Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

How Much of the Holy Spirit Do You Have? October 10, 2016

How much of the Holy Spirit do you have? Interesting question, huh?  Especially since some people believe that Christians either have “it” or they don’t have “it.” Wrong!

First of all, “it” is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a Person and is best referred to as “He.” This often-misunderstood member of the Holy Trinity has a personality, a purpose, and a plan. He has feelings, desires, and reasons for what He does or doesn’t do. He has assignments from the Father, gifts to deliver to believers, and a mission on earth. He was sent by Jesus, as a promise given to the earliest disciples and extended to every disciple since. And that promise, my friend, is to indwell every person who becomes a believer in Jesus Christ.

The question as to whether or not all true believers have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of them is answered in Romans 8:9 “…And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Therefore, we can conclude that every person who is born-again has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him from the time of conversion, or else he hasn’t been born-again.

From that amazing first encounter with the Holy Spirit, we can begin to grow up into Christ because we now have a personal teacher to guide us into all truth. His goal is to eventually transform us into the image of Jesus Himself; however, His ability to do so is directly helped or hindered by our willingness to cooperate with Him. When we cooperate with our Indwelling Houseguest, we grow quickly. When we do not cooperate—well, not so much!

I think a better question, be it in 6 months after conversion, 6 years, or 60 years, is not how much of the Holy Spirit do you have, but how much of you does the Holy Spirit have? You see, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and He does not overpower us and take away our freewill. He occupies only the territory of our lives that we freely and willingly yield to Him. He will control only what we allow Him to control.

That explains why we sometimes see what should be mature Christians no further advanced than newborn Christians. They have given the Holy Spirit very little control of their lives. They continue to sit at the helm and steer their ship where they want to go, with little thought as to where the Holy Spirit wants to take them.

There has been much teaching on how to be blessed by the Holy Spirit, experience His presence, and enjoy His gifts; yet, very little on how to yield our lives over to His complete control. Unfortunately, the church of today is mostly obsessed with the gifts and experiences, and we remain untrained in how to relinquish that control to Him. There is a widely believed misconception that the Holy Spirit is here to bless us, and at the same time, we get to keep our besetting sins. The problem is—that doesn’t line up with the Holy Spirit’s mission on earth.

Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China, used the term “the exchanged life” for the giving up of his life for the Christ-life. In other words, Taylor gave up what he wanted for what the Holy Spirit wanted, and died to the self that we all inherited from Adam and Eve. Of course, that sounds rather foreign to our modern-day easy-believe-ism teachings, wouldn’t you say?

This excerpt from Taylor’s writings clearly depicts a life that has been yielded up to the control of the Holy Spirit: “I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me….”

So, how much of the Holy Spirit do you and I have? We have an amount equal to the area of our inner being that we have currently yielded to the Holy Spirit’s control—that much, and no more.  The Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18 say to be filled with the Spirit, implying that we can be partially filled, completely filled, or somewhere in between. So, which is it—a little, some, or filled?

Next, we will discuss being full of the Holy Spirit—what it looks like and how we can get there. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 2009, Pg. 165

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Do I Have What It Takes to Tell the World that God’s Not Dead? September 27, 2016

I am keenly aware that many denominations have different views on how and when believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. I will leave the doctrinal arguments to the great theologians. However, I think that unless we address some portion of this issue for ourselves, we may miss the very power Christ intended for us to have—that is, the power to live out this life as a true follower of Jesus.

This quote by Jim Cymbala is worth considering: “Is it not time for all of us to do some soul searching and ask ‘Is my life characterized by the power of God being manifested through me by the Holy Spirit so that people will know that God’s not dead?’”

Soul searching—a searching of my soul—to evaluate whether or not I have what it takes to express to the world that God is alive. The only way I can do that is to look at the behavior and the fruits of my life. Do I act like Jesus? Do I look like Jesus? Are the fruits of my life anything like the fruits of His life?

If we study the first disciples of Jesus, we will find they were not much like Him at all—that is until the Holy Spirit arrived on the scene. They were selfish and sought to be the greatest; they slept when He told them to stay awake; Peter lied and denied the Lord; Thomas was full of doubt; they were all cowards—fleeing when the going got tough. What we see are regular human beings, who loved Jesus and wanted to be like Him, but didn’t have the power to do so.

Then the Holy Spirit came and we see very different disciples—now willing to stand on the street corner and preach the gospel, risking their lives to tell the world about the wonderful life-changing salvation they had received. They went to jail, endured threatening, beatings, and eventually death for their Savior. So something happened to them, regardless of how, when or where it happened.

Looking at the earlier version of followers, we don’t see much of anything that manifests power. Yet, looking at those same followers after the Holy Spirit came—we see much power. Things began to happen; people received their message and thousands were saved; others were miraculously healed; in fact, these same disciples were accused of filling Jerusalem with their doctrine!

So what about my life—does anyone see much power coming from me? Some receive my message, but few get saved; no one has been healed, and I’ve never been accused of filling my city with my doctrine. But there has to be some evidence somewhere. It seems in my best interest to examine whether or not I have received the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised—somehow, some way, and at some time!

Laying all doctrinal questions aside of when, where, and how—the question I should be concerned about is this: Do I have what it takes to tell the world that God’s not dead?

If we dare, a trip to the examination table might reveal if, in fact, we have received the Holy Spirit. Some folks in Acts 19:2 said, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” I fear this could also be the answer from some Jesus followers today. The controversial subject of the Holy Spirit is not taught, talked about, or even mentioned in many churches. He is often ignored, misunderstood, or taken for granted. Unfortunately, those are the very reasons we see so little of His power in our lives and in our churches.

This story about Dwight L. Moody, in his early days of ministry, speaks to this issue. He was somewhat successful, yet his ministry was hindered. He drew crowds, but had few results. He tells that one day he came out of a service in New York and was getting into a carriage to go to another service when an old man with white, wind-blown hair called out to him. The old man put his bony finger in Moody’s face and said, “Young man, when you speak again, honor the Holy Ghost!” It was about six months before God revealed to him what the old man had meant by those words—that he was entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. He said, “I seldom stand before a great audience where I don’t see that old man, with his outstretched finger, and hear his voice, “Honor the Holy Ghost.” And we know the rest of the story—Moody went on to be one of the most powerful preachers America has ever known.1

Let us ask ourselves: Do we have the Holy Spirit? Do we know what it means to honor the Holy Spirit? What difference does it make, if any? Does it have anything to do with how much the Holy Spirit is manifested through our lives?” Ah ha, some soul searching is in order, don’t you think? ~ Janie Kellogg

1V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1960, Pg. 100

 

How Much Do I Know About the Holy Spirit? September 19, 2016

Filed under: Holy Spirit — Janie Kellogg @ 4:28 pm
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I have spent the summer of 2016 studying and teaching on the topic of the Holy Spirit. I knew that our Helper had many names and functions, but I had to ask myself honestly, “How much do I know about the Holy Spirit? I boldly told God that, if needed, He had my permission to hit the delete button on all I already knew and teach me afresh about this amazing Third Person of the Trinity. Today, I stand in awe as to how little I knew about Him previously.

You may think the delete button a bit drastic, but the more I studied, the more I became convinced that much of my teaching had been merely the interpretation and opinions of others who thought they had the Holy Spirit figured out. Some even thought they had a corner on Him, and honestly, that’s impossible! He is an amazing free-Spirit and no one is going to put Him in their narrow-minded doctrinal box of any size or shape.

I gleaned many treasures on this subject from the books and DVD studies by Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY. Other insights have been gained from the works of R. T. Kendall, theologian and author of Holy Fire; and of course, from the many works of one of my favorite writers, Andrew Murray. Of recent, I re-discovered The Message, which is a paraphrasing translation by Eugene Peterson, whose contemporary language has unlocked old truths in understandable language. I must not forget my close companion, the Amplified Bible. Some days I simply sit and weep as I read from these works about familiar words now rendered new and fresh like water from a cool, clear stream.

How has this message been hidden from us for so long? Why hasn’t this essential understanding been granted before? What baffles me the most is why so many denominations have ignored this subject, or more importantly the Helper entirely. Get it? H-e-l-p-e-r! Ah, now you see my point—the one who helps us! Jesus described His sending the Helper so critical that He told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem without Him—the Helper, that is!

I think I have a pretty good idea who might be behind the strategy to keep God’s followers away from the one thing that can help them: Satan, himself. What better way to stop the spread of the Gospel than to hide from them the truth about the Helper? Yet, the pure unadulterated truth is that I need help and lots of it! And Jesus knew that. As my dearest lifelong friend said recently in our weekly ladies Bible Study, “He took care of everything we would need before He left us and went back to heaven.” That is a true statement if I’ve ever heard one.

I plan to share with you some of what I’ve learned on this summer’s journey. I’ve spoken at two Women’s Retreats during the summer months, and God lead me to teach on the Holy Spirit at both of them. Is it perhaps time for us as the Body of Christ to embrace God’s plan to empower us for the work He has assigned to us before Jesus returns? I think so. In my heart of hearts I believe that there has never been a day in our lifetime in which the Helper was so desperately needed. This is that day. Read Matthew 24 if you wonder what “day” I speak of.

I used this slide in my teaching throughout the summer. Might it be your prayer too?

holy-spirit-i-need-you

I’m wondering if some of you feel that same need for His help. Maybe you too think that He has never clearly been explained to you, that so much about Him is uncharted territory, or misconstrued rhetoric. Perhaps you would even now ask yourself, “How much do I know about the Holy Spirit?”

Doesn’t some cool, clear water from the spring of living water sound refreshing about now? If so, stay tuned. My prayer is that together God will lead us to a mighty source of truth and encouragement in our confused and thirsty world. I’m praying this will be an amazing stretch of our journey together.  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

God Speaking August 6, 2016

As a choir director, I am always looking for new music. I like it all—hymns, traditional, contemporary, and country gospel music. If it’s about Jesus, it’s worth a listen. But what I look for most often is the music that speaks something to my heart. You know, when God is revealing a new truth to your life and then you hear a song that perfectly says what God has just shown you. I know you have had that experience too. I generally go, “WOW! God, I am blown away!”

It is like the singer is speaking out loud what is already planted in my heart. So it was a few days ago when I was the guest speaker for a Ladies Retreat. The praise team was singing a song that was somewhat familiar to me, yet I couldn’t place where I had heard it before. Obviously, I knew it pretty well because I sang along quite easily. But where had I heard it?

Finally, it dawned on me. It was a song I had considered several months ago, downloaded the soundtrack, practiced it, and then decided it wasn’t for my church, not now anyway. Maybe too contemporary; or maybe not the combination of instruments I liked; but for whatever reason, I had put it on the back burner.

But standing there in that beautiful sanctuary with precious young people leading the worship with a single guitar and bongo drum, this once-rejected, not-such-a-perfect-fit song spoke volumes to my heart! So, why was a song that hadn’t worked for me, now resonating with every fiber of my being?

Harbor Retreat 2016 - 2

It was God’s way of speaking to me—and to all who will listen—with that inner voice that points us to the hidden truths in His Word. The Holy Spirit is actually commissioned to do that for us: “He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Did you notice the personal pronoun in the verse? He guides you and me to the truth about who God is; what He has done for us; and how He longs to be in relationship with us. That night, His voice came through loud and clear. God speaking!

For that retreat and for the Bible study I am currently teaching on the importance of the Holy Spirit, I simply needed that song. It confirmed all I had been researching, writing, teaching, and now singing. My Faithful God had connected the dots for me, and I can hardly wait for the choir to learn it, the Ladies Bible Study group, and maybe even you, too. If you haven’t heard it before, google it and listen to a YouTube version with the words. It is called “Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here,” by Francesca Battistelli.  I have also included the words below. I challenge you to read them slowly and allow them soak into your inner-being.

This song will help us kick off a new series of teaching the Lord has recently opened up to me. We’ll just say it is the backdrop to prepare our hearts to hear what He wants to say to us. But in order to hear God speaking, there is one prerequisite: We must make the Holy Spirit, the Divine Teacher, welcome in our hearts. As for me, He is oh so welcome, and I am ready to hear God speak. How about you?

Holy Spirit, by Francesca Battistelli

 

There’s nothing worth more

That could ever come close

No thing can compare

You’re our living hope

Your presence, Lord.

 

I’ve tasted and seen

Of the sweetest of loves

Where my heart becomes free

And my shame is undone

Your presence, Lord.

 

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Your presence, Lord.  (2Xs)

 

Let us become more aware of Your presence

Let us experience the glory of Your goodness (4Xs)

 

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.

I hope you will join me for the next few weeks/months. It’s been a busy summer, and I am excited to get back to writing and posting on my blog—especially when God is speaking.  Blessings to all. ~ Janie

Photo ~ Harbor Church, Oologah, OK, July 29, 2016

 

 

Thank God for the Remembrancer June 3, 2014

WOW! It’s already been a busy summer, and it isn’t even summer yet.  But that is just life. We plan, work, do, go, play, celebrate, cook, clean up, buy, decorate, trim the yard, attend church, relax, and then do it all again next week. What that amounts to in my life is—little time for blogging!

 

However, I capture my thoughts along my busy pathways and keep them in a safe place until time allows me to sit in front of my computer for a few quiet minutes. One such thought that grabbed my attention last week was a comment by Andrew Murray, one of my favorite authors.

 

It was this: “The Holy Spirit is the remembrancer, the Spirit of recollection.1” He reminds us (brings to our remembrance2) the things that are difficult for us humans, especially busy humans, to remember from day to day about key spiritual truths.  The Bible tells us that “Life is full of trouble.3” Who among us hasn’t experienced that! Every day has enough trouble all of its own without borrowing trouble from the next one. It seems that Satan is always there, roaring about seeking whom he may devour,4 feeding us lies, deceiving us, and trying to pull us away from our faith in God. Even though he has no power over us whatsoever, he sure can make us think he does!

 

To help us combat the troubles of life, God gives to every Christian the Holy Remembrancer! That’s right, a built-in, personal Holy Spirit to help us remember the important information about our spiritual DNA—or you could say, our born-again believer status.

 

I watched a good Hallmark movie a few years ago titled “Remember Sunday,” in which a young man, named Gus, suffered an aneurism and could no longer remember anything once he went to sleep at night. He literally woke up in a new world every day—having totally forgotten who he was, what he knew, who he knew, or anything for that matter. It was a touching story about a girl who falls in love with Gus, but every day he had to get to know her all over again. Regardless of what they experienced in life on a particular day, he totally forgot it by the next morning. So much for making memories, right?

 

I think we might sometimes be like Gus—you know, waking up in a new spiritual world every day. We forget who we are, what we know, and Who we know! Even though we had a great spiritual experience the day before and won a glorious victory in our battle against sin and self, on this day we woke up with no recollection of it whatsoever. We act as though it never happened, as if we were not delivered and set free, healed and made whole, or washed and redeemed. Our victory speech has faded into complaints and grumbling. Our stalwart faith feels more like weak knees and hands that hang down. So what’s up with that!

 

But then we must take into consideration our Holy Remembrancer! He is there to remind us Who we belong to, what our Savior has done for us, and the promises and privileges that are afforded to us by our Heavenly Father. After all, “He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”5

 

Oh dear ones, what more could we ask for? How much more does God need to do to show us His eternal love for us? How much plainer must He make His plan to bless us now and take us to heaven later? What else will it take for God to establish and settle us until we count on Him to work and bring His promises to pass in our lives?

 

Let us right now thank God for our Holy Remembrancer! Let us embrace Him, believe Him, and trust Him to do His work in us. He is truly a blessing above all blessings! ~ Janie

 

 

1Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ, Starling and Black Publications, 2013, Page 55

2John 14:26; 3Job 5:7; 41 Peter 5:8; 52 Corinthians1:22.

 

Didn’t I Say That? November 1, 2013

The chicken salad at my favorite tearoom was just as good as I had remembered. It had been nearly a year since I shared lunch and life with my friend, Vicki. As usual, it was hard to wait for my turn to talk as we both chatted freely about our kids, grandkids, and God.

 

Her eyes sparkled as she told me about the spiritual treasures she had recently uncovered; the exciting new move of the Holy Spirit in her church; and the deepening of her own walk with God. My story echoed hers.

 

While savoring every bite of chicken salad and every word Vicki shared, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been hearing similar things from other Christian friends, my Pastor’s Sunday morning sermons, my son comments on what he would be preaching next week, and my on-going conversations with my husband as we read our daily devotionals.

 

Yet, when my friend made a profound statement that sounded strangely familiar, I thought to myself, “Hey wait, didn’t I say that? Or was it my favorite author who wrote that? Oh, now I remember, I heard that on Christian TV.” To be honest, I am losing track of who said what, including my own writing.

 

Only a few days ago I saw a Facebook post about Rick Warren, author of the famous Purpose Driven Life, with this quote: “Much prayer, much power. Little prayer, little power. No prayer, no power.” Disregarding the fact that I had ingested his book ten years before, I knew for certain that I had written that very same thing—and I had my dated journal writing to prove it.

 

I was equally astonished last December when I read a chapter titled “Go Lower” from Ann Voskamp’s awesome book, One Thousand Gifts. It closely mirrored my own writing a few months prior called: “How Low Can You Go?” So what’s up with that!

 

It also seems that more and more people are quoting the spiritual gurus from the past and acting as if it is a fresh revelation from God directly to them! I fear there’s a whole lot of plagiarizing going on. Will copyright laws ever be able to protect who said what?

 

God smiles at my silly thoughts. He knows exactly what is going on. The Teacher of all truth is simply doing His job. The Holy Spirit is accomplishing what He was sent to do—teach Jesus’ disciples all things.1

 

I may like to think that I generate some deep words of knowledge in poetic prose, but it all originates with the Holy Spirit.

 

My favorite writers from a century ago—Oswald Chambers, Amy Carmichael, and Andrew Murray—wrote many insightful books, but it all originated with the Holy Spirit.

 

Great authors in my lifetime, such as A. W. Tozer, Henry Nouwen, and Philip Yancey, have made huge contributions of revealed truths, but it all originated with the Holy Spirit.

 

The most dynamic preacher to ever live may deliver powerful sermons that seem original, but it all originated with the Holy Spirit.

 

There are no exclusive rights to eternal truths. No one can patent any of them.

 

It is no coincidence that my friends and I are all learning the same things. There is an amazing revelation happening in the church today—an awakening to the Holy Spirit, Who He is, and why we need Him. He is a real Person, and He is revealing Himself to all who are open to Him.

 

This may perhaps be the most significant move of God in my lifetime and I don’t want to miss it. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to start looking and listening for teaching on the Holy Spirit. I have listed several good books on the subject below.

 

As the Body of Christ, let us pray that Christians everywhere will wake up to the reality of their Holy House Guest.2 Start today by asking Him what He wants to reveal to you. He won’t disappoint you—revelation is His specialty.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

Books on the Holy Spirit:

Fresh Air, by Chris Hodges

The God I Never Knew, by Robert Morris

The Master’s Indwelling, by Andrew Murray (Kindle edition free at Amazon)

 

1 John 14:26

2 “The House Guest,” a short story, Treasure in Earthen Vessels @ http://www.treasureinearthenvessels.net, November 22, 2012

 

 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know August 27, 2013

Filed under: Holy Spirit — Janie Kellogg @ 12:46 pm
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The early morning light dawns and we awaken to another day. Who knows what will happen in this day—the next 24 hours? We don’t, but thankfully God does. He gives light so we can at least see where we are going.

 

Ever think about what would happen if the sun didn’t come up some morning? We would likely start our day as usual, using lights generated by a man-made power source, but eventually we would feel the strain of life without sunlight. In short, it would be devastating because light sustains life. Without it both plant and animal life would be altered, crops would fail to grow, food supplies would dry up, and our bodies would long for natural light as man-made sources diminished. All I can say is “O God, keep the light on for us!”

 

Our spiritual life is equally dependent on God for light. It has been many years since I began my quest for spiritual light. I describe it as my pursuit to find God. Yet, the truth is that God has actually been pursuing me, attempting to pry me loose from the world, the love of it, and the world’s way of thinking.

 

I have wanted loose. It just isn’t that easy. But gradually, I feel its hold on me giving way. Blinders are beginning to fall at my side and the puzzle pieces are coming together. Spiritual light sustains life too, and I really do need to see where I am going.

 

Susan Klein writes: “You don’t know what you don’t know. What else have I been missing all my life because I’ve been trusting in my own insight rather than trusting God?”1 (Read that again.)

 

How many of us are courageous enough, or better yet, humble enough to admit that we don’t know it all? The next question is equally challenging: If we know that we don’t know what we don’t know, then shouldn’t we be looking for it?

 

In politics we often hear the term “failed policies.” You know, some politician has a plan to improve things, but instead things get worse. That, my friend, is a failed policy.

 

Do we not do the same thing with our plan to follow God? We inevitably do things our way. We base our beliefs, and therefore our actions, on what we’ve been taught. We are sure our doctrine is right. Yet when we aren’t successful, do we ever stop to consider if we are following “failed policies?”

 

Jesus encountered a group of well-established, doctrinal folks called Pharisees. Do you want to know what it was that they didn’t know? They didn’t know that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the very One they were looking for. They missed it big time, even with all their years of training, memorizing scriptures, and keeping the law—they missed the most important truth in all of history: God Incarnate! And He was right there under their noses.

 

What about us? Are we tired yet of our failed doctrine? Tired of doing training exercises that yield no results? Missing what might be the most important truth of the gospel? Are we missing the very thing we have been looking for and searching for? Could it be right here under our noses?

 

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”2 Was he not looking for some things he didn’t yet know?

 

In the next few weeks I am going to share some thoughts about the Christian life that may have been right here under our noses all the time (at least mine anyway). It is perhaps the missing link to discovering the victorious life, the puzzle piece that’s been out of place or even lost. It is the simple word: Obedience. Well, come to think of it, it may not be so simple after all.

 

We will begin with “learning to lean.” You see, learning to lean on God is like learning to let your dance partner lead on the dance floor—there just cannot be two leaders. Dancing with God can be a beautiful thing once we learn how to allow Him to lead. But take note, the dance will never happen short of total obedience.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Susan Klein, The Secret Place, August 17, 2013

2Philippians 3:10