Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Good Thoughts on this Good Friday Afternoon March 25, 2016

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 12:51 pm
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It is Good Friday and we are probably thinking about a lot of different things today—Easter clothes, Easter paraphernalia for the kids (bunnies, baskets, and such), and certainly our family’s Easter meal. Yet, as I was practicing the choir music for our Easter Sunday service, the words to this priceless song grabbed me: “When He Was on the Cross, I was on His Mind.” That one statement is totally mind-boggling!

 

We must ask ourselves: How can it be? How could the Savior, who endured such hostility at the hands of cruel and evil men, be thinking about me? Or you? Or anyone but Himself? I can honestly say that I don’t know; I just know that He did. I can’t spell it out any better than the words to the song. Read them slowly. I expect that they will grab you, too.

 

The look of love was on His face,

Thorns were on His head.

The blood was on His scarlet robe,

And it stained it crimson red.

Though His eyes were on the crowd that day,

He looked ahead in time,

For when He was on the cross,

I was on His mind.

He knew me, yet He loved me,

He whose glory makes the heavens shine.

I’m so unworthy of such mercy.

Yet when He was on the cross,

I was on His mind.1

 

Perhaps some good thoughts for us on this Good Friday afternoon are to have Him on our minds. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying in my place. A Blessed and Happy Easter to all ~ Janie Kellogg

1When We Was on the Cross, Words and Music by Mike Payne and Ronnie Hinson, 1984

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How to Have a Joyous “No-fuss” Christmas December 17, 2014

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 11:59 am
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Who doesn’t want a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas? After all, it’s been a trying year, and I don’t need to remind anyone how perplexed our world is right now. Rather, I think it is a great time to focus on something else, and Christ’s birth is the perfect subject for some refreshing thought. I suspect the world 2000+ years ago was in as much disarray as ours. But Jesus didn’t come to set the political winds from a different direction. He came to cause men to focus on something more important—eternal matters.

Eternal mattersas if eternity matters—and it does! Most of us probably don’t think much about eternal matters except when tragedy strikes. But it came to me that we can turn our thoughts toward eternal matters and set in motion a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas all at the same time. It has to do with the gifts we give to others. These are, however, gifts money can’t buy.

What if, by some rare oddity, we were to give everyone on our gift list the amazing gift of unselfishness—including the selfish ones, the ungrateful ones, the hard-to-get-along-with ones, and even the overbearing ones? Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s very simple. We can give them the gift of our self—you know that part of us that Jesus said to deny. We do that by not demanding our way, and instead, yielding to others. That’s it—yielding our right to do or say what we want to do or say. We can keep our gifts under the joyful wrappings of mercy and grace until the confrontation occurs. Then with our simple acts of giving, we discreetly empower others to have it their way. The issue is settled instantly with no fuss. WOW, can you imagine your family Christmas with no fuss!

You and I have this incredible opportunity to share the true message of Christmas—the selfless gift of God’s love to all people. You see, our yielding to others allows us to proclaim that same message of selflessness with our very own lives. Our gifts will make others happy, set them free from past offenses, and literally wipe out tension from our holiday gatherings. And that, my friend, is joyous!

If you think this is some silly idea of cheap gift-giving, trust me, it will cost you much. In fact, it costs so much that many will opt not to have a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas. But we must remember that God’s Gift to us was quite costly—just consider the pain in God’s heart as He yielded up His Son for the selfish, ungrateful, hard-to-get-along-with, overbearing likes of us!

Yielding our lives to God will always cost us, but then we should never give anything that doesn’t cost us something.1 On this Christmas of 2014, I hope we will choose to focus on eternal matters by giving our selfless gifts. It’s a sure-fired way to have a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas!

Merry Christmas ~ Janie Kellogg

1 2 Samuel 24:24

 

Seeing is Everything ~ May 2, 2014

Filed under: Vision — Janie Kellogg @ 1:26 pm
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Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

 

Who doesn’t want to see God? Or better yet, who doesn’t want to see, period?

 

Seeing means I have a clear view of where I am, where I’ve been, and where I am going. It means I can observe the things and conditions around me. It means I can know both beauty and danger. It certainly seems to be true that seeing is everything.

 

When we consider the two men who came to the temple to pray in Luke 18, we can conclude that the publican saw more than the Pharisee, for it was the publican that came away justified. A few things the Pharisee obviously could not see were his need for humility and mercy as he approached God. Not a good start. No doubt, he was counting on his own good deeds, but he missed it big time.

 

On the other hand, the publican had such a clear view of himself and his inability to stand before God in his own merit, that he smote his breast as he begged for mercy. He couldn’t even lift his eyes to heaven. Picture this man with his head bent low, tears streaming down his face, bitterness of soul, anguishing over his neediness—he could see God clearly because he saw himself clearly. This is big!

 

Let’s look at the promise again: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” How do we get pure in heart? Only one way: purity is given—granted—transferred to us by God. Being washed in the sinless blood of Jesus cleanses the stench and dirt of humanity from our lives. Bringing ourselves to the fountain filled with blood daily makes us pure in God’s eyes. And along with that purity, He gives us sight—the ability to see more of Him.

 

With newly granted sight, we can see more of ourselves, and thus more of our need for mercy. When we see our neediness and humble ourselves properly before Him, He responds to repentant and yearning hearts. We have thus positioned ourselves to receive everything God has promised to us. This is even bigger!

 

Take note: Seeing ourselves clearly is the key to positioning ourselves to receive from God!

 

Here are some things we must see:

 

  • How hopeless are my good works!
  • How helpless I am to help myself!
  • Without Jesus, I am doomed!
  • With Jesus, I am positioned to receive all God has for me!

     

    Seeing is priceless! I believe it is one of the keys to the kingdom that Jesus said would be given to the church. Finding God all starts with our ability to see. It will never happen by chance to one who isn’t looking. We will never stumble onto eternal life. No, it happens when God draws us to Himself and then allows us a glimpse of His holiness. Once we get a glimpse of a holy God, we will begin to clearly see our unholy, sinful condition. From that position, the promises of God are not far away. This is bigger still!

     

    If there is now a stirring your heart, consider this: “Is there something I don’t see?” Thank God for drawing you to Himself, and then ask for more spiritual sight. He will always answer that prayer for the pure in heart.

     

    The eyes of the heart are so critical, for if we do not have spiritual vision, we don’t have anything. We shall soon discover that entering God’s rest greatly depends on what we see. After all, seeing is everything! ~ Janie Kellogg

     

     

    For other faith-building readings, see “A Message for Rock-Bottom Disciples,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, April 22, 2014.

 

Revival ~ Will it come and when? April 8, 2014

Nearly all of us say that we want Revival to come. We want an outpouring of God’s Spirit on us and others. We’d like to see huge masses of lost humanity turn to God. Our nation could certainly use a sweeping move of God, resulting in a return to moral values, honesty, purity, and goodness. Who among us wouldn’t like to see our churches filled to overflowing with people hungry for God? Bring it on! But will it ever come and, if so, when?

 

Good questions that I would like the answers to. Just this morning I was seeking God for that very thing, and in His faithfulness, He spoke to my heart. Afterwards, I wasn’t so sure I really wanted to hear the answer, but I wrote it down just the same.

 

I had been thinking about what is the greatest battle in my life. I determined that it is not the struggle to climb the corporate ladder, to make great financial gain, to store up for retirement, to become a VIP (very important person), or to have a huge influence anywhere for that matter. The biggest battle in my life is overcoming self. We must remember who self is or none of this will make sense: Self is Satan’s representative in my life and yours, inherited from the fall in the Garden of Eden.

 

Please bear with me for another writing on self. It’s not that I’m obsessed with the notion of dying-to-self; but since the awareness of who self is, I have gained clearer understanding of many of the gospel writings. It has been revolutionary, to say the least.

 

Now back to the garden—I can’t help but wonder if Eve had known who the serpent was, would she have made a different choice? If she had known that she was dealing with God’s greatest enemy, disguised as a serpent (the most beautiful of God’s creation) would she have even given him the time of day?

 

What about us? What about me? How often in a day’s time do I listen to God’s greatest enemy by way of his representative inside me? Is that not high treason on my part? Does it not align me on the wrong side of things? How can I knowingly choose to fight on the opposing side of right? Or am I like Eve, I don’t know who I am talking to so I take the bait? And like Eve, if I had just known it was Satan, I might have made a different choice. Really?

 

O God, open our eyes and let us see who it is that we are listening to! Is he not clothed as an angel of light? Does he have some slick story for me about how mistreated and abused I have been, and how, if only I would listen to him, things would get better? Will I look back and think with regret “If I had only known I was listening to a deceiver!”

 

It is actually quite simple to sort out who we are listening to: If our thoughts feed or benefit self in any way, we are listening to the voice of God’s enemy! Satan’s representative is actively trying to get us to fall for selfish lies and untruths. I am quite certain that we are listening.

 

Only you and I can determine if we are going to continue to listen to God’s enemy and our enemy. If we continue to feed on thoughts that lead to accusations, resentment, unforgiveness, ugliness, hatred, and evil of any kind—WE ARE BEING TRICKED!  We have yielded our members as instruments of unrighteousness (Romans 6:13), and we have aligned ourselves on the wrong side of right. What we need most is not sympathy from our friends, understanding for those who feel our pain, or for God to fix a bunch of other folks. We need a trip to the foot of the cross for repentance while we plead for a heaping portion of God’s great mercy!

 

We are more valuable to the Kingdom of God, not when we know the answer or preach the answer or write the answer, but when we BECOME the answer. How long has it been since we have been on our knees repenting before God for yielding our members as instruments of unrighteousness and begging for God’s forgiveness; actively and purposefully forgiving others; and then if necessary, asking those we have offended for their forgiveness as well?

 

God made it very clear to me this morning: When this happens among My people, revival will come.

 

We say that we long for REVIVAL and REST. Please don’t miss the word rest here. Yet, God offers it to us—if we are willing to do the hard work of repentance. But wait, God said that we don’t truly want it:

 

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength; but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)

 

The answers to the questions: “Will revival come and when?” are clearly up to us—God’s people—not the unsaved, or the ungodly, or those sinners. I know where I’m spending the afternoon. “Oh, the cross; oh, the cross; the cross is my confession.”1

 

Thank You, Dear God, for not giving us rest until we have done what you require of us! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Kari Jobe, The Cross is My Confession

 

 

The Inverted Gospel January 23, 2013

God wants me to get it. His heart longs for my eyes to see what He sees; my heart to feel what He feels; my mind to grasp the inverted gospel message of Jesus Christ that says to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). I struggle with this upside down thinking.

 

God’s intent from the beginning has been to make Himself known in the earth—His greatness, His love, His mercy, His ways—all of which are different than ours. And how did God plan to do that? Through the lives of His chosen people (Galatians 3:8).

 

“The world judges our Christ by our fruit,” said Cora Harris MacIlvary. If that is true, perhaps we need to inspect our fruit to see what we are producing. Do we present an accurate picture of Christ to the world around us?

 

Some fruit inspection guidelines could be these:

Jesus said to humble ourselves—we remain proud.

He said to forgive others—we hang on to our hurts.

He said to love others as ourselves—we despise those with different religious or political views.

He said to judge not—we accuse, convict, and condemn with one sweeping thought.

He said to be merciful—we want mercy, but refuse to give it.

 

Sometimes I question who Jesus will be talking to when He says: “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Will it be me?

 

Jesus told the disciples that “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). What part of deny do I not understand? Could this be what Jesus meant by deny: “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:29-30)?

 

God truly wants His children to get it—to grasp the meaning of the gospel:  God loves sinners. His heart is breaking for them because they are lost, and for us because we don’t get it. Sometimes I fear that I am part of the problem instead of part of the solution, as Jesus intended for me to be.

 

It may be time for a spiritual checkup:  Am I living a Christ-centered life that reflects the merciful kindness of a loving God, or a self-centered life as one who has been duped into believing that I have rights that must not be violated—the right to my own way, my possessions, my opinions, my attitudes, or as Oswald Chambers said, “the right to myself?”

 

Jesus clearly said to deny myself and follow Him. I am certain He meant it. Yet, there is a gap between my thinking and Jesus’ instructions. There’s even more between my life and Jesus’ selfless example.

 

God is searching for those who will reflect the truth about Him. And when He finds them, I believe He will pour His Spirit into them with great measure so He can to make Himself known to a dark and desperate world.

 

Am I willing to deny myself of my rights and be one of them? Just thinking…… ~Janie Kellogg

 

“Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy; help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.” ~ Casting Crowns

 

Note: All scripture references are NIV.