By Janet Morris Grimes –
Portion. I tend to think of it an individual serving. An allotment. The perfect amount. No more or no less than what I need.
Where food is concerned, especially during the holidays, my portions increase in size; not because I need them, but rather, because the opportunity is there. There is much more to choose from, enticing trays of my favorites, beckoning me to pack on a few holiday pounds.
Clearly, it is in the best interest of my thighs to keep my food portions under control.
In the dictionary, ‘portion’ is defined in many different ways:
Portion – a part of a whole. A share.
Portion – an inheritance. The part of an estate that goes to the next of kin.
Portion – (as a verb) to divide out. This term is used often in worship songs and throughout the Bible. Each time, it takes on a different meaning.
Inheritance – “To you, I give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit” (Psalm 105:11 NIV)
Divide out – “She gets up while it is still night, and provides portions for her family” (Proverbs 31:15 NIV)
A piece – “This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you…” (Jeremiah 13:25 NIV)
But it was in the oft overlooked book of Lamentations that I found my favorite use of this word.
“I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I shall wait for him” (Lamentations 3:24).
Whatever I need on this day, God offers the perfect amount of it. He brings no more or no less than what I crave. He divides out my piece of Him in daily doses. He alone is my inheritance, and that is more than enough for me.
And in return, I am also His portion. A small piece of His whole, for I am nothing on my own. He tells me that I am more than enough for Him, and I find that quite comforting.
This much I know for sure, as I still sometimes struggle with portion control in everything from the size of my home to the amount of money in our account. He has gone to prepare a place for me. And it will be perfect in size, I am sure.
PRAYER: Dear God, Forgive me for the times that I yearn for more than what I need. Help me to rest in You. Your love and provision are more than enough for me and my family. I trust You and Your timing, for You have more than proven Your faithfulness to me. Therefore, I will wait for You.
By Rhonda Rhea –
I said I’d never do it. But I did it. And actually, I’ve been somewhere near the worst of them all. I said I’d never be one of those moms who went through the whole list of her kids’ names before hitting on the right one. But at least once a week the entire time my kids have been growing up I would want to say something to one of them, and it was suddenly a roll call. I’d hit every name on my five-kid list and sometimes even throw in a couple of my own siblings and a stray cousin or two
To add still more offense, I would often manage to get a couple of the pets’ names mixed in there, too. You can imagine how the kids loved that. At least I would fight the urge at that point to say, “Sit. Stay. Good teenager.” Well, most of the time. But it got downright embarrassing. I thought about adding a “Banana” and a “Fanna-fo” hoping they might be fooled into thinking it was some kind of name game.
I would’ve just given up and numbered my kids, but I had no doubt I would’ve called them the wrong number. By the time you call your kids the wrong number once or twice, they’re likely to be insulted enough to completely tune you out anyway. “You have reached a kid who has been disconnected or is no longer listening…
I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day. I can’t even remember why now, but somewhere in the conversation she said something surprising and I said, “Surely you’re kidding.” She said, “I’m totally not kidding. And don’t call me Susan.” Then there was a long pause. I think we were both processing. After the processing came a couple of snickers and she said, “Oh wait. It’s ‘Shirley,’ isn’t it.” Then we both laughed uproariously for a good ten minutes.
Sometimes there’s just no substituting the right name. In Acts 4, Peter and John were standing before the rulers trying to explain whose name they were using to do all the preaching and healing they had been doing—the preaching and healing they had just spent the night in jail for, by the way. But Peter didn’t need a roll call. He told them flat out, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).
No substitute. No other name. Not Susan. Not any name on any list I might rattle off. The name is ever and always Jesus. He is the one who has all power to do all saving. And He makes salvation available to every person of every name.
How glorious that our Heavenly Father has given Jesus the greatest name, the greatest, most honored and holy place. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV).
Surely that’s reason to celebrate! Though let me make it clear, I’m not calling you “Shirley.” And please don’t call me Susan.
By Jarrod Spencer –
“In this world you will have trouble.” “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
These Bible texts are not likely what people would put into an evangelism book. John 16:33, Acts 14:22, and II Timothy 3:12 are the verses above, and they paint the Christian life in a way that may not be appealing. Usually we emphasize a life that is attractive to people by talking about grace, forgiveness, and the new life that will follow one’s conversion.
Those topics are important for people to hear and there is nothing wrong with these supporting texts. However, the Christian life is filled with lots of adventure – some peaks, some valleys.
In a new television series titled Pan Am the pilot episode ends by one experienced stewardess telling a rookie stewardess as they are getting ready for takeoff to “Buckle up! Adventure calls.”
As I heard that line I thought of the life of a Christian. Some Christians may have rarely experienced such adventure. I would challenge those to look over their life and consider that they may be “pew warmers.” They come to the church building, take part in the activities, and go about their life. They experience nothing deeper in their Christian life. It is superficial Christianity.
Why is it superficial? Partly because they do not take risks. Risks in putting their faith in an invisible God. Risks in showing their faith. Risks in getting out of their comfort zones. They do what is safe.
About a year ago, someone contacted me to ask if I could help them with their marriage. This kind of help does not mean putting a band-aid on the bleeding wound and sending them out to play. It requires an investment of time, and I had a schedule that was full. Buckle up – adventure calls.
“I need to talk; I think I may be going to jail.” I was met head-on with a statement like this once, immediately after coming home from the office. I was ready to be home for the evening, but I left to invest time in that person, and did not make it home until eleven o’clock that evening. Buckle up – adventure calls.
I never know what is in store for the day. As I “take off” each day I need these words – buckle up, adventure calls!
PRAYER: Thank You Father for letting me team up with You and see the adventures that have come my way as a result of making faith more tangible. I love teaming up with You to see what we’ll join together on throughout the day.
BIBLE VERSE; “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17b-18 NIV).
By Carin LeRoy –
Recently I went through a drive-thru and ordered lunch. When the clerk handed my food to me, I said, “You returned too much change.” Then I handed him the extra money. Surprised he said, “Wow, Ma’am, thank you very much.” Only after I called it to his attention did he realize his mistake. It would have been easy to drive away with the extra money. Certainly, over the years, I have been shortchanged on poorly prepared or missing food. No one would have known, and I would have $5.00 more in my pocket.
But God would have known. Doesn’t that matter?
Do our lives display integrity? The world has influenced God’s people in many ways: Are we diligent at work, or are we a slacker? We inform the clerk if we’ve
been short-changed, but do we return it when given too much? Do office
supplies end up at home and we fail to return them? Have we called in sick when we really plan a day off? Do we borrow a book or item from a friend and never return it? Do we make a habit at work to check Facebook throughout the day or text family and friends?
In a culture that chooses to think nothing of these indiscretions, have we, as believers, lost our sense of integrity that the little things do count? In the Old Testament, we see a description of Job as “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil,” (Job 1: 1 NIV). It wasn’t that Job was without sin, but his life was marked by honor and truth. He lived his life by God’s standards, not man’s. People in the community couldn’t fault how he lived his life. He was loved and respected. His fear of God kept him reaching for the highest standard.
A person of true character is the person who chooses to do right, even when no one is looking. It is a life is ruled by integrity and fear of God. His standards are high – even if it goes against cultural norms. Let’s be people of integrity as we live our lives, not only because others are watching but because we have a God that desires us to be blameless and upright people.
PRAYER: Lord, make me a person of integrity. Let my life be marked by character even in the small things I encounter each day. Keep me mindful that I don’t live by cultural norms but by the standards You have set forth in Your Word.
BIBLE VERSE: “My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23: 11,12 NIV).
By Jane Thornton –
Noise swirls around me. Paper rips. My niece shrieks in triumph. She got the present she knew she’d get; the slight doubt my brother managed to plant has been slain. A crack of laughter erupts from my son at the antics of his cousin. My other brother heaves an exaggerated sigh of contentment as he swallows his first morning taste of Mexican Cheese Fudge. My daughter gurgles over the baby. Muted carols fill any chance moment of silence.
In the midst of the chaos, I sit in an oasis of stillness.
The whole scene is off-kilter. Tears brim, threatening to expose me. My breath claws at my chest. I stare at the ceiling light, forcing the tears back where they belong. Daddy is not here, but that’s not the main issue. We’ve managed three holidays without him.
My mother slants me a sweet smile of understanding, but her paper-crumpling speeds and takes on a slightly frantic jerkiness. Guilt swamps me. I know she can’t stand having her grown baby unhappy—and she’ll take on her own guilt over my feelings.
Our first Christmas as a blended family. Some traditions discarded, new traditions started. I know resenting any of it reeks of pettiness. I know my step-siblings are going through the same struggle in reverse. I can rest in the deep security of my mother’s love that overrides any jealousy. I know we celebrate Jesus’ birth—which broke all kinds of traditions.
But it still hurts. Unreasonably. Full of shallowness. Drenched in selfishness. My heart aches.
Seven years after this scene, the differentness has become easier. I love Johnny, my stepfather. He treasures my mother. He’s funny; he’s wise; he’s generous. I knew all that then, and I know it more thoroughly now.
Still, we all wrestle with accepting the ways of our new families. Somehow I have to learn that my way is not the only way. I have to believe that my way may not be the best way for everyone else. (I’m not convinced of this at all, so it’s scary to think what God may have to do to persuade me!)
Not to be sacrilegious, but . . . Sometimes I think the way God lets the world run has gone off-kilter, too.
Actually, I rationalize secular problems with the presence of evil and sin and people who don’t know better. But what about the church? If we all know and love Jesus, and we are all trying to please Him, why does it so often seem out of whack?
I know part of the answer is our humanity. But so many scriptures promise His ability to move us beyond the capacity of our flesh. So, my answer is mostly, “I don’t know.” I do know “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. . . But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:25, 27 NIV).
Recently, a friend shared her struggles with Christians acting un-Christlike. After years of ministry, disillusionment with the church is driving her to withdraw. I have been pondering what gives me assurance. I cling to the deep faith that I see that is making a difference and pray to understand the rest. And I sing the hymn that echoes Paul’s words to Timothy: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12b KJV).
Comment Prompt: How do you reconcile the way things ought to be with the way things are?