Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

The Goal Posts Have Moved May 28, 2015

Redefine the gospel—that’s the best way I know how to describe what God has done in my life over the past ten years. While I’m not sure I can explain what I thought it was before, I do know that today I see the gospel differently.

The goals for my life are no longer to be healthy, wealthy and wise. They are not for people to like me, accept me, or support me. In short, the goal posts have moved. Things I once thought important are not important to me now.

It began in 2005 when God led me to attend a Christian writer’s conference. I came home from that conference with this sobering revelation: I’m not sure I even know what the gospel is; but I do know that I don’t have much of anything to write about.

Looking back, my evaluation of myself was right on. As a result of that conference, I discovered the writings of Philip Yancey, Andrew Murray, Henri Nouwen, Amy Carmichael, and many others. After ten years of delving deep into those writings, my mindset about the gospel has clearly changed, and so have my goals.

A few days ago I decided to write down the things that are important to me now—my new goals you might say. Please don’t misunderstand—I am not listing things I have attained. In fact, I may never attain them; but they are the things I press toward.1

    • To please my Heavenly Father in every word, thought, and action.
    • To obey the Holy Spirit in all things, every time He speaks to me.
    • To be humble before God and others, choosing the lowest position.
    • To bring glory to God and God alone.
    • To love His church, striving to bring unity in the Body of Christ.
    • To love the unlovable so they will know and feel the love of God.
    • To be willing for God to use me whenever and however He chooses.
    • To give more than I have ever given, withholding nothing from my Lord.
    • To give the Holy Spirit full possession of whole being—my house as His house.
    • To be aware of His presence inside me and commune with Him continuously.
    • To guard my heart so there is never a bitter drop of anything to spill out.2
    • To seek for every ounce of pride in my heart to be eradicated.
    • To hide His Word in my heart, committing it to memory.
    • To hide my life so completely in Christ that others see Him, not me.
    • To make every day a day with Jesus. (A day without Jesus is a day wasted.)
    • To be aware of His opinions on life, politics, and people rather than my own.
    • To have ears that hear and eyes that see from God’s perspective.
    • To be courageous enough to share the Good News with everyone I meet.
    • To be bold enough to speak truth whenever truth is challenged.
    • To keep the main thing, the main thing. (Eternity)
    • To accept what He chooses to give, rather than what I want to receive.
    • To remember that my sin caused Jesus to suffer and die. (Own my part in His death)
    • To cherish the dust at the foot of the cross.3 (a most holy place)
    • To be determined to live for Him and to die for Him.

 

This was a great exercise. I recommend that you do it too, and see what your list looks like. You might be surprised.

Today, I believe I am much closer to knowing the true gospel. I am also much closer to having something to write about. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.1

Small footprintKey Quote: “St. Paul counted the loss of all things as nothing that he might know Him who he already knew; and the soul, suddenly illuminated by some fresh outshining of the knowledge of the love of God shown forth on Calvary, does not stop to measure how much or how little it knew of that love before. Penetrated, melted, broken before that vision of love, it feels that indeed all it ever knew was nothing, less than nothing.”4 ~ Amy Carmichael

1Philippians 3:14; 2Amy Carmichael, If, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, Pg. 35; 3Ibid, Pg. 53; 4Ibid, forward.

Advertisements
 

Counterproductive Prayers ~ What’s up with that? May 19, 2015

Do you ever wonder why the typical prayer meeting yields so few results? I do. I grapple with it continuously. I am certain the problem cannot be with an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God, so it must be with us and our prayers.

 

After all these years, do we still not know how to pray? I believe that as best we know how, we do pray according to God’s Word and in the Spirit both earnestly and honestly. Yet, more often than not, we see little or no results. Why is that?

 

Could it be that a conflict of interest is the cause of our poor success rate? Perhaps we do not correctly discern the will of God in our circumstances—be it illness, financial woes, or troubled relationships? The Word clearly says we are to count it all joy when we fall into various trials1—the trials of our faith that make us stronger Christians and shape us into the image of Christ.2

 

A closer look might reveal that most of our prayers are asking God to change or remove those circumstances—which are possibly the same circumstances He Himself orchestrated for our shaping. If that is the case, are those prayers not counterproductive to His plan to mature us and make us like Jesus?

 

Of course they are! We may simply have our eyes on the wrong goal. We want the good life—abundant and carefree—and plead with God to keep it so. Yet, God wants us to grow up spiritually and be useful to Him in reaching a lost world. Clearly, there is a conflict of interest here.

 

Jesus came to earth clothed in flesh to provide for God a human body in which to walk, talk, teach, and heal—thus displaying to the world the good nature of our Creator. He perfectly modeled His Father’s character of love, kindness, mercy and forgiveness. Then, sacrificing His life for the sake of others, Jesus set the example for all future believers to follow.

 

Therefore, every born-again Christian is called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus by yielding their own bodies as a living sacrifice for God to work through on earth.3 Our trials and troubles become the opportunities for God to do just that, making the difficulties we face today the will of God for us.4

 

We would all probably admit that some scriptures don’t seem to work for us. For instance, this one: “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”5 Perhaps we have been tempted to question the validity of this scripture based on our past experience. Yet, if a trial is God’s will for us and we pray for Him to remove it, we are asking against His will rather than according to His will.

 

Counterproductive prayers could very well be the reason we are not getting what we ask of God.

 

Once we understand this, we will still pray over our troubles and woes, but at the end of each prayer we will deliberately give God our permission to do as He sees fit.6 The prayer so perfectly modeled by our Savior, “Yet not my will, but yours be done,” will become our prayer too.7

 

In that place of total surrender to God’s will, we put our lives into the hands of a loving Heavenly Father and accept what He chooses to give or not to give. While it may not be what we want to hear, that is where we will find rest for our souls and more answers to our prayers. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 (NASB)

 Small footprintKey Quote: “Faith is the willingness to receive whatever He wants to give, or the willingness not to have what He does not want to give.” ~ Elizabeth Elliott

 1James 1:2; 2Romans 8:29; 3Romans 12:1; 41 Peter2:21; 51 John 5:14-15; 6Luke 10:21; 7Luke 22:42

 

 

I Can Do This! May 1, 2015

Many of us are familiar with the story “The Engine that Could” and love the psychology behind those famous words, “I think I can, I think I can!” We have been taught from childhood that if we think we can do something, then we can. And we’ve carried that mindset on into life, believing nothing is out of reach for those who apply themselves.

 

This early self-esteem teaching has also found its way into our Christian beliefs. By our words and actions, we proclaim: “I can do this!” We often quote the words of the Apostle Paul with the main emphasis on the “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.1

 

There is one problem here—God is not looking for people who can do this; rather, He is actually looking for those who cannot. The Bible tells us: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”2

 

While Moses was leading God’s people out of slavery in Egypt, the Red Sea miracle was for one purpose—to show the power of God. It had nothing to do with the power of Moses, or Aaron, or certainly the frightened Children of Israel—but the magnificent power of the Almighty.3

 

The fact is that God purposely led the Children of Israel into an impossible predicament where they could do nothing for themselves.4 Nothing within their own power could deliver them from that set of circumstances. They clearly could not do this! It would take nothing less than a miracle of God to rescue them.5

 

Do you ever wonder why God doesn’t allow your life to stay nice and normal? Believe it or not, in spite of our early training in self-esteem, the problem actually lies within the statement: “I can do this!”

 

Leaving the normal—our comfort zones—will always require us to be stretched. While we don’t like the stretching, it is the trips outside the normal that place us smack-dab in the middle of circumstances where God is able to show Himself strong. How else could God use our lives to display His power if you and I always lived up to the self-esteemed position of “I can do this?”

 

The short answer is—He can’t. Many people can handle the status quo—the unsaved, the unbeliever, the atheist—all can do this. Without challenges, the whole world can do this. But that is not what God’s children are called to do. We are called and chosen to show the world His power and His greatness.6

 

We will find ourselves questioning God when difficult times come our way if we do not understand His purpose. The complaining Children of Israel certainly didn’t; in fact, they literally thought it would be better to go back into slavery than to walk outside their comfort zone! Sound like anyone you know?

 

If our lives are yielded to the purposes of God, we should expect to find ourselves in impossible situations on a regular basis so that His power can be shown to the world through our powerlessness.

 

That is the very substance miracles are made of: Our weakness + God’s power = Glory to God! And the formula works every time.

 

If you and I desire to be used to bring glory to God, we must be willing to be s—t—r—e—t—c—h—e—d! Are you? If so, God is looking for you! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Small footprintKey Scripture: But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.4

 

Small footprintKey scripture: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.6

 

1Philippians 4:13; 22 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJ); 3Deuteronomy 4:37; 4Exodus 9:16 (NIV); 5 Exodus 14; 61 Peter 2:9 (NIV)