WEEK TWO, DAY THREE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK TWO THEME: PRAYER
DAY THREE THEME: WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED
SCRIPTURE: ACTS 12:1-19
SCRIPTURE SNIPPET: “At that, Peter came to his senses and remarked, ‘Now I’m certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod and from everything the Jewish people expected.’ Realizing this, he made his way to Mary’s house. (Mary was John’s mother; he was also known as Mark.) Many believers had gathered there and were praying. When Peter knocked at the outer gate, a female servant named Rhoda went to answer. She was so overcome with joy when she recognized Peter’s voice that she didn’t open the gate. Instead, she ran back in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. ‘You’ve lost your mind!’ they responded. She stuck by her story with such determination that they began to say, ‘It must be his guardian angel.’ Meanwhile, Peter remained outside, knocking at the gate. They finally opened the gate and saw him there and they were astounded. He gestured with his hand to quiet them down, then recounted how the Lord led him out of prison.”
PONDERINGS: Wow! So many ‘Wows’ here! In this scripture, Herod is being Herod which has the paranoid, narcistic, people-pleasing ‘king’ out of control harassing the church by killing James and arresting Peter – pleasing the Jews. In times like this, more than ever, the church must buckle down in prayer…. Prayer for protection of them all, prayer for Peter’s life, prayer for the church to continue despite this crazy king’s tyrants. Peter is put in prison with sixteen guards to attend to him and keep him secure – Wow – sixteen!!! What was Herod afraid of here? Sixteen to one seems a bit excessive and on top of that Peter was chained to two of the soldiers by the wrists! They certainly were not about to mess up their assignment – Peter had no hope of escape.
Despite all of this, Peter is sleeping (not anxious or fretful or uncomfortable!) – Wow! Bound between two guards and all – he’s sleeping, and sleeping quite soundly too! He doesn’t even stir when the angel appears and the light shines into the darkness. The angel has to nudge him awake and tell him everything to do … get up, get dressed, put on your sandals – quick, let’s go! Peter is very obedient – the chains simply fall off – Wow!
Peter follows the angel past all sixteen guards who never see a thing and out of the locked iron gate that just open up – Wow! They head all the way down the street away from the imprisonment and then suddenly the angel is gone. It is only at this point that Peter realizes that this is real – it is not just a wonderful dream – he truly is free and he needs to get going a make the escape final. He heads to Mary’s house, the mother of John Mark and found several had gathered and devoted themselves to prayer that very minute for this very thing – Peter’s freedom and safety! They cannot believe what is right before their eyes – they are Wowed!
What a mighty God we serve who hears and answers our prayers in unimagineable ways – just WOW!!! Peter knows he must keep moving further away from Herod’s grips, but makes sure that the church is aware of what a mighty thing God has done. Thankfully, Herod moves on here too for some R&R in Caeserea and the church is spared further harassment. Sadly for the guards, they pay the total price of Herod’s vanity as he has them all executed when Peter is no where to be found.
This account is so utterly amazing and definitely is here to help us understand that there is nothing that our God cannot do. The power of prayer strengthens us and unleashes God to do His thing in mighty ways. As we pray — believing, trusting, united, fervently, wholeheartedly — about the concerns and desires of our hearts, God not only hears us but answers us above all expectation. I’m thinking the best I could do would be to pray envisioning Peter somehow being freed and unharmed, but our God is the God of miracles and unlimited angels to bring them about all the time. Wow!
We worship a mighty God – we need not be surprised when bad things happen and he turns them into a deeper and better understanding of who He is. That is what the cross did and that it what God continues to do for all of His own who will have eyes to see and ears to hear and not put limits on what answered prayer is all about. Blessings abound and keep us in the midst of all the storms of life.
May our prayers be strong and fervent no matter the storm so that we are open to all that God has to show us about Himself, furthering our walk with him and His Kingdom right now, right here! WOW!!!