Thursday, March 16, 2017
Rhoda, conclusion (almost)
What a whirlwind of a story this week! We've peeked into a jail, and seen Peter, unconcerned since he knew Who was in control; we've seen an earnest prayer-meeting focused on his release; and we've seen a slave girl who may have lost her head in her excitement, but stood up to those who said "you're crazy -- it can't be Peter!"
Let's get back to our passage . . .
Here is Peter, knocking at the door of Mary's home, where the believers are praying. Rhoda has recognized his voice, and turned away from the door to run joyfully to tell the others!
What irony! The answer to their prayers was standing at the door! But they feel they are just too busy to realize that they have their answer.
Or . . .
Is it that they didn't truly believe that their prayers would be answered?
Were they going through the motions?
Peter kept on knocking. I would imagine he knocked faster and louder -- he just knew that the soldiers would turn up this street and find him.
So they opened the door AND WERE ASTONISHED. Their doubts were replaced by belief. Their fear was replaced by excitement and joy, for God does answer our prayers in His own time and in His own way.
Do we do this?
Do we pray so hard about something that we miss the answer? Do we get so wrapped up in the process that when God presents His answer, we respond with, "Not right now, Lord, I'm praying." We are so focused on saying the right things and making sure that He hears us, that we are not. Really. Listening. To. Him.
Oh, we are really great at praying. We talk and talk and tell God all about what is going on and why we are concerned. . . as if He didn't already know. (Grin)
But are we alert for His answers?
Do we truly expect Him to answer?
Are we perhaps so accustomed to not having our prayers answered immediately, or in the way we'd hoped they would be answered, that we are praying just because we know we should? Do we only have a faint hope that He will act on our behalf?
By the way, who has that box of band-aids? My toes are hurting.
This is a problem.
It's called doubt. When we go through the motions of prayer, without really knowing (and I mean KNOWING) in our hearts that we will receive an answer, then we are doubting one of two things: we are doubting either that God can, or that God cares. Yep. Not easy to swallow, is it?
But it's true.
The root of the matter is that we are in the same boat with the man who said to Jesus, "I believe.... help me with my unbelief!" Our faith is just not quite where it should be.
Here's the Cliff notes version of what we are learning here: if we are in this situation, we have an issue with trusting God.
Wow, it really should be the other way around, shouldn't it? I don't know about you, but if God is going to trust me to keep my word, to turn away from that hasty sin, to always say (and do) right, and for the right reasons? He is going to be disappointed, because it just won't happen all the time. Sure, the Spirit is going to be with me and try to keep me straight, but my human side sometimes pushes the Spirit aside and announces, "I know better" even when that's wrong. (Grin)
But here is the difference -- God remains merciful, and trustworthy, and faithful.
Is God able to answer?
Look at the cross. Look at the empty tomb. Look at our lives, transformed by His grace.
Does He care? Look again at the cross and at the risen Christ. Look again at our lives, and the many times He has proven His love for us. Look at the promises in His word.
We CAN trust Him! God does hear and answer. His answers are not just what is best for us, but also what is right for us.
We'll have a few closing thoughts tomorrow.....hope you will join us!