Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

What is the Missing Ingredient in Your Christian Life? February 25, 2015

If I were asked today what is the one ingredient missing in my Christian life, I would answer without hesitation: power. If I were asked that same question about my church or the church at large, I would also answer without hesitation: power.

The modern-day church may have awesome services with large crowds, lights, music, drama, and near star-status preachers. We may also have beautiful buildings, paved parking lots; and exciting programs that provide outreach to our communities and missionaries around the world. But, there is one thing we do not have: power.

Divorce and broken homes among Christians mirror that of non-Christians. The number of Christians entangled with drugs, alcohol and pornography provides alarming statistics that the church must own. We struggle to make any progress whatsoever against immoral changes within our society. Healing is not experienced as we bury our own without expecting a miracle. Let’s face it—the church appears to be powerless.

The simple truth is that we actually have no power. Ever wonder why that might be? My husband and I have this conversation at least once a week. Answers are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

When the Holy Spirit brought 2 Corinthians 12:9 to my attention fifteen years ago, I began to search for its meaning. I mostly focused on God’s grace being adequate and what I might be missing in that great truth. I also tried to process how God’s strength could be made perfect in my weakness without much luck. And, I have remained clueless as to why Paul declared that he was not only handling, but embracing his infirmities. What I did not give much attention is the last part of this verse: “that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What if we were to see those two things—weakness and infirmities—as perquisites for having the power of Christ? If so, then the power of Christ resting on Paul was conditional! Could it be right there in plain sight: the power of Christ resting on any Christian is conditional! The power of Christ resting on the church is conditional! Is perhaps the reason Paul said he would “most gladly rather boast in his infirmities” because these two things are the condition for having power?

Let’s look at it again. If weakness and infirmities are the things that qualified Paul to have the power of Christ operating in his life, we can easily see why he was glad to acknowledge them. The power of Christ is worth everything!

If true, then by admitting our weakness—we qualify for the power of Jesus; by proclaiming our strength—we do not qualify for the power of Jesus.

Check out Isaiah 40:29 ~ “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength,” and James 4:6 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Choosing weakness clearly goes against our human nature, as well as most everything we’ve been taught. But God says if we do—if we refuse to promote ourselves, our strength, our adequacies—His grace will be sufficient.

The equation looks like this:  Having humility equals having power; or simply: Humility equals power.

In light of this discovery, other scriptures are starting to make sense to me. Try it out for yourself. We will cover some of them next time. Don’t forget to digest the Key Quote below. I am so grateful for God’s great patience with me, for I have so much to learn. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “I feel deeply that we have very little conception of what the Church suffers from the lack of this divine humility—the nothingness that makes room for God to prove His power.” 1 ~ Andrew Murray

1Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig-books.com; Page 25

 

What’s In It For Me? February 17, 2015

In recent years, business managers have begun to wake up to the fact that employees stay with a job for reasons other than their paychecks.  Believe it or not, there are more important things in life than money. Shockingly, even in a bad economy, statistics indicate that 2 million Americans quit their job every month.1 Isn’t a job worth keeping under any circumstances? Not so, says the research.

There are various factors that cause employees to make changes, such as not liking the boss or lack of recognition. But employees often base their decision on the simple question: “What’s in it for me?” They question whether or not a job fulfills their needs and is it really what they want to do with their life. The truth is a paycheck is not the only motivator behind what we do.

This same factor of “what’s in it for me?” carries over into other parts of our lives. For instance, we don’t work just for the money itself, but we work because we like owning a home, taking vacations, and building a retirement. We don’t cook and clean just because we love to do so—we cook and clean because we like to eat and live in a clean house.

I believe it also influences our spiritual lives. While the promise of life after death is a huge benefit in our walk with God, we still expect to get something from our commitment in the here and now. And God—who is certainly a good manager of His Kingdom—knows full well that we need and should expect benefits in the here and now. There has to be something in it for us, or like in other things—we probably won’t stay committed to it.

In my study of humility I have discovered a huge benefit that we have often missed. We know that Satan doesn’t want us to find it, and has gone to great lengths to hide this truth from the church for many years. Yet, to those who look for it—God faithfully reveals this powerful truth.

While found in various places in God’s Word, it is certainly spelled out in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God, who provides the benefits we need for living the Christian life on earth,2 also shows us where they are and how to tap into those benefits. It could be compared to you and me having a checking account with money in it, but without any checks. There has to be a method—a technique or process—to access our money when we need it, or else it is of no benefit.

I have spent fifteen years wrestling with this one verse (2 Corinthians 12:9), and my Father and yours has helped me see at least a part of its meaning. Begin to look at it now; read it; memorize it; chew on it. We will unpack this word of truth, and if you haven’t already, I know you will see it too.

So what’s in it for you and me? The answer is MUCH. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Embrace humility. It’s the only way up.”3 ~ Chris Tiegreen

1 Alan Hall, I’m Outta Here!, Forbes.com/sites; 22 Peter 1:3; 3Chris Tiegreen, The One Year at His Feet Devotional, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., August 8