I gave the eulogy of a 95-year-old woman in our congregation. Moments before I spoke, the funeral director said of her, “Her Bible was well thumbed-through.” She was known as someone who loved to serve with her hands by providing meals for the sick and needy, but even more so as a woman who loved her God. Her serving flowed from a heart that loved God and his word.
On the day of her burial, her casket was closed with her Bible in it. After the funeral director told me about her Bible, I immediately asked the family to consider keeping the Bible as a reminder of her legacy of pursuing God. They decided to open the casket and keep her Bible as a reminder of how her Bible impacted her throughout her life.
The Bible was full of notes, dates, testimonies of answered prayer, prayers for family members and church members, and other items that revealed her deep love for Christ. After seeing her Bible, I was reminded of the value of journaling all of the ways God reveals himself through his word. The depth and riches of God’s word are inexhaustible, and I want my life to leave a legacy of a “well thumbed-through Bible.”
If you’ve never experienced the benefits of Bible journaling, perhaps you find yourself asking the question, “How do I write my thoughts about what I am reading in my Bible?” We like the idea, but have no idea what to write. I wasn’t sure how to begin the process of journaling in my Bible, but asking the following questions about any passage has proved to be a good place to start.
1. Who Is God?
The attributes of God are vast. The Bible is full of the glory of God, as page after page reveals who he is. The first question we should ask whenever we sit down to read God’s word is, “Who is God in this passage?”
How do we answer this question by moving from reading and listening to writing? Depending on the kind of book you’re dealing with, some passages can be journaled in small sections (verse by verse), whereas others might be better journaled in larger sections (paragraphs or even chapters at a time).
For example, Old Testament narratives may reveal a specific attribute of God in a large portion of Scripture. However, some of the books within wisdom literature reveal attributes of God in a more detailed, verse-by-verse way (like Psalms and Proverbs). The same can be said of the New Testament. A book like Romans is jammed packed with the attributes of God. Acts, by comparison, will give us the attributes of God more broadly as Luke shows us the power of the Spirit in the early church.
2. How Do I Fight Sin?
Each day, our enemy seeks to “steal and kill and destroy” our joy and satisfaction in Christ (John 10:10). Satan seeks to do this in a variety of ways, and we must be prepared to respond to his attacks with what God says about himself in his word. We wield the weapon God has given us against sin, the “sword of the Spirit,” his living and active word (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).
Satan’s attack in the garden began with planting a seed of doubt about the character and goodness of God. He is still seeking to do that in our moments of temptation. Scripture is sufficient in every area of our pursuit of God, but it especially promises to be sufficient in our fight against sin (Psalm 119:9).
3. How Is My Heart Stirred for Jesus?
The goal of all Bible reading is that the triune God would be worshiped for who he is and what he has done. As we meditate and “taste and see that the Lord is good” in a particular passage (Psalm 34:8), we obey the greatest commandment in all of Scripture — to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength (Mark 12:30) — by loving him in and through his word.
One of the great joys of Bible journaling is seeing evidences of God’s grace, goodness, and faithfulness throughout our life. Our affections are deepened not because we loved God more through journaling, but because we get to see how his hand has steadily led us — month by month, year by year — and how he has held us fast by his grace. Seeing his providence in the past will fuel our joy as we seek to love and glorify him all the more in the present.
Whether you choose to journal in your own copy of the Bible, or decide to use a separate notebook, you can trust that God rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).