Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Rest ~ It can be yours for the right currency May 13, 2014

Filed under: Faith — Janie Kellogg @ 1:10 pm
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I think most all Christians believe that God intends for His children to be at rest—at least spiritually. We know we are called to work to spread the Gospel to all the world, to teach and train our children and new converts in the things of God, and certainly to wage war against the forces of evil; but spiritually, we believe that God wants us to be “at rest” in Him as our Heavenly Father.

 

As earthly parents, we do not want our children, especially small children, to be concerned about where their next meal is coming from, the growth of their college fund, the cost of their health insurance, or much of anything for that matter. We want them to be kids—to be light-hearted and carefree as they live life. After all, we are responsible for the big things, and there’s not much that kids can do about heavy issues anyway.

 

Why then do we think our Heavenly Father is any different? Did He not say that He clearly takes responsibility for what we eat, and drink, and wear? And what about tomorrow or the future? Didn’t He tell us not to worry about heavy issues like those? Isn’t He the only one who can do anything about those things anyway? Personally, I believe God says to us: “I’ll allow you to be human, if you’ll just allow me to be God!” 

 

Recently, we talked about entering God’s rest from Hebrews Chapter 4—a chapter rich with nuggets of insight for us. Here are a few of them:

 

  • It is possible not to enter this rest.
  • Entering requires faith, not just knowledge.
  • God was angry with those who failed to enter.
  • Everything has already been accomplished for us to enter.
  • All who enter must cease from his own works as God ceased from His works.

 

We have read these truths over and over. We think we understand what they mean, but we continue to live otherwise.  We continue “not” to believe God’s rest is for us. We continue to strive to please God with our human accomplishments. We continue to work to make God happy enough to let us enter there. Yet, based on these truths from Chapter 4, these things are simply not what is required.

 

Receiving things from God seems to trip us up. Just how do we get God to release His promises to us? I believe that God has a currency—a heavenly currency—that must be used in God’s economy. It is the one thing that God accepts when we come to get something from Him. That currency is FAITH! God has set in motion that everything that comes from Him can be obtained ONLY by using this currency. Scripture verifies my belief:

 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”. (Hebrews 11:6)

 

When we come to God for rest and do not come with faith, but with complaining, or self-pity, or offering up our good deeds, we are attempting to use some other form of currency. And God says “I won’t accept that currency. You must enter my rest on my terms, and my terms are by faith!” Can we not hear Him saying to us “Take me at my Word! Stop doubting me! Stop trying to earn it! Stop trying to coerce me! Cease from your works and simply believe ME!”

 

Do you get it? God wants us to stop trying and start believing! We must repent for trying to get there any other way; for blaming God that it’s too hard; and for trusting in our own works. It’s time to humble ourselves, believe God, and approach the throne of God with FAITH in our hands and our hearts. Thank Him that He provided it free of charge to us—except to believe Him. Thank Him for doing all the work and letting us off the hook. Our works don’t look so great anyway.

 

If you’re broke—dead-broke with no faith in your pocket whatsoever—ask our generous God to give you some. He longs to do that for you. If you come before Him with FAITH to enter that rest, it’s a guarantee that He’ll receive it and you will at last GO IN! ~ Janie

 

Call a Spade a Spade March 27, 2014

If I sound like a broken record, I am. Yet in my search to discover the mysteries of God, including the promised rest in Hebrews 4, I am continually led to the same subject: death to self. An insight I recently gleaned from Andrew Murray’s writings brought some clarity to the issue that has perhaps baffled Christians for centuries. Murray, the Christian icon from South Africa, clearly believed that self is Satan’s representative within each of us.

 

If this is true, then I must ask: “Why would I yield to Satan’s representative rather than Christ’s representative, the Holy Spirit?” I doubt that I intentionally do so, yet I find myself doing it all the time. However, with this revelation, it should be easier to identify just who it is that I am supposed to be denying.

 

Consider this thought: Satan does his work in me through his representative in me—self. Light-bulb flash here! That concept is difficult for Americans to accept because of the mindset that we are entitled to the American dream. If self wants something, especially something good and wholesome, we believe that we have a right to have it, do it, or say it.

 

While that could be true in this kingdom we call America, it is NOT true in the Kingdom of God. When we were born again by the Spirit, we changed kingdoms. We are no longer members of any earthly kingdom.

 

Jesus tried to explain what the Kingdom of God is like, and according to His teachings, God’s Kingdom and America are not the same thing. America, with its many freedoms, may be the closest thing on earth to the Kingdom of God, but it is far from being the same.

 

Being born into God’s Kingdom changes everything—it changes who we are, how we act, what we say, and most importantly, what we think! Kingdom-thinkers see things the world cannot see, and therefore, we have a new mindset about everything. As we grow in Christ, this difference will surface time and time again.

 

The biggest battle we face is that of changing our way of thinking to God’s way of thinking. Who is going to influence us from this time forward, now that we are members of the heavenly kingdom? Will Satan’s representative be the dominate influence, or will the Holy Spirit be the dominate influence? Andrew Murray encourages us to “Let every Christian make this his one great plea and aim: to have the mind that was in Christ Jesus.”1

 

Author Chris Tiegreen wrote: “We are not allowed to fit God’s mission in around our higher priorities….We may pursue the American dream or the Kingdom of God, but not both. We may give up everything or not give up everything, but not both. Christ compels us to choose.”2

 

We all love choices. America was built on the freedom to choose, most particularly religious freedom. We can choose to be a disciple of Christ, take up our cross and follow Him, or we can choose to follow after the things of the world. What we cannot do is both—or one could say, we cannot have our cake and eat it too!

 

Our problem is that we are confused about what following Christ actually means. The world has sold us a bill of goods that resembles the things of God, such as patriotism, prosperity, pleasure, health consciousness, and such, while in reality these are a mirage. Christ’s kingdom is not made up of such things. After a long discourse about the things of life that we tend to worry about, Jesus said, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things….but seek his kingdom….”3

 

Step Number 1 to entering the rest of God is quite simple: Ask God to help us see ourselves in the light of His Word. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”4 Are we actually denying self anything?

 

Denying Satan’s representative in us is not optional if we want to enter God’s rest. I didn’t say it, Jesus did. And He will help us do it as soon as we get honest with God, and call a spade a spade. For no one will be allowed to enter that rest who tries to bring Satan’s representative along with them. Once we make the connection, rest is not far ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Andrew Murray, The Believer’s Secret to the Abiding Presence, Pg. 120. 2Chris Tiegreen, One Year at His Feet Devotional, March 23; 3Luke 12:29-31; 4Matthew 16:24

 

 

Oh God, I Need Some Rest! March 20, 2014

I’ve read it a thousand times—Hebrews Chapter 4. I’ve chased its interpretation for more years than I care to count. Still today, verse 11 perplexes me: “Let us therefore labor to enter that rest…” It doesn’t make sense to labor at resting. Why not just lie down and rest? To top that, the word labor in this scripture actually means to “make haste.”  So now I’m supposed to hurry at resting? I want to label this an oxymoron, but I know God doesn’t make mistakes.

 

Oh God, I need some rest! How I long for rest! I can only hope to find it someday!

 

I’m smack-dab in the middle of accounting season, near drowning in sheer circumstances. For an accountant, that means deadline upon deadline to meet with little recourse. Even a good night’s rest for the body is scarce. I told a friend the other day that it felt as if I were submerged in water and all that remained on the surface is one hand slowly sinking down through the bubbles from my last breath of air as I mumbled a final cry for help.

 

While it was intended to be funny, I wonder how many of us feel just like that about life. We’ve tried to keep afloat, made every effort to hold things together, did our best to swim against the current of never-ending demands on our lives, but somehow we feel that we might not make it. Does life grab you that way—hold you under until you’re not sure the next breath will come?

 

And what about our spiritual lives—ever felt that you’re just not getting the hang of it? You do all the right things, you work and give and help and support. You struggle with thoughts like, “Oh God, I’ve given and given and it never seems to work for me like Joel Osteen said it would!” And what about the strength we’ve been promised—you know from lofty verses like, “your strength shall be renewed, mounting up with wings like eagles?”1 Somehow that seems to have slip right past me. Yep, this eagle is merely hopping along on the ground trying to dodge the muck and mire of life.

 

If any of this sounds like you—I have good news. I’m not sure why its meaning has eluded me for so long, but Hebrews Chapter 4 is our answer. It is the very substance of what God knew we would need and what He provided for us in advance. Remember, God doesn’t make mistakes.

 

So what does it mean—this laboring to rest business? Newer translations say, “Let us be diligent to enter that rest.” It means: Let us hurry diligently at finding the rest provided by God and then enter into that rest. I suspect that we don’t hurry diligently because we do not know what that rest is or where it is. If we just knew what it was or where it was, we would!

 

While there are many clues to unfold in this chapter, let’s take a closer look at Verses 9 and 10: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His (God’s) rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”

 

Did you see that—ceased from his works? Let that soak in. Amy Carmichael said, “Perhaps what demands most will power is the resolution to cease from our own works, our own busyness, and to stay our minds upon our God.”

 

We know that earning salvation by good works is included here, for only the works of Christ at Calvary can save us. But don’t stop there. Look for more. Could this also be the key to living the Spirit-empowered life?

 

God has plan and a place for us to rest. God wants us to find and enter into it. Moses’ generation didn’t enter in because of unbelief. In other words, they heard about it, “but the word which they heard did not benefit them because it was not mixed with faith.”

 

We must first believe this rest of God is available to us. Once we believe it is there, we must hurry diligently to find it. Look up and look forward as we unpack the secrets to finding and entering that rest! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Isaiah 40:31; All other scriptures Hebrews Chapter 4.