If we want to have a new start, we can’t just do it on our own. We don’t flip a switch and wipe the slate clean. No, it is done for us. The leaven is cleaned out, the old is gone, and this has happened because of Christ Jesus. He has taken our sin away by sacrificing himself for us. We can be the new creation because Christ is our Passover Lamb.
I heard on the radio yesterday that the average person looks at their phone 150 times a day. I heard it on the radio, and then I also was able to find it on the internet–so it must be true! Even if your own results may vary, I’m sure you are checking it many times every day. You check it for the time, for emails, for news, and of course, to make phone calls.
In hearing this little statistic I was given more reason to do something useful with my screen. I have already made Bible visualizations for your smartphone, but now I’m really thinking this can be a great way to memorize. Even if it is just a glance, 150 times a day is a lot. Do it for seven days a week, for each of our verses. That’ll add up quick.
These visualizations have more than words, so maybe when you quickly glance at this week’s image when you want to see if you’re running late, you may not read all the words. But you will see, again and again and again, a picture of the earth, a dove, and a gift. That alone helps us to remember the three points in this verse: that we don’t receive the spirit of the world, we receive the Holy Spirit, who helps us receive what is given by God. Imagine seeing that picture 150 times a day, over a thousand times a week. You’ll remember something of it for a long time.
As we close the first chapter and begin the second, it is important to take account of what we’ve read. A goal of reading the way we are is to really get a sense of the whole of the letter. What is Paul saying start to finish?
You could go back and review any highlights or underlines. As you read you can jot down short summaries in the margins. At least, if your Bible has them, review the section headings–I hope those will remind you of what is in them.
I thought I’d provide a few short questions to review. See if what you are reading is being retained and understood. If so, fantastic! If not, maybe slow down or read it a few more times this week.
Who is it from?
And the answer is more than Paul.
Who is it to?
And the answer is more than the Corinthians.
What was going well in the church?
And who is really responsible for that?
What was going wrong in the church?
And who really deserves the church’s loyalty?
What does Paul preach?
And how might the world react to it?
Now in chapter two, read it with an eye toward retention. Read it knowing that we’re not just checking off a "to-do" list, but we are approaching God in his word to us. By the Spirit we are blessed with understanding. Read it knowing that God has something to say and it is worth remembering.
And if you want to remember just one thing, our memory verse this week is 1 Corinthians 2:12:
Now we have received not the spirit of the world
but the Spirit who is from God,
that we might understand the things freely given by God.
Again, I know memorization is hard and if you are like me, you are out of practice, so here again is a visualization to help you remember it:
And don’t forget the Bible study, which we cover on Wednesday night at 6pm at the church, or look at it with a friend or on your own. You can find it here.
Welcome to day one of the new Year in the Bible!
I hope you are even half as excited as I am to begin a new reading plan together and to uncover what God has in store for us as we read and study 1 Corinthians. I’ve tried to answer the questions you may have as we prepared for today, but I’ve got one more that may come now that you’ve had time to read.
I can imagine a few people picking up their Bible, looking up what the reading assignment is for this week, sitting down and then in a few minutes asking, “What now?” What do you do for the rest of your week when you finish the text so quickly?
Here are some simple suggestions:
- Read it again. That’s a simple one, right?
- Write down your reflections and/or questions.
- Find someone to share those reflections with.
- Rewrite the text in your own words or summarize the text.
- If you have some sort of study Bible, take a look in the margins for cross references and do some Biblical exploration for other passages that may expand on ideas from this text.
- Memorization – this week I’m encouraging you to memorize 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, Paul’s intro. (They won’t all be this long.)
It is far too easy to read something and let it quickly pass through you. What we want to do is read in such a way that God’s word permeates our minds and rests in our hearts. That’s why we’re going slow. So when you finish early, know that it is an intentional choice to give you more time to devote yourself to learning 1 Corinthians.
I mentioned a week ago that memorization would be playing a greater role in this Year in the Bible. That may have already scared off some people. You may think that you’re awful at memorizing anything, let alone a verse of the Bible. I’m not going to argue with you. You may be awful. I don’t know.
What I do know is that this is a valuable thing to do and I want to help you as much as I can. Imagine going through 1 Corinthians for these five months and at the end looking back and having 22 Bible passages memorized, stored in your heart, that give you a good sense of what the book was about. After learning from God’s Word, if we have those verses in us, how much easier will it be to go back and find other passages? How much better will we understand the structure of Paul’s letter? How much more will God be able to call us to remember those passages?
I think we can do it. But I think it’ll be tough at times. So again, I want to make it easier. If you’ve got tricks you already know about memorizing, send them my way. I’m open for suggestions. I wanted to give you a teaser now of one thing we can do. Visualizing can really help out, so I put together this mini-poster. You can print it out (it’s letter sized, 8.5×11”) and use it to see the way the opening verses of 1 Corinthians are laid out.
Here’s the basic structure:
- Verse 1 – Who the letter is from and on whose authority it is written (in white)
- Verse 2 – Who the letter is to–and take note it is to more than just the Corinthians (in grey)
- Verse 3 – His opening greeting (in white)
With a bit of coloring, arrows, and even some simple pictures, I hope I’ve put together something that helps you to internalize these lines of scripture. Not all weeks will have three verses, but I thought knowing the “from” and “to” of 1 Corinthians is a good place to start.