Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

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

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The Fast-Track to Success in 2015 January 8, 2015

I love the mysteries of God tucked within the pages of His Holy Word just waiting to be uncovered by seekers. God is so faithful to perform that which He promised. Take this one for example: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”1

One favorite that I recently discovered is the secret to going higher in my spiritual walk. We’ve all heard the advice to work harder, jump higher, and run faster. Yet after having tried it all, we find ourselves weary from the workout. What I am about to say might shock some of you; actually, you could think I’m not on the fast-track but on the wrong track!

Remember that Jesus prefaced the mysteries He taught over 2,000 years ago with these words: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”2 In other words, it takes ears that are spiritually tuned to hear and know what Jesus is saying. Ears not spiritually tuned (or trained) simply won’t get it. So it is with this week’s blog.

With your ears tuned to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, consider this strategic plan for success in 2015: Success for a Christian means finding the pathway to the higher life in Christ—a life of peace, of power, and of a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ Himself. There is only one path that leads to that higher life: We must go lower—much lower than we’ve ever imagined.

Oh, I know it goes against most everything we’ve been taught—such as to name what we want, tell God about it, begin to speak it, and lo, it will magically appear (as if there is power in repeating something until it comes true). That is not faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.3 The Word speaks nothing of wishful thinking or speaking. Besides, it hasn’t worked; so why hang on to a failed strategy?

Jesus clearly laid out the plan: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“Servanthood is integral to the gospel. Nowhere else does Jesus give us a path to greatness.”5 Jesus not only gave the plan, He modeled it—He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.6 If we are to find true success in 2015, we must go lower—in humble submission to the Father’s will. We too must die to ourselves and become His servants, allowing Him to have His way with us. Call it following Jesus, if you will.

There is a secret power in humility that can be ours if we will but lower ourselves to find it. Amy Carmichael says it is found in the dust at the foot of the cross.

Humility is a difficult concept to receive; yet, it is God’s plan for success. Want to be successful in 2015? Then seek to go lower. His Word cannot fail, and neither will we, if we follow it. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Servanthood is integral to the gospel. Nowhere else does Jesus give us a path to greatness.”5 ~ Chris Tiegreen

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

1Jeremiah 33:3; 2Matthew 11:15; 3Hebrews 11:1; 4Matthew 20:26-28; 5Chris Tiegreen, The One Year At His Feet Devotional, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., January 5; 6Philippians 2:8

 

 

Help Wanted: Weak People Apply Here October 22, 2014

Why is it that we so often forget that God uses weak people and small things? It is not the strong, or the high and mighty, or the fittest, or the courageous that match the job descriptions for openings in the Kingdom of God.

The apostle Paul declared this: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”1 I know you’ve read it a thousand times, but read it again.

I’ve grappled with the meaning of these words for years, but recently I experienced it in real life. I was in over my head and I knew it. Even with all my super-duper-hyped-up-positive-thinking energy, I did not have within me the ability to complete the task before me.

The task was a special service at my church that I was coordinating. The program included eight choir songs and 20 speakers. For days my legs ached with the stress of this annual event that is followed by an all-church dinner. Cooking to do, programs to print, and last minute instructions for speakers—all swirled through my head as I dressed for church.

Minutes before leaving my house, with hands shaking and fearing that I would forget something important or make a big mistake before it was over, I cried out to God. I openly admitted my weakness, claiming Paul’s humbling words as my very own.

In those brief minutes with my face on the floor, I traded my weakness for God’s strength. It worked. According to the words of J. I. Packer, to those who will admit their weakness, God will show himself strong.

“For only at the point where the insufficiency of natural strength is faced, felt, and admitted, does divine empowerment begin….Divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness….If I could remember each day of my life, that the way to grow stronger is to grow weaker, if I would accept that each day’s frustration, obstacles, and accidents are God’s ways of making me acknowledge my weakness, so that growing stronger might become a possibility for me….May God in His great mercy weaken us all!”2 ~ J.I. Packer

This is indeed valuable information if you need strength for something you are facing today. Admit your weakness and watch God show up! ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “For only at the point where the insufficiency of natural strength is faced, felt, and admitted, does divine empowerment begin….Divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness.” ~ J. I. Packer

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

12 Corinthians 12:9-10; 2J. I. Packer quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 90.

 

 

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

 

The Unused Power Source September 26, 2014

The third member of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit—is commissioned to play a key role in the life of every born-again believer. He lives inside all believers as the personal representative of the triumphant, resurrected Christ. (Don’t let the word triumphant slip by you!)

Jesus Christ modeled the way to victory in this life. He lived it, showed it, displayed it, and demonstrated it perfectly. He won the battle with the flesh, not pleasing Himself, but doing the will of the Father. And guess what? He expects the same behavior from His followers.

We shrink back in fear, “But that isn’t possible!” A natural response, if we’re honest about ourselves. It certainly seems IMPOSSIBLE. And if it is up to us, it is just that. But wait, Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with GOD!”1 Ever wonder why He made such a huge, bold statement?

Herein is the very foundational truth of the Indwelling Holy Spirit. In and of ourselves, we can’t be holy, live holy, model holy, or demonstrate holy! Only Jesus could, and only Jesus did. He knows full well that we aren’t capable of doing it, so He did it for us. Then He sent the power of the Holy Spirit to live in us and enable us to do what we’re all asked to do: “Be holy, even as your Father in heaven is holy.”2

The bottom line is this: We literally have the very same power living in us that Jesus had living in Him. We have the Holy Spirit of God—the great unnoticed Power Source being of none effect in us. Simply put, He is there, but He is unused.

Can you imagine living in a beautiful new home, fully wired with electrical service and equipped with every electronic appliance and gadget on the market; yet you are unware that you must turn on the light switch, and power up the heat and air, the dishwasher, the television, and the computer before any of it will work?

My short response to that is: “What? There’s all this unused power and I’m living in the dark, the cold, and the difficult!”

That, my friend, is a picture of many Christians today. They are born-again, on their way to heaven, but haven’t a clue that there is power in their house. They are living in the dark, the cold, and the difficult; and I might add—the impossible.

Oh how the church needs to awaken to this marvelous truth, “But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”3 O God, help us find the light switch!  ~Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “I want to call your attention to this: that God has got a good many children who have just barely got life, but not power for service.” ~Dwight L. Moody

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

1Luke 18:27; 21 Peter 1:16; 3Acts 1:8

 

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

 

A Mystery Revealed June 29, 2013

Filed under: Christian Growth — Janie Kellogg @ 2:25 pm
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The mysteries of the gospel are not discovered, uncovered, or solved—they are revealed. They come to us only as God grants understanding. So it is with the long-sought after meaning of the strange words by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” I’ve read them no less than a thousand times, but their understanding has remained unclear. It seems to be an oxymoron.

Just what was Paul thinking when he wrote this bi-polar statement? I’ve wrestled with it for half-a-lifetime. I get glimpses here and there. Slowly, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. Yet, glimpses eventually lead to vision.

It is becoming clearer. Somehow I sense that when I grasp it, other scriptures will open to me—maybe dozens. Who knows? It is well worth the pursuit.

Let us consider the word “then” from Paul’s statement. It denotes a lapse of time from before until now. It also speaks of a condition— from that to this; from what was to what now is; or perhaps, from what was to what can be.

Turning the sentence around is helpful: When I am strong, then I am weak. From that perspective we might say: When I consider my strength (in and of myself), then I am indeed a weak being and in a weak position. That is easy to see. Now let’s reverse it back and read it with that understanding: When I am weak (in and of myself), then I am a strong being and in a strong position.

It appears that being weak—admitting weakness—is beneficial in becoming strong. A statement by J. I. Packer supports this conclusion: “The power principle—God’s power scenario, we might call it—is that divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness.” 1

But how do I appropriate that knowledge? How to I actually find the stronger position?

The Song of Solomon 8:5 gives some light: “Who is this that comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved?”

Leaning implies one who is weak, unable to make the journey alone, and depending on another for help, support, and strength. Leaning is an outward sign of an inward weakness. Could that be the stronger position? Is that what God desires from us—His children leaning on Him?

We know that fallen flesh cannot live holy. Only God-life can live holy. Therefore, we cannot live the Christian life apart from leaning on Him, who is Life and who gives Life.

Could it be that if I lean on and depend on His impartation of Life to me, I will be stronger than if I do not lean on Him? If so, then leaning—a true sign of weakness—is the stronger position.

Taking it a step further: Could it mean that the more I lean on the Strong One, the stronger I will become?

And yet another step: The weaker I am, the more I will lean on Christ; thus, the more I lean on Christ, the stronger I will be?

Dare I go even further: It is then in my best interest to be weak, so I will lean more on Christ?

Please indulge me just once more: If being weak makes me stronger, then can I not boast in being weak? Can I not also glory in my weaknesses because they cause me to lean on Christ? Notice the cause and effect principle in Paul’s words: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2Corinthians 12:9).

Such an idea clearly goes against our flesh, our pride, and our American mentality to be all that we can be, to pull ourselves up by our boot straps, and the survival of the fittest. Yet, we must remember that our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8).

Could the long-searched-for mystery be known? Is the key to finding and appropriating God’s divine power found in weakness—admitted weakness—even boasting of weakness? How did it elude me for so long? Clearly, my best and strongest position is leaning on God.

Dear Lord, help me not to stand straight and tall by my own strength, but to lean more on You. ~Janie Kellogg

1 J. I. Packer quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 90.