Now that we’ve tried the simple method for a month, here are some thoughts on digging deeper.
Bible journaling has grown in popularity over the last few years. A simple Pinterest search yields results of beautiful artwork adorning pages of the Bible. This is a beautiful way to explore God’s word.
However, my Bible journaling tends to be more writing based. I fill the margins with God’s whispers and insights on the scripture I’m reading that day. It’s more of a standard journal and less of an illustrated journal.
I’ve mentioned before that writing helps our brain to process information in a very unique way. The relationship between the hand and the brain is incredible. When we write things down it opens our mind to new understanding and new possibilities that simply reading a passage does not.
What I write
I still start with and end with prayer. Sometimes I write a prayer down in the margins if I feel led, but for the most part, I simply talk to God and invite the Holy Spirit into my Bible time.
I read the passage a few times and look for verses that stand out to me. I’ll underline and highlight these to start. I also look for repeated words or any words I want to look up the definition for. I circle these and highlight similar words in the same color.
Once I’ve done this, I write in the margin why I highlighted that particular word or verse. What stood out to me? What does this tell me?
Sometimes it’s insight into God’s character or my own character in Christ. It might be a general note or an observation.
I also note any verses that I can think of that are related or similar. I note these with a “Cf.” for “cross-reference”. For example next to John 15:4 I have “Cf. John 6:56”.
What I use
I use a Crossways ESV Single Column Journaling Bible. This provides wide, lined margins for me to keep notes in. I really like the extra space it provides. If you need even more space you might look into an interleaved Bible. These provide an entire blank page for each page of scripture for even more journaling space.
I chose the journaling Bible instead of the interleaved because I like to take my Bible with me everywhere and the interleaved was just a bit too big to carry around.
I’ve changed my journaling method a few times and with that, I’ve changed the materials I use.
I used to not like highlighting in my Bible. It bothered me that the highlighter would bleed through and distract me on the next page. So I used Micron Pens to underline verses and take notes in the margins in the same color. For example, if I wanted to “highlight” John 15:13, I would underline it in green and put the corresponding note in green ink on the side.
Then I found these lovely Bible highlighters. They don’t bleed through or smear. So now I used a black Sharpie Pen to underline verses and circle words. I then take notes with the black Sharpie pen and put a box around the note. I draw an arrow from the part of scripture to the note and highlight it all in the same color.
I use small post-it notes and tabs to bookmark any verses or scriptures that I want to easily reference later. You can also buy pretty tabs, like these, to use if you want something a little more aesthetically pleasing.
I use larger post-it notes to record prayers or any other information that I don’t necessarily want permanently in my Bible. I use dark blue post-it notes with a question mark sticking out the side to keep track of questions I come up with as I’m reading. I generally ask my pastor for insight into these questions. Here’s an example of a sample question someone might have and how I would keep track:
For definitions of words, I use the Merriam Webster website and Blue Letter Bible. Merriam Webster provides the definition of the English word used, which can be helpful to understand deeper meanings of the scripture I’m sitting in. Blue Letter Bible has an incredible wealth of Bible study resources:
- Commentaries (I like to use Matthew Henry‘s)
- Dictionaries that provide the definition of the original Greek or Hebrew words
- Topical Indexes for when you’re interested in a specific topic and want to see all of the scriptures that speak to this topic
- Timelines to deepen your understanding of when events took place
These are the main resources I use, but they definitely have a lot more. I would recommend exploring the site to see what might be helpful for you!
All of these resources are great, however, I want to make it very clear that you don’t need any of these to hear from God and abide in His Word. You simply need a Bible and the Holy Spirit. All the rest is extra and great, but not required.
If all of this seems overwhelming, stick with the simple method we discussed before, or whatever works for you!
The Holy Spirit is the giver of wisdom and helps us to understand the Word. He can provide the same insight that any extra resource could (and more!).
Ask Him to meet you and to speak to you. He promises He will. Ask for wisdom. He promises to give it.
In the final installment of this Blog Series, I will share Bible studies I’ve enjoyed, books I recommend, and blogs I follow to deepen my time in the word and my understanding of God.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
**Note: I am not partnered with any of the resources I’ve mentioned in this blog. I did not receive any compensation of any kind for this post. These are truly the resources I use on a daily basis to dig into scripture and spend time in the Word.