Bible-Marking FAQs

Bible-marking is an easy way to prepare yourself to be able to study with others, answer questions, or teach a class or devotional.  If you’re unfamiliar it, check this out or check out the Bible-marking feature at Come Fill Your Cup.

Today’s post will consider some questions I hear most often.  If you think of another that isn’t mentioned, please share it with us!

How do you determine which topics to mark?

LISTEN.  Listen to what your friends, neighbors, family members or co-workers are discussing.  Is there something that confuses them, such as reconciling the existence of pain and suffering with a good God?  Is there something they’re struggling with, such as discouragement or a specific sin?  Also listen to sermons and classes.  When you hear a lesson on grace or prayer, start jotting down the Scripture references for later study.  Neal just preached “Parenting from Proverbs” this past Sunday and I thought, “That’d be a great Bible-marking topic!”

PREPARE.  Many topics will be geared toward your own personal Bible study opportunities.  You’ll want to be prepared to answer questions about salvation, worship, authority, the organization of the Lord’s church, etc.

PRACTICALITY.  You could Bible-mark just about any topic, but not every topic needs to be Bible-marked.  Ask yourself the purpose for marking.  Will it be helpful in teaching others?  Will it be beneficial for your own spiritual growth or encouragement?  Will it be something you could use when called on to give a devotional?  The purpose of Bible-marking is to be prepared for study, sharing, and growth.  If a topic doesn’t fulfill any of those goals, there’s really no need to Bible-mark it.

How do you keep from proof texting?

STUDY.  Proof texting is using Bible verses to try and prove a point without considering the entire context.  Passages pulled out of context can be used to prove just about any opinion or viewpoint and that can be very dangerous.  It’s vitally important that quality time is spent in study to make sure we’re never guilty of misusing Scripture (2 Tim. 2:15).  It’s easy to pull verses out of context.  It takes work to understand the context.  Because we’re accountable for what we teach (James 3:1), we better take the time and trouble to study, study, study.

When more than one topic uses the same passage, how do you know which verse goes with which topic?

COLOR.  The pigma micron pens come in a variety of colors.  Using different colors for each topic will allow you to keep your topics clearly marked.  For example, the topics “Plan of Salvation” and “Sinful Past” share a verse, so at the end of that verse there are two passages listed.  Because those topics have been marked in different colors, I know which verse to go to for the “Plan of Salvation” and which one to go to for “Sinful Past.”  If you ever find that you used the same color in that situation, simply note the topic initials next to the passages you’re supposed to go to next.  For instance, write “Acts 2:38 (PS)” at the end of the verse.

How do you know when to underline, circle, or draw a square around certain words?

STYLE.  It’s all completely personal.  Use your own style to determine what you’d like to mark in each verse.  The point is to draw attention to what needs to be emphasized for the topic you’re studying.  If you’d prefer to circle instead of underline, or use highlighters instead of pens, go for it.  If you don’t like to write notes in your margins, that’s okay.  Everyone has their own style and preferences.  When it comes to marking verses, you get to choose what works best for you.

How long does it take to put together a Bible-marking topic?

HOURS.  But how many depends on the topic itself.  If it’s a deeper subject, naturally it’ll take longer to study.  If it’s a topic you’re more familiar with or one that you’ve recently studied in a class, you can prepare it for Bible-marking in only a couple of hours.  Again, the time is mostly devoted to making sure no passages are misused or taken out of context.

With the exception of making sure all passages are used accurately, there’s really no right or wrong way to Bible-mark.  Everyone has their own learning style, study habits, and personal preferences.  The idea is to just get into the Word and look for ways to easily share it with others.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you for Your Word, Lord.  May we always be ready to share it!

 

 

Why Good People Suffer (a Bible-marking topic)

Pain and suffering exist.  Does that mean God doesn’t?  Wouldn’t an all-powerful, benevolent God eliminate suffering?  These questions are so important to address.  Nonbelievers claim that the existence of pain and suffering prove there is no God.  They have a hard time reconciling the idea of a loving, compassionate God with the reality of cancer, untimely deaths, horrific crimes, war, and natural disasters.  Sometimes Christians may struggle with doubt as well when faced with tragedy or persecution.

What does the Bible have to say about why good people suffer?  At Higher Ground, we have Bible-marking classes each day.  During the final class, the girls have an opportunity to come up with their own Bible-marking topics.  A couple of years ago, one of the groups chose “Why Good People Suffer,” and below are the verses they shared and their suggestions of what to mark.  This is an excellent topic to have marked in your Bible so you will be prepared to help anyone who wrestles with this question.

(If you are new to this blog or unfamiliar with Bible-marking, please check out previous how-to posts.  You can click on Bible-marking in the tag cloud.)

Why Good People Suffer– James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Box in the words “good” and “Father” and connect them with a line.  Write in the margin, “So where do bad things come from?”  At the end of the verse, write Job 1:6-12.

For the sake of space, the text will not be included here.  Circle the word “Satan” every time it occurs in these verses.  At the end of verse 12, write James 1:2-4.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Underline “joy” and “your faith produces patience” (some versions read “endurance”).  At the end of the verse, write 1 Peter 1:6,7.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Circle “various trials” and underline “genuineness of your faith” (some versions read “proof of your faith”).  At the end of the verse, write Rom. 8:18.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.

Circle “sufferings of this present time” and underline “not worthy.”  Then circle “glory” and underline “shall be revealed in us.”  At the end of the verse, write Rev. 21:4.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

In the margin write, “If we didn’t suffer here on earth, we wouldn’t want to go to Heaven.”

How does our loving and compassionate God feel about pain and suffering?  He wants to wipe it all away, and He will.  That’s His promise.  We may endure trials for a little while here, but we have a promised eternity of pain-free bliss ahead of us.  As Timothy Keller wrote, ““Resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.”

If you’d like to add more verses to this topic, here are some additional ones that help us understand why good people suffer:

  • Rom. 5:3-5- It produces endurance, character, and hope.
  • 1 Pet. 5:10- Any suffering is brief; God’s grace is eternal.
  • 1 Pet. 4:12-19- It allows us to share in the sufferings of Christ.  Suffering as a Christian allows us to glorify God.
  • John 16:33- The world is full of tribulation.
  • 2 Tim. 3:12- All who desire to live godly lives will suffer/ be persecuted.
  • Psa. 119:67- It can cause us to return to the Lord.
  • 2 Cor. 4:16-18- It prepares us for glory.
  • 2 Thess. 1:1-12- It makes us worthy of the kingdom of God.
  • James 5:10,11- It helps us build endurance.
  • 2 Cor. 1:3-7- It allows us to share in the comforts of Christ.
  • 1 Pet. 2:19-21- If we endure suffering for doing good, it is a gracious thing in God’s sight.
  • Matt. 5:10-12- Some suffering is because we wear the name of Christ.
  • 2 Cor. 12:7-10- It causes us to rely on Christ’s grace and strength.

Prayer for Today:  In a world of suffering, may we help others see Your love and goodness.

Blessings Abound

Political unrest, overwhelming national debt, sin tolerance, socialism, health care plans, rights of citizens, crime sprees…

In the midst of all of the distressing news, I need a reminder every now and then of the glory of the Christian life.  “A faithful man will abound with blessings” (Prov. 28:20).  So instead of feeling overwhelmed, fearful or discouraged, let us bolster ourselves and each other with the bounty of blessings found in Christ.  Find a quiet spot, open your Bible, and whisper a prayer of thanks as you circle the words that show the measure of goodness God bestows on those who are His.

(Emphases mine, to highlight words having to do with abundance)

BLESSINGS

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3)
  • “For the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him” (Rom. 10:12)

HOPE & GLORY

  • “That you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18)
  • “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13)

GRACE

  • “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8)
  • “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us” (Eph. 1:7,8)
  • “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7)

STRENGTH

  • “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might” (Eph. 3:16)

LOVE & FULLNESS

  • “That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19)

MIGHT

  • “That you may know….what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:19)
  • “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20)

PEACE

  • “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psa. 119:165)
  • “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7)

Let’s show the world our confidence in these blessings so they will want that kind of security for themselves.  Let’s show our neighbors and fellow Christians that we rely on God’s abounding and steadfast love (Psa. 103:8).  And let’s be a blessing to others by abounding in good works and sacrificial love (1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 8:7; Phil. 1:9).

Prayer for Today:  In a world of turmoil, may we always recognize Your goodness and grace.

Marriage Builders from Proverbs- a Bible-marking topic

First, some Bible-marking reminders…

-I love Bible-marking for several reasons!  You’ll have topics handy for when you need a spiritual boost.  Has your prayer life been lagging?  If you’ve marked the topic of prayer in your Bible, you can easily study through some verses that will strengthen your prayer time.  Bible-marking also makes it easier for you to find verses that will encourage others.  If you’ve marked the topic of endurance, then you’ll have verses handy to share with someone who is discouraged or struggling.  Bible-marking several topics means that you’ll always be ready to give a devotional or teach a class at a moment’s notice.  And finally, Bible-marking allows you to be prepared to study with someone as soon as the opportunity arises.

-The tools:  you just need your Bible and a pen.  I use the same pen that was recommended by Wendell Winkler when I learned Bible-marking from him over 20 years ago.  It’s the Pigma Micron pen.  It comes in a variety of colors and won’t fade or bleed through your thin Bible pages.  The pen tips come in various sizes.  My favorite is “01” because it’s not too fat and it’s not too skinny.  It’s just right.  You can find these pens at craft or art stores and also Christian book stores.

So let’s get marking.  Go to one of the blank pages in the front of your Bible and list this topic as “Marriage Builders from Proverbs.”  Write your first verse next to it, which is Prov. 4:23-27.  Then turn to that passage.  I’m using the New King James version.

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.  Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.  Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.  Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.  Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your feet from evil.”

-In my Bible, I put a square around the word “heart” in vs. 23 and a square around the word “all” in vs. 26.  Then I underlined all the body parts mentioned (mouth, lips, eyes, feet).  If you guard your heart, everything else will follow.  Your mouth won’t say ugly things.  Your eyes won’t look at things they’re not supposed to.  Your feet won’t take you to places you shouldn’t be.  In other words, you will not stray in any way.  At the end of vs. 27, write the next verse, which is 10:19.  Since we’re staying in Proverbs, you only need to note the chapter and verse each time.

“In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

A lot of marital strife can be avoided simply by realizing we don’t have to SAY everything we think (see also Prov. 29:11).  You won’t have to regret thoughtless or hurtful remarks if you never say them in the first place.  At the end of this verse, write the next one, which is 11:13.

“A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”

-Protect your marriage by keeping private matters private.  Don’t share your gripes with your best friend or your mom.  When you get into an argument, don’t seek sympathy from others.  When you and your spouse make up, you’ll regret involving outsiders.  At the end of this verse, write the next one, which is 14:29.

“He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.”

-Don’t get angry over small things.  Be patient and understanding.  I hate to see a man act easy-going around everyone except his wife, and vice versa.  Respect your spouse by treating them the same way you want to be treated.  At the end of this verse, write 15:13.

“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”

-Are you happy in your marriage?  Make sure your face reflects it.  Smile every time you see your spouse.  Never let them doubt whether or not you are happy to see them.  Joy keeps a marriage fresh and the interest alive.  The next verse is in the same chapter, so at the end of this passage just write “vs. 17.”

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.”

-Keep your priorities straight.  Make sure what truly matters in your marriage is what’s emphasized.  Don’t spend more time improving the quality of THINGS than the quality of your relationship.  You probably know a couple who has very little, materialistically speaking, but they are in love, always laughing, enjoying each other’s company.  And you probably know a couple who is well off, but they seem discontent, never having much to say to each other.  Which couple is happier?  At the end of this verse, write the next one, which is 17:9.

“He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

-Don’t air your dirty laundry.  Don’t let indignation or hurt cause you to blab your spouse’s sins or mistakes.  Love protects and forgives.  Do you want all of your bad choices made known to others?  At the end of this verse, write  vs. 17.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

-Stress, financial trouble, job loss, long-term illness, death.  As a couple, prepare to endure any hardships that come your way by staying close, leaning on God, and determining ahead of time that your marriage is for keeps.  At the end of this verse, write 19:11.

“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.”

-Don’t be overly sensitive.  Don’t take everything personally.  Don’t be easily hurt.  Your spouse will have less-than-stellar days because of tiredness, worry, or fear.  Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and assume that all will be back to normal soon.  At the end of this verse, write the next one, which is 21:9.

“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

-My goal is to make sure my husband only chuckles when he comes across this verse.  I do not want him to read it and commiserate!  The word for “contentious” in the original language means one who causes strife or discord.  Is your home filled with strife?  Make sure you’re not the cause.  Go out of your way to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony.  At the end of this verse, write vs. 23.

“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”

-A trouble-free marriage relies greatly on making sure the things we say are kind and loving.  We might say the right things, but are we saying them in the right way?  Do you find yourself being overly sarcastic?  Are you quick to ridicule?  Make sure everything that comes out of your mouth will promote closeness and build up your spouse.  At the end of this verse, write 25:28.

“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

-A city without walls has no protection, no defense against enemy attacks.  Protect your marriage by practicing self-control.  If you lack self-discipline when it comes to your speech and your emotions, you are making your marriage vulnerable.  At the end of this verse, write the last one, which is 27:1.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

-Treat every day with your spouse as if it were your last.  Spend time together.  Express your love and appreciation.  Discard any resentment.  Get over the past and embrace the present.  Thank God for your marriage.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom and advice found in Your Word.  Help me apply it so I can do my part to build a strong and happy marriage.  

Haunted by the Past

Have any regrets?  While most of us have things in our past we wish we could go back and change, some have things in their past they can’t seem to, well, get past.  You may have studied the Bible with someone who briefly looked hopeful as they contemplated salvation, but then their shoulders slumped as they whispered, “But you have no idea what I’ve done.”  They are so ashamed of their past that they are burdened with feelings of guilt and unworthiness.  How can we help them understand that none of us are good enough, but the blood of Christ is powerful enough to wash away every transgression?

One of my favorite Bible-marking topics is about this very thing.  There are several verses that can help anyone who struggles with the idea that it’s too late because they’ve messed up too much.  In my Bible, I have this topic marked as “Sinful Past,” and aside from the Plan of Salvation, I’ve used this one the most.  Here are the verses:

SINFUL PAST

Luke 7:36-50– This is the account of the woman who was a sinner entering the Pharisee’s house and anointing Jesus’ feet with her tears and fragrant oil.  This woman had an unsavory reputation in her town.  She’d been shunned by others, but her obvious regret and repentance led her to Jesus.  In my Bible, I underlined “a sinner” in verse 37, “your sins are forgiven” in verse 48, and “Go in peace” in verse 50.  Jesus commended her faith.  He assured her of salvation. He knew she would struggle with feelings of guilt and unworthiness, so He comforted her by offering her the peace that only He can give.

Acts 2:36-38– (If you’re Bible-marking, then write this Scripture reference at the end of the last one so you’ll know to turn to it next)- In this passage, Peter preaches to a large group of people and convicts them of their guilt.  What did they do?  In verse 36, I underlined, “Jesus, whom YOU crucified.”  They were guilty of putting the Son of God on the cross!  That’s a pretty major burden to bear, and aren’t we all guilty of that?  When asked what they could do about it, they were not told, “Nothing!  It’s too late!”  An answer was given, and with it, a solution.  Repentance and baptism remove sins.  In addition, anyone who does those very things will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  That gift is not offered only to those who are special or worthy.  In my Bible, I circled “remission of sins” and “gift of the Holy Spirit” in verse 38.

Gal. 5:19-25– The first half of this passage lists “works of the flesh” (vs. 19) and concludes with “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (vs. 21).  I underlined both of those.  When people are struggling with feelings of unworthiness, they are stuck here.  They think nothing can possibly be done in order for them to go to Heaven. The second half of the passage, though, talks about the fruit of the Spirit, a list of things that are in stark contrast to the works of the flesh.  I underlined “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh” (vs. 24).  Adultery, drunkenness, fornication, hatred and many other sins can be put to death for those who are in Christ.  The past can be buried.

Col. 2:11-13– Paul wanted Christians to have that blessed assurance and to have hearts that were encouraged (see earlier in the chapter) so he reminded them that baptism raised them above their former condition.  I underlined “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh” (vs. 11) and “being dead in your trespasses” (vs. 13).  I circled “raised with Him through faith” (vs. 12) and “made alive together with Him” (vs. 13).  That way the contrasts really jump out on the page.  I put a square around “forgiven you all trespasses,” highlighting the word “all” (vs. 13).  If ALL our sins have been forgiven, how many of them are left to haunt us?

1 Tim. 1:12-15– Paul had a past.  He used to be a “blasphemer, persecutor, and an insolent man.”  He called himself the chief of sinners.  But he obtained mercy and grace.  I underlined the word “formerly” in verse 13, and circled the words “exceedingly” and “abundantly” in verse 14.  Grace, faith, and love are in Christ Jesus, and don’t you love how grace is emphasized?   Grace would’ve been enough.  Abundant grace would’ve been more than enough.  But our Lord offers exceedingly abundant grace so that all can accept the fact that Jesus came into the world to save sinners!

1 Cor. 6:9-11– Twice we’re told in this passage that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Specific acts of unrighteousness are listed:  fornication, adultery, homosexuality, theft, drunkenness, etc.  Anyone guilty of these things will be lost.  Paul goes on to say, “And such WERE some of you” (vs. 11).  Paul was writing to the church at Corinth.  He was addressing Christians, people who had a sinful past.  Their guilt was removed when they were “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified” in the name of Christ.  I underlined all three of those words, and circled the word “were” in verse 11.  In the margin, I wrote the words “just as if” to remind myself that “justified” means just as if I’d never sinned.

Prayer for Today:  Help me, Lord, to remember that Satan wants us to hang on to our past so we will feel hopeless.  Thank You for Your love, which prompted You to offer Your Son, and for Your grace, which makes it possible for us to saved by obedience through Him.