Psalm 139

My Bible memory for the month of June…Psalm 139. This is a great passage to meditate on during adoration in my prayer time. I hope to have it hidden deep in my heart by the end of June. Each day after I give my day, myself and all I have, desire, and plan to do to my blessed Jesus, I read thru the entire passage out loud, then ink out a word or phrase and read through it again. I do this for 5-15 minutes every morning before I read the daily Mass readings. My pie in the sky plan is to have one chapter of Sacred Scripture memorized each month.

Do you memorize Sacred Scripture? Share your best tips and favorite passages with me.

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On Bible Journaling—verse mapping

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.

Sacred Scripture – what’s the point?

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.

Advent – Week 1

Romans 5:5 – Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

 

O Emmanuel,
King and Lawgiver
Desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free, Lord, our God.

Isaiah 11:1-10

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
    and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
 The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
    a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
 and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
    nor by hearsay shall he decide,
 But he shall judge the poor with justice,
    and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
 Justice shall be the band around his waist,
    and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
    with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
    together their young shall lie down;
    the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the viper’s den,
    and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
 They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain;
    for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord,
    as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the peoples—
Him the nations will seek out; his dwelling shall be glorious.

Luke 1:26-38

 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,and the L ord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
 for nothing will be impossible for God.”
 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Drawing from the well – on Scripture memory

As a young girl, I heard testimonies about the benefits of hiding God’s Word in our heart, I like to think that when I need to hear a word from the Lord, I will hear him even if a Bible is not handy, because I have committed His words to memory.  A phrase I heard this morning in the Divine Office podcast reverberates in my mind, and I find it fitting right in with my thoughts on Scripture memory.

Rejoicing, you will draw water from the wells of the Savior.

Psalm 46 is the next passage of Scripture that I am putting to memory.  I memorized this portion of Scripture when I was in a little private Christian school in the fourth or fifth grade.  Every morning, before academics, we would have prayer, siing a song or two, and we would read or recite a portion of Scripture that was chosen for us for the month.  Each day, we were required to memorize one or more verses from the selected passage, and by the end of the month, the passage was committed to memory.  I still have pieces of this one stuck in the far corners of my time worn mind.

Phrases from this chapter have come to me numerous times when I have prayed for God’s help.  Rejoicing, I draw water from the wells of my Savior, I drink them in, and they refresh me.  Like buckets of water, again, He pours out His promises on the parched, dry places of my heart and mind, washing away the doubts and fears that cloud my thinking. And I am clean and refreshed, still before Him, ready for service.

In Quietness and Trust

For thus said the Lord God,
the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

A message from the Lord, right on time, as usual for Him.

I don’t remember now what prompted the memory of the phrase “in quietness and in trust”, but it was there, and I was compelled to find the reference.  I ended up reading all of Isaiah chapter 30.

Not five minutes later, I received a text with information that accelerated my pulse, and threatened my peace of mind.  And doesn’t the devil know just where to hit?  I had to take a deep breath, and talk myself down by reminding myself that my strength is found in quietness and trust, and my salvation is found in returning to the Lord, and resting in Him.  Scripture is full of these encouraging exhortations.  Consider:

 Exodus 14:13,14  And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.

2 Chronicles 20:17  ~ You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Fear not, and be not dismayed;

Psalm 46:10 ~ Be still, and know that I am God.  I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 37:7a ~ Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;  fret not yourself…

I am encouraged by this little word study this morning, and will try to remember it through my day as often as little arrows of doubt and discouragement are fired my way, and I also will be re-memorizing Psalm 46.  I’ve memorized it before as a child in the King James Version of the Bible, so it is still familiar.  I will be working through it in the RSVCE and putting it to memory again as an adult.  Who wants to join me?