2019 TMS Challenge – Christ the Center

Well, here we go!  The introductions are done.  We’ve given you some tools to prepare.  We’re ready to take our first steps on the Topical Memory System.

First of all, it is not too late to join!  We’re just getting started.  For more information on how to join in, check out this page.

Let’s start this journey as we should start all such journeys, with prayer.

Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the universe!  You have given us your Scripture, your very words, inspiring your people to write and preserve them.  You have blessed us with people who have translated them into our own human languages, and blessed us further with the ability to have them in print and now in this age of technology, even in our pockets.  You have called us to hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate upon these Scriptures, telling us that they are sweeter than honey, a light for our paths, full of benefits for our lives, and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and teaching in righteousness.  Please strengthen us for this journey and direct our steps by your Spirit to your glory, in the name of your Son, Jesus.  Amen

This week, let’s look at Series A, Week 1.  It’s on page 13 of the Course Workbook, and the first thing it tells us to do is to begin by reading through the “Principles for Memorizing Scripture” on page 15.  Let’s do that, and then return here.

Next, we are asked to do some administration to put together the verse packs if we are using the physical cards included in the package.  If you are using an electronic or other method (if you’ve got older eyes as do I, you may find full-sized index cards work better) this might not apply.  If you do wish to follow along in the Bible Memory app, check out our post on tools for the Journey.

And now into our first verse memorization.  Let’s spend today and tomorrow memorizing and meditating upon 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Before we start memorizing, let’s read this in context.  Paul’s letters to the Corinthians were to a church in a city that was a center of trade in the Roman empire.  The church at Corinth was struggling with many of the same problems as their city.  Sexual immorality, religious pluralism, corruption, division, and strife.  Paul’s second letter to this church is a call away from these things and to unity in Christ in the ministry for the Gospel.

With that context in mind, take a break here and read 1 Cor 5:11-6:13.

Verses 11-16 look back to the first verses of chapter 5, encouraging us with the truth that while we are sojourners in this world, our true home is in heaven, and therefore it is not our outward appearance that matters, but Christ’s work.  For those of us who trust in Christ, his life, love, and death drives us to live not for ourselves but for him.

Verses 17-21 tell us that as we live for Christ, our old life passes away and is replaced with a new creation in him.  It is not something we do, but something God works in our lives.  In this new life:

  • We are reconciled to God (v18)
  • God no longer counts our trespasses against us (v19), Christ having paid for them (v21)
  • We are given a mission, entrusted with the Gospel to be ambassadors for Christ (v19-20)

2 Cor 6:1-12 continue with a call to respond to the implications of this.  If we are indeed new creations in Christ, forgiven by and reconciled to God, on mission for him, let us work together.  May God be glorified in his work through us as we enjoy the blessings and endure the tribulations of this world with the integrity of a true Gospel witness.

In the middle of this reading, we find our memory verse.  Let’s read through it aloud several times, starting with the topic (“Christ the Center”) and verse reference (2nd Corinthians 5:17), then reading the verse, and then closing with the reference again.  I’m using the English Standard Version, so be sure to use the translation you are memorizing.  Read through it silently and aloud – whisper if you need to, or have another person read it to you if you able.

Christ the Center, Second Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Second Corinthians 5:17

After you’ve read through it several times, take some time to pray through the verse.  Go through it piece by piece.  Give glory and thanks to God for his Scripture.  Ask for insight and wisdom from his Word and obedience to its teachings and commands.  Ask questions of God.  What does the verse tell us about God?  What are we commanded to do or be?  What does the verse promise?  How are we to apply these teachings in our lives?  Take times of silence between questions.

Now we begin to commit this verse to memory.

  • Start by reciting the topic and reference aloud. And for the first several repetitions, start by reading it directly from your Bible or verse cards (physical or electronic).  The educational principle of “primacy” says that the first time we learn something is very powerful.  It is much harder to “unlearn and relearn” than to learn correctly the first time.  Repeat this recitation several times.

“Christ the center, Second Corinthians five, seventeen.”

  • When you’ve got this down, add the first phrase.  Again, start by reading it directly from the source.  Something like:

“Christ the Center, Second Corinthians five, seventeen, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ…’ Second Corinthians five, seventeen.”

  • Be disciplined to do this verbatim, completely correct!
  • Now, over the next two days, add the rest of the verse, phrase by phrase.

“Christ the Center, Second Corinthians five, seventeen, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…’ Second Corinthians five, seventeen.”

“Christ the Center, Second Corinthians five, seventeen, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away…’ Second Corinthians five, seventeen.”

  • Continue doing this until you can recite the whole verse correctly!

“Christ the Center, Second Corinthians five, seventeen, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ Second Corinthians five, seventeen.”

  • As you work on the verse, continue to pray through it to God.  Ask for opportunities to see how it applies in your life.  Anchor it to experiences.  Write it down.  Encourage another with it.  Review it.  Ask others to help you and to check you on your memory.  Meditate on it day and night (Ps 1:2)!
  • As you do this, may this be an encouragement:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11

While you are memorizing, take some time to address the questions from the workbook:

  • What is the key to living a truly new life?
  • What has happened to your old life?
  • What things have changed in your life since you became a Christian?

Through this all, remember that you are not alone!  Praise God that we can rely on his strength and not ours as we hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate upon his Scriptures!  And thanks be to God that he has given us people to be in fellowship with, to encourage, stir us up, and spur us on!

How is it going?  What are you finding difficult?  Do you need help?  What are you learning?  Who can help you?  Please share your experiences, thoughts, challenges and encouragements!

Next up: Galatians 2:20!

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3 thoughts on “2019 TMS Challenge – Christ the Center

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  1. Thank you pastor Pat. The accountability of doing this with others has been great. I am learning to pray for God’s help as I continue to forget what I study. I have had to repent more that once for making this a to do list item and trying to do it in my own strength. Praising God for his patience and help. Rebekah:)

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