Four-Step Bible Study & Bible Journaling

How Jesus Taught 4 Step Bible Study

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I’ve been using an adapted version of Bernice McCarthy’s 4Mat System for Bible study for almost 30 years in our homeschool.  Numerous studies have been published on the positive impact of these four steps.  When I first read McCarthy’s books I recognised It is how Jesus taught and made this diagram.

Links to the free PDF and worksheets are at the bottom of this page.

I adapted these four steps for Bible Journaling. There are TWO methods below: Steps 2 & 3 change based on time available.

Four Steps to a Bible Journaling 

Step 1 Excite: Cause an Interest  (not optional)

  • Pray for personal meaning and wisdom (James 1:5)
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit’s Leading.

Step 2 Examine: Read

  • Read the passage choose a key verse.

Step 3 Expand: Bible Journal

Use your favorite medium to express what you learned on paper or in your Bible.  Keep your thoughts focused on each word as you Bible journal. Continue to pray and seek God.

  • On a Bible page
  • In the Bible Margin
  • On a notebook page
  • In a planner
  • On a margin strip
  • On your computer

Step 4 Excel: Share with Others

The card is a Bible Journal Tip In. These work well if you worry about making a mistake in your Bible and give you extra room.​ See more about Bible Tip-Ins Here.

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A Bible Study Parable

Illustrated Faith Praise Book 

Illustrated Faith Praise Book 

If I asked you to come to my house for dinner I would want to prepare a wonderful feast. But if it was hectic day full of appointments, playing taxi for children, and other busy work I’m sure you would understand if we had quick sandwiches instead. It is the company that counts–building a relationship. A big feast would would be nice but it is not always practical.

I firmly believe we should be in the Word daily–as in Daily Bread. There is nothing I enjoy more than time with God. But I run two businesses, homeschool, and have several craft hobbies. Some days I can only squeeze in a quick devotional or listen to a Bible study podcast while running errands.

But when I have time time I treat myself to a feast in God’s word. In Step 2 I use commentaries, Lexicons, and my VERY FAVORITE: I watch a video on the chapter from TorahClass.com and fill out the Key worksheet. Then in Step 3 I use paints, markers, and stickers to Bible Journal (or I use my computer to make a digital page).

I used this meal parable ( I use a lot of food parables) to help you understand this Bible study method is only a guide like a recipe–feel free to adapt based on the time you have.

All time with God is priceless! Make it a priority of your day.

This is the worksheet using this method studying Peter. Taking the time to read the passage 3x and fill out this worksheet makes a world of difference. Try it.


Four Steps to a Bible Journal
When you have Time for a Feast

Step 1 Excite: Cause an Interest (not optional)

  • Pray for personal meaning and wisdom (James 1:5)
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit’s Leading.
  • Take few minutes to ponder
    • What you know about the passage
    • What you would like to learn from the passage.

Step 2 Examine: Read and Write

“The difference between reading and studying comes down to one factor: writing. Regardless of the method of Bible study that works best for you, the first rule of thumb in studying Scripture is to have a pen and a notepad on hand.” Andy Deane

  • Read the passage 3 times.
    • Read Silently
    • Read in another version
    • Read out loud
  • Fill out the Key Worksheet. Asking these type questions:
    • Who – Who is the author of the book? To whom is he writing? Who are the major and minor characters?
    • Where – Where do the events occur? Are there any references to towns, cities, provinces? If so look them up in a Bible atlas or on a map. Many Bibles contain historical maps just for this purpose. If you are reading a letter, where do the recipients if of the letter live?
    • When – Are there any references to time, day, month, or year? Are there references to the timing of other events happening in relation to this event?
    • What – What actions or events are taking place? What words or ideas are repeated or are central to the passage. What is the mood (joyous or somber, soft or stern, intense or peaceful, instructional or informational)?
    • Why – Does the passage offer any reasons, explanations, statements of purpose? Why did the Holy Spirit move the author to write these words?
    • How – How is the passage written? Is is a letter, speech, poem, parable? Does it use figures of speech (similes, metaphors)? How is it organized (around people, ideas, geography)?
  • Use these FREE Bible Study tools to research.
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit’s Leading.

Step 3 Expand: Bible Journal

Use your favorite medium to express what you learned on paper or in your Bible. Keep your thoughts focused on each word as you Bible journal. Continue to pray and seek God.

  • On a Bible page
  • In the Bible Margin
  • On a notebook page
  • On a margin strip
  • On your computer

Step 4 Excel: Share with Others

  •  Bible Journal Facebook Group
  • With your family
  • With a friend
  • With Bible study group
  • With your church
  • On a blog
  • On Facebook
  • On Pinterest
  • On Instagram
  • Digitally

Free PDF Downloads

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