Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

More Than Physical Therapy May 4, 2017

Filed under: Christian Growth — Janie Kellogg @ 8:34 pm
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It felt really strange, almost as if my head had been gently detached from my body and laid to the side. I was learning to trust my highly-recommended physical therapist as she tried to put my head back where it belongs. This was my fourth therapy session, and each session was growing in intensity. I wondered what she would do next.

 

Apparently, I had injured my neck at some time in the past, and now my head was off-center. It had been this way for so long that my new center felt more comfortable than my true center. Yet, my charming young therapist was determined to get my head on straight once again.

 

She worked the muscles on either side of my neck, removing the knots that had developed. A stretch here and a pull there—attempting to relieve the pain I had endured over the previous four months. She said the stretching and pulling would strengthen my neck muscles so they would eventually be strong enough to hold my head in the correct position. That should stop the pain.

 

As I contemplated her strategy, I thought about the spiritual struggle I was currently going through. Perhaps my physical condition and my spiritual condition had some things in common. Could it be that some of my spiritual muscles were sagging and I had found a more comfortable place to exist that wasn’t my true center? Things like slouching in prayer or slacking in Bible Study; yielding to selfish thoughts rather than Christlike ones, and even stooping to self-pity because things weren’t going my way in an important area of my life. Could it be that the worst symptom of all was my drooping faith to believe that God was still in control of my circumstances?

 

As my therapist continued to do her highly-skilled work on my neck, I smiled at God. I had caught a deeper meaning of my therapy session on that beautiful spring morning. Yes, my neck muscles were being strengthen to do what they were designed to do, and now I clearly saw that it was time to strengthen my spiritual muscles as well—the muscles that keep me on true center—true to God and true to my inner being—a woman after God’s own heart. Who knows, maybe some of that pain will go away, too! ~ Janie Kellogg

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How Much of the Holy Spirit Do You Have? October 10, 2016

How much of the Holy Spirit do you have? Interesting question, huh?  Especially since some people believe that Christians either have “it” or they don’t have “it.” Wrong!

First of all, “it” is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a Person and is best referred to as “He.” This often-misunderstood member of the Holy Trinity has a personality, a purpose, and a plan. He has feelings, desires, and reasons for what He does or doesn’t do. He has assignments from the Father, gifts to deliver to believers, and a mission on earth. He was sent by Jesus, as a promise given to the earliest disciples and extended to every disciple since. And that promise, my friend, is to indwell every person who becomes a believer in Jesus Christ.

The question as to whether or not all true believers have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of them is answered in Romans 8:9 “…And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Therefore, we can conclude that every person who is born-again has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him from the time of conversion, or else he hasn’t been born-again.

From that amazing first encounter with the Holy Spirit, we can begin to grow up into Christ because we now have a personal teacher to guide us into all truth. His goal is to eventually transform us into the image of Jesus Himself; however, His ability to do so is directly helped or hindered by our willingness to cooperate with Him. When we cooperate with our Indwelling Houseguest, we grow quickly. When we do not cooperate—well, not so much!

I think a better question, be it in 6 months after conversion, 6 years, or 60 years, is not how much of the Holy Spirit do you have, but how much of you does the Holy Spirit have? You see, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and He does not overpower us and take away our freewill. He occupies only the territory of our lives that we freely and willingly yield to Him. He will control only what we allow Him to control.

That explains why we sometimes see what should be mature Christians no further advanced than newborn Christians. They have given the Holy Spirit very little control of their lives. They continue to sit at the helm and steer their ship where they want to go, with little thought as to where the Holy Spirit wants to take them.

There has been much teaching on how to be blessed by the Holy Spirit, experience His presence, and enjoy His gifts; yet, very little on how to yield our lives over to His complete control. Unfortunately, the church of today is mostly obsessed with the gifts and experiences, and we remain untrained in how to relinquish that control to Him. There is a widely believed misconception that the Holy Spirit is here to bless us, and at the same time, we get to keep our besetting sins. The problem is—that doesn’t line up with the Holy Spirit’s mission on earth.

Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China, used the term “the exchanged life” for the giving up of his life for the Christ-life. In other words, Taylor gave up what he wanted for what the Holy Spirit wanted, and died to the self that we all inherited from Adam and Eve. Of course, that sounds rather foreign to our modern-day easy-believe-ism teachings, wouldn’t you say?

This excerpt from Taylor’s writings clearly depicts a life that has been yielded up to the control of the Holy Spirit: “I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me….”

So, how much of the Holy Spirit do you and I have? We have an amount equal to the area of our inner being that we have currently yielded to the Holy Spirit’s control—that much, and no more.  The Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18 say to be filled with the Spirit, implying that we can be partially filled, completely filled, or somewhere in between. So, which is it—a little, some, or filled?

Next, we will discuss being full of the Holy Spirit—what it looks like and how we can get there. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 2009, Pg. 165

 

Making Sense Out of the Nonsense February 24, 2016

My husband and I were keeping our evening ritual of watching our favorite news channel when yet another story was reported that made no sense to me whatsoever. In my usual tone of controlled outrage coupled with staggering unbelief at the news story I had just heard I said, “That is crazy! What is wrong with people? Don’t they understand what they are doing?”

I expect that you make some of those same comments, wondering how seemingly normal, well-educated people can make the decisions they are making today. To be honest, it outright baffles me.

A few days later God dropped a word into my spirit—derision. I began my search and it didn’t take long to find the Scripture the Lord was pointing out to me.

Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?   The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. ~ Psalm 2:1-4.

I grabbed my Hebrew dictionary and looked up the word derision. The root word “la′ag” means mock, laugh, or scorn. As I thought of these verses in light of our current lack of common sense, I couldn’t help but wonder if God is looking down and laughing at America! Are we a nation being held in derision?

I know we don’t like to think so. After all, our modern-day message of the gospel is that God sits in the heavens and just waits to pour out blessings and wealth on His people regardless of their behavior. Besides, we are still His specially favored nation. Aren’t we?

But let’s consider a few things happening today. Are not people in high places in our land setting themselves against God by determining that there are other gods that must be recognized? Does not our nation long to be free from the Laws and Commandments of God as spelled out in the Bible? Hasn’t this specially favored nation declared that it is no longer a Christian nation? Yet, when such announcements are made, we say little and do nothing. We have tolerated God’s commandments to be removed from our schools and now the public square because we are afraid of political correctness, losing elections, and a biased news media.

Could it be that God looks and laughs at our choices and says, “If America no longer wants to be a Christian nation, then so be it. Let’s see how that works out for them.”

I am afraid we are seeing how it works—not very well. It is not a pretty picture, to say the least. We can no longer make sound and reasonable decisions, we are up to our necks in debt, and we are not unified on any subject. Right is twisted and scorned, while wrong is praised and honored. Hatred seems to be the growing response towards those who break the law, riot, abuse and kill the innocent among us, but also for those who simply have different political views.

I believe it is totally possible that America is being held in derision. God could very well be mocking us for our senseless choices and our lack of courage to take a stand for righteousness; and collectively, we are now paying a high price.

I may not be right; but if I am, it sure helps make some sense out of all the non-sense. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. ~ Proverbs 14:34 (NIV)

 

Big Waves Can Be Big Fat Lies August 21, 2015

It recently dawned on me that the storms of life themselves are often not as bad as the agonizing fear we endure while thinking about them. Satan uses the elements of our storms to traumatize us by parading dozens of fabricated possibilities through our minds. While we listen to his big-fat lies, our peace goes out the window.

Remember the story of Peter walking on the water and how his fall happened right after he did the impossible?1 I think walking on water should have been a huge faith-builder, don’t you? Yet, that is how our enemy works—we do something supernatural when Jesus bids us to do it—and as soon as we get into the thick of it, Satan bombards our minds with big waves of doubts: Those waves are too big! Those winds are too strong! You can’t do this (never mind that Peter just did!) You’re a goner for sure!

Peter had done the impossible while he was focused on Jesus, and then he failed. Why? He started entertaining the thoughts of the enemy as fact, and at the moment He took his eyes off Jesus to look at his circumstances, he began to sink.

How many of us have had a while-then experience? You know, we were actually doing something impossible while we had our eyes on Jesus; but then we lost our focus and sank. I remember going on my first mission trip and thinking: Scaredy Cat me going to a third world country! Or me with so little knowledge of music leading a choir! Or me a country girl from nowhere speaking at a women’s retreat!

Sometimes the enemy is so good at his big-fat lies, we doubt if we ever did that impossible thing at all. But I believe we can learn an important lesson from Peter: We must never take our eyes off Jesus! The question is—how can we keep from making Peter’s mistake?

First of all, we need to realize that we are not helpless against our enemy. No matter how long we’ve yielded to the practice of allowing Satan access to our minds, we can put a stop to it. We simply must retrain our minds, and here’s how.

There is a wonderful promise found in Isaiah 26:3 “You (God) will keep him (or her) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You.”

God promised that if we will keep our minds on Him, we can avert the tormenting lies of Satan and watch our peace return. It will take time and effort, but since it only takes 21 days to form a new habit, we’ll soon be on our way to victory over Satan’s big-fat lies.

Start with hiding this promise of God in your heart; rehearse it in your mind; believe it will work for you; and then practice it. With Satan’s first attempt to make things look worse than they are, stop immediately, and purposely turn your mind to Jesus. When it happens again, repeat the process; and then again, and again. Our hearts will calm down, regardless of how terrifying our circumstances are because God promised it and God cannot lie!

We have been tricked into listening to Satan’s lies by thinking it might be God’s voice and therefore we must pay attention to it. Yet, God’s voice will not bring fear to our hearts2, so do not listen—not now, not later. No wonder Peter warned believers to “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”3 Don’t let it be you!

We think the recipe for having peace must be difficult and something only super-spiritual saints can accomplish. But it is God’s plan for all of His children to have peace in our storms by keeping our minds on Him.

I know that it works, since I just came through three storms in my own life using this technique. Remember, we’re not trying to calm the storm, but we’re seeking to allow God to calm His child. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Thought: Peace is not the absence of trouble; rather peace is the calm confidence that in the end we win! ~ Janie Kellogg

1Matthew 14:25-32; 22 Timothy 1:7; 31 Peter 5:8

 

How Can Such a Small Bump in the Road Stir Up Such a Big Stink? March 30, 2015

While driving home from church last night I hit a bump in the road. I felt only a small thump, but it wasn’t long before I knew I had stirred up a big stink. You guessed it—I hit a skunk. It seemed as if I didn’t have a choice since it darted right out in front of me. Regardless, I quickly chose what I thought to be the best direction to go in order to miss it. I chose wrong.

I couldn’t help but blame myself. Was I pre-occupied with a problem I had just learned about? Was I not focusing on where I was going? Did I react in haste; in error? Perhaps if I had done any of these things differently, one of God’s little creatures would still be alive, and my car, well, let’s just say it would be giving off a more pleasant aroma!

OK, maybe I’m over-analyzing, but maybe not. After all, I expect that I’ll be reminded of it for quite some time. So, what might the Holy Spirit have for me in this unfortunate incident?

Perhaps 2 Corinthians 2:14 has a word for us: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

This verse tells us that God does two things: 1) He always leads us to triumph in Christ; and 2) He uses my life to distribute a fragrance of Himself everywhere I go.

The fact is….we all have bumps in the road—little bumps, medium-sized bumps, and big bumps. They happen to everyone. The issue is not how to have a life without bumps, but how to handle them when they pop up right in our face.

It is in the bumps of life that God desires to lead us to triumph. That’s right—a bump in the road is actually an opportunity for the Christ in us to show the world who He is, how He thinks, and how He behaves. What we call an unfortunate bump in the road is also our opportunity to be used of God to spread the sweet fragrance of Christ-like-ness to those who come in contact with us.

Anytime we encounter a bump in the road that jolts our lives, our emotions, or our self-esteem, we (and others) are left with the aroma of our reaction. Since that aroma will be around for quite a while, it’s important what we dispense—a sweet-smelling fragrance or an aroma that people will shy away from?

Even a small amount of rudeness, selfish demands, or an unleashed temper can stir up a stink we may later regret. Damage done in a split-second of careless reaction may cost us more than we ever imagined—an irreparable friendship, alienated family member, or a wounded spouse.

Some good advice might be to keep our minds on the Lord instead of our problems; remember to stay focused on where we are going and our goal to take others with us; not to react in haste, but to think things through; and to understand there is a cost if we make an error in the direction we choose. And if we choose our reactions and words carefully, we might even save the life of one of God’s creations—a human one.

Lord, as your ambassadors to a lost world, help us react to the bumps in our road like Jesus would react. We understand that if we don’t, we might be left with a big stink to live with. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” ~ Amy Carmichael

 

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

 

 

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