20 Jul 2021

How to Study the Bible #8: Start a Journal

Submitted by John T Reagan

A few posts back I suggested that you simply read the Bible without worrying about fully understanding everything about the passages you are going through.  The idea is to go for quantity.  Keep doing that!  For those of you who are new to Bible Study that should remain your major method for quite a while.  A few things will happen.  First, you will find yourself becoming familiar with how the Lord thinks and talks.  Then, as you find yourself moving through several books of the Bible, you will begin to see how the different books each have a different emphasis or point of view, even if they actually cover some of the same territory.  Already you have probably found your thinking patterns beginning to change in subtle ways, kind of on their own.  The word of God does that to you and the Holy Spirit is also working.  One other way the Holy Spirit works is by bringing to mind words you have read in the scripture and applying them in the context of your daily life.  Expect to get flashes of intuition that suddenly connect your life-issues/events/routine to something you’ve recently read in the Bible.  You’ll like that!  It’s a real rush, actually.   

Now, I’d like you to take one additional step.  Go buy yourself a journal.  A spiral notebook will work, sort of, but something that will stand the test of time a little better is what you need.  Leave three or four pages in the front blank and then number a few of the rest of the pages.  (Those blank pages will later be used as a table of contents.)  Remember that God has this whole educational plan worked out for you.  You are now reading through His curriculum, written long ago with you on His mind at the time, and He has some things he wants to teach and say to you.  So tell me, as you’ve been reading, has any particular verse or event in the passage you’re reading just kind of jumped off the page at you as being relevant to you and your life right now?  Or, maybe instead of current relevance, it simply revealed to you something special about God and what kind of person He is?  What is happening is that the Holy Spirit is taking these words He wrote thousands of years ago and using them to speak directly to you today.  If that hasn’t happened to you yet, then pray and ask Him to start speaking to you that way.  Actually, maybe I should put it this way, pray and give Him permission to start talking to you through the scripture.  (Remember, God is polite and doesn’t force things on us.)  Now, when something you have read in the word of God speaks something special in your heart, stop and do a quick journal entry.  Here’s the technique:

    1. Of course, do all this in a spirit of prayer.

    2. Underline the verse/phrase that is speaking to you.  (Yes, it’s okay for you to mark up your Bible.  If you’re using a Bible study tool on your computer or tablet, you’ll have to learn what mark-up features are available.)

    3. Date the page in your journal you are using.

    4. Write down the verse or verses that seem to say it best.  Feel free to use ellipses to skip the words that seem less pertinent.

    5. Write a paragraph about your thoughts/feelings concerning this verse and what it speaks to you.

    6. Now go back to the top of your journal page and give it a title.

Start with this little routine and incorporate it into your daily Bible study time.  Of course, eventually, you will likely want to modify the above method into something that fits you better, but this is a good start.  Over time, as you review the things written in your journal that God has revealed to you during your quiet times, you will begin to see a pattern to the road God has you walking.  He’s taking you step by step, leading you line by line into His knowledge, His ways, and His friendship.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

Isaiah 28:10

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