And when He finds them, I believe He will pour His Spirit into them with great measure so He can to make Himself known to a dark and desperate world.

 

Am I willing to deny myself of my rights and be one of them? Just thinking…… ~Janie Kellogg

 

“Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy; help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.” ~ Casting Crowns

 

Note: All scripture references are NIV.

 

Confessions of a Seeker’s Heart January 15, 2013

The song replays in my head over and over. It isn’t the tune that lingers long after the Christmas Holidays; it is the implied meaning of the words: “Do you see what I see?” “Do you hear what I hear?” and “Do you know what I know?” I keep asking: Is it true—some see more, hear more, and know more than others?

 

Obviously, the characters of the song—the wind, the shepherd boy, and the mighty king—had different viewpoints from which to witness the miraculous birth of the Christchild.

 

The wind with no physical limitations could easily see “a star, a star dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite” better than the little lamb.

 

The little lamb with no distractions should hear “a song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea” better than the shepherd boy.

 

The shepherd boy informed by an angel would know “a child, a child shivers in the cold” that the “mighty king in his palace warm” knew nothing about.

 

Each was in a place of optimum sight, sound, and knowing over those who saw, heard, and knew less. Or, could it have been their ability to see, hear, and know things in the spirit realm, and had nothing to do with where they were positioned? Regardless of what caused the disparity, it is apparent that some saw, heard, and knew more.

 

Is the same true of people? Some people see greater glimpses of God at work in the world than others. The still small voice of God—unnoticed and unrecognized by much of the world—is heard clearly by some. The Apostle Paul prayed that all the saints would know the width, length, height and depth of God’s love (Ephesians 3:18). Some do, but more don’t. Even the most perceptive among us are aware of only traces of God at work in our world. And what about me—how much do I see, hear, and know of the activities of God?

 

Moses obviously saw, heard, and knew more than the average Israelite. I think his forty days on the mountaintop were possibly days of sheer delight—days he didn’t want to end. At least, not end so that he could come down the mountain to deal with non-seeing-hearing-knowing people. Later, he asked to see God’s glory. God said that no one could see His face and live to tell about it. A compromise was struck—God granted his wish. He hid Moses in the cleft of a rock while His glory passed by, and Moses saw God’s back (Exodus 33:18-23).

 

Do I get that? God responds to those who want more. He only refused Moses’ request to see His face because God knew Moses couldn’t withstand such greatness! If I want to see God—He will let me. That is, He will reveal as much of Himself to me as I am able to endure.

 

I confess: I am not content with what I now see, hear and know. I want more. The more I get, the more I want. Seems I am never satisfied. More insight drives me to even more insight. Hearing His voice today makes me want to hear it again tomorrow. Knowing Him fuels my desire to know Him better.

 

How will I get more sight, sound, and knowing? The apostle Paul said, “…the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:8). What was Paul willing to give up to fully know Jesus? All things. What will it take for me to fully know Jesus? The same.

 

In the meantime, here are the desires of this seeker’s heart:

 

I will continue to see glimpses—and O how wonderful those glimpses are!

 

I will continue to hear His still small voice now and then—striving to hear it above all other voices.

 

And, I will continue to know Him here a little and there a little—slowly and surely, as I am willing to give up those things that hinder me, I too will experience “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, and sheer excitement of knowing God on earth!” ~Jim Elliott

 

My Three New Year’s Wishes January 8, 2013

Filed under: Encouragement — Janie Kellogg @ 7:29 pm
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As the first day of 2013 dawned last Tuesday, I found myself wondering what the year would hold for me and my family, my nation, and my world. At the dismal close of 2012, it seemed as if the whole world were spinning out of control. Even while reading Christmas card wishes for a “Happy and Prosperous New Year,” I doubted that happy and prosperous were likely, in light of such gigantic problems.

 

In my quiet time with God that sun-sprayed morning, I focused on what things could make this a happy and prosperous year. My Holy House Guest led me 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is commonly known as the love chapter, because it defines what love is in real terms, not what Hollywood or country music say it is. We should re-read it often. The writer also speaks of things that will go away after Jesus returns to earth, but what caught my attention were the three things that will remainfaith, hope, and love. As I pondered the uncertainly of the next 365 days, I wrote in my journal that faith, hope, and love were my three New Year’s wishes for both me and my troubled world.

 

My first wish is for faith. Personally, I wish for faith to write God’s message with power and clarity, for faith to win the lost to Christ, and faith to move mountains of fear and unbelief anywhere I encounter them. Within the body of believers, I wish for faith that results in signs and wonders, healings, miracles, and demonstrations of power, as experienced by the 1st Century Christians. I wish for faith that delivers people from the bondage of sin, restores families and marriages, and gives children a safe environment both in and out of the womb. I wish for faith that brings an awakening to righteousness in our country, causing establishments of sin to shut down as they did in days when Charles Finney preached across America. I wish for God’s own people to repent of our sins, our friendship with the world, and our indifference to the things of God. Plainly stated—I wish for REVIVAL in America!

 

With the world crumbling around us as nation after nation falls into turmoil and unrest, my second wish is for hope—hope in the “God of hope” (Romans 15:13). I hope for a cure for cancer, Lou Gerick’s disease, and every other life-sucking disease. I hope for the end of wars, world hunger, and sex-trafficking. I hope for men everywhere to hate what is evil. I hope for world leaders to stop killing their own people and to work together for the good of all. I hope for truth and righteousness to be restored in governments around the world—especially in America. I hope for integrity to trump political parties, denominations, and union affiliation; and for godly character to motivate actions rather than personal gain or ambition. I hope for the Church of Jesus Christ to be clearly recognizable as the people with the answers.

 

Last, but most importantly, I wish for love. I am reminded of the words from a once popular song: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love; that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…not just for some, but for everyone.” I believe love would solve all of the world’s problems—but only if it is LOVE FOR GOD. If all people loved God and lived to please Him alone—not bowing to other gods, leaders, governments, religion, or people—the problems of the world would disappear. I wish for a world in which love rules over fear, hatred, greed, and selfishness; a world where pride, prejudice, jealousy, unforgiveness, and revenge are dismantled and replaced with love. Oh, how I wish for love, sweet love—not just for some, but for everyone.

 

Is it realistic to wish for such optimism in our world? Of course! Did not Jesus teach us pray to our Heavenly Father, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?” These are the very prayers God will and does answer. The Bible says in Revelation 11:15: “The whole world has now become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever” (NLT). That, my friend, would make 2013 a very happy and prosperous year! Let us not just wish; let’s start asking. ~Janie Kellogg