Are You Doing the Flamingo?

We had a ladies “flamingo” fellowship and for the devotion I learned several things about flamingos and how we can apply many flamingo characteristics to ourselves as Christians!
When you look at a flamingo one thing we notice right away is that they stand up straight and tall even in the water. When Flamingos are standing in the water they use their long legs and their webbed feet to stir up the bottom. Then tiny organisms that flamingos eat float to the top of the water. Then the flamingo scoops them up to eat them. Like the flamingo, we need to stand firm and tall on the Word of God. We have to work at being fed. We cannot just stand and expect our food to come floating to us. When we are hungry we do not just sit and food just magically appear in our mouth. Or spiritually speaking only show up to church just sit for an hour each Sunday and expect to grow. We have to be like the flamingo and dig our feet in and stir God’s Word in our hearts. The way we feed on His Word is to set aside time to studying and grow and then APPLY IT! We have got to take time each day to feed. That growing is what grounds us as Christians so that we can stand firm when life’s struggles, trials and pains try to knock us around. 
Flamingos get their color from the carotenoids in their diet (shrimp, algae, plankton, and crustaceans). The richer the they are in their food the brighter color pink to crimson flamingos will be. So, ask yourselves as a Christians, how rich is your diet? What are you feeding on? Spiritually speaking many times we feed on things that don’t give us nutrients we need to grow in Christ. Just like our physical bodies, if we eat things that are not good for our bodies it has a negative effect on us. If we are filling our lives with the wrong kind of spiritual food we loose our beauty in Christ. The healthier and richer our food is the brighter we are in Christ. We need a healthy diet spiritually to keep us beautiful in Christ!
A flamingo spends up to 30% of the day preening their feathers. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what the definition of preen was so I looked it up. The definition said “Preen” means to straighten and clean its feathers with its beak (Or for a person it means to devote effort to make oneself look attractive). When flamingos preen they are actually moving oil around from a gland at the base of their tail to their feathers for waterproofing. Most of us like to check their appearance in the mirror. We straighten ourselves up before we leave the house or when we start the day. We like to look nice. As Christians we also need to preen. The way we preen is by concentrating on living a God-focused or God-centered life and bearing fruit of the spirit which is when Christ’s characteristics come out in our actions! Just like preening physically – when we look nice it gives us confidence. Preening spiritually helps us stand in confidence. Living and having a God-centered focus is what makes us beautiful in Christ. We need to live sensitive to the Holy Spirit that helps protect us from being pulled into or caught up in sin. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His direction is what moves the oil around and waterproofs us as Christians. That “waterproofing” protects us from attacks. So, as we think of a flamingo spending up to 30% of their day preening… can you ask yourself how much time do you spend making yourself beautiful in Christ each day?  I will be honest, I let distractions, keep me from investing and spending time in the Lord.
Flamingos are very social birds. Have you ever seen them in their colony and watched them move around? It’s incredible to watch! I watched a documentary on flamingos and it was fascinating to see how they move and how they are synchronized together. Marching is common behavior that you see in a large group of flamingos. They march one direction for a while then quickly turn and go the other direction all in unison.  What’s really awesome about the flamingo is that they are often doing the same behaviors at the same time!
Just like it’s a beautiful thing to see flamingos as they move  in unison, synchronized and together. God has given us a church family and Christians should be a beautiful thing to watch too. So often we are not. I think we need to be more synchronized when it comes to serving alongside our sisters in Christ. We should be working together in unison!
Flamingos find safety in numbers. Like flamingos are safe in their colony, we also need that fellowship with our church family. It helps keep us safe because we are not alone and vulnerable and we can fight together against an attack. Fellowship and encouragement with each other help make us stronger as we face trials, hard times, and struggles. Good Christian friends help make us stronger. Sometimes to even challenge us or hold us accountable. God brings people into your life for that very reason. Proverbs 27:17 says iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. I have heard so many times that there are givers and there are takers in life. I want to encourage you to be a giver. Be a friend, a sister in Christ, that gives more than they take from others. Give by encouraging, praying, kind words, and lifting each other up in the Lord.
Flamingos are water birds. They like lagoons, lakes, and swampy areas. Flamingos stay close to water. Like the flamingos are water birds we need to remember that we need the water. Christ is our living water. Jeremiah says the Lord is our fountain of living water. John 4 says Christ gives us living water.  We need to seek Him because He IS our water source to help sustain us. We need to draw close to Him. Physically we must have water to survive. Spiritually we also need water to live. Christ is that water for Christians! Psalm 73:28 says it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. 
I really didn’t know much about flamingos until I looked up information and studied facts about them. It is a blessing and really does amaze me how God can teach us so much from His creation. I hope that you have learned some new facts about flamingos and that you can and will apply many of those to your Christian walk. When we see a flamingo let it remind us of our Christian walk! Let it remind us how we can pattern our walk after the flamingo in so many ways!
—STAND FIRM ON THE WORD OF GOD
—STAY HEALTHY SPIRITUALLY SO I CAN HAVE A RICH HEALTHY DIET
—PREEN SPIRITUALLY TO LIVE A GOD FOCUSED LIFE
—SERVE TOGETHER IN UNISON WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
—BE SOCIAL AND FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
—DRINK FROM THE LIVING WATER – JESUS CHRIST!

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Don’t Cork Your Cracks

There are so many treasures that we have in our lives such as our families, our children, special memories, dear friends, our church families, heirlooms that have been passed down to us, and so many more. We know that a treasure is something that has great value or worth to us. There was a treasure that was placed inside of us when we placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
In verse 7 it says we have this treasure in earthen vessels. What is “this treasure”? It says in verse 6 that the God who made the light to shine out of darkness is the same God who has shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God… Jesus is the light and the treasure is the GOSPEL. God placed the message of God’s love and grace, the message of Jesus’s life, His death and His resurrection in each of us when we He came into our heart. 
Verse 7 says that treasure was placed in earthen vessels. We are those vessels. It pleased God to place this treasure in us. He place this treasure in earthen vessels so that of the excellency of the power may be OF God and NOT OF us. God knows that if we could take the credit we would.God has chosen us to be earthen vessels to be used by Him to carry this treasure. I looked up the word “earthen” and Earthen in the concordance has the word clay, with added suggestion of frailty. How true is that? We are weak and frail beings.
I’d like you to think of a coffee mug. A mug that has a crack in it. What’s going to happen when you pour your coffee into it? The coffee is going to run out through the crack. That is the kind of vessel that God wants us to be. The kind that we need to be. A vessel that God’s treasure can flow out. Isn’t it amazing that God chooses to use cracked and broken vessels!
 
Is your vessel corked up? Is the treasure that God placed in you flowing through you?
 
What are you letting stop or cork up your vessel? We allow things into our lives daily that stops up our vessels. 
Hurt? How often do we let hurt words or actions from others keep us from serving the Lord? We let pain from past scars tell us that we are not useable. 
Self-image? Let’s be honest we compare ourselves to others… their clothes… their hair… their bodies… their talents. We compare our blessings and talents to others. Don’t forget that God made us in HIS image. God created us every detail of us. Psalm 139:13-14 says God covered me in my mother’s womb… God knew us before we were born… cared for us in the womb… we are fearfully and wonderfully made! God created us and designed us uniquely. We focus on this outward vessel and let that dictate our value or worth. Our worth is in the Lord!
Fear? I struggle with fear. So often I let fear tell me I’m not able. Or I cannot do “this or that”. I fear messing up or making a mistake so I don’t even try at times. We allow fear to hold us prisoner!
Pride? Anxiety? Depression? All these things keep our vessels plugged. These things keep us from bringing God’s word to others and no one receives the blessings and benefits of what God has placed in us.In John 3:30, John says He must increase, but I must decrease. John saw he was a vessel and for God to work through him he had decrease. We have to become less so God can become more in our life.
All these things that we struggle with cork our vessels. They keep us from setting our affections on things above like Colossians 3:2 says. For God to use us as vessels we have to “decrease”. We have to put ourselves out of the way, aside, so God can increase in our lives. When God is increased in my life the more He can FLOW THROUGH me. As He flows through me the more He POURS into me so I can say each day (Galatians 2:20 )I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Praise the Lord!
 
Are you a cracked vessel? Are you broken and ready for the treasure God has placed in you to flow out? 
 
Just like the cracked mug the more we let God’s treasure flow out of us – the more He can keep pouring into us! I sure want ans need Him to POUR into me! My clay pot, my vessel, gets all plugged up because I’m not allowing the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God” flow out of me.
God did not design us to be storage vessels with the treasure He has placed in us. We are designed to be TRANSFER vessels. When a pot fills with water but does not have any drain holes in the bottom of it, what happens to that water after while? That water gets nasty, stale, and stagnant. When we are not transferring God’s treasure how often do we get stagnant spiritually? 
We are all cracked and broken vessels. We have been created to carry the Gospel and God’s love and grace to others. When we allow ourselves to be cracked and broken that allows God flow out of us so others can see God’s work in us. God has given us that treasure to be LIVING testimonies to the lost and other Christians. We have Jesus Christ living inside of us. WHAT A TREASURE! 
So, if I can leave you with this…. DON’T CORK YOUR CRACKS! Let God’s treasure that He has placed inside of you flow through you. Don’t get in God’s way. Don’t let fear, hopelessness, anxiety, self-image cork your vessel. We need to DAILY uncork our cracks. 
I pray that you would all be cracked and broken vessels that the Lord can use to share His treasure to others around you.

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