Beyond Devotionals:

There are so many great devotion books available today! Aren’t we blessed?!

Or maybe you do the daily devotion in YouVersion (The Bible App). I find that such a good way to start my prayer and Bible study time in the morning.

And they have some amazing reading plans. Many of those are brief devotions with a verse or two to support the writing.

My only fear about this mass availability of devotions is that many of us are not really STUDYING the Bible.

Let’s assume for the moment we know the reasons we SHOULD study the Bible (and I’ll do a separate post on that soon).

We may even have some good Bible study methods.  

But we don’t do them – for whatever reason.  Is it safe to assume that sometimes that is because we think we don’t have time?

I wanted to share a fairly quick way to get a lot out of a passage.

How to pick a passage:

I often use the YouVersion verse of the day to kickstart a Bible study for the day.  Another place to find a starting place is in one of the YouVersion reading plans.

Admittedly, a Read Through The Bible plan is a little harder because there is so much to cover in a day.  But any one of the steps I list here can help you gain more from it than reading with your eyes glazed over (in Leviticus??).

Today’s YouVersion verse of the day was Isaiah 12:2.  When I looked that up in my study Bible (I prefer electronic so I always have it with me – Olive Tree), I saw that I had already highlighted verses 2-6 as something that was meaningful to me before.  And I had some tags on a few of the verses.  So I chose those verses for today’s study.


Isaiah 12:2-6 NASB

“Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For the Lord God is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”
3 Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.
4 And in that day you will say,
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name.
Make known His deeds among the peoples;
Make them remember that His name is exalted.”
5  Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things;
Let this be known throughout the earth.
6  Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Why I Love Olive Tree

The thing I love about Olive Tree is that they have a lot of highlighter options (which can include underlining).  The mobile app (I have an iPhone) is easier to use than the PC app, but it is still very powerful.  I have sermon and personal Bible study notes I’ve taken since 2012.


  1. Gather tools – pencils, pens, colored pencils or highlighters appropriate for the thin paper typically used in Bibles OR
    Type the text (or cut and paste electronically) into a word processing app such as Word or Google Docs or into a note app that allows marking up.
  2. Pray – Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you through this passage.  Ask him to guide you to any application He has for you.
  3. Study – don’t get so caught up in the marking that you miss what God has for you.  It can be helpful but it can also be distracting if it becomes the focus.

Step 1:  Praise God for who He is!  (“Is” can be a clue in the passage)

Highlight each word or phrase that expresses His character in the same color.

Step 2:  Praise God for His name!

Using a different color, highlight each name of God used in the passage.

Step 3:  Find repeated words that are significant

Underline or highlight those in a new color, using a different color for different words if there is more than one word repeated.

In this passage there is only one significant, repeated word.  This could often help you classify the passage.  For instance, is the theme of this passage that God is our salvation?

Step 4:  Thank God for what He does!  You’re looking for action words, not “being” words.

Step 5:  Thank the Lord that He is a personal God.  That is significant!  Is there a “my” or “our” in the passage?

Highlight or circle any personal pronouns indicating possession.  (Circling is not available in my Olive Tree Bible).

Step 6:  Thank the Lord that He teaches us through His Word!  What are you encouraged or instructed to do in this passage? Highlight those instructions.  

Do you also need to journal them somewhere so you keep them in mind as you build new habits?

Did you notice how some words or phrases got multiple notations?  Don’t miss the significance of that!

I hope this was helpful to you.

What is a way that you have studied over the years that has been really helpful to you?  We would love to learn from you as well!

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