The question I get asked most often about my Bible journaling is what color coding system I use. And the truth is that, for the most part, I just go with what makes sense to me at the time. However, in spending some time trying to come up with an answer to this question, I have realized that I have what might be a loose framework. So I’m gonna do my best to put it into words for you. 🙂
For me, determining how to use color in my Bible boils down to 2 questions:
1. How can I use color to make this passage easier to understand?
2. How can I use color to make it easier to find key concepts?
I don’t really have any hard and fast rules about what different colors mean. I tend to use purple for Jesus, but other than that it varies from book to book. (If you want a color coding system to use throughout your entire Bible head to Pinterest – you’ll find tons!)
Different types of Books:
When I am studying a book that has multiple characters and stories, the way Genesis, Ruth and Esther do, I will assign each major character a color. This helps me keep the characters and their words and actions straight. And when I come back to that passage to find verses it helps me locate information based on color.
In books like the Epistles (New Testament letters) I focus more on key concepts such as grace, forgiveness, love, etc. I will assign each concept a color and mark the passages accordingly.
Other things I make note of:
1. Locations and times
2. Repeated words or phrases
3. Transition words such as but and therefore
5. God’s promises
Ok, so let’s break it down and and look at Psalm 40 together.
- Pray! Before I tackle a passage I try to always start by asking God to clear my mind and give me the focus I need to understand His word. I ask Him to speak to me and allow me to hear His voice.
- Next, I will read the passage a few times just to make sure I understand what is going on. This will help me determine how I am going to highlight the passage.
- In Psalm 40, David talks about himself, God, people who are against him, and gives advice to believers so I will use color to differentiate between those 4 perspectives. I also notice the word deliverance is repeated 4 times and referenced in verse 2 so I will also use color to highlight that word.
- As I highlight and mark I also make note of what I learn about God and His character as well as things I need to be doing. I usually wright notes in the margins about these things.
- Now I am going to get on my soap box about commentaries and study Bibles for just a minute. When you are new to studying your Bible it can be very intimidating. The temptation is to turn to someone else and let them tell you what a verse or a passage means. The problem with that is that you are relying on their opinion and not on God. Give it time and allow God to speak to you before you look for the opinions of others. I definitely use commentaries and study Bibles but not until I have spent time with God and really wrestled with the passage myself. Ok, stepping down off of the soap box now. 🙂
And that’s about it! I think the biggest take away that I can give you is to trust yourself. Create a system that works for YOU! It’s great to get tips and ideas from other people, but in the end this is between you and God and His word. Be open to trial and error. If you try something and it doesn’t work, that’s ok! The MOST important thing is that you are diving into God’s word and discovering His truths for yourself. That is always time well spent!
You may also want to check out the guiding questions that I use when studying here.
Do you have a system for marking in your Bible? I would LOVE to hear about it!