(The following are reflections from the writer’s personal journey through The Bible Recap by Tara-Leigh Cobble – a Bible reading plan to read the Bible chronologically in one year. To learn more about The Bible Recap, visit thebiblerecap.com. Find more posts from this series at lifeword.org/thebiblerecap.)
Day 330: Read Acts Chapter 17
Paul is preaching up a storm today! And Paul doesn’t avoid controversy….he goes looking for opportunities to share the Gospel! In every city, people believe, including many leading and prominent women! But also in every city, there were people—Jews—who became jealous of Paul and his message and started riots, causing Paul to leave.
While he was waiting for Timothy and Silas in Athens, he just couldn’t be quiet….all those idiots bothered him so he went to the synagogue and the marketplace to share the Good News. Since people loved to think and hear messages that make them think, they welcomed Paul to speak to them. This time, he speaks about one God, the Creator of the Universe and man, and this God will judge the earth. He proved His power by sending His Son, letting Him die, and resurrecting Him.
Once again, his message is divisive—some ridicule and some are curious and some believe.
My God Shot comes from the Bereans—upon hearing Paul’s message, they do something we all should do when we hear something about our faith and religion: they searched the Scriptures daily….and saw that it validated Jesus. They looked to God’s Word as truth and they believed! I love this! They didn’t take someone’s word—they looked to God’s Word! I hope you feel like you have gained so much wisdom from reading then Scriptures each day—that we have more truth in our minds than before and can spot any deceptive thoughts and misleading ideas about God.
Day 331: Read 1 Thessalonians Chapters 1-5 & 2 Thessalonians Chapters 1-3
Paul is so happy with the Thessalonians—they are living out the heart of the Gospel! Their faith is flourishing, even amid persecution and affliction. He urges them to keep doing good—to not grow weary of doing good. There’s a reaping of their efforts if they don’t give up! He also encourages them, saying God is faithful—that He will strengthen them and guard them against the evil one. Not only that, God will repay those who do them harm.
Paul calls them children of the light, and as children of the light, they are to walk in the light with their actions:
- Warn those who are idle
- Comfort the discouraged
- Help the weak
- Be patient with everyone
- Pursue what is good
- Rejoice always
- Pray constantly
- Give thanks in everything
- Don’t stifle the Spirit
- Test all things
- Hold onto what is good
My God Shot comes from all the afflictions. No one wants afflictions. No one wants persecutions. No one wants testing times in life. But it is those times that God will use to sanctify us through and through. I will attest in my own life—anytime I was in a season of testing, I leaned in more to God than ever. I lived off of Him. I lived off of the promise Paul gives: “He who calls you is faithful; He will do it.” I’ve experienced it time and time again, friends. He shows up every time. It may look different, it may take longer, and it just may break you, but it’s a promise we can bank on.
Day 332: Read Acts Chapters 18-19
Today’s reading was a bag of emotions! Where the word of God is preached, there is repentance and belief! And, likewise, where the word of God is preached is rioting. You guys, Paul did not live the easy life at all. His mission was a labor of love when he preached the Gospel. Not only did God stir the hearts of people who believed in the cities he visited, Satan stirred the hearts of people to combat the Gospel as well. And something I deeply respect is that Paul didn’t shy away from conflict—he not only faced it, he welcomed it because in some cases, the controversy gave him opportunities to preach to nonbelievers some more. And Paul welcomed it all! (I wish I had his resolve! It makes me wonder if I could do the same?) Paul could stand toe to toe with the leading philosophers and religions and challenge them. He did not back down! (Maybe this is why God chose him to spread the Gospel? He was just learned enough and stubborn enough to face a beating, a riot, or a tribunal).
A moment that got many people’s attention was when the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest, took a beating from the demonic man when they tried to use Jesus’ name to cast out the evil spirit, though they weren’t believers. The evil spirit said, “I know Jesus and I know Paul…but who are you?” Oh, you had better believe those evil spirits knew Paul! People saw and people believed after this!
Paul’s missions weren’t just to the unbelievers—he went back to cities where he had preached to strengthened believers. I love how Paul’s friends, Priscilla and Aquila, those whom he had poured into turned around and poured into others, like Apollos. Once they had corrected him and showed him some more insight of God and Jesus, he was lit on fire to teach and preach, taking on Jews in public about Jesus being the Messiah!
My God Shot comes from God’s encouragement to Paul. The Lord encouraged Paul to keep teaching and preaching in Corinth. When things heated up, God worked through a man—Gallio—to calm them down.
When we are walking in God’s will, He blesses it, strengthens us, encourages us, and intervenes on our behalf! Where the truth is preached, you had better believe God is there!
Day 333: Read 1 Corinthians Chapters 1-4
Paul has some stern words for the believers in today’s reading….they are divided over whom they follow. Instead of being unified in following Jesus, each claims to follow the person who baptized them. Paul makes it clear his mission to them was not baptizing but preaching the gospel and that Jesus paid the ultimate and final price on the cross for their sins—their loyalty is to Him and the Gospel for which He died.
As believers we are given the Spirit—the Spirit knows God’s thoughts. The spirit teaches us spiritual things. The Spirit teaches us through God’s Word. The Spirit knows us best. And through the Spirit, we can have the mind of Christ! Oh, friends, I need the mind of Christ each and every day!
My God Shot comes from the way God works among us: He chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong so that no one may boast on his presence.
He chose an unwed girl to bring forth the Savior of the world. He chose Mary and Joseph, a couple from a town, Nazareth, that many people looked down upon.
All throughout Scripture, God chose the most unlikely people to work in and through:
- Moses, a murderer
- Gideon, weak and scared
- The disciples, fishermen not formally educated
- Paul, a persecutor of Christians
- A young shepherd boy
And countless others!
This is God’s thing! This is the power of God on display! When a fisherman gives a sermon that saves over 3,000, that’s the power of God! When a person who has murdered someone and has been hiding in the desert for 40 years becomes the leader of a new nation of people, teaching and preaching to them, that’s the power of God!
Day 334: Read 1 Corinthians Chapters 5-8
Paul is laying down the law today! He calls out those living in sin and sharpens believers in how they are to live their lives. It’s about being authentic in our faith.
He doesn’t shy away from hard topics, like sexual immorality. And he addresses many situations! He warns the church that anyone who claims to be a brother or a sister but actively engages in sexual sin must be dealt with—that a little leaven can spoil the whole batch of dough. He even tells them to hand over that person/people to Satan so that in doing so, they may hit rock bottom and look up to God in repentance.
He tells something to the Corinthians that is such a word to all of us today: Flee from sexual immortality! That our bodies are temples to God’s spirit and we are called to glorify God with our bodies.
Tara Leigh put it this way: “He says if you are a believer, you have the spirit of God living inside of you and forcing God into situations He doesn’t want to be in is a form of abuse.” Wow…this is a word! Have you ever thought about sexual sin like this?
Friends, this is one of my prayers for my family. This world is so tempting, and our kids are so vulnerable. What is okay and accepted in our world is not okay and accepted by God. Sexual sin can open the door to trauma and mistakes that can last a lifetime and our kids have no idea.
Or, sometimes they do and they still open the door to the roaring lion on the other side.
Paul calls the believers to something we have heard in the Old Testament and New Testament:
Stand firm in your heart against such temptations.
My God Shot is this: God calls us to high standards in the way we live. We are called to be authentic in our words and actions—this is Paul’s point! That our inauthenticity can cause others to stumble—that someone is always watching us as believers! God calls us to be different in the way we live our lives and to stand firm in our faith. Stand firm in following Him.
Day 335: Read 1 Corinthians Chapters 9-11
The church of Corinth faced much temptation, whether it was from sexual sin or idolatry…or both. Paul warns them using their past history in which Israelites fell victim to temptation many times. Paul encourages them telling them that they aren’t any different now than then—that everyone faces temptation! It’s what we do in the face of temptation: do we give way or stand firm?
If they give way and fall into sin, Paul calls them to repent and get right with God! Basically, he is saying, “Knock it off you guys! You are misleading others with your behavior and it’s an offense to God, who lives in your body!”
Standing firm against temptation gives a beautiful blessing : a way out. God promises He won’t let you get tested beyond what you can handle and that if you stand strong, you will get spiritual strength to face it.
In our last reading, he tells the people to flee from sexual immorality. Today, he tells the to flee from idolatry. And you have seen over the history of God’s people, their sons can fall into those two categories. These sins can lead God’s people away from Him so easily!
Paul tells them that no matter what they do—in their job, in their family, in their chores, in the church—their actions and words must reflect their love and respect for God. They are the hands and feet of Jesus and their lives must be living examples of this.
My God Shot comes from all the times I have lived out the reality of Chapter 10, verse 13: facing temptation. There was a time in my life in which I faced such temptation. For years, I felt like I was going crazy. God was calling me to believe Him and trust Him in an area that I couldn’t surrender. Satan had more than a foothold in the area—he had a flat-out stronghold. It was a fierce battle over my mind. Each time, God offered a way out. Sometimes, I took it. Sometimes, I didn’t. But, He was faithfully by my side every painful step of the way. Those were seven long years of my life, friends. I finally surrendered it all.
And that surrender led to my freedom. It is a beautiful thing. I experienced this promise, and God’s faithfulness! So, when I saw that verse today, I knew I had to land on it has my God Shot.
Day 336: Read 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14
Paul address many things in his letter to the Corinthians today, but at the heart of our reading, it’s all about love.
It always has been. It always will be. It’s why God called Abraham to follow Him. It’s why God called a young shepherd boy to be the king of Israel. It’s why God sent His son to live and die for us. It’s why Jesus revealed Himself to Paul in such a way, we are reading his letters right now.
God’s agape love is so beautiful and so UNhuman, it’s shocking, even scandalous. It is patient and kind. It is not selfish, envious, boastful, nor prideful. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongdoing. It doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness—it loves TRUTH.
And at the end of our lives, when our faith has become sight and our hopes are met in heaven, we will still have love. It’s the most important commandment in the Bible…for if we love God with all our hearts, everything else falls into place. We will follow Him and honor Him with our words and actions. We will love others, even the unloveable. We will live our love out because that is what the Lord did for us by sending us Jesus.
Love is why Jesus hung on that cross for us, friends. If we don’t get that, we will miss the heart of the Gospel.
Paul also urges the church to live out their spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. If unbelievers were to come to church and hear someone prophesy, that could spark a conviction that would grab his heart in such a way, the secrets of his heart are revealed, and he turns to God in repentance.
Paul addresses speaking in tongues and urges them to do this if an interpreter was there. If they were to speak in tongues, and no one was there to interpret, it would appear crazy to outsiders! He doesn’t want the church to get a bad reputation—by being disorderly and out of hand. He wants the people to come together in unity as the body of Christ. And just like each part of our body complements the other parts, he wants their gifts to be used to build others up and to encourage others. That no part of the body is more important than the other—that they are all vital in bringing forth the Gospel. That we can be diverse with our gifts but unified in our purpose in following the Lord.
My God Shot came from all of this: God is a God of love and order. He gave us gifts to use to build His church up. That when we come together in love, good things happen! But, He wants an order to His church to attract unbelievers. He doesn’t want His people to go all Willy-Nilly on the street corners. Rather, when people to come His house, He wants them to hear the truth and to see that manifested in all sorts of ways. If God created the heavens and the earth in a logical, orderly way, He also wants His church organized in such a way, it pours into people, not repels.