Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

What is the Missing Ingredient in Your Christian Life? February 25, 2015

If I were asked today what is the one ingredient missing in my Christian life, I would answer without hesitation: power. If I were asked that same question about my church or the church at large, I would also answer without hesitation: power.

The modern-day church may have awesome services with large crowds, lights, music, drama, and near star-status preachers. We may also have beautiful buildings, paved parking lots; and exciting programs that provide outreach to our communities and missionaries around the world. But, there is one thing we do not have: power.

Divorce and broken homes among Christians mirror that of non-Christians. The number of Christians entangled with drugs, alcohol and pornography provides alarming statistics that the church must own. We struggle to make any progress whatsoever against immoral changes within our society. Healing is not experienced as we bury our own without expecting a miracle. Let’s face it—the church appears to be powerless.

The simple truth is that we actually have no power. Ever wonder why that might be? My husband and I have this conversation at least once a week. Answers are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

When the Holy Spirit brought 2 Corinthians 12:9 to my attention fifteen years ago, I began to search for its meaning. I mostly focused on God’s grace being adequate and what I might be missing in that great truth. I also tried to process how God’s strength could be made perfect in my weakness without much luck. And, I have remained clueless as to why Paul declared that he was not only handling, but embracing his infirmities. What I did not give much attention is the last part of this verse: “that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What if we were to see those two things—weakness and infirmities—as perquisites for having the power of Christ? If so, then the power of Christ resting on Paul was conditional! Could it be right there in plain sight: the power of Christ resting on any Christian is conditional! The power of Christ resting on the church is conditional! Is perhaps the reason Paul said he would “most gladly rather boast in his infirmities” because these two things are the condition for having power?

Let’s look at it again. If weakness and infirmities are the things that qualified Paul to have the power of Christ operating in his life, we can easily see why he was glad to acknowledge them. The power of Christ is worth everything!

If true, then by admitting our weakness—we qualify for the power of Jesus; by proclaiming our strength—we do not qualify for the power of Jesus.

Check out Isaiah 40:29 ~ “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength,” and James 4:6 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Choosing weakness clearly goes against our human nature, as well as most everything we’ve been taught. But God says if we do—if we refuse to promote ourselves, our strength, our adequacies—His grace will be sufficient.

The equation looks like this:  Having humility equals having power; or simply: Humility equals power.

In light of this discovery, other scriptures are starting to make sense to me. Try it out for yourself. We will cover some of them next time. Don’t forget to digest the Key Quote below. I am so grateful for God’s great patience with me, for I have so much to learn. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “I feel deeply that we have very little conception of what the Church suffers from the lack of this divine humility—the nothingness that makes room for God to prove His power.” 1 ~ Andrew Murray

1Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig-books.com; Page 25

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What’s In It For Me? February 17, 2015

In recent years, business managers have begun to wake up to the fact that employees stay with a job for reasons other than their paychecks.  Believe it or not, there are more important things in life than money. Shockingly, even in a bad economy, statistics indicate that 2 million Americans quit their job every month.1 Isn’t a job worth keeping under any circumstances? Not so, says the research.

There are various factors that cause employees to make changes, such as not liking the boss or lack of recognition. But employees often base their decision on the simple question: “What’s in it for me?” They question whether or not a job fulfills their needs and is it really what they want to do with their life. The truth is a paycheck is not the only motivator behind what we do.

This same factor of “what’s in it for me?” carries over into other parts of our lives. For instance, we don’t work just for the money itself, but we work because we like owning a home, taking vacations, and building a retirement. We don’t cook and clean just because we love to do so—we cook and clean because we like to eat and live in a clean house.

I believe it also influences our spiritual lives. While the promise of life after death is a huge benefit in our walk with God, we still expect to get something from our commitment in the here and now. And God—who is certainly a good manager of His Kingdom—knows full well that we need and should expect benefits in the here and now. There has to be something in it for us, or like in other things—we probably won’t stay committed to it.

In my study of humility I have discovered a huge benefit that we have often missed. We know that Satan doesn’t want us to find it, and has gone to great lengths to hide this truth from the church for many years. Yet, to those who look for it—God faithfully reveals this powerful truth.

While found in various places in God’s Word, it is certainly spelled out in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God, who provides the benefits we need for living the Christian life on earth,2 also shows us where they are and how to tap into those benefits. It could be compared to you and me having a checking account with money in it, but without any checks. There has to be a method—a technique or process—to access our money when we need it, or else it is of no benefit.

I have spent fifteen years wrestling with this one verse (2 Corinthians 12:9), and my Father and yours has helped me see at least a part of its meaning. Begin to look at it now; read it; memorize it; chew on it. We will unpack this word of truth, and if you haven’t already, I know you will see it too.

So what’s in it for you and me? The answer is MUCH. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Embrace humility. It’s the only way up.”3 ~ Chris Tiegreen

1 Alan Hall, I’m Outta Here!, Forbes.com/sites; 22 Peter 1:3; 3Chris Tiegreen, The One Year at His Feet Devotional, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., August 8

 

You Do Know It Is Tax Season? February 10, 2015

I recently spent a few days with the son and his family. Being the accountant for my son’s two businesses, we all know that January through April is grueling for me. The deadlines during this time of year are constant, and missing one can be painful and costly.

Each year during tax season, my state of well-being is jeopardized due to the stress. I tell my family that I have a legitimate excuse for over-eating, not exercising, being impatient, critical and cranky. Jokingly, I began to use my one-size-fits-all excuse for everything.

My twelve-year-old granddaughter found it to be amusing. When her mother asked her to set the table for dinner, we were both surprised to hear her say, “Well, I can’t right now. You do know it is tax season?” We all had a good laugh, yet I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I make similar silly excuses for not obeying my Heavenly Father.

He tells us to “love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind,”1 and I have to question if I even know what that means. Then He adds, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”2 Oops! I wonder if my one-size-fits-all excuse holds water with God. Will it help me here? And even if it does, what about when April 15th has come and gone?

I don’t think excuses work with God, nor do I think He is amused by any of it. You see, He has bigger plans for me (and you). Getting me through a finite season of anything on earth is not His objective. He desires that I learn to come to Him and allow Him to help me manage my stress.

My big brother, Jesus, who faced the ultimate stress while on earth, is totally aware of my stress-full circumstances. And because He is, He gives me an invitation: “Come to Me, all (that includes me and you) who labor and are heavy-laden (that’s overworked), and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”3

Did I hear the word R-E-S-T! That’s exactly what I need. It fits my bill perfectly. I’ll take it! Sign me up—and make that a double portion! Oh, but wait; there is one condition—I must come to Him. But who has time for that? You do know it is tax season, right?

Yet, at His invitation, I think I’ll press the pause button on those deadlines; turn off the depressing news about the next heinous act of terrorism; and Facebook, it matters not if I miss some trivial tidbit there. I’ll even silence this cell phone for a spell, and sit here at my Savior’s feet. Who knows, I might learn something.

Don’t let Jesus’ learn slip by. He meant it. It’s a powerful word with hidden truths imbedded in those five little characters. Perhaps for starters, we can learn what Jesus means by “His yoke.” It must be a good thing since Jesus doesn’t offer us junk.

A yoke means we bow our heads low and allow Him to put His Lordship—His control—His purpose and plan—over our lives. Then, all yoked up with Jesus, we trust Him to turn us onto the correct path; steer us in the right direction; make the best decisions for us—and we simply follow Him. You see, a yoke won’t let us go in any other direction. And that, my friend, Jesus called easy!4

Oh Jesus, please help me learn to do that! As I sit here in silence, I hear You say, “I will teach you all you need to know; but I cannot—unless you come to Me.”

So what are you and I going to do with His generous invitation today? We can start by turning down the noise in our lives and listening for His “Come.” And yes, let’s do it, even if it is tax season. ~ Janie Kellogg

 Small footprintKey Scripture: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

1Luke 10:27; 2John 14:15; 3Matthew 11:28-29; 4Matthew 11:30

 

The Elephant Revealed February 4, 2015

I wonder how many times when the elephant in the room is suddenly faced and its truths revealed that we discover the elephant wasn’t nearly as bad as we had expected.  In fact, the exact opposite is often the case, and we question why we had dreaded it in the first place.

I fully believe that will be the case with humility. Once we see humility for what it is, we will be pleasantly surprised. I also believe the enemy of our souls has known all along that humility is the crucial key to the Christian life, and therefore he has deliberately diverted us away from it.

Perhaps a look at what brought down the arch-enemy of God in the first place will give us some insight into the confusion surrounding humility. Before the world was created, Satan desired to take God’s place as the most-high God—in short, he wanted to be worshipped. In seeking that position for himself, he convinced one-third of the angels to buy into his plan. Satan did not deserve nor earn that position, but he exalted himself to that place. As a result, he and his team of rebellious imps were cast out of heaven.

It is easy to see why Satan approached Adam and Eve with his plan as well. His convincing, but untrue argument was to cast doubt on God’s integrity. Unfortunately, like the fallen angels, they too fell for Satan’s lies.

Can you imagine the grief in God’s heart when his crowned creation followed the path of his worst enemy? If we could grasp that fact, we might better understand why God hates pride so much. Pride cost God one-third of His angels as well as the creation that reflected His own image. But wait, that isn’t all—pride would cost Him even more.

The entire human race would now inherit the sin of pride from their parents’ DNA. It would cripple every child that would ever live. Pride would rise up in their hearts, and if gone unchecked, it would cause them to desire a position of highest honor and praise; perhaps even to be worshipped. What could possibly stop the universal spread of this devastating disease?

An antidote was needed, but what? The antidote must be equally as good as pride is bad. In His great wisdom, God knew that only the exact opposite of pride could counter its deadly effects on the human soul. Thus, it would require God’s greatest virtue—humility.

Being the supreme essence of humility, God determined it would be necessary to demonstrate this virtue to the world. The plan was made and set into motion—“our Lord Jesus emptied Himself and came to earth to live a poor man’s life and die a felon’s death.”1 Jesus gave up His perfect, sinless life on a despised cross to rescue us. There is no greater act of humility than that.

The antidote for pride would come with a high price tag. The unthinkable! The unimaginable! The unexplainable! The most painful of all costs! For 33 years God would be separated from His Son, and for 33 years He would foresee the excruciating pain His Son would endure. God saw it. God felt it. God allowed it. We want to scream, “Why? Why would God do that?”

If pride had not been stopped, we would be destined to join Satan and his angels in the eternal lake of fire. Yet, God thought we were worth saving. Can we not clearly see why God would have a deep and intense hatred for even a hint of pride? ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.2 ~ Andrew Murray

1Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, Pg.15; 2Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig Books.com, Pg.12