Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

How Will the Church Emerge from COVID-19? ~ My Wish List May 16, 2020

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Paine. The year was 1776, the same year the thirteen American colonies broke from their mother country and declared independence as a free nation. They were brave men and women who fought for what they believed in, who they were, and the future they desired. Their trying times gave birth to the greatest nation on the face of the earth—the United States of America.

Our trying times should give birth to something greater as well. We should never be the same person when we come through trying times and out on the other side of pain and struggle. God allows such times because they test us to see what we’re made of. Are our hearts right before Him? Are our motives for a worthy cause? Do we want the thing bad enough to sacrifice something to obtain it?

I can’t help but wonder what changes COVID-19 will bring to us. For some reason God has allowed it, and it has and will affect so many things about our lives—what we do, where we go, how we act and react to a new normal. And then there is the Church—will the Church of Jesus Christ emerge better than we were before COVID-19? Could God be using these trying times to iron out our wrinkles so we will be ready for the Bridegroom when He comes? And what might the new normal for the Church look like?

 

 

I have a few things I would like to see change ~ my wish list, if you will.

Number 1: Christians would be one with each other, just as Jesus is one with the Father. If God has done anything in this season it is to marginalize the denominational lines that divide us. These divisions of separation need the searing hot iron in God’s mighty hand to smooth out those deeply embedded creases. Our pet doctrines need to melt away or at least be shelved. (I won’t be holding my breath on that one.) Our prejudices and jealousy must not exist in our new normal. All arrogance and pride should be gone as we emerge from this pandemic storm.

Number 2: Another change I would like to see is the leveling of the playing field among Christ’s followers. During this time, we see famous spiritual leaders, teachers, televangelists, singers, writers, speakers, etc. now standing shoulder to shoulder beside the weakest among us. We all recognize our desperate need for Him. We all feel the same stress. We all feel the same uncertainty. We all feel the same neediness. Our one heart’s cry that rises to the heavens in true harmony (something that doesn’t happen often) is this: “Oh God, we need YOU!”

If we’ve learned anything during this season of unrest, it is that the church building is not the church. Our denomination is not the church. Our platform and style of worship is not the church. Since those things are not the Church, then it seems apparent that we must now figure out what the Church of Jesus Christ is actually supposed to be.

Could it be that a conceit for our way of doing things and a disdain for other’s way of doing things will have no place of expression on the other side of the pandemic? Oh God, may this be true! Lest we stand together as one unified body of born-again believers, our religious freedoms will vanish before our eyes.

Could it be the efforts to grow our church, our brand of Christianity, our form of worship will cease and be replaced with all of God’s children serving Him and each other in one accord and waiting before Him? After all, wasn’t that the atmosphere that set the stage for the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts? Wasn’t that the very match that lit the fires of revival and church explosion? It was!

During this season of seeking the Church’s true place in God’s Kingdom, it should be the desire of our hearts that we emerge from COVID-19 as a changed people—less divided, less critical, less proud, and more like our Savior who gave up everything for us? Do we owe Him anything less?

As the Church seeks to find our new normal, may we keep in mind that before the Church can love the world, we must first learn to love each other.

Somehow, I believe that Jesus’ wish list for His Church may look a lot like mine.

Blessings to all as we face the new normal of Christianity. ~ Janie

 

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

 

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