Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Oh God, I Need Some Rest! March 20, 2014

I’ve read it a thousand times—Hebrews Chapter 4. I’ve chased its interpretation for more years than I care to count. Still today, verse 11 perplexes me: “Let us therefore labor to enter that rest…” It doesn’t make sense to labor at resting. Why not just lie down and rest? To top that, the word labor in this scripture actually means to “make haste.”  So now I’m supposed to hurry at resting? I want to label this an oxymoron, but I know God doesn’t make mistakes.

 

Oh God, I need some rest! How I long for rest! I can only hope to find it someday!

 

I’m smack-dab in the middle of accounting season, near drowning in sheer circumstances. For an accountant, that means deadline upon deadline to meet with little recourse. Even a good night’s rest for the body is scarce. I told a friend the other day that it felt as if I were submerged in water and all that remained on the surface is one hand slowly sinking down through the bubbles from my last breath of air as I mumbled a final cry for help.

 

While it was intended to be funny, I wonder how many of us feel just like that about life. We’ve tried to keep afloat, made every effort to hold things together, did our best to swim against the current of never-ending demands on our lives, but somehow we feel that we might not make it. Does life grab you that way—hold you under until you’re not sure the next breath will come?

 

And what about our spiritual lives—ever felt that you’re just not getting the hang of it? You do all the right things, you work and give and help and support. You struggle with thoughts like, “Oh God, I’ve given and given and it never seems to work for me like Joel Osteen said it would!” And what about the strength we’ve been promised—you know from lofty verses like, “your strength shall be renewed, mounting up with wings like eagles?”1 Somehow that seems to have slip right past me. Yep, this eagle is merely hopping along on the ground trying to dodge the muck and mire of life.

 

If any of this sounds like you—I have good news. I’m not sure why its meaning has eluded me for so long, but Hebrews Chapter 4 is our answer. It is the very substance of what God knew we would need and what He provided for us in advance. Remember, God doesn’t make mistakes.

 

So what does it mean—this laboring to rest business? Newer translations say, “Let us be diligent to enter that rest.” It means: Let us hurry diligently at finding the rest provided by God and then enter into that rest. I suspect that we don’t hurry diligently because we do not know what that rest is or where it is. If we just knew what it was or where it was, we would!

 

While there are many clues to unfold in this chapter, let’s take a closer look at Verses 9 and 10: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His (God’s) rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”

 

Did you see that—ceased from his works? Let that soak in. Amy Carmichael said, “Perhaps what demands most will power is the resolution to cease from our own works, our own busyness, and to stay our minds upon our God.”

 

We know that earning salvation by good works is included here, for only the works of Christ at Calvary can save us. But don’t stop there. Look for more. Could this also be the key to living the Spirit-empowered life?

 

God has plan and a place for us to rest. God wants us to find and enter into it. Moses’ generation didn’t enter in because of unbelief. In other words, they heard about it, “but the word which they heard did not benefit them because it was not mixed with faith.”

 

We must first believe this rest of God is available to us. Once we believe it is there, we must hurry diligently to find it. Look up and look forward as we unpack the secrets to finding and entering that rest! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Isaiah 40:31; All other scriptures Hebrews Chapter 4.

 

 

 

The New ME! February 27, 2013

There is a huge war going on and it’s not the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else in the world. Actually, it’s much closer to home. The war that prevails, that is the most concern to my life, is inside me!

 

Like most believers, I was taught that once I am saved, I’m saved; that Jesus loves me forever; and I’m on my way to heaven. Although assured of making it to heaven when I die, I didn’t expect it to feel like I’d get there by the skin of my teeth, the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, fighting every inch of the way. Why does it seem as if I am in a battle for my life?

 

Because I am—the battle for my spiritual life—the life of the new ME!

 

It was a joyous event when I accepted Christ and learned that my old fleshly nature had been overruled, dethroned, and replaced. Yet, while my fallen-from-God’s-intended nature is completely, officially, and legally no longer in control of me,1 I still have this ongoing debate with my flesh—the old ME!

 

The fact is I have an enemy that I didn’t have before I accepted Christ. Until now, my own fallen nature didn’t have to fight for survival since it was already in control. But now that I have a new life living on the inside, the old ME is trying to make a comeback. And the war is on—I am at war with myself!

 

Few Christians are prepared for the war they will inevitably face—the old ME verses the new ME.   In case no one spelled it out: self doesn’t die easy. Here is one very important fact has been left out of much Christian teaching: Now that I am saved, it’s up to ME to appropriate this life-changing truth into my everyday life.

 

But the Apostle Paul didn’t leave it out. In Ephesians 3:16 he prayed for me and you about this very thing. He prayed that “out of His (God’s) glorious riches, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.”  That is the same inner being Paul described in Romans 7:22 that wants to obey God—that’s the new ME—the newly born-again life of Jesus.

 

But why are so many Christians struggling to win a war that has already been legally won? Not only are they struggling to win the war, some have lost battle after battle and have the scars to prove it. The casualties of this war are huge. Many Christians give up, drop out, and never expect to win the fight.

 

Consider this: How many Christians actually know how to defeat the enemy of their souls? Know how to put the enemy to flight? Bring every thought into captivity? Love their enemies? Love their neighbor as themselves? Submit to one another? Forgive seventy times seven? (Are you kidding!) Crucify their flesh? Turn the other check? Go the second mile? In everything give thanks? Need I go on?

 

My point is not to call attention to the failures of Christians. My point is this: By the way we live it appears this gospel isn’t powerful enough to do what the Bible says it will do. Do we believe in a powerful gospel or a powerless gospel?

 

The problem is not with our gospel—it with us—we have failed to appropriate (take, seize, adopt, usurp, grab) the very truth of the gospel we profess to believe.

 

Perhaps we have not yet figured out how to be strengthened with power through His Spirit that is required to win this battle with our legally dethroned, stubborn self, as Paul prayed we would.

 

I wonder if many modern-day believers even know this power is available. And if so, have they learned how to tap into it?  Be assured that God did not intend for us to be lacking in power. He made every provision for His children to live a victorious and powerful Christ-like, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled life.

 

It is time to unwrap and expose the truth about how to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. If you haven’t joined the journey, it’s not too late! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “My Faulty Default” – February 19, 2013