Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Out with the Old ~ In with the New December 31, 2014

It’s happening again—one year ends and another begins. Aren’t we glad it does? Whether it is cleaning closets or rearranging the priorities in my life, I like the feel of new beginnings. The Bible says that when we are born again of the Spirit, old things are passed away, and behold, all things become new.1

I like God’s behold—it means heads up! Take notice! Observe! Look right here! He often uses behold to get our attention when He has something important to say to us. In this verse, God is telling us that the time of the old fleshly man ruling over our lives is passing away, and the new life of Christ reigning in us is here.

What an encouraging word to those of us who are slow learners—out with the old selfish me and in with the new spiritual me! I’ve lived long enough to know that this doesn’t happen overnight, but praise God it was set into motion at the very moment I trusted in Jesus to save me from my sin.

My friend, our old self is in the process of being dethroned while our new spirit man is being groomed to take over. We are even now being shaped and formed to be just like Jesus, full of the Spirit and fully obedient to the Father. If it feels like a power struggle, it is. No doubt, our old self will fight and scream as he is being cast out, but he is condemned and death is his destiny. Our new life in Christ is coming in and growing just like Baby Jesus grew in grace and truth. Someday He will fully reign in us. That is our God-given right and our God-given destiny—for Christ to be formed in us.2 What a glorious, breathtaking thought!

As you celebrate the coming in of this new year of 2015, rejoice in what God has already done in your life, and by all means, look forward to what He is going to do in the coming year. Thank Him for every new glimpse of His glory that He has allowed you to see; for every new truth of His Word that He has opened up to your understanding; and every new level of faith along this journey that He has helped you reach. Those, my friends, are the true riches of His Kingdom that He is sharing with you.

Since God is always, always, always giving good and perfect gifts to His children, then behold, a new year means new riches of God coming your way! Thank Him for them; look for them; and embrace them when they come.

Wishing each of you a very Happy New Year! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

12 Corinthians 5:17; 2Galatians 4:19

 

Looking back or moving forward ~ which is it? January 1, 2014

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 3:34 pm
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Ready or not 2014 has arrived, and we find ourselves on the brink of newness! Yes—newness! Don’t you love it? New beginnings, new plans, new dreams, new hair-do’s—for whatever this New Year holds, we are perched on go and the newness has begun!

 

Personally, I’ve never been fond of antiques, vintage, or old anything. I’ve always loved the new, the challenging, the refreshing, and the crispness of things different. Don’t get me wrong—I love things worth keeping—like older relatives who are priceless, memories that are too special to ever toss, and traditions that remind me of where I came from.

 

But, maybe I’ve learned to like new the hard way—because I’ve made deadly mistakes about wanting to keep things the way they are—you know, like buying two pairs of the same shoes (just in different colors). Or keeping an older version of computer software because it was familiar. It happens in food, music, cell phones, and a million other areas of life. Life is moving forward, not looking back.

 

Does God’s Word support my position? The first scripture that comes to mind is the story of Lot’s wife.1 What was she thinking? Honestly, to give up your very life for just one more look at the past. How many of us are guilty of the same, but perhaps haven’t suffered the same consequences? Or have we? Gazing at our sinful past will paralyze any of us. So don’t do it.

 

Today I read, “God wants us to get on with our lives. If we forever look back and feel burdened with sin, Jesus Christ sacrificed for naught.”2 It is true—Jesus died to redeem our past! We must get it settled, thank Him for newness of life, and move on.

 

Another story is that of the children of Israel complaining about the conditions of the wilderness—obviously not taking into consideration their freedom from slavery! 3 Ever wonder what it is about leeks and garlic that are worth going back for? God forbid! So it is with some of us. God has delivered us from the bondage of sin, set us on a new path to life and freedom, and we are complaining because we’ve had to give up some things.

 

Jesus said, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”4 Pretty strong talk, wouldn’t you say? Not a hint of indecisiveness allowed here. We’re either going on with God or we’re not.

 

I also think about the good advice from the Apostle Paul: “…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”5 As with any race, the distance to be covered is not behind us, but rather before us. Looking back serves no purpose in this race whatsoever.

 

So which is it—are you looking back or are you moving forward? Since we can’t do both, we must on this first day of 2014 make a decision. Will we dwell on our past sins, crave leeks and garlic, be indecisive about whether we’re in or out, and run this race while looking over our shoulder? Or, are we going forward with God in 2014?

 

NEWNESS is waiting for us to embrace it and make it ours. God has big plans for you and me in this New Year, yet we must claim them and get in step with the Holy Spirit, our Guide. Will it be safe? Certainly. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

 

Our God is a God of NEWNESS!

Ask Him to visit you in a new way in 2014.

Ask Him to fill you anew with His Holy Spirit.

Ask Him to introduce you to your own Holy House Guest.

Ask Him to help you walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of your flesh.

Ask Him to burden your heart for the lost and help you lead someone to Christ.

Ask Him to show you how to pray for our troubled world and then pray and believe He hears you.

Ask Him to draw you closer to Him and make Him your BFF.

Ask Him for the best year ever!

 

Whatever you do, don’t forget to ASK. “For everyone who asks, receives.”6 Let us get out of our easy chair of complacency, learn a new song about Jesus and worship Him, and then be about our Father’s business. Newness is here!

 

Happy New Year to all! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Genesis 19:26; 2Jean, Mary & Frank James; 3Numbers 11:5; 4Luke 9:62; 5Hebrews 12:1 6Luke 11:10

 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know August 27, 2013

Filed under: Holy Spirit — Janie Kellogg @ 12:46 pm
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The early morning light dawns and we awaken to another day. Who knows what will happen in this day—the next 24 hours? We don’t, but thankfully God does. He gives light so we can at least see where we are going.

 

Ever think about what would happen if the sun didn’t come up some morning? We would likely start our day as usual, using lights generated by a man-made power source, but eventually we would feel the strain of life without sunlight. In short, it would be devastating because light sustains life. Without it both plant and animal life would be altered, crops would fail to grow, food supplies would dry up, and our bodies would long for natural light as man-made sources diminished. All I can say is “O God, keep the light on for us!”

 

Our spiritual life is equally dependent on God for light. It has been many years since I began my quest for spiritual light. I describe it as my pursuit to find God. Yet, the truth is that God has actually been pursuing me, attempting to pry me loose from the world, the love of it, and the world’s way of thinking.

 

I have wanted loose. It just isn’t that easy. But gradually, I feel its hold on me giving way. Blinders are beginning to fall at my side and the puzzle pieces are coming together. Spiritual light sustains life too, and I really do need to see where I am going.

 

Susan Klein writes: “You don’t know what you don’t know. What else have I been missing all my life because I’ve been trusting in my own insight rather than trusting God?”1 (Read that again.)

 

How many of us are courageous enough, or better yet, humble enough to admit that we don’t know it all? The next question is equally challenging: If we know that we don’t know what we don’t know, then shouldn’t we be looking for it?

 

In politics we often hear the term “failed policies.” You know, some politician has a plan to improve things, but instead things get worse. That, my friend, is a failed policy.

 

Do we not do the same thing with our plan to follow God? We inevitably do things our way. We base our beliefs, and therefore our actions, on what we’ve been taught. We are sure our doctrine is right. Yet when we aren’t successful, do we ever stop to consider if we are following “failed policies?”

 

Jesus encountered a group of well-established, doctrinal folks called Pharisees. Do you want to know what it was that they didn’t know? They didn’t know that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the very One they were looking for. They missed it big time, even with all their years of training, memorizing scriptures, and keeping the law—they missed the most important truth in all of history: God Incarnate! And He was right there under their noses.

 

What about us? Are we tired yet of our failed doctrine? Tired of doing training exercises that yield no results? Missing what might be the most important truth of the gospel? Are we missing the very thing we have been looking for and searching for? Could it be right here under our noses?

 

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”2 Was he not looking for some things he didn’t yet know?

 

In the next few weeks I am going to share some thoughts about the Christian life that may have been right here under our noses all the time (at least mine anyway). It is perhaps the missing link to discovering the victorious life, the puzzle piece that’s been out of place or even lost. It is the simple word: Obedience. Well, come to think of it, it may not be so simple after all.

 

We will begin with “learning to lean.” You see, learning to lean on God is like learning to let your dance partner lead on the dance floor—there just cannot be two leaders. Dancing with God can be a beautiful thing once we learn how to allow Him to lead. But take note, the dance will never happen short of total obedience.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Susan Klein, The Secret Place, August 17, 2013

2Philippians 3:10

 

 

An Invitation from my Big Brother July 17, 2013

Sometimes I feel that people, even Christians, view God as demanding, controlling, and a hard-taskmaster. Do you ever feel that way? Perhaps we have all at one time or another thought His commands are difficult, if not impossible, to keep. But how freeing to the soul who finally figures out that His commandments are indeed impossible to keep—in and of ourselves.

 

Yet, God in His great love for mankind made a way to satisfy His requirement for righteousness—He sent His Son to earth to keep those commandments for us.  And Jesus did just that—perfectly, completely, and fully!

 

When we accept Christ’s substitutionary punishment for ourselves (for not keeping the commandments), we enter into a new relationship with God. We become His children. It is then that Jesus, our Big Brother, invites us to live in fellowship with Him and our Heavenly Father; and just as the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus when He walked on earth, He also enables us.1

 

With that in mind, try seeing God’s commands through these lenses:

 

As God’s child, I am invited to abide in Jesus, not demanded.

As God’s child, I am enabled to keep His commandments, not required.

As God’s child, I have a choice to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, not a mandate.

 

In His invitation to “follow me,” Jesus encourages us to walk like Him, talk like Him, think like Him, have faith like Him, and please the Father like Him. In other words, we have a choice to be like Jesus or to be like the world.

 

Have you made your choice?  Are you living your choice? These are two very different questions. Many Christians believe they have made their choice, but are still not living their choice.

 

God created man with a “free-will” to love Him or not to love Him. God did not want to have relationships with robots, and we need only to look at human relationships to understand why. What we want is a mutual relationship with people who want a relationship with us. Anything less is undesirable.

 

What an amazing place to be—in mutual and desired relationship with God Almighty!

 

How do we treat that amazing relationship? Is it mostly a one-way street: we ask and God gives? Again, we can look at human relationships to see a clearer picture. Do parents want children who become ungrateful demanders of things, but don’t spend time with them? Not!

 

God has much to give us that we both need and want—love, peace, and protection, to name a few. Sounds much like the things children need and want from their parents. Yet parents also have needs and wants from their children—love, respect, and appreciation. This kind of two-way relationship is what we all desire, and it is the same with God.

 

Consider this: We are invited to be the children of God—children who receive from their Heavenly Father and children who give back to their Heavenly Father. When we see it in this light, there is no place for words like demanding, controlling, or hard-taskmaster. They simply do not fit.

 

What happy children we can be! That is, once we understand and experience what Jesus made possible for us: the power to become the sons and daughters of God,2 joint-heirs with Jesus,3 and members of the household of God.4

 

Come to think of it, I am a happy member of the great household of God with an amazing Big Brother who modeled perfect sonship for me. It is my privilege and birthright to follow in His footsteps. How about you—are you a happy child of God? You can be. ~Janie Kellogg

 

1John 14:16-21; 2John 1:12; 3Romans 8:17; 4Ephesians 2:19

 

Graduation, Life, and Clay Pots May 14, 2013

It’s that time of year when excited young people scurry off to find their dreams, hoping life will contain all those best wishes bestowed on them by friends and family. After graduation, life as they have known it, abruptly slips away and doors close behind them. Did someone say it is time to grow up and become responsible? Yikes! Mighty tall orders for the young applicants of adulthood, wouldn’t you say?

But tall orders are what life is made of—reaching for things yet unknown. Oswald Chambers said that “Our reach must exceed our grasp.”1 If we only reach for what we have already attained, we will not grow, achieve, move on, and mature. Our lives will become stagnant. We must at least try, and try we will.

Yet, before we know it, life plays a trick on us, and we feel that we somehow missed the mark. Our good years vanish into thin air and life’s work seems yet undone. But for a child of God, this need not be the case. God uses the bumps in the road, the boulders in our path, and every wide river to be crossed to shape us for His purpose. His shaping is to be cherished, for God has a carefully crafted plan for each life—that it will, sooner or later, glorify Him.

The poem, “Just an Earthen Vessel,” reflects what had become clear: God doesn’t waste anything! In His time, He will use each of us, just earthen vessels—clay pots if you will—for that purpose for which we were created. We cannot do it on our own. He provides the timing, the planting, the watering, the care, and the growth—we provide the pot. We must simply trust our Heavenly Father’s wise and loving heart.

“Just an Earthen Vessel” is being posted separately today, May 14, 2013, or it can be found under the category: poetry. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 2

Other related posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels: “Just an Earthen Vessel” Poem, May 14, 2013

 

Just an Earthen Vessel ~ a poem

Just an earthen vessel
Made of common clay.
Seemingly no value,
Nor beauty to display.

Youthful years have vanished
Like the morning dew.
Dreams shattered—visions gone;
No purpose left in view.

A vessel marred within, without;
Cracked and weathered from abuse.
Set aside to be discarded,
Of no apparent use.

Yet in His time the Master came
And held this vessel in His hand.
He had made it for a purpose
That would fit into His plan.

He looked on with great delight
At its grace and at its charm.
For the pain that wrought such beauty
Caused the Master no alarm.

With His power He filled this vessel,
Then placed a rose within.
Soon it began to grow and bloom,
Bringing glory unto Him.

“This is a vessel of honor,”
The Master clearly stated,
“When it fulfills the purpose
For which it was created.”

“I have a plan for every vessel,”
Hear the Master say.
“That the power of My Spirit
Fills each vessel made of clay.”

We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 ~ Janie Kellogg

Other related posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “Graduation, Life, and Clay Pots,” May 14, 2013

 

Living on the Lighter Side February 8, 2013

Blink. Blink. Blink. The electricity is off again, and I realize that I love light.

 

On a dark night in rural Oklahoma this is a life-changing event. It’s hard to see my hands in front of my face. I hurry to light a candle. All activity has ceased; the television is quiet; the treadmill still. There is nothing to light the screen on my computer—it sits dark. As I am giving thanks for the glow of the candle, I think about how much I genuinely love light.

 

Light means life. Darkness means something else—but definitely not life, as evidenced by my still, lifeless room.

 

“The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.” That’s me—I am both simple and lack understanding. And because of it, I equally love the light that comes from God’s Word, especially when it brings the understanding of a newfound truth into my hungering heart.

 

I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s like trying to thread a needle, or remove a sticker underneath my skin, or read the small print on a medicine bottle—I cannot get too much light. So it is with God’s light—I am in no danger of getting too much.

 

I continually pray for more light from His Word. But then God has a purpose when He dispenses light. The Bible says that God sent His Son “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

 

Later, Jesus turned to His followers and said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.

 

I hear the call to be a light-spreader. Millions still live without the Light of World. “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light.” As I sit here in the quiet of my dim surroundings, I wonder how people could love darkness. Why would anyone choose to live there?

 

Truth is life-giving light to hearts dwelling in unlit places. Even a trace is glorious and calls for celebration of a joy-gift from God.

 

I think of how my dark room needs life-giving light tonight—just like God’s dark world. His plan has always been to fill His children with that life-giving light and send them out into the darkness to spread it around. It seems only fair that the Master Light-Giver would expect a yield from His investment of light in my life.

 

Am I willing to share the light given to me? Does God want to use me to reach those living in the shadows of death? Do I even see them sitting there—over on the darker side? Is it possible that the light shining from my life could guide some lost soul to the path of peace? Is it bright enough to be seen? Bright enough to show anyone the way to the lighter side?

 

Dear Lord, help me love light even more. Help me be a light-spreader—by speaking light to those I meet today; by living light so those who see me see You; by writing light so others can read and understand. May the light You invest in me not be in vain.

 

And Lord, would You help my electricity to come back on soon, since I really do prefer living on the lighter side! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Psalm 119:130 (NKJ); John 3:19(NLT); Luke 1:79 (NLT); John 20:21 (NLT)