Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Asking for Overs ~ New Year’s Day 2017 January 1, 2017

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 4:55 pm
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“Oh, how I wish I could write like her,” I whispered to the Lord as I turned out the light. “My journals are full of the same stuff. Why can’t I write so people will read it?”

 

I had just read a few choice lines from Ann VosKamp’s new book The Broken Way to my husband, explaining that every sentence is so insightful I must stop and process it before I can move on. He had agreed.

 

As I settled down under the bedcovers, the Holy Spirit spoke one of those profound things to my heart:

 

“Not many people read books, but everyone reads lives. It’s not that I need more people writing the message—I need more people living the message.”

 

Ouch! My toes felt the divine crush.

 

I awoke early the next morning, and the dialog with the Holy continued.

 

“This is what many of My children do with the gifts I give to them—be it writing, singing, teaching, preaching, serving—you name it. They focus on the gift rather than the Giver.”

 

Ouch! Again.

 

Guilty as charged. It was true. I had made the gift (or talent) God had given me about me. I had attempted to enhance my gift, develop it, grow it, market it, and if the opportunity had arisen, I’m sure I would have sold it. The Giver pushed aside to make room for the gift.

 

He directed me to the Mount of Transfiguration story.1 There it was in plain sight how Peter immediately switched to the “it’s about me mode.” Jesus had been transformed right before his eyes, and Moses and Elijah showed up to boot—a marvelous display of God’s power and glory. Yet, the event soon became about Peter—where he was, how he felt, and what he could do to make this moment better.

 

Here is Matthew’s telling of what happened: “Then Peter began to speak and said to Jesus: Lord, it is good and delightful that we are here; if you approve, I will put up three booths, one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

 

How do you improve on that display of majestic mystery? That brush with the Eternal?

 

God gives gifts to His children for the purpose of drawing us closer to Himself, just as He did Peter. He wants us to see His magnificent glory and power so we can tell others about Him. He desires an intimate relationship with us, where we continually communion with Him, depending on Him to enable and anoint our gift for His purpose—reaching the world with His message.

 

Yet, like Peter, we soon make it about us. Our excitement takes over and ideas flood our mind about how we can make it g-r-e-a-t! Forget waiting on the Holy Spirit to direct our gift toward God’s purpose. The way we see it: God gave it, but we can take it from here.

 

How often do we offend the Holy Spirit by adding our humanness to a divine gift? Jesus said: “…the Son can do nothing by himself.”2 So how is it we think we can?

 

Making the gift our focus interferes with our intimacy with the Giver. Rather than seeing His glory, His power, His offer to operate through us, we envision all we can do for God with this gift. Instead of drawing us closer to Him, it pulls us away from Him. Our time and energy goes toward working the gift. Even prayer time centers on planning for the use of our gift. Intimacy is out the window; so is faith and trust.

 

I wonder if God ever wishes He hadn’t given us that gift in the first place.

 

Have you been thinking lately that your gift isn’t working like it used to? Are the results not what you’d hoped for? Has the freshness and anointing slipped away? Is it more a job than a joy? Perhaps you have even begun to doubt your gift?

 

Maybe we should ask ourselves this question: “How’s my intimacy with God?” If the answer is cold, lacking, or non-existent, then we shouldn’t expect our gift to work either.

 

So what can we do? Can we have overs? Perhaps.

 

Can we make our gift about the Giver and not about us? Maybe.

 

Can we allow it to draw us closer to Him rather than draw us away from Him? Not sure.

 

Can we let our intimacy with Him override our desire to do our own thing? I don’t know.

 

Is God a giver of second changes—and third—and fourth—and fifth? Definitely!

 

I don’t know about you, but I am asking for overs. As this New Year floods in, I see a fresh opportunity to handle my God-given gift differently.

 

Let’s brace ourselves, breath in some grace, and begin again. Isn’t that what a New Year is all about? Like the beginning of a new day!

a-new-beginning-2017

Dear Jesus, I bring this gift back to you. Please forgive me for what I’ve made it. Sanctify it anew, burn out the dross, remove the humanness I’ve added, and purity it for your purpose. May it be used for your glory in 2017, not mine.  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Matthew 17:1-8 (AMP) 2John 10:19 (NIV)

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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

 

Do I Have What It Takes to Tell the World that God’s Not Dead? September 27, 2016

I am keenly aware that many denominations have different views on how and when believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. I will leave the doctrinal arguments to the great theologians. However, I think that unless we address some portion of this issue for ourselves, we may miss the very power Christ intended for us to have—that is, the power to live out this life as a true follower of Jesus.

This quote by Jim Cymbala is worth considering: “Is it not time for all of us to do some soul searching and ask ‘Is my life characterized by the power of God being manifested through me by the Holy Spirit so that people will know that God’s not dead?’”

Soul searching—a searching of my soul—to evaluate whether or not I have what it takes to express to the world that God is alive. The only way I can do that is to look at the behavior and the fruits of my life. Do I act like Jesus? Do I look like Jesus? Are the fruits of my life anything like the fruits of His life?

If we study the first disciples of Jesus, we will find they were not much like Him at all—that is until the Holy Spirit arrived on the scene. They were selfish and sought to be the greatest; they slept when He told them to stay awake; Peter lied and denied the Lord; Thomas was full of doubt; they were all cowards—fleeing when the going got tough. What we see are regular human beings, who loved Jesus and wanted to be like Him, but didn’t have the power to do so.

Then the Holy Spirit came and we see very different disciples—now willing to stand on the street corner and preach the gospel, risking their lives to tell the world about the wonderful life-changing salvation they had received. They went to jail, endured threatening, beatings, and eventually death for their Savior. So something happened to them, regardless of how, when or where it happened.

Looking at the earlier version of followers, we don’t see much of anything that manifests power. Yet, looking at those same followers after the Holy Spirit came—we see much power. Things began to happen; people received their message and thousands were saved; others were miraculously healed; in fact, these same disciples were accused of filling Jerusalem with their doctrine!

So what about my life—does anyone see much power coming from me? Some receive my message, but few get saved; no one has been healed, and I’ve never been accused of filling my city with my doctrine. But there has to be some evidence somewhere. It seems in my best interest to examine whether or not I have received the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised—somehow, some way, and at some time!

Laying all doctrinal questions aside of when, where, and how—the question I should be concerned about is this: Do I have what it takes to tell the world that God’s not dead?

If we dare, a trip to the examination table might reveal if, in fact, we have received the Holy Spirit. Some folks in Acts 19:2 said, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” I fear this could also be the answer from some Jesus followers today. The controversial subject of the Holy Spirit is not taught, talked about, or even mentioned in many churches. He is often ignored, misunderstood, or taken for granted. Unfortunately, those are the very reasons we see so little of His power in our lives and in our churches.

This story about Dwight L. Moody, in his early days of ministry, speaks to this issue. He was somewhat successful, yet his ministry was hindered. He drew crowds, but had few results. He tells that one day he came out of a service in New York and was getting into a carriage to go to another service when an old man with white, wind-blown hair called out to him. The old man put his bony finger in Moody’s face and said, “Young man, when you speak again, honor the Holy Ghost!” It was about six months before God revealed to him what the old man had meant by those words—that he was entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. He said, “I seldom stand before a great audience where I don’t see that old man, with his outstretched finger, and hear his voice, “Honor the Holy Ghost.” And we know the rest of the story—Moody went on to be one of the most powerful preachers America has ever known.1

Let us ask ourselves: Do we have the Holy Spirit? Do we know what it means to honor the Holy Spirit? What difference does it make, if any? Does it have anything to do with how much the Holy Spirit is manifested through our lives?” Ah ha, some soul searching is in order, don’t you think? ~ Janie Kellogg

1V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1960, Pg. 100

 

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

 

God Speaking August 6, 2016

As a choir director, I am always looking for new music. I like it all—hymns, traditional, contemporary, and country gospel music. If it’s about Jesus, it’s worth a listen. But what I look for most often is the music that speaks something to my heart. You know, when God is revealing a new truth to your life and then you hear a song that perfectly says what God has just shown you. I know you have had that experience too. I generally go, “WOW! God, I am blown away!”

It is like the singer is speaking out loud what is already planted in my heart. So it was a few days ago when I was the guest speaker for a Ladies Retreat. The praise team was singing a song that was somewhat familiar to me, yet I couldn’t place where I had heard it before. Obviously, I knew it pretty well because I sang along quite easily. But where had I heard it?

Finally, it dawned on me. It was a song I had considered several months ago, downloaded the soundtrack, practiced it, and then decided it wasn’t for my church, not now anyway. Maybe too contemporary; or maybe not the combination of instruments I liked; but for whatever reason, I had put it on the back burner.

But standing there in that beautiful sanctuary with precious young people leading the worship with a single guitar and bongo drum, this once-rejected, not-such-a-perfect-fit song spoke volumes to my heart! So, why was a song that hadn’t worked for me, now resonating with every fiber of my being?

Harbor Retreat 2016 - 2

It was God’s way of speaking to me—and to all who will listen—with that inner voice that points us to the hidden truths in His Word. The Holy Spirit is actually commissioned to do that for us: “He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Did you notice the personal pronoun in the verse? He guides you and me to the truth about who God is; what He has done for us; and how He longs to be in relationship with us. That night, His voice came through loud and clear. God speaking!

For that retreat and for the Bible study I am currently teaching on the importance of the Holy Spirit, I simply needed that song. It confirmed all I had been researching, writing, teaching, and now singing. My Faithful God had connected the dots for me, and I can hardly wait for the choir to learn it, the Ladies Bible Study group, and maybe even you, too. If you haven’t heard it before, google it and listen to a YouTube version with the words. It is called “Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here,” by Francesca Battistelli.  I have also included the words below. I challenge you to read them slowly and allow them soak into your inner-being.

This song will help us kick off a new series of teaching the Lord has recently opened up to me. We’ll just say it is the backdrop to prepare our hearts to hear what He wants to say to us. But in order to hear God speaking, there is one prerequisite: We must make the Holy Spirit, the Divine Teacher, welcome in our hearts. As for me, He is oh so welcome, and I am ready to hear God speak. How about you?

Holy Spirit, by Francesca Battistelli

 

There’s nothing worth more

That could ever come close

No thing can compare

You’re our living hope

Your presence, Lord.

 

I’ve tasted and seen

Of the sweetest of loves

Where my heart becomes free

And my shame is undone

Your presence, Lord.

 

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Your presence, Lord.  (2Xs)

 

Let us become more aware of Your presence

Let us experience the glory of Your goodness (4Xs)

 

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.

I hope you will join me for the next few weeks/months. It’s been a busy summer, and I am excited to get back to writing and posting on my blog—especially when God is speaking.  Blessings to all. ~ Janie

Photo ~ Harbor Church, Oologah, OK, July 29, 2016

 

 

Could This Year Be “That Year” for You? January 14, 2016

Current day America is in a mess, and the world is in an even bigger mess! It seems to me that we are headed downhill toward final doom. How’s that for optimism about the New Year? Not so much, huh?

However, I do have some positive thoughts about this year. For instance, I believe that 2016 can be a great year for the church. It could actually be our finest hour as we become eye witnesses of the return of Jesus Christ. That event is on my mind a lot lately.

I currently feel that I do not have the power in my life to withstand the persecution coming to all Christ-followers. I also feel that I do not have ability to lead the women that I teach or to write God’s message to my blog readers. The question must be: What then can I do to get prepared?

I desire to surrender my life fully to the Lordship of Christ—my Holy House Guest, who lives within me. I long to fully obey Him, but cannot find the power to do so. Romans Chapter 7 is my testimony, too. Yep, it describes me to a tee. I expect many of you grapple with the same issues.

God knows my heart, and yours, and He bids us to come closer. On New Year’s Day I was entertaining the thought that 2016 might be the year I actually figure it out. After all, I’ve read dozens, if not hundreds, of books on the deeper walk, the inner life, and the secret place. Perhaps I will finally tap into it—this year.

And then on that first Sunday morning of 2016 my pastor preached a sermon titled “That Year.” My heart leapt within my chest. I could hardly believe my ears as he began to read this Scripture:

“Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:12

I grabbed it immediately as a word for me—it clearly resonated with what I had been thinking. So, I declared right then and there: This year would be that year for me to enter the Promised Land.

I’ve read about the Promised Land for decades. I know what it is filled with: milk and honey,1 so they say, and luscious fruit—large grapes—really big and juicy ones! I’ve longed to enter there.

What about you—have you ever longed to enter there? Some theologians believe the Promised Land refers to heaven; others for the here and now. I believe the latter. Regardless, for me it’s not about the fruit, the milk, or the honey. It’s about power in my own life to overcome this pesky flesh I struggle with.

Romans Chapter 8 tells me that it can be done, after all Paul did it. Many saints of old have done it. Why not me? And you? What if the Promised Land is the place where we finally have the power to fully obey the Holy Spirit and no longer yield to our flesh? Or the place where we begin to eat of the produce of that bountiful land—begin to partake of the power to say “no” to those things we don’t want to do and “yes” to the things we do want to do? Sounds logical.

If so, it’s clearly time for us to enter there.2 If not now, when? But we must remember that it takes faith to enter that place. The doubters didn’t please God then. They won’t please Him now either. Although it was promised to them, their unbelief kept them from inheriting it at all.3 Unbelief is clearly not a good route to take. But for those who believed, they moved forward by faith to claim the Promised Land as their own.4

Could 2016 be “that year” you and I move forward by faith to claim the Promised Land as our very own? Believers believe. I believe. Do you? ~Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered today, let us be afraid, lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of reaching it. Hebrews 4:1

1Exodus 3:8; 2Hebrews 4:1 3Hebrews 3:19; 4Joshua 21:43

 

What Difference Can One Person Make? ~ A Message of Hope December 4, 2015

When I look at the condition of our nation, I fear that our culture has fallen into the deep abyss. Efforts to simply stop the erosion appear to be in vain. Lawlessness prevails. As Christians, we try to live our convictions and share our faith; yet, it seems that we are making little impact on the world around us.

Many Christians believe that God’s patience will soon run out and His judgement will come upon America. But what can ordinary people without a platform and a microphone do about it? We tend to think it’s simply too far gone at this point, maybe even hopeless. Why not just forget about it and go on with life? Seriously, what difference can one person make?

Recently, I found a scripture in Jeremiah 18:11 that encouraged me. Read what God told Jeremiah to tell the people of Judah about His coming judgment:

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am shaping a disaster and working out a plan against you. Turn back, each of you from his evil way; correct your habits and change your actions for the better.’”

The culture of God’s chosen nation had also fallen into a deep abyss, and Jeremiah was told to warn them of impending judgment. Yet, (I’m so glad God always includes a yet) God gave them something each one could do to remedy the situation—or we might say, be a part of the solution. You see, what each one does can make a difference with God.

So what was it that each one could do? Let’s look again: the Lord said, “Turn away from your evil ways and correct your habits and change your actions.”

When it seems that our nation is beyond hope, God says we can do something about it—we can change our own ways. He didn’t say change the ways of our leaders, or of Congress, or of Hollywood. He didn’t say change the ways of our church or our families. He didn’t say to change the ways of anyone else, but “You turn, you correct, and you change your ways.”

Ouch! It is always easier to blame the mess on others. We prefer to complain about what is wrong with everyone around us. But if we listen closely we can hear God say: “You can make a difference.”

Did the people in Jeremiah’s day accept that challenge? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Read what Jeremiah wrote in verse 12: “But they will say, ‘That is hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act in accordance with the stubbornness of his evil heart.’”

They may have heard what God said with their ears, but they didn’t hear with their hearts. Instead, they deemed it hopeless. They chose rather to follow their own plans and evil hearts.

What about you and me? Will we hear God’s Word with our hearts, or will we pronounce it hopeless and stubbornly follow our own plans? I hope not. Rather, I hope we will look within and ask the Holy Spirit to show us what we need to change about ourselves. I challenge each one of us to be courageous enough to do this.

Did you know that God does change His mind? Don’t miss the powerful footprints below, and may we start to believe that each one of us can make a difference in the here and now.  ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: “Who knows but that the Lord may relent of His plan to destroy us.  And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, ‘It is enough; now restrain your hand.’” 1 Chronicles 21:15

Small footprintKey Quote: “All changes—spiritual revivals, a turnaround in a church, a barren life now bearing fruit—begin when there is a discontentment that say, “I refuse to accept this.”~ Jim Cymbala, “Storm,” Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2014, Pg. 38.