Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

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

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The Goal Posts Have Moved May 28, 2015

Redefine the gospel—that’s the best way I know how to describe what God has done in my life over the past ten years. While I’m not sure I can explain what I thought it was before, I do know that today I see the gospel differently.

The goals for my life are no longer to be healthy, wealthy and wise. They are not for people to like me, accept me, or support me. In short, the goal posts have moved. Things I once thought important are not important to me now.

It began in 2005 when God led me to attend a Christian writer’s conference. I came home from that conference with this sobering revelation: I’m not sure I even know what the gospel is; but I do know that I don’t have much of anything to write about.

Looking back, my evaluation of myself was right on. As a result of that conference, I discovered the writings of Philip Yancey, Andrew Murray, Henri Nouwen, Amy Carmichael, and many others. After ten years of delving deep into those writings, my mindset about the gospel has clearly changed, and so have my goals.

A few days ago I decided to write down the things that are important to me now—my new goals you might say. Please don’t misunderstand—I am not listing things I have attained. In fact, I may never attain them; but they are the things I press toward.1

    • To please my Heavenly Father in every word, thought, and action.
    • To obey the Holy Spirit in all things, every time He speaks to me.
    • To be humble before God and others, choosing the lowest position.
    • To bring glory to God and God alone.
    • To love His church, striving to bring unity in the Body of Christ.
    • To love the unlovable so they will know and feel the love of God.
    • To be willing for God to use me whenever and however He chooses.
    • To give more than I have ever given, withholding nothing from my Lord.
    • To give the Holy Spirit full possession of whole being—my house as His house.
    • To be aware of His presence inside me and commune with Him continuously.
    • To guard my heart so there is never a bitter drop of anything to spill out.2
    • To seek for every ounce of pride in my heart to be eradicated.
    • To hide His Word in my heart, committing it to memory.
    • To hide my life so completely in Christ that others see Him, not me.
    • To make every day a day with Jesus. (A day without Jesus is a day wasted.)
    • To be aware of His opinions on life, politics, and people rather than my own.
    • To have ears that hear and eyes that see from God’s perspective.
    • To be courageous enough to share the Good News with everyone I meet.
    • To be bold enough to speak truth whenever truth is challenged.
    • To keep the main thing, the main thing. (Eternity)
    • To accept what He chooses to give, rather than what I want to receive.
    • To remember that my sin caused Jesus to suffer and die. (Own my part in His death)
    • To cherish the dust at the foot of the cross.3 (a most holy place)
    • To be determined to live for Him and to die for Him.

 

This was a great exercise. I recommend that you do it too, and see what your list looks like. You might be surprised.

Today, I believe I am much closer to knowing the true gospel. I am also much closer to having something to write about. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.1

Small footprintKey Quote: “St. Paul counted the loss of all things as nothing that he might know Him who he already knew; and the soul, suddenly illuminated by some fresh outshining of the knowledge of the love of God shown forth on Calvary, does not stop to measure how much or how little it knew of that love before. Penetrated, melted, broken before that vision of love, it feels that indeed all it ever knew was nothing, less than nothing.”4 ~ Amy Carmichael

1Philippians 3:14; 2Amy Carmichael, If, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, Pg. 35; 3Ibid, Pg. 53; 4Ibid, forward.

 

It Takes a Long Time November 18, 2014

In a culture driven by instant results, we find it hard to accept anything that takes a long time. Just imagine buying a magic wrinkle-removing cream that advertises, “It takes a long time to see results.” No way! No one is attracted to a product, process, career or anything else that takes a long time.

The truth is: things that take a long time are better. There’s wine and cheese—we’re told that older is better. Wisdom comes with gray hair or years of experience. Education is only acquired after years of study. Relationships are sweeter as the years go by, and friendships that last a life-time are highly cherished.

So it is with the things of God. The longer we walk with God, the better we know Him and the more acquainted we become with His methods of dealing with us. Ultimately, the more we know about Him, the more we love Him.

Although we know these truths, it is difficult for us time-bound earthlings to understand that our eternal Father—who is not bound by time—is in no hurry whatsoever. When we give our lives to Him, He starts the process of conforming us into the image of His dear Son.1 You can take my word for it—that takes a long time!

The reason it does is because our fallen natures have been in control for so long that our filters are carnal, earthly, and selfish. We see everything through those muddled lenses. When we learn that God loves us just the way we are, we rejoice; yet in time we realize that He loves us too much to let us stay that way.

God’s own Son came to earth to rescue us from our ungodly, selfish nature and transform us into godly, obedient sons and daughters. Even though it takes a long time, God never gives up on us. If we have a stubborn streak and resist His efforts to change us, still He is patient and kind. He never declares: “This one is impossible.” The Word says that all things are possible with God—and that includes transforming me and you.2

Even now He is attempting to open our eyes to eternal truths. In His efforts to change us, He is always bidding us to come and spend more time with Him. We can be assured that in time He will accomplish His good purpose.3

Why not surprise God today by giving Him some extra time? One of the hidden secrets of the gospel is this:  The way to shorten the time it takes to become like Jesus is to spend time alone with God. If only we would. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “We are designed with a great capacity for God, but sin, our own individuality, and wrong thinking keep us from getting to Him. God delivers us from sin—we have to deliver ourselves from our individuality. This means offering our natural life to God and sacrificing it to Him, so He may transform it into spiritual life through our obedience.”4 ~Oswald Chambers

For more Secret Place Secrets visit www.treasureinearthenvessels.net and follow the footprints.

1Romans 8:29; 2Matthew 19:26; 3Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13; 4Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 18.

 

 

The Turned-Off Power Source October 13, 2014

Several years ago I lived through a major ice storm in northeastern Oklahoma. For five and a half icy-cold January days, I survived without the comforts of home—light, heat, and a curling iron, to be exact. I was most grateful for my fireplace which provided both heat and light. On day four, just as cabin fever was reaching dangerous levels, my son hooked up a shiny new generator. The purr of the motor was music to my ears.

At mid-morning of day six, I watched a caravan of electric utility repair trucks enter our rural community and one-by-one repair the downed lines to each home—mine included. However, a few hours after the trucks had moved on, I still had no power. We discovered that for the generator to work properly, the main switch to the electric power coming into my home had been turned off. One flip of the switch and my power was on again!

Ever feel like your spiritual power has been turned off? Ever wonder why? When you first became a Christian it seemed that things were so clear. You found new truths in God’s Word regularly and enjoyed walking with Jesus. But somewhere along the way, that clarity began to fade, and now you even question what you thought you once understood.

Paul instructed us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:30). To grieve means to sadden or to make sorrowful. When we disobey God’s Word by doing or saying things that Christians should not do or say, we sadden our Holy House Guest. And when we bring sorrow to Him, He withdraws and our spiritual clarity is shut down. Grieving the Holy Spirit is equal to turning off the master switch to our spiritual lives. For some, their power switch has been off for years, and they do not know how to get the power back on.

The following quote from Oswald Chambers says it so well:

“You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things clear as sunlight….It is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours.”1

If you have a power shortage at your spiritual house—new insights, fresh revelation, and fellowship with the Spirit all seem to be shut down—I encourage you to get alone with God and ask Him to show you where you are being disobedient to His Word. If you are honest with Him, He will show you. And once He does and you become obedient—the power (and clarity) will return. Trust me on this one—I’ve been there! ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours.” ~ Oswald Chambers

For more Secret Place Secrets visit www.treasureinearthenvessels.net and follow the footprints.

1Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 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

 

 

Why Do You Call Me “Lord, Lord?” August 13, 2013

Filed under: Lordship of Christ — Janie Kellogg @ 12:44 pm
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The words “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things I say?” are troubling to me. Apparently there are some people this applies to or else Jesus would not have asked the question. (Luke 6:46) Could it be me?

 

How many times have I called Jesus my Lord? Probably thousands of times by now. Every time I say that He is my Lord and Savior, or refer to Him as Lord Jesus, or bow my head and pray, “Dear Lord,” I am calling Him Lord.

 

But is it true? Or is it only lip service, pretense, or something that sounds spiritual? Perhaps it is learned behavior or wishful thinking. But is it T-R-U-E? Is Jesus Christ the Lord of my life?

 

When I was 10 years old, I had a crush on a twenty-something-year-old neighbor. My sister teasingly called him my “boyfriend,” but I assure you, he did not know that he was my boyfriend. He didn’t know I existed, and even if he did, I was certainly not his girlfriend. It was in every sense a one-sided love affair.

 

I can’t help but wonder if many of us have a one-sided “Lord” affair with Jesus. We call Him Lord, but does He know that He is our Lord by the way we treat to Him? Do we do anything to prove that relationship? Do we fill the role of a servant of a Lord and Master? Do we meet the necessary qualifications to call Him our Lord?

 

Perhaps a closer look at our behavior will tell us whether or not we act like servants, if we actually obey Him, and if we honor His lordship over us.

 

In my case, I acknowledge Him as my Lord—that is until He tells me to do something I don’t want to do. Then, I basically ignore Him and do my own thing. Here are some examples:

 

The Lord tells me to forgive someone who has offended me, and I respond: “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.”

He gently nudges me not to tell something and I say, “I know I shouldn’t say this, but…..”

I entertain the thought, “That might not be His voice.”

He points out someone in need, and I justify not giving because I feel I’ve already given enough.

  

What I am waiting for—a more opportune time perhaps? If I do not know His voice by now, when will I know it? How many years will it be before I actually obey the voice of my Lord when He speaks to me? Do I not yet understand that His voice always matches His character and is always confirmed by His Word? When in doubt—check it out!

 

When do I plan to be like Joshua and “wholly follow the Lord?” (Joshua 14:8) Maybe when I’m too old to care if I get my way or not? Honestly, am I so naïve to think I can demand my way when I am a young person and turn out to be an undemanding old person? Not!

 

Just when am I going to start obeying the Lord Jesus—immediately, fully, without question, without hesitation, without reservation, without grumbling, without taking thought for myself?

 

I fear that my behavior tells the truth about me. Is what I actually do mostly lip service? Probably. Good intentions? Definitely.  Actual obedience? I’m afraid not. If I were a lord and master, I would not want a servant who behaves like me.

 

A reality check reveals that I am the person Jesus spoke about—I call Him “Lord, Lord,” but do not do the things He says.

 

In James 1:22-24 we are told: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

 

If we only knew the tremendous value in admitting the truth about our-Self!  If this journey seems long and dry, be encouraged that there is a spring of Living Water just ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

 

Savior? Yes ~ Lord? Not so much July 31, 2013

Filed under: Lordship of Christ — Janie Kellogg @ 8:09 pm
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Titles—some people have them; others want them. They denote a level of education, position, military rank, political attainment, great achievement, or even a status symbol linking us to some elitist club. But regardless of their origin, they tell us something about the person who holds them.

 

In various scriptures, Jesus is called Lord and Savior—titles with rich meaning. The Apostle Peter encouraged Christians to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”1 One thing is certain—these two titles tell us much about Jesus; but do we really know what they mean?

 

I fear many of us use these titles loosely—you know, like calling Jesus both Lord and Savior. Although they are commonly used terms within Christian circles, they hold serious implications and are words not to be taken lightly.

 

When asked if Jesus is my Savior, I will definitely answer—yes. But to be honest, when asked if He is my Lord, a more truthful answer is—not so much. I’ll explain.

 

The Bible teaches that any lost soul who puts their faith in the Savior of the world will be saved.2 When Jesus reaches out and pulls a person to safety, He becomes their personal “Savior,” a title He rightly earns. They gladly accept Him in that role and welcome its meaning. After all, who doesn’t want to be rescued and pulled from eternal damnation by a loving Savior? Count me in!

 

But the title “Lord” is another issue. It is possible that we don’t know the true meaning of the word lord, since it is not often used in our culture. And when the true meaning is revealed, our response might be, “Wait a minute—I didn’t sign up for that!”

 

Let’s take a look at the master/slave relationship in Biblical times to gain a better understanding. A master (also called lord) purchased or inherited a slave—a person who owned nothing and was forced to work without payment. In other words, the master literally owned the slave’s life. He told the slave what to do, where to go, how to act, when to speak; and the slave was expected to do so with absolute obedience.

 

Obviously, that was long before anyone knew about personal freedoms—such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, the Bible clearly states this same condition for all followers of Jesus: “You are not your own; you were bought with a price.”3 That’s right—Christians do not belong to themselves, but are owned by God! We were bought with the blood of the crucified Christ. Scripture clearly teaches that His death paid the ransom to free us from sin.4

 

Because Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior, when we accept Him as our “Savior,” we also accept Him as our “Lord.” Yet, I believe few Christians grasp the role of Jesus as the Lord of their lives. We may call Him Lord in theory, but we clearly do not adhere to a slave’s life—being told what to do, where to go, how to act, when to speak; and we are oblivious to the idea of absolute obedience.

 

Have you ever wondered who Jesus might be talking to when He asks: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”5

 

Amy Carmichael wrote: “Sooner or later every child of the Father, every servant of the heavenly Master, has to learn that he is not here to do as he likes, but as the Lord commands.”6

 

There is much to explore on this subject of Jesus being our own personal Lord. His Lordship is a key component of this journey we are making together. Many treasures await us up ahead, so buckle your seatbelts and hang on!

 

My goal, when asked if Jesus is my Savior and Lord, is to be able to answer truthfully: Yes! Yes! How about you? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

12 Peter 3:18, 2Romans 10:13; 31 Corinthians 6:19-20; 4Mark 10:45; 5Luke 6:46 (NIV); 6Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power, CLC Publications, 1982, July 29.