Do You Measure Up?

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For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Chris Galatians 1:10

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men Colossians 3:23

Paul wrote these words, and other similar verses below, to the early church in an effort to point out the difference between the old way of Jewish law, and the new measure of faith which is believing in Jesus Christ. He wanted new believers to understand that the judgement of mankind by human standards was not what Jesus taught. He wanted new believers to know that living a Christ like life was more important that what any other human thinks of us.

In our everyday lives, we worry too much about what others think. I am as guilty as anyone. Today, we have all sorts of measures with which we can compare ourselves. We watch TV and find out we can use any number of products to look thinner, younger, or wealthier. We can cook better, have more fun, have more friends. We can drive a faster or fancier car or have a better house. In viewing these images, we value ourselves as less. We are not enough.

Viewing social media allows us to see the lives of our friends and contacts. While the intent is for all of us to be happy for the achievements of others, some may look as these images of people posting their vacations, new homes, new cars, even new babies, with envy and sadness because they do not feel they measure up.

In the end, it is not the measurements created by mankind, or that we create for ourselves, that are important. It is that we know our works serve our Father in heaven; when we believe we are doing the right thing and serving His purpose.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect Romans 12:2

And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord Ephesians 5:10

When things are not going well we may find it difficult to maintain the standard that we have set for ourselves, or to reach a goal we have determined we should reach, in order to measure up. If we continue to encounter obstacles and tests, we might want to examine the goals we are trying to reach. Are these goals or measures the ones that God would have us complete? Are these measures or standards good in the eyes of God? Paul reminds us that God may use circumstances to test our understanding of what is good in the eyes of God. When we find ourselves questioning which path to take, how to make a choice between options, we should ask the question, “Am I using an earthly yardstick for this decision or is this in service of God?”

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DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS
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Times of Our Lives

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To him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures foreverPsalm 136:7-9

Stepping outside my front door early this morning I noticed the sun was rising behind me and, ahead of me, the moon hanging brightly in the sky. Seeing the sun and the moon simultaneously at sunrise reminds me of how God marks the days and seasons for us. God gave us the sun to start the day and the moon to note the evening.  We are blessed to know we have a measure of time each day. These markers of time can prompt us to carefully determine how we use each day.

You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter Psalm 74:17

Seasons can be applied to our life spans: spring for youth, summer for the prime of life, autumn for seniors, and winter for elderly. All of God’s clocks are spinning in my thoughts as I watch my grandchildren pass through stages and grow up too quickly. Times of life brings joy with our family and friends and a measure of sadness as loved ones begin new lives in Heaven and we miss them in our own lives. When we reflect on our lives, we think about the time we spend with family and friends, time on vacation, time in worship, and time spent daily in work and relaxation activities.

Special times of our lives are things we celebrate. Babies are born and grow into toddlers, children go to school, teenagers become independent, adults marry, and the cycle begins again. The seasons pass in a rhythm determined by God.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes James 4:14

In the verses from James above and Psalm below, we are reminded that we do not know the number of our days but we must think about our life span so that we use our days wisely. Spending time with loved ones, living productive lives to serve God and others, and, appreciating each precious moment, are wise ways to spend time.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom Psalm 90:12

When King Solomon could have asked God for anything in the world, he did not ask for fame, fortune, or to win battles. Instead, he asked to have a heart of wisdom. Because he asked for wisdom over all else, God granted King Solomon much more in his life than he would have imagined. Solomon is still known for his wise judgements and governance of his kingdom. Today, wisdom tells us our days and times with others are numbered. We can use this time to love our God and others we are blessed to have in our lives. Wisdom tells us the sun, moon, seasons, and life celebrations are reminders that earth, and this life we are living, are not our final destination. Wisdom will guide us to live our lives in meaningful ways for the number of our days.

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DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS
https://www.amazon.com/DEVOTIONAL-CAREGIVERS-Finding-Strength-Through/dp/1945757930/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Terry+overton&qid=1562865063&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Feeling “Wilty”

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The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him Exodus 15:2

No, “wilty” is not a real word. But I am going to use it anyway.

Peeking through my blinds I noticed that my pink impatiens that had been “wilty” a short time ago were now standing up with happy flowers. Why? It is simple. The flowers had several days of too much rain followed by several days of too much heat. Those poor little flowers had been through too many ups and downs. But once those roller coaster weather days tapered off, just the right amount of water brought out the joyful colorful flowers.

Our faith and our own happiness can be like the impatiens in my backyard. We experience too many days of tests, trials, and stress. Our stamina and our faith weaken. We are torn. We may become impatient in our faith, like the flowers, needing immediate care. On these days, I know all I need to do is have some quiet time with God. I need exactly the right amount of water.

“WILTY” in today’s texting language stands for “Would I lie to you?” and, in this blog post, I am telling you the truth. I would not lie to you. A few moments of time alone with God, a passage or two from the Bible, a quiet prayer, and you can be on your way with renewed strength. You feel recharged and energized.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand Isaiah 41:10

“But wait!” You may protest, “I need more than that. I am too overwhelmed and drained. I need more than a few moments to refresh my spirit and my energy.” And after many days of stress, this is true. Being a caretaker for a loved one or raising young children are examples. These prolonged periods of high stress call for more than a few moments. These high stress times mean you may need to reach out to others.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocableRomans 11:29

Call on others around you. Other family members, neighbors, friends from church, can provide respite and rest when needed. A brief time spent in fellowship with others can provide remarkable energy. Remember, for the people giving support to you, helping you is their gift to you, their service to God. Do not refuse these opportunities when people offer assistance. Christians live by the example set for us by Jesus, to serve others. Thoughtful concerned others want to help you when you are in need. And, do not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. When you become “wilty”, regaining your strength can make you a better caretaker. Spiritual rejuvenation is valuable. Your loved ones, and you, will benefit.

All books available on Amazon.

DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS
https://www.amazon.com/DEVOTIONAL-CAREGIVERS-Finding-Strength-Through/dp/1945757930/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Terry+overton&qid=1562865063&s=gateway&sr=8-2
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Handling the Storm

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And as they sailed, he fell asleep. And a squall came down on the lake, and the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him saying, “Master, Master, we are going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and the storm subsided and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples Luke 8:23-25

In our lives, there will be storms. The storms can happen at work, at home, with friends or family. Storms can be painful and frightening. People may break our hearts, jobs can disappoint us, and life can take an unexpected turn. At times, we may feel helpless and not know what to do or where to turn. We may mull over the right words for hours to figure out what to say in a particular situation. We may second guess our actions wondering if acting on our feelings will make a situation worse. In all of this turmoil, we may panic or react too quickly and later regret our actions or words.

When the disciples experienced a dangerous storm while they were out on the water, they panicked. They did not know what to do. In their panic, they awakened Jesus who quickly put the winds and waves to rest. He knew all the disciples needed to do was ask Him for help.

As we read this story, it sounds as if Jesus questioned the disciples’ behavior. Was he upset that they had awakened him? Or was He upset because they panicked? The disciples were afraid and did not trust that He could easily deal with whatever storm came along and put it to rest.

For us, the message of these passages instructs us to go to God first. When things are not going well, no matter what the circumstance, read the Scripture and have conversations with God. Praying and turning to God’s word can provide us with the guidance for actions and help to calm the storm. By trusting in God, the storm will end and leave peacefulness in the place of the winds and the waves.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path Psalm 119:105

The verse above lets us know that the most important guidance we can find is in the Word of God. The Scripture is our GPS. It can point the way when we are faced with the storms of life. And once we are through the storm, we can appreciate the calm and thank God for His guidance along the way.  Then, we can celebrate the calm waters.

All books available on Amazon.

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DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS
https://www.amazon.com/DEVOTIONAL-CAREGIVERS-Finding-Strength-Through/dp/1945757930/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Terry+overton&qid=1562865063&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Moving Forward

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Sometimes people don’t realize when God speaks. We may think our lives are falling into place because of coincidences. We just happen to be in the right place at the right time. We are “lucky.” Good things just happen to us by accident.

For people of faith, it is different. Sometimes we beg for direction or a “sign” that we are on the right path. Are we taking the right road? We just want to know. If only we would be given a sign.

We grow impatient in the waiting, not understanding that the waiting is required. During the waiting, we may be tested. We can drop lower and lower in despair, thinking our time will never arrive. I know. I have been there, too.

 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him Lamentations 3:25

The verse above was written by Jerimiah as he cried for the fallen city of Jerusalem. His sorrow was real. He knew the people had fallen away from God and that Jerusalem had suffered because of it. He knew that he would wait for direction from God. He would listen. He would watch for God to show him the way.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay Habakkuk 2:3.

In this prophetic verse written by Habakkuk, he writes that he knows he will be given a sign. He knew things would change according to God’s timing. This is the key for our impatience, too. When we are waiting, to know that our time will come is a measure of our faith.

My signs come in everyday experiences. Had I not been aware, I might have missed them. But I believed the time would come, when God was ready. When He was ready, I received a note from a friend that I would hear some amazing news and would move forward with my work. That very day, in the very next email I opened, I received a contract offer for my most recent book.

When I moved to a new town, I received a sign that new friends in Christ would become a part of our lives when a couple enthusiastically walked into a book signing and introduced themselves. They said they felt called to come and meet us when they read the notice in the local paper. We have been close friends since that day.

Several days ago, I wrote a list of upcoming blog topics. The topic of this very blog, written days ago, was the title of my pastor’s service today. Are these coincidences? Or are they messages from God to me that I am to keep working for His church? The answer depends on your faith.

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