Give me a word, Lord: I WANT TO BE LIKE PAUL

I Timothy 1:12-16 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

Have you ever sat down and considered the life of Paul? Most would not refute the statement that the Apostle Paul was the greatest Christian who ever lived. If Paul were here, he would refute it. In the scripture we just read, we see that he considered himself to be one of the worst of sinners. Paul began his life as Saul. Paul was a Jew, but he was not born nor raised in Judea. Paul was born in a city called Tarsus located in the Roman providence of Cilicia, therefore making Paul also a Roman citizen by birth. While growing up in Tarsus, Paul was exposed to commercial trade, diverse populations, education, and pagan forms of worship. He was educated at the best schools and universities. He knew the law inside and out. He knew the Old Testament laws, but he was not a believer in Christ as the Messiah. He was a Pharisee, and he spent his days persecuting and murdering Christians. However, one day on the road to Damascus, he met Jesus and his life was forever changed forever.

I can’t help but think about the fact that God orchestrated everything to work out for our good and His glory. Our pastor always tells us that “it’s all rigged,” and I do believe that Paul meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus was definitely rigged. Paul’s sight was taken from him on the road to Damascus, but when it was later restored, he not only received physical sight, he gained spiritual sight as well. He realized that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, and he did a complete about face. Rather than hunting down, persecuting, and murdering Christians, he became one himself. Not only did he convert on that road he was traveling, he became a true beacon for Christ. God knows who each of us are from the inside out, and He knew that Paul was very knowledgeable in regards to Old Testament teaching. Paul was able to teach and preach the law and use it to motivate people towards Christ, and at the same time he was able to teach and preach the new command and the new covenant given by Christ. God took a perfect example of a sinner, and He made him one of the greatest apostles and soul winners ever known to man.

Why is it so important to consider Paul? Because we are all just like him! Hopefully we aren’t out there persecuting and murdering people, but we are all sinners. And if we have accepted Christ as our Lord Savior, we have also been forever changed. God has been with you from the very beginning, and just like Paul, God has also been orchestrating your life too. Consider that for a moment. Who have you become in Christ? We spend way to many hours pondering over past failures and sins, and when we do this, we are not being who God created us to be. If we are in Christ, those sins have been forgiven. Those past mistakes, however, have helped to shape us into the people that we are today. God has made you to be exactly the person that you are. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows the difficulties you are enduring. He knows your heart. He has big plans for your future, and those plans involve living life abundantly! The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I really want to be more like Paul because he taught us how to live like Jesus. He didn’t talk the talk. He walked the walk. I’m so very thankful for my salvation, but being saved personally isn’t enough any more. I want to share the gospel with everyone. Today is a great day to be a Paul! This world needs more Paul’s and a lot less Saul’s!

Give me a word, Lord: WHAT DO YOU DO?

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

“What do you do?” That’s a question that we have all been asked many times in our lives, and we in turn have asked the question many times. It is a common question that can be used as an icebreaker to get to know someone we have never met before, and it also allows that person to get to know us. However, if we really think about the question and our Christian response, every single Christian could answer the question with the same response. My answer to the question should be, “I serve Jesus Christ by working as a nurse practitioner.” I’m not merely a nurse practitioner. I am a servant of Christ. It is true that I work for man as well. I have employers who expect me to show up on time for my shifts and put in the hours deemed necessary to make a paycheck. I also serve my patients. I try my best to meet their health care needs. I must make proper diagnoses, prescribe the proper medications, and provide adequate teaching. I serve my co-workers too. I have to be willing to work well with my co-workers and pull my weight to make sure that the work day runs as smoothly as possible. It is true that I serve others all day long, but my primary purpose and calling in life is not that of a family nurse practitioner. My calling is to serve the Lord Jesus.

When we wake up each morning with the attitude that we are going out to face the world as a servant of Christ, our whole outlook changes. Getting out of that warm cozy bed at 5:00 am doesn’t seem so bad when I realize that I am getting up early to equip myself with the Word of God so that I am prepared to serve Him better as I walk out the door. The difficulties that arise throughout the day are small in comparison to the trials that our Savior endured on that cross. He gave everything for me. He gave His life for my sins so that I may be made right with the Father. When I contemplate on the anguish that our Lord suffered, my daily trials and sufferings pale drastically in comparison. Christ suffered for me so that I may have eternal life. Because I have accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I am a new person in Him. My salvation changed who I am, and I am a brand new person in Christ. I was created to serve and glorify Him. When asked what I do, I could easily say that I am a nurse practitioner, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a farmer, a writer, a Sunday School teacher, church treasurer, a daughter, a friend, and the list goes on infinitely. It is true. I do a lot of things. I wear a lot of hats, but I always tell people that the favorite hat I wear is my crown. It sits toppled to one side of my head most of the time, but it is there, and I wear it proudly. For you see, my favorite job description and title is daughter of the King.

Because Christ died for me and because I am His child, the desire of my heart is to serve Him. Matthew 28:19-20 reminds us of our calling. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. We are not called to merely do our jobs, earn a paycheck, and pay our bills. We are called to go and make disciples of all nations, and we are called to teach the new disciples to obey all the commands given to us by Christ.

So the next time you are asked, “What do you do?”, how will you respond? Will you take the opportunity to share Christ? Let us began using every opportunity we have to go and make disciples. Share the love for Christ by sharing your heart, and let everyone you come in contact with know that you are a child of the King, and let them know that your job is to serve Him!

Give me a word, Lord: MOVING FORWARD

Philippians 3:13-14 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I spent the entire day yesterday taking down the Christmas decorations and storing them away for another year. I wasn’t moving slowly, but I did kind of overdo it with my decoration efforts this year. Last year was tough on everyone, and I know that the One who got me through every single difficulty was the One we celebrate at Christmas. Although we weren’t going to be having any big parties this year, and no one but immediate family and friends would enjoy the decorations other than myself, I still wanted to do it up big. Why? I know that we celebrate Christ every day, but I felt like I needed to really celebrate big this year.

Yesterday, as I was taking everything down and struggling to stow it all away, I was temporarily regretting my decision to go big this year, but when I woke up this morning, there were no regrets. Today as I finish getting my house in order, I reflect on the fact that God has granted us another year to get our hearts in order. We must learn from yesterday’s experiences and difficulties, but we can’t live there. One thing that keeps us from becoming the very people that God wants us to become is the fact that we try much too often to live in the past. We have regrets of things we should’ve done but didn’t. We struggle over past sins and mistakes. We have trouble getting over past hurts or past behaviors. The problem with this is that it distracts us from Christ, and it distracts us from our future.

I’m sure that you have had a few circumstances that may have knocked you to your knees over the past year. Before we try to get back up, maybe we need to spend a little time there on our knees. Maybe God even put us on our knees so that we would remember to come to him in our time of need. After we spend a little time on our knees, we always get back up. We get up, and we try again. The difference is, after spending time on our knees in prayer and talking over our troubles with the Lord, we get up with renewed strength to overcome those difficulties. Yes, my friends, I spent a lot of time in prayer over the past year, and I know that it was only Christ that brought me through the trials.

Each of us survived many trials over the past year. We are still in the midst of some of those trials. It’s hard to keep moving forward some days, but we must keep seeking the prize! This is the perfect opportunity to get renewed strength to win the race. Just as we are stowing away the Christmas decorations and cleaning up our homes, we can also use this time to put away the worries over the past, and clean up our hearts. Let us start out this new year looking forward. We must forget what lies behind us. We have to continue to press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. We are not merely rats running a race of no consequence. We are children of the King, and we are racing towards the ultimate finish line. Keep looking forward, Peeps! Learn from the past, but don’t lay down there and take up residence. Keep moving forward and push on towards that great finish line!

Give me a word, Lord: FUTURE FULL OF FLOWERS

Psalm 23:5-6 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Are you and optimist or a pessimist? I think that as a believer in Christ, we must be more optimistic than pessimistic. When I face the coming year, I can worry over the future events that are yet to come, or I can rest assured that my future will be bright. When asked why I am so optimistic about the new year, and what I think the new year will bring, I can joyfully say that I think the new year will bring flowers, lots and lots of flowers, fresh garden vegetables, and homemade jelly! Oh yes, we must make lots of jelly. These are a few of my favorite things. How can I know that the new year will bring these things? Well, that’s simple. I’m going to plant flowers, lots of flowers. I’m going to plant and care for our garden, and I’m going to make the jelly. I know that these things will be a part of my coming year because I intend to do what is necessary to make these things happen. If you know me at all, you know that my thumb is as black as soot, but praise the Lord. He gives me great soil, water, and sunshine, and He gave me a husband with a very green thumb.

This past year was not one of my favorites. There were a lot of trials, losses, and difficulties, and it looks like this year has started off on the wrong foot as well. If I were pessimistic, I’d look at the coming year with a frown on my face and run the other way. But, because I know Christ, I can face the new year with optimism. C. H. Spurgeon once said, “Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainstream of joy.” We read this words and quickly think about the mainstream media. We tend to get caught up in the trials of life, the negativity that surrounds us, and circumstances that are beyond our control. These things try to steal our joy away. But those difficulties haven’t met our God yet! No! We can’t let the trials of life stand between a joy filled life with Christ. What then do we do? When we find ourselves discouraged or down, we must remember that we need to give our troubles to God. We simply need to share all of our concerns with Him, and He will provide the strength to not only endure the difficulty, but also to overcome it!

It really boils down to the fact that our attitude is a matter of choice. We began each day fresh and new, and we can face the day with fear, or we can face the day with faith. The first thing I do each morning when I wake up is pray. The next thing I do is grab a cup a coffee and dig into God’s Word. Afterwards, I can rest assured that no matter what I may have to face during the course of my day, I will not be facing it alone. Does this mean that I won’t have any bad days? Of course it does not. But it does mean that I can face each day full of hope and faith in Christ, and at the end of each day, no matter how bad things seem to have been, I can look up and thank the Lord for seeing me through every trial. My hope is in Him, and His unfailing love carries me through every single day.

I love Psalm 23 in any version, but I really like this New Living Translation. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. READ THAT AGAIN. My cup overflows with blessings. One of my favorite sayings that my family has heard hundreds of times is: “My cup is overflowing, and I’m drinking from the saucer.” With Christ, this is absolute truth. He bestows blessings upon me that I definitely do not deserve, and He gives me so many blessings that my cup literally overflows. The next part is even better than that. His goodness and unfailing love with surely pursue me all the days of my life. Y’all that is better than a big old slice of chocolate cake and hot cup of coffee! His goodness and unfailing love pursue me! Wow! Isn’t God amazing? And you can be sure that if he is pursuing this old redneck girl from Mississippi, He is pursuing you too!

Are you optimistic about the coming year? What do you think it will bring? I think it will bring lots and lots of flowers, but I know that it will bring hope, love, laughter, and life. And with that hope, love, laughter and life, we can plant seeds joyfully sharing the love and light of Christ to those we come into contact with every day. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future!

I’m going to leave you with the words to a familiar old hymn, I Know Who Holds My Hand: I don’t know about tomorrow. I just live from day to day. I don’t borrow from the sunshine, for the skies they turn to grey. And I don’t worry for the future, for I know what Jesus said. And today I’ll walk beside him, for he knows what lies ahead. Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand. I don’t know about tomorrow; it may bring me poverty. But the one who feeds the sparrow, is the one who stands by me. And the path that be my portion may be through the flame or flood;
but His presence goes before me, and I’m covered with His blood. Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.

Give me a word, Lord: FIND A PENNY, AND PICK IT UP

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.

Psalm 62:1-2 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Find a penny, and pick it up. All the day you will have good luck! I have no idea how many times I chanted this as a child. I can recall my childhood days of shopping trips and huge parking lots. We always scoured the ground as we walked looking for a coin that someone had inadvertently dropped, There was a little rule to this luck game though. The penny had to be heads up to bring good luck…at least that was what we were always told. If it were tails up, the coin was left behind for some other lucky person to find. Oh what a joy it was in finding a shiny coin and putting that coin into my pocket.

Nowadays a penny isn’t worth much at all, but I still catch myself looking to see if a discarded coin is heads up or not. I didn’t realize until recently that the “heads up” part actually has a lot more significance. I read a story about a wealthy employer who had invited his employee and spouse to his home for a weekend. The employer lived a true life of luxury and his vehicles cost more than the employee’s home. He took them out to the finest restaurants, and the employee was enjoying the lavishness of it all. She knew that it wouldn’t last long, and she was soaking up every minute of it. One night, as they were walking from the car to a restaurant, the rich employer stopped for several seconds looking down at the ground. The employee looked trying to discern exactly what the employer had spotted. She saw nothing but a darkened aged penny and some discarded cigarette butts. After a few moments, the employer bent over, picked up the penny, and put it in his pocket with a big smile on his face.

The employee was shocked. She thought, “why in the world would this man of extreme wealth pick up an old discarded penny that wasn’t worth a thing.” It troubled her throughout the meal, and finally, she mentioned to the employer that her child had collected coins and wondered if the coin he found was of some special significance. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out the penny with a smile and told her to look at the penny and read what it says. She read the words, “United States of America.” He said, “not that, keep reading.” Then she read, “In God We Trust?” The man said, “Yes!” And he went on to explain that if he trusts God, then the name of God is holy, even on a coin. He explained that whenever he found a coin, he sees that inscription. It is on every single United States’ coin, but we never seem to notice it. He further explained that when he sees a coin, he stops and prays and places his trust in God at that moment. He picks the coin up as an act of response to that trust, and stated that for a short time, at least, he cherished the coin as if it were gold. He also shared that it was God’s way of starting a conversation with him. He said, “Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”

I think of all the coins that have passed through my life over the years, and I just let that phrase slip right through my hands with out giving it a second glance or acknowledging the name of God. This story sheds a whole new light on “Find a penny pick it up!” I look around at this beautiful country that God blessed us with, and I recall that we were founded as “one nation under God.” I can’t even entertain the thought of watching the news this morning because it is just another reminder that we are no longer one nation under God. Oh, don’t get me wrong. God is still in charge, but this nation is so divided. There is utter chaos ongoing, and I’m afraid it is going to get much worse. I trust that God has a plan though. His plans are always so much better than anything I could devise in this simple mind of mine. I just get a little impatient at times waiting for the plan to unfold. But then, I am reminded of a simple but significant phrase on a seemingly worthless penny, “In God We Trust.” I think I’ll start looking for pennies again. We need that simple reminder all day every day, and it is written on al of our coins. Place trust in God. The future seems uncertain, but I know my God is bigger than all of my fears. I’m going to trust Him!

Give me a word, Lord: DON’T WIDEN THE PLATE

Colossians 3:1-4 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

When I think of the statement, “don’t widen the plate,” the first thing that comes to my mind as a nurse practitioner is a diet. I spend a good bit of my day teaching portion control and proper eating habits. but today, I’m talking about a different plate. I’m talking about home plate on a baseball field. In case you are like myself and are not really a big sports fan, let me explain the basics. A home plate in baseball is 17 inches wide. It doesn’t matter if it is school ball, minor league, or major league, the plate size is supposed to be 17 inches. That basic fact is important for today’s ramblings.

As I said, I’m not really a big sports enthusiast. God didn’t bless me with athletic abilities or skills. He gave me some other great skills which I am very thankful for. He gave me the skill to be a nurse practitioner, farmer, wife, mother, grandmother, and writer. He even gave me the skill to fall gracefully and not so gracefully from which I’ve earned the title “Queen of Klutz.” No, I’m no athlete, but even I have heard of Coach John Scolinos. He retired from coaching in 1991 after beginning his coaching career in 1948. In 1996, he made an speech that impacted many coaches in the field of baseball using a simple home plate. He began his speech with a room full of 4,000 baseball coaches at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN, with a 17 inch home plate hanging from his neck like an oversized necklace. The visiting coaches were likely on the edge of their seats awaiting great knowledge and baseball secrets to roll off of the tongue of this wise and renowned coach. They got way more than they bargained for.

After speaking for several minutes, Coach Scolinos finally got around to the home plate that was hanging from his neck like an elephant in the room. He asked the crowd how wide home plate was, and they answered 17 inches. He even asked about the size of home plate for different leagues and age groups. the answer was always 17 inches. He then, after a long pause, asked what do they do if a big league pitcher can’t hit home plate? Should the plate be widened to 18 inches, 19 inches, or perhaps 25 inches? If it is enlarged, maybe they would have a better chance of hitting it. The coach then turned the plate towards himself and used a Sharpie to draw a house on the plate. He then said, “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids, with our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!” He went on to speak of America, our schools, our churches, and our government. We are constantly individually and corporately widening the plate.

I don’t know baseball, y’all, but even I understood that, and I understood it to be completely true. He spoke those words in 1996. Coach Scolinos died in 2009, but wow, what a mark he left on this country. There is so much wisdom in these words, but now, 24 years later, we are still widening the plate. We wonder why society is failing? We wonder why everything is not as it should be? Well, we keep widening the plate. The game of baseball has instructions and guidelines. The players, coaches, and umpires know the rules of the game, and they know the standards which they must uphold. They don’t changed the rules to suit the player or the game. We have an instruction manual for life. God gave us His Holy Word, the Bible. Unfortunately, we don’t follow our manual the way that the baseball players follow theirs. We tend to pick and choose the parts that we want to follow. If there is something we don’t like, we simply ignore that part. When we get angry, we pick out a piece of scripture that goes along with our current rage, and shout that part to the world, but we leave out the context in which the scripture came from. We quote scripture on good days, and then shout obscenities on other days. We look and see what is good for society and assume it is good for ourselves, even though we know that the Word of God contradicts this. We try to add to the Word or take away the stuff we don’t like. We can’t keep widening the plate! “And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” Revelations 22:19

If we want our country back, our homes back, our families back to the way things should be, we have to stop widening the plate! We must join together and read the instruction manual for life every day. Learn the standards that Christ has given us. I’ve always been a rule follower, and following Christ is something that I want to do with every ounce of my being. I’ve heard it said that the Bible is just an old book of rules or that it’s too hard to follow the standards of the Bible. I’m here to tell you that it is not! When you give your heart completely to Christ, serving Him becomes a joy, and learning the standards for living a godly life becomes a yearning. It’s not hard work. It’s pleasing to the mind and soul. Today’s challenge is to get back to the basics! Let’s get back to God’s Word and remember His ways because His ways truly should be our ways! Don’t widen the plate!

Give me a word, Lord: DON’T BE A TURKEY

Today is a day for a good day! The Lord created this day just for you. Let’s get out there and enjoy it. Don’t be a turkey today! Be the one that God created you to be, Today’s devotional is an excerpt from my book, Inspirations from the Funny Farm. I hope you enjoy it!

Galatians 6:14 “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Matthew 15:18 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”

As I walked down to the barn early one morning just before daybreak, I spied with my little eye a white hen lying on the ground. The hen was all crumpled up surrounded by a few loose feathers. At first glance, it appeared that a predator had killed the hen during the night. Sadly, this can happen on a farm from time to time. I failed to inspect the chicken closely as I was in a hurry to feed all the animals and get on with my day. In my mind, I made a mental note to dispose of the poor old dead chicken after I finished my chores in the barn.

I am only human, and I admit that sometimes mornings on the farm are a struggle. There are many a days that I roll out of bed, throw my old robe on, walk outside and pull on those old muck boots, and stumble to the barn while rubbing sleep out of my eyes and wondering why in the world am I doing this? But before I even have time to collect my thoughts and spend any time at all contemplating the subject, I hear the answer loud and clear. As I approach the barn, it truly comes alive with all the morning noises: chickens cackling, roosters crowing, cows mooing, goats and sheep baaing, and pigs oinking. Those loud, chaotic, early morning shouts of joy (and sometimes impatience) from the creatures that I so dearly love, can turn a frown upside down like nothing else.

As I fed my furry and feathered friends, I quickly forgot about that “dead” chicken I saw on my way to the barn. I visited with my barn crew, talking to them, singing to them, and just enjoying the morning and as I tried to share the joy with them that they so freely give to me. After everyone had been fed, water buckets and troughs were all filled with fresh water, and everyone was noted to be in good shape, I gathered eggs and said my morning goodbyes.

I had just latched the barn gate and turned around to head toward the house when I saw that chicken out of the corner of my eye. Oh, it was still laying there, but this time, our tom turkey was jumping up and down on that chicken like a kid on a trampoline. That poor chicken wasn’t dead. It was just playing possum and pretending to be dead so that the mean old turkey would leave her alone. I quickly scooped her up and carried her to shelter to recover from the damage done by the turkey dance. After she was held in isolation for a while, she quickly recovered.

Turkeys can just be plain mean sometimes. God didn’t bless turkeys with a whole lot of smarts to begin with, and I suppose maybe they feel like they have to act out to try to appear smarter than they are, but they fail so miserably. We have owned several breeds of turkeys through the years, and I must admit that I haven’t found that one species is any smarter or more kind than another.

Turkeys can also be territorial. They will accept you into their flock if you are the hand that feeds them, but that doesn’t mean they have to like you. And just because you feed them, provide safe harbor for them to rest their weary heads, and keep them safe from predators, it doesn’t mean that they owe you or your kin folks any kind of allegiance. We’ve had turkeys that “tolerate” my husband and I but failed to “tolerate” our children. The turkeys would pounce on our sons for no reason at all. They would also jump on our vehicles and scratch them up…again, for no good reason at all. They can just be downright ornery!

Why do they feel the need to act out this way?  Who knows? I’ve tried to have conversations with them, but unlike some of our other pets, I can’t make heads or tails of what they are saying. It seems that they just want to feed, mate, and be left alone. They appear to act out to try to show that they are tougher than they actually are or perhaps they feel threatened and are acting out as a defense mechanism. Maybe they just want to show us who is the boss, but they aren’t smart enough to realized that the farmer is the boss.

How many times do we act like dumb old turkeys? If things aren’t going our way, we get defensive and act out. If someone argues with us and makes us feel inadequate, we get angry and we act out. We take it out on the person closest to us even if that person hasn’t done anything wrong. When we get passed over for a promotion, don’t get a compliment for a job well done, or don’t get something we want, we get our feathers all ruffled up and throw a fit. We don’t like to lose. We don’t like to be wrong. We don’t like to not get our way. We want to be admired. We want to be praised.  We want to be loved. Many times, we feel that we are not getting any of these things or that we are not getting enough of these things, and we start acting like a dumb old turkey. We tend to forget that this is not what life is about. It’s not about us gaining praise, admiration, and always getting our way. Life is about praising God, showing admiration for Him, and recognizing that He loves us and because He loves us, we should show that love to others…all others…even those others that act like turkeys that we don’t want to love. If we could just learn to recognize that the true meaning of the gospel of Jesus Christ is love,  we would all be a whole lot smarter and a lot less turkey like.

Give me a word, Lord: READY FOR A VISIT WITH THE KING

1 Peter 4:7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

2 Peter 3:10-11 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.  Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,

Wow! A crazy chaotic year has ended, and with the New Year, we cling to hope and faith in a Christ filled future. I think I’ve said it more times this past year than any previous year, “I’m ready for Jesus to return!” My question for you today is, “are you ready for a visit with the King?” A few years ago, an elderly patient told me that she was ready for Jesus to come back. She said that she always made sure that her home was clean and tidy because when He returns, she wanted to ask Him to come in and have dinner with her. Can you even imagine it? Can you imagine supping with the King of king, Lord of lords?

Personally, I try to keep a fairly tidy home, but I’ll admit, when company is coming, we do a little more intense cleaning to prepare our home. I want everything to be perfect. I want our guests to know that they are important to me, and I want my home to declare this. If I were to plan a big dinner party, but failed to clean the house first, how would my guests feel? If the dirt of a day’s trudging in and out of the dogs after romping around our eighty acre farm remained on the floor, dirty dishes remained in the sink, or just day to day clutter was lying around, how would my dinner guests feel? They would look around and think that I had not prepared for their arrival. Perhaps they would think that I had busied myself with the meal, but I had not taken the time to prepare the home for their visit. They might think that I had invited them over, but really hadn’t expected them to come. It would appear that I had taken the time to arrange a visit, but I hadn’t taken the time to prepare for the visit.

I think that maybe this is how some of us are walking in our faith walk. Many of us say that we have accepted Christ. We have the “membership card” tucked safely in our wallets. It is like a “get out of hell free card” that we hold on to. But, we aren’t really walking with Christ. We may have said that we invited Him into our hearts, but that was the end of that. Sometimes people make a head decision, but there is no heart decision. You have to have both, y’all! You can’t just make a mental decision to follow Christ without allowing Him in to be the ruler of your heart.

Our hearts have to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but we don’t have to spend years cleaning our hearts and lives up before we invite Christ into our hearts. No! If we wait until we feel we are deserving enough, the time will never come. So how then do we prepare for a visit from the King? Unlike the preparations for a dinner party in our home, Christ is the one that has extended the invitation to us. He has extended an open invitation for salvation and a relationship. We only have to accept that invitation, and allow Him to be the Lord of our hearts. When we accept Christ as our Savior and have made both a head and heart decision to follow Him, He helps us clean up those things that were keeping us from a relationship with Him. Oh yes, my friends, He not only shows us the things that are dirty and that need to be cleansed, He helps us clean those things up! I have a dear old friend that will come over before a party and help me prepare. She helps me get everything tidied up, and she helps me prepare the food and set the table for our guests. Christ is an even better friend! He provides everything we need to have our table set and prepared for His glorious return! He gives us His Spirit to guide us and show us the way. He gives us His Word which helps to lead us and encourage us as we walk daily with Him. He gives us grace, mercy, and oh so much love!

I don’t think I will ever feel that my home is totally prepared for the return of Christ. I fear that I will be like Martha, rushing around to make sure everything is perfect for the arrival of the King, when I know what Christ would rather me do is be like Mary and sit down and soak up the glory of His presence! We do not know when that great day will come, but one thing that I do know without a shadow of a doubt is this. When Christ finally returns, my heart will ready, and until that day, I will continue to strive daily to work on the things that separate me from Him. I am so ready for a visit from the King! Are you?

Give me a word, Lord: LIVING WATER OR PUDDLE OF MUD?

Jeremiah 2:13 “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

John 7:37-39 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

John 4:13-14 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

In Jeremiah chapter 2, the prophet Jeremiah is proclaiming the Lord’s case against His people. His people had strayed away from God. They were doing their own thing and living their own lives without regard to God and His goodness. They had angered God, and He chose the prophet Jeremiah to make His case to the people. In verse 13 of this chapter, Jeremiah shares that the people have done two evil things in the eyes of God. The people abandoned God. They abandoned the fountain of living water. The second thing they did was that they dug for themselves and filled cracked cisterns that could not hold water. We see throughout the Bible scriptures that the living water is a reference to Christ. Just as we require water to live, we require the Living Water for eternal life.

There are multiple references in the Old Testament of thirsting after God. Two thirds of the human body is water. Water is an absolute necessity to live. When we haven’t had enough to drink, our mouths get parched and dry, and we crave water. We need it to survive. The same thing happens in our spiritual life. We need the Living Water to survive. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We need Christ, and when we distance ourselves from the Living Water, we end up with a pot full of mud. We get bogged down in the daily drudgery of life. Rather than filling up with the Living Water, we end up wallowing in a puddle of mud!

God proclaimed in Jeremiah that the people had abandoned the Living Water. They had the opportunity to walk right up to the well and fill their pots with fresh clean water. They had every opportunity to walk with God, quench their spiritual thirst with the Living Water that was so freely flowing. However, they abandoned God. Instead, they dug down below the free flowing well of Living Water and tried to fill their cisterns or clay pots with their own water source, but their pots were cracked…much like their lives, and the water leaked right out of the pots. Their pots were full of mud, but there was no Living Water.

I think that this is what is happening in today’s society. Christ is still offering the Living Water. It is flowing abundantly. It is the “fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Our hearts crave this Living Water. We can’t survive without it, yet we try to do things on our own. We try to dig our own wells in life. We try to find our own sources of joy and happiness, and we try to fill our pots with things we hold dear. BUT…our pots are cracked, and in the end, the pots are just filled with nothing but mud. There is no true joy. There is no true happiness to be found in our pots. No, my friend, we can only find true joy and happiness from the river of Living Water.

Are you feeling thirsty today? Why don’t you go fill up at the spring of Living Water that flows eternally. Fill up with the Spirit. Get up, get dressed, and get to church! Choose the fresh, bubbling spring of Living Water that gives eternal life rather than an old mudhole that leaves you dirty and still thirsty at the end of the day.

Give me word, Lord: WALKING WITH GOD

Deuteronomy 5:33 Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

John 8:12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

With the events of the past year now in our rearview mirror, many of us are not merely walking into the new year. Many of us are running into the new year! Everyone wants to move well past the turmoil of last year and jump right into a new year. A new year is like opening the cover of a brand new book. The book smells new and fresh. The pages are not worn, and they may even stick together at first. But wait, as you open the book, you find that the pages are blank. There is nothing there. The pages of the book for the new year are completely blank. It is a blank slate. Who knows what wonderful adventure lies within the cover of this new exciting book? In this particular book, only God knows. For you see, God is outside of time. He already knows what will happen in the coming year, and He knows exactly how to prepare you and help you make it through.

Our cousin, Carl Strosnider, shared this statement on his daily devotional site this morning, “Walk with God, and you will never step into anything He can’t bring you out of.” As I read those words, my mind said, “Whoa! That is deep, and deeply true!” It touched me, and really made me think about how I want to walk into the new year. How can we walk with God in the coming year? We only need to follow Christ with every part of our being. If we are following Christ in all of our actions, thoughts, and ways, we can’t help but stay on the right path. And we must ask Christ to walk before us and with us through each and every day of life. As you make your new year’s resolution this year, are you resolving to walk with God?

I can’t help but think of the men walking to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Christ. “He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.” (Luke 24:17-21) Do you remember the story? Two friends were walking along and sadly discussing the events. They must have been so distressed. They thought that Jesus was the Messiah. They thought that He had come to rescue them, but He was crucified. They thought that this was the end of the story. They thought that their Savior was gone. They had no idea that they were walking side by side with the Messiah.

Jesus spoke with them and took them through the scriptures explaining things concerning himself, but they could not see that it was Jesus himself walking with them. Finally, as they arrived home, it was getting late and they invited Jesus to have dinner with them. He then revealed Himself to the men. “As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!  They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them,  who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” (Luke 24:30-34)

The men had absolutely no idea that they were walking right along side of Christ the King! As we enter this new year, we remember the chaos of the past year. We recall the tragedies. We think about the heartaches. We remember the struggles. We talk about these things until we are blue in the face. We share our grief, anguish, and unrest with those around us. We try to handle everything on our own. We may even want to wallow in our own little pity party for a while. We may feel alone, isolated. Yes, this past year has been difficult, but there is great news! We do not have to walk into the unknown of the coming year alone! Christ cares about our troubles. He cares about our lives even down to the most minute detail. He wants to walk with you as you begin writing the pages of the book of the coming year. Just as He chose to walk with the two men on their way to Emmaus, Jesus chooses to walk with us too! And just as they asked Him to stay a little longer, we can ask too!

Yes, we have started a new year, a new book. We have no idea what will happen this year, but Jesus already does! He knows exactly how to prepare us for the things to come. He goes before you, and He walks with you! Let’s commit to walk with Christ this year!