In Acts 8 when God zaps Philip away from the Ethiopian eunuch, can that be considered as teleportation?
I wonder how an African, and a eunuch obtained the Torah?
Anyway what’s important is that he wanted to learn. He wanted to know. He was searching. He asked Philip “how can I [understand], unless some one guides me?”
And that’s my prayer to God.
In Acts 7 when Stephen is getting stoned it says that the Son of Man is standing.
Normally the Son of Man is sitted by the right hand of God. But when Stephen has made such a compelling testimony, when Stephen had just irrevocably proven the purpose of God - Jesus stands up to witness.
I’m sure that at that moment, Stephen could have called down a million angels. And the fact that Saint Stephen forgave them, forgave those stoning him must’ve brought a tear to the Lord’s eyes.
These are the moments God’s heart beats for. This is the spirit of God so alive in us that it compels Jesus to stand up from His throne and watch.
Something to learn from the Pharisees: Be careful what you get angry at. What makes your blood boil might just be what you need to change your heart.
Yesterday I was asking myself - where is the line between personal ambition and God’s plan?
I just read Acts 4 and the section where Gamaliel advices the Pharisees particularly strikes me. V38 and 39… “for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing, but if it’s of God, you cannot overthrow it… “
Conclusion: Personal ambition has to be aligned with God’s plan to be successful.
In the Abrahamic Faiths, there is a man by the name of Joseph - a son of Abraham. The Qu’ran says Joseph was the most handsome man there was. The Bible also agrees that he was indeed good looking. So it is no surprise then that Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. Potiphar’s wife must have been a beauty herself, a man with a status like Potiphar must have had a good looking wife. Yet Joseph, a slave at the time, refused to sleep with her.
To me, one of the greatest things and perplexing transformation is how Paul could wake up and no longer see Saul in the mirror.
That’s just amazing. Paul embraced grace completely. This is because he “set his mind on things that are above”. In comparison, what I frequently do is aim not to do something, rather than focus on the One who gives me strength.
Set your mind on things above. That will be my active aim this week.
You know, the hardest bit about being a Christian is the fact that people, those around you, your friends know exactly how you are meant to act. They know the rules. Everybody knows the law. And if you declare yourself a Christian, you’re bound to fall short. I certainly have.
And that’s the tricky thing - balancing works and grace. Because Christianity is not about doing more “good” things than “bad” things, it’s about accepting grace, I can’t earn salvation with works but I am to live for Christ.
His mercies are new every morning but my sins are plenty by night and this just makes it difficult to flaunt Christ’s banner because I so often misrepresent it.
E.g Two weeks ago, I made out with a girl in a club that I was supposed to bring to church on Sunday. :O WHO DOES THAT?
What bothers me is that I feel like my conscience is slowly being numbed as I feel less and less guilty for what I do.
I sat down and had a conversation with God last week when I realised that I hadn’t opened my Bible in seven days. “I don’t want religion, I don’t want church to be a religious, weekly thing, I really don’t” I said. So I fasted a little bit and focused on God more. I dragged myself to my first mid week prayer meeting this year and it was marvellous, I really enjoyed it.
Guilt and shame are not part of God’s plan but I am supposed to behave like a “noble vine”, a “royal priesthood” but I will fall short but I will maintain my “shameless audacity” and continually drench myself in grace.
Grace is ridiculous and I’ve accepted it.
The beauty of sharing thoughts together when reading something, especially the Bible, is the different perspectives that show up. I asked my friend to read up on Samson and he noticed this:
Trust your instincts. Even though Samson loved her, when she asked him the source of his strength, he lied to her multiple times. So he knew it was a bad move to tell her. Until he eventually caved in.
I found the story of Samson sobering and saddening. He was just a guy like me screaming YA BISH! and shrugging the status quo. He was a guy who refused to be part of the mould but his eyes were put out and he died horribly. I went to my dad with my thoughts and as per he had lessons of his own:
Samson found a soul tie but not his soul mate. Delilah was just a soul tie, and this is what happens when we lend our bodies and emotions to others, we create soul ties. And sexual sin is the only sin you commit against yourself.
Samson emphasises the need to Know Thyself. If the devil knows you cannot steal, he won’t put tempt you with money. But if he knows your eye wanders, if he knows your weakness is females, of course he will throw them at you. Starve your weakness. “Flee youthful lusts”, run, sprint!
God said “it is not good for man to be alone” so it is definitely worth praying about, because even if you don’t want a relationship, there are people looking for a relationship with you.
A woman can be the difference between heaven and hell
In the end, lack of focus is why Samson and why men fail. Gravity is on the side of the person below you. It is easier to pull someone down than to pull someone up. FOCUS on what God wants for you.
Right from the very start of Samson’s manhood, he had an eye for the Philistine women. In fact that is Samson’s first act and first word in the scriptures. Judges 14:1 “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.”
So, from the get go, Samson had wrong desires and despite the fall out and betrayal from the woman in Timnah, he doesn’t question his desires. He seems to answer fear with rage but he has no idea how his first encounter with love and betrayal is a foreshadowing of the future.
Lesson: Examine your desires very carefully! Learn from betrayal and heartache instead of descending into anger.
However, Samson was not just a brute as I imagined. He had the qualities of a leader. If you notice, he is a man of his word, what he says he will do, he does. Plus he judged Israel for twenty years.
Lesson: The Bible doesn’t do stereotypes. Samson was so imperfect it is amazing God used him. He was distinctly different from any judge before or after him. The fact that he didn’t give two flying monkeys about what anyone thought makes him one of my favourite characters. He is not a “typical” leader.
The last verse of Judges 15 says “And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines”, the first verse of chapter 16 says “Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her”.
What a strange juxtaposition of verses. It heralds the beginning of the end for Samson. Straight after he sleeps with a prostitute, he falls in love with Delilah. I find it interesting that the Bible doesn’t say “lusted after” or “sought after”, no “he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah”. He genuinely loved her. He fell in love with a woman who was eager to trade his love for money - a substantial amount to be fair.
Lesson: Continuous indulgence in wrongful desires will eventually blind you and cloud your judgement.
I read somewhere that a man’s IQ drops when speaking to an attractive woman but it seems Samson lost every single dime of common sense. Every time I read this passage I feel like screaming, “Samson, you idiot, can you not see she is betraying you?!” Three times! Three traps! Three ambushes!
Lesson: This is a prime example of how love makes man blind. No man is immune to it.
Judges 16:19 Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees
Lesson: Look at how affection and tenderness can lead to doom. Beware!
The rest of the story and the way it ends is quite depressing. A promising destiny destroyed, a might warrior cut short, the fact that he kills more Philistines in his death than he did when he was alive is a hollow victory.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.
Songs 3:5 is the second time this caution is given by the Shulamite woman. It comes after a troubled night where she was looking for her husband. She was scared and the relief of finding him revealed her attachment to him. The stress she has just been put through shows how intoxicated she is to his love.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
For your love is better than wine
Songs 1:2 We know why is addictive, and she is clearly addicted. Is this why she warns us?