Sacred Scripture comforts in our sorrows, soothes the aches and pains of this valley of tears that we walk through, and finally, fills and sustains our souls as bread does for the body. Through reading and meditating, we receive new mercies, applicable to our need, and we are nourished.
Last year, I accomplished my resolution to read through the entire Bible (including the Deuterocanonical books of the Catholic Bible). Also last year, I began collecting different ways to study and memorize Scripture. I found several new (to me) Bible study methods that I’ll share with you, learning as I go…the first is called verse mapping.
Verse mapping is defined by Kristy Cambron as “a method of studying the historical context, transliteration,translation,connotation, and theological framework of a verse in the Bible. Plain and simple? Verse mapping is getting real about studying the Bible. All of it. It’s not just reading. It’s researching everything you can in a verse to learn more about Who God is, and how He wants to speak to you through His Word. In short? It’s serious study.” This is the best definition I have found to explain the scribbles, bubbles, and lines that make up the pages of my Bible journal.
She has a wonderful post that explains very well the basics of verse mapping, and even offers a worksheet for beginners to use. I have taken her approach along with some other methods and styles I have seen in online communities, and am in the process of tweaking it all together to make it mine…that is the cool thing about verse mapping, there doesn’t appear to be one correct way to do it, but can be custom fitted to your own personality, preferences and time availability.
This year, I haven’t made a resolution yet. But I am drawn to journaling and Bible study, and am happy to share my process, with the knowledge that it is a process, and apt to change at any time. This is what mine looks like right now:
1. Choose a verse. I like using a verse from one of the passages in the daily readings of the Catholic Church. I love how those verses-even though they were selected hundreds of years ago-are so often relevant to my life, speaking specifically to an area that needs affirmation, consolation, or correction. I write this verse out in black ink in either the middle of the page or at the top…depending on how I’m feeling at the time. I read it over a couple or three times, changing the focus and inflection of the words, really mull it over…there are always words that stand out. I Highlight those, more on that later.
2. Read it in different translations. This is a personal preference, and I typically choose only approved Catholic translations. My go-to versions are: the New American Bible Revised Edition, New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, and Douay-Rheims. I occasionally use the New International Version, or the Message…mostly out of curiosity, but occasionally, I will like the way it is worded and add it to my notes. I still find myself quoting from the King James Version that I memorized as a child, so there is that. For a fun exercise after you are finished, read the passage in the Amplified version of the Bible, and see how many of your thoughts overlap with the translation there.
3. Look at related verses, Catechism, and commentaries. I draw a light green squiggly line under words or phrases that I want to cross reference, then I record those verses or citations in green with an arrow connecting them. Sometimes I box them in, other times, I fill in areas between boxes with this kind of info…none of my pages ever look the same, that is why I feel constrained by a worksheet, as much as I want to use and love it, I haven’t found one that fits my style yet, so mine are mostly freestyle for now.
Years ago, my husband invested in the Logos Bible software and has an extensive digital library that can be hyper-linked to Scripture, commentaries, and dictionaries. A few years ago, he was ecstatic to find that they offer a Catholic version of this called Verbum. Of course we upgraded to that, and have been blessed to add to our library with Catholic sources. The hyper links make quick work of cross referencing, looking up definitions, and toggling between translations. I love the hyperlink from Scripture to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I want to make sure I am understanding Scripture in the original way it was intended to be understood, and in agreement with the Magisterium’s translation and interpretation of Sacred Scripture.
If you can afford to invest in this awesome resource, I highly recommend it. If not, there are free versions of Bible software available online. I have had good success with Bible Gateway (I use the desktop version online because the last time I checked, the app did not have the Catholic versions of Scripture available) and Bible Hub. I record the differences in translations on my map…note the translation in initials, and draw a red box around it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church can be found online here, as well as in the Laudate app. I use all of these in the course of my studies, are we not so blessed to have the myriad of resources available today for studying and applying God’s Word to our hearts and lives?
4. Define and/or clarify key words. Those words in #1 that I highlighted…sometimes looking up the definition and or Hebrew/Greek word it was translated from can be so enlightening to the message of the verse. I use a tan/brown pen for this step, sometimes I box it in. Verbum has links to the Greek and Hebrew, and will also shed more light on the original meaning of the verse.
I also like to add the dictionary definition and list synonyms for the word. I typically use dictionary.com and thesaurus.com for this and write it in blue. I will upload a picture of my latest entry so you can see how it all comes together.
5. Sometimes I will have thoughts that I want to record…I do this in my favorite purple color…you can see this on today’s map that I am sharing here.
This is one of three techniques I use for my journaling Bible verses. The other two will be in separate posts…later. What do you think? Do you map out verses or journal them in some way? I find it a good exercise for hiding God’s Word in my heart, and processing it out loud, so to speak, for later use. I’d love to see your maps, thoughts, or entries.
My poor, neglected blog…I wonder if I can remember how to do this.
I have been mostly on track with my resolution to read through the entire Bible in 2017. I fell off the wagon a few times when life got a little busier than my schedule could compensate for, and I am still playing catch up, but if my calculations are correct, I should be finishing the New Testament in a couple weeks, and the Old Testament by the end of December.
This is a first for me on several levels. One, I have never kept a New Year’s Resolution any deeper than the resolution not to have any resolutions. Two, I have been a baptized Christian, attended Bible School, Christian School, and attended church faithfully since I was six years old; I have read a lot of Scripture, done countless Bible studies, even memorized large portions of Scripture, but have not ever read through the entire Bible, until this year. It is SO COOL to see the big picture. All those passages that I have committed to memory take on a whole new level of understanding when read in the context of the whole story of salvation. If you have not done this, I highly encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to memorize portions of Scripture. You will be amazed at the times those words that you have put to memory will come to mind in a season of need.
So…what is the point of reading and memorizing Scripture?
There are several (Biblical) reasons why reading and memorizing Scripture is beneficial. I will list the first few that came to my mind, and if you have others, I would love to see some discussion here at New Things…leave me a comment, and let’s chat!
Psalm 119:11 I treasure you word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.
Romans 1:16 says that Scripture is God’s power that leads every believer to salvation.
Hebrews 4:12 states that Scripture is active and powerful; sharper than a double-edged sword, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Isaiah 55:11 reassures us that God’s Word does not return to Him void (or wasted, or empty), but accomplishes all that He desires, and will prosper according to His intentions.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 instructs us that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God; it is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, to make us competent, and equip us for every good work.
Sacred Scripture is God’s recorded voice. It is His words, given to us, His creation, for the sake of a relationship! The very thought! The same God who created this world and everything in it wants a relationship with me!
He speaks His words to me in these Scriptures…warning, comforting, and reminding me of His loving will for me, His own beloved child.
Seeking God through Sacred Scripture in faith, hope, and love is part of prayer. We are much more familiar with the prayer that WE speak to God, but can easily forget that prayer is a two way street. He is speaking to us as well…prayer is both speaking and listening…just like any healthy relationship.
How would you feel if your best friend monopolized all your conversations with all the details of her life, her drama, her joys, sorrows, and various issues, but never gave you the chance to get a word in edgewise? It would get old. Isn’t that what we do to God? No wonder He seems so quiet sometimes, huh?
Reading and learning Sacred Scripture is our loving response to the God of the Universe who stepped down from His glory for the sake of a conversation with His creation. Seeking Him and His will through His Word is our response to His initiation of a relationship with Him. It is us affirming that what He has to say to us is important, and in obedience, we enter into His Presence by opening the door, His Word.
It is no surprise, then, that Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1), and also “the Door” (John 10).
We enter into the Presence of God through Christ (Hebrews 10), who boldly stated that His very words are spirit and life (John 6:63). When we treasure God’s Word in our hearts, it becomes active and powerful in us and discerns our innermost thoughts and intentions of our heart. Jesus, the Word, is God’s power in us, leading us to eternal life with Him. When we treasure Him in our hearts, He will accomplish everything that God wills in our lives, and none of it will not return void–or empty–or wasted to the Father.
Jesus gave us an example of how to rightly use Sacred Scripture to overcome temptation. Rich Mullins referred to this as “quoting Deuteronomy to the devil”. When Jesus was tempted by satan in the wilderness, he responded with Sacred Scripture. We can too! When we are tempted to doubt the love of God, we can pull up a defense of the love of God from His very words to us in Sacred Scripture. When fearful circumstances arise, and we are tempted to fret, we can answer with confidence, “The Lord is my helper!” and be assured that His Word is true…because He cannot lie. We can actually use Scripture to retrain our brain, did you know that? In fact, we are INSTRUCTED to do so.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
When our minds are renewed, we can understand what God wants from us.
How do we renew our minds? How can we hide God’s Word in our hearts? This is what I have been asked to share, and hope to so in the coming weeks. I believe the first step is the simplest, ask Him to plant and grow His Word. As you seek Him, He promises to be found. Make yourself available and ready to hear and obey what He tells you in His Word.
A disclaimer here: ATTENTION! Reading and memorizing God’s Word will do you NO GOOD if you are not willing to do what He tells you in it.
If you are not ready to obey His Word, memorizing it will only make you headsmart…(and probably obnoxious to others) and you will miss the mark of storing it in your heart by 18 inches.
Heavenly Father, thank you that you have not hidden from us, but have revealed yourself and your will to us through your Holy Scriptures. Thank you that they are a lamp for our our feet and a light for our journey. Teach us to read and obey what you have spoken to us. Comfort us in our sorrows with the consolations contained there and help us to speak forth your Word at appropriate times to build up your body, the Church here on earth. Most of all, Lord, we ask that your Word will guide us into doing your will. May we be doers of your word, and not hearers only as James instructed. In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we ask, for your glory only. Amen.
I’ve been spending more time in my prayer journal this week. It’s a lot of the same stuff I talked about in previous posts, but now, since discovering the bullet journaling phenomena, I am moving everything over to a composition notebook, for the sake of more effective archival and retrieval. Also, it is sometimes very difficult to put my thoughts into verbal words, as my mind is prone to wander about and fixate on the next shiny thing that grabs my attention. Having a lined journal will allow me to wrangle those thoughts all into a hopefully cohesive and coherent prayer, from my heart to God’s…and one day, will be a good way to remember His goodness to me.
Since I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home wife and Grammie, I have extra time in my day for prayer. I may not always have this opportunity to spend this kind of time in the presence of God, so I want to show my gratitude by doing it well, redeeming the time, so to speak.
From the time I wake, until the time I go to sleep, I want to be in a habit of keeping company with my Lord. There are several ways I accomplish this, one of which is memorized prayers. When I wake up and ideally, before my first sip of coffee, I want to give my day to Jesus. “Good morning, Lord! I love you. What do you want to tell me today?” I put on the coffee, and continue in worship: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.” It’s here that I often see the first thing He wants me to do today…maybe dishes that didn’t get put away the night before, or a load of laundry that needs to be put on…Sometimes I just take mental note, other times, I may jump right in and get it going while the coffee is brewing…but when that coffee is ready…I’m all about the waking up! I pour a big cuppa, add my favorite sweetener and stir it all up and take it to my prayer spot. Here, I keep my Bible, my journal(s), special pens/pencils, religious reading material that I’m working through, and prayer aids, such as chaplets and/or rosary. I say my morning prayers, then make a mental note of the prayers I pray weekly…I have different areas of specific prayers that I have divided up into my seven day week. This way, I feel I give adequate time and attention to the things I am praying for. I don’t try to journal much during this time, but just sit and wake up using the prayers and/or prompts that I already have written out. This gives me time to set my heart and mind on things above, and I find my day goes so much more smoothly this way. When the parish bells chime at noon, it is a reminder to pray the Angelus. I don’t have it memorized yet, so I put it in my prayer journal at midday. I also am developing the habit of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It plays on our local Catholic radio station every day at 3pm. I love to sing along, and almost have it memorized.
I have been using the CAST model of prayer for just over a year. There are things I LOVE about having it in a binder, and there are things that are not working for me. I am hopeful that keeping a composition notebook with a good index will help me keep the things I love and fix those things that didn’t work. For the time being, I’m maintaining the one, creating another, and using them both in different ways…and I keep a separate journal for planning my days. I’m wondering if this will continue, or if I will decide to combine them all somewhere down the road. We’ll see. For now, it’s nice just to have some semblance of an organized plan.
You can see in my photo, I try to pray for a lot of different things…these are things that are on my heart often, some days I pray for more than one area, whether I’m on that day or not. This is just a prayer prompt for those days when I don’t know what to pray. Eventually, I will have collections and prayers for each category, but for now, it’s just a prompt. I am also in the process of getting to know the saints, and have given some of my favorites a permanent place in my prayer routine. I love the thought that I have prayer support from that cloud of witnesses that surround us. (Hebrews 12) Isn’t the Body of Christ wonderful? When we are in Him, and He in us, even physical death cannot sever us from His body, which is the Church.
About that rock wall at the foot of the cross: I told my sister that some days I feel like the young girl on “Secret Life of Bees” (and if you haven’t seen it, go now, borrow, rent or purchase a copy and watch one of my all-time favorite movies ever). She is a sensitive soul, and feels her sorrows deeply. When she is heavy and burdened, she runs to a rock wall on her family’s property, and leaves her sorrows there. How I need a rock wall…like the wailing wall in Jerusalem…but alas, we are apartment dwellers, :). So, I have the next best thing, a pile of rocks where I can leave my own anxieties, burdens, and sorrows. It fits with my CAST verses, and now I have them in a handy journal. I like the thought of seeing them reduced to one little rock in a pile that has been cast off…and somehow, I feel lighter, even just looking at the pile of burdens that I am not carrying anymore.
Well, that’s it for today. Would love to see your prayer journals and hear how you organize your prayer time. Blessings.
I’m digging around Sacred Scripture for mercy. Since that is my word for this year, I want to learn all about it. What is it, why is it necessary, how can I get some…all questions I hope to answer in my quest.
So, typical to the way I function, I pulled up a Google search for verses about mercy, and took the first one:
Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Let us therefore…
What is that “therefore” there for?
To find out, I’ve learned, we must read the Scriptures in context…so…
I backtracked to the beginning of chapter four, and found another “therefore”, so I backtracked to chapter three…guess what?
Another therefore, sending me to chapter two…
Therefore, I have thus decided to begin at the beginning of Hebrews, for the sake of nailing down what in the world all those “therefores” are there for.
While I read, I will be looking for reasons why I am urged to approach the throne of grace with boldness. Because, I desperately WANT to receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need. I have a feeling I won’t be stopping at the end of Hebrews 3…in fact I have a feeling Hebrews might just be my study tool for 2016. Anyone want to join me?
I want my spiritual nourishment to be just as important as my physical. What if, every time I was bored, instead of snacking on food, I was grazing in the Word of God? How would it be to hunger and thirst for spiritual communion as I do for breakfast…or my first cup of coffee? What would my prayer life look like if it was as routinely anticipated and prepared as my caffeine intake? Do I ever skip morning coffee? Not without serious consequences. Why don’t I see the spiritual consequences of skipping my prayer, devotion and Bible reading with the same attitude?