Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Out of the Wreck I Rise May 25, 2013

Filed under: Encouragement — Janie Kellogg @ 11:36 am
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It has been a painful week in Oklahoma—loss of life, property, and peace of mind. News reporters search for words to describe the devastation wreaked by tornados across our State. We all seek to get our hearts and minds around what it might feel like to be personally affected by such a disaster.

Clearly, it is larger than any of us can individually cope with, but not larger than what we can face together. Relief organizations, churches, sister cities, governments and individuals move in to help. As I drove through several towns in Oklahoma yesterday, I saw signs along the way “Drop off relief supplies here.” That is what neighbors do—fellow Oklahomans and fellow Americans—when tragedy strikes.

A famous quote by Robert Browning caught my attention this morning—“Out of the wreck I rise.” It is a fact that there are times when life’s circumstances feel as if a train wreck, a ship wreck, and yes, even a tornado, has just occurred smack-dab in the middle of our lives. Have you ever felt that you were at the bottom of the wreckage, trying to peek out and catch a glimpse of light? I know that I have.

What is it about out-of-control circumstances that leave us feeling wrecked? You know what I mean: It is too painful to look back; the monotonous why questions race through our minds; and those pesky “if only” thoughts taunt us as though we might have prevented the crash.

But we can’t live that way. Even if we wallow in the wreckage for weeks, months or years, our sheer endurance there won’t change anything. We can ask questions until we are blue in the face, but we probably won’t find an answer. We can “what if” for the rest our lives, but we’ll never actually know if any one of them would have yielded a different result.

So, what are we to do with our wrecks? How do we find the positive amongst the rubble, pull ourselves together, and start again? As I watched the TV coverage of the tornado damage, I prayed for those who even now must find that starting place.

Oswald Chambers made a good addition to Browning’s quote when he wrote: “Out of the wreck I rise, every time.” 1

We may not ever be able to prevent wrecks—this wreck, the next wreck, or any wreck for that matter—but as children of the Most High God, we not only can, but we must rise up out of it every time.

How? We focus on the important, not the trivial. We focus on the positive, not the negative. We focus on what we have been given, not on what has been lost. We focus on what we have, not on what we don’t have. We focus on the eternal, not the temporal.

We are intended to be overcomers—overcomers of wrecks—if you will. Life is full of wrecks, both large and small, and the world is watching to see how we face them, and how we rise up out of the ruins and recover from them.

Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life….” (NIV)

Instead of smothering beneath our wreckage, we must dig out from under it. If need be, we embrace the help of others, as is the case in Moore, Oklahoma. We all have our own personal wrecks to deal with. How we handle them matters. We must latch hold of a positive word of God, a promise that will help us get a firm grip, and start shining like stars. You see, the world is watching.

My prayers and thoughts to the many precious and resilient people in Oklahoma who are suffering even now ~ Janie Kellogg

1 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 19

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Graduation, Life, and Clay Pots May 14, 2013

It’s that time of year when excited young people scurry off to find their dreams, hoping life will contain all those best wishes bestowed on them by friends and family. After graduation, life as they have known it, abruptly slips away and doors close behind them. Did someone say it is time to grow up and become responsible? Yikes! Mighty tall orders for the young applicants of adulthood, wouldn’t you say?

But tall orders are what life is made of—reaching for things yet unknown. Oswald Chambers said that “Our reach must exceed our grasp.”1 If we only reach for what we have already attained, we will not grow, achieve, move on, and mature. Our lives will become stagnant. We must at least try, and try we will.

Yet, before we know it, life plays a trick on us, and we feel that we somehow missed the mark. Our good years vanish into thin air and life’s work seems yet undone. But for a child of God, this need not be the case. God uses the bumps in the road, the boulders in our path, and every wide river to be crossed to shape us for His purpose. His shaping is to be cherished, for God has a carefully crafted plan for each life—that it will, sooner or later, glorify Him.

The poem, “Just an Earthen Vessel,” reflects what had become clear: God doesn’t waste anything! In His time, He will use each of us, just earthen vessels—clay pots if you will—for that purpose for which we were created. We cannot do it on our own. He provides the timing, the planting, the watering, the care, and the growth—we provide the pot. We must simply trust our Heavenly Father’s wise and loving heart.

“Just an Earthen Vessel” is being posted separately today, May 14, 2013, or it can be found under the category: poetry. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 2

Other related posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels: “Just an Earthen Vessel” Poem, May 14, 2013

 

Just an Earthen Vessel ~ a poem

Just an earthen vessel
Made of common clay.
Seemingly no value,
Nor beauty to display.

Youthful years have vanished
Like the morning dew.
Dreams shattered—visions gone;
No purpose left in view.

A vessel marred within, without;
Cracked and weathered from abuse.
Set aside to be discarded,
Of no apparent use.

Yet in His time the Master came
And held this vessel in His hand.
He had made it for a purpose
That would fit into His plan.

He looked on with great delight
At its grace and at its charm.
For the pain that wrought such beauty
Caused the Master no alarm.

With His power He filled this vessel,
Then placed a rose within.
Soon it began to grow and bloom,
Bringing glory unto Him.

“This is a vessel of honor,”
The Master clearly stated,
“When it fulfills the purpose
For which it was created.”

“I have a plan for every vessel,”
Hear the Master say.
“That the power of My Spirit
Fills each vessel made of clay.”

We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 ~ Janie Kellogg

Other related posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “Graduation, Life, and Clay Pots,” May 14, 2013

 

The Biggest Winner! May 9, 2013

I can think of no better title to follow last week’s blog “The Biggest Loser” than “The Biggest Winner!” All of us like to be a winner—some more than others—but the truth is that we all want to WIN. From Super bowls to spelling bees, there is something in our DNA that causes our blood to pump a little faster when faced with the challenge to win.

 

Could it be that the DNA to win is passed to us from our Heavenly Father? After all, God is a winner and we are made in His image. In our natural life we will “win some—lose some.” But in the game that matters most—our spiritual life—all who follow after God can be winners. He intended for it to be so.

 

The Apostle Paul couldn’t have made this point any plainer than he did in Romans Chapter 8. Right there in the same chapter where we are unlocking the mystery of walking in the Spirit to defeat our flesh, we will also find God’s clearly laid out plan to make us winners.

 

Read the list of winning phrases below that Paul made about those who choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. These verses are bursting with life, hope, and victory! Read them slowly, letting each one soak into your spirit. These words have the potential to set God’s children free from the voices of the enemy that enslave us. Don’t brush over them as if they are old words. Let them become new words filled with power and life. As if you are reading them for the very first time, hear the Spirit whisper “Winner! Winner! Winner!”

Verse  1  ~ there is no condemnation

Verse  2  ~ has made me free

Verse 11 ~ will also give life

Verse 14 ~ are the sons of God

Verse 15 ~ received the Spirit of adoption

Verse 16 ~ are the children of God

Verse 17 ~ heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ

Verse 17 ~ may share in His glory

Verse 19 ~ the glory which shall be revealed in us

Verse 21 ~ the glorious liberty of the children of God

Verse 23 ~ the redemption of the body

Verse 24 ~ were saved in this hope

Verse 26 ~ helps in our weaknesses

Verse 27 ~ makes intercession for us

Verse 28 ~ all things work together for good

Verse 29 ~ predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son

Verse 30 ~ called; justified; and glorified

Verse 32 ~ freely gives us all things

Verse 37 ~ are more than conquerors

Verse 39 ~ [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God!

 

What a list! It cannot be stated any clearer, stronger, or more certain than that. These words—outlining God’s provisions for us—are positive, straight-forward, and power-packed! What else could we possibly want or need? Paul tops off this dissertation of God’s plan with some “go-figure” and “no-nonsense” questions:  Who can be against us?  Who can charge us?  Who can condemn us? Who can separate us from God? Easy answer: NO ONE!

 

To paraphrase in modern day language, this is what I hear Paul saying, “Give me a break! How can any of you be discouraged, defeated, worried, or condemned when you have God on your side? There’s not a chance that your flesh is going to win, not with all that He has provided for you. So take notice as to what you have been given, believe God is able, and declare that you are a Winner! Winner! Winner!”

 

Winning over our flesh is HUGE—it is, in fact, our biggest hurdle. It is the very thing that keeps us blind-sided, side-tracked, and confused. Yet, a HUGE problem requires a HUGE answer. Very soon we are going to unlock another mystery of the gospel that Paul disclosed to his readers. This mystery is for every follower of Jesus to see, grasp, claim, and put into practice in his or her own life. Good things are just ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

The Biggest Loser May 1, 2013

On the popular TV show “The Biggest Loser,” the biggest loser is the winner! Sounds strange, doesn’t it?  It reminds me of how the younger generation uses the word “bad” to mean “good,” or “hot” to mean “cool,” that is when “cool” means how “good” something is.

 

Apparently, we don’t always know what words are intended to mean unless the person using them explains it to us. That is certainly the case in Romans Chapter 8. Paul clearly stated that the biggest loser is the person who lives according to the flesh.1  If Paul had been living in our day, he might have pasted a big L across his forehead with his thumb and forefinger as he uttered the word “loser,” signifying that person is definitely not a winner.

 

According to Romans Chapter 8, I have two choices as to who runs my life: 1) the Holy Spirit, or 2) my loser flesh.

 

Jesus put it like this: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”2 I take that to mean if I choose option #1, I get life; if I choose option #2, I get nothing.

 

When am I going to get it—that my flesh is a Loser with a capital L? Why would I knowingly let a Loser run my life? Why would I let a Loser determine what I think? Or let a Loser control what I say? Why would I ever choose that? I wouldn’t.

 

Could it be that I have been conned into seeing my flesh in a better light? To believe that the desires of my flesh are actually OK? Have I been lured into thinking that my fleshy ways and ideas are not all bad? That they are just how God made me—part of my personality?

 

I wonder if the enemy of my soul has launched a brilliant scheme of which I am not apprised. After all, he is the master deceiver.

 

Paul told the Galatians, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap corruption.”3 There it is again—clearly not life. The enemy scoffs: “Loser! Loser! Loser! Triple Loser!”

 

I try to ignore his taunting—that I am helplessly enslaved to this flesh. I don’t want to be. And yet, I catch a glimpse of a different scenario in which I don’t have to be a Loser—I don’t have to settle there. Jesus and Paul said so.

 

“Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from of the Spirit will reap life everlasting.”4 I listen closely and hear the Spirit offering: “Life! Life! Life! Triple Life!”

 

How can I tap into that Triple LifeAbundant Life! How can I stop allowing my condemned flesh to rule and start letting the Life-giving Holy Spirit rule?

 

Great questions! How many training classes have born-again believers had on how to walk in the Spirit? Two, one, or maybe none! How many teachers courageously teach what it means to live in the Spirit? To be filled with the Spirit? Admit to knowing the third person of the Trinity and having a relationship with Him? Or confess to understanding the inner dealings, workings, and functions of the Holy Spirit? Who ever steps up and says like Paul, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ?” 5

 

The most natural thing in a person’s life after being born-again is to learn how to walk in the Spirit. Growing babies must learn to walk. Yet, many of us totter along through this Christian life, never learning to walk like Jesus walked.

 

Perhaps we have misunderstood, misinterpreted, or even underestimated this amazing promise of Jesus:  His Spirit living in us—through us—as us. Life! Life! Life!

 

I have tried a thousand times to transform my flesh by the power of the flesh. It hasn’t worked. I thank God that it hasn’t. I must grasp this one powerful life-changing truth as it has the ability to set me free from my works—striving to please God in my depraved, condemned flesh that can never please Him!

 

The glimpse broadens and I can see more. Even with disciplined and improved flesh, I am no better off. My only solution is the Holy Spirit living in me—through me—as me. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”6 No mental ascent to this mysterious arrangement will suffice.

 

My Holy House Guest tries to arouse me from slumber, from the things I must unlearn, and from this futile state of reigning flesh—particularly in spiritual things. He desires the best for me, and longs to show me how to let Him come alive in me. He yearns to know me; He yearns for me to know Him.

 

Feeling lifeless? The Holy House Guest is our answer. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Romans 8: 1-8; 2John 6:63; 3Galatians 6:8a; 4Galatians 6:8b; 51 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT); 6Galatians 2:20.

Other Related posts in Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The House Guest, November 22, 2012

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