Tag Archives: truth

The Biggest Winner!

I can think of no better title to follow last week’s blog “The Biggest Loser” than “The Biggest Winner!” All of us like to be a winner—some more than others—but the truth is that we all want to WIN. From Super bowls to spelling bees, there is something in our DNA that causes our blood to pump a little faster when faced with the challenge to win.

 

Could it be that the DNA to win is passed to us from our Heavenly Father? After all, God is a winner and we are made in His image. In our natural life we will “win some—lose some.” But in the game that matters most—our spiritual life—all who follow after God can be winners. He intended for it to be so.

 

The Apostle Paul couldn’t have made this point any plainer than he did in Romans Chapter 8. Right there in the same chapter where we are unlocking the mystery of walking in the Spirit to defeat our flesh, we will also find God’s clearly laid out plan to make us winners.

 

Read the list of winning phrases below that Paul made about those who choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. These verses are bursting with life, hope, and victory! Read them slowly, letting each one soak into your spirit. These words have the potential to set God’s children free from the voices of the enemy that enslave us. Don’t brush over them as if they are old words. Let them become new words filled with power and life. As if you are reading them for the very first time, hear the Spirit whisper “Winner! Winner! Winner!”

Verse  1  ~ there is no condemnation

Verse  2  ~ has made me free

Verse 11 ~ will also give life

Verse 14 ~ are the sons of God

Verse 15 ~ received the Spirit of adoption

Verse 16 ~ are the children of God

Verse 17 ~ heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ

Verse 17 ~ may share in His glory

Verse 19 ~ the glory which shall be revealed in us

Verse 21 ~ the glorious liberty of the children of God

Verse 23 ~ the redemption of the body

Verse 24 ~ were saved in this hope

Verse 26 ~ helps in our weaknesses

Verse 27 ~ makes intercession for us

Verse 28 ~ all things work together for good

Verse 29 ~ predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son

Verse 30 ~ called; justified; and glorified

Verse 32 ~ freely gives us all things

Verse 37 ~ are more than conquerors

Verse 39 ~ [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God!

 

What a list! It cannot be stated any clearer, stronger, or more certain than that. These words—outlining God’s provisions for us—are positive, straight-forward, and power-packed! What else could we possibly want or need? Paul tops off this dissertation of God’s plan with some “go-figure” and “no-nonsense” questions:  Who can be against us?  Who can charge us?  Who can condemn us? Who can separate us from God? Easy answer: NO ONE!

 

To paraphrase in modern day language, this is what I hear Paul saying, “Give me a break! How can any of you be discouraged, defeated, worried, or condemned when you have God on your side? There’s not a chance that your flesh is going to win, not with all that He has provided for you. So take notice as to what you have been given, believe God is able, and declare that you are a Winner! Winner! Winner!”

 

Winning over our flesh is HUGE—it is, in fact, our biggest hurdle. It is the very thing that keeps us blind-sided, side-tracked, and confused. Yet, a HUGE problem requires a HUGE answer. Very soon we are going to unlock another mystery of the gospel that Paul disclosed to his readers. This mystery is for every follower of Jesus to see, grasp, claim, and put into practice in his or her own life. Good things are just ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

The Biggest Loser

On the popular TV show “The Biggest Loser,” the biggest loser is the winner! Sounds strange, doesn’t it?  It reminds me of how the younger generation uses the word “bad” to mean “good,” or “hot” to mean “cool,” that is when “cool” means how “good” something is.

 

Apparently, we don’t always know what words are intended to mean unless the person using them explains it to us. That is certainly the case in Romans Chapter 8. Paul clearly stated that the biggest loser is the person who lives according to the flesh.1  If Paul had been living in our day, he might have pasted a big L across his forehead with his thumb and forefinger as he uttered the word “loser,” signifying that person is definitely not a winner.

 

According to Romans Chapter 8, I have two choices as to who runs my life: 1) the Holy Spirit, or 2) my loser flesh.

 

Jesus put it like this: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”2 I take that to mean if I choose option #1, I get life; if I choose option #2, I get nothing.

 

When am I going to get it—that my flesh is a Loser with a capital L? Why would I knowingly let a Loser run my life? Why would I let a Loser determine what I think? Or let a Loser control what I say? Why would I ever choose that? I wouldn’t.

 

Could it be that I have been conned into seeing my flesh in a better light? To believe that the desires of my flesh are actually OK? Have I been lured into thinking that my fleshy ways and ideas are not all bad? That they are just how God made me—part of my personality?

 

I wonder if the enemy of my soul has launched a brilliant scheme of which I am not apprised. After all, he is the master deceiver.

 

Paul told the Galatians, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap corruption.”3 There it is again—clearly not life. The enemy scoffs: “Loser! Loser! Loser! Triple Loser!”

 

I try to ignore his taunting—that I am helplessly enslaved to this flesh. I don’t want to be. And yet, I catch a glimpse of a different scenario in which I don’t have to be a Loser—I don’t have to settle there. Jesus and Paul said so.

 

“Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from of the Spirit will reap life everlasting.”4 I listen closely and hear the Spirit offering: “Life! Life! Life! Triple Life!”

 

How can I tap into that Triple LifeAbundant Life! How can I stop allowing my condemned flesh to rule and start letting the Life-giving Holy Spirit rule?

 

Great questions! How many training classes have born-again believers had on how to walk in the Spirit? Two, one, or maybe none! How many teachers courageously teach what it means to live in the Spirit? To be filled with the Spirit? Admit to knowing the third person of the Trinity and having a relationship with Him? Or confess to understanding the inner dealings, workings, and functions of the Holy Spirit? Who ever steps up and says like Paul, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ?” 5

 

The most natural thing in a person’s life after being born-again is to learn how to walk in the Spirit. Growing babies must learn to walk. Yet, many of us totter along through this Christian life, never learning to walk like Jesus walked.

 

Perhaps we have misunderstood, misinterpreted, or even underestimated this amazing promise of Jesus:  His Spirit living in us—through us—as us. Life! Life! Life!

 

I have tried a thousand times to transform my flesh by the power of the flesh. It hasn’t worked. I thank God that it hasn’t. I must grasp this one powerful life-changing truth as it has the ability to set me free from my works—striving to please God in my depraved, condemned flesh that can never please Him!

 

The glimpse broadens and I can see more. Even with disciplined and improved flesh, I am no better off. My only solution is the Holy Spirit living in me—through me—as me. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”6 No mental ascent to this mysterious arrangement will suffice.

 

My Holy House Guest tries to arouse me from slumber, from the things I must unlearn, and from this futile state of reigning flesh—particularly in spiritual things. He desires the best for me, and longs to show me how to let Him come alive in me. He yearns to know me; He yearns for me to know Him.

 

Feeling lifeless? The Holy House Guest is our answer. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Romans 8: 1-8; 2John 6:63; 3Galatians 6:8a; 4Galatians 6:8b; 51 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT); 6Galatians 2:20.

Other Related posts in Treasure in Earthen Vessels: The House Guest, November 22, 2012

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Finally ~ the Solution to Our Sin Problem

[I believe this is perhaps the most important blog I have ever posted. Even if you think you already know the solution, please read this anyway. It is a powerful concept that I believe has been overlooked or omitted from much church training. Read it slowly and ask to see it with new eyes. I apologize for its length, but its importance made that necessary.]

 

It is a gloomy picture—the one painted by the Apostle Paul—as he admits with honesty and candor the demise of living in the flesh, enslaved to its deadly longings. Its toxic hold on us is inescapable. There are no trap doors of magical illusions by which we can drop through, fly out, or break free. It is the unsolicited fate of every human being who has ever lived on planet earth—every offspring of Grandpa Adam and Granny Eve. It is our inheritance and it is real.

 

Paul strategically laid out the case for the wretchedness of man in Romans Chapter 7, and near the end of the chapter it is apparent that all efforts to escape this entanglement have failed. His final evaluation was a clear cry for help: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”1

 

Then, without so much as taking a breath, Paul makes a bold proclamation:  “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! 2

 

Paul finally recognized that legally, by the finished work of Jesus on the cross, he was rescued from the pronounced judgment of a life controlled by the flesh. I stand right there with him, legally that is, and so does every other believer in Jesus!

 

In his next statement, with the official rescue already carried out, accepted and now declared, Paul lays out the reality of what we are left with thereafter: “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”3

 

With Paul’s “so then” we have a description of the war that ensues, and that will continue based on these two facts:  1) with my mind I serve God; 2) with my flesh I serve sin. That is my condition and yours, as born-again believers. But get ready, the solution to our predicament is just ahead!

 

Paul opens Romans Chapter 8 with some amazing news: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” 4 These are powerful statements. Let’s not miss any of it!

 

I have taken the liberty of removing the chapter break and paraphrasing what I heard Paul say:

“I have a horrific problem—I am a slave to sin and I cannot free myself. Who will rescue me from this fatal condition? Thank God, Jesus did! But even though I was rescued legally when I was born again and I now serve God with my mind, I still serve sin with my human nature. But listen up—there is a solution! Although the flesh is condemned, those of us who are in Christ Jesus (born-again) and walk in the Spirit are not condemned. Because of the fact that we are legally free from the law of sin and death, we can overrule our human nature by walking in the Spirit!”

 

Do you see it? Paul has outlined a two-part solution to being freed from the great sin problem we inherited:  1) our spiritual souls are legally freed from the curse of sin when we accept Jesus Christ, and 2) our physical lives are freed from sin’s control as we walk in the Spirit.

 

Both are provided through Jesus Christ our Lord. Chapter 8 is rich with proof of this very arrangement. Life in the Spirit is the key to overruling our fleshly nature. That was the plan from the get-go—Christ would return to heaven and send a Helper, who would come to live in believers and empower them to overrule their fleshly nature.5

 

Many of us are born-again believers, but when we got to Romans 7:25, we made some mental ascent to this great truth, drove down our stake by faith and thought we were done. The problem is we were never taught how to walk in the Spirit. No one told us that unless we moved on into the provisions of Chapter 8, we would continue to live with our sin nature controlling us.

 

In Galatians 5:19, Paul clearly states this again: “I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Now let’s reverse it and read it again: “I say then, you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, if you walk in the Spirit.”

Jesus fully intended that every born-again believer be baptized in the Spirit,6 filled with the Spirit,7 empowered by the Spirit,8 and thereby enabled to live their life by the Spirit.

 

So what happened to Jesus’ intentions? We will examine. In fact, we have much to examine and explore about walking in the Spirit. Join the exciting journey ahead! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:24; 2Romans 7:25a (NIV); 3Romans 7:25b; 4Romans 8:1-2; 5John 16:7-13; 6Acts 1:5; 7Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 8Acts 1:8 (All other references are NKJ.)

 

What Other Writers Say about Depravity and Humility

For clearer explanation of this post please read “Two Sides of the Same Coin” published on Treasure in Earthen Vessels website on April 18, 2013.

 

In an effort to add some muscle to my conclusions on depravity and humility, I have chosen to share a few quotes by renowned Christians. These quotes, presented as food for thought, are written by recognized authors, speakers, preachers and teachers of God’s Word. Many of them are men and women who helped shape Christianity as we know it today. References for the longer quotes are given at the bottom of the post.

 

Please read these selected writings slowly, and if possible, print them so you can give adequate time to digesting and discerning them for yourself. I believe these vital topics have been ignored, if not completely omitted from much modern-day Christian teaching, and I fear that the Church of today is suffering greatly because of it.

 

Chris Tiegreen ~ We praise this high and holy God for His power and majesty. Do we also praise Him for His humility? We can; we serve a humble God. He did not ride into this world on a gilded chariot. He was born in a stable. He left His radiant appearance to be clothed in a human body subject to temptation and pain. We are not worthy to utter His name, but He tells us to call Him Father and Friend….Consider the humility of God. The high and holy One is never inaccessible to someone with a contrite spirit. He encourages your intimacy with Him. He’ll even wash your feet.1

 

D.L. Moody ~ God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.

 

Andrew Murray ~ The salvation that Christ brought is not only a salvation that flows out of humility; it also leads to humility. We must understand that this is not only the salvation which Christ brought; but that it is exactly the salvation which you and I need. What is the cause of all the wretchedness of man? Primarily pride; man seeking his own will and his own glory. Yes, pride is the root of every sin, and so the Lamb of God comes to us in our pride, and brings us salvation from it. We need above everything to be saved from our pride and our self-will; it is good to be saved from the sins of stealing, murdering, and every other evil; but a man needs above all to be saved from what is the root of all sin, his self-will and his pride.2

 

Benjamin Franklin ~ A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

 

J. Oswald Sanders ~ Humility, the antithesis of pride, has been defined….as the virtue by which man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness. We never conquer a sin of which we are unconscious or over which we do not grieve. We must hate what God hates. Self-knowledge is not easy to come by, as we are all so prepossessed in our own favor. We see the splinter in our brother’s eye with great clarity but, with strange inconsistency, fail to detect the plank in our own. We need to genuinely ask God to expose us to ourselves. When we see ourselves as we truly are, we will sink in self-abasement.3

 

Oswald Chambers ~ Self complacency and spiritual pride are always the beginning of degeneration. When I begin to be satisfied with where I am spiritually, I begin to degenerate.

 

Charles Spurgeon ~ Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies with us.

 

F. B. Meyer ~ I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we should reach them. I find now that God’s gifts are on shelves beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.4

 

Ann Voskamp ~ Humility isn’t burden or humiliation or oppressive weight but humility is the only posture than can receive the wondrous grace gifts of God—God who humbled Himself and came to the feed trough.5

 

Sarah Young ~ In her book Jesus Calling, Christ speaks in first person: “Though you are an earthen vessel, I designed you to be filled with heavenly contents. Your weakness is not a deterrent to being filled with My Spirit; on the contrary, it provides an opportunity for My Power to shine forth more brightly.”6

 

Donald G. Stamps ~ Christianity is not the removal of weakness, nor is it merely the manifestation of divine power. Rather, it is the manifestation of divine power through human weakness.7

 

V. Raymond Edman ~ Climbing in the Spirit is accomplished by kneeling and not by running; by surrender, and not by determination….First, there is a hunger of heart, often followed by a sense of desperation that leads to utter surrender of self. Thereafter, there is the meeting of the soul with God in whatever manner the Almighty is pleased to reveal Himself to the desperate seeker who, like Jacob, will not let Him go until there is blessing.8

 

J.I. Packer ~ For only at the point where the insufficiency of natural strength is faced, felt, and admitted, does divine empowerment begin….Divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness….If I could remember each day of my life, that the way to grow stronger is to grow weaker, if I would accept that each day’s frustration, obstacles, and accidents are God’s ways of making me acknowledge my weakness, so that growing stronger might become a possibility for me, if I did not betray myself into relying on myself—my knowledge, my experience, my position, my skill with words, and so on—so much of the time, what a difference it would make to me!… May God in His great mercy weaken us all! 9

 

A.W. Tozer ~ The inner veil is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our nature to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them….Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can never be removed only in spiritual experience; never by mere instruction…..There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment.10

 

Hannah Whitall Smith ~ The “old man” is, of course, the self-life, and this self-life (which we know only too well is indeed corrupt according to deceitful lusts) is not to be improved but to be put off. It is to be crucified….It is of no use, then, for us to examine self and to tinker with it in the hope of improving it, for the thing the Lord wants us to do with it is to get rid of it.11 

 

Cora Harris MacIlravy ~ Let us remember that the Lord does not pour the Spikenard of Humility upon the evil odors of our pride and arrogance. It is easy to ask God to adorn us with humility and enable us to be lost sight of in Christ. But the process, through which we must pass to receive the answer to this prayer, is the way of the cross and suffering. It is ever taking sides against ourselves; it is refusing to pity our own suffering; it is taking sides against all the workings and evil odors of our pride, self-confidence and self-seeking. For only when the alabaster box is cleansed of these self-workings, can it be filled with the Spikenard of Humility.12

 

Amy Carmichael ~ If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

 

We must never be dismayed over the wretchedness of man, for “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). Great victory awaits those who will humble themselves and ask God to allow them see the hidden mysteries of the gospel. ~ Janie Kellogg

*Note: In all quotes above, emphasis has been added to words shown in italics.

 

1Chris Tiegreen, The One-Year at His Feet Devotional (Netherlands: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003), 195.

2Andrew Murray, The Master’s Indwelling, 34.

3J. Oswald Sanders, quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 75.

4F. B. Meyer, quoted in Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010), 171.

5Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010), 171.

6Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 100.

7Donald G. Stamps, Life in the Spirit Study Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), Notes for 2 Corinthians 4:7, 1816.

8V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1960, 1984), 53.

9J. I. Packer quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 90.

10A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Wingspread Publishers, 1982, 1993), 42-43.

11Hannah Whitall Smith, quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 63.

12Cora Harris MacIlravy, Christ and His Bride (Chicago, Illinois: The Elbethel Christian Work, 1916), 86.

How Low Can You Go?

Sometimes this Christian life feels like I’m stuck in third grade! You know what I mean—we want to move on to higher things, but the Teacher says we’re not ready yet. Seems we haven’t nailed down the basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic. Perhaps the multiplication tables are not laid in stone, and because of it, our progress is hindered.

 

So it goes with my progress to be like Jesus. I know I’m saved and on my way to heaven, but this sanctification process is grueling. I want to discover all the amazing things God wants me to know, experience, and incorporate into my everyday life. But I’m stuck here—in Romans Chapter 7.

 

For fear that some may lag behind, it is necessary to linger long in the hidden truths in Chapter 7. The Apostle Paul clearly describes a carnal Christian in these hard-to-own words: “for what I want to do, I do not do; but what I hate, I do.”1 Sounds just like me, and I must find out why.

 

On my non-stop search for answers, I find this:  “God’s means for greatness are not climbing up the ladder, but going down,” writes Chris Tiegreen.2 “He who is least among you all, he is the greatest.”3

 

Yet another hard pill to swallow in American culture: going down. That couldn’t possibly be the way to greatness, could it? It so goes against the grain.

 

Against the grain of what? Let’s examine. Against the grain of self-achievement, self-sufficiency, self-worth, self-esteem, self-made, self-taught, self-anything! That is the grain that going down works against: S-E-L-F.

 

Jesus taught and modeled the exact opposite. The Son of God said, “I do nothing on my own.” 4 If Jesus needed God, how much more do we? How then do we get God doing for us? Here is the mystery—fully hidden from the proud and self-sufficient—we go lower.

 

Whether we like it or not, humility is the way to God. There is no other way, but to admit helplessness (depravity) and depend on God. The lower we go the more of God we get. Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”5 See it! Peter urges us to “humble yourselves under God’s Mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time.”6

 

Being lifted up any way other than God’s lifting won’t last—it will eventually collapse.

 

Humility and depravity—words that come to our aid—position us correctly before an Almighty God. We’ve tried everything else—self-help books, self-taught Bible studies, self-sanctification efforts—all have failed us. Are we not yet ready to try the proven path found in God’s Word?

 

It is time that we stop our self-efforts, cease from our own works, and toss our 10-step plan to successful Christian living out the window, and go lower.

 

Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”7 Why? We are in the wrong position to receive more truth from God. It could be that fourth grade material is just too hard for us. We cannot grasp it yet, not in this position.

 

Where then is the right position? Somewhere lower and we must find it.

 

Let us seek a place away from the world’s activities, away from the TV, the music, and even the books. Shut it all down and get still before God. Bring every thought into captivity. Do not entertain any thoughts of pride or self-achievement; they destroy our ability to find God and fellowship with Him.

 

Seek God’s presence. Crave His presence. Cry out for His presence. Learn what is required to acquisition His presence, and then wait for Him.

 

Are we quiet enough yet to hear His still small voice? Have we heard Him call our name today? Have we learned to practice His presence on our knees, in our closet, until we hear Him say, “You are mine?” We simply must stay there until we do.

 

If we still cannot hear the voice of God, there is only one option—go even lower. ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:15; 2At His Feet One-Year Devotional, Chris Tiegreen, Sept. 21; 3 Luke 9:48; 4John 8:28; 5 2 Cor. 12:10; 61 Peter 5:6; 7John 16:12

Also see Treasure in Earthen Vessels post: A Hard Pill to Swallow, and God Wants Me to Fail.

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God Wants Me to Fail

That’s absurd! What do you mean: God wants me to fail? That sounds like false doctrine, especially in this age of prosperity for all believers. Of course God doesn’t want me to fail.

 

Oh yes, He does, and the sooner the better. Here’s why.

 

The sooner—we make the journey through the wretched condition of man described in Romans Chapter 7, enslaved to the flesh, and move on to the victorious proclamation found in Romans Chapter 8—the better.

 

Unfortunately, getting through Chapter 7 is a process that can take years. Some Christians are stuck in the quagmire of Chapter 7 for half a life-time—yours truly for one—until God granted seeing eyes to the marvelous escape hatch.

 

When Paul found that escape hatch, he boldly proclaimed: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”1 Can we say that? Have we escaped yet? A personal answer is required from each of us, for God delivers His children one life at a time.

 

But how can we rise up out of that place of wretchedness? It happens only when we discover that all of our self-efforts are futile and wasted, and begin to embark—get on board with—the central message of the gospel: Jesus came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

 

Face the TRUTH: We cannot save ourselves. We cannot sanctify ourselves. WE CANNOT!

 

Our “self” can never please God.

Our “self” can never keep the law.

Our “self” can never be whipped into obedience and trained to be good.

Our “self” is a hopeless cause.

 

When we grasp this fact—the undeniable total depravity of man—we are on our way to freedom. (Read that again.)

 

Whether we realize it or not, we have a false belief that there is at least some good in man—well, in me anyway. But Paul said, “In my flesh dwells no good thing.”2 With all of Paul’s credentials, surely he had something good in him, but not so. And neither do you and me.

 

Do I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing? (Read that question slower.) If we don’t, we have not yet come to the end of ourselves. Until we reach the end of self we will not be able to move on into the deliverance that awaits those who will admit the truth: “In MY flesh dwells NO GOOD thing.” In other words, I ADMIT THAT I AM DEPRAVED!

 

Accept self’s defeat, get over it, and move on into the glorious provision that awaits us in Romans Chapter 8. However, we will never see it until we accept depravity. God will not allow us to. He didn’t give insight to the proud, self-sufficient Pharisees. Neither will He give it to us.

 

Jesus pointed out two types of people who came to pray. One was a proud, self-righteous, keeper of the law, a Pharisee who was glad he wasn’t like other people. The other man fell to his knees, smote his breast, could not as much as lift his eyes, and prayed for mercy.3  There it is—depravity!

 

Which one went away justified? Which one went away with God’s favor? More importantly, which one are you and I? Do we still keep a mental list of all the good deeds we’ve done for God; for others? Or how much money we’ve given to His cause? Do we still hang onto a shred of goodness in us? Do we see ourselves just a little better off than others?

 

We will soon see that it is all about our position. Are we positioned where God can do something for us? And where might that place be? Depravity! See it?

 

Want out of the quagmire? Admit you are a failure—quickly! It is in your best interest. Romans Chapter 8 is the next stop along this journey. Get ready for it. “Learn Christ, on your knees, my child, on your knees.”4  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:25; 2Romans 7:18; 3Luke 18:9-14; 4A Gentle Spirit, Barbour Publishing, July 1

Other related posts at Treasures in Earthen Vessels: There’s a Whole Lot of Living Going On ~ January 29, 2013; A Hard Pill to Swallow ~ March 28, 2012

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What Is the Treasure?

Whether you are reading my weekly blog Treasure in Earthen Vessels by accident or by choice, you might be asking “What is the treasure?” You are not alone. Actually, that is the most asked question generating hits to my website.

 

It has been my question too, ever since God brought this scripture to my attention: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7). Even though it has taken years to unearth its hidden message, my quest to find it has been worth every effort. My blog is about that treasure in 2 Corinthians 4:7 and here is why.

 

After leaving the busy, corporate world to work from home, I decided to pursue my love for writing in my spare time. I anticipated sitting beside my fireplace every morning and writing about the goodness of God to my life and my family—a picture of perfect bliss with a pen in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

 

Within months, my husband was diagnosed with fast-growing prostate cancer. Instead of the fireside chats with God that I had envisioned, my journals filled with real life experiences—more closely akin to scripts from reality TV shows as my faith was tested, tried, and stretched. Out of my search for God during this painful chapter of my life, that left me widowed at 53, I found an amazing truth. It had much to do with 2 Corinthians 4:7.

 

I had never been satisfied with the status-quo of Christianity. My thirst for more took me on an intense search into the writings of Oswald Chambers, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Andrew Murray, Brother Lawrence, Henry Nouwen, and many others. I longed to find the secret they had found, yet had seemingly slipped through the cracks of much modern-day teaching.

 

What did they have? What did they know? What power were they able to tap into that set them apart as great men and women of faith? As I pursued “the pearl of great price,” I became the one who, when she discovered the treasure in the field, sold all, and bought the field that she might have the treasure also.1 My efforts were not in vain.

 

Today, I am a work-in-progress, and although discouraged at times with my lack of progress, the Holy Spirit continues to connect the dots for me. He has led me to the secret place, and through the writings of my faithful friends who made this journey before me, He is teaching me how to abide there.

 

Somewhere along the way, the meaning of 2 Corinthians 4:7 became perfectly clear—the Treasure is the Indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

My blog—also a work-in-progress—is dedicated to encouraging others to press on in their journey to find the Treasure. I post my findings, and yes, my struggles, as I continue to seek how to incorporate this immeasurably valuable truth into my everyday life.

 

I hope you will decide to join me in this pursuit—something I believe God fully intends for all of us to find. A comment by writer Chris Tiegreen points us in the right direction: “We never discover truth. It is always revealed.”2

 

Ann Voskamp yields another clue: “Because the God-likeness within our smallness speaks to Father-God in His magnificence. I hadn’t understood….that all wonder and worship can only grow out of smallness.” 3

 

Much awaits us. Clue after clue—may we seek to remove the earth, the worldliness that keeps God’s truths buried and unrevealed, except to those who make the effort to find them.

 

My post on November 22, 2012, The House Guest – A Short Story4, reveals some of my own personal findings in a fictional format. I hope you will check it out. And then, let’s get on with our spiritual expedition! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1 Matthew 13:44-46

2 Chris Tiegreen, The One Year at His Feet Devotional, Tyndale House Publishers, March 12

3 Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, Zondervan, 167

4 The House Guest @ www.treasureinearthenvessels.net, Archives – November 22, 2012

The New ME!

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

Living on the Lighter Side

Blink. Blink. Blink. The electricity is off again, and I realize that I love light.

 

On a dark night in rural Oklahoma this is a life-changing event. It’s hard to see my hands in front of my face. I hurry to light a candle. All activity has ceased; the television is quiet; the treadmill still. There is nothing to light the screen on my computer—it sits dark. As I am giving thanks for the glow of the candle, I think about how much I genuinely love light.

 

Light means life. Darkness means something else—but definitely not life, as evidenced by my still, lifeless room.

 

“The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.” That’s me—I am both simple and lack understanding. And because of it, I equally love the light that comes from God’s Word, especially when it brings the understanding of a newfound truth into my hungering heart.

 

I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s like trying to thread a needle, or remove a sticker underneath my skin, or read the small print on a medicine bottle—I cannot get too much light. So it is with God’s light—I am in no danger of getting too much.

 

I continually pray for more light from His Word. But then God has a purpose when He dispenses light. The Bible says that God sent His Son “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

 

Later, Jesus turned to His followers and said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.

 

I hear the call to be a light-spreader. Millions still live without the Light of World. “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light.” As I sit here in the quiet of my dim surroundings, I wonder how people could love darkness. Why would anyone choose to live there?

 

Truth is life-giving light to hearts dwelling in unlit places. Even a trace is glorious and calls for celebration of a joy-gift from God.

 

I think of how my dark room needs life-giving light tonight—just like God’s dark world. His plan has always been to fill His children with that life-giving light and send them out into the darkness to spread it around. It seems only fair that the Master Light-Giver would expect a yield from His investment of light in my life.

 

Am I willing to share the light given to me? Does God want to use me to reach those living in the shadows of death? Do I even see them sitting there—over on the darker side? Is it possible that the light shining from my life could guide some lost soul to the path of peace? Is it bright enough to be seen? Bright enough to show anyone the way to the lighter side?

 

Dear Lord, help me love light even more. Help me be a light-spreader—by speaking light to those I meet today; by living light so those who see me see You; by writing light so others can read and understand. May the light You invest in me not be in vain.

 

And Lord, would You help my electricity to come back on soon, since I really do prefer living on the lighter side! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Psalm 119:130 (NKJ); John 3:19(NLT); Luke 1:79 (NLT); John 20:21 (NLT)

The Inverted Gospel

God wants me to get it. His heart longs for my eyes to see what He sees; my heart to feel what He feels; my mind to grasp the inverted gospel message of Jesus Christ that says to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). I struggle with this upside down thinking.

 

God’s intent from the beginning has been to make Himself known in the earth—His greatness, His love, His mercy, His ways—all of which are different than ours. And how did God plan to do that? Through the lives of His chosen people (Galatians 3:8).

 

“The world judges our Christ by our fruit,” said Cora Harris MacIlvary. If that is true, perhaps we need to inspect our fruit to see what we are producing. Do we present an accurate picture of Christ to the world around us?

 

Some fruit inspection guidelines could be these:

Jesus said to humble ourselves—we remain proud.

He said to forgive others—we hang on to our hurts.

He said to love others as ourselves—we despise those with different religious or political views.

He said to judge not—we accuse, convict, and condemn with one sweeping thought.

He said to be merciful—we want mercy, but refuse to give it.

 

Sometimes I question who Jesus will be talking to when He says: “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Will it be me?

 

Jesus told the disciples that “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). What part of deny do I not understand? Could this be what Jesus meant by deny: “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:29-30)?

 

God truly wants His children to get it—to grasp the meaning of the gospel:  God loves sinners. His heart is breaking for them because they are lost, and for us because we don’t get it. Sometimes I fear that I am part of the problem instead of part of the solution, as Jesus intended for me to be.

 

It may be time for a spiritual checkup:  Am I living a Christ-centered life that reflects the merciful kindness of a loving God, or a self-centered life as one who has been duped into believing that I have rights that must not be violated—the right to my own way, my possessions, my opinions, my attitudes, or as Oswald Chambers said, “the right to myself?”

 

Jesus clearly said to deny myself and follow Him. I am certain He meant it. Yet, there is a gap between my thinking and Jesus’ instructions. There’s even more between my life and Jesus’ selfless example.

 

God is searching for those who will reflect the truth about Him. And when He finds them, I believe He will pour His Spirit into them with great measure so He can to make Himself known to a dark and desperate world.

 

Am I willing to deny myself of my rights and be one of them? Just thinking…… ~Janie Kellogg

 

“Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy; help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.” ~ Casting Crowns

 

Note: All scripture references are NIV.