Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Out with the Old ~ In with the New December 31, 2014

It’s happening again—one year ends and another begins. Aren’t we glad it does? Whether it is cleaning closets or rearranging the priorities in my life, I like the feel of new beginnings. The Bible says that when we are born again of the Spirit, old things are passed away, and behold, all things become new.1

I like God’s behold—it means heads up! Take notice! Observe! Look right here! He often uses behold to get our attention when He has something important to say to us. In this verse, God is telling us that the time of the old fleshly man ruling over our lives is passing away, and the new life of Christ reigning in us is here.

What an encouraging word to those of us who are slow learners—out with the old selfish me and in with the new spiritual me! I’ve lived long enough to know that this doesn’t happen overnight, but praise God it was set into motion at the very moment I trusted in Jesus to save me from my sin.

My friend, our old self is in the process of being dethroned while our new spirit man is being groomed to take over. We are even now being shaped and formed to be just like Jesus, full of the Spirit and fully obedient to the Father. If it feels like a power struggle, it is. No doubt, our old self will fight and scream as he is being cast out, but he is condemned and death is his destiny. Our new life in Christ is coming in and growing just like Baby Jesus grew in grace and truth. Someday He will fully reign in us. That is our God-given right and our God-given destiny—for Christ to be formed in us.2 What a glorious, breathtaking thought!

As you celebrate the coming in of this new year of 2015, rejoice in what God has already done in your life, and by all means, look forward to what He is going to do in the coming year. Thank Him for every new glimpse of His glory that He has allowed you to see; for every new truth of His Word that He has opened up to your understanding; and every new level of faith along this journey that He has helped you reach. Those, my friends, are the true riches of His Kingdom that He is sharing with you.

Since God is always, always, always giving good and perfect gifts to His children, then behold, a new year means new riches of God coming your way! Thank Him for them; look for them; and embrace them when they come.

Wishing each of you a very Happy New Year! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

12 Corinthians 5:17; 2Galatians 4:19

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Looking back or moving forward ~ which is it? January 1, 2014

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 3:34 pm
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Ready or not 2014 has arrived, and we find ourselves on the brink of newness! Yes—newness! Don’t you love it? New beginnings, new plans, new dreams, new hair-do’s—for whatever this New Year holds, we are perched on go and the newness has begun!

 

Personally, I’ve never been fond of antiques, vintage, or old anything. I’ve always loved the new, the challenging, the refreshing, and the crispness of things different. Don’t get me wrong—I love things worth keeping—like older relatives who are priceless, memories that are too special to ever toss, and traditions that remind me of where I came from.

 

But, maybe I’ve learned to like new the hard way—because I’ve made deadly mistakes about wanting to keep things the way they are—you know, like buying two pairs of the same shoes (just in different colors). Or keeping an older version of computer software because it was familiar. It happens in food, music, cell phones, and a million other areas of life. Life is moving forward, not looking back.

 

Does God’s Word support my position? The first scripture that comes to mind is the story of Lot’s wife.1 What was she thinking? Honestly, to give up your very life for just one more look at the past. How many of us are guilty of the same, but perhaps haven’t suffered the same consequences? Or have we? Gazing at our sinful past will paralyze any of us. So don’t do it.

 

Today I read, “God wants us to get on with our lives. If we forever look back and feel burdened with sin, Jesus Christ sacrificed for naught.”2 It is true—Jesus died to redeem our past! We must get it settled, thank Him for newness of life, and move on.

 

Another story is that of the children of Israel complaining about the conditions of the wilderness—obviously not taking into consideration their freedom from slavery! 3 Ever wonder what it is about leeks and garlic that are worth going back for? God forbid! So it is with some of us. God has delivered us from the bondage of sin, set us on a new path to life and freedom, and we are complaining because we’ve had to give up some things.

 

Jesus said, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”4 Pretty strong talk, wouldn’t you say? Not a hint of indecisiveness allowed here. We’re either going on with God or we’re not.

 

I also think about the good advice from the Apostle Paul: “…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”5 As with any race, the distance to be covered is not behind us, but rather before us. Looking back serves no purpose in this race whatsoever.

 

So which is it—are you looking back or are you moving forward? Since we can’t do both, we must on this first day of 2014 make a decision. Will we dwell on our past sins, crave leeks and garlic, be indecisive about whether we’re in or out, and run this race while looking over our shoulder? Or, are we going forward with God in 2014?

 

NEWNESS is waiting for us to embrace it and make it ours. God has big plans for you and me in this New Year, yet we must claim them and get in step with the Holy Spirit, our Guide. Will it be safe? Certainly. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

 

Our God is a God of NEWNESS!

Ask Him to visit you in a new way in 2014.

Ask Him to fill you anew with His Holy Spirit.

Ask Him to introduce you to your own Holy House Guest.

Ask Him to help you walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of your flesh.

Ask Him to burden your heart for the lost and help you lead someone to Christ.

Ask Him to show you how to pray for our troubled world and then pray and believe He hears you.

Ask Him to draw you closer to Him and make Him your BFF.

Ask Him for the best year ever!

 

Whatever you do, don’t forget to ASK. “For everyone who asks, receives.”6 Let us get out of our easy chair of complacency, learn a new song about Jesus and worship Him, and then be about our Father’s business. Newness is here!

 

Happy New Year to all! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Genesis 19:26; 2Jean, Mary & Frank James; 3Numbers 11:5; 4Luke 9:62; 5Hebrews 12:1 6Luke 11:10

 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know August 27, 2013

Filed under: Holy Spirit — Janie Kellogg @ 12:46 pm
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The early morning light dawns and we awaken to another day. Who knows what will happen in this day—the next 24 hours? We don’t, but thankfully God does. He gives light so we can at least see where we are going.

 

Ever think about what would happen if the sun didn’t come up some morning? We would likely start our day as usual, using lights generated by a man-made power source, but eventually we would feel the strain of life without sunlight. In short, it would be devastating because light sustains life. Without it both plant and animal life would be altered, crops would fail to grow, food supplies would dry up, and our bodies would long for natural light as man-made sources diminished. All I can say is “O God, keep the light on for us!”

 

Our spiritual life is equally dependent on God for light. It has been many years since I began my quest for spiritual light. I describe it as my pursuit to find God. Yet, the truth is that God has actually been pursuing me, attempting to pry me loose from the world, the love of it, and the world’s way of thinking.

 

I have wanted loose. It just isn’t that easy. But gradually, I feel its hold on me giving way. Blinders are beginning to fall at my side and the puzzle pieces are coming together. Spiritual light sustains life too, and I really do need to see where I am going.

 

Susan Klein writes: “You don’t know what you don’t know. What else have I been missing all my life because I’ve been trusting in my own insight rather than trusting God?”1 (Read that again.)

 

How many of us are courageous enough, or better yet, humble enough to admit that we don’t know it all? The next question is equally challenging: If we know that we don’t know what we don’t know, then shouldn’t we be looking for it?

 

In politics we often hear the term “failed policies.” You know, some politician has a plan to improve things, but instead things get worse. That, my friend, is a failed policy.

 

Do we not do the same thing with our plan to follow God? We inevitably do things our way. We base our beliefs, and therefore our actions, on what we’ve been taught. We are sure our doctrine is right. Yet when we aren’t successful, do we ever stop to consider if we are following “failed policies?”

 

Jesus encountered a group of well-established, doctrinal folks called Pharisees. Do you want to know what it was that they didn’t know? They didn’t know that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the very One they were looking for. They missed it big time, even with all their years of training, memorizing scriptures, and keeping the law—they missed the most important truth in all of history: God Incarnate! And He was right there under their noses.

 

What about us? Are we tired yet of our failed doctrine? Tired of doing training exercises that yield no results? Missing what might be the most important truth of the gospel? Are we missing the very thing we have been looking for and searching for? Could it be right here under our noses?

 

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”2 Was he not looking for some things he didn’t yet know?

 

In the next few weeks I am going to share some thoughts about the Christian life that may have been right here under our noses all the time (at least mine anyway). It is perhaps the missing link to discovering the victorious life, the puzzle piece that’s been out of place or even lost. It is the simple word: Obedience. Well, come to think of it, it may not be so simple after all.

 

We will begin with “learning to lean.” You see, learning to lean on God is like learning to let your dance partner lead on the dance floor—there just cannot be two leaders. Dancing with God can be a beautiful thing once we learn how to allow Him to lead. But take note, the dance will never happen short of total obedience.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Susan Klein, The Secret Place, August 17, 2013

2Philippians 3:10

 

 

Love Never Fails Who? June 12, 2013

It had been a troubling morning. I was in a hotel room in Juneau, Alaska, waiting for luggage to arrive. My husband left for his early morning conference in the same clothes he had put on twenty-four hours earlier. Turbulent weather had caused our flights to be cancelled, routes to change, and nerves to fray. But none of that compared to the unsettling phone call I received shortly after arriving there.

Life had taken a painful turn for a family member. It seemed preventable, if only people had done what they were supposed to do—you know what I mean—Christians acting like Christians. Lives were unraveling; careers in jeopardy; reputations on the line. The stinging words of accusations burned within my heart as the story replayed over and over in my head. How could God let this happen?

Thankfully, I had packed my Bible in my carry-on bag. I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to Galatians 5:22. This familiar verse of scripture listing the fruits of the Spirit brought me to a dead stop: “Now the fruit of the Spirit is love….” This word love is so powerful, so all-encompassing, so compelling. Of course, being one who prided myself in being filled with the Spirit, I knew this fruit wasn’t optional. The verse plainly states that the fruit—the growing, yielding, obvious evidence—of the Spirit is love.

The next stop on the journey to find peace for my aching heart was the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. I knew it well. The words flowed from memory as my eyes followed the print. All of the characteristics of love listed in verses 4 through 7 could in no way be akin to the flesh. They clearly spoke of life in the Spirit, the high road, the selfless life, the yielding of one’s own rights.

As my eyes scanned verse 8—“love never fails”—I quickly thought, “I know what that means. Or do I?” I had always believed that if I loved, truly loved with God’s love, the other person(s) with whom I had a conflict would eventually change their mind and come around to seeing things my way. Wrong.

In the case at hand, I was confident that such a happy and blissful ending just wasn’t going to be the outcome. I also knew that for me to love meant to relinquish my right to be right, and the people involved would simply walk away thinking they had won.

It was in that moment that the Heavenly Father gently spoke a new revelation to my heart. For the first time, I saw these ever-so-familiar-words with new eyes, and thus, with new meaning. I read them again slowly, adding the freshly Spirit-inspired revelation—Love never fails me!

Today, some fifteen years later, this age-old truth proves once again to be the medicine I need. If I choose to love in every situation—regardless of the outcome—I will have the peace of God. Love will never fail to produce the joy and contentment within my spirit that only God can give. I will have grace to bear all things (including the ones I think unfair), believe all things (seeing God’s hand at work in every circumstance), hope all things (knowing all things work together for good to them who love God), and endure all things (even the things I don’t like).

It is so true—love never fails me! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

The Biggest Winner! May 9, 2013

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

 

 

Finally ~ the Solution to Our Sin Problem April 24, 2013

[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.)