Fizzy Soda

Fizzy Soda

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Have you ever been then grocery getter for your house? You have those thin and useless plastic bags rolling around in the back of the car. When you get home an army of helpers hoping to plunder the new supplies arrive to help carry the hoard in. Some of those big two-liter bottles of soda were on sale so you got them BOGO or to the novice shopper – buy one, get one free. Immediately, my people turn up their nose at them. In my efforts to be a wise consumer, I find that they do not want the surplus of soda and list their complaints. Opening the bottles at the release of pressure, the dark syrupy liquid becomes a foaming bomb shooting soda everywhere creating a huge mess that even the dog is incapable of licking it all up. They don’t like the way that after a day or so they go flat – no matter how tight the lid is kept or how quickly they try to consume it. When the fizz is gone – so is their appetite for the once coveted drink. In all fairness, I bought them for portion control. Tired of pouring their unwanted, forgotten soft drinks down the sink that sounds like change falling in the drain. Yet now, I have a garage full of unwanted bottles but wait what just happened? Suddenly, they are grabbing water bottles instead. How did that happen?

For more than a week, I have had this image of fizzy soda in my head along with the idea that it is just like the zeal a Christian might have at first for the things of God. We come to the Lord full of expectation and excited about the potential of His Spirit’s Inhabitation in life. But once the “fizz” is gone, our life goes flat so we return to our old life and old way of thinking abandoning the potential of faith in God that remains there. Where are we once the excitement is gone? What happens when things take longer than expected? Why is discipline necessary? God is greater than all things. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He supplies all we need but when I ask I must wait. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. We must desire to move from things that are not good for us to those things that benefit our life. It will be a struggle in a world that offers immediate gratification and feeds our emotions. God wants us to be godly people who have joy in Him and those who trust Him will lack no good thing.

For the last month or so, I have been attempting to give up a beloved diet drink. Is it bad for me? Depends on who you ask. Water is better for me. All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. When I was young, my birth mom was a “Coke” addict in the soft drink form. She gave it to us freely. As I began to share time between both parents’ homes, my new mom provided sweet tea – the soft drink of the South. Loved it and consumed it freely. However, I became more aware as I grew older that water is a much better choice. However, I don’t necessarily want water. I don’t care for the taste. I don’t really want it or desire it. It is good for me in many ways. It is the best for my body health wise. It is excellent for my skin. It keeps me well-hydrated. But I prefer other things and none of that I desire is illegal or prohibited. I make the choice to drink a gallon of water or at least try to every day. What I have found is the more water I consume the less capacity that I have for those things that are not as good for me. Water is more beneficial. How does this all tie together? I am glad that you asked.

So many times, we try to make a Godly life resemble our good life worldly expectations applying our appetite to the things that the Holy Spirit would like to do in us and through us. Did you know that the primary content in all soft drinks is water? We add the sugar or sugar substitute. We put the carbonation in it that makes it fizzy. Have you ever noticed that conscientious parents do not give their newborns soft drinks or tea? They give them milk. If not straight from mom, they sterilize the bottles. Everything they do is to make sure that their baby grows, develops and matures. God sees us as His Children. He feels the same way.

I Peter 2:1-3 (NLT) So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

Pure spiritual milk. What is it? I believe that it is the Word of God. We must know the Word to enter fully into a productive relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. Salvation is not an arranged marriage but a personal choice to engage in an active and committed relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. We make that choice. All things are permissible yet not all things are beneficial. Just as in our relationships naturally, there must be development and growth to mature our relationship so it is no longer superficial. If we are not growing in the Lord, we are growing apart from Him. I find it interesting that in this passage, it says, “Get rid of all evil behavior.” Then it begins to talk about things that destroy relationships first. To cry out for nourishment once we have tasted the Lord’s Kindness is to grow in our knowledge and capacity to love the Lord and other people. We focus on our list of seven deadly sins and regard religious rules and regulations but miss the part about love. God is love. To be godly we must be good lovers.

John 7:38 (NLT) “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

A newborn primarily exists on milk although the newest parenting trend does add water at an early age. When my babies were little, I only gave them milk, some juice and lots of water. Growing in our walk with Christ, spiritual milk gives way to living water. Jesus promised that living water would flow from His Heart to us. He has given us His Spirit. The Word of God works with the Spirit of God to allow us those benefits offered to those who choose the better way over the permissible options in life. We must discipline our body and mind to live a healthy spiritual life. Have you ever tried to take candy from a baby?

The little children at our church flock to “Memaw” a beloved matriarch. She always has a sugary candy treat for them so after service like little ducklings they flock to her. They want the contents of her big bag. They know she has treats for them. However, mom and dad have the opportunity to train their children in healthy habits. Thank God I am headed into “memaw” days! I found with my own children that in order to take something from them, I offered them a better choice. If they did not want the new thing, they would often pitch a fit. As a mom, I hated that they were so upset but my heart was set on giving them the very best start in life. Candy and sugar was limited. I made sure they were given the right food – all the things that were nutritious. Too many times, it is human nature to cave in to emotions rather than stand strong for goodness and so it is with the church.

Romans 10:1-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.

To pursue God emotionally but not spiritually is misdirected zeal. To claim to know Him but not take in the spiritual milk and living water is spiritual suicide. You are starving your spirit to feed your flesh. False teachers pave new roads every day and we fall for it because our flesh is strong and our spirit weak. Many years ago, in order to lose some weight, I switched from full-powered soft drinks to diet soda. Ironically or not so much, it was after a Daniel Fast, where for a solid month I only drank water. After becoming addicted to them, I read an article that warned of the high sodium content in diet drinks that they wreaked havoc on weight loss efforts. How is this possible? Well, the sodium that settled in our body soaked up the water and got fat, too to put it in layman’s terms. Bottom line – water retention. Ugh! Darned if you do and darned if you don’t. Is it possible that rather than relying on water – we are substituting things in our life that are not God’s Best and of no benefit. Absolutely.

Zeal is not bad. In fact, the Bible encourages and endorses spiritual fervor for the Living God. Romans 12:11 tells us to never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. See the “but” – it is our warning. It is easy to direct our zeal toward the Lord, and then get detoured, delayed, or distracted. In fact, it is the greatest scheme of the enemy. He challenges our knowledge of God every day in the temptations of life. Religion is the diet soda of the church. Rather than truly loving people somehow church folks get an appetite for judgment and hypocrisy based on false knowledge of God who expects love to be our first and foremost motivation. If I can do it, God is not required. It’s everything I cannot do that is where grace causes His Power to manifest. I am not supposed to be strong but weak and reliant on Jesus Christ for all things every day. The psalmist admits in Psalm 119 that “zeal wears me out” and goes on to admit that his enemies ignore his words. Words must hold power. The power of my words is based on my knowledge of the Truth and its ability to set me free. I am free to choose the life I live.

God is not emotional. Our feelings do not move the heart of God or His Hand, His Focus is set on our future. He is working in us now for forever. Endurance means making it to the end. It is a struggle because usually somewhere around the middle we begin to wonder what were we thinking. Towards the end, everything in us screams quit. Those who endure to the end are honored because not many will. When the zeal is gone and the fizz goes flat in their spiritual life, many become discouraged, discontent and disinterested in Living Water which runs steadily and consistently in us. Water seems boring. It doesn’t seem like anything of worth. Yet 71% of the earth is covered in it, and mankind is made up of about 60% water. It would seem that water is important. Living water is essential to spiritual survival and one’s ability to thrive in Jesus Christ. Maybe there are substitutions in our life that must be filtered out so that we can engage in spiritual growth and development again rather attempting to survive in deprivation.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

People spend a great deal of time on what they consume. Whether deciding what to eat or where to eat. Challenged to consume more or eat less or even just make better food choices. Intake is a primary concern in many households. There are even some that wonder if they will get to eat. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. The first day of the water challenge was horrible for me. I didn’t want to drink one glass of water let alone almost eight. Some days I do great and other days I choke it down. I know that if I stick to it that over time I will develop a taste for it. Why the struggle? Water is good for me. It is good for my body and skin. I hate when my flesh dictates things so the more it fights me – the more I fight back. I want a healthy body.

God is not building a building – He is creating a body. The Body of Christ. The Bride for His Son. It is important that I do my part to be the best member of the Kingdom I can be not for others or even me but to be who I promised to be when I partnered with Jesus. I would become less and He would be more. I would decrease so He could increase. I John 3:20-21 is clear that God is not an emotionally-driven God. Thank you, Lord! His People are emotional enough. When our spiritual life goes flat, maybe God is facilitating an appetite change in us that will produce growth and maturity. He is giving us something better if we will endure the process of refinement. Our flesh wants none of it and will fight it all the way. Until our relationship is not emotional but faithful – the blessings and benefits promised in His Word may seem elusive. Nothing could be further from the truth – they are exclusive. Exclusively for God’s Children, those who decide to use their freedom to become part of the Body of Christ rather than building another church.

To become rooted and grounded in the Love of God through Jesus Christ, we must stop wavering back and forth. Discipline gives way to faithfulness when we decide to engage in the process called endurance. We must move from the emotionalism of infancy into the steadfastness of adulthood – the Body of Christ must mature to become effective. The Holy Spirit and Goodness of God’s Word produce the spiritual growth potential in the lives of those who are committed to its consumption daily. (Hebrews 6:1-6) We must learn to hold on to the progress made in our spiritual life and build upon it. (Philippians 3:14-16) If our goal is to press on and obtain the high calling, we need something to stand on. The firm foundation of faith built in trust is the only way to reach the heavenlies and bring it to earth. God promised that our earthly life and heavenly existence can be connected in heaven and on the earth. We put in the effort.

Discipline is not a warm fuzzy feeling but a tough painful process. Immediate gratification is not part of it but endurance is. There may be some things in our life that although they are permissible are not beneficial to our walk with the Lord. When runners pass a checkpoint, they are not handed coffee or a can of soda. The helpers hand them water or a supplement filled with electrolytes to replace those used while they run. What do we give others when tired, thirsty or weary? When weighted with sin, do we give them yet another set of rules to fail at or the grace that has been so sufficient for me? The first discipline that is to be readily accepted in the modern church is love. Not love for the rules and regulations set forth by religion, but to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ and relaying it to the world including every single person in it. Our language is love and we must not only speak it but live it. You cannot give what you do not have. God’s Word and His Spirit give us new life to give to others. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. Has your spiritual fervor gone flat? Are you growing disinterested in God’s Way? It is time to make a change. Call a fast. Ask the Lord to stir you up. It is up to you to develop a taste for spiritual things rather than feeding full of substitutions. God has given us everything we need to live a godly life – now we just have to tap into it. It’s a choice. Better life or best life. Permissible or beneficial. Good or God! I know what I am after…how about you?

2 Peter 1:3-8 (NLT) His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

New Benefits

New Benefits

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

With the arrival of 2016 comes immediate change in our family’s healthcare benefits. Our insurance provider and benefits have been the same for many, many years now. Before our son was diagnosed with cancer, our family seldom used our health insurance for more than the occasional injury or minor illness. I understood our benefit planned and how it worked. I knew who was a “provider” and what medications were covered. When our son became ill, my knowledge and experience rose to a whole new level as we encountered the limits of medical insurance. A few months back, my husband’s company was sold and new benefit packages were provided. I have to admit that while I am thankful we are provided the blessing of healthcare coverage, it has also caused some anxiety. I was comfortable with our old insurance. Even with its limitations, I knew what it would and would not cover. I was familiar with the cost of care and the fact we could afford it. Now as the New Year arrives, it is with a new insurance company, new providers and a new plan.

The Irony of God does not escape me. God is doing a “new thing” in our family. He is doing something “new” in me which culminates with the arrival of 2016. We have experienced many new things recently. New job, new company, new cars, new church, and more new things are just around the corner. I am excited to see, feel and know God is moving in us and through us again, but I would be a liar to say that I am not a bit uneasy. I relish my comfort zone. I really like order and control. When the Lord moves in our life, there is always change. Change brings uncertainty that makes us need more faith and confident hope in order to continue moving in the right direction. I want the Lord to use me in 2016. I want Him to have my whole heart. I am willing to be moved and changed to walk in true freedom. I long to experience all the many benefits that the Lord has promised but it will require change. I will be uncomfortable in the process because faith, trust and hope are required.

“Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” As our family prepares to enter a fast to start the New Year, I know from experience that during times of fasting and prayer as we turn to the Lord that He will begin to reveal new things to us. Things maybe that need to change, be redirected, or refocused. The Spirit of the Lord in us is always leading us to new freedom in Christ but sometimes the way seems hard and unyielding. It is with good reason. I have many benefits available to me in Jesus Christ that sin and rebellion keeps me from each day. It is when I turn my life back over to the Lord completely that I am set free again. It is in this capacity that the Glory of God transforms me and ever-increasing glory makes its way from the inside of me to the outside where others can be impacted. This is my desire. To experience new freedom in Christ and all the benefits that I may be missing.

Psalm 103:1-12 (NIV)

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)  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) It is by faith that we experience all the benefits offered to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. If we do not have faith, we remain powerless. Salvation is not possible if we do not have faith. To believe is essential to freedom. It requires acting on what we know about God and His Character without every seeing His Faith. We believe in His Word. (Romans 10:17) We must believe that God is good and rewards those who “earnestly” seek Him. The trouble is our humanity grows comfortable with controllable “faith” and confident that what “hope” for is a now thing rather than forever endeavor. Hope never leads us to disappointment. Our hope is not something found in this world but in Jesus. If we can see it, do it, attain it, make it or have it in this life, it is not a product of hope. Faith in God that becomes confident hope makes the impossible possible.

Do you know the Benefits you have been given by God and accessible through Jesus? It is important that we do to know what is attainable by faith and decide if it is worth having. Freedom in Christ means that He will never force them on us but we can choose them if we so desire. According to Psalm 103, my life is praiseworthy. (vs.1) I have the potential to live from victory to victory and glory to glory by faith in God alone. My life is full of benefits. I am beneficial. (vs.2) If I do not feel blessed or have not experienced the Glory of God around me, it is not because it is not available to me. I am forgiven. I am healed. (vs.3) Healing is an act of the body, mind and spirit. Although I did not undergo rounds of chemotherapy for a cancer attacking my body to go it with our son produced psychological trauma which severely impacted my life until Jesus healed and restored my very soul. I am redeemed bought with the highest price and crowned with love and compassion which quite simply means that I have the Favor of God. (vs.4) I am blessed with good things from a Good Father who is intent on my complete contentment and total satisfaction. (vs.5) I am renewed. His Mercies are new each day to heal the broken parts, forgiven the hidden sins and bring me to wholeness of body, mind and spirit. (v.5) I am free. (vs.6) I am loved tremendously, overwhelmingly and unconditionally every moment of every day. (vs.7-8) His Grace is always enough for me. (vs. 9-10) Though the world may try to shame me and others guilt me, the Lord says otherwise. Guilt and shame are worldly offerings that are overshadowed by His Grace for that is always sufficient especially when I am weak. I am in right standing with the most, high God. (vs.11-12) There are some days that I forget all the blessings and benefits that are provided through Jesus Christ for my life. It doesn’t mean that the Lord forgets. No, He patiently and lovingly waits for me to extend my heart, pay attention and listen for His Careful Instruction to lead me directly to them – each and every one.

Proverbs 2:1-8 (NIV)

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

When the new company took over, my husband was sent a booklet that explained the new benefit package offered to employees. It outlined the coverage one would receive and the price they must pay. It also offered the option of opting out and not accepting any company benefits. You and I have been provided the same resource in the Word of God. If you can find it in the Word, it belongs to you. You must follow the instructions and steps to obtain those benefits. Why are we so quick to do this in the world but not in the spirit? We can see, feel and touch worldly benefits. Human beings thrive on immediate gratification. But when it does not meet our need or satisfy our soul, we are at a loss. Many turn to Jesus in that moment unaware that they could have been experiencing life changing moments all along. Prayer is not a crisis hotline. The Bible is not an emergency plan. Loving God and living for Him is a lifestyle. We are given everything we need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3) If only we choose to put our trust in the Lord and live what we believe, our lives would be changed as His Benefits became our lifestyle. Others would be saved, healed and delivered as His Power and Glory made its way through us. We have benefits. We have a contract for coverage. We have everything we need to live a godly, prosperous life. Are we accepting it or opting out? It really is up to each one of us if we will live the blessed life we are offered or choose something much less.

I Corinthians 10:23-24 (NIV)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) We are told that America is a “free” country. To some extent this is absolutely true, but in others ways it is not. True freedom means that we have the “right” to do anything. So when it says, if the Son sets you free that you are free indeed – we are not sure how to interpret it. Some think this means that I can live in whatever way that I choose and still inherit the Blessings of God. Other think that our covenant with the Lord requires His Grace to excuse our sin (willful or not) and grant us His Glory regardless. There are churches that tell Christians that God is going to make this life better if they just give what they have emptying their pockets disregarding their heart. We are free to do what we choose, BUT not everything is beneficial. Not everything we do is constructive, in fact we lean toward destruction most of the time. Our flesh longs for and presses us to live for today rather than thinking about tomorrow or even the future of eternity. This is the only time the flesh will live. We have been promised forever.

 

If the Benefits of God are not manifesting completely in our life, we must turn back to the Lord and dare to step closer. In His Presence, we find everything we need to be completely saved, healed, and delivered to prosper here into forever. If you are not completely satisfied and totally content, you can be. He is the Way, Truth and Life. Jesus is our access point to God but no one can come to the Father outside of Christ. One way. The only way. You can know the way. You must decide to walk that way.

 

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” What does this mean? How does this impact our life as believers? Well, it doesn’t say that whenever anyone turns to the Lord, He does a new thing and makes a new way. No, it says that when we turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. It was there all the time friend. We have benefits that we fail to use or take advantage of in our life. Most of the time, it is ignorance. Other times, it is rebellion. God shows us the way but we choose our way. The way that we know or may be comfortable with. If I want all the Benefits of God in my life, I must walk His Way. I must give Him my whole heart. I must seek to know Him more and apply new understanding to my life which turns it into wisdom. All things are permissible because I am set free.

Not all things are beneficial or constructive to a blessed and prosperous life – there is only One Way to accomplish that. I must follow Jesus. So as I prepare for 2016, I am asking the Lord to reveal to me those things that are not beneficial or constructive and remove them from my life. I want to walk in the everlasting and experience God’s Glory and Favor as He has planned, promised and purposed for my life. I completely understand and acknowledge it means going where He goes, doing what He says, and following His Lead. I want to experience all His Benefits so I am willing to go! How about you? Will 2016 be the best year of your life? Will it be beneficial? Will it be constructive? Well now that’s up to you isn’t it? God called us to a glorious standard of life that we had once forsaken by our sin. Through righteousness it can be easily attained for those who desire it.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV)

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.