A few years ago I purchased a book on how to study the Bible. Using this book as a jumping-off point, I’m starting a weekly series on studying the Bible. Each week I’ll use one of the different methods as a Bible Study Journal Template to work through a book, chapter, verse, topic or character of the Bible.
The thing I like about this book was that it is short in the “Whys” and offers forty different “Hows.” I had no idea until this book that there were so many different methods that others use to study their Bible. I’m thankful there are because every so often I need a refresh or a restart in my Bible study to keep it interesting.
Learn to Study the Bible provides the “Core Components of Bible Study,” “Simple Bible Study Methods,” “Major Bible Study Methods,” “Creative Bible Study Methods,” Studying Specific Passages,” and “Study Methods for Younger Students.” There are Bible Study Acronyms, and “Instructions for Continued Growth.”
Before someone asks, no, this book is not written by a Catholic or from a Catholic perspective. But studying the Bible is something every Catholic should be doing! Take the gold from this book and if there’s any dross–which I don’t remember there being any, leave it. Simple as that.
If you’d like to follow along and make your own Bible Study Journal template, I recommend you purchase a spiral or composition notebook, a favorite pen, and highlighters, grab your Bible and anything else you think you might need to study your Bible using these various methods. You can find some of my favorite Bible Journaling supplies here.
Bible Study Journal Template: Daily Bread
The first method to study the Bible listed in the book, Learn to Study the Bible is called Daily Bread. “The Daily Bread Bible Study is one of the simplest ways to begin discovering the specific truths that the Holy Spirit has for us each day.”
The method in the book has five steps. I’m shortening the steps to four, but only because I want the fifth step mentioned to be used across the board in every single method of study we cover.
Each week, each Bible Study method we cover, I want you to write a favorite verse or two in a little spiral to keep with you. Carry this in your purse, your car, put it beside your desk or on your kitchen counter. I want this little spiral to be wherever you are. This noisy, sometimes obnoxious, lying, dark world is always with you, I want you to combat that by carrying the light and truth of God’s Word with you!
Step One in Daily Bread of our Bible Study Journal Template is to choose a passage, paragraph, or chapter to study. I chose Matthew 9 as my passage to work through using the “Daily Bread” method. You can choose this or any other passage of the Bible you’d like–make it meaningful and that will help make it memorable.
Step Two is to pray and ask God to meet with you. Here’s my prayer…
“Lord, I want to know you better. I want to grow in closer friendship with Jesus. Please show me–open my eyes, the eyes of my heart as I read and study today. Show me more of who You are. Reveal Yourself to me in a new and deeper way. Amen.”
Step Three is to think about the passage you are studying. The author of Learn to Study the Bible suggests reading and rereading the passage a number of times. Meditate upon the passage and consider how you can apply it to your life–which is actually Step Four.
As you read the passage over and over, picture yourself in the passage. This is one of the best forms of meditation. You can choose a character mentioned in the passage or just place yourself in the passage as a bystander watching the scene unfold and take place in front of you. Try to use as many of your senses as you can.
The passage I chose from Matthew 9 was when Jesus got in a boat to cross to the other side of the lake and was met by a paralytic and his friends. The passage mentions some teachers of religious law were there too. To get started, here’s my “Picture It,”
It’s warm and humid near the lake. It smelled like a familiar mixture of wet soil, wood, fish, water, and sweat. The sun is shining and there are some people working around the lake. Fishermen and other people are just hanging around the lake. A small crowd of friends is walking towards the lake carrying their paralyzed friend on a mat. They’ve heard rumors about a man named Jesus. They’ve heard he heals the lame, sick, even dead! It wouldn’t matter how hot or humid it was today, they’ve heard Jesus got on a boat headed to their side of the lake and they’re determined to take their lame friend to see him. This little band of friends is quiet but hopeful. As they get closer, they see the teachers of the religious law; intimidating fellows but these friends are determined. They see the boat near the shore so they start scanning the nearby crowd. They’re not exactly sure what this Jesus guy looks like. They’re hoping somehow they will be able to recognize him…there he is and he sees them. He starts walking towards them. Although a busy lake shore, they seem to be the only ones there. They have this sense of familiarity even though they have never seen or met Jesus. He walks up and smiles briefly but immediately turns his attention to the man on the mat. Bending near to the man with an incredibly tender smile, Jesus says, “Be encouraged my child! Your sins are forgiven.” The man knew…the friends knew…he had been healed. But before they could celebrate with tears of joy and thanksgiving, Jesus needed to address the religious leaders. Although they said nothing, you could see the doubt, suspicion and disdain for Jesus in their faces. Jesus couldn’t let their doubts and suspicion go, not today and not now so he speaks to them, asking a question. He knows he won’t get through to them right now, he also knows a small crowd is listening and they might understand. More importantly, he knows he has just healed a man! He turns to the man and tells him to pick up his mat and go home. The man jumps up and he and his friends go back in the direction they came. They are laughing, slapping backs and praising God for the healing that just took place. The man is thanking his friends for their faith that literally carried him to the feet of Jesus!
The author lists, “Paraphrase It” as another part of Step Three. Here’s what my paraphrase looks like. Seeing the look of love and concern in the faces of the paralyzed man’s friends faces, Jesus also recognized their faith. This moved him to speak words of encouragement to the man; punctuated by refering to the man as “My child.” It wasn’t only the words, but the tone of his voice and the look on his face that assured the man his sins were truely forgiven and his body healed.
“Pronounce It” is also part of Step Three. This means you just pronounce or even write the passage putting emphasis on different words in the phrase as you read and reread it. For example,
SEEING their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man on a mat, “Be encouraged my child! Your sins are forgiven.”
Seeing THEIR faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man on a may, “Be encouraged my child! Your sins are forgiven.”
Seeing their FAITH, Jesus said to the paralyzed man on a may, “Be encouraged my child! Your sins are forgiven.”
In Step Three the author recommends “Personalize It.” “Seeing MY faith, Jesus said to ME, “Be encouraged my child! Jenny, your sins are forgiven.”
The last component of Step Three is “Pray It.” “Jesus thank you for seeing me! Thank you for seeing my faith and the faith of my friends–as weak and imperfect as it is. Lord, Your words encourage me. I could not go on, I could not pick anything up without Your forgiveness–You know that. Thank You for Your passion, death, and resurrection to take away my sins.”
Finally, Step Four is to “Plan One Application.” Here’s mine, “I will seek out friends with a faith Jesus will see and recognize. I will be a friend who will carry my friendships to the feet of Jesus.”
“Daily Bread” is a great method to study the Bible. It really forced me to think and rethink as I read and reread the passage. I think the hardest part for me was the “Plan One Application” in this verse. It was a good hard though because I really had to think and dig deep, not only into this passage but into my understanding of it.
Next up in this Bible Study Journal Template series of posts we’re going to consider the “Timothy Method.”