Memory Verse #1: Introduction

memory-verses-slideDuring this summer of 2015, as part of general New Year cleaning, I had the opportunity to dig up some old stuff from my childhood and teenage years. As part of digitizing them and thus preserving them beyond a physical record, I will also use the material to guide the development of new content here at XBOP for the next season.

When I was in primary school, as part of our Sunday School curriculum and teachings in biblical foundations, our teacher presented us each week with a card containing our memory verse for the week. In total, there are 20 memory verses; each will form the basis for a more detailed commentary that I will aim to deliver each week as part of the Thursday content cycle:

  1. Introduction (this article)
  2. John 3:16*
  3. Deuteronomy 5:16a
  4. Deuteronomy 5:32
  5. Deuteronomy 13:4
  6. Psalm 31:3
  7. Psalm 37:5
  8. Matthew 8:20
  9. Mark 12:30
  10. John 13:34
  11. Mark 9:35b
  12. John 20:29
  13. John 15:12
  14. Acts 1:4b
  15. Acts 4:30
  16. Romans 5:5b
  17. Ephesians 2:10
  18. 2 Timothy 1:7
  19. Colossians 3:14
  20. Colossians 3:17
  21. First Corinthians 10:13b

XBOP Content Forecast

At this time of commencing this new series, I have three series aligned to the following cycle:

Day &
Series Title Planned # Articles to date
Event Case Studies 8 4
Memory Verses 22 1
Family Stories 10-12 1
Song Lyric Analysis ? 10

For 2015, the plan is to continue issuing out Monthly Review reports on the first day of the month, irrespective of what day that falls on. Based on the current forecast, the Monday series for Event Case Studies will conclude on Monday 9 February. This will free up the Monday segment for other non-series writing, such as seasonal events and current affairs. The longer Memory Verses series, of which this serves as the introductory article, has a forecast end date of Thursday 11 June. Saturdays will alternate between the two topics of family and song lyric analysis. The arbitrary series length for Family Stories is currently capped to 10-12 planned articles. The reasoning for this is that I have specific ancestors that I plan to write biographies for. A key self-imposed limitation here is that I will only document stories of past ancestors who have since passed away.

Series Motivation

The primary motivation behind this Childhood Memory Verses series is to digitize and scan each of the physical cards that were hand written by my Sunday School teacher. As the list grew each week, we were also given ribbon to bind them all together as a whole unit; the top part of all the cards having been pre-hole-punched.

In creating the table of contents at the top of this article, I realised that the second and third last verses (separate cards) were actually very similar and would be better off combined as a single future article. Thus, instead of reducing the total list, the very first memory verse is a special addition which technically does not belong to the original set of hand written cards. John 3:16 is indeed a special memory verse – it is after all the most famous of bible verses, not withstanding Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth

John 3:16 was memorised at some point during my childhood. Given the nature of the verse, it is divinely appropriate that it becomes the first article in this series. Further, perhaps also divinely inspired – I will return to John 3:16 as the last concluding article to the series, to be published on Thursday 11 June. In this way, John 3:16 will be the first and last (get it!) and echo the nature of Christ as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. No more will be said about John 3:16 for now, since that is a whole future article!

Another key motivation in pursuing this writing challenge is that it aligns greatly with my desire to give greater biblical and spiritual focus to XBOP content beyond merely just creating content. The spiritual discipline of weekly writing up and meditating on the Word of God is in part a fruit/outcome from the current church preaching on Sacred Rhythms. It is in fact a timely blog here that I also reflect and incorporate the impact of last Sunday’s sermon – A Rhythm of Listening and Enjoying.

A sacred rhythm is a way of ordering our life and preserving the most important part of our lives, the part that touched everything else. We were reminded that our relationship with Jesus should focus more on being an intimate relationship instead of an activity-based one, where He is considered more of a service provider. Jesus should instead be someone we long for and love to be with.

A sacred rhythm with God is not about what we do, but it is a way for us to relate to God, driven by our desire solely to be with him. The concept of abiding in God was the next focal point of the sermon. A dictionary definition of “abide” states:

accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation).

Example: “I said I would abide by their decision”
Synonyms: comply with, obey, observe, follow, keep to, hold to, conform to, adhere to, stick to, stand by, act in accordance with, uphold, heed, pay attention to, agree to/with, consent to, accede to, accept, acquiesce in, go along with, acknowledge, respect, defer to “he expected everybody to abide by the rules”

Abiding is a union we already have with God. It is a living union because of His work at the cross. Understanding this enables us to be free to relate to God and not focus on working for God.

Abiding can only be by faith. By practising our faith ,we are free to stay connected even during times of weakness and trial – times when our faith keeps us rooted to God as the head of us – the body of Christ. Over time, the continual practice strengthens our faith and thus abiding in God becomes a natural sacred rhythm.

Abiding in God leads to fruitfulness. When we rest in God and His work, we can have the clarity to see Him working in us, and also through us. Having God’s heavenly and eternal perspective gives rest and peace to our soul, enabling us to list and enjoy God in our everyday lives.

We were left with the challenging question:

How would we spend our time if God were in charge of it?

References from Ps Chee’s sermon were to material published by Ruth Haley Barton from the Transforming Centre, plus the three bible passages (links to BibleGateway, NIV):

  1. Sacred Rhythms
  2. Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership
  3. Matthew 10:1-4
  4. John 14:7-11
  5. John 15:1-5