This I Know


I want to encourage some hearts today! Here is a simple truth for you to consider. It is okay if you don’t understand it all, have all the answers or have it all figured out. 

I reminded myself this very morning of this same simple truth. I have been known to over-think matters. What about you? Not only that, I often grow frustrated with others who appear to be thinking too little. 

This morning I read in John chapter nine of a young man who had an encounter with Jesus. As is always the case after such an encounter the result was drastic change, miraculous even. People noticed. 

They did not instantly rejoice with him. Instead the people around him were suspicious, questioning, doubtful. They wanted answers, demanded answers. The young man did not know. He did not understand it all. He could not explain exactly what had happened, at least not to their satisfaction. 

Finally, he declared that he did not know the answers that they demanded but, he DID know one thing. I want to encourage you this morning to stop fretting over what you do not understand and rejoice in what you do know! What you do know is enough to celebrate, to embrace and to find hope in. 

What that young man said was “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!””

John 9:25 NLT



So, this morning I have a few things to declare myself and would invite you to do the same! 

I don’t know it ALL but this I know…

I was blind but now I can see! 

I was lost but now I am found!

I was empty but now I am filled!

I was hesitant but now I am sure!

I was without hope and now I hope again!

I was weak but now I’m strong!

I was without music in my soul and now it is filled with song!

I was hurt and unable to forgive but now I can walk in grace!

I was weary but now I am strengthened for this race!

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The Measure of a Miracle

Almost a week ago my girls brought me a little chick that hadn’t hatched properly and even though the situation looked quite hopeless, we tried against all odds to save this one little chick. I was quite frankly amazed that it survived through the night. When it began chirping I was astounded. When it began trying to stand and then walk, we cheered it on. When it began to drink a little water I knew there was a real chance. We were witnessing a miracle one little chirp and step at a time.

Yesterday, I saw a change and even the kids noticed. I realized that after all our effort, the chick would likely not make it. This morning I discovered I was right. I had to tell my children who were disappointed as we had all hoped for the best. What unsettled me the most was the nagging thought, “So, it wasn’t a miracle after all.” That lead me to wonder what the measure of a miracle is.

I will have a devotion time with my children this morning about the matter. I want to impress upon them several truths. I’d like to share those with you.

First, it is okay to care about one little chick that didn’t seem to have much of a chance. That may seem an odd thing to say, that it is okay to care. But, in this day and time I think it is something we need reminding of. I think that far too many people are comfortable with not giving a care about situations that seem hopeless or too risky. Too many times folks avoid getting involved.

Second, it is okay to try when there are no guarantees. The effort, the compassion, the investment of time and energy is still worth it even when the results aren’t what we hope for. When we pour ourselves into another life (even the life of a little chick) we don’t get to control the response or the end result.

Third, it is okay when our hopes are disappointed. Disappointment is a part of life. If you are going to care and if you are going to try, you can be sure you are going to have times of disappointment. What we do with that disappointment is a matter of choices. There will be those who recoil from the chance of more disappointment and withdraw from the race. There will others who take a deep breath and willingly take the deep plunge into caring again, trying again.

Which person are you? Have you determined to play it safe, wade in the shallows, stay close to the shore? Are you willing to take a chance and care when there isn’t much of a chance, try when there are no guarantees and hope again instead of past disappointments.

The measure of a miracle is not necessarily how we might determine it. The measure of a miracle is a little chirp than was never expected. The measure of a miracle is in the difference it made in the lives it touched.

“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin ? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”
Matthew 10:29 NLT

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Someone’s at the Door

About that time…

Have you been there before? Are you there now? When about that time, things start changing suddenly and you react rather than act? Who I really want to tell you about is Rhoda. She is found later in this same passage. But, before you can fully appreciate what she did and why she did it, I think we should be more familiar with what was happening all around her. Here are the first five verses of Acts 12.

“About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration. ) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.” Acts 12:1-5

Murderous treachery! Misuse of political power! Injustice! Persecution! Terror!

This evil ruler has just had the apostle James killed with a sword and that has been met with so much ‘approval’ he decides to give them an encore performance. Let me just point out this good example here that popular public opinion does not necessarily mean something is good or right or just. As is often the case when we face hard times and terrible crisis’, they began to pray. They prayed earnestly. They prayed without ceasing. They weren’t just going though the motions. They needed a miracle, a divine intervention and they were asking for it.

The next verses that follow are an amazing account of how Peter is released from prison. It was so amazing that it says in verse 9 that Peter himself didn’t realize it was really happening and it was happening to him! By verse 11 he had come to his senses and headed for a safe place, to the very place where faithful friends had been praying and praying earnestly well into the night.

“When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.” Acts 12:12

It is in verse 13 that we meet Rhoda, a servant girl or as some translations say, a damsel.

“He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. ” Acts 12:13

How she reacted is what I really want to focus on.

“When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” Acts 12:14

She was apparently familiar with Peter, familiar enough that she recognized his voice. Had she sat under his teaching or stood nearby while he spoke to the Church? Surely she knew what was being prayed about there in that very house even now, during the dark of night. Perhaps she too had added her prayers. I think we can safely assume she was keenly aware of the present danger that believers were facing, especially the Christian leaders.

So, what does she do when she realizes the answer to the earnestly prayed prayers was standing on the other side of the gate door? Well, she gets excited! She was overjoyed! And then, she left him standing there, in the dark, outside the door of the safe place he was seeking refuge in.

Oh, sure, we can easily chide Rhoda! Silly girl, we might say, what are you doing running off and leaving the answered prayer knocking at your door. But, most of us will be cautious to criticize because many of us have been just as curious in our reaction to answered prayer. Some of us have been down right suspicious. Could this really be? Even though we have prayed earnestly, even though the answer is knocking at our door, we hesitate or stop to evaluate or rush to share the good news without doing the obvious, answering the call, opening the door to what God is doing.

Poor Rhoda! I’m telling you, I can relate. If you know me at all you know, that I can get excited! I’ve been known to get the cart before the horses and in the moment of exuberance forget a few important details. This is why Siri is my BFF. There are many moments that I will ‘come to myself’ like Peter and realize I need some direction! When she gets to the group who is praying earnestly, to share the good news, they think she has lost her mind. There may have been a few that felt that way about me at times as well. I can remember when we announced that we had heard the voice calling out our heart’s door and were adopting a sibling group of three when we had already adopted four, a few of those…”Have you lost your mind?” comments. But, I knew what I heard.

“You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” Acts 12:15

They all begin to discuss how Rhoda has come to this wrong conclusion and how they know it can’t be Peter! After all, Peter is in prison and that’s the very reason for this all night prayer vigil. Let’s go ahead and resist the temptation to criticize them and call them something like, “Dimwits!”. After all, haven’t we been in just a place? A place where what we have asked God for is staring us in the face and we just can’t accept it. Lord knows I have. And let’s give Rhoda some credit here. She insisted. She persisted. Go Rhoda Go!

I’m sure they felt like this was an unnecessary interruption. Some of the most astounding interruptions in my life have led me to the EXACT place I needed to be. Here’s a prime example. About 13 years ago, Henry and I found ourselves in a big mess. Oh, what a mess it was. As a result of this terrible mess, we moved to Alexander City. I remember at one point thinking, we would never recover from what appeared to be one disastrous decision after another. I was so angry at myself. I felt responsible. I felt I should have known better. There we were, away from any family, Henry commuting well over an hour each way, every day. Frankly, I saw no sense in it at the time.

But, here’s the thing, not only did we make life long friends there during our five years of what seemed like the dark of the night, we adopted our four youngest children from that county. A county where we had never lived before nor ever intended to live at all. I know now, that what looked like an interruption, not at all the place we wanted to be, was an intentional push in the right direction towards completing our family.

Now, let’s not forget Peter. He’s been imprisoned unfairly, released miraculously and now can’t get in the door. What does he do? He keeps on knocking of course and so must we!

“Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. ” Acts 12:16

I’m not sure which part of our story squeezed your heart. Was it the fear of betrayal? Or are you at the earnestly praying place? Has your miracle come knocking? Are you excited? Hesitant? Trying to make sense of it all? Just coming to yourself?

Wherever you find yourself at this moment, don’t leave that door unopened when you recognize the voice you know you can trust. Fling that gate wide and let in what you’ve been waiting for and be amazed!

UNDER SIEGE

If you watch any movies involving epic battles and especially if there is a stronghold or a castle involved, you have likely seen what a siege looks like. The word siege originates from the Latin and means simply ‘to sit’. There are a number of recorded Biblical Battles that involve a city under siege. One of those is found in 2Kings 6:24- 7:20. Samaria is under siege and the results are gruesome and horrifying.

So, exactly what is a siege? Well, a siege is a basic military strategy that goes something like this. When a land was being invaded, you couldn’t occupy every square inch so you went after the key cities, the fortified cities, the strongholds, the cities with walls. A walled city meant safety from enemies. It represented strength, protection and power. If the invading enemy could take a walled city, this meant a change of rule and authority and possession of the surrounding lands. At its most basic form the enemy army would simply set up camp and prevent any coming or going from the city. They could also include catapults, battering rams or perhaps even march around the walls and blow shofars (think Jericho).

So, what is the purpose of a siege? Bottom line, the purpose was to alienate and cut off the people within from resources they needed to survive, as in food and water. They also wanted to prevent them from contacting other people who might be able to send aid. What was meant to protect would become a prison. An entire city of people trapped and taking terrible measures to survive.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been busy about life when the very walls you have labored to build, with the intention to keep you safe have imprisoned you. You are trapped. You are under siege. Perhaps you are under physical siege with health issues, pain or a devastating disease like cancer. Perhaps you are under emotional siege with grief, infertility or a relationship devastated by divorce. Perhaps you are under the most terrifying siege of all, spiritual siege.

What are the signs of a spiritual siege?
Value system warped/priorities out of order
Broken thinking/unreasonable behavior
Blame game/targeting spiritual authority

We see these clearly in the Scripture passage mentioned above.

Dove dung being sold and considered valuable. Say what? Yep, they were starving and they were willing to eat anything to survive. As a matter of fact it gets far worse when a woman comes to complain to the king about another woman who has broken their agreement involving cannibalism. How could someone resort to such measures? Their value system is warped! What should be sacred and precious and defended is instead sacrificed and then justified as necessary to survive. Don’t be too startled, it happens regularly in our modern civilized world. Just let a life, an innocent child, a wife or a husband get in the way of what someone has decided they want or need and you will see how quickly the decision to self-preserve is. How could anyone think this is okay? This is a result of broken thinking.

What then immediately happens when we are faced with such atrocities? Well, you’d think there would be repentance and sincere changes of lifestyle and behavior. But, not when there is a spiritual siege involved. Instead, the next step during a spiritual siege is the blame game. It has to be someone’s fault. A refusal to be held accountable for the consequences of sin requires that someone else be blamed. More than likely it will be a spiritual authority that is blamed during a spiritual siege. We see this when the king decides to behead Elisha! Say what? Yep, the anger that should have been directed toward the enemy is retargeted towards the prophet.

So, what could delay our deliverance?

Refusal to believe, trust the Word of God.
(angry, bitter, blind, easily offended).

Refusal to get up and move.
(Siege=sit here and die, resisting change, embracing the past).

Refusal to share the good news.
(Self-serving, Self-centered, Self-focused, Self-preserving, Self-absorbed).

Elisha, even after being threatened with being beheaded (the Lord thwarted that plan) offered hope and a Word from the Lord. Tomorrow, he said, everything would be set right. They refused to believe. Okay, I hear you, I know after facing such a terrible life altering siege, it is hard just to take someone’s word, even God’s Word. God understands that too. And when we need something more to help us believe, He will provide it.

There were these four lepers sitting, like everyone else, expecting the worse, anticipating death and destruction. But, they decided to GET UP AND DO SOMETHING. (Remember, siege means to sit). It’s a great story and you should read it. They decide they can’t get what they need ‘back’ in the city and they can’t get what they need by staying where they are so they will take their chances by moving ahead. I believe that there are many of you who just read those words and as you did, something stirred within your heart and spirit. You’ve been longing for what used to be, but yesterday can’t provide for you anymore. What was enough is no longer enough. You’ve been in a state of siege, stuck, trapped, imprisoned in this situation that surrounds you and yet you continue to sit there. Today is the day that you can take the first step towards deliverance from the personal siege. You see, what began as an enemy siege has developed into a personal siege. You’ve become your own worst enemy.

When the lepers arrive at the enemy camp they are astounded. God has cleared out the enemy and provided a bounty of provisions. At first the lepers begin to collect and hide what they’ve found and then, they are convicted and decide to go share the good news. The siege is broken. The enemy is gone. The miracle everyone has hoped and prayed for has arrived. Just like God said, everything has been made right.

The king is suspicious, his doubting officer continues to doubt, but someone suggest at least checking out the unbelievable report that the lepers have given. They didn’t have much faith, but, they acted on what faith they had. They were delivered from the siege! Those who refused to believe died in their unbelief (see the end of the king’s official).

No matter what kind of siege you may be facing today, whatever you do, don’t just sit there. Let go of the past and take advantage of today to change your tomorrow. Don’t allow the enemy to cut you off from your most valuable resources of the Word of God, Living Water and Loving Relationships. That is his strategy, but, you don’t have to sit down and take it.

Pack your bags and prepare to leave; the siege is about to begin. (Jeremiah 10:17 NLT)