AS YOU MAKE YOUR WALK WITH GOD MORE PERSONAL
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
Hosea 6:4 (ESV)
In looking at our leading verse (Hosea 6:4), God refers to the love His people have for Him, to be as strong as the morning dew. Have you ever gone outside and seen dew on the ground? It is beautiful, but can’t bare up under the heat of the sun, and will quickly evaporate. Morning dew, though soft and refreshing, is only good for a short time and does not last. How sad that this is how His people portrayed their love for Him; and even sadder that after all God has done over the years, we in this generation, can be just as guilty at times!
In studying Hosea 6:4, we find that it cross-references with Psalm 78:34-37, however, if you take some time to read all of Psalm 78, you will see that it paints a sad picture of the hearts of God’s people. In just this one Psalm, we see a summary of how God would send His Word, God would show His people remarkable things, but they would go off and quickly forget what they had learned. I don't want to be like that. I personally don't want to have to keep going around and around the same mountain, never growing or moving into what God has for me, because I just couldn't get it.
~ so He gave me a coat of many colors ~
(Paraphrased from Gen. 37:3)
One morning (years ago), I came across a passage in Scripture that lit up the page, and spoke so much to my heart that I didn't want to "lose" it, so I grabbed an orange colored sticky tab and put it on the edge of the lower right hand page. I know you may be thinking how in the world do you lose something in a Book-- isn't it always there? Nevertheless, I was afraid I would, and I wanted something different from the Bookmarks I already had in my Bible marking several different pages. So I had looked around to see what I could use, and came across some sticky tabs that I never used—oh, I used all the other ones-- but I had a ton of orange ones that were left, so I grabbed one of those.
Over the next few days, it seemed like I was constantly coming across things that were orange! Now this color had never stood out to me before, but now it was everywhere. My boss even gave me a cup that had my name on it, and all kinds of “little things” that described me. It was pretty interesting to see how so much of it hit the nail right on the head about me… except the color… the cup said my favorite color was orange to which (I admit) I laughed at. You see I didn’t consider it to be (yet) my favorite color! My favorite color is yellow and red. Yes, I said that right, yellow and red! Then my mother brought over a basket full of goodies for me and the boys, and guess what????? It was orange!
A few days later, I was driving home while thinking about the cup (and this whole color thing), and I came to a school crossing where I had to slow down. As my car slowed down, so did my thoughts… and in the quietness of my heart it was as if God said, “What do you think you get when you combine your two favorite colors? ORANGE!” Then I was reminded of the vivid colors in the sunsets (something I love to watch), and how I am always drawn to the deep orange(ish) shades in them. Afterwards, I felt such a peace, and a warmth, seep deep into my heart.
Thus, beginning a whole new personal relationship with God through His Word, as I spent quite time reading my daily Bible. I started marking my Bible with different colors as I came across different promises that spoke to my heart, and insight and revelations about God, as He began to grow me in my walk of faith through His Word. By color tabbing my Bible, it has helped me to hold on to what God is teaching me during my quiet time so that I do not forget later. For me this was like finding hidden treasure in God’s Word! Hidden treasure can be: God’s Promises, His Commands, His Warning, Direction, Insight into God’s character, and Timeless Principles to live by.
I found that just as Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors, so God has given to me. Now when God shows me a reflection of His heart, I color mark it, so that I can learn and grow from it. This has helped me to stand in faith on what God is teaching me-- about myself, about Him-- and about different situations. The color symbols may mean something different to you, but here is what they mean to me, and how I use them to code the insights (and hidden treasures) God is showing me:
- Yellow: a warning to learn from something or an insight into something I need to remember.
- Red: a command of something not to do or a way not to go.
- Green: something for me to act on, insight to my life's purpose and work
- Orange: a promise to hold to and stand in faith on, for the season that I am in. When the season changes, I will be able to look back at these orange promises and see that God was faithful. Then, when trials and valleys hit again, I will be reminded that God's Word was true before, and He helped me then and will help me now.
- Blue: a lifetime promise I can hold to and believe for the rest of my life, regardless of the season I am in; whether I am on the mountaintops or in the valleys, this promise will stand. (The difference in these promises is: My “orange promises” are the promises God will-- or has fulfilled, and where I can claim them DONE; and the “blue promises” are the promises He is keeping to me for my lifetime.)
- Purple: God has shown me something about HIM and WHO HE IS TO ME. It marks what I can believe about Him and who He says He is.
Journaling and Making Note of Your “God Sightings”
A long time ago, I started a small notebook and labeled it them with the key names of God that I was learning during my personal Bible study. When I came to verses that spoke strongly to me about who God is, I would write them down. Now with much enjoyment, I can pick up my notebook and meditate on verses that speak of God’s name, which He has given me for my personal relationship with Him. Actually, this is what led to my first book “The Very Heart of Worship.” ( We also now have a companion notebook published, just for you to record the names of God as He makes Himself known to you).
In starting that little notebook, I also started using a purple pen to write those verses down, and this has stuck throughout all my journaling. Now my purple pens are ONLY for God’s Word, so no matter what I am doing (or looking back through); it is like seeing a breath from God. When I see purple writing, I instantly know that it represents God’s Word, and not my own thoughts.
In my prayer journals, for when I am just pouring my heart out to God, I use regular white notebook paper with with a pink pen. Why pink? Because I am a girl (or one) and because I am His daughter, and I come before Him as such to pour out my heart and to talk to Him as such. BUT, I leave room for Him to answer me, and when those answers come about, I write out a thankyou in blue. Why blue? Because when I am tabbing my Bible; blue has always just stood out to me for “His promises that He will keep for a life time.” And since His Word promises, “call to me and I will answer you” (see Jer. 33:3), when I am praying, I am in a sense “calling out to Him” so I use blue because He has promised to hear me and answer me (even if that answer is NO).
However, for my “God Sightings” (and by this, I not only mean when I see answers to prayers, BUT when I notice things God is bringing to my attention--- and confirmation--- and just basically seeing the hand of God moving in my life) I use a yellow note tablet. For me, I guess I am stuck on yellow for this type of journaling because it is like “God shining His light for me.” At the top-- in purple-- I write my God experiences (and sightings of His handprint in my life), and then in blue ink, I will write out my conversation with God about the sighting, and thank Him for making Himself known to me. I’ve also started using a red pen for just side notes (or thoughts), while writing in either my prayer journals or “Sighting Journals” so that way when I go back through them, I can easily find notes I jotted down to further study, and again this helps me to identify what is what.
You might think it is pretty colorful, but when I look back at my journals—weather they are my prayer journals, or God sighting journals, I can quickly (and clearly) see a difference between God’s Word (purple ink), and my own thoughts and prayers (pink or blue ink), and side notes (red ink). This has helped me to have more of a “conversation with God” in my written prayers and journaling.
The distinction I am making here (in the way I journal), is to help me have a conversation with God as He leads me. As I go back over my writing later, I can clearly see the two parts (mine and God’s). Plus, I can clearly see-- because it stands out-- where God HAS BEEN there for me, nudging me and showing me His presence in my life. In addition, it helps me to build what I call memory stones, so that I cannot forget that “thus far God has been faithful” (see 1 Samuel 7:12).
Writing in Your Bible:
It is amazing how you can read the same passage several times, but different parts will speak more clearly to you at different times! It doesn’t mean you’ve missed something before, or even misunderstood it; this simply means that God’s Holy Spirit is speaking different thoughts and showing you new things as you grow, and go through the changing seasons during your walk with God.
Something I started doing years ago (that has really helped me to see this) is using a different colored pen each year when writing in my daily devotional Bible, and underlining Scriptures as they have spoken to me. When I first started out, I used a black pen, then the next year, a blue pen. I moved on to a red pen the following year, a green pen the next year, and finally this year I am using a pink pen. I also use a yellow highlighter for very special verses that really seems to “light up the way” in my heart.
Now, as I look back at the pages of my daily devotional Bible, I can see my personal walk, and how God has brought to my attention different passages during various seasons in my life. Seeing the different colors helps to jog my memory of when I marked it (AND WHY). Some pages are very colorful with all the different colored pens. It has been very interesting to see what God’s Holy Spirit has worked in me during the past several years. I’ve also noticed that sometimes when I go back and reread some of those Scriptures now, they don’t seem to “stand out” as much as they did when I underlined them, but this is because God is working in me a fresh new word that I didn’t really “see” when reading the same passage before. It’s not because I wasn’t paying attention, but because “this” is where I am at now, and what God knows I need to hear. One other thing that I do is I have a “clean” Bible in my basket next to the bed, that I DO NOT write in at all. This way, when I feel God prompting me to just take some quiet time for a “fresh new insight,” I will read it, just to read and let God’s Word work in me without the distraction of my markings. Then when something stands out, I go get either my personal Daily Bible, or one of my other study Bibles I do write in, and do a more in-depth reading of it of the passage that caught my attention.
- Another way you could “color code” your Bible is to start with a new one and use the different colored pens (you can get pens in all the different colors—red, green, purple/pink, yellow, orange, and blue) to mark the passages in your Bible to indicate your insights (or “hidden treasures”) instead of using a different pen each year (like I do). NOTE: You can still use the tabs on the sides, because this will help you to see where you have marked certain types of insights.
- Perhaps you could use this style of coding in your Study Bible, so that it is slightly different from your personal daily Bible. You could also write the verses out in this different color-coded style in a notebook, if you wanted.
- Something I do is that I write the verses out in a matching colored notebook to the tabs that I have put in my Bible. (For instances, verses I have tabbed in my Bible as orange, I write out in an orange notebook. Note that it doesn’t matter what year I am in--or what color I am using for the year to underline my passages, I still use the color purple to write out the verses, as purple is my color in all things for the Word of God.)
The reason I do this, is because I have learned that it didn’t do me any good to “tab my Bible” in special ways, if I couldn’t remember the verses later, or what I was so “enlightened with.” So by writing the verses in a matching notebook, I can now take that notebook out and use it to meditate on God’s Word.
For instance, one afternoon I was having a very emotional day, and it just seemed hard to mentally recall what God has said to me last about a specific promise, so I got my orange notebook out, and read through the verses I had written down pertaining to the situation I was struggling with… and all of the sudden, I found my footing again, and was able to stand back up on HIS WORD, and NOT the emotional strife I found myself in. Why? Because God’s Word is TRUE! And so I reminded myself of what God has given me to stand on until I saw it fulfilled.
- I also have a green three-pronged notebook that I use to keep regular notebook paper in. And what I have done with it, is I use it to write in as God is “teaching me a lesson” from His Word. I use a green notebook because I am growing deeper in His Word! I also use a green pen with it.
- How this works is, while I am reading my daily Bible, or a devotional someone sends me; if all of the sudden I start “seeing it fit into a lesson I can learn from” that God is taking me deeper in, I will grab my green notebook (not a spiral notebook--but one I can add pages in) and write the day’s date and my title at the top. And then in purple, I will write out the verses that are being brought to my attention, and then in green, I will write out the lesson God is teaching me (and how it applies to my life, and how I can walk it out). I will then use a blue pen to write out my prayer.
- I don’t use this notebook every day, but just for those times when it is like God is really directing me to slow down and really look deeper into a subject that has burst inside of me. When this happens, it is like I can feel His Holy Spirit taking my hand and walking with me, as He teaches me from His Word about something (with a deeper understanding) that I can now vividly relate to.
- I guess the only way I can describe these times is to compare it to the day of Jesus was walking with the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, as He opened their minds to understanding.
The whole point to the color-coding, is to use the colors in a way that stimulates your mind and remembrance in a way that works for you. For instance, where I use a yellow for warnings or something very definite to remember (and to learn from), my youngest son yellow for marking the promises of God. You see to him, the yellow reminds him of the sun coming up every morning and that God’s mercies are new every morning. So for him, yellow represents a promise.
Taking Notes While Reading:
I read from several different things in the mornings, and sometimes forget from where I read something, or how I was led to a specific verse…. And sometimes the same message (and verses) will come up multiple times over a very short period of time, so I like to know how the message is being repeated to me (and from what sources). Therefore, I added another little tool to my quite time that has helped me to remember what I have been reading, and it also to see how God brings His Word back to me in different ways.
I started using a spiral notebook (the kind with a spiral on top), and as I start out my quiet time (or while reading different devotionals, or studies), I write down the Scripture, and the source that it came from (in other words, whose devotional I am reading from, or the study I am doing at the time). After reading the devotional (or a verse of the day), I take the time to look up the Scripture in my Bible. I also use this notebook to jot down any thoughts I feel God is impressing upon me, and any notes from what I was reading, that I might want to consider looking further into later.
Then over the course of the day, I can look back over my notes to refresh my memory about what I’ve read that morning. Also, if the same verse comes back within a very short period of time, I can see (and compare) which sources are talking about it. It helps me to see how God brings the same message back repeatedly for me. This also helps me to realize when God is speaking to me because as same messages come back up, if it is what I have written down as a “spiritual thought,” then I can go deeper in my study to really understand what God is saying, and how He is directing me (and also determine was it an impression from god, or JUST a thought of my own).
>> Remember that His Word says: His Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance to us things He has said… (see John 14:25-26), and that He will also guide us and will speak that which comes from the Father…. (see John 16:12-15). But His Word also says that He will confirm the message of His servant (see Isa 44:26).
I use the same system in this notebook as my journal: purple for God’s Word, black or blue for my notes, and red for writing down verses I want to memorize. To make it easier for me, I just write on the front pages and when I get to the end of the notebook, I flip it over and start back up. Usually the notebook will last me a couple of months before I have to go get another one, and I really enjoy looking back through it to remind myself what caught my attention and where my thoughts were.
This notebook has become something handy I now take with me (when I go to my special place to pray, or to the park) in a zipper case, with my smaller Bible when I want to just go sit and “visit” with God, without taking my daily Bible or all my other study guides and journals so that they don’t get messed up.
I have a small zipper case, with a NAS Bible that is small and just the right size for my walks, my notebook, a few colored pens, a few note cards that have Scriptures I am memorizing, a few yellow tablet papers that I have written current verses on (that I am standing on in faith during this season), and a small prayer Book that I wrote which has prayers in it for my family. Now this little zipper pouch, has all I need to go and enjoy my quiet time with God, as I meditate on His Word, and spend time listening to Him. It’s not very heavy (or bulky) so I can easily carry it with me on my walks down by the river, and just about any place I go. (It’s even been to a few wrestling matches with me!) And it preserves my daily Bible, and my study Bibles and journals, from taking a beating during my crazy and packed full days!
You can see what I mean in the pictures in the side panel. >>
>>> SO: I have found that this color coding approach has now worked its way into my whole walk with God! Not only do I still color code my Bibles, now when I am writing out my prayers I use blue ink, because I know God has promised to hear my prayers when I am praying according to His will. I use green ink to write with when I am studying; as I am growing in His Word (I even have a green notebook that I keep my studies in). I have a yellow notebook for my “mornings with God” where I am not studying to teach, but to spend time in fellowship, and to listen to Him for guidance in my own personal relationship with Him (plus, I have a yellow folder to keep my yellow tablets for my “God sightings” in). I also have an orange notebook to keep notes, prayers and verses in for the season I am in; a purple notebook for when God “shows me His Glory” that I can read through when I just need to be reminded of who He is. In all my notebooks, it seems that I use a red pen for side notes (or side thoughts). And through them ALL, I use purple ink to write down God’s Word (when I am quoting Scripture, or making note of His handprint in my life).
"The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. (Isaiah 50:4 NKJV)
Here is a tip for those who have “dual roles” like I do. You see, not everyone is called to the same “profession.” Whereas I spend 5 to 8 hours a day with my Bibles, I know most people do not. But the reason being is that, I am called to teach the Word of God (and to help bring clarity and understanding from His Word), to others so that they can grow as they study; and others are called to do different things (which allows people like me to enjoy other things in life-- like going to the grocery store and having the meats already cut up and packaged…). Yet, we are ALL called to be a witness for Jesus, and to have a personal relationship with God. I do my part, so that others can grow in God’s Word, and others do their part so that I CAN do my part, because if I had to be a school teacher, or a butcher, or banker… I wouldn’t be able to spend the time I do studying…
So anyway, in getting back to my point of “dual roles”… I spend my own quiet time every morning with my personal setup of Bibles (and color code them as I have explained throughout all of this); however after I get dressed, I spent the remaining day (or however much God has allotted me for the day) with a different set of Bibles so that I can study to teach. This way my personal relationship stays in tack and I can grow with God in my own walk, but I can ALSO grow in what He has called me to do-- which is to teach His Word. You see to me, teaching His Word is different than just sharing what God is sharing with me in my own life!
To explain that thought a little bit more: You see, what God is sharing with me and how He is speaking to ME in MY PERSONAL walk with Him, is not always what I am suppose to teach… the reason being is that not everyone who is reading my work is on the same step I am on, or going through the same situation! So devotionally-- yes-- I write about MY heart and how God’s Word is impacting my life, and what I am learning from it. BUT TO TEACH IT-- means something different! It means to lead the other person TO JESUS, and to help bring understanding of God’s Word (just as Phillip did to for the man in Acts 8) to them, so that His Holy Spirit can then speak to them personally about what is going on in their life. As A Biblical teacher, I am to help share the Gospel to the best of my ablitly, to help bring understanding in a way that “bridges the gap” so that others can see (and know) how His Word is very revelant to our lives today. And to walk with those (God would have me to) in fellowship as we grow together as a part of the body of Christ.
- Just as Andrew (and Phillip) brought others to Jesus, and then they had their own personal relationship with Jesus…. And just as the four friends brought their friend to Jesus who then had his OWN personal encounter with Jesus…. So it is with us God calls to share His Word in a “teaching manner” and WHY I do my study times differently.
I also color code my study/teaching Bibles slightly differently: I use an orange pen to lighlight the sightings of Jesus in the Old Testament, and I use a yellow highlighter to mark the main key verses of the passage. I use a pink pen to underline verses I want to point out and reflect on (since the pink/purple has always shown as the “majesty of God” to me, and I am called to help make Him known to others), and I use a red pen to underline everyday life teaching principals I want to expand upon (I also use a red pen to write my notes on paper with during my studies). I also use a very light blue pen to draw lines in between verses to break up the passages (or sections) of my Bible to show time breaks (or gaps), and to make notes that corresponds with my commentary notes I am writing. Again, why blue for this? Because, God has promised to ALWAYS lead me (and be with me), and to help me with what He has called me to do.
- Please keep in mind that this time for me is different than my personal time with God… because when I sit down to study this way, it is about learning to help others, and not my ownself, so for me this time has to be done differently than when it is about my own walk.
>>And one last thought: I personally only use a yellow highlighter in my Bible (personal or teaching study), and then use the colored pens for everything else. This way the highlighter is only used for that “guiding light” God gives me, and it is easier on my eyes for reading. By using the colored pens instead of all the different colored highlighters, I have found that I can still READ the passages (and grasp the whole context of it), without getting lost in all the highlights that for me would be overpowering…. The main thing is to allow God to grow you personally, and so that you can learn to LOVE YOUR BIBLE as you do!