Tag Archives: truth

The Goal Posts Have Moved

Redefine the gospel—that’s the best way I know how to describe what God has done in my life over the past ten years. While I’m not sure I can explain what I thought it was before, I do know that today I see the gospel differently.

The goals for my life are no longer to be healthy, wealthy and wise. They are not for people to like me, accept me, or support me. In short, the goal posts have moved. Things I once thought important are not important to me now.

It began in 2005 when God led me to attend a Christian writer’s conference. I came home from that conference with this sobering revelation: I’m not sure I even know what the gospel is; but I do know that I don’t have much of anything to write about.

Looking back, my evaluation of myself was right on. As a result of that conference, I discovered the writings of Philip Yancey, Andrew Murray, Henri Nouwen, Amy Carmichael, and many others. After ten years of delving deep into those writings, my mindset about the gospel has clearly changed, and so have my goals.

A few days ago I decided to write down the things that are important to me now—my new goals you might say. Please don’t misunderstand—I am not listing things I have attained. In fact, I may never attain them; but they are the things I press toward.1

    • To please my Heavenly Father in every word, thought, and action.
    • To obey the Holy Spirit in all things, every time He speaks to me.
    • To be humble before God and others, choosing the lowest position.
    • To bring glory to God and God alone.
    • To love His church, striving to bring unity in the Body of Christ.
    • To love the unlovable so they will know and feel the love of God.
    • To be willing for God to use me whenever and however He chooses.
    • To give more than I have ever given, withholding nothing from my Lord.
    • To give the Holy Spirit full possession of whole being—my house as His house.
    • To be aware of His presence inside me and commune with Him continuously.
    • To guard my heart so there is never a bitter drop of anything to spill out.2
    • To seek for every ounce of pride in my heart to be eradicated.
    • To hide His Word in my heart, committing it to memory.
    • To hide my life so completely in Christ that others see Him, not me.
    • To make every day a day with Jesus. (A day without Jesus is a day wasted.)
    • To be aware of His opinions on life, politics, and people rather than my own.
    • To have ears that hear and eyes that see from God’s perspective.
    • To be courageous enough to share the Good News with everyone I meet.
    • To be bold enough to speak truth whenever truth is challenged.
    • To keep the main thing, the main thing. (Eternity)
    • To accept what He chooses to give, rather than what I want to receive.
    • To remember that my sin caused Jesus to suffer and die. (Own my part in His death)
    • To cherish the dust at the foot of the cross.3 (a most holy place)
    • To be determined to live for Him and to die for Him.

 

This was a great exercise. I recommend that you do it too, and see what your list looks like. You might be surprised.

Today, I believe I am much closer to knowing the true gospel. I am also much closer to having something to write about. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.1

Small footprintKey Quote: “St. Paul counted the loss of all things as nothing that he might know Him who he already knew; and the soul, suddenly illuminated by some fresh outshining of the knowledge of the love of God shown forth on Calvary, does not stop to measure how much or how little it knew of that love before. Penetrated, melted, broken before that vision of love, it feels that indeed all it ever knew was nothing, less than nothing.”4 ~ Amy Carmichael

1Philippians 3:14; 2Amy Carmichael, If, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, Pg. 35; 3Ibid, Pg. 53; 4Ibid, forward.

The Fast-Track to Success in 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

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

Is There Power In the Cross or Not?

“Oh yes, there is power in the cross,” we quickly say. “The blood of Jesus has saved me from my past sins and will take me to heaven when I die.”

Sound familiar? Why is it that we can so easily trust Jesus with our past sins and future sins, yet we have little or no confidence that He can save us from our present sins? Why do we remain in bondage to those pesky little habits that so easily beset us?1  I fear we have somehow been tricked into thinking there is no hope for us in that area.

I am astounded at the power this message from Satan has over our lives. Why wouldn’t saving us from present sins be as easy for Jesus as saving us from past sins or future sins? Ponder that thought. Are we missing something here?

Jesus told the complaining crowd, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”2

The truth is that neither is hard for Jesus, the Healer, the Forgiver, the Deliverer, and the Savior! He can heal a paralytic as easy as He can save him from his sins. Likewise, He can save us from our present sins as easy as He can save us from our past or future sins.

I believe that we live in bondage to our present sins mostly because no one preaches the power of the cross anymore. We’ve failed in our attempts to improve our flesh so many times that we’ve given up, and even the preachers of today have failed so many times that they’ve given up too. They can tell us how to get to heaven, but they can’t tell us how to be saved from the bondage of present sins.

Part of the great announcement about the birth of the Messiah is that He would save His people from their sins.3 That includes us and that includes now! We can be free solely because Jesus did His part. He died to free us from all of our sins, and if we aren’t free it is because we do not know how to claim the victory that He won for us.

We must first begin to believe this victory applies not only to past and future sins, but also to these here and now sins from which we cannot shake free. If the Son sets us free, we will be free indeed!4   This promise is for us, and we shall soon see how to claim it in the here and now.

Most assuredly, there is power in the cross!  ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Am I seeking to stop sinning or have I actually stopped? To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning.”5 ~ Oswald Chambers

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

1Hebrews 12:1; 2Mark 2:9-10; 3Matthew 1:21; 4John 8:36; 5Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 15

A Big Fat Lie

It amazes me how shrewd the enemy of Christ is when he attempts to repackage the gospel in untruths or half-truths and sell it to mankind (namely me!) Honestly, if Satan can sidetrack believers by feeding us big fat lies about God, then he has won a partial victory.

How many modern-day Christians have bought into the big fat lie that “God just wants me to be happy,” only to find ourselves disillusioned a few years down the road? Or maybe, “God just wants me to be rich, or healed, or my life’s dream fulfilled?”

The stark truth of the gospel is that God wants me to be like Jesus, regardless of the cost to me personally. He wants me to know Him, love Him, fellowship with Him, and turn over control of my earthly life to Him so that His purpose can be fulfilled. That, my friend, will include death to my self, my will, my way, my plan, my dream, and my everything else!

“Paul speaks of…‘the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.’1 He was willing to lose all things and to keep looking and looking and looking into Christ so that he might know Him better. How much are we willing to lose, that we may know, and so be able to see?” ~Amy Carmichael2

Our carnal minds scream: “But wait, I thought God wanted me happy. I don’t want to lose anything—it’s more that I want!”

How hard it is for our fleshly natures to see this great hidden truth, but how blessed is the soul to whom the Spirit of God reveals it. Paul was indeed a blessed man for he knew by experience the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”3 Does that not say every? Could it be that we have blessings we do not see?

Have you ever found yourself disillusioned that God hasn’t done what you expected Him to do for you? Could what you thought God wants for you be different from what He really does want for you? Perhaps our view point is the problem.

I fear we have bought into a big fat lie of Satan. Is it not time to look and look and look for the great hidden treasures of God’s Kingdom? It is indeed, but the real question is: Are we willing to lose anything to find them? ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “He (Paul) was willing to lose all things and to keep looking and looking and looking into Christ so that he might know Him better. How much are we willing to lose, that we may know, and so be able to see?”2 ~ Amy Carmichael

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

1Philippians 3:8; 2Amy Carmichael, You Are My Hiding Place, Bethany House Publishers, Page 84; 3Ephesians 1:3

The Turned-Off Power Source

Several years ago I lived through a major ice storm in northeastern Oklahoma. For five and a half icy-cold January days, I survived without the comforts of home—light, heat, and a curling iron, to be exact. I was most grateful for my fireplace which provided both heat and light. On day four, just as cabin fever was reaching dangerous levels, my son hooked up a shiny new generator. The purr of the motor was music to my ears.

At mid-morning of day six, I watched a caravan of electric utility repair trucks enter our rural community and one-by-one repair the downed lines to each home—mine included. However, a few hours after the trucks had moved on, I still had no power. We discovered that for the generator to work properly, the main switch to the electric power coming into my home had been turned off. One flip of the switch and my power was on again!

Ever feel like your spiritual power has been turned off? Ever wonder why? When you first became a Christian it seemed that things were so clear. You found new truths in God’s Word regularly and enjoyed walking with Jesus. But somewhere along the way, that clarity began to fade, and now you even question what you thought you once understood.

Paul instructed us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:30). To grieve means to sadden or to make sorrowful. When we disobey God’s Word by doing or saying things that Christians should not do or say, we sadden our Holy House Guest. And when we bring sorrow to Him, He withdraws and our spiritual clarity is shut down. Grieving the Holy Spirit is equal to turning off the master switch to our spiritual lives. For some, their power switch has been off for years, and they do not know how to get the power back on.

The following quote from Oswald Chambers says it so well:

“You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things clear as sunlight….It is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours.”1

If you have a power shortage at your spiritual house—new insights, fresh revelation, and fellowship with the Spirit all seem to be shut down—I encourage you to get alone with God and ask Him to show you where you are being disobedient to His Word. If you are honest with Him, He will show you. And once He does and you become obedient—the power (and clarity) will return. Trust me on this one—I’ve been there! ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours.” ~ Oswald Chambers

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

1Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 10

The Unused Power Source

The third member of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit—is commissioned to play a key role in the life of every born-again believer. He lives inside all believers as the personal representative of the triumphant, resurrected Christ. (Don’t let the word triumphant slip by you!)

Jesus Christ modeled the way to victory in this life. He lived it, showed it, displayed it, and demonstrated it perfectly. He won the battle with the flesh, not pleasing Himself, but doing the will of the Father. And guess what? He expects the same behavior from His followers.

We shrink back in fear, “But that isn’t possible!” A natural response, if we’re honest about ourselves. It certainly seems IMPOSSIBLE. And if it is up to us, it is just that. But wait, Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with GOD!”1 Ever wonder why He made such a huge, bold statement?

Herein is the very foundational truth of the Indwelling Holy Spirit. In and of ourselves, we can’t be holy, live holy, model holy, or demonstrate holy! Only Jesus could, and only Jesus did. He knows full well that we aren’t capable of doing it, so He did it for us. Then He sent the power of the Holy Spirit to live in us and enable us to do what we’re all asked to do: “Be holy, even as your Father in heaven is holy.”2

The bottom line is this: We literally have the very same power living in us that Jesus had living in Him. We have the Holy Spirit of God—the great unnoticed Power Source being of none effect in us. Simply put, He is there, but He is unused.

Can you imagine living in a beautiful new home, fully wired with electrical service and equipped with every electronic appliance and gadget on the market; yet you are unware that you must turn on the light switch, and power up the heat and air, the dishwasher, the television, and the computer before any of it will work?

My short response to that is: “What? There’s all this unused power and I’m living in the dark, the cold, and the difficult!”

That, my friend, is a picture of many Christians today. They are born-again, on their way to heaven, but haven’t a clue that there is power in their house. They are living in the dark, the cold, and the difficult; and I might add—the impossible.

Oh how the church needs to awaken to this marvelous truth, “But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”3 O God, help us find the light switch!  ~Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “I want to call your attention to this: that God has got a good many children who have just barely got life, but not power for service.” ~Dwight L. Moody

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

1Luke 18:27; 21 Peter 1:16; 3Acts 1:8

The Unnoticed Power Source

The personal representative of the resurrected Christ—whose name is Holy Spirit—lives inside all believers. And He is there, even if we’ve never felt Him or spoken to Him.

God Himself sent the Holy Spirit to play a key role in every new-creation life. The Bible clearly defines the Holy Spirit’s job description: He will guide us into truth in a world full of fallacies. He will be our Helper, and we certainly know we need help. He will comfort us when life deals us a hard blow. He will teach us the will and ways of God, and get this one—He will help us remember all the things Jesus told us! What a friend this Helper can be, that is, if we get to know Him.1

Yet in spite of the Holy Spirit’s vital role in our lives, He has been mostly unnoticed and even ignored by many Christians. The very plan of God to carry out His work on earth by His own power working in His followers has been foiled by misconceptions of this all-important factor.

Just as the works of Jesus were done because of the Father’s presence in Him, likewise, our works will be done by His presence in us. Check out Jesus’ words in John 14:10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (NIV)

I humbly ask: Do you know the Holy Spirit? Have you met Him? Do you know what He likes and dislikes? Do you know He has feelings? Do you care? Do you know that you should care?

If your honest answer to any of these questions is “no,” you are living far beneath your privileges as a child of God. You are living the Christian life on your own power, without the aid of the Helper. An even worse demise is that you are being drastically short-changed in your relationship with God.

Regardless of where you are today, the Holy Spirit wants you to know Him, seek Him, find Him, and yes, learn to interact with Him. Begin now to pray that God will show you how. He longs to answer that very prayer for you! ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Are we conscious of His presence? Do we realize the incredible treasure that we have within us? Or do we keep Him buried deep down inside, unaware of the power and the pleasure that’s available in His promise?” ~Chris Tiegreen2

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

1John 14:16-17, 26-27; John 16:13-15

2Chris Tiegreen, author of The One Year at His Feet Devotional, and editor at Walk Thru the Bible Ministries.

God Wants to Meet with ME! Really?

It has been a lifelong journey for me to realize that God actually wants to meet with me. After all, isn’t it true that He sits on a golden throne somewhere up in the sky and runs the world? What interest would He have in meeting with a simple nobody like me?

Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been laden with guilt and shame. Adam and Eve transformed from being God’s BFFs (best friends forever) to cowardly, disgraced creatures attempting to hide behind flimsy foliage. But even that didn’t work—God came looking for them. Naturally, we think to punish them.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! He came looking for them so He could fellowship with them, talk to them, to discuss how things were going with their responsibilities as overseers of His creation. Adam was top-dog, you know, head-supervisor of God’s world. It’s easy to understand that he and God had much to collaborate about while on their morning coffee break.

Ever wonder why we automatically assume God wants to find us so He can punish us? Ever think that perhaps it is the enemy of our souls who plants such discouraging, off-the-wall thoughts in our hearts without any proof whatsoever?

Just for the sake of doing something different today, think about the far-out idea that God wants to meet with YOU because it brings HIM pleasure! Now that’s a stretch for us long-time traditionalists.

I believe that we will never enter the secret place unless we are willing to accept the truth that God greatly desires to meet with us. And He wants to do so because it not only brings enjoyment to us, but to Him as well. Stretch yourself and consider this: the CEO of the Universe longs for an audience with YOU today!

It’s true. Dare to believe it. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprint Key concept: We will never enter the secret place unless we are willing to accept the truth that God wants to meet with us because it brings HIM pleasure!

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

Rest ~ It can be yours for the right currency

I think most all Christians believe that God intends for His children to be at rest—at least spiritually. We know we are called to work to spread the Gospel to all the world, to teach and train our children and new converts in the things of God, and certainly to wage war against the forces of evil; but spiritually, we believe that God wants us to be “at rest” in Him as our Heavenly Father.

 

As earthly parents, we do not want our children, especially small children, to be concerned about where their next meal is coming from, the growth of their college fund, the cost of their health insurance, or much of anything for that matter. We want them to be kids—to be light-hearted and carefree as they live life. After all, we are responsible for the big things, and there’s not much that kids can do about heavy issues anyway.

 

Why then do we think our Heavenly Father is any different? Did He not say that He clearly takes responsibility for what we eat, and drink, and wear? And what about tomorrow or the future? Didn’t He tell us not to worry about heavy issues like those? Isn’t He the only one who can do anything about those things anyway? Personally, I believe God says to us: “I’ll allow you to be human, if you’ll just allow me to be God!” 

 

Recently, we talked about entering God’s rest from Hebrews Chapter 4—a chapter rich with nuggets of insight for us. Here are a few of them:

 

  • It is possible not to enter this rest.
  • Entering requires faith, not just knowledge.
  • God was angry with those who failed to enter.
  • Everything has already been accomplished for us to enter.
  • All who enter must cease from his own works as God ceased from His works.

 

We have read these truths over and over. We think we understand what they mean, but we continue to live otherwise.  We continue “not” to believe God’s rest is for us. We continue to strive to please God with our human accomplishments. We continue to work to make God happy enough to let us enter there. Yet, based on these truths from Chapter 4, these things are simply not what is required.

 

Receiving things from God seems to trip us up. Just how do we get God to release His promises to us? I believe that God has a currency—a heavenly currency—that must be used in God’s economy. It is the one thing that God accepts when we come to get something from Him. That currency is FAITH! God has set in motion that everything that comes from Him can be obtained ONLY by using this currency. Scripture verifies my belief:

 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”. (Hebrews 11:6)

 

When we come to God for rest and do not come with faith, but with complaining, or self-pity, or offering up our good deeds, we are attempting to use some other form of currency. And God says “I won’t accept that currency. You must enter my rest on my terms, and my terms are by faith!” Can we not hear Him saying to us “Take me at my Word! Stop doubting me! Stop trying to earn it! Stop trying to coerce me! Cease from your works and simply believe ME!”

 

Do you get it? God wants us to stop trying and start believing! We must repent for trying to get there any other way; for blaming God that it’s too hard; and for trusting in our own works. It’s time to humble ourselves, believe God, and approach the throne of God with FAITH in our hands and our hearts. Thank Him that He provided it free of charge to us—except to believe Him. Thank Him for doing all the work and letting us off the hook. Our works don’t look so great anyway.

 

If you’re broke—dead-broke with no faith in your pocket whatsoever—ask our generous God to give you some. He longs to do that for you. If you come before Him with FAITH to enter that rest, it’s a guarantee that He’ll receive it and you will at last GO IN! ~ Janie