Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

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

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How Much Do I Know About the Holy Spirit? September 19, 2016

Filed under: Holy Spirit — Janie Kellogg @ 4:28 pm
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I have spent the summer of 2016 studying and teaching on the topic of the Holy Spirit. I knew that our Helper had many names and functions, but I had to ask myself honestly, “How much do I know about the Holy Spirit? I boldly told God that, if needed, He had my permission to hit the delete button on all I already knew and teach me afresh about this amazing Third Person of the Trinity. Today, I stand in awe as to how little I knew about Him previously.

You may think the delete button a bit drastic, but the more I studied, the more I became convinced that much of my teaching had been merely the interpretation and opinions of others who thought they had the Holy Spirit figured out. Some even thought they had a corner on Him, and honestly, that’s impossible! He is an amazing free-Spirit and no one is going to put Him in their narrow-minded doctrinal box of any size or shape.

I gleaned many treasures on this subject from the books and DVD studies by Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY. Other insights have been gained from the works of R. T. Kendall, theologian and author of Holy Fire; and of course, from the many works of one of my favorite writers, Andrew Murray. Of recent, I re-discovered The Message, which is a paraphrasing translation by Eugene Peterson, whose contemporary language has unlocked old truths in understandable language. I must not forget my close companion, the Amplified Bible. Some days I simply sit and weep as I read from these works about familiar words now rendered new and fresh like water from a cool, clear stream.

How has this message been hidden from us for so long? Why hasn’t this essential understanding been granted before? What baffles me the most is why so many denominations have ignored this subject, or more importantly the Helper entirely. Get it? H-e-l-p-e-r! Ah, now you see my point—the one who helps us! Jesus described His sending the Helper so critical that He told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem without Him—the Helper, that is!

I think I have a pretty good idea who might be behind the strategy to keep God’s followers away from the one thing that can help them: Satan, himself. What better way to stop the spread of the Gospel than to hide from them the truth about the Helper? Yet, the pure unadulterated truth is that I need help and lots of it! And Jesus knew that. As my dearest lifelong friend said recently in our weekly ladies Bible Study, “He took care of everything we would need before He left us and went back to heaven.” That is a true statement if I’ve ever heard one.

I plan to share with you some of what I’ve learned on this summer’s journey. I’ve spoken at two Women’s Retreats during the summer months, and God lead me to teach on the Holy Spirit at both of them. Is it perhaps time for us as the Body of Christ to embrace God’s plan to empower us for the work He has assigned to us before Jesus returns? I think so. In my heart of hearts I believe that there has never been a day in our lifetime in which the Helper was so desperately needed. This is that day. Read Matthew 24 if you wonder what “day” I speak of.

I used this slide in my teaching throughout the summer. Might it be your prayer too?

holy-spirit-i-need-you

I’m wondering if some of you feel that same need for His help. Maybe you too think that He has never clearly been explained to you, that so much about Him is uncharted territory, or misconstrued rhetoric. Perhaps you would even now ask yourself, “How much do I know about the Holy Spirit?”

Doesn’t some cool, clear water from the spring of living water sound refreshing about now? If so, stay tuned. My prayer is that together God will lead us to a mighty source of truth and encouragement in our confused and thirsty world. I’m praying this will be an amazing stretch of our journey together.  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

God Speaking August 6, 2016

As a choir director, I am always looking for new music. I like it all—hymns, traditional, contemporary, and country gospel music. If it’s about Jesus, it’s worth a listen. But what I look for most often is the music that speaks something to my heart. You know, when God is revealing a new truth to your life and then you hear a song that perfectly says what God has just shown you. I know you have had that experience too. I generally go, “WOW! God, I am blown away!”

It is like the singer is speaking out loud what is already planted in my heart. So it was a few days ago when I was the guest speaker for a Ladies Retreat. The praise team was singing a song that was somewhat familiar to me, yet I couldn’t place where I had heard it before. Obviously, I knew it pretty well because I sang along quite easily. But where had I heard it?

Finally, it dawned on me. It was a song I had considered several months ago, downloaded the soundtrack, practiced it, and then decided it wasn’t for my church, not now anyway. Maybe too contemporary; or maybe not the combination of instruments I liked; but for whatever reason, I had put it on the back burner.

But standing there in that beautiful sanctuary with precious young people leading the worship with a single guitar and bongo drum, this once-rejected, not-such-a-perfect-fit song spoke volumes to my heart! So, why was a song that hadn’t worked for me, now resonating with every fiber of my being?

Harbor Retreat 2016 - 2

It was God’s way of speaking to me—and to all who will listen—with that inner voice that points us to the hidden truths in His Word. The Holy Spirit is actually commissioned to do that for us: “He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Did you notice the personal pronoun in the verse? He guides you and me to the truth about who God is; what He has done for us; and how He longs to be in relationship with us. That night, His voice came through loud and clear. God speaking!

For that retreat and for the Bible study I am currently teaching on the importance of the Holy Spirit, I simply needed that song. It confirmed all I had been researching, writing, teaching, and now singing. My Faithful God had connected the dots for me, and I can hardly wait for the choir to learn it, the Ladies Bible Study group, and maybe even you, too. If you haven’t heard it before, google it and listen to a YouTube version with the words. It is called “Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here,” by Francesca Battistelli.  I have also included the words below. I challenge you to read them slowly and allow them soak into your inner-being.

This song will help us kick off a new series of teaching the Lord has recently opened up to me. We’ll just say it is the backdrop to prepare our hearts to hear what He wants to say to us. But in order to hear God speaking, there is one prerequisite: We must make the Holy Spirit, the Divine Teacher, welcome in our hearts. As for me, He is oh so welcome, and I am ready to hear God speak. How about you?

Holy Spirit, by Francesca Battistelli

 

There’s nothing worth more

That could ever come close

No thing can compare

You’re our living hope

Your presence, Lord.

 

I’ve tasted and seen

Of the sweetest of loves

Where my heart becomes free

And my shame is undone

Your presence, Lord.

 

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Your presence, Lord.  (2Xs)

 

Let us become more aware of Your presence

Let us experience the glory of Your goodness (4Xs)

 

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for

To be overcome by Your presence, Lord.

I hope you will join me for the next few weeks/months. It’s been a busy summer, and I am excited to get back to writing and posting on my blog—especially when God is speaking.  Blessings to all. ~ Janie

Photo ~ Harbor Church, Oologah, OK, July 29, 2016

 

 

I May Have Just Found My Voice ~ How About You? May 2, 2016

I have never thought of myself as courageous—you know—the brave and fearless type. Actually, I’ve considered myself a scaredy-cat—scared of being home alone at night, scared of upsetting apple carts, and scared of offending anyone. But as I have grown older, I’m learning how to deal with these issues.

It has been years since I’ve worried about being home alone at night. And upsetting apple carts—well, I have inevitably upset some carts along the way, but I lived to tell about them. Then there is this thing of offending others. I certainly do not want to offend anyone, but if being scared keeps me from speaking truth, then something is wrong with that picture.

I believe the political correctness issue in our culture has gone way too far. Does it seem to you that someone is offended at everything? I read a sign the other day that said something like this: “Our society is careful not to offend anyone, except God.” Perhaps that’s because God doesn’t speak out or demonstrate when He is offended. (He will, however, eventually get the last word.)

We see demonstrators clamoring for free speech for those who want to speak obscenities against God, yet all havoc breaks loose when someone speaks in favor of God or prays in His name. I keep wondering why this imbalance is so widespread and accepted by the masses. It could be because all of the people have not yet found their voices—most especially those who believe in God, in goodness, in righteousness and in decency.

Could we be losing this battle simply because we are afraid to speak? If that is the case, then the opposing forces have already won, and soon the name of the Lord our God will not be permitted in the public square. At the same time, all obscenities can be spoken at will—because believers are not courageous enough to find their voices.

Here is where I am: I have no desire to offend people who don’t believe in my God, but I do have a desire to serve my God and obey Him. Our forefathers fought and died to give our citizens the right to serve God Almighty without persecution from the government. Yet, just last week I read about a registered student group who was told they would need a permit before talking about Jesus on the campus of a major university.1 It seems that free speech today protects everyone except those who want to serve God. Our forefathers would turn over in their graves at such distortion of our Constitution.

So what are you and I going to do about it? When the apostles Peter and John were threatened NOT to speak in Jesus’ name any more, they found their voices:

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:18-20)

And what was the result of finding their voices?

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all. (Acts 4:33)

It is clearly time for the people of God to find our voices. Come to think of it, I may have just found mine. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say. Luke 12:11 (NIV)

1Todd Starnes, Want to Talk About Jesus, You’ll Need a Permit, American Dispatch, April 28, 2016

 

Have You Decided Yet Which Side You Are On? March 19, 2016

If you think the chaos surrounding the 2016 Presidential election is unprecedented, you are not alone. We find ourselves grappling with the questions: Who do we believe? Who do we trust? Which candidate has the right answers? If it were not so incredibly serious, it would be laughable. I have been interested in politics all of my life, and almost tried out for the debate team as a senior in high school. You’ll notice I said almost. Today, I struggle to even watch what is happening.

When I was just a little girl, my dad would say that if Americans don’t wake up soon, the time will come when the electorate will be deceived, their freedoms taken away, and civilization reduced to two groups—the elite and all the rest of us. He fully believed this would lead to a future one-world government. The only possible way God-fearing, freedom-loving people would fall for such a scheme would be to promise them a better life, give them something for nothing, and convince them that others are responsible for their unhappiness.

I believe that time is here. The continual shift away from our Judeo-Christian values and the decline of moral fiber in our society signal a change we may not have intended. While Americans currently seem to be at a pivotal point, they are perhaps waking up too late. The sleeping giant may well find that “the land of the free and the home of the brave” has unsuspectingly slipped away from us.

While politics are an important part of our American culture, they are not the supreme power nor do they have the final say in our destiny. God does. He always has. While discussing the dismal condition of our nation with family members, I simply said: “I think it’s time to figure out what kingdom you belong to and set your hopes on it.” Everyone agreed. I know which kingdom I belong to and it is not of this world. In fact, I am a stranger and a pilgrim here.1 I belong to the Kingdom of God where He reigns supreme; and my greatest hope lies in praying that His kingdom will come and reign on earth, just like it does in heaven.2

If you are banking your hopes on this world, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. This war that is brewing on earth isn’t going away and it isn’t going to end well. In fact, it will become too horrible for God to keep His chosen ones here,3 and He will come to snatch us out of it.4 All hell is going to break loose because God said that He will shake everything that can be shaken.5 The lies of Satan, that great deceiver, will be exposed, and those who have followed him will see the error of their way.6 Unfortunately, at that point it will be too late for those who have ignored God.

I know that political party roots grow deep, just as mine do, but I would challenge us all to take a much broader look at what is currently happening. As the battle lines are being drawn, do not mistake this for the usual rise and fall of the most popular political party of the day. Party affiliation has nothing to do with it. What you and I are witnessing on our television screens is the war between good and evil, between the spiritual powers in the heavenlies, between God and Satan. This is a great battle for the souls of men—and that could mean yours, if you have not yet decided which side you are on.

Personally, I fear that our streets could soon erupt into lawlessness, our cities explode with rioting, and our government could fall before our very eyes. We are at a crucial point in history as the stage has been strategically set for our nation to implode from within. A house divided against itself cannot stand.8 I hope and pray none of this happens; but just in case my fears are justified, now is the time to decide which kingdom you belong to—God’s kingdom or Satan’s kingdom. The final decision is upon us. ~ Janie Kellogg

Theoden: I will not risk open war.

Aragorn: Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Key Scripture: For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. ~ 2 Corinthians 6:2

1Hebrews 11:13; 2Luke 11:2; 3Matthew 24:21-22; 41Thessalionans 4:16-17; 5Hebrews 12:25-27; 62 Thessalonians 2:8-12; 7Revelation 12:12; 8Mark 3:25

 

A Thanksgiving Scene We Will Never Forget November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving! Oh, the joy of being with family is almost too precious to describe. The scenes are incredible! We gather around to welcome the newest members; we measure the height of kids growing tall; we recognize personality traits that remind us of a one taken away; and we surely take notice of the graces of life more apparent in each of us. We look on as our offspring learn to be ducks in the bigger pond, and we cherish their successes. Life simply evolves, not without its pain and sorrow, and yet we give thanks.

It’s in scenes like these that the giving of thanks is so appropriate, for in all of them—sacred or sad—we thank the One who gave them to us. His instruction manual tells us to give thanks in everything.1 We not only can, we must; for the Giver of Life does all things well. While we may not always like what is handed to us, He who gives it makes no mistakes.

We can call it acceptance, for that is exactly what it is. Acceptance of what our Heavenly Father has chosen to give to us. I love the story about a little girl who was born both deaf and dumb. When questioned why God would have made her so, she thought for a moment, and then with trembling hands boldly wrote out her response: “Even so, Father, for it seemed good in Your sight.”2

What kind of faith does it take for acceptance like that?  How do such young eyes see such mature truths? And what about us—do we know the meaning of acceptance? Or do we spend our time and energy trying to change that which was given?

Acceptance is what thanksgiving is all about. It is that deep swelling of faith within us that eventually rises to the surface and says, “What God has chosen to give is good and I am thankful for it.” We may not understand it or fully embrace its treasure, but we are still grateful to the God who gave. And why is that—because He can be trusted.

It is comforting to know that one day we will see things more clearly—for we shall see Him as He is, as well as all the things we haven’t understood. We only know in part now and see through a glass dimly.3 But just hang in there—a new day is about to dawn.

The Apostle John wrote about a future scene that is very different from our unexplained ones. Here is a paraphrased glimpse of what he saw just up ahead. Please read it slowly, even out loud, and try to see if you can picture yourself there, in this scene:

I heard what sounded like a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven, exclaiming, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God! His judgments are true and sound and just and upright. He has judged and pronounced sentence and doomed the great harlot who corrupted and demoralized and poisoned the earth, and has avenged the blood of His servants. And again they shouted, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Then the twenty-four elders fell prostrate and worshipped God Who sits on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Then from the throne there came a voice saying, Praise our God, all you servants of His both small and great. After that I heard what sounded like a shout of a vast throng, like the boom of many pounding waves and like the roar of terrific and mighty thunderpeals, exclaiming, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! For now the Lord our God, the Omnipotent, the All-Ruler, reigns! Let us rejoice and shout for joy—exulting and triumphant! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His Bride has prepared herself.4

I certainly have my favorite phrases, such as “a mighty shout” (not a timid one); “a great crowd” (God has a big family); “all you servants of His both small and great” (small comes before great, just like Jesus said they would); and “His Bride has prepared herself” (Oh my, we must be ready for the wedding). Are you?

That is a thanksgiving scene we will never forget. I trust that I will see you there! ~ Janie Kellogg

11 Thessalonians 5:18; 2Matthew 11:26; 31 Corinthians 13:12; 4Revelation 19-Selected excerpts from the Amplified Bible.

 

What to do with a Dead Vision ~ June 8, 2015

What comes to mind when you hear the words “dead vision?” Here is what goes off in my head: Done. Over. Finished. Expired. Lifeless. Nada. Nil. Nothing.

I was recently tempted to call a promise of God—that has not yet been fulfilled in my life—dead. You know what I’m talking about because you have one too—the vision God dropped into your heart years ago, and you are still waiting for it to happen.

As I pondered the cause for the delay, I wondered if I had done something to hinder God from fulfilling His word to me. No sooner than I put that issue to rest (by asking for forgiveness for whatever I might have done), another accusation quickly surfaced to replace it, and then another, and another. You will recognize them, because you’ve heard them too:

“Maybe I didn’t hear God right. Perhaps I am believing for something God never promised? I must be daydreaming to think this could come true. It’s impossible. Did I just make this up? I might as well face it, that vision is dead!”

A few days ago a daily devotional reading by Amy Carmichael spoke to this very issue. She wrote:  “Our Lord Jesus has taught us to call the dead, the living.”1

It’s true. Hebrews 11:12 says: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky….” We know this as the fulfillment of God’s promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah very late in life. And in Romans 4:17 we read, “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”

We are given a clear example of the good-as-dead body of Abraham and the obviously-dead womb of Sarah being called the living. By all accounts their vision appeared to be totally impossible. Yet, in the remaining verses of Romans 4 we read how Abraham found the faith and the courage to call those dead things, alive.

Contrary to hope, Abraham believed in hope. (vs.18)

Not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead since he was about a hundred years old. (vs. 19)

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief. (vs. 20)

He was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God. (vs. 20)

He was fully convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform. (vs. 21)

Notice the verb phrases in these scriptures:  believed in hope; not being weak; did not consider; did not waver; was strengthened; gave glory; was fully convinced. These are the steps Abraham took while waiting upon God to fulfil the vision.

More modern-day language may sound like this: Don’t give up. Hang in there. Keep on keeping on. Stay the course. Trust when you don’t feel like it. Praise God anyway. Speak positive words of faith. Reaffirm your confidence in God.

Is it too late for us to apply these powerful verb phrases to our vision? Of course not! What if we were to defy the odds, disregard what we see, dismiss what we feel, disarm the voice of our enemy—and call our dead vision—alive! After all, if God Himself says something is alive, then it must be alive!

Hasn’t the enemy of our souls taunted us long enough with doubt and unbelief? As sons and daughters of Abraham, our father of faith, let’s tell God that we still believe He will fulfill His promise to us. Then we can move forward as if it is true, simply because God said so. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.~ Romans 4:18 [The Message]

1Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power, CLC Publications, Ft. Washington, PA, 1982, Pg. 121