Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

The Real Argument ~ February 27, 2014

It is interesting what Christians fight over—what it is that divides God’s people into different groups and denominations. I can’t imagine that Jesus intended his followers be divided over anything, but here we are 2,000 years later with approximately 41,000 Christian denominations, according to Wikipedia.

 

One of the areas of dispute is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Some groups believe that the presence of Christ’s Spirit—known as the Holy Spirit—comes into an individual at the time of conversion. Others believe it comes with an experience known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with many other opinions landing somewhere in between. There is also a great deal of controversy on how much of this Spirit is granted to the believer.

 

Personally, I believe the real argument is not if He comes, how He comes, or when He comes. The scripture is clear on the issue that He does come! The real argument is more clearly found in our capacity to recognize His presence and the ability to draw upon that source of power once He is within us.

 

The fact is that if we are full of the world, we have little capacity for the presence of God. If we are consumed and controlled by “self” (the fleshly nature we inherited from the fall), we have little ability to access the Spirit within. Therefore, our faith is small, our strength is small, and our results will be small.

 

If that describes us, we will not know the power of His Spirit even though He dwells inside us. We will not be able to utilize this power when we need it, but will be overpowered by our fleshly nature. This applies to even those who have a great experience when being filled with the Spirit. It’s what we do with the Indwelling Christ that matters.

 

Jesus clearly said, “To Him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life.”1 Ever wonder what He meant by this? Overcome what? Could it be those who overcome their “self” –Satan’s representative in every human being? Those who deny their “self”? Those who crucify their “self” and put “self” to death? Those who overcome the power of “self” and allow Christ to reign in their lives? Could that be the overcomers Jesus is talking about? If so, then am I an overcomer?

 

I fully believe that it is this “self” we must overcome—and not the devil, his works, or even the world. Jesus did that!2 We have one thing to overcome in our individual lives and that is the “self” that sits on the throne of our hearts and rules what we do, what we say, how we act and react, how we spend our time, what we love, and what appeals to us. But Christ will not unseat my “self”—I must do it!

 

It is time the truth about “self” be revealed to our own hearts. We yield to its persuasion over us; we act as if it has some right to exert its ugly behavior as some honorable entity that doesn’t have to please God or adhere to His commands. After all, it’s “me” and I can’t help being “me!” Did I mention that “self” comes directly from the “father of lies?”3

 

We have been lied to long enough. Unless we face this truth, we will be deceived about who “self” is. Self is our enemy. Self is God’s enemy. We must not protect our self, not if we want to eat of the tree of life.

 

This might be a good time for a “self” test. Do my actions, words, thoughts, behaviors, desires, and loves line up with that taught and modeled by Jesus, or am I mostly doing my own thing? I can explain it away all I want, rationalize all I must, justify myself, my rights over and over, but when I stand before the Lord will my arguments hold up?

 

I do not want to wait until that day to figure out that I might be of the world and not really a follower of Christ at all.  Like it or not, I best get on with doing what Jesus said to do: deny my “self.”4

 

Whatever you do, don’t forget this all-important fact: He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me to help me do that very thing. Come on, Jesus Followers, let’s figure out this mystery of the gospel—Christ in me, the hope of glory.5 ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Revelation 2:7; 2John 16:33; 3John 8:44; 4Matthew 16:24; 5Colossians 1:27

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Killing the Sacred Cow November 16, 2013

Today, I see America as a nation deeply divided in our beliefs, our values, and the solutions to our problems. We can see these sharp differences played out daily on the political front. It is clearly right verses left; Republicans verses Democrats; Conservatives verses Liberals. I believe the divisions are more intense than they have ever been in my lifetime.

 

Similarly, I see the Church of Jesus Christ divided in our beliefs, our values, and the solutions to our problems. We may even see families, marriages, and friends divided on these same points. In short: We believe what we believe, and we greatly value our beliefs.

 

Far be it for us to move from our position, even for the sake of benefiting the whole.  Our stubbornness is deep seated—rooted in who we are and where we came from. None of us can easily make that humbling statement the “The Fonz” struggled with on the popular Happy Days TV show:  “I was wwwrrrooong.”

 

Why? Our human nature will go to great lengths to keep from admitting we are wrong about anything, especially one of our “sacred cows.” The meaning of sacred cow is something too highly regarded to be open to criticism or curtailment. I am confident that we all have them—sacred cows, that is—and giving them up is not easy. In some cases it would take heaven and earth to move us off our cherished position.

 

If you don’t think you have a sacred cow, here are some controversial beliefs that exist among Christians. See if you agree or disagree:

 

~ Members of my denomination (fill in the blank) are the only ones going to heaven.

~ Water baptism is necessary for salvation.

~ Once saved, always saved.

~ The gifts of healing and miracles do not apply to the church today.

 

These statements, whether true or false, greatly divide the Church of Jesus Christ. Few of us are willing to consider, much less accept, opposing views. When our beliefs are too highly regarded to be open to criticism, they become a sacred cow.

 

Remember the rich young ruler who came to Jesus looking for the missing ingredient to life? He confidently told Jesus that he had kept the Ten Commandments since his youth.1 Although he had been perfect in keeping the Jewish laws, he had one thing too valuable to give up—his riches. When Jesus gave him a sure-fire solution to resolve the deep hunger in his heart, he sadly turned and walked away. Why? His riches were not open to curtailment. Keeping the Jewish laws was doable; killing his sacred cow wasn’t.

 

Jesus desires to control every part of us—to be Lord of all of my life and all of your life. That happens only when we give up our right to be in charge and yield to His Lordship. We must by an act of our God-given free will allow Him to have His way with us.

 

I fear that we mostly give lip service to statements like “I surrender all” or “Jesus, take me, mold me, use me, fill me,”2 to which Jesus willingly says “Yes!” The process begins, and He shows us which of our sacred cows has to die first. (Did I mention that we have many such cows?) To that, we sadly turn and walk away—our hearts still hungering for more of Him. We forfeit that precious and desired fellowship with Jesus for the thing(s) of earth that we cling to—be it riches, relationships, or beliefs.

 

Whatever He asks of us must be relinquished sooner or later. He knows our hearts and our allegiances, and He will not settle for partial loyalty. He must be Lord of all or not Lord at all.

 

Get ready to kill your sacred cow—that is, if you plan to go on with Jesus. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Luke 18:18-25

2 The Potter’s Hand Lyrics, Hillsong

 

 

What No One Told You about YourSelf August 20, 2013

I don’t think it is a big surprise to anyone that life is hard. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been really lucky. There is no escaping the difficulties of life—relationships, careers, finances, death—just life in general.  These struggles occur on the physical side of life.

 

The spiritual side of life is no different. Oblivious to many people, there is an enormous struggle going on in the hearts of men. The truth is we are subject to a mighty force called Self from the day we are born. Like the physical side of life, there is no escaping this struggle.

 

I fear that many of us have been misled about our Self. I have chosen to capitalize this word to give it the proper emphasis, acknowledging its power and position. We seems to have the idea that Self is the real me—the “I’ve gotta be me” mentality. It is considered to be something akin to personality, to be cultivated and protected, or else it might go away and the real me lost.

 

Strong individuality is part of the American culture. We have been taught that “rugged individualism” is linked to patriotism, courage, and success. We are proud when we can hold our heads high and declare, “I did this.” Even greater honor is given to one who says, “I did this by myself.”

 

It has taken years of grappling with this issue for me to see Self for what it is. It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me when this was clearly spelled out. As long as my idea of Self was merely a concept, I considered it in the gray area—the things I don’t have to take a stand on. But once I know the truth, I become accountable for what I do with that truth. (Read that again.)

 

J. Oswald Sanders, an internationally-known theologian, wrote this about Self: “In the heart of the believer, Self occupies the same relation to Satan as does the Holy Spirit to Christ, it is Satan’s representative in the heart. Even after many gross forms of evil have been evicted, Self remains to contest and usurp the claim of Christ to the throne of the redeemed life. It is guilty of high treason against the King of Kings, and is therefore worthy of death.”1

 

I believe we must wake up to the fact that our spiritual lives are being attacked, overrun, and controlled by this force known as Self. Like his father, Satan, Self is an all-out liar. He is also Selfish, Self-centered, Self-indulgent, Self-confident, Self-conscious, Self-willed, Self-assured, Self-exalting, and Self-justifying. In America, we even have what is known as the Self-made man. While we sometimes boast or jest about these qualities, in reality, they are the marks of Satan reigning in a life.

 

Do any of these describe you? They certainly describe me! Even in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and believed to be part of my personality, yet so totally unlike my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Unless we recognize what is going on in our personal world, we will not be able to do anything about our predicament. Our muddled interpretation of Self will keep us paralyzed, and we will continue losing the battles, yielding to its power, and remain defeated Christians. Furthermore, our progress to be transformed into the image of Christ is on hold.2

 

The first step to freedom is the acknowledgment of bondage. The person who claims he or she has no bondage is simply not a candidate for freedom.

 

Until we acknowledge Self for what it is and admit that Self is reigning in our hearts rather than Jesus, we have no hope of being set free from its dominion over us. A mental ascent to the idea that we are legally set free from Self is not enough. Yes, we are legally free because of faith in the sacrificed blood of Jesus, but unless we appropriate that truth and apply it to our own personal lives, we will remain in bondage. After our eyes are opened to this truth and we knowingly allow this to continue, we are participating in “high treason against the King of Kings.”

 

Now I know and now I am accountable. I have never in my entire life been so motivated to oust the culprit of Self from the throne of my heart. I denounce this Self-led rebellion against my God, and by the mercy and grace of God I will find His provision for ridding my life of its control. Does anyone out there care to come along with me? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1J. Oswald Sanders, Christ Indwelling and Enthroned, CCWM, Santa Ana, CA, 1949, pg. 46

22 Corinthians 3:18

 

For other related posts see poem “Since Self Is On the Throne,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, March 6, 2013 (In Poetry Category)

 

 

Why Do You Call Me “Lord, Lord?” August 13, 2013

Filed under: Lordship of Christ — Janie Kellogg @ 12:44 pm
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The words “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things I say?” are troubling to me. Apparently there are some people this applies to or else Jesus would not have asked the question. (Luke 6:46) Could it be me?

 

How many times have I called Jesus my Lord? Probably thousands of times by now. Every time I say that He is my Lord and Savior, or refer to Him as Lord Jesus, or bow my head and pray, “Dear Lord,” I am calling Him Lord.

 

But is it true? Or is it only lip service, pretense, or something that sounds spiritual? Perhaps it is learned behavior or wishful thinking. But is it T-R-U-E? Is Jesus Christ the Lord of my life?

 

When I was 10 years old, I had a crush on a twenty-something-year-old neighbor. My sister teasingly called him my “boyfriend,” but I assure you, he did not know that he was my boyfriend. He didn’t know I existed, and even if he did, I was certainly not his girlfriend. It was in every sense a one-sided love affair.

 

I can’t help but wonder if many of us have a one-sided “Lord” affair with Jesus. We call Him Lord, but does He know that He is our Lord by the way we treat to Him? Do we do anything to prove that relationship? Do we fill the role of a servant of a Lord and Master? Do we meet the necessary qualifications to call Him our Lord?

 

Perhaps a closer look at our behavior will tell us whether or not we act like servants, if we actually obey Him, and if we honor His lordship over us.

 

In my case, I acknowledge Him as my Lord—that is until He tells me to do something I don’t want to do. Then, I basically ignore Him and do my own thing. Here are some examples:

 

The Lord tells me to forgive someone who has offended me, and I respond: “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.”

He gently nudges me not to tell something and I say, “I know I shouldn’t say this, but…..”

I entertain the thought, “That might not be His voice.”

He points out someone in need, and I justify not giving because I feel I’ve already given enough.

  

What I am waiting for—a more opportune time perhaps? If I do not know His voice by now, when will I know it? How many years will it be before I actually obey the voice of my Lord when He speaks to me? Do I not yet understand that His voice always matches His character and is always confirmed by His Word? When in doubt—check it out!

 

When do I plan to be like Joshua and “wholly follow the Lord?” (Joshua 14:8) Maybe when I’m too old to care if I get my way or not? Honestly, am I so naïve to think I can demand my way when I am a young person and turn out to be an undemanding old person? Not!

 

Just when am I going to start obeying the Lord Jesus—immediately, fully, without question, without hesitation, without reservation, without grumbling, without taking thought for myself?

 

I fear that my behavior tells the truth about me. Is what I actually do mostly lip service? Probably. Good intentions? Definitely.  Actual obedience? I’m afraid not. If I were a lord and master, I would not want a servant who behaves like me.

 

A reality check reveals that I am the person Jesus spoke about—I call Him “Lord, Lord,” but do not do the things He says.

 

In James 1:22-24 we are told: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

 

If we only knew the tremendous value in admitting the truth about our-Self!  If this journey seems long and dry, be encouraged that there is a spring of Living Water just ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

 

Savior? Yes ~ Lord? Not so much July 31, 2013

Filed under: Lordship of Christ — Janie Kellogg @ 8:09 pm
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Titles—some people have them; others want them. They denote a level of education, position, military rank, political attainment, great achievement, or even a status symbol linking us to some elitist club. But regardless of their origin, they tell us something about the person who holds them.

 

In various scriptures, Jesus is called Lord and Savior—titles with rich meaning. The Apostle Peter encouraged Christians to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”1 One thing is certain—these two titles tell us much about Jesus; but do we really know what they mean?

 

I fear many of us use these titles loosely—you know, like calling Jesus both Lord and Savior. Although they are commonly used terms within Christian circles, they hold serious implications and are words not to be taken lightly.

 

When asked if Jesus is my Savior, I will definitely answer—yes. But to be honest, when asked if He is my Lord, a more truthful answer is—not so much. I’ll explain.

 

The Bible teaches that any lost soul who puts their faith in the Savior of the world will be saved.2 When Jesus reaches out and pulls a person to safety, He becomes their personal “Savior,” a title He rightly earns. They gladly accept Him in that role and welcome its meaning. After all, who doesn’t want to be rescued and pulled from eternal damnation by a loving Savior? Count me in!

 

But the title “Lord” is another issue. It is possible that we don’t know the true meaning of the word lord, since it is not often used in our culture. And when the true meaning is revealed, our response might be, “Wait a minute—I didn’t sign up for that!”

 

Let’s take a look at the master/slave relationship in Biblical times to gain a better understanding. A master (also called lord) purchased or inherited a slave—a person who owned nothing and was forced to work without payment. In other words, the master literally owned the slave’s life. He told the slave what to do, where to go, how to act, when to speak; and the slave was expected to do so with absolute obedience.

 

Obviously, that was long before anyone knew about personal freedoms—such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, the Bible clearly states this same condition for all followers of Jesus: “You are not your own; you were bought with a price.”3 That’s right—Christians do not belong to themselves, but are owned by God! We were bought with the blood of the crucified Christ. Scripture clearly teaches that His death paid the ransom to free us from sin.4

 

Because Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior, when we accept Him as our “Savior,” we also accept Him as our “Lord.” Yet, I believe few Christians grasp the role of Jesus as the Lord of their lives. We may call Him Lord in theory, but we clearly do not adhere to a slave’s life—being told what to do, where to go, how to act, when to speak; and we are oblivious to the idea of absolute obedience.

 

Have you ever wondered who Jesus might be talking to when He asks: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”5

 

Amy Carmichael wrote: “Sooner or later every child of the Father, every servant of the heavenly Master, has to learn that he is not here to do as he likes, but as the Lord commands.”6

 

There is much to explore on this subject of Jesus being our own personal Lord. His Lordship is a key component of this journey we are making together. Many treasures await us up ahead, so buckle your seatbelts and hang on!

 

My goal, when asked if Jesus is my Savior and Lord, is to be able to answer truthfully: Yes! Yes! How about you? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

12 Peter 3:18, 2Romans 10:13; 31 Corinthians 6:19-20; 4Mark 10:45; 5Luke 6:46 (NIV); 6Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power, CLC Publications, 1982, July 29.

 

Finally ~ the Solution to Our Sin Problem April 24, 2013

[I believe this is perhaps the most important blog I have ever posted. Even if you think you already know the solution, please read this anyway. It is a powerful concept that I believe has been overlooked or omitted from much church training. Read it slowly and ask to see it with new eyes. I apologize for its length, but its importance made that necessary.]

 

It is a gloomy picture—the one painted by the Apostle Paul—as he admits with honesty and candor the demise of living in the flesh, enslaved to its deadly longings. Its toxic hold on us is inescapable. There are no trap doors of magical illusions by which we can drop through, fly out, or break free. It is the unsolicited fate of every human being who has ever lived on planet earth—every offspring of Grandpa Adam and Granny Eve. It is our inheritance and it is real.

 

Paul strategically laid out the case for the wretchedness of man in Romans Chapter 7, and near the end of the chapter it is apparent that all efforts to escape this entanglement have failed. His final evaluation was a clear cry for help: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”1

 

Then, without so much as taking a breath, Paul makes a bold proclamation:  “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 2

 

Paul finally recognized that legally, by the finished work of Jesus on the cross, he was rescued from the pronounced judgment of a life controlled by the flesh. I stand right there with him, legally that is, and so does every other believer in Jesus!

 

In his next statement, with the official rescue already carried out, accepted and now declared, Paul lays out the reality of what we are left with thereafter: “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”3

 

With Paul’s “so then” we have a description of the war that ensues, and that will continue based on these two facts:  1) with my mind I serve God; 2) with my flesh I serve sin. That is my condition and yours, as born-again believers. But get ready, the solution to our predicament is just ahead!

 

Paul opens Romans Chapter 8 with some amazing news: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” 4 These are powerful statements. Let’s not miss any of it!

 

I have taken the liberty of removing the chapter break and paraphrasing what I heard Paul say:

“I have a horrific problem—I am a slave to sin and I cannot free myself. Who will rescue me from this fatal condition? Thank God, Jesus did! But even though I was rescued legally when I was born again and I now serve God with my mind, I still serve sin with my human nature. But listen up—there is a solution! Although the flesh is condemned, those of us who are in Christ Jesus (born-again) and walk in the Spirit are not condemned. Because of the fact that we are legally free from the law of sin and death, we can overrule our human nature by walking in the Spirit!”

 

Do you see it? Paul has outlined a two-part solution to being freed from the great sin problem we inherited:  1) our spiritual souls are legally freed from the curse of sin when we accept Jesus Christ, and 2) our physical lives are freed from sin’s control as we walk in the Spirit.

 

Both are provided through Jesus Christ our Lord. Chapter 8 is rich with proof of this very arrangement. Life in the Spirit is the key to overruling our fleshly nature. That was the plan from the get-go—Christ would return to heaven and send a Helper, who would come to live in believers and empower them to overrule their fleshly nature.5

 

Many of us are born-again believers, but when we got to Romans 7:25, we made some mental ascent to this great truth, drove down our stake by faith and thought we were done. The problem is we were never taught how to walk in the Spirit. No one told us that unless we moved on into the provisions of Chapter 8, we would continue to live with our sin nature controlling us.

 

In Galatians 5:19, Paul clearly states this again: “I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Now let’s reverse it and read it again: “I say then, you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, if you walk in the Spirit.”

Jesus fully intended that every born-again believer be baptized in the Spirit,6 filled with the Spirit,7 empowered by the Spirit,8 and thereby enabled to live their life by the Spirit.

 

So what happened to Jesus’ intentions? We will examine. In fact, we have much to examine and explore about walking in the Spirit. Join the exciting journey ahead! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:24; 2Romans 7:25a (NIV); 3Romans 7:25b; 4Romans 8:1-2; 5John 16:7-13; 6Acts 1:5; 7Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 8Acts 1:8 (All other references are NKJ.)