How to engage deeper with a verse of the day
Verse-a-day calendars can be nice to have on your desk. A verse every day. However, since the calendar sits static on my desk, it ends up blending in with everything else on my desk.
I’m grateful for the moments that I do look at the verse of the day. Is there a way I can pay more attention to the calendar, so I actually look at it? Or at the very least rip the pages off so I’m not days behind?
My favorite thing to do is to hand-write the verse every day. Handwriting helps you to engage with the verse. You read the verse slowly as you write it. Digesting each word at a time.
The final verse on paper is now written in your own handwriting. That verse just got a little more personal to you.
2. Digital reminders
Many Verse of the Day phone apps have a notification system that gives you an alert at a specific time of the day. This is like a little nudge to read the verse. It’s great that you read the verse every day. However, once you close the app down, the verse is then gone. It’s no longer sitting on your desk as a nice reminder throughout the day.
3. Physical copy on your desk
You could print out the verse of the day. It could be a simple text printout. Or you could print out one of the designed images from YouVersion. Or, heh, you could have a page-a-day calendar on your desk. Oh! now we’ve come back full circle back to the page-a-day calendars.
Combine all these techniques together, and you have a really good, simple way of engaging with Scripture every day. I absolutely love having the hand-written verse on my desk every day. I’ll keep the page open on my desk next to my laptop all day.
4. Memorize the verse
If you keep the verse on your desk, you can try to memorize it throughout the day.
A great way to dig into the verse deeper is to read commentaries on the verse. Sometimes I’ll read several commentaries. If there’s an interesting nugget, I’ll hand-write it underneath the verse. More on my research methods under the “My routine” section on this page.
6. Find a group
Find a group of people who all read the same verse every day. YouVersion is one of the biggest verse of the day platforms out there. Lots of people are reading the same verse every day. If you follow @YouVersion on Twitter, you’ll see Twitter responses to the verse. Engage with the people who are posting responses.
7. Post your hand-written verse to a group
In addition to YouVersion’s twitter account that tweets the image of the day, the YouVersion site/app also allows you post your own verse image! Other people who follow you, can see your verse image.
Since I have the verse hand-written, I’ll snap a pic with my phone, and post it as a “verse image” on YouVersion. It’s really encouraging knowing that other people can see your handwritten verse.
8. Snail mail your hand-written verse
The current day’s verse sits next to my laptop. That’s great. Underneath today’s verse is all the past verses. Some days it’s nice to look back at what I’ve written. However all the previous verses just pretty much sit in a pile unused. It would be nice to get a little more use out of them.
I’ve thought about snail mailing one verse a day to someone I know. I could make up a list and just go down the list. Every day the next person on the list gets the verse snail mailed to him/her. That would be nice. Imagine being that person, and getting a nice little surprise in the mail.
Don’t overthink it
And this is where I start thinking things through too much. All this research, and now I’m snail mailing it directly to someone?
- I feel like I would need to do a lot of research on the verse. I would need to make this super insightful and great, because I’m literally sending it directly to someone.
- How would the person receive it? Would they think I’m sending some sort of subliminal message to him/her? Like, you aren’t doing XYZ enough? In all reality, it’s just a random sending.
I’d rather just keep this a simple joyful exercise. Not something where I feel the pressure of doing something great. I’ve already debated if I should be posting these to YouVersion, because then I want to make them even more intense. It’s wonderful that I want to make them better. That’s good, right? But with how I work, I end up pressuring myself too much, and the whole process becomes too much. Then I end up not doing any of it at all, because I know it will take too much time.
I just need to keep it simple. Some days it’ll be JUST the verse. No research. No posting to YouVersion or Twitter. Just a simple sheet of paper on my desk with a simple verse. That’s it. This is my baseline where I’m satisfied. If anything extra happens, that’s great.
My YouVersion profile used to say “Every day hand-writing the verse of the day”. Um, no. That’s not really true. I changed that to “Hand-writing the verse of the day almost every day”. Again, those expectations are too high. Now my profile says “Hand-writing the YouVersion Verse of the Day some days.” Boom. There it is. Some days I’ll post something, some days I don’t. Right now I just want to get something on paper once a day—even if it’s not posted to YouVersion.
In the morning I like to pull up YouVersion either on my phone or on my computer. I like looking at their various designs they do every day of the verse.
SIDENOTE: Sometimes mornings are just too busy with two kids, so I’ll pull up the verse on my computer at night when the kids are asleep. Yeah, I would LOVE for it to be an exact routine, so it becomes an engrained habit. But let’s be real, sometimes things happen.
I hand-write the verse with pencil on paper. Right now I use regular 8.5×11 paper. I’ve thought about using a dedicated notebook, so I have all the verses together. But for now I’m keeping it simple. Very simple. Just regular paper.
SIDENOTE: I have a tendency to over-do things. A simple little project becomes very elaborate with special paper, special pens, redoing the pencil drawing, because something didn’t line up. Just look at the Psalm 100 project. That was initially just to simply handwrite Psalm 100 every day. And then I started designing it. Over-researching it.
Once I have the verse handwritten, sometimes I’ll do research on the verse.
Doing research for hand-written verses
My favorite source to start with is preceptaustin.org. He doesn’t have all the Bible verses, but when he does, oh man. Look out. This is incredibly in-depth. He pulls the best highlights from a variety of commentaries. He also analyzes the original Hebrew and Greek. He looks at cross-references with other verses. All the things I absolutely love.
If Precept Austin doesn’t have the verse, then I’ll use the resources on biblehub.com. They list all the commentaries nicely on one page, so I can skim them all over. I really try to keep my tools quick and simple. I don’t want to have to click around too much.
If I do have some extra time, I’ll pick a key word in the verse and look up the original Hebrew and Greek on biblehub.com.
There are two areas of looking up the original Hebrew and Greek on the biblehub.com
Biblehub.com has a great variety of lexicon sources all on one page. These lexicons all use root forms of the words. You get all the definitions for the root word. (Get to the Lexicon by clicking on “Lexicon“, NOT “Hebrew” or “Greek”)
- Original tense form
In Greek and Hebrew, one root word has many MANY different tense forms. To get the actual tense form, click on “Hebrew” or “Greek“—NOT “Lexicon”). Since you are looking at the actual tense, there will be a much smaller list of verses that use this exact word. I love looking at the verses that use the exact same tense form. If you want a larger list of verses that use the root form of the word, head back to the Lexicon.
How to Google Greek/Hebrew Bible words and get focused results
To get a little more insight into the original Greek/Hebrew word in that verse, I’ll google the original tense form and the bible verse.
Let’s say in Hebrews 4:16, I want to research “draw near”
• The root form is “proserchomai” with 86 occurrences
• The tense form is “proserchōmetha” with 2 occurrences
I’ll google: “proserchōmetha” “Hebrews 4”.
Just 18 results in Google. I’m always amazed how few results there are. Most of them are standard lexicon entries. I’m looking for blog posts, sermons, commentaries or books. Things where people are talking about “proserchōmetha” in Hebrews.
If a regular Google search doesn’t give me anything insightful, then I’ll head over to Google Books (books.google.com). Usually books have some tucked-away knowledge to uncover. I use the same search search terms, “proserchōmetha” “Hebrews 4”.
A note about the search terms.
- Why the quote marks?
I use the quotes, because it forces Google to search for the exact phrase “Hebrews 4”. Those two words have to exist right next to each other.
- Why not the exact verse?
I don’t search for the exact verse, “Hebrews 4:16” because often times a commentary might list the section verses e.g. “Hebrews 4:1-16”. A search for “Hebrews 4:16” would not show up on page using “Hebrews 4:1-16” because it’s not an exact match. In some cases I might even drop the chapter number and search just for the book and the Greek tense form. e.g. “proserchōmetha” “Hebrews”
Quick reviews for Verse of the Day services
This list is growing. I will be adding more.
YouVersion (iOS app and website)
- Cost: Free, no ads
- iOS app: Bible (6.9 million ratings)
- Website: bible.com/verse-of-the-day
- I use this.
Bible – Verse of the Day (iOS app)
- Cost: Free version has ads. Paid version removes ads.
- iOS app only. (193,000 ratings)
- Website: none
- Soft flowing verses. I don’t use this version.
- Cost: Free.
- App: none (well, I guess you could use the Reddit app.)
- Website: reddit.com/r/VerseOfTheDay
- This subreddit is active—in the sense that there is something posted every day. It’s on reddit, so you’d think there would be community and comments. But I haven’t seen any comments.
My wish list for Verse of the Day
I love the “Verse of the Day” feature. Every day I check YouVersion’s verse of the day. Sometimes I’ll hand-write the verse, and do a little bit of research on the meaning behind the words.
How do these services select the Verse of the Day? Some days when it’s a particular holiday, there might be a verse that correlates to the holiday. But on most days the selection seems random.
Verse of the day based on weekly lectionary
It would be nice to have a Verse of the Day app/site that is sync with the weekly lectionary. These lectionaries are used by thousands (millions?) of churches across denominations. (I even made little bookmarks for the Catholic and Lutheran weekly readings. For the most part, these readings are the same across churches.
If all these churches are doing the same readings every week, wow, that totally syncs in with the desire to have a community of people reading the same verse every day. As a church, you get together to hear the same readings. Why not study those readings every day before Sunday? When Sunday rolls around, you’ll have a wonderful grasp on what will be read. You’ll anticipate what the sermon/homily will be about.
Every day’s verse could come directly from the lectionary readings for that week. Although, you’ll need a different verse for 7 days. You might be able to pull a few verses that are tight and snappy. But 3-4 doesn’t make for 7.
Perhaps some related verses could be used based on the lectionary’s theme that week. That way, you get outside the small set of verses used in the three-year lectionary. Only 4% of the Old Testament is in the lectionary—not including Psalms. 21% of Psalms is in the lectionary. 17% of Acts is in the lectionary. 10% of Revelation.
The Daily Devotion from Lutheran Hour Ministries uses readings from the weekly lectionary. Awesome! These are daily devotions, they aren’t exactly a succinct “verse of the day”. But hey, it’s a start!
I might… might take the weekly lectionary and see if I can pull out seven verses every week. (What was that I said about getting too in-depth into things?)
A centralized place to discuss the Verse of the Day
YouVersion comes up again, because they are the biggest player here. They do have a Twitter account where they share the verse. But YouVersion tweets many verses every day. You don’t know which is the “official” verse of the day. It would be nice if they used a hashtag to help identify and sort that out.
YouVersion’s Facebook page also shares the verse every day. Again, they post many verses a day without marking which is the “official” one. These aren’t dedicated accounts for talking about the verse of the day. These accounts mix in lots of other stuff.
Reddit has a group, r/VerseOfTheDay, but there are zero comments on the daily posts. I suppose I could be the first to comment to see if there is any conversation. I’m not sure how they select their verses every day.
I’d love to have this centralized place hook into all the other resources available too. Imagine if biblehub.com had a Verse of the Day based on the lectionary! My mind would explode.