Wednesday, August 25, 2021

IBS-11 The Bible, My Workbook: comarisons and contrasts


The Big Idea: Suggestions how to show word relationships in a Bible passage.

The Bible, My Workbook

The Bible is a manual for life and godliness! It is not merely a pretty book for the shelf, or a family heirloom. It is the sacred Word of God. However its intent is as a resource for everyday life. Study it intently! Consider making a Bible passage worksheet and mark it up!

If you are following this blog series, you have already marked your chapter or passage for references to God, time and places, people and key words. Perhaps word relationships have jumped out at you. Try looking for these!

1. Identify Lists. In the text, number the items in the list. Some put a bracket around the section. I usually just label and write out a list on a piece of paper instead of number them in the Bible.

I love list making. I look for lists of what we should do, characteristics, what God does for us, bad examples and so forth. It will be particularly useful to review when you get to the application phase.

Easy list examples in Scripture:

  • Exodus 20               Ten Commandments
  • Proverbs 31             Character of a virtuous woman
  • Isaiah 9:6                 Characteristics of the Messiah
  • Galatians 5:22-23    Fruit of the Spirit

2. Mark Comparisons. You can circle the two words or phrases and draw a line between them to indicate the relationship. The wise man and the foolish man (Matt. 7:24-27). Treasures on earth versus treasures in heaven (Matt. 6: 19-21). You may also find cause and effect, such as when you do A, B will happen. What you plant is what you will harvest (Gal. 6:7-8)

3. Mark Contrasts. In 1 Peter 5:5 you see God's response to the proud and to the humble. Putting a slash between them identifies a contrast. I often underline the sections and draw a line with a slash through it because they may be in separate verses.

There are a lot of contrasts in the Bible. Starting in Genesis 1 light and darkness is contrasted and is revisited often in the Bible. Love and hate (I John 4:20). The flesh versus the Spirit (Eph. 2:1-3).  Look for contrasts because they will also be useful during application on the way to live and the way not to live.

4. Mark Conclusion and Transitional Words. You can put a square around these words to set them apart. They invite us to reflect, summarize, and make conclusions. Again helpful for application. My class must get tired of me saying, "Let's stop and talk about what the "therefore" is there for?"

Make the Bible your workbook. Enjoy your homework!


This is eleventh in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: The Chapter Theme
Previous post: Marking Key Words
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1. Do you see the Bible as a workbook for life? Why or why not?

2. Give an example of how the Bible might be useful for an everyday situation.

3. Pray right now that God gives you a hunger to dig in the Bible with enthusiasm!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Marking Key Words: Read, Mark Repeat!


The Big Idea: Find key words in a Bible passage and mark them in a consistent manner.

Read, Mark, Repeat

Key words appear repetitively. Synonyms too. Repetition is important. The Bible was written in an oral society and repetition was useful to remember key principles. Pay attention to them!

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7 NASB 95

I like the way the New Living Translation starts this verse. Repeat them again and again to your children.

Key Words can summarize the lesson. They may not be repeated but they are the obvious point. You don't need to look for deep hidden secrets. The God's truths are often evident in a passage. Ask yourself, what is being described?


Some Marking Guidelines:

Precept offers specific recommendations that many follow. If it is useful to you, great. If another color works for you or another symbol, that's OK. Keep a log somewhere of your symbols and colors so you can be consistent.

1. Mark people or groups. Often blue for the author or main character and orange for the audience.

2. Places double underlined in green.

3. Time references, circled in green, simple clock in the margin. 

4. Key words often have both colors and symbols. Circles and squares around words used. Slashes or Xs for opposites. 

  • Yellow often used for God, holiness, heaven, etc.
  • Black used often for sin, bondage, death.
  • Red for blood, sacrifice, atonement…
  • Green often for words on spiritual growth, money...
  • Blue used especially for the nation and the land of Israel

It is useful to consult the Precept List Kari Dent for useful lists, even by books of the Bible. There are some variations. That's OK. This is meant to be a helpful guide on what works for you.

If you are using a Precept study guide, it will give recommendations. For usefulness, consistency helps through the Bible so keep a record of what you use.


Chaotic or constructive?

A friend confessed marking up the text for Inductive Bible Study feels it is a bit confusing and messy when the whole page is marked up.  Kay Arthur of Precept agrees that marking every word in a passage can get difficult to follow. All markings are not necessary for each chapter. Some words are more valuable to mark than others.

My husband marks less. I mark more. I begin on a worksheet rather than directly in my Bible. Why? I find it helpful re-reading the text to see something fresh each time.

This exercise must be useful for YOU! Some photocopy the Bible passage. Some make a fresh worksheet for key words and another fresh worksheet for correlations and contrasts. Some people doodle the text or draw charts in the margin. For others, Bible mapping or extensive outlines help. It will come more easily as you practice a method of recording.

What's important is that you are reading the Bible, examining it carefully.


This is tenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Comparisons and Contrasts
Previous post: Identifying God

Table of Contents 



1. Practice looking at a paragraph or a chapter and find repetitive words/synonyms. At this stage is this easy or hard for you?

2. Do you think the repeated words are important to the passage?




Wednesday, August 11, 2021

IBS-9 Identifying God: looking for God in the Bible


Big Idea: Marking the words for God in the Bible reveals a lot about Him.

Looking for God in the Bible

A puzzle called "Where's Waldo?" sports Waldo with his red striped scarf and hat immersed in a sea of people. Your job is to find him. As we study the Bible, it is a worthwhile venture to spot God. Find references to Him. Look for other names referring to Him. Figure out when you can, if it is talking about God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. Or showing the three-in-one Trinity.

The Many Names of God

God is referred to by so many names, Bible studies are published on the names of God (Jehovah, Almighty, Abba, Deliverer…) the names of Jesus (Christ, Son of God, Prince of Peace…) and the Holy Spirit (Comforter, Teacher, Advocate…). Often these names are capitalized when it is clear from the original text that it refers to God.

Inductive Markings for God

For serious Bible study, I use a printed off passage worksheet most of the time. (Click here for instructions how to make your own). I love to study a passage with colors and markers. I am a hands-on visual learner so it helps me. The first thing I look at when taking on a passage is to look for God. Here is what I do.

1. Reference God in Yellow colored pencil or highlighter. On my first reading inevitably I'll miss one or two, but repeat passes rectify it. I mark all references of God (Father, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Spirit and more) including pronouns too. (He, His, etc).


2. Symbolically Mark differently each member of the Trinity. I use the markings Precept uses. For a worksheet using regular paper I use an ordinary pen. If I write in my thin leafed Bible, I use an archival quality thin-lined pen, often purple or blue.


Father - Underline making it into a triangle.

Son - Underline and pull up at the end, crossing the up line.

Holy Spirit - Underline and then make a partial cloud over the word.

Trinity - The Godhead three-in-one, or God in general, use the same symbol for Father. Triangle.

Uncertain - Uncertain which one of the Trinity I just leave it yellow, unmarked any further.  

god, gods - for false gods, I prefer to underline in yellow or not at all.

Trinity Verse - there are numerous verses with all three of the Trinity represented. I put a triangle next to the verse in the Bible margin. I get excited finding a Trinity verse! Here's one from my Bible, Luke 2:26.

 3.Make Observation Lists. List what you learn about God here. List characteristics. List His nature and purpose.  List what God is not like. This requires another reading of the passage or perhaps multiple readings, noting what you have observed. Follow the yellow highlights!

God is everywhere. God is everywhere in the Bible. At times you find Him easily and at times you must look more closely. He is there to be discovered and known. Find joy in the journey!

 Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.  Isaiah 55:6


This is ninth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Marking Key Words
Previous post:Mark Up Your Bibles
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1. How would you describe the difference between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit?

2. Where would you think the Trinity might be mentioned in one place?

3. Try this exercise. Write or print out Luke 1:35 and try to differentiate the Trinity with a marker and pen.

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

IBS-8 Mark Up Your Bibles! Manual for life


The Big Idea: Marking a Bible passage helps you examine it carefully to apply it to your daily life.

Manual for Life

Mark up my Bible? It is a special, sacred book. At the same time, it is an active manual for life and godliness, meant to be read, studied and applied. It should be a part of life, not for display only. Please consider one Bible as your workbook!


Why mark up the Bible?

  • It slows you down to take it all in.
  • You notice details. People, places, key words.
  • You see correlations, repetition and contrasts.
  • You remember more.
  • You can easily find a marked passage to reaffirm you and more easily share with others.


What should you use to mark it?

Some Bibles have very thin paper so don't use ordinary ink pens. They and everyday highlighters bleed through eventually. Colored pencils work. I print the text as a worksheet to not write in my Bible. It keeps my Bible free from looking cluttered and leaves my preferred Bible fresh each time I read.

Use writing materials that will not bleed through over time called "archival"quality. Scrapbooking pens and markers work well. Suggestion:  PigmaMicron pens. Highlighter, ZebriteEco-Double.


What should you mark?

Read the passage over multiple times, each time looking for something different. You can focus better and you hold only one color at a time. Reading the passage repeatedly will help you notice something new each time. On my first pass, I mark God and references to Him.

1. God. There is a way to differentiate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (We will do this one next week. The rest of them the following week.)

2. People. I usually use blue for the author voice, and orange for the audience. When using couples I use blue and pink (like a passage on Joseph blue and Mary, pink).

3. Places. I double underline places, nations and nationalities in double green.

4. Time references. I use a simple clock showing 3 o'clock. This includes morning, night, seasons, etc.

5. Key Words. Colors and/or symbols work here. Just be consistent. It could be thematic words like love, sin, forgiveness, or financial references, nouns like heaven and hell, qualities such as peace, etc.

There is no wrong way, just what works for you. I mark the person's name and all their pronouns. My husband prefers to not mark the pronouns. There is no right or wrong way. Consistency throughout the Scriptures is useful for your future reference. The Precept marking system is useful. A bookmark comes with each study. Here is a link to a helpful site with 8 pages of word markings alphabetized. Also here are instructions how to make your own worksheet from any Bible text. 

Considering the Bible as a way God talks to us. Marking your Bible allows you to interact with Him.  

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB 95)

This is eighth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Identifying God
Previous Post: Investigative Reporter
Table of Contents 



1. Do you feel funny about writing in your Bible? Or did you feel that way at one time? Why?

2. Have you ever seen someone's Bible with passages marked up and writing in the margins, etc? What impression did it give you about that person?

3, What advantage might there be to write in your Bible? If you have done this before, how has it been useful for you?