Inspired by God

People often talk about ‘God’s plan’ for their lives. We sometimes think God ‘placed’ someone in our life as ‘a sign’ from God. With this in mind, many believe that if we submit our life to God He will make everything better. He does make everything better, but rarely in the way we think.

About that time, Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church. The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

Acts 12.1-11

God doesn’t play chess. He doesn’t ‘reach down’ from heaven and pluck us from place and set us down in another. In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter was not ‘plucked’ out of prison. He was led out by an angel.

He could have remained asleep. He could have said no, but because he followed the angel, he was set free. In the story the only actions by the angel were to break the chains and open the gates. Everything else was up to Peter.

Did God make ‘everything’ better for Peter? Maybe for a brief time but Peter was still killed for Christ. God inspired Peter to a stronger faith, even after he had denied knowing Christ. God continued to inspire others through the faith of the Apostles and down through the ages.

We hear today’s story as a reminder that God speaks to us through our hearts and invites us to action. It is up to us to get out of ‘prison’ and live free of sin. God breaks our chains. Unfortunately, we remain captive to sin by our free will.

Instead of following God’s angels to safety free from sin, we return day after day to our cell. We remain slaves of sin, even after being set free, not just once, but every day.

The Lord said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did. You do what your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.”

John 8.31-42

Here’s my advice for you today. Instead of beating yourself up about sin. Choose TODAY to follow God’s angel away from sin. Choose TODAY to walk through the gates into freedom from sin. Choose TODAY not to return to your cell.

Then choose again tomorrow and the next day. It is a daily choice to follow God and be inspired by Him. He does have ‘a plan’ for you. His plan is for you to follow Him away from sin and be saved. He won’t ‘pluck you’ out of sin. That part you have to do for yourself.

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