Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Out with the Old ~ In with the New December 31, 2014

It’s happening again—one year ends and another begins. Aren’t we glad it does? Whether it is cleaning closets or rearranging the priorities in my life, I like the feel of new beginnings. The Bible says that when we are born again of the Spirit, old things are passed away, and behold, all things become new.1

I like God’s behold—it means heads up! Take notice! Observe! Look right here! He often uses behold to get our attention when He has something important to say to us. In this verse, God is telling us that the time of the old fleshly man ruling over our lives is passing away, and the new life of Christ reigning in us is here.

What an encouraging word to those of us who are slow learners—out with the old selfish me and in with the new spiritual me! I’ve lived long enough to know that this doesn’t happen overnight, but praise God it was set into motion at the very moment I trusted in Jesus to save me from my sin.

My friend, our old self is in the process of being dethroned while our new spirit man is being groomed to take over. We are even now being shaped and formed to be just like Jesus, full of the Spirit and fully obedient to the Father. If it feels like a power struggle, it is. No doubt, our old self will fight and scream as he is being cast out, but he is condemned and death is his destiny. Our new life in Christ is coming in and growing just like Baby Jesus grew in grace and truth. Someday He will fully reign in us. That is our God-given right and our God-given destiny—for Christ to be formed in us.2 What a glorious, breathtaking thought!

As you celebrate the coming in of this new year of 2015, rejoice in what God has already done in your life, and by all means, look forward to what He is going to do in the coming year. Thank Him for every new glimpse of His glory that He has allowed you to see; for every new truth of His Word that He has opened up to your understanding; and every new level of faith along this journey that He has helped you reach. Those, my friends, are the true riches of His Kingdom that He is sharing with you.

Since God is always, always, always giving good and perfect gifts to His children, then behold, a new year means new riches of God coming your way! Thank Him for them; look for them; and embrace them when they come.

Wishing each of you a very Happy New Year! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

12 Corinthians 5:17; 2Galatians 4:19

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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

 

 

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

 

What No One Told You about YourSelf August 20, 2013

I don’t think it is a big surprise to anyone that life is hard. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been really lucky. There is no escaping the difficulties of life—relationships, careers, finances, death—just life in general.  These struggles occur on the physical side of life.

 

The spiritual side of life is no different. Oblivious to many people, there is an enormous struggle going on in the hearts of men. The truth is we are subject to a mighty force called Self from the day we are born. Like the physical side of life, there is no escaping this struggle.

 

I fear that many of us have been misled about our Self. I have chosen to capitalize this word to give it the proper emphasis, acknowledging its power and position. We seems to have the idea that Self is the real me—the “I’ve gotta be me” mentality. It is considered to be something akin to personality, to be cultivated and protected, or else it might go away and the real me lost.

 

Strong individuality is part of the American culture. We have been taught that “rugged individualism” is linked to patriotism, courage, and success. We are proud when we can hold our heads high and declare, “I did this.” Even greater honor is given to one who says, “I did this by myself.”

 

It has taken years of grappling with this issue for me to see Self for what it is. It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me when this was clearly spelled out. As long as my idea of Self was merely a concept, I considered it in the gray area—the things I don’t have to take a stand on. But once I know the truth, I become accountable for what I do with that truth. (Read that again.)

 

J. Oswald Sanders, an internationally-known theologian, wrote this about Self: “In the heart of the believer, Self occupies the same relation to Satan as does the Holy Spirit to Christ, it is Satan’s representative in the heart. Even after many gross forms of evil have been evicted, Self remains to contest and usurp the claim of Christ to the throne of the redeemed life. It is guilty of high treason against the King of Kings, and is therefore worthy of death.”1

 

I believe we must wake up to the fact that our spiritual lives are being attacked, overrun, and controlled by this force known as Self. Like his father, Satan, Self is an all-out liar. He is also Selfish, Self-centered, Self-indulgent, Self-confident, Self-conscious, Self-willed, Self-assured, Self-exalting, and Self-justifying. In America, we even have what is known as the Self-made man. While we sometimes boast or jest about these qualities, in reality, they are the marks of Satan reigning in a life.

 

Do any of these describe you? They certainly describe me! Even in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and believed to be part of my personality, yet so totally unlike my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Unless we recognize what is going on in our personal world, we will not be able to do anything about our predicament. Our muddled interpretation of Self will keep us paralyzed, and we will continue losing the battles, yielding to its power, and remain defeated Christians. Furthermore, our progress to be transformed into the image of Christ is on hold.2

 

The first step to freedom is the acknowledgment of bondage. The person who claims he or she has no bondage is simply not a candidate for freedom.

 

Until we acknowledge Self for what it is and admit that Self is reigning in our hearts rather than Jesus, we have no hope of being set free from its dominion over us. A mental ascent to the idea that we are legally set free from Self is not enough. Yes, we are legally free because of faith in the sacrificed blood of Jesus, but unless we appropriate that truth and apply it to our own personal lives, we will remain in bondage. After our eyes are opened to this truth and we knowingly allow this to continue, we are participating in “high treason against the King of Kings.”

 

Now I know and now I am accountable. I have never in my entire life been so motivated to oust the culprit of Self from the throne of my heart. I denounce this Self-led rebellion against my God, and by the mercy and grace of God I will find His provision for ridding my life of its control. Does anyone out there care to come along with me? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1J. Oswald Sanders, Christ Indwelling and Enthroned, CCWM, Santa Ana, CA, 1949, pg. 46

22 Corinthians 3:18

 

For other related posts see poem “Since Self Is On the Throne,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, March 6, 2013 (In Poetry Category)

 

 

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

 

 

 

Two Sides of the Same Coin April 18, 2013

Filed under: Humility — Janie Kellogg @ 7:07 pm
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Sometimes I fear that my readers think I have gone over the edge on my conclusions of depravity and humility. I fully realize that what I am saying on these two subjects is not popular in the mainstream of Christianity today.

Even though these are two different subjects, they are best described as two sides of the same coin. Like the song: “love and marriage….go together like a horse and carriage….you can’t have one without the other,” so it is with depravity and humility. If you see your own depravity, you will be humble; and if you are humble, you can easily see your own depravity.

My generation has now heard 30+ years of name it—claim it teaching: God wants me to be prosperous, my destiny is greatest, I’m being groomed to bloom, and many other trendy ideas have filled the airways and the pulpits for years. Actually, these popular teachings, for the most part, do not address either depravity or humility. Whether we want to admit it or not, our beliefs have been shaped or at least influenced by these modern-day trends in Christianity, perhaps to our demise.

Every concept or teaching must first be weighed in the light of God’s Word. If it doesn’t pass the test there, it should be discarded altogether. If it does pass the test, it is also beneficial to weigh it in the light of what others know about the subject, especially those with a trusted and proven track record.

Therefore, in an effort to add some muscle (if you will) to my conclusions on depravity and humility, I have chosen to post a few quotes by renowned Christians. These quotes are from recognized authors, speakers, preachers and teachers of God’s Word, many of which helped shape Christianity as we know it today. They are certainly people who have helped shape my thinking on these issues.

Obviously, these two subjects are important, as many well-known writers thought they were important enough to write about them. Within their writings, we discover that these two things have a huge impact on the spiritual condition of all mankind.

The quotes are being posted on my blog under a separate title: What Other Writers Say about Depravity & Humility. Because it often takes years for this hidden mystery to unfold, I recommend that you print them and then take ample time to slowly digest and discern them for yourself.

The valuable insight to be gained from understanding these two words will enable us to press forward into the freedom that God provides—freedom from the devastating effects of the fall in the Garden of Eden. But unless we recognize and acknowledge those effects for what they are, we will never be able to deal with them according to knowledge, and at last, be freed from them.

Our next stop on this journey is the marvelous revelation found in Romans Chapter 8, but in order to do so, we must first grasp this concept here and now. If we do not, we will simply read Chapter 8 again for the one-thousandth time, our eyes will glaze over, and we will think we see it, when actually, we do not. We will accept the same teaching we have heard before, and the mystery hidden in this powerful chapter will elude us once again.

God is forever faithful to His promise that those who seek shall find. I believe great victory is just ahead for each of us! ~ Janie Kellogg

Other Related posts in Treasure in Earthen Vessels: What Other Writers Say about Depravity and Humility, April 18, 2013

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