Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

A Message for Rock-Bottom Disciples April 11, 2014

Filed under: Encouragement — Janie Kellogg @ 2:27 pm
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Ever wonder why God lets us struggle? I certainly do. Maybe you think God has nothing to do with the struggle you’re in. Think again.

 

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

 

Yep, there it is—it is God’s doing. He lets us suffer or struggle on purpose. Why, sometimes He even lets us go all the way to the bottom. Yet, I believe He is up to something when He allows sharpening circumstances to impact our lives. Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Isn’t that always the case? When life gets hard, we gain strength and resilience, and what once seemed hard no longer is. What is it about hitting bottom that does something in us?

 

The bottom—what does that mean in spiritual terms? Does it mean: we’ve tried all efforts and nothing has worked? We’ve exhausted all resources, and the problem remains unfixed? We’ve turned to every expert we know, yet we’re more perplexed than ever? How about—we’ve tried to find God, but He hasn’t shown up?

 

You might have said “yes” to all of those. I want to point you to a story in Luke Chapter 24 about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Perhaps they had tried all efforts to understand the crucifixion of Jesus. They had exhausted everything they had learned in the past three years. They had looked to others for answers, and I’m sure they had tried to get God’s attention. Yet, they remained perplexed, confused, and afraid. We might say they were at the bottom.

 

Then a stranger came along beside them as they traveled, and they poured out their sad story to him. “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Does that mean they had lost their hope? All hope? They continued with a hear-say story of some out-of-this-world notion that included visions and angels, but there was no proof for any of it. After all, they had watched Jesus die with their own eyes.

 

I can only imagine our Savior as he listened to their bewildering story. I can see a slight grin on Jesus’ face as He held His composure. Can’t you just hear Jesus ask, “Really?” And then He says to those two rock-bottom disciples: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

 

Can you see what they were missing? Can you feel their grief and at the same time sense Jesus’ excitement knowing He would soon open their eyes to who He is? Why, He isn’t in the grave—He is right here talking to them!

 

This amazing story brightens my day today, as I think about all the times I have been a rock- bottom disciple. All the times I’ve looked, and longed, and searched for real answers, the right outcome, and the victory message behind my struggles. I think of all the years I have searched for the mysteries of God in His Word, the keys to the kingdom to unlock what I don’t understand. And all the while Jesus has been right here in my company, with the slight grin on His face, thinking “If only she knew what I know. If only she could see what I see. If only!”

 

Have you and I suffered a little while in our darkness, our perplexity, our out-of-this world stories that we can’t understand? Are we wondering when Jesus Himself is going to show up like He promised, to restore us, make us strong, firm and steadfast?

 

Just when is that going to happen? When we get to the bottom of our resources, our efforts, our attempts—that’s the very time Jesus has been waiting for! That’s the very position He longs for us to reach so He can tell us what was best described by Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story!”

 

“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Are we ready for Jesus, who is right here with us in our perplexing situations, to open our eyes and let us see Him? Are we ready to have Jesus explain from the beginning what’s been happening just as he did to those disciples who had reached the bottom of human explanation and human hope.

 

That’s what Jesus wants to do for us today. He wants to show us the meaning behind the struggle—the waiting before the Lord, the purpose of it all. He has some BIG NEWS for you and me. Are we ready to trust Him and believe His explanation? Are our hearts burning within us while He’s speaking and opening our eyes even now?

 

Don’t miss next week’s post “Seeing is Everything.” In the meantime, start looking up from your rock-bottom stance. Jesus has been right here all the time. ~ Janie Kellogg

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Revival ~ Will it come and when? April 8, 2014

Nearly all of us say that we want Revival to come. We want an outpouring of God’s Spirit on us and others. We’d like to see huge masses of lost humanity turn to God. Our nation could certainly use a sweeping move of God, resulting in a return to moral values, honesty, purity, and goodness. Who among us wouldn’t like to see our churches filled to overflowing with people hungry for God? Bring it on! But will it ever come and, if so, when?

 

Good questions that I would like the answers to. Just this morning I was seeking God for that very thing, and in His faithfulness, He spoke to my heart. Afterwards, I wasn’t so sure I really wanted to hear the answer, but I wrote it down just the same.

 

I had been thinking about what is the greatest battle in my life. I determined that it is not the struggle to climb the corporate ladder, to make great financial gain, to store up for retirement, to become a VIP (very important person), or to have a huge influence anywhere for that matter. The biggest battle in my life is overcoming self. We must remember who self is or none of this will make sense: Self is Satan’s representative in my life and yours, inherited from the fall in the Garden of Eden.

 

Please bear with me for another writing on self. It’s not that I’m obsessed with the notion of dying-to-self; but since the awareness of who self is, I have gained clearer understanding of many of the gospel writings. It has been revolutionary, to say the least.

 

Now back to the garden—I can’t help but wonder if Eve had known who the serpent was, would she have made a different choice? If she had known that she was dealing with God’s greatest enemy, disguised as a serpent (the most beautiful of God’s creation) would she have even given him the time of day?

 

What about us? What about me? How often in a day’s time do I listen to God’s greatest enemy by way of his representative inside me? Is that not high treason on my part? Does it not align me on the wrong side of things? How can I knowingly choose to fight on the opposing side of right? Or am I like Eve, I don’t know who I am talking to so I take the bait? And like Eve, if I had just known it was Satan, I might have made a different choice. Really?

 

O God, open our eyes and let us see who it is that we are listening to! Is he not clothed as an angel of light? Does he have some slick story for me about how mistreated and abused I have been, and how, if only I would listen to him, things would get better? Will I look back and think with regret “If I had only known I was listening to a deceiver!”

 

It is actually quite simple to sort out who we are listening to: If our thoughts feed or benefit self in any way, we are listening to the voice of God’s enemy! Satan’s representative is actively trying to get us to fall for selfish lies and untruths. I am quite certain that we are listening.

 

Only you and I can determine if we are going to continue to listen to God’s enemy and our enemy. If we continue to feed on thoughts that lead to accusations, resentment, unforgiveness, ugliness, hatred, and evil of any kind—WE ARE BEING TRICKED!  We have yielded our members as instruments of unrighteousness (Romans 6:13), and we have aligned ourselves on the wrong side of right. What we need most is not sympathy from our friends, understanding for those who feel our pain, or for God to fix a bunch of other folks. We need a trip to the foot of the cross for repentance while we plead for a heaping portion of God’s great mercy!

 

We are more valuable to the Kingdom of God, not when we know the answer or preach the answer or write the answer, but when we BECOME the answer. How long has it been since we have been on our knees repenting before God for yielding our members as instruments of unrighteousness and begging for God’s forgiveness; actively and purposefully forgiving others; and then if necessary, asking those we have offended for their forgiveness as well?

 

God made it very clear to me this morning: When this happens among My people, revival will come.

 

We say that we long for REVIVAL and REST. Please don’t miss the word rest here. Yet, God offers it to us—if we are willing to do the hard work of repentance. But wait, God said that we don’t truly want it:

 

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength; but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)

 

The answers to the questions: “Will revival come and when?” are clearly up to us—God’s people—not the unsaved, or the ungodly, or those sinners. I know where I’m spending the afternoon. “Oh, the cross; oh, the cross; the cross is my confession.”1

 

Thank You, Dear God, for not giving us rest until we have done what you require of us! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Kari Jobe, The Cross is My Confession