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Read: Acts 5:17-42

Verse: Acts 5:38 - “Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourself fighting against God”.

Does it ever feel like every time you try to seek God and do as he asks something occurs to set back your growth or purposes?  It can come in so many ways. People may level criticisms at you or to others about you, or speak doubts and negativity over the changes you are trying to make. Sometimes people will question your motives or authenticity. Sometimes that person is you, and your own doubts, fears or habits set you back. It can feel like you are trapped, unable to move forward in freedom with the life God has called you to. 

Throughout the Bible, the people God is leading to accomplish his purposes go through, what appears to be, incredible setbacks. Joseph was falsely accused and people tried to kill him, so he ended up in prison. In the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship anything else and were put in a fiery furnace. Daniel himself faced people who were jealous of his success and who attempted to turn the King against him so he would be imprisoned. He was locked up in the lion’s den. Paul wrote many of the letters in the New Testament from prison. Even Jesus himself was imprisoned and beaten prior to his crucifixion. And in today’s reading we hear that the apostles were locked up for doing what God had led them to do. In each of these scenarios, the result is the same: 

  • People are called by God to follow his leading to love God and love others

  • Someone or something seeks to bring them down

  • They get locked up, and the plans of God seem to be coming to an end

  • God frees them from their prison and uses their trial to proclaim new life to many

But it’s the words of Gamaliel here that stand out: 

“If your purpose is of human origin, it will fail. But if it’s from God, nothing and no one will be able to stop it. They will be fighting against God himself”.  

This is consistent through all these stories and should help us stand in confidence. For those who have tried to stop God’s work in your life or have tried to discourage you,  this is of human origin and their purposes will fail. However, if you are diligently seeking God and how he is wanting to lead you in His mission to others and you are not seeking out of selfish ambition, God’s purposes will not fail. Certainly they don’t always go as planned. We may suffer at times and struggle and have what appears to be setbacks like all those mentioned above. Perhaps you feel walled in at times, unable to escape your setbacks like a prison; maybe literally, but perhaps just in the prison of your mind. The hurt of insults. The fear of failure and loss. Each causing you to feel like you can’t get out of the struggle you’re in.  What we can learn from each of these stories is that for those who are walking with God where He is leading, even when the walls feel like they are closing in, and the heat is turned up in the furnace, God will use this to bring true freedom and new life- not only to you but to those he brings you to serve and share with.

  • Have you ever felt like every time you try to seek new life in God, or to do what he asks, you end up feeling attacked, like you can never get free? Sometimes that can be from others or the prison of your mind. Then think about the command of the angel in our story today. “Walk out in freedom and tell everyone about this new life”.  

  • Turn your attention, from the prison you feel trapped in, to the opportunities God wants to give you to love others and share about the freedom and new life in Christ. This is where true spiritual freedom can be found.