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Bible Study Tips

Verse Mapping Bible Study Method

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Basic Bible interpretation involves seeking keywords in the Scriptures to get more out of the passage or verse. When we study the Bible through this lens many women are surprised to learn that the Bible as literature is made up of stories, poetry, songs, parables, letters, and even satire. It’s truly fascinating for the creative woman who likes to associate symbols and colors to a passage of Scripture and the analytic woman who likes taking things apart and putting it back together again.

This is not a textbook, rather the Bible is the heart of the Living God and should be applied to your life as a Christian. It’s a spiritual book to be interpreted by Christians. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot interpret (see John 16:13-14; 1 Cor 2:11-16).

Verse mapping is a Bible study method which breaks down the parts of a sentence into diagram form. Where the inductive method breaks down the passage into symbols and colors, verse mapping is a diagram method of extrapolation- pulling keywords and concepts into smaller parts of discovery. Methods include:

  • Begin with prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the verse
  • Look at verse in different translations
  • Look for historical context when verse was applied
  • Look for important Hebrew and Greek words
  • Look for cross reference verses
  • Ask how you can apply the verse to your life today

When you are verse mapping you might select your memory verse of the week, a verse from your current Bible study, or a devotional verse. Here’s how Peggy worked through her verse today…

image: Peggy Ratts

Any method of Bible study should be meaningful quiet time and fellowship with God. It’s not a time where we snap selfies as we study, or create legal arguments to use against fellow Christians. This is YOUR time with GOD.  At the end of your verse mapping you should gain insight from the Bible and deeper clarity on the verse.

One warning in this method of study is to not to give symbolic meaning where none exists- called allegorizing. Use a study Bible, commentary, and Bible dictionary- fact check your work.

Another warning is not to take a verse out of its original context. When you’re mapping make sure you note the chapter preceding your passage, the paragraphs before the verse, and those following.

Just like Bible journaling, Bible verse mapping has the risk of people noticing your work more than they notice God. You’ll find numerous images of verse mapping and Bible journaling on Pinterest, Facebook groups, and Instagram. Prayerfully consider if sharing your work is to encourage others (as Peggy did in these images), show God’s glory, or draw attention to yourself. Ask this important question: Does it magnify God?

image: Peggy Ratts

Thank you so much to Peggy Ratts for sharing her images and encouraging women to give Bible mapping a try!

Recommended Resources for Bible Verse Mapping

We’d love to hear from women who’ve used Bible mapping as a devotional study! Comment below and share some of your mapping ideas with our readers.

Blessings!

 

 

 

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7 Tips For Your First Online Bible Study

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Discover the essential steps in joining your first online Bible study:

1. Calculate your current spiritual health. This will help you determine your Bible study goal, show you where your relationship is with God, and where you’d like to be at the end of your study.

2. Decide what resources will help you to study daily. You know your own learning style- visual or auditory. If you are an auditory learner try background noise such as focus music to eliminate distraction. If you’re a visual learner use highlighter pens in different colors, sticky notes, pretty journals and color paper. Keep all your resources in one location designed for study- where you’ll meet Jesus each day.

3. Talk to your small group leader, who will advise you about your approach. She needs to know what your challenges are and how to help you reach your goals. Send her a private message or comment under your small group photo and tag her by name so she will not miss your post.

4. Talk to your family and take the time to explain the importance of their support while you’re working though this study. Explain to them that you’re committed to finish and need their support for a distraction free experience- just 30 minutes a day. Tell them you’ve committed to one hour a week for your Facebook group and you’ll be learning online.

5. Decide your start date, Monday for example! This is the key to self-discipline when you’re reading the study book each week. The lessons are designed for a five day experience- Monday through Friday works best for many women.

6. Pray constantly as you study. As you spend time learning about God through the Bible you will attract spiritual warfare. Get a prayer partner and carry each other through the study with a commitment to finish.

7. Decide when you want to meet with your small group: We do not pre-assign small groups and we do not divide our students into special interest groups. Instead, we allow YOU to select the best day and time for your schedule. Look in our Facebook group for the pinned post and you’ll see the current schedule for this study.

If you have followed these 7 steps, then you are ready to begin the Womens Bible Cafe™ online study! We look forward to seeing you in our groups –> https://www.facebook.com/groups/WBCSmallGroups/

Study. Connect. Grow.

 

 

BibleGateway.com Interviews Womens Bible Cafe Founder Christine Abraham

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biblegateway WBC article

 

Shortly after posting this comment on Twitter, I was contacted by the BibleGateway team for an interview.

biblegateway twitter

Their response: We think the Bible Gateway App is a great tool for Bible reading and study. But when we read about somebody using it to complete dozens of Bible studies and a theology degree, we had to know more. So we got in touch with Women’s Bible Cafe to learn a bit more about the work they do, and how the Bible Gateway App helps them do it.

The interview was very enjoyable and the article is now published. Read it here: https://goo.gl/PZPt1c

 

Blessings,

 

christine abraham

 

 

 

 

If you have any more questions about how I am using BibleGateway.com please comment below!

Joseph Journey to Forgiveness | Week 1

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Joseph Journey to Forgiveness

Welcome to our online Bible Study at the Women’s Bible Cafe™.  We just finished reading WEEK ONE from the book “Joseph, the Journey to Forgiveness” by Melissa Spoelstra. It was interesting to pause in our reading on the story of Joseph and reflect longer about the key concepts.  Sibling rivalry, jealousy, competitiveness, pride, anger and hurt are some of the feelings we examined this week. On day one in the study book we finished our lesson telling God about the hurts  and pain we’re currently experiencing.

I read a few comments this week that many of you were sobbing buckets of tears the first day of your study. As we acknowledge the pain we also release feelings that clog our hearts. It’s uncomfortable in the short-run and beneficial in the long-run for our spiritual journey. Here’s my solution to those tear-filled days: Months ago I created a list of things that make me feel happy. My list includes bubble baths with candles, talking with a friend, drinking a latte, reading a book, watching a comedy… just to name a few. I carry the list inside my phone on the notes app, so it’s always with me. When I’m feeling blue I grab my list and look for an idea! This perks me up so I don’t bathe in sadness or internalize past memories of hurt. Post a comment below and let me know some of the things that make you happy too!

We can’t heal what we do not acknowledge. Many of you said that you’re taking this study to learn to forgive yourself. We’ll get there… if you  complete the daily lessons, five days a week.  This week we learned there are two sides to every story. You may have internalized your own hurt and responsibility while neglecting the bigger picture. The story of Joseph reminds us that many were at fault; a spark was ignited by strong emotions on both sides.

Melissa Spoelstra identifies two responses: “a victim mentality, seeing ourselves at the mercy of our pain, or a victor mentality, acknowledging the hurt while seeking God’s help in pursuing healing.” If your wounds are deep, please consider professional counseling for complete freedom and healing. A Bible study is educational and informative, however it’s not therapy.

I did a little crying too as I remembered some of my past mistakes and saw how I hurt others unintentionally. I learned this week to take responsibility for my actions and petitioned God with forgiveness prayer. I dumped my own victim mentality in a situation after realizing that I allowed someone the opportunity to make me feel bad about myself and my behavior. We were both at fault, just as Joseph and his brothers were not without blame. This week I realized I was carrying the full blame (and shame) and released it with prayer.

Move forward with me in the study and let’s grow together. Journal inside the pages of your study book, write prayers to God, and reflect on the lessons through your day. One week from today we will  begin discussing WEEK TWO of the lessons you studied this first week.

BIBLE STUDY TIP: Don’t worry about being a perfect Bible study girl! If you get behind, don’t quit–God is more interested in time and relationship with you than He is in a perfectly completed workbook.

Assignment For the Week

  • Make sure you subscribe to our email updates so that you receive email updates each week on Monday.
  • Select a small group day and time that fits your schedule. The small group schedule will also be pinned to the top of our private Facebook Group.  Arrive to the private Facebook group for the one hour meeting you chose to attend. Save the group to your favorites list so you can find us each week.
  • Read Week Two: Waiting to be Remembered in your study book and complete the daily lessons.
  • Optional: Watch video session one if you are using the DVD set- available at Amazon
  • Download Answers to the Video Session from our facebook group (Look under files tab in group)

 Discussion Questions – Answer in your small group or post a comment below

  1. In our study we read about favoritism and saw the impact of Joseph’s father on the brothers. What are some of the effects of favoritism in Joseph’s family, your family, or other families, or your job? Jealousy, pride, competitiveness, or something else? Let’s discuss!
  2. Melissa explains that we have a choice in the posture we take when legitimate hurt comes our way (page 21). Do you tend to take a victim mentality (see yourself at the mercy of your pain) or victor mentality (acknowledge hurt and seek healing through God)? Be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. We’re a no-shame zone and you will not be judged or criticized for your answer.
  3. Melissa uses the metaphor of “wild horse emotions” fueled by jealousy, anger, greed, and hurt (page 24). Have you ever struggled to contain your wild horse emotions? What worked and didn’t work in that situation?
  4. Joseph had dreams and shared them with his family members. Do you think he shared the dreams to A) make them jealous, B) share a prophetic word with them, or  C) to seek discernment from them? Do you have similar spiritual dreams and do you share them or keep the details locked inside your heart?
  5. What is a key concept that you discovered this week in your study? Were you able to develop consistency and read daily, or were you playing catch-up with the reading assignments? No shame here…we want to help you stay accountable and encourage one another.

Praying for you,

christine abraham

 

How to Read 100 Books in a Year

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People often ask me how I read 100 books in a year, so I’m sharing my tips to encourage you to read inspirational books. Even though I work full time, have two busy teenagers at home, I’m finishing my Biblical Studies degree at Liberty University, and I lead a large online ministry…I’ve continued to pursue my passion of reading. Our Book Club Director Heather C. King read TWICE as many books in 2015!

10 Tips to Read 100 Books in a Year

Tip #1 Never waste time!

Using my smartphone or iPad, I carry Kindle ebooks everywhere I go. The books synchronize to my last page read. When I find myself waiting at a doctor’s appointment or car repair shop, I’ll thumb through my book collection and find something to read. Waiting room magazines are typically outdated and gossip-centered, so I carry healthy books in electronic format.

Tip #2 Lower the Cost!

Just as I don’t like wasting time, I also don’t like wasting money. So each morning I jump on Amazon and look for free and discounted Kindle ebook deals. I share these deals with others via http://lifeversebooks.com/newsletter

Tip 3# Free is Good!

After searching free books on Amazon each day, I then search NetGallery for pre-published books. I’m able to download these to my iPad (or Kindle device) and read prior to their actual release date. In exchange for the free book I’ll write an honest review on my blog at LifeVerseBooks and also on consumer sites such as Amazon. My local library doesn’t carry many Christian books so borrowing is not available to me. With free Kindle books I never have a due date!

Tip #4 Join a Book Club!

My local leadership group reads one Christian book per month, and we meet the first Saturday of each month to discuss the book. It’s exciting to read with like-minded people and then discuss key concepts from your books. At WBC we have an online book club with more than 11,000+ women at http://www.facebook.com/groups/WBCbooks/

Tip #5 Turn off the car engine and read during carpool!

If you’re a parent like me then you’re carpooling kids all over town. Arrive early for pick-up, turn off the engine and wait in the carpool line with other parents who arrive early and read books. Watch the clock and before the kids are released, close your book and pay attention to the traffic and kids. I typically arrive 20 minutes early and read for 15 minutes, twice a day. Some people listen to audiobooks on long car rides or commuter trains, just make sure you’re not listening as you drive.

Tip #6 Turn off the television!

While television is relaxing entertainment, it often fills my mind with negative images and thoughts. I’ll limit my viewing time, especially before bed at night. When I read an inspirational book before falling asleep, I’m more rested and relaxed for the next day. I’d rather spend five hours a week reading books than five hours watching television- but that’s because I enjoy reading books. Set a goal to read 20 minutes a day and soon you’ll have less television and more books. Rarely do we see articles “How to Watch 365 Hours of Television in a Year” but I think it’s easy to do! One hour a day, 365 days a year… it adds up over time!

Tip #7 Set a timer on social media!

It’s easy to get online and lose track of time, so I set a countdown timer on my phone and when it rings I get offline. To be more productive, twice a year I record all of my activities for two weeks. Using a calendar format, I write down everything I’m doing and after two weeks I add the minutes into time blocks. Then I limit the unproductive activities (social media, electronic games) and increase my productivity (reading books).

Tip #8 Read more than one book at a time!

I get bored easily, so reading multiple books keeps me entertained and encouraged (like channel surfing with the television remote control). I’ll read one chapter from each book, switching between topics and expanding my knowledge. When a book is really good, I’ll put the other two books aside for a few days and plow through the five-star book instead!

Tip #9 Explore different authors and topics!

I learn fast so when I read the same author or topic repeatedly, I get bored and can even predict the next chapter or ending. To offset this conditioning I explore different authors and topics. The books I read are non-denominational. The Holy Bible English Standard Version is my plumb line and when I disagree with the theology or teaching of a book author, I fact-check with the Bible itself.

Tip #10 Read in front of others!

Books are conversation starters! Reading is healthy and expands your vocabulary. Since kids learn from our behavior, we model habits they’ll adopt later in life. After reading 100 books in front of my kids and husband…my husband who reads “one book a year” is now reading beside me, discussing with his local small group, and sharing what he’s learned. My teenagers are reading too! Read for yourself and others will follow.

Bonus Tip: Store your books in the free Kindle Cloud Reader instead of your device. Only download the books you’re currently reading to save memory on the device.

Bonus Tip: When I finish a book, I copy my book highlights into a document file so I can retrieve them later. You can find your book highlights at http://kindle.amazon.com

Now it’s your turn! Post a comment below and share your tips too!

Resources for Reading 100 Books in 2016

 

christine abraham

Christian Prayer Box | Simple Method to Organize Prayers

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Many women have been asking about my Simple Prayer Box and sharing my photos with their friends. I started this a few years ago when my I selected “simplicity” as my one focus word for the year. I wanted a simple method to organize my prayers and remind myself to interceded for family and friends. I’ve made a few changes since then and here is the prayer box I’m using today.

Simple Prayer Box

How to Create a Simple Prayer Box

You’ll need these items for your prayer box:

  1. Index card file box with key
  2. Index card blank tabs
  3. Index card 1-31 tabs (optional)
  4. Index cards

I found my file box at Walmart and another one at the local office supply store. You can also find them at Amazon in pretty colors: pink, white or silver and black. I was not able to find the index blank tabs locally so I bought them online. See resources below if you cannot find the items where you live.

 

How to Use Your Simple Prayer Box

Organize your box using the index tabs. Here’s how I have organized my box using these tabs:

  1. Ministry leaders at Womens Bible Cafe
  2. Ministry Leaders in other ministries
  3. Scripture Verses- (Beth Moore SSMT my memory verses)
  4. My Bible study small groups
  5. Family
  6. Friends
  7. Church- my local church, other churches, pastors
  8. Fasting- when I am fasting I keep cards on my prayers and answered prayers
  9. Prayer Room- these are the women who post prayer requests online
  10. Country and Government
  11. Daily tabs 1-31

Behind each tab I keep the names in alphabetical order, it’s easier for me to find the name of a friend and add her prayer to her card. If someone has a scheduled surgery, mammogram, doctor’s appointment, job interview, etc.- I use the numbered tabs and move her card there so I remember to pray for her on a specific date. I also use the numbered tabs to remember birthdays. Under monthly tabs I keep a record of the dates to celebrate the life of a loved one, anniversaries, or special events.

During my quiet time with the Lord, I pull a stack of cards and pray through them.  If I am convicted of a Scripture verse, I write it on the prayer card including the date. Several of my friends have breast cancer, so I keep all their names on a single card and set aside time to pray for them as a group. When prayers are answered, I write this on my card.

You could write the address, phone number and email of your friends on the top or back of the card. Then as you are praying send them a text message, or if you have the time, a handwritten card. Don’t complicate this…as you create your own prayer box pray and ask the Lord how to keep it simple so that you will use it.

I’d love to see photos and ideas from your own prayer boxes, so please post them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. These are wonderful gifts ideas for your girlfriends and Bible study leaders. It’s also a good activity for local small groups to create their boxes together.

As promised, these are the resources if you can’t find the items locally.


Locking Box

Blank Tabs

1-31 Tabs

3 x 5 lined cards

Do not buy index cards at Walmart, I discovered the paper is really thin and doesn’t hold up well. If you want to save money, split the cost of the blank tabs with a friend, or don’t use the 1-31 tabs. Keep in mind this is something you’ll use for years, so the initial cost is small compared to the long-term use!

 

Much love to you,

Christine