Looking Back on Chapter 1 and Preparing for Chapter 2 of 1 Corinthians

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:

1 Corinthians 2:12

Here is a size for your iPhone, to make it your background.

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.

Finding a Rhythm in Your Bible Readings

Paul Penning His Letter

Our reading plan takes us into the second half of chapter 1, but it is important to realize that this is a continuation. That seems completely obvious, but we can easily forget the obvious and act as though this letter is a collection of separate sections. Paul in verse 17 has just begun his argument, drawing attention to the manner in which he preached. He didn’t try to gain attention for himself or to make disciples of Paul. He came preaching Christ. This week he continues what he started, a lesson on the cross of Jesus Christ.

We often study the Bible (or hear sermons) in which we hop around the Bible, never reading more than a handful of verses at a time. In reading straight through 1 Corinthians we will have a chance to really understand what the entire letter has to say. We’ll gain an understanding that is only possible with continuous reading of the whole. The connections of one half of chapter one to the other will be more clear and we won’t just understand a section, but we’ll understand how sections are related to each other. We’ll have perspective on the whole of 1 Corinthians.

This is our goal and to best accomplish that, I’d encourage you to read this week’s reading, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, and then read the whole chapter again. It won’t take too long to do this a couple of times, especially if you are intentional about having some time in your day, every day, to read God’s Word.

You can find your own rhythm as we go along, but it could look something like this:

  • Sunday: read the new text for the week
  • Monday:read from the beginning through to the end of the assigned reading
  • Tuesday: read the new text, again
  • Wednesday: study the text, using the available Bible study
  • Thursday: read the next text, again and work on memorizing the Scripture
  • Friday: read from beginning through to the end of the assigned reading, plus memorization
  • Saturday: read the new text, again, plus memorization[1]

This is just one idea. It may not work as well once we’re further along into the book, since you may not have the time to go back and start at chapter one and read through chapter eight a couple of times in a week. But when we get there, find a new rhythm. Break 1 Corinthians down into chunks and reread those.

The more we read and pray through this book, the more we’ll know it. And please take note: the goal isn’t to merely know these words. We want to understand what God is telling us. Our goal is that in committing to study this book, this book will in turn shape us. We know the phrase, “you are what you eat.” In a way that applies to what we read. The more we read God’s Word, the more we put ourselves before him to become what he wants us to be.

Maybe your rhythm will be to read the section slowly, bit by bit, each day. Maybe you’ll read it Sunday then have a card in your pocket with a memory verse that you learn, internalize, then recite over and over again throughout the week. These are all great ways to do it. However you do it, I know that if you are in God’s Word, in some way, always returning to it throughout the week, God will do great things.


  1. For some personalities, listing out what you do every day looks awful. This then is not your rhythm. It’s just a suggestion, so find your own! For others, having a list is freeing. If that’s you, I hope this helps. ↩

Getting the Most Out of Your Year in the Bible Experience

I wanted to put together something to help you get the most out of your experience with Year in the Bible, and as I was working on it, I concluded it was best to split it into multiple parts. So today: the basics.

As you know this is a guided reading plan that will slowly take us through 1 Corinthians. That being the case there are three things to do each week: read, study, memorize.

Read

  • I expect you to read the weekly scripture. If you take part in a reading plan, of course you read, right?

Study

  • I encourage you to study. This text is so short and it is designed so that you have the time to read, and re-read, studying the Bible, asking questions and seeking answers. To study is to approach it in prayer, not just approach it as something to quickly finish and check off as done.

Memorize

  • I recommend you memorize the weekly verses. This is not a requirement. But it is going to make this experience all the more impactful as you store God’s word in your heart.

Again, at minimum, read. But the further steps you take the more God will work in you. If you’re on the fence about memorizing, read this article that lifts it up as a great spiritual discipline, including this quote:

Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs.
Dallas Willard

Desiring God: Memorizing Scripture – Why and How

Year in the Bible Begins Today (and I’m already finished?)

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.

Week 1 Memory Verse 1 Cor 1.1-3

The Value of Memorization

Have you ever quoted your mother in giving advice? Has a famous line of some presidential speech made its way into your conversation? How did you do it? Do you carry around a quote book, organized by topic, to pull out and read from at just the right time?

Of course not. These nuggets are stored deep down in your brain. They live alongside movie lines you could recite in your sleep, sports statistics such as a starting lineup of a decades old baseball team, and your childhood street address. We commit all sorts of things to memory. Some clearly of more value than others. But value is what gets it there.

What we value we focus on, we repeat, we talk about, and eventually we memorize–often without even knowing it.

As Year in the Bible slows down to focus on 1 Corinthians, I want memorization to take a central role. God’s Word has tremendous value, therefore we should take the time and energy to store it in our hearts. Since we are reading fewer verses each week we have more time to dig deep, we’ll have the time to meditate on these verses, reading them over and over. As we do so, God’s Spirit will strengthen the roots that Scripture has within us.

Each week we’ll have a couple of verses to memorize. Think of it almost like a parallel to last year’s focus passages. I’m working on ways to encourage and make it easier, but it will still take dedication. We’ll have verses printed on paper the size of business cards to tuck away in your pocket. I’m often thinking of visual aids, and have already worked on one for our first memory verses: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (Paul’s Opening Lines).

My hope is that by the end of these several months, we’ll have a great storehouse of Scripture in our minds, ready to be used by God in us, for us, and through us.

Something New for Year in the Bible

So I was talking with someone this morning in my small group about scripture memorization. It seems like that is something many do when we’re young, but as we get older it we stop. I wonder if subconsciously we think memorization like that is childish.

If I remember getting prizes for knowing my memory verse along with stars for attendance, and then have few instances where I memorize later in life, it’d be easy to think it is something for children. But that would be a failure on our part. We are to store up God’s Word in us. We should meditate on the Bible. It’s as though we should marinate our minds with it, taking on its flavor. (How’s that for a fun mental image?)

When we do so, and the words dig their roots deep into us, God will use it to continue to shape us after the likeness of Jesus Christ. When such life-giving words saturate our minds our entire personalities will come under their influence.

So in light of this, and in light of the conversation I had this morning in which I said I wanted to do something about it, I’m going to put up some verses on the right hand side of the site as memory verses. Every week we read many chapters, then we focus in on one passage during our focus passage, and now (if you’re so inclined) we can try to commit one even smaller selection to memory.

This is new, ie. easy for me to forget, so if it doesn’t get updated regularly–OR if you have suggestions for the verses for the week, let me know. For this week I thought we’d use:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

More on the Importance of Attention

I wrote recently that our attention is one of our most valuable possessions, and we should be very careful in regards to what takes our attention. In my reading I came across a couple more articles that help encourage this point, as well as one that emphasizes the value of memorization. One is a quicker overview citing sources like the book The Information Diet, Scientific American, and Time Magazine. The second is the cited article on memorization from Scientific American. Here’s a quote from that article from memory whiz, Ed Cooke, about the value added by using memorization and associated techniques:

Gradually the memory technique gives way—having acted like a scaffold—and you just know the contents. There are other positive things about this: the process of learning forces a depth of pattern perception that means you *truly* engage with the material.

Have you ever memorized verses of the Bible? Or how about asking it like this: Have you memorized any Scripture since being a child in Sunday school classes?

If you have a desire to memorize, let me know. Let’s challenge each other to do so. It’s harder to do it alone, so maybe the two (or more?) of us can do it together and get our brains working hard, in order to better understand and retain God’s Word in us.