Do you ever read your Bible and think, “Whaaat? What does this have to do with me?” Maybe you’re reading an Old Testament passage, and you just don’t get it. Or you’re skimming over something you’ve read a hundred times thinking, “Been here. Read before.” Verse mapping can help.
Some days you wonder if you should stick with it or just go AWOL from your quiet time.
That’s what I was thinking the other day when I read Joshua 3, the story of the Israelites getting ready to cross the Jordan. It’s an amazing story, but I was getting nothing out of it. I looked at all the highlighting I’d done last year, but got zilch encouragement for my life today. (This just shows you how low I can sink.)
Finally, a nugget of truth in verse 5 caught my attention: “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” I could see it had a command and a promise. But what did that word “consecrate” mean? Consecrate is something a priest does, right? Not something for home schooling moms.
I wrote it down and decided to do some verse mapping. And you know what? After 15 minutes, I was surprised by how much I God spoke to me through one little verse.
Sometimes it takes a bit of study to unlock more of God’s Word.
Devotional reading encourages and inspires us, but study helps us unpack more from the Bible. When we take an active approach and dig into Scripture, we absorb more of its life-giving truth.
Verse mapping puts a creative spin on Bible Study.
Here’s how to get started if you want to try it.
What you Need: 15-30 minutes, a Bible, paper, a pen, and your phone. (Your phone can actually be a blessing to your Bible study rather than a distraction.) Unlined paper makes a more visually appealing verse map, but any paper will do. You can also use colored pencils, pens, and highlighters.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You don’t have to try all of these ideas. Choose a few to start with.
Starting Points for Verse Mapping:
Write out your verse. Leave space between the lines and plenty of room on the page around it.
Read the verse in context. You can either choose a verse from a passage in your daily reading, or start with a verse you like, and then read the chapter it comes from.
Circle, underline, or box in words that stand out.
Highlight different words in color.
Read the verse in different versions. Use your phone to enter it into the search box at BibleGateway.com. Scroll down, and you’ll see a link like Joshua 3:5 in all English translations. Note down different renderings of key words or phrases that add to your understanding.
Use a dictionary. Look up and write down the meaning of one of your key words.
Cross Reference your verse. Look for verses that have the same key word or concept and include one on your map. (I use the word search feature at BibleGateway.)
Brainstorm on how to apply what you’re learning. Jot down a few ideas.
Remember: Resist the urge to go all out and create an extensive verse map with every element I mentioned. Instead, choose a few ideas to include in your map. Keep it easy and fun! In just 15-30 minutes, you can create a personal map of a Bible verse that speaks to you. The hand-on approach, as well as the use of color and space on the page, might spark your creativity and encourage you as you seek to listen for God’s voice through Scripture. How about giving it a try?
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite way to study scripture? Have you tried verse mapping yet?
Want more ideas on how to get more out of your quiet time and grow closer to God? Do you battle distraction when you try to read the Bible or pray? Click on the image below to check out my book, More of God: A Distracted Woman’s Guide to More Meaningful Quiet Times.
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Linking up with Kelly Balarie’s #RaRa Linkup, Mary Geisen’s #TellHisStory, Crystal Storms’ #HeartEncouragement, and Lyli Dunbar’s #FaithonFire. Check out these communities for more encouragement.
This looks like a great way to dig into God’s Word! I have never considered looking at a verse this way. Thanks for sharing.
It’s new to me too, Emily. Blessings.
Karen Brown says
Ohhhhh… I’m using this! Thanks for the great instructions and the inspiring encouragement. Truly. Love it! And I love how God is using you, Betsy! 🙂
Oh thank you Karen. You’ve just made my day with your encouraging words, friend.
Michele Morin says
I keep colored pencils in the middle of the table for my ladies’ Sunday school class. This kind of digging in and tearing apart is so satisfying!
Yes, it is! May the Lord bless the women in your class.
Sheila Kimball says
Consecrate: LIVE and LOVE like JESUS!! Thanks for some great morning encouragement, Mary. Blessings…#raralinkup
Thank you so much, Sheila. Blessings to you too! Let’s “consecrate” ourselves! 🙂
Ifeoma Samuel says
I love this…I do this too..study one verse, cross reference check other scriptures that relate to it.
By the way friend, I was only a guest host at the linkup! It is hard work and commitment running a linkup!
Happy New Year and Loads of Blessings from Nigeria!
Okay, thanks for the heads up! Will you be hosting it regularly?
Mary Geisen says
I love this! Your ideas for studying God’s word are making a difference. I have tried verse mapping but seeing how impactful it was for you, inspires me to want to try it again. Keep up the tips and ways to dig into God’s word.
Oh thanks for the encouragement, Mary! This topic (God’s Word) is close to my heart. Probably my passion. 🙂
I am encouraged to try this new way to study God’s word-especially for verses I want to memorize. Thank you for this clear explanation.
Great idea to do this with memory verses! They might stick better in our brains when we understand them better. 🙂
Cathy Chung says
Another great idea. I’m definitely going to give this a try!
Go for it, Cathy!
I’ve always liked the idea of verse mapping, thanks so much for giving a simple way to do it!
I hope you give it a try!
I’d never heard of verse mapping. It sounds like a great way to delve deeper into the Bible, although I can’t use handwriting because I’m blind.
I’m praying now for grace for you as you seek to dig deeper into God’s Word, Astrid! May He give you creativity to hear Him clearly!
Lisa Appelo says
Betsy, I really want to say I’m jealous of your handwriting but we’ll skip that for now. I LOVE this method of digging into God’s Word. You’ve really shown how to flesh out more of what God is telling us and how to make it personally applicable. Than you, friend! Good, good stuff and I’m pinning to my Bible Study board. 🙂
Jealous of my handwriting! Haha! May you be blessed as you search for more of God in His Word, Lisa!
Hi Betsy! (Like Lisa said.) Your idea of bible mapping is a lot like ‘idea mapping’ which is a tool to find topics to write about. Start with an idea and use matching ideas to make an idea tree.
This looks like a wonderful way to make an old passage new again. I think we all can get a little jaded to verses we hear again and again. Not that they don’t have beautiful messages or jewels of wisdom, I am the one that glosses over them. I really like this as an antidote! Thank you 🙂
You are right, Ceil. It is like idea mapping. Or mind mapping. I use those some in day to day life as well as Bible study. 🙂
Kristi Woods says
Digging into the Scripture really does open “more”. I’ve not verse mapped specifically ~ or perhaps I should say as neatly as you’ve done here. (You go, girl!) But I like the idea. Alot. I have dabbled in portions during my daily time with the Lord. Maybe it’s time to step it up a notch and gather the dabbling like you have here, pulling it together in organized and pleasing-to-the-eye fashion. 😉 Good post.
Blessings to you, Kristi, as you seek God in His Word. I don’t think it matters how we do it, just that we do it. I like to record and journal, but not everyone does, and there is freedom in Christ! 🙂
Thank you sweet Betsy for sharing this today with your readers. I’m new to verse mapping myself and am loving it! It really opens up God’s Word! Blessings!!
I’m enjoying it too, Jana. Thanks so much. I pray your readers are blessed as they do this along with you in 2016!
Thanks for sharing. This sounds like a great idea- I definitely want to give it a try.
Christine Duncan says
Crazy, but we both thought about the other’s blog today, and I’m loving your post today, Betsy. 🙂
I’ve heard about verse mapping as a thoughtful way to study the Bible but had never seen examples… I love it! Intentional treasure hunting with His words and promises!
… now where’s my paper?
Visited through the #TellHisStory linkup
Funny, right? I was thinking of you. I like the word intentional treasure hunting. It yields such great rewards.
Tiffany Parry says
Thank you for sharing the practical steps behind Jana’s method. I’ve been seeing it a lot and while I have yet to try it, I’m intrigued. It reminds me a lot of the inductive study method with more visual creativity involved. Love that you always draw us deeper into God’s word, friend. Hugs.
I like the visual creativity aspect, Tiffany. It keeps me more engaged and attentive than if I’m just reading or praying…ADD girl here. All the way. 🙂
Holly Barrett says
Love this!! I’d never heard of verse mapping before reading your post. I’m going to have to give this a try. Thanks, Betsy!
Hope you’re able to give it a try sometime, Holly. I love it too. 🙂
Anita Ojeda says
I haven’t tried this before, Betsy–but it looks like a really cool study tool. Thank you for sharing!
You’re welcome Anita. Thanks so much for reading, friend.
I’m a big believer in mixing up bible study methods to keep it fresh and interesting. I’m going to give it a try! Thanks!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
All good things here. Yes, sometimes mining the most out of God’s word means taking some time with it…really studying it and being patient while new shades of meaning come to life. My word for 2016 is “See”. In order to really see and discern God’s word, I can’t be skimming…I need to really dig. Thanks for great ideas!
Rosie J Williams says
This is awesome! I’m sharing this with my small group today with a hands on “let’s try this!”. I am writing a book on Jump Start Your QT, Creative Ideas for Meaningful Devotions (working title), and this fits right in! Love it
Betsy, I’m one door down from you at Lyli’s place today, but your title caught my eye. What a great post. I first heard about verse mapping through obs, but it felt daunting to me, for some reason. I love seeing your map, and reading your application. You’ve inspired me to give it a try. 🙂 Thanks so much. ((Hug))
Brenda, it does seem daunting, and I’m not doing it every single day, but some form of it most days. Today, my quiet time got long and I was running out of time, and in just 10 minutes, I did something simple and got some insight to help me for my day. 🙂 I’d encourage you to give it a try!
Yes! I journal but I’ve never “mapped”. This was a great overview and the jump start I need! Thank you Betsy! (Hopping over from #livefree Thursday!)
You had me at “creative!” Great post, Betsy!
Thanks Liz! I can learn a lot from you, girl, about creative!
Alisa @ Flourishing Today says
Betsy, I love your visuals!! I usually do everything on the computer when I’m studying scriptures, but I really like the idea of the colors and highlighting. I actually read recently that using different colored pens while writing scripture helps you to retain it longer! I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ll have to try it. I’m excited for my Jesus time, when I can implement some of these new ideas!
Alisa, I’m so ADD that I really do better with hands-on, visuals, color! It encourages me to no end!
Rosie J Williams says
Have y’all heard of Illustrated Faith bible journaling (Shannon Noel?)…it is another fun and creative way to make the Scriptures come alive
Betsy, I’ve been working alongside an amazing bible teacher who is showing me how to study the bible. I’m slowly learning verse mapping. I do use bible gateway but I also use Strong’s concordance – like the REAl deal huge book! I will say, I love how you did this and I love the different colors that you used, as that helps to separate things. Thank you for sharing, I’m going to incorporate this into my study.
Thanks for your encouragement, Crystal. And that’s great that you’re getting into Bible study! Woohoo! 🙂 Love it! Glad you like Strong’s Cordordance. A real live book is the real deal!! 🙂
Carmen Horne says
Love this Betsy! I’m working to get the hang of verse mapping. The perfectionist in me can get distracted trying to make it perfect and pretty 🙂 I love the concept of digging deeper in scripture. I start by praying, “Lord help me see these familiar passages with new eyes. Don’t let me enter into your presence with a pre-conceived notion of what you are saying.” You and Jana are helping to bring #souldeep communication with God alive.
Amen! What a great prayer, Carmen. I know what you mean about perfectionist tendencies. Let’s say no to those!!! 🙂
Julie Lefebure says
Love using this technique, and it sounds like you do too! Thank you for sharing it and spurring us all on to dig deeper. It’s always a joy to visit your space, my friend. Keep writing. Keep sharing! Hugs to you.
I love this idea and have been meaning to try it! Thank you for showing us how to do this step by step.
Dianne Thornton says
This is a great idea!p, Betsy. I love inductive study, but haven’t done any in a long time. I can’t wait o try this new method. Can’t wait to share this!
Thanks, Dianne! Hope you have great times in the Word this week!
Marva | sunSPARKLEshine says
I love these ideas, Betsy! While I’ve been doing some of them, I see how I can combine them to make my quiet times so much more exciting. For me this means going back to a 5 a.m. wake-up time to really spend quality time in the Word. Thanks for the gentle nudge to get me going.
Thank you for sharing a wonderful way to dig deeper into the word of God. I am going to try this new method during my quiet time with the Lord.
I hope God speaks to you through it, Rebeca.
Thanks so much! Will use this for a creative workshop here in the Netherlands :-). Just have to translate it to dutch!
Hope your workshop goes well. Blessings to you.
I love seeing how others study the Bible. I do some of this, and there’s something about writing the verse(s) out. It helps us remember more. At least that’s been my experience. Sadly, I don’t always do this. But I love to check Strong’s and Bible dictionaries to get more info. I don’t know if you highlight verses in your actual Bible or not, but a girl I met in an online Bible study was using Crayola Twistables, and oh my goodness, they’re so perfect to highlight without bleed-through. Thanks for sharing what you learned!
This is WONDERFUL! Really a help to untangle some of the more difficult passages, especially.
Glad if it’s helpful, Sharon. May the Lord bless your times in His word!
While holding my little dog with a big mouth, because I have people working here with my kitchen floor, I have been surfing where God leads me. I’ve seen so new sites that I am loving, a book I’m ready to buy,and I arrived here.
I love the verse mapping idea
I m so thankful for all the Christian ladies on the internet. I don’t get out much, have my favorite friends. The Lord is helping me to get out of my lonely comfort zone
I love a my quiet time, especially when I can feel God’s presence.
Thank you for all you do.
Thanks so much for reading today. I hope you’ll sense God’s presence often in your quiet time.
I came across this on pinterest and it has opened my eyes. I now understand how to do this. Ive been struggling hard to find a way to do somthing like this. Your teching is such a blessing for me. Thank you so much
So glad this helps, Ginger. I appreciate your taking time to comment.
Tai East says
Betsy, I just love this idea! Such a creative and awesome of going deeper in God’s word! Thank you so much for sharing this! God bless you, beautiful friend! 🙂
God bless you too, Tai. Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate you.