Monday, March 13, 2017

Rhoda - "We're busy!" (The power of prayer)

Rhoda's story is a great one -- we'll meet people who are earnest about their prayer life, a man who is released from prison, people who just can't get their heads around the power and might of our God, and a young slave girl who is right in the middle of things!

The story is rather lengthy for our study post, but I just think it's amazing, and put the whole thing here for you:
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. (Acts 12:1-17)

Let's dive right in!
We see that Peter is in prison . . . he has about as much chance of being set free as the proverbial snowball's chance of staying icy in Satan's domain! This King Herod is just the latest in a line of horrible Herods who ruled over the Jews. This one is the grandson of the Herod that killed all those precious babes when Jesus was born in Bethlehem -- he is the nephew of the Herod who killed John the Baptist -- and he's got blood on his own hands, since he put James (the brother of John) to death with the sword.
Oy vey. What a family.
Then he saw that he could please the Jewish leaders by imprisoning Peter, so in he goes.
Let's peek in the window of the jail, shall we?
There's Peter, chained to two guards, with more at the door, standing guard. I guess he will definitely be executed tomorrow morning.
Peek in again.
Is he sitting up, praying?
Is he wringing his hands, for work not yet completed?
He's asleep. He is taking his own advice:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)
What a lesson for me, and for you. Those of us who stay up at night, worrying about things, should follow his example, right?
There seems to be nothing that can be done for him.
Over in another portion of the city, in a house filled with believers, there's a lot going on. Let's peek in that window, shall we?
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. (Acts 12:5)
Now, they've got the right idea! One dictionary I consulted said that "earnest" conveyed a thought of "sincere and intense conviction." They are sincere, and they have the conviction, the determination, the firmly-held belief that this is what will help.

Back in prison, Peter is sleeping so soundly that when an angel appears with a bright light, he has to strike Peter to wake him up! And he doesn't just shake the apostle gently -- this is the same word used in the Garden when Peter whacked off the ear of that servant.
The chains fall off and Peter is so groggy that the angel has to remind him to get dressed, or he would have followed him without his outer garments! (In fact, he is so groggy that he thinks he is dreaming.)
Once outside in the street, he realizes it is not a dream. It's a miracle. Wide awake now, he rushes to where the believers are praying. Wow! This is going to be an exciting finish to the prayer meeting, right?
Or not.
He has to convince them to open the door!
We'll meet Rhoda tomorrow and see what happens!


Cathy said...

I’ve always loved this passage.

Katie Isabella said...

This is so good! I love that you chose it.