Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

What Has Happened to the Rapture of the Church? April 1, 2019

Have you ever wondered what has happened to the Rapture of the Church? I certainly have, and I have also questioned whether Christians today even believe that Jesus is coming back at all.

For most of my life, the message of Jesus Christ coming for His church was alive and well. I remember on Easter Sunday morning in 1973 when our church choir sang the popular Gaither song, The King Is Coming. Only the choir knew that a skilled trumpeter was strategically perched in the balcony, and at just the right moment he would blow the trumpet. It was a stirring event to say the least!

 

Then there was that perfect red heifer born in the mid-80’s that confirmed the Jews would soon be offering sacrifices in the Temple. And who didn’t read the best-selling Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins? First published in 1995, the intensity of the message was clear: Jesus is coming soon, and if you’re not ready, you will be left behind!

For decades stories circulated through the church attempting to tie current events to the coming of Christ. Things like a government assigned number could eventually become the mark of the beast. This caused many to be leery of social security numbers, direct deposits and credit cards—basically anything that had a number. Another story was the increasing population of vultures in the Middle East that was surely a sign of the approaching Battle of Armageddon. On and on they went—one unnerving story after another.

For years I struggled with too little faith to believe that Jesus would save me, so preaching on the rapture was a frightening thing. However, when I was born again at age twenty-three, my fear of the rapture subsided. My faith had grown and I was able to believe that Jesus would do what He said: For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved.”1 It’s been a love affair with my Savior ever since, and I began looking forward to His coming.

Over forty years later, we are still bombarded with stories about four blood moons, ginormous earthquakes and tsunamis. I don’t keep up with which Biblical prophecies have being fulfilled and whether the signs match what Jesus said would signal His return in Matthew Chapter 24, but it does seem like it could be just around the corner. After all, the fig tree is in full bloom. There’s a whole lot of shaking going on, since everything that can be shaken is now shaking. The world is clearly in a quagmire of muck as some kind of crazy has replaced common sense. There are plenty of wars and rumors of more, while mankind has sunk to a new low on God’s moral scale. Today, you don’t have to look very far to see that evil is called good; and good is called evil. Surely it can’t be long until the Father says, “Son, go bring my children home!”

Has non-stop media coverage of world events numbed us from the realness of what we once believed? Have too many books been written suggesting the rapture isn’t Biblical after all? Could it be that modern-day preachers no longer expect Jesus to return and thus do not preach it? Has the long delay nullified Jesus’ words, or maybe the Lord has forgotten His promise? Not. Even. Remotely!

The Bible is clear: The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”2

Jesus gave us a clue about the timing of His coming: Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!”3 Did you see what I saw—at the doors?

A few nights ago I had a dream that lasted perhaps only a few seconds, yet it was very real nonetheless. In the dream, I was asleep in my bed when awakened by a strange sense of being pulled upward. A suction-type force was swirling all around me, as if I were wrapped in it. I wasn’t afraid at all, but remember having a smile on my face and a sense of joy deep inside. I calmly thought to myself—this is it…this is the rapture! Then the sensation ended and I attempted to tell someone what had happened to me. I explained like this: “I just experienced the rapture!”

The next morning I wondered what might be the purpose of my strange dream. Had I been given a brief preview of that amazing moment when the power of Holy Spirit will draw the Redeemed upward towards heaven? Could Jesus be giving us a heads-up of His soon return? Could it be that Jesus actually is—at the doors?

The best advice I know is the words of Jesus Himself: Now when all these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near!”4

Personally, I believe Jesus IS coming back soon! Are you ready for that amazing moment? ~ Janie Kellogg

Jesus is coming soon

1Romans 10:13 (NKJV); 22 Peter 3:9 (NLT); 3Matthew 24:32-33 (NKJV) 4Luke 21:28 (NKJV)

 

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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

 

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

 

 

Call a Spade a Spade March 27, 2014

If I sound like a broken record, I am. Yet in my search to discover the mysteries of God, including the promised rest in Hebrews 4, I am continually led to the same subject: death to self. An insight I recently gleaned from Andrew Murray’s writings brought some clarity to the issue that has perhaps baffled Christians for centuries. Murray, the Christian icon from South Africa, clearly believed that self is Satan’s representative within each of us.

 

If this is true, then I must ask: “Why would I yield to Satan’s representative rather than Christ’s representative, the Holy Spirit?” I doubt that I intentionally do so, yet I find myself doing it all the time. However, with this revelation, it should be easier to identify just who it is that I am supposed to be denying.

 

Consider this thought: Satan does his work in me through his representative in me—self. Light-bulb flash here! That concept is difficult for Americans to accept because of the mindset that we are entitled to the American dream. If self wants something, especially something good and wholesome, we believe that we have a right to have it, do it, or say it.

 

While that could be true in this kingdom we call America, it is NOT true in the Kingdom of God. When we were born again by the Spirit, we changed kingdoms. We are no longer members of any earthly kingdom.

 

Jesus tried to explain what the Kingdom of God is like, and according to His teachings, God’s Kingdom and America are not the same thing. America, with its many freedoms, may be the closest thing on earth to the Kingdom of God, but it is far from being the same.

 

Being born into God’s Kingdom changes everything—it changes who we are, how we act, what we say, and most importantly, what we think! Kingdom-thinkers see things the world cannot see, and therefore, we have a new mindset about everything. As we grow in Christ, this difference will surface time and time again.

 

The biggest battle we face is that of changing our way of thinking to God’s way of thinking. Who is going to influence us from this time forward, now that we are members of the heavenly kingdom? Will Satan’s representative be the dominate influence, or will the Holy Spirit be the dominate influence? Andrew Murray encourages us to “Let every Christian make this his one great plea and aim: to have the mind that was in Christ Jesus.”1

 

Author Chris Tiegreen wrote: “We are not allowed to fit God’s mission in around our higher priorities….We may pursue the American dream or the Kingdom of God, but not both. We may give up everything or not give up everything, but not both. Christ compels us to choose.”2

 

We all love choices. America was built on the freedom to choose, most particularly religious freedom. We can choose to be a disciple of Christ, take up our cross and follow Him, or we can choose to follow after the things of the world. What we cannot do is both—or one could say, we cannot have our cake and eat it too!

 

Our problem is that we are confused about what following Christ actually means. The world has sold us a bill of goods that resembles the things of God, such as patriotism, prosperity, pleasure, health consciousness, and such, while in reality these are a mirage. Christ’s kingdom is not made up of such things. After a long discourse about the things of life that we tend to worry about, Jesus said, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things….but seek his kingdom….”3

 

Step Number 1 to entering the rest of God is quite simple: Ask God to help us see ourselves in the light of His Word. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”4 Are we actually denying self anything?

 

Denying Satan’s representative in us is not optional if we want to enter God’s rest. I didn’t say it, Jesus did. And He will help us do it as soon as we get honest with God, and call a spade a spade. For no one will be allowed to enter that rest who tries to bring Satan’s representative along with them. Once we make the connection, rest is not far ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Andrew Murray, The Believer’s Secret to the Abiding Presence, Pg. 120. 2Chris Tiegreen, One Year at His Feet Devotional, March 23; 3Luke 12:29-31; 4Matthew 16:24

 

 

Breathing in Grace January 28, 2014

Filed under: Encouragement — Janie Kellogg @ 12:04 pm
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The words of Matt Redman’s song “Your Grace Finds Me” are stuck on replay in my head: “I’ll be breathing in Your grace | and breathing out Your praise | breathing in Your grace | forever.”

 

For the past week, I have been breathing in God’s grace. Life has been difficult to say the least. There are some circumstances that scream for grace—divine influence upon the heart. I am so grateful it is available, abundant and free. It is mine for the asking.

 

Just this week my six-year-old granddaughter, Kalei, told me that she had found her name in her new Bible. “I found it three times,” she declared as if I didn’t believe her. I was a bit leery not recalling K-A-L-E-I in the Bible, but then I remembered that her middle name is “GRACE.” I assured her that her name is indeed found many times in the Bible.

 

And it is! Noah found grace. He gives us more grace. By the grace of God I am what I am. From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. He who came from the Father was full of grace. Great grace was upon them all. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. By grace you are saved.1 Need I go on?

 

God’s Word is full of grace—and so is God!

 

Grace has been described as God’s unmerited favor—that which I don’t deserve. And that is what I have been breathing in all week.

 

I don’t deserve that He would rescue me from myself. (I take in a breath of grace.)

I don’t deserve to be called His child when I don’t act like one. (Another breath of grace required.)

I don’t deserve that He would be patient with me who is so impatient. (Yet more grace needed.)

I don’t deserve to feel His love when I have been unlovable. (Breathing deeper for still more grace.)

I don’t deserve to be pardoned when I have judged another. (Now I’m gasping for grace.)

I truly don’t deserve His grace, but I have it anyway. (How can this be: grace upon grace!)

 

As one who knows and recognizes her neediness before God, I gladly breathe in His grace.

 

It soothes a weary soul with His presence.

It calms nerves stretched to breaking.

It cradles faith that buckled underneath the load.

It sets feet upright that didn’t stay on top of the water.

It refocuses eyes on Him that were fixed on circumstances.

It strengthens weak knees and hands that hung down.

It renews a mind that is drained from the ongoing attacks.

It refreshes a heart that fainted instead of praying.

It rekindles love for the One who never quits loving.

 

That, my friend, is breathing in grace. With every breath, grace fills the emptiness of this clay pot with God Himself. God and grace go together. When we find we have grace, we find we have God.

 

Breathing is a two-fold process—it takes in and it expels out. Grace in, praise out is what the song says. There are so many reasons to praise the Supplier of grace. What could be as natural as praising on the flip side of inhaling? Inhale a breath of grace—and exhale a breath of praise. It makes perfect sense!

 

So now we know—a natural breathing exercise for the child of God: grace in—praise out; grace in—praise out; grace in—praise out.

 

We must not forget the word: forever. Not just this week when I so desperately needed it, but next week too, and the next. And next month. And next year. And forever, “I’ll be breathing in Your grace, and breathing out Your praise, breathing in Your grace, forever, forever!”

 

Need some grace today? Why not give it a try and then just keep breathing! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Genesis 6:8; James 4:7; I Cor. 15:10; John 1:16; John 1:14; Acts 4:33; Romans 5:20; Ephesians 2:8

 

Doing something is what we are about ~ even if it doesn’t work January 20, 2014

Filed under: Vision — Janie Kellogg @ 8:37 pm
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It comes as little surprise to anyone that doing nothing is not the best option for almost any problem we face. Actually, the only time that doing nothing is acceptable is when God says to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” In those times, it is totally in our best interest to do nothing.

 

But instructions to do nothing are rare. God most often gives us something to do, and our greatest challenge is to hear from Him what that something is. While God’s Word is full of commands and guidelines in any given situation, we humans have a tendency to make up our own rules.

 

When God says “believe,” we doubt that believing will be enough.

When He says “trust,” we try to change the circumstances.

When He tells us to “wait,” we rush ahead to accomplish our own goals.

 

As proactive get-er-done people, doing something is what we are about—even if it doesn’t work!

 

In fact, we are so busy doing what we think are the right things that we don’t have time to find out what God actually wants us to do. I fear that is the case in restoring America, repairing our communities and schools, reviving our churches, salvaging our families, and most importantly, saving ourselves from the demise of overload, both physically and spiritually.

 

The truth is—we are tired. We are tired from doing all the many things we believe will fix our problems; yet the things we have spent our energy doing haven’t worked. For starters:

 

  • We hear a Politian commit to fix the nation’s problems; yet all too soon we are vastly disappointed. We quickly look for the next Politian.
  • We participate in an improvement program in our community or school, and eventually see that the task is too big and our resources too small. We set out to recruit more people and raise more money.
  • We get excited when our church announces a new trendy campaign to revive it members, but after it has come and gone, little had changed. We don’t understand why it failed, since it seemed like such a great plan.
  • We commit to spending more time with our family, but when work, school, and sports scream for attention, we yield to their      demands. Family relationships suffer, and we whine because it has to be so hard.
  • And then there is our personal time with God—what we call a “quiet time.” Since there’s no quiet time to be had in my life, surely God understands and will let me off the hook. I’m sure I’ll do better next year, or when the kids grow up, and definitely when I retire.

 

Does any of that sound like your life? It does mine. So why is doing what seems to be perfectly good ideas not working for us?  Here’s why:

 

God did not tell us to look to political leaders for the answers.

God did not promise that our communities and schools will be better through humanitarian efforts.

God is not obligated to bring revival to His people through any manmade campaign.

God said that we will reap what we sow, and family relationships are not exempt.

God does not reveal Himself to those who want to spend time with Him—only to those who do.

 

Be assured that God has something for us to do! Doing nothing or doing the wrong things will never yield the right results. Our nation, communities, schools, churches, families and personal lives are suffering today because we have done too much of the wrong things.

 

It is surprising when at last we discover what it is that God wants us to do. It is not hard, or difficult, or impossible. We would not give our children something to do that was beyond their capability. And neither would God!  ~ Janie Kellogg