STOP: Do Not Bible Journal Until You Read this

bible journaling bible study tools the heart of bible journaling
 

The video above is an introduction to the Bible by Bible Project (used by permission).

Were you like me when you first heard about Bible journaling?

I was THRILLED!  I could craft and read the Bible! What can better? I knew I was not reading the Bible as much as I wanted and crafting would motivate me. Not only would I be dusting off my Bible and digging into it, but I would have pages to go back to a refect on for years. What could be better? Thank you Shanna Noel (she had the original crafting idea).

Inside or Outside of the cup?

Jesus said, "First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." Matthew 23:26

How would you feel if you got a cup out of the cupboard and it had old dried coffee and cream on the inside?  Would you pour a drink into that cup? Of course not, whatever you put in the cup will become dirty as well. It is possible to be spotless on the outside while being filthy on the inside. 
 
The Pharisees were more concerned with their reputation than with their character. The Pharisees took great care to maintain the outside of the temple spotless since it was the part that men would see, and they desired men's praise. God, on the other hand, sees the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). 
 

It's About Motives and Goals

Our Bible journal goal should be to grow closer to God not produce beautiful pages. There is nothing wrong with creating a beautiful page and absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the crafting. We just need to be careful that we don't get so focused on the craft that we miss the heart of Bible journaling.

Any activity can become wrong if your motive is wrong. I recall a time I had to quit teaching a Sunday school class because my motives were wrong. I was taking time away from my children because I was focused on people-pleasing leaders in the church. I realized it when I lost my cool and yelled at my children something like, "Would you shut up! I have to prepare for this class." It was a wake-up call. My priorities were wrong.  

The Heart of Bible Journaling

Think of Bible journaling as something you do all day not just when you sit down to craft. It is a mindset of thinking about what God wants you to do. It's about your relationship with Him, walking in union with Him. It is praying and listening to God through the day, 

The set apart time for the reading and crafting.  I use these four steps it might work for you.

Step 1: Pray

Step 1 is not optional. Ask God what He wants you to learn. Pray for wisdom. Remember that God promises us wisdom when we ask for it (James 1:5); therefore pray for wisdom. Watch this video about wisdom to learn more.

Prayer comes from a humble spirit that is willing to ask for assistance and acknowledge needs. Praying shows that you recognize your dependence upon God (Proverbs 11:2; James 3:5-6). Pray when you open your eyes in the morning.

Your Bible Journal craft time might be 9:00 at night but the heart of Bible journaling starts when you open your eyes in the morning and as you walk along the way (Deut 6). I like to pray "What would have me do today Lord. What would you have me say? Teach me to guide me and lead me in your way." And then thank Him and praise Him for all He has done.

Pray He will whet your appetite for His Word. Ask Him to help you become closer to him by recognizing His truth in His Word. Keep a notebook handy.  Go to the Dollar Store and get several small notebooks. Keep one by your bed, one in the kitchen, and one in your purse. Jot down things God reveals to you through the day.

Read 2 Kings 22. Josiah finds the book of the law and reads it. Distressed, realizing how far they've departed from the Word of God he tears his clothing. America's founding principles are based on God's Word but are now not allowed in our schools. We have to get back to the Bible like Josiah. God had mercy on Josiah.

Step 2: Examine

Remember these steps are a guideline, not rules. Some days you will have time for a deep nutritional study somedays you will only have time for fast food. But please do not just read one verse and color one verse that would be missing the heart of Bible journaling.

We can read through the entire Bible in one year in only 15 minutes a day!  But if you stop and study (look up words, related passages, etc.) Â for in-depth study it will take longer.

If you have a verse in mind read the chapter. Maybe read the before and after chapter. Pray, read, and ponder. Take notes about what God is showing you.

Download the free worksheet here

I am blessed to have a pastor who teaches chronologically one chapter a week in depth. And you can hear him too, his classes are free at TorahClass.com. Free audios, videos, and PDF lessons. The videos by Tom Bradford are in-depth. (One woman told me she learned more from Tom's classes than she learned spending $50,000 at a Bible college.) 

 

Many Bible study teachers recommend you read the passage three times. Silently, aloud and in another version (which is easier than ever with all the free Bible tools online)

Remember these steps are a guideline, not rules. Some days you will have time for a deep nutritional study somedays you will only have time for fast food. But please do not just read one verse and color one verse that would be missing the heart of Bible journaling.

We can read through the entire Bible in one year in only 15 minutes a day! But if you stop and study (look up words, related passages, etc.)  for in-depth study it will take longer.

If you have a verse in mind read the chapter. Maybe read the before and after chapter. Pray, read, and ponder. Take notes about what God is showing you. 

Ask Questions as You Read

Jesus taught by asking questions:

  • Who: Who is the author of the book? To whom is he writing? Who are the major and minor characters?
  • Where: Where do the events occur? Are there any references to towns, cities, provinces? If so look them up in a Bible atlas or on a map. Many Bibles contain historical maps just for this purpose. If you are reading a letter, where do the recipients of the letter live?
  •  When:  Are there any references to time, day, month, or year? Are there references to the timing of other events happening in relation to this event?
  • What: What actions or events are taking place? What words or ideas are repeated or are central to the passage. What is the mood (joyous or somber, soft or stern, intense or peaceful, instructional or informational)?
  •  Why: Does the passage offer any reasons, explanations, statements of purpose? Why did the Holy Spirit move the author to write these words?
  •  How: How is the passage written? Is is a letter, speech, poem, parable? Does it use figures of speech (similes, metaphors)? How is it organized (around people, ideas, geography)?‚Äč

Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. STOP when prompted by your own interest. 

Use Bible Study Tools 

I use Logos. Download the free Logos software here. Biblegateway has super tools too. 

  • Do a word study using the concordance.
  • Look up customs and manners in a Bible handbook.
  • Look up words in a Bible dictionary.
  • Look up the location in a Bible atlas.
  • Look up a passage in a commentary
  • Compare different translations. Biblehub.com does this quickly
  • Lookup cross-references. I use this free cross-reference tool almost daily. 

Step 3: Bible Journal 

The third step is as unique as you are. Everyone's technique is different, there is no right way. You can doodle icons, circle, and double line keywords, make an amazing painting, sketch a cartoon, use die cuts, stickers, and washi, color a page, watercolor a background, use the Inductive method or placing symbols, or what I do me a digital page on my computer or a combination of all the above.

The material you choose to journal in is also unique. In a Bible margin, in a devotional, in a notebook, a sketchbook, a Praise Book, etc.  

Subscribe to our email list to get notice of a free webinar on this topic. 

Step 4: Share

In Mark 5 Jesus said, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.

Have you ever prepared to teach a child's Sunday school class? If you prepare a story on Ruth by the time Sunday morning came around you know more about Ruth than you ever had. When we share what we learn during the process of learning to share and sharing helps us cement what we learned.

I challenge you to share a few lines of what God taught you every time you share a Bible journaling page. It's OK to share the methods or supplies you used by do not miss the heart of Bible journaling. What did God put in your heart as you colored, painted, or dragged and dropped imaging on the computer?

The transformation in your heart is much, much more important than a pretty page. Don't just wash the outside of the cup! Develop your relationship with God. Grow to know Him. Your pages will reflect the beauty of your joy of knowing your Father!

 
 

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