Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

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

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The Goal Posts Have Moved May 28, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Change Is As Good As A Rest March 20, 2015

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

 

What is the Missing Ingredient in Your Christian Life? February 25, 2015

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

 

The Elephant Revealed February 4, 2015

I wonder how many times when the elephant in the room is suddenly faced and its truths revealed that we discover the elephant wasn’t nearly as bad as we had expected.  In fact, the exact opposite is often the case, and we question why we had dreaded it in the first place.

I fully believe that will be the case with humility. Once we see humility for what it is, we will be pleasantly surprised. I also believe the enemy of our souls has known all along that humility is the crucial key to the Christian life, and therefore he has deliberately diverted us away from it.

Perhaps a look at what brought down the arch-enemy of God in the first place will give us some insight into the confusion surrounding humility. Before the world was created, Satan desired to take God’s place as the most-high God—in short, he wanted to be worshipped. In seeking that position for himself, he convinced one-third of the angels to buy into his plan. Satan did not deserve nor earn that position, but he exalted himself to that place. As a result, he and his team of rebellious imps were cast out of heaven.

It is easy to see why Satan approached Adam and Eve with his plan as well. His convincing, but untrue argument was to cast doubt on God’s integrity. Unfortunately, like the fallen angels, they too fell for Satan’s lies.

Can you imagine the grief in God’s heart when his crowned creation followed the path of his worst enemy? If we could grasp that fact, we might better understand why God hates pride so much. Pride cost God one-third of His angels as well as the creation that reflected His own image. But wait, that isn’t all—pride would cost Him even more.

The entire human race would now inherit the sin of pride from their parents’ DNA. It would cripple every child that would ever live. Pride would rise up in their hearts, and if gone unchecked, it would cause them to desire a position of highest honor and praise; perhaps even to be worshipped. What could possibly stop the universal spread of this devastating disease?

An antidote was needed, but what? The antidote must be equally as good as pride is bad. In His great wisdom, God knew that only the exact opposite of pride could counter its deadly effects on the human soul. Thus, it would require God’s greatest virtue—humility.

Being the supreme essence of humility, God determined it would be necessary to demonstrate this virtue to the world. The plan was made and set into motion—“our Lord Jesus emptied Himself and came to earth to live a poor man’s life and die a felon’s death.”1 Jesus gave up His perfect, sinless life on a despised cross to rescue us. There is no greater act of humility than that.

The antidote for pride would come with a high price tag. The unthinkable! The unimaginable! The unexplainable! The most painful of all costs! For 33 years God would be separated from His Son, and for 33 years He would foresee the excruciating pain His Son would endure. God saw it. God felt it. God allowed it. We want to scream, “Why? Why would God do that?”

If pride had not been stopped, we would be destined to join Satan and his angels in the eternal lake of fire. Yet, God thought we were worth saving. Can we not clearly see why God would have a deep and intense hatred for even a hint of pride? ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.2 ~ Andrew Murray

1Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, Pg.15; 2Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig Books.com, Pg.12

 

The Elephant in the Room January 28, 2015

Our God is so gracious to show us treasures we might otherwise overlook—such as the huge benefits in this thing called humility. I recently made a bold statement in my post The Fast-Track to Success in 2015:  In order to go higher in God, one must first go lower. If I even slightly aroused your thinking, I am thrilled.

For some time we have given Carte blanche privileges to denominational teachings, church leaders, and popular TV ministers; so much so that we find it difficult to accept some out-of-the-denominational-box ideas, even when they are firmly rooted in our Judeo-Christian beliefs.

So it is with humility, a subject that has neither been embraced nor taught for some time. Have we overlooked its value? And why wouldn’t anyone believe that it is for us, when we have the supreme humility of Jesus as our example? What do we think Jesus meant when He said, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted?”1

Could humility be the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about? Is it the obvious truth that is being ignored? Perhaps it is a message the enemy of our souls has purposely buried in the modern-day rhetoric of God’s plan for us. Most popular teachings today tell us that God wants us living the good life of the rich and famous.

The truth is that God wants us to deny ourselves, give up our life, and be available to Him for His purposes only. That, my friend, is the call to follow Jesus, and that is the destiny of all true followers of the cross. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”2

We are certainly called upon to humble ourselves, for giving up our life for Him will require much humility. That would mean no longer pursuing our will, but His will in all that we do, say, and think.  In order to acquire humility at that level, one must go very low. It is spelled: servanthood.

Because we were bought with a price and our life is not our own, 3 Christ has the authority to tell us what to do, say, and think. As His servants—with no rights, privileges, or say in the matter—we are told only to obey.4 Are any of us willing to follow Him that far?

This is a humility which many Christians in America know little about, and our American rights and privileges have not helped us get there either. Yet, if we profess to serve a humble God, who gave up everything for us, we must seek to be humble and embrace all that servanthood entails.

We are going to spend some time here, because we really cannot go higher with God until we first go lower. Lower is our true destiny; and as difficult as it sounds, I promise it will be worth the trip! There is a great message in humility that has been hidden from this generation of believers—it simply got lost in the “seek the good life” mentality. The truth about the way of the cross can open a whole new spiritual dimension for us. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down. This was what Jesus said to the disciples who were thinking of being great in the kingdom….Look to it that you humble yourselves and take no place before God or man but that of a servant; that is your work…. Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place; so the moment God finds the creature abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.”5 ~ Andrew Murray

Additional Insight: Refer to “What Other Writers Say about Humility and Depravity” in Treasure in Earthen Vessels, April 18, 2013. (Use the search feature and enter “What Other Writers Say.”)

1 Luke 18:14; 2Luke 9:24; 31 Corinthians 6:19-20; 4 John 14:23; 5Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig Books.com, 2012; page 17

 

The Game-Changing Power Source October 6, 2014

The Holy Spirit is alive and well on planet earth. Really? Where? Well, according to God’s Word, He lives inside every born-again believer.1

Remember that the Holy Spirit is the personal representative of the triumphant, resurrected Christ. That’s right—the triumphant Christ—not the defeated, nor abused, nor victimized Christ. Jesus willingly submitted Himself to death on the cross because our own victory hinged on His sacrificial death. His goal was not only to be triumphant over the flesh, death, hell and the grave, but to be the first of many sons and daughters to be triumphant over the flesh, death, hell and the grave.2 He fully intends for us to be just like Him—triumphant followers.

Do you know any triumphant followers of Jesus? Are you one? I fear that in the eyes of onlookers, we are better described as the bedraggled, bewildered, and barely-hanging-on believers that are not quite sure Jesus will keep His promises. We think the Promise Land is a fantasy world that we will never reach in this life. Reality tells us that we can’t see it, claim it, or possess it; therefore, the Promise Land must be in heaven.

So triumphant followers, is it?  Yet, it is difficult to say our names in the same sentence as triumphant when our track record for winning souls or getting prayers answered is highly suspect. Many of us believe that God fully intends for us to be triumphant, but we ask, “How can this be?”

It is not until we discover the Indwelling Holy Spirit deep inside our being and begin to cooperate with Him, that we will find the divine power switch. That would be like locating the master switch that controls the electrical power coming into your house—the switch that makes everything work as it is intended to work.

Power changes everything! It changes our attitude, our spiritual and mental stability, and our outlook for the future. The rules of engagement change as well, in favor of the one with the most power. We move from fearful disciples to triumphant overcomers. Sound like any other motley group of believers you have heard of before?

Yet, I fear many have not met this game-changing Power Source. Jesus clearly said that “Apart from me you can do nothing.”3 And He also said, “But you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes on you.”4 I clearly see a problem, and I clearly see the solution.

Looking for the game-changing power switch? It is found only in knowing, embracing and honoring the Holy Spirit. ~Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “The Holy Spirit was given for this one purpose—that the glorious redemption and life in Christ might with divine power be conveyed and communicated to us. We have the Holy Spirit to make the living Christ, in all His saving power, and the completeness of His victory over sin, ever present within us.”5 ~ Andrew Murray

For more Secret Place Secrets visit www.treasureinearthenvessels.net and follow the footprints.

1John 14:16-17; 2Hebrews 2:10; 3John 15:5; 4Acts 1:8; 5Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ, Starling and Black Publications, Copyright 2013, Pg. 75