Category Archives: Bible Journaling
You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for about four days. I’ve done my journals, but I haven’t managed to get them online. Well, part of the problem is that I’ve been asleep during the time I usually write blog posts. I can’t seem to sit down without drifting off these last few days.I had surgery a few weeks ago–not a big deal–and I’ve recovered well. However, last week was my first full week back to work, and it zapped me. Completely zapped me. Sheer and total exhaustion.
I have this terrible habit of going until I crash. Drives my husband crazy. He’s always asking me why I don’t rest.
God must be wondering the same thing.
Not only does He offer rest, He modeled it, by resting on the seventh day of creation. I like to joke sometimes that God didn’t stop to rest until the job was finished, so neither should I, but the point is that rest was important to God. He established the Sabbath, and later the Lord’s Day as days of rest, but how many of us honor that time?
In fact, a lot of people skip church on Sundays so they can get extra work done before the work week starts. What a concept! No wonder we’re all beat-down tired all the time.
The end of Matthew 11 is often the go-to verse about rest, but the whole chapter is an interesting read. First, John sends Jesus a message from prison asking if He’s the Coming One or if they needed to wait for another. Jesus answers:
Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
In other words, YES! He was the Coming One.
Jesus goes on to compare and contrast himself to John the Baptist, explaining how John was the messenger and He was the real deal. Then comes the rebuke of the cities–Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum. I used to wonder why He brought that up before his inspirational words at the end of the chapter. It felt like something was missing. Had Matthew left something out? There’s even an unspoken question there. Verse 25 starts out that Jesus “answered and said” but verse 24 is a harsh judgment on those cities.
Realizing that this passage is a snapshot of where Jesus was teaching the multitudes who were looking for the coming Messiah, the remainder of the chapter makes sense. Jesus is simply asking them to accept and follow Him. Find rest in Him.
Suddenly, this passage is not about the rest itself or our need for it, which is a more selfish angle.
When Jesus was on this earth, He spent his time preaching and providing rest and hope. A blind man who could look forward to nothing more than begging could suddenly find a vocation and take care of himself. A group of men who’d been exiled from their families and forced to live on the edge of their town because of their leprosy could suddenly return home.
After establishing that, Jesus gave us the ultimate offer of rest–for our souls. Note that this is not rest from a handicap or illness. It’s not rest from a trying situation at work or a difficult neighbor. For the disciples, it wasn’t rest from prison or persecution. It was the rest and assurance that comes from not having to worry about where we’ll spend eternity.
Being weary and heavy-laden is often our own making. We get ourselves in over our heads. The thing is, when Christ is our focus, we’re so busy following Him that we don’t get caught up in a lot of the stresses that wreck lives and lead to those burdens that we cannot possibly bear. We have a different approach to managing tragedy or illness. We have a peace about us that does not make sense to the rest of the world.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
For the journaling:
- I wanted to keep my focus on rest in Him. So, I sketched Golgotha over the chapter, the hill with three crosses, to remind me of His sacrifice that allows me access to the rest for my soul. To emphasize this further, I shaded yellow behind the cross
- I wrote in the margin: Burdens are lifted at Calvary
- I highlighted verse 5 in pink, because pink often means healing, which was a big part of His ministry when Jesus walked the earth.
- Over verses 28-30, I drew a yoke, and in the side margin, I wrote His yoke is easy, to remind me that a lot of the things I put on myself are what get me stressed. If I keep my focus on Him, it’s not ever that bad.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always kept in the back of my mind the thought that when it rains, Jesus is shedding tears over our sin. Though my understanding has deepened, the sentiment remains–we have a God who expresses sorrow and compassion for the lost as well as for His hurting children. I’ve often wondered if every raindrop were a tear, would it be enough to cover every sin and devastation?
A simple thought on this insanely busy day, but fitting for the chosen verse, John 11:35. Often referenced by its status as the shortest verse in the Bible, it carries a much deeper impact than some of the longer passages.
Jesus wept. He poured out his deep, heartfelt compassion for his friends and sorrow for their departed brother.
And then, He demonstrated His majesty with an act that elicits more hope than perhaps any other act in Scripture save for his own death and resurrection. He abandons His sorrow and speaks His friend back to life.
The great hope in this moment is that God cares deeply for us. He even knows the number of hairs on our head. Jesus exercising divine intervention for Lazarus, whose death moved him to tears, is noble. To see it happen is evidence of His power.
Death has no victory for those who are in Christ Jesus. (I Cor 15:55) And thankfully He has the compassion to offer the promise–he will intervene for us as well. Not a second chance on this earth the way he gave Lazarus, but rather a permanent home in heaven where we will not have to face illness and death.
For the journaling: (No picture because I’m going to have to go back and do the drawing later)
- I’m going to draw a closed eye with a tear building at the corner of the lashes in the margins beside John 11:35
- I’m going to write a link to Psalm 139–a great read for anyone ever doubting that God cares for his people.
- I’ll caption it: “He cares for me!”
I’ve been focusing on hope in all these journaling entries, but the greatest hope by far is that when we access the blood of Christ, we receive a true cleansing and the promise of salvation (I John 1:7–the blood of His son purifies us from sin). The ultimate sacrificial lamb.
When I was young, I always wondered why God chose to depict Jesus as a lamb and why lambs were used for sacrifice. There are many other animals with helpless young. But in later years, I came to understand that it’s an animal with great humility who willingly goes to be slaughtered (like the reference in Isaiah 53:7 says).
The author of John 1:29 gives John the Baptist’s declaration about Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” A little confusing, because the author Remember these words were uttered while John the Baptist was out baptizing to prepare men and women for the coming of Christ. They’ve been waiting for this savior, this lamb of God, which was foreshadowed with the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. The men and women received John’s baptism with water, but would soon be able to take part in baptism in the name of Jesus like what’s given in Acts 2:38:
Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
With this baptism, they could access the blood of Jesus, and have their sins washed away. Salvation because of his sacrifice. (1 Peter 3:21).
There have been many vivid visuals of Christ’s sacrifice over the last several years, most notably The Passion of the Christ, which did stir deep emotion, but also scarred my brain with a series of gory images. I do feel it’s important to reflect on the pain and suffering that Christ endured on our behalf, but I also think Scripture emphasizes the humility Christ expressed when he went to the cross. It’s not a gory, gruesome, disgusting bloody battle that’s described in Scripture. It’s a flowing blood that continually covers our sin.
John 1:29 does not depict Christ as a great spiritual warrior or champion. He’s not described as a roaring lion or fierce panther. No, he is given the persona of a gentle, innocent lamb. The Lamb of God. The savior who willingly took the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders and accepted the punishment and shame on our behalf. And if you can’t find hope in that, what can you find hope in?
For my journal today:
- In John 1:29, underline the phrase: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
- Sketch a lamb in the margins near this verse.
- Write: Hope for eternal life through His blood
- Write a reference link to Isaiah 53:7 and Acts 2:38
Hebrews 10 is a worthy read about how animal sacrifices could never do for us what Christ did, and how His death was God’s will, to take away the first covenant and to establish the second. It talks about how Christ gave the ultimate offering for our sin, and how by that offering, it brings perfection to those who are sanctified. Powerful thoughts, for sure.
In the second part of the chapter, there’s this bit about how righteous people live by faith and can know that amidst the destruction or plundering of worldly goods, they have an “enduring and better possession in Heaven.”
At the end of the second part is Hebrews 10:35, which simply states:
Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
The chapter ends with the thought of promise for those who live by faith and continue to do His will.
My journal version (ESV) said to not throw away your confidence. This made me think of a wastebasket, which is what I chose for the journal entry today.
How often do we do this? The Bible teaches in I John 5:13 that we can know with some assurance that we have eternal life. And yet we doubt. Then, we get discouraged. Holding tight to confidence is what helps many athletes triumph in their quest for that much-coveted win. They’re told to keep their eye on the prize, and Christians should, too. We CAN triumph over Satan. We CAN have hope of eternal life. We CAN be confident in this!
For the journal entry:
I circled the phrases: Do not throw away your confidence, and you have need of endurance, and highlighted those in purple. No reason for the purple today 🙂 I was just feeling it. And then, I circled: you may receive what is promised, and highlighted in green to make the promise stand out.
I spent last quarter working with the 1st-3rd grade class studying the book of Job. You may be thinking, “That’s a THICK book for elementary kids,” and you’d be right. Job’s tough. But it contains a ton of great lessons, AND we’re preparing for Lads to Leaders Bible Bowl competition this April. Considering the January theme of hope, there’s no better book to walk through the ups and downs of life and come up on top.
The first passage I chose for today is often taken out of context. As it stands alone in the meme above, it’s a picture of complete positivity. Like the tree, we have hope. If we’re torn, we can regrow. Rebuild. Renew.
Job 14 is a continuation of what many Bibles label “Job’s Despondent Prayer.” He doesn’t utter these words because he’s being encouraging or uplifting. Rather, this is a point where Job’s spirit is low because he’s lost hope. It begins with desperation in verse 1:
Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.
And following this thought in verses 7-9, Job is pointing out that there is hope for a tree, while there is no hope for man. In verse 10, he laments that “man dies and is laid low, and where is he? As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, so a man lies down and does not rise again.”
This might lead a flailing Christian to believe that there is no hope at all. But thankfully, we have the second verse in the entry, which appears in Romans 5:5-6:
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
My journaling thought for today:
- Draw a budding branch in the margins close to Job 14:7-9. Write Romans 5:5-6 beside it to remember that these two verses are connected in our entry
- Draw this same branch in Romans 5:5-6
- In Job 14:7-9, circle the phrases: hope, sprout again, and it will bud. Remember that this is what our Christianity does for us. It allows us the renewal through Christ because he died for our sin.
- In Romans 5:5-6, circle: hope does not disappoint, the love of God has been poured out in our hearts, and “Christ died for the ungodly”
- Write the phrase “Yes, there is hope. In Him.” in decorative text.
*Mine ended up spanning two pages, so I wrote the link to Romans at the top of the next page and carried a little of the tree over to there.
Carrying on with the theme of hope…
Lamentations 3 has always been one of my go-to chapters when I get discouraged. Reading that first line where the prophet says, “I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.”
The book of Lamentations is about the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, and every time I get discouraged, I try to remind myself that none of the obstacles that I ever face are as terrible as the events leading to such devastating words as “even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer” or “He has also broken my teeth with gravel, and covered me with ashes.”
At first, reading this chapter, one might ask how it could possibly bring encouragement. Well, true. Prior to verse 20, it’s definitely a valley. But then, you read these powerful words.
What an amazing thought, to be renewed every day. And, to have the promise that we are not consumed.
For the journaling today:
- Circle the phrases: never ceases, never come to an end, new every morning, and I will hope in him. I chose blue for this because blue skies in the morning always bring hope of a brighter day.
- Lightly sketch a sunrise over the text. I kept mine muted because I didn’t want the sky to take over the sun. Also, when I shaded, I tried to make “I will hope in Him” stand out and didn’t add much shading there. Now, when I look at that passage, it’s the first thing I see.
- Add some hearts coming down from the sky to the horizon. I actually didn’t take this to the horizon because I drew the line below verse 24, so my hearts stop right as it says the steadfast love of the Lord. A lot of times, I picture his love as raining down on us and covering us, so I wanted to continue that thought.
My 2017 resolution is to spend more time reflecting on the scripture that I read. To do this, I’ll be doing some journaling and sharing on the blog. Feel free to join in and post your pictures/variations/thoughts in the comments. Be kind 🙂
Here’s today’s thought:
God is forever. Eternal. Everlasting. No matter what troubles you face or burdens you carry, God transcends them. Therefore, I need to learn to let go of my day-to-day, minute-to-minute petty issues and focus on what God has called me to do.
Disclaimer: Sometimes I draw well, and other times I draw like a third grader.
And, I’m kind of new at this myself. When I first started, I felt a little overwhelmed and needed step-by-step instructions.
So, here goes. Bible Marking 2017 #1 Theme: Hope
Psalm 90:1-2 reads:
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
- Highlight in green: “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations” and “from everlasting to everlasting.” The color green was chosen for this thought because it represents nature, and specifically the earth, which God created for us as our dwelling place. And yet, this verse points to God himself as a dwelling place. Sometimes we get so caught up in the fear of natural disasters that we forget our security in him. So in 2017, I want the color green to remind me that God is in control of all nature. I have no need for worry. He calmed the storm, He called the rain in the flood, and He created everything that comprises nature.
- Circle the phrases: “in all generations,” “before the mountains,” and “from everlasting to everlasting” to emphasize that God is forever.
- Lightly sketch mountains over the two verses
- Choose one phrase to write in the margins with decorative text. I chose everlasting to everlasting. The (badly drawn) squiggles are supposed to represent continual growth. Something like a plant that continues growing and never dies.
Take away: I can place my hope in God because he is eternal.