Category Archives: The Secret Place Secrets

Devotionals about The Secret Place as found in Psalm 91.

What to do with a Dead Vision ~

What comes to mind when you hear the words “dead vision?” Here is what goes off in my head: Done. Over. Finished. Expired. Lifeless. Nada. Nil. Nothing.

I was recently tempted to call a promise of God—that has not yet been fulfilled in my life—dead. You know what I’m talking about because you have one too—the vision God dropped into your heart years ago, and you are still waiting for it to happen.

As I pondered the cause for the delay, I wondered if I had done something to hinder God from fulfilling His word to me. No sooner than I put that issue to rest (by asking for forgiveness for whatever I might have done), another accusation quickly surfaced to replace it, and then another, and another. You will recognize them, because you’ve heard them too:

“Maybe I didn’t hear God right. Perhaps I am believing for something God never promised? I must be daydreaming to think this could come true. It’s impossible. Did I just make this up? I might as well face it, that vision is dead!”

A few days ago a daily devotional reading by Amy Carmichael spoke to this very issue. She wrote:  “Our Lord Jesus has taught us to call the dead, the living.”1

It’s true. Hebrews 11:12 says: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky….” We know this as the fulfillment of God’s promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah very late in life. And in Romans 4:17 we read, “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”

We are given a clear example of the good-as-dead body of Abraham and the obviously-dead womb of Sarah being called the living. By all accounts their vision appeared to be totally impossible. Yet, in the remaining verses of Romans 4 we read how Abraham found the faith and the courage to call those dead things, alive.

Contrary to hope, Abraham believed in hope. (vs.18)

Not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead since he was about a hundred years old. (vs. 19)

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief. (vs. 20)

He was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God. (vs. 20)

He was fully convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform. (vs. 21)

Notice the verb phrases in these scriptures:  believed in hope; not being weak; did not consider; did not waver; was strengthened; gave glory; was fully convinced. These are the steps Abraham took while waiting upon God to fulfil the vision.

More modern-day language may sound like this: Don’t give up. Hang in there. Keep on keeping on. Stay the course. Trust when you don’t feel like it. Praise God anyway. Speak positive words of faith. Reaffirm your confidence in God.

Is it too late for us to apply these powerful verb phrases to our vision? Of course not! What if we were to defy the odds, disregard what we see, dismiss what we feel, disarm the voice of our enemy—and call our dead vision—alive! After all, if God Himself says something is alive, then it must be alive!

Hasn’t the enemy of our souls taunted us long enough with doubt and unbelief? As sons and daughters of Abraham, our father of faith, let’s tell God that we still believe He will fulfill His promise to us. Then we can move forward as if it is true, simply because God said so. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.~ Romans 4:18 [The Message]

1Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power, CLC Publications, Ft. Washington, PA, 1982, Pg. 121

The Goal Posts Have Moved

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.

Counterproductive Prayers ~ What’s up with that?

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!

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)

How Can Such a Small Bump in the Road Stir Up Such a Big Stink?

While driving home from church last night I hit a bump in the road. I felt only a small thump, but it wasn’t long before I knew I had stirred up a big stink. You guessed it—I hit a skunk. It seemed as if I didn’t have a choice since it darted right out in front of me. Regardless, I quickly chose what I thought to be the best direction to go in order to miss it. I chose wrong.

I couldn’t help but blame myself. Was I pre-occupied with a problem I had just learned about? Was I not focusing on where I was going? Did I react in haste; in error? Perhaps if I had done any of these things differently, one of God’s little creatures would still be alive, and my car, well, let’s just say it would be giving off a more pleasant aroma!

OK, maybe I’m over-analyzing, but maybe not. After all, I expect that I’ll be reminded of it for quite some time. So, what might the Holy Spirit have for me in this unfortunate incident?

Perhaps 2 Corinthians 2:14 has a word for us: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

This verse tells us that God does two things: 1) He always leads us to triumph in Christ; and 2) He uses my life to distribute a fragrance of Himself everywhere I go.

The fact is….we all have bumps in the road—little bumps, medium-sized bumps, and big bumps. They happen to everyone. The issue is not how to have a life without bumps, but how to handle them when they pop up right in our face.

It is in the bumps of life that God desires to lead us to triumph. That’s right—a bump in the road is actually an opportunity for the Christ in us to show the world who He is, how He thinks, and how He behaves. What we call an unfortunate bump in the road is also our opportunity to be used of God to spread the sweet fragrance of Christ-like-ness to those who come in contact with us.

Anytime we encounter a bump in the road that jolts our lives, our emotions, or our self-esteem, we (and others) are left with the aroma of our reaction. Since that aroma will be around for quite a while, it’s important what we dispense—a sweet-smelling fragrance or an aroma that people will shy away from?

Even a small amount of rudeness, selfish demands, or an unleashed temper can stir up a stink we may later regret. Damage done in a split-second of careless reaction may cost us more than we ever imagined—an irreparable friendship, alienated family member, or a wounded spouse.

Some good advice might be to keep our minds on the Lord instead of our problems; remember to stay focused on where we are going and our goal to take others with us; not to react in haste, but to think things through; and to understand there is a cost if we make an error in the direction we choose. And if we choose our reactions and words carefully, we might even save the life of one of God’s creations—a human one.

Lord, as your ambassadors to a lost world, help us react to the bumps in our road like Jesus would react. We understand that if we don’t, we might be left with a big stink to live with. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” ~ Amy Carmichael

A Change Is As Good As A Rest

Spring Break 2015 has come and gone. It’s a given that we all need a break now and then. After all, we are a society that lives the rat-race life. Sometimes when I get really overwhelmed, I say “I’m running the rat race and the rats are winning.” I bet you feel like that sometimes too.

We are told that a break from the monotony of regular life is good for us. It causes us to focus on other things, and therefore, relieves some of the stress in our lives. Many people use Spring Break to get away from work, school, and responsibilities, and actually get some rest. And for those who didn’t necessarily get any rest, there is an English proverb that says “A change is a good as a rest.” So if you got a change from the norm for the past few days, you are indeed blessed.

Sometimes I experience a forced break from subjects the Lord is teaching me. Through circumstances, God leads me away for a time, and when I come back to it, I see things with refreshed eyes. That has been the case in my chase after humility.

I read these words by Andrew Murray this morning with refreshed eyes. I choose to share them with you because they are words of life to ever-seeking believers:

“No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang….If this [humility] be the root of the tree, its nature must be seen in every branch and leaf and fruit. If humility be the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus—if humility be the secret of His atonement—then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend upon our putting this grace first too, and making humility the chief thing we admire in Him, the chief thing we ask of Him, the one thing for which we sacrifice all else. Is it any wonder that the Christian life is so often feeble and fruitless, when the very root of the Christ life is neglected, is unknown? ….Believer, study the humility of Jesus! This is the secret, the hidden root of your redemption. Sink down into it deeper day by day. Believe with your whole heart that this Christ, whom God has given you, even as His divine humility wrought the work for you, will enter in to dwell and work within you too, and make you what the Father would have you be.”1

Can we take a break from pursuing what we see as the greatest needs in our lives and our churches: more money, more things, more activity, or better music, better curriculum, better leaders—more and better anything—and let these words speak to our hearts? Can we allow them to soak in and penetrate our spirit-deprived minds? Can we break away from the desire for entertainment long enough to let God inject something of greater value?

Here’s the question: Is the missing ingredient in our spiritual lives actually the humility of Jesus? What might it do for us and our churches if we were to seek such?

Not many will, so we may never see what the accumulated results would be. But for those who are ready for a break from the monotony of the self-driven, self-gratifying, prosperity teaching of today—this change in what we seek just might yield the refreshing results we have been searching for. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprint Key Quote: You are, by His grace, counted worthy to follow the Crucified in the way of the Cross. So few are ready for that. They preach about it, sing about it, but when it comes to doing it, then they just don’t. But I should not say “they,” “I” is the pronoun. What do I know of this way? I shrank from it….That wasn’t following.”2 ~ Amy Carmichael

Key Scripture: Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

For other related posts, see Treasures in Earthen Vessels, “What is the Missing Ingredient in Your Christian Life,” February 25, 2015

1Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig-Books.com; Pg. 6-9; 2Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, 1982, Pg. 78

When It’s Just One of Those Days ~

We all have them—days when we feel battle-weary, shell-shocked, and overrun by the enemy of our souls. Even if he didn’t win the battle, he certainly left behind a heap of rubbish for us to deal with.

I’m sure there were days when Jesus felt the same way. Not about Himself, but about others. He possibly knew the disappointment of healing someone’s life, only weeks later to see them lining up for another divine touch. He might have thought, “Will they ever get it?”

But we all have repeat patterns. How many times do we learn a hard lesson and then vow never make that mistake again? But we do. After all, we’re human, and unfortunately humans are prone to make mistakes and then repeat them over and over. The amazing thing is not that we ever reach a not-so-human status, but that we learn where to turn when our mistakes overwhelm us.

It is easy to think we can fix someone else’s quirks so they won’t blunder anymore; but it’s not true. If our fixing worked, we could fix ourselves. We can’t. Our best approach to our weak points is facing them, admitting them, and then running as fast as we can to the One who can help us. His name is Jesus.

Listen to His invitation: 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. Matthew 11:28-30

Yep, Jesus is the best Fixer in the business! He knows what is needed when it is needed. He knows where to apply pressure, when to apply it, and how much to apply. He also knows when to relieve the pressure, and exactly how much to relieve. He knows when to console and when to encourage. He knows when we should stay in the ring and keep fighting, or when it’s best to get out. He knows when we should push through a trial, or when to yield, sit on the sidelines, and let someone else fight for us.

He’s the perfect coach. He knows how to win. We may not always think so, since some victories are won by surrender. They have the appearance of defeat, but they’re not. At other times, victory comes by standing our ground and never bending to the forces that oppose us.

Who knows what to do when? Do we press on or accept the inevitable? If you’ve ever faced cancer, or divorce, or bankruptcy, or depression, or a family feud, or one of a million other overwhelming circumstances, you have some idea of the onslaught of options and what-if’s that flood your mind. The sheer overload zaps your strength, and you start to doubt your ability to make good decisions.

Because we are humans with limitations, we are given a loving, caring Shepherd to guide us through the maze of life’s hard places. If we let Him, Jesus will take responsibility for making the decisions we can’t. He looks at us with eyes of understanding and says, “I’ve got this.”

And He does. He has this one, and the next one, and the next. He never makes a bad call or a bad decision. He is a proven winner and can be trusted. Today, hear is “Come to Me,”1 and then keep it simple: Go to Him, accept His yoke, and learn from Him. Believe that He keeps His word, and you will soon find your soul resting. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “When you are very conscious of your faults, do not be discourage by them, but confess them to God. Do not excuse them, or accuse Him. Then, peaceably resume your usual practice of love and adoration of God.”2 ~ Bro. Lawrence

1Matthew 11:28-30;  2Brother Lawrence, The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN, pg. 29

What is the Missing Ingredient in Your Christian Life?

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

What’s In It For Me?

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?

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