Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

He Came For Us December 18, 2016

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 7:10 pm
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I sometimes think we look at Christmas through rose-colored lenses of our own choosing: God sent His sweet Son to earth by way of a warm cozy manger, dazzled lowly shepherds with an angelic host, and led kings to bring gifts to the Baby Jesus. It’s a beautiful story that stirs our hearts each year and leads us to give gifts, too. And we love it.

 

But like most everything in life, the deeper meaning of what happens isn’t always in plain sight. In reality, there is a much nobler greatness behind the magical scenes of Christmas that involves our destiny. You see—you and I were born into a world-gone-wrong.

 

God had created a world He called “good,” that is until evil entered the picture and ruined everything. Then darkness reigned. God’s world would eventually destroy itself because evil left unchallenged would lead to death for everything, including us. It was no less than a tragedy in which you and I were left without hope. Here’s why.

 

History had opened with Adam and Eve falling for the guise of knowledge. It was a costly fall for them, and us. Wrong won. In time, man grew so evil that God regretted that He had made us at all, and He destroyed the world with water. Wrong won again. Throughout the centuries man became so wicked that “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Yet, what they declared to be right turned out to be all wrong. Then along came the Pharisees, making a mockery of the Holy Law and changing what was good into what was prideful and self-seeking. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Man couldn’t get it right—only wrong—hopelessly wrong.

 

What might a look at the Christmas story through nobler lenses reveal?

 

Mankind was locked in hopelessness—stuck on wrong.

Someone had to right the wrong.

Someone had to challenge evil.

Someone had to bring hope.

Someone had to come.

And He did!

 

That glorious night we celebrate as Christmas is about many things—but none more necessary for us than a Babe lying in a manger bringing hope to a world-gone-wrong.

 

He came for us! But don’t miss the deeper meaning behind this statement. Claim it for yourself. Make it personal—declare it out loud: I was without hope in a world-gone-wrong, and He came for me.

 

 

he-came-for-me

 

 

Dear Lord Jesus, as we look at the manger scene this Christmas, help us to see the deeper meaning of why you came to earth—you came for each of us. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

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Good Thoughts on this Good Friday Afternoon March 25, 2016

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 12:51 pm
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It is Good Friday and we are probably thinking about a lot of different things today—Easter clothes, Easter paraphernalia for the kids (bunnies, baskets, and such), and certainly our family’s Easter meal. Yet, as I was practicing the choir music for our Easter Sunday service, the words to this priceless song grabbed me: “When He Was on the Cross, I was on His Mind.” That one statement is totally mind-boggling!

 

We must ask ourselves: How can it be? How could the Savior, who endured such hostility at the hands of cruel and evil men, be thinking about me? Or you? Or anyone but Himself? I can honestly say that I don’t know; I just know that He did. I can’t spell it out any better than the words to the song. Read them slowly. I expect that they will grab you, too.

 

The look of love was on His face,

Thorns were on His head.

The blood was on His scarlet robe,

And it stained it crimson red.

Though His eyes were on the crowd that day,

He looked ahead in time,

For when He was on the cross,

I was on His mind.

He knew me, yet He loved me,

He whose glory makes the heavens shine.

I’m so unworthy of such mercy.

Yet when He was on the cross,

I was on His mind.1

 

Perhaps some good thoughts for us on this Good Friday afternoon are to have Him on our minds. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying in my place. A Blessed and Happy Easter to all ~ Janie Kellogg

1When We Was on the Cross, Words and Music by Mike Payne and Ronnie Hinson, 1984

 

My Non-Customary New Year’s Wishes ~ 2016 January 1, 2016

I find myself saying the customary greeting “Happy New Year” with a little reluctance this year. Oh, it’s not that I don’t wish happiness for my friends, family, and folks in general, because I do. But this year somehow happiness just doesn’t quite cover it. Maybe in years-gone-by when life was normal, the world safer, and most people wanted the same things in life. But not this year.

I am amazed at what I see and hear all around me, and I ask, “What has happened to common sense?” Have we totally lost our moral and spiritual compass? I fear that we have or else we are too afraid to speak up for what we know is right. If I analyze what has happened in America, I could easily believe there was a targeted attempt to keep the moral and sane quiet!

However, I do not want to turn my new year’s blog into a political paper. What I desire to do here is to tell you some of the things I wish you—and for me too—things much greater than happiness.

I wish for you to have peace—not the peace that the world gives because it will not benefit you much. Rather, I wish for you the peace that Jesus gives1peace with a holy God. Until Jesus came to make peace for us,2 we were in a heap of trouble, and today, if you have not made your peace with God, you are still in a heap of trouble. Judgement day is waiting in the wings for all of us. Don’t put it off, but make your peace with Him today. He is anxiously waiting for you to do that very thing. In fact, He is delaying His coming just waiting for you.3

My next wish is a sound mind. May God help us all to yearn for soundness that comes from Him, along with power and love.4 How is it that we think we can live beyond our income, individually or as a nation, and it will all come out in the wash? Or that we can defy the laws of God and He won’t notice? Or we can remove Him from our public places and still be a nation whose God is the Lord? Or take the lives of millions of unborn babies and God will wink at it? Or that we can fill our lives with excessive food, entertainment, and material things and we won’t pay the price for it in our spirits? The Bible clearly tells us that God gave the Israelites what they ask for, but sent leanness to their souls.5

I also wish for you to have courage—the kind of courage that isn’t afraid of a defeated foe!6 Why are we afraid of a loser? May we know the BOOK, remember what it says, and live accordingly. For Jesus’ sake, may His people begin to act like the victors He made us to be.7 We must not cower to fear, to secularism, to a sub-standard, soft Christianity, or to anything less than being the people who bear His matchless name. May we hold the Christian flag high in our hearts, our love for Christ where all can see, and stop yielding to a political correctness that is sure to pull us under. We cannot and we must not falter now. We are called to suffer for Jesus sake,8 not to happiness that can be found in chasing after the things of the world.

My last wish for you is a sense of urgency. May you and I clearly recognize where we are in the bigger scheme of things. The return of the Lord Jesus is upon us; the end of all things is near.9 May we wake up and decide that God is all that matters. It’s true for us and for our families. We must not miss heaven for the pleasures of the world. Eternity is long and hell is hot, I don’t care who has minimized this reality. Do what you need to do today. Tell your kids and grandkids that Jesus is coming soon.10 Get serious about knowing and serving Him, sharing the Gospel with others, and taking a stand for righteousness now—and be urgent about it!

I trust that my non-customary new year’s wishes do not offend any of you. You are precious to me and certainly precious in God’s eyes. But let’s face it: It is time to be alert and sober11—time for His people to be His people, standing up and proclaiming the truth. We must not turn-tail and run when our time of trial comes, and the only way I know to be prepared is to be at peace with God, of a sound mind, courageous and urgent! And that is my wish for all of us in 2016!

Happy New Year ~ Janie Kellogg

1John 15:27; 2Ephesians 2:14; 32 Peter 3:9; 42 Timothy 1:7; 5Psalm 106:15; 6Revelation 19:20; 7Romans 8:37; 8Philippians 1:29; 91 Peter 4:7a; 10Revelation 22:7, 12; 111 Peter 4:7b

 

This Must Be the Place Believers Come December 22, 2015

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 7:10 pm
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Sometime during this Christmas season, I recommend that we make a visit to the manger scene in Bethlehem. Of course, we will have to visit it in our hearts and in our minds. The song says, “This must be the place believers come.”1 I’m a believer, so yes, it is fitting and proper that I should come—and you, too. Perhaps we each have a list of the things we are looking for this Christmas. We’re not sure just where to find them, or if they can be found at all. So with my list in hand, I come to the manger.

First, I find realness—the age-old story is no myth—it is real! The Baby Jesus was a real human being. He felt the trauma of the birth canal and the drafty night air so unlike the womb. He heard the strange sounds of barnyard animals. We can relate to this Baby for He is one of us. In a world crying for realness, this must be the place believers come.

Next, I find humility—the Creator had to stoop low in order to come down to our world as a helpless baby. I fear we are missing this all-important ingredient that lays at the very foundation of the manger: A humble God loved us enough to be born in a cattle stall. Aren’t we are tired of the hype, the fanfare, and the emptiness felt from having more and enjoying it less? I know I am. I want to come down too, so this must be the place believers come.

Then I find a promise kept—God promised to send a Savior into the world to rescue lost mankind—and He did. Promises kept are a rarity these days. We no longer expect our leaders and politicians to even pretend that they keep them, because they don’t. But in that obscure manger scene we find the fulfilment of God’s promise to us. Oh, for certain, this must be the place believers come for a promise kept.

What I find next is a miracle—The Son of God being born as Mary’s baby boy was nothing short of a divine miracle. Yet, many don’t believe in miracles any more. Its old fashioned, they say; mere fantasy. But at that meager birthplace we find God Himself in that manger! How did that happen? Oh, this must surely be the place believers come for miracles.

The next item on my list is hope. Our present world is so desperate for hope, but then it always has been. You see, the Bible tells us that we were without hope in the world. We were destined to spend eternity in a dark place, away from God. But when that miracle Baby drew His first breath—Hope was born! Yes, Bethlehem is the place believers come for hope.

Lastly, I find joy in Bethlehem!  Heaven’s Joy was poured out on us that night as the long-awaited Savior entered our world. God decreed it; the angels sang it; and Mary and Joseph held it in their arms. Joy! Pure Joy! For unto us a Child is born—unto us a Son is given. O come, let us adore Him right here at the manger—the place believers come for joy.

When you finish lingering there, and if you can pull yourself away, I hope you will tell someone else what you found. Merry Christmas to all ~ Janie Kellogg

1 This Must Be the Place, Sue C. Smith and David Moffitt, New Spring Publishing, Brentwood-Benson Music Publications, Brentwood, TN, 2001

 

A Thanksgiving Scene We Will Never Forget November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving! Oh, the joy of being with family is almost too precious to describe. The scenes are incredible! We gather around to welcome the newest members; we measure the height of kids growing tall; we recognize personality traits that remind us of a one taken away; and we surely take notice of the graces of life more apparent in each of us. We look on as our offspring learn to be ducks in the bigger pond, and we cherish their successes. Life simply evolves, not without its pain and sorrow, and yet we give thanks.

It’s in scenes like these that the giving of thanks is so appropriate, for in all of them—sacred or sad—we thank the One who gave them to us. His instruction manual tells us to give thanks in everything.1 We not only can, we must; for the Giver of Life does all things well. While we may not always like what is handed to us, He who gives it makes no mistakes.

We can call it acceptance, for that is exactly what it is. Acceptance of what our Heavenly Father has chosen to give to us. I love the story about a little girl who was born both deaf and dumb. When questioned why God would have made her so, she thought for a moment, and then with trembling hands boldly wrote out her response: “Even so, Father, for it seemed good in Your sight.”2

What kind of faith does it take for acceptance like that?  How do such young eyes see such mature truths? And what about us—do we know the meaning of acceptance? Or do we spend our time and energy trying to change that which was given?

Acceptance is what thanksgiving is all about. It is that deep swelling of faith within us that eventually rises to the surface and says, “What God has chosen to give is good and I am thankful for it.” We may not understand it or fully embrace its treasure, but we are still grateful to the God who gave. And why is that—because He can be trusted.

It is comforting to know that one day we will see things more clearly—for we shall see Him as He is, as well as all the things we haven’t understood. We only know in part now and see through a glass dimly.3 But just hang in there—a new day is about to dawn.

The Apostle John wrote about a future scene that is very different from our unexplained ones. Here is a paraphrased glimpse of what he saw just up ahead. Please read it slowly, even out loud, and try to see if you can picture yourself there, in this scene:

I heard what sounded like a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven, exclaiming, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God! His judgments are true and sound and just and upright. He has judged and pronounced sentence and doomed the great harlot who corrupted and demoralized and poisoned the earth, and has avenged the blood of His servants. And again they shouted, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Then the twenty-four elders fell prostrate and worshipped God Who sits on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Then from the throne there came a voice saying, Praise our God, all you servants of His both small and great. After that I heard what sounded like a shout of a vast throng, like the boom of many pounding waves and like the roar of terrific and mighty thunderpeals, exclaiming, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! For now the Lord our God, the Omnipotent, the All-Ruler, reigns! Let us rejoice and shout for joy—exulting and triumphant! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His Bride has prepared herself.4

I certainly have my favorite phrases, such as “a mighty shout” (not a timid one); “a great crowd” (God has a big family); “all you servants of His both small and great” (small comes before great, just like Jesus said they would); and “His Bride has prepared herself” (Oh my, we must be ready for the wedding). Are you?

That is a thanksgiving scene we will never forget. I trust that I will see you there! ~ Janie Kellogg

11 Thessalonians 5:18; 2Matthew 11:26; 31 Corinthians 13:12; 4Revelation 19-Selected excerpts from the Amplified Bible.

 

Got Peace? July 4, 2015

Today is the Fourth of July, and once again we Americans have celebrated our freedom just as we do every year on this historic day. Yet, I can’t help but reflect on the events of the past few weeks and how they have disrupted my peace. Perhaps you feel the same way.

While my generation has had its fair share of wars, turmoil, and challenging times, I have never quite felt as if the whole world were about to implode. Not like I do today. “The world is going to hell in a handbasket” seems to be an understatement for the days in which you and I live. What can we do? Where can we turn? What kind of world will our children and grandchildren face? Troubling—to say the least!

During the summer months I am teaching a Bible Study on PEACE, and I find the subject both timely and relevant to the nightly news. In fact, I expect that many of God’s people are looking for that very thing. Therefore, I have decided to share some of my findings about this greatly sought-after commodity known as p-e-a-c-e on my blog—where peace comes from; how we can get it; how we can keep it; and how we can share it with others.

It is interesting that the first two times Jesus saw the disciples after His resurrection, He said to them: “Peace be with you,”1 and “Peace to you!”2 Those too were troubling days, much like the ones in which we live. The political powers of that day had just crucified the very One who was sent to earth to bring peace. He was misquoted, misunderstood, falsely accused, persecuted, tortured, and put to death. Sound familiar? Those who speak today as Jesus spoke then could likely face some of the same treatment. But then, Jesus warned us it would be that way.3

For many years my Dad talked about what he saw on the horizon of America’s future. He was well-read and kept abreast of the political winds that were shaping the culture of the world and our nation. If I heard him say it once, I heard him say it a thousand times: “If people don’t wake up…this is what will happen!” He was right on track; for today it has happened just like he thought it would.

So how do you and I face the inevitable? Jesus warned us, and now we see it as an absolute possibility that we too could be misquoted, misunderstood, falsely accused, persecuted, tortured, and perhaps for some, put to death.

I will start with Jesus’ words that are applicable to His disciples of any age: “Peace be with you and peace to you!”  Since He is already with all born-again believers, then He, whose name is Peace, is with us. We have His peace—not only within reach, but right here in our hearts.

It is also important to understand that His peace is not the same peace that the world gives—His peace is genuine, satisfying, and eternal. It is ours and it has already been given to us. We simply must learn how to claim it and wrap ourselves in the security blanket of His promised peace. We must learn to do what Amy Carmichael did: “she tucked herself into God.”

You are invited to come along for the ride. Hopefully, it will be a peace-full one. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “When we come to know our Father of Lights—when we tuck ourselves into God by trusting Him as little children—He will carry us through.”4

1John 20:19; 2John 20:21; 3Matthew 24:9; 4David Hazard, “You Are My Hiding Place—Amy Carmichael,” Bethany House Publishers, 1991, Pg. 10

 

Today Is Indeed a Good Friday! April 3, 2015

Most of us love Fridays. A popular restaurant chain, TGI Fridays, bears a name that depicts how we feel about Fridays: Thank God It’s Friday! Many of us celebrate the end of the workweek with casual clothes, relaxed work hours, and lunch out, rather than a bagged one brought from home.

These end-of-the-week celebrations actually signal an attitude of freedom—relief from the usual grind as we look forward to a few days of doing our own thing. Who among us doesn’t celebrate such freedom (even if it is short-term), especially in this crazy-busy world in which we live?

But I know a better reason to celebrate Friday, namely this one. Christians commemorate the Friday before Easter (known as Good Friday) as the day our Savior died in our behalf. Jesus, the Son of God, was falsely accused, ridiculed, mocked, beaten, and nailed to a tree in our place. He spilled His sinless blood for every guilt-ridden man or woman who ever lived. And He did it without uttering a bad word at His tormentors, without spewing blame on His accusers, and without passing judgement on His own created beings for such high treason.

That’s right, Jesus suffered in silence. It’s inconceivable! It seems impossible! How do we get our minds around that fact when compared to the modern-day masses who demonstrate, march, riot and scream: “Unfair! Unfair! Unfair!”

The Bible says “when He (Jesus) was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). And before Jesus drew His last breath that dark afternoon, He begged His Father to forgive them, since they apparently didn’t know what they were doing. How can that be: the Sinless for the sinner; the Just for the unjust; the Innocent for the guilty?

However unexplainable it seems, it is true nonetheless—for I was the sinner, the unjust, and the guilty. The evidence clearly stacked up against me and I had not a leg to stand on. The offenses I had committed were punishable by death—mine. I stood condemned and without hope—that is, until one Friday Someone stepped up and said, “Let her go free—I will take her place.” I don’t know how you see it, but I see that as a very good day!

As we process the horrific events carried out on that dark Friday over two-thousand years ago, may we wholeheartedly proclaim that it was in fact a good Friday! It spells f-r-e-e-d-o-m from the penalty of death for all who acknowledge their sins and call upon Jesus to save them.

And His offer still stands today: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

You see, because today is indeed a Good Friday, of course we are going to celebrate! ~Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8