Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

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

 

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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

 

A Chance to be Like Jesus November 11, 2014

The issue looms large in my head. Seems like a simple disagreement between two people. “Not so,” comes the whisper of the Holy Spirit from deep within, “it is much more.” My protest was as weak as water.

For one who has long sought for the Holy Spirit to be in full control of my life, I am here and now given an opportunity to see my prayers become reality—this is indeed a chance to die.

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India in the early 1900s, used the term often. Her biography carries the title A Chance to Die, and there is no way to read her many works without coming face to face with this concept.

Just when we’re sold on the idea that the Christian life is surely the good life, we find embedded within the writings of such great saints as Amy, the mysterious concept of death to self in order to have life with God. Please don’t miss the “in order to.” It is the cause and effect concept:  In order to have this, one must do that. We find the same idea in Jesus words: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”1

So just what does Amy mean by a chance to die? When we are faced with the painful yielding up of our way in order to allow another to have their way, it is a chance—an opportunity—to die to self. And when our flesh screams a gut-wrenching “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” we can deliberately choose to give up our right in favor of God’s will.

We can easily know God’s will in such matters. The instructions to love one another, forgive one another, submit to one another, and turn the other cheek are strategically implanted throughout our divine instruction manual. It is with spiritual eyes that we can see these golden opportunities to practice what we preach.

Once we begin to look for them, we can see them everywhere—in our own little nothingness-bickerings—a chance to say “No” to self. After all, that is the essence of Calvary—Jesus saying “No” to having His way. Because of the Father’s plan to redeem mankind, Jesus didn’t demand His right to live, but saw it as a chance to die so others could live.

What makes us think our “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me,” will be anything less?2 It won’t. Each little controversy, each yielding and submission to God’s way is an opportunity to be like Jesus, that is, if we can recognize it as such—a chance to die. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Welcome anything that calls you to your only true position: ‘I have been crucified with Christ….3 A crucified life cannot be self-assertive. It cannot protect itself. It cannot be startled into resentful words. The cup that is full of sweet water cannot spill bitter-tasting drops, however sharply it is knocked.”4 ~ Amy Carmichael

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

1Luke 9:24; 2Mark 8:34; 3Galatians 2:20; 4Amy Carmichael, You Are My Hiding Place, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN, 1991, Pg. 74.

 

 

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 Real Argument ~ February 27, 2014

It is interesting what Christians fight over—what it is that divides God’s people into different groups and denominations. I can’t imagine that Jesus intended his followers be divided over anything, but here we are 2,000 years later with approximately 41,000 Christian denominations, according to Wikipedia.

 

One of the areas of dispute is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Some groups believe that the presence of Christ’s Spirit—known as the Holy Spirit—comes into an individual at the time of conversion. Others believe it comes with an experience known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with many other opinions landing somewhere in between. There is also a great deal of controversy on how much of this Spirit is granted to the believer.

 

Personally, I believe the real argument is not if He comes, how He comes, or when He comes. The scripture is clear on the issue that He does come! The real argument is more clearly found in our capacity to recognize His presence and the ability to draw upon that source of power once He is within us.

 

The fact is that if we are full of the world, we have little capacity for the presence of God. If we are consumed and controlled by “self” (the fleshly nature we inherited from the fall), we have little ability to access the Spirit within. Therefore, our faith is small, our strength is small, and our results will be small.

 

If that describes us, we will not know the power of His Spirit even though He dwells inside us. We will not be able to utilize this power when we need it, but will be overpowered by our fleshly nature. This applies to even those who have a great experience when being filled with the Spirit. It’s what we do with the Indwelling Christ that matters.

 

Jesus clearly said, “To Him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life.”1 Ever wonder what He meant by this? Overcome what? Could it be those who overcome their “self” –Satan’s representative in every human being? Those who deny their “self”? Those who crucify their “self” and put “self” to death? Those who overcome the power of “self” and allow Christ to reign in their lives? Could that be the overcomers Jesus is talking about? If so, then am I an overcomer?

 

I fully believe that it is this “self” we must overcome—and not the devil, his works, or even the world. Jesus did that!2 We have one thing to overcome in our individual lives and that is the “self” that sits on the throne of our hearts and rules what we do, what we say, how we act and react, how we spend our time, what we love, and what appeals to us. But Christ will not unseat my “self”—I must do it!

 

It is time the truth about “self” be revealed to our own hearts. We yield to its persuasion over us; we act as if it has some right to exert its ugly behavior as some honorable entity that doesn’t have to please God or adhere to His commands. After all, it’s “me” and I can’t help being “me!” Did I mention that “self” comes directly from the “father of lies?”3

 

We have been lied to long enough. Unless we face this truth, we will be deceived about who “self” is. Self is our enemy. Self is God’s enemy. We must not protect our self, not if we want to eat of the tree of life.

 

This might be a good time for a “self” test. Do my actions, words, thoughts, behaviors, desires, and loves line up with that taught and modeled by Jesus, or am I mostly doing my own thing? I can explain it away all I want, rationalize all I must, justify myself, my rights over and over, but when I stand before the Lord will my arguments hold up?

 

I do not want to wait until that day to figure out that I might be of the world and not really a follower of Christ at all.  Like it or not, I best get on with doing what Jesus said to do: deny my “self.”4

 

Whatever you do, don’t forget this all-important fact: He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me to help me do that very thing. Come on, Jesus Followers, let’s figure out this mystery of the gospel—Christ in me, the hope of glory.5 ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Revelation 2:7; 2John 16:33; 3John 8:44; 4Matthew 16:24; 5Colossians 1:27

 

How Low Can You Go? April 11, 2013

Sometimes this Christian life feels like I’m stuck in third grade! You know what I mean—we want to move on to higher things, but the Teacher says we’re not ready yet. Seems we haven’t nailed down the basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic. Perhaps the multiplication tables are not laid in stone, and because of it, our progress is hindered.

 

So it goes with my progress to be like Jesus. I know I’m saved and on my way to heaven, but this sanctification process is grueling. I want to discover all the amazing things God wants me to know, experience, and incorporate into my everyday life. But I’m stuck here—in Romans Chapter 7.

 

For fear that some may lag behind, it is necessary to linger long in the hidden truths in Chapter 7. The Apostle Paul clearly describes a carnal Christian in these hard-to-own words: “for what I want to do, I do not do; but what I hate, I do.”1 Sounds just like me, and I must find out why.

 

On my non-stop search for answers, I find this:  “God’s means for greatness are not climbing up the ladder, but going down,” writes Chris Tiegreen.2 “He who is least among you all, he is the greatest.”3

 

Yet another hard pill to swallow in American culture: going down. That couldn’t possibly be the way to greatness, could it? It so goes against the grain.

 

Against the grain of what? Let’s examine. Against the grain of self-achievement, self-sufficiency, self-worth, self-esteem, self-made, self-taught, self-anything! That is the grain that going down works against: S-E-L-F.

 

Jesus taught and modeled the exact opposite. The Son of God said, “I do nothing on my own.” 4 If Jesus needed God, how much more do we? How then do we get God doing for us? Here is the mystery—fully hidden from the proud and self-sufficient—we go lower.

 

Whether we like it or not, humility is the way to God. There is no other way, but to admit helplessness (depravity) and depend on God. The lower we go the more of God we get. Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”5 See it! Peter urges us to “humble yourselves under God’s Mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time.”6

 

Being lifted up any way other than God’s lifting won’t last—it will eventually collapse.

 

Humility and depravity—words that come to our aid—position us correctly before an Almighty God. We’ve tried everything else—self-help books, self-taught Bible studies, self-sanctification efforts—all have failed us. Are we not yet ready to try the proven path found in God’s Word?

 

It is time that we stop our self-efforts, cease from our own works, and toss our 10-step plan to successful Christian living out the window, and go lower.

 

Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”7 Why? We are in the wrong position to receive more truth from God. It could be that fourth grade material is just too hard for us. We cannot grasp it yet, not in this position.

 

Where then is the right position? Somewhere lower and we must find it.

 

Let us seek a place away from the world’s activities, away from the TV, the music, and even the books. Shut it all down and get still before God. Bring every thought into captivity. Do not entertain any thoughts of pride or self-achievement; they destroy our ability to find God and fellowship with Him.

 

Seek God’s presence. Crave His presence. Cry out for His presence. Learn what is required to acquisition His presence, and then wait for Him.

 

Are we quiet enough yet to hear His still small voice? Have we heard Him call our name today? Have we learned to practice His presence on our knees, in our closet, until we hear Him say, “You are mine?” We simply must stay there until we do.

 

If we still cannot hear the voice of God, there is only one option—go even lower. ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:15; 2At His Feet One-Year Devotional, Chris Tiegreen, Sept. 21; 3 Luke 9:48; 4John 8:28; 5 2 Cor. 12:10; 61 Peter 5:6; 7John 16:12

Also see Treasure in Earthen Vessels post: A Hard Pill to Swallow, and God Wants Me to Fail.

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Since Self is on the Throne March 6, 2013

“Take up your cross and follow Me,”

I heard the Master say.

But denying myself to answer Your call,

Is a price too high to pay,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Love my enemies; bless those who hate;

Pray for those who spitefully use me.

Surely, Lord, You don’t require that,

For much too vulnerable I’d be,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Forgive one another as Christ forgave me;

Your Word says this is a must.

But I was treated too unfair to ever forgive.

So You’ll not ask that of me, I trust,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

To him who strikes me on the cheek,

I’m to offer the other side.

Surely this doesn’t mean what it says.

Why, my “rights” would be denied,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Be kind and tenderhearted one to another;

Your Word teaches this, ‘tis true.

But to esteem others better than myself

Is much too difficult to do,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

You say I should learn to be content,

Regardless of my state.

Yet I’m striving to get ahead in this world,

For doing without I hate,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

On earth You made Yourself no reputation,

And that I can’t understand.

When worldly wisdom drives me on

To be all that I possibly can,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

There is no profit to gain the whole world,

If my very own soul I lose.

But dying daily seems barbaric to me.

Is there some other plan I can choose,

Since Self is on the throne?

 

I’m told in everything give thanks;

Grateful I’m supposed to be.

But Lord, can’t You see, this is not about You,

For this is all about ME,

Since Self is on the throne.  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Note: Also see Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “Who’s the Boss,” March 6, 2013