Tag Archives: bible study

Tips for Understanding the Bible

Check out some of these tips for understanding the Bible better...

Tips for Understanding the Bible

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that included a prayer to help understand the Bible better when we read it.  However, even after praying at times there are still things we don’t always understand right away. There are occasions where we may want to do a little further study when we are having trouble understanding.  Today I thought I’d share with you some of my own processes and tips for understanding the Bible based on things that seem to help me, personally.

I’ve been a consistent Bible reader and “student” for many years now, and there are STILL things I don’t understand. It might be a word, a custom, or it might even be when the Bible seems to contradict itself.  We’re not crazy, abnormal, or unintelligent if we read some things that seem a bit confusing or out of whack!  Even pastors who have been studying scripture for decades have questions and don’t always understand everything that they read.  Take heart…we’re in good company! 

A different take on struggles with understanding

Recently, after reading some of his devotions on my Bible app, I started following a guy named Dave Adamson.   He has an Instagram feed with daily photo devotions that are always absolutely amazing!  One of his posts this week fit right in line with how we struggle when we read the Bible at times. Dave had some tips for understanding the bible when we struggle based off of the story of Jacob, who was renamed Isaac.  He posted a picture of his girls wrestling on the lawn at the National Mall in Washington DC.  He compared it to how we wrestle with God and with scripture sometimes…

“See, I used to carry a lot of guilt whenever I questioned a paradox in Scripture or disagreed with something I heard in church. But there’s a story in the Bible of a man named Jacob who one night literally wrestles with God. By morning, God walks away from the fight and changes Jacob’s name to Israel, which in Hebrew means “struggles” or “wrestles with God.” This name is prophetic, signifying that God’s people will always wrestle with Him. The ancient Jews believed God invites you into this wonderful wrestling match with Him. Author Athol Dickson says, “What if God placed these paradoxes within the Scriptures to cause me to struggle for the truth? What if it is the struggle he desires as much as the truth itself?” When you wrestle with God, He’s right there with you, just like my daughters are with each other in this picture. So the next time you struggle with faith, that’s not a time for guilt, but celebration. God is inviting you to wrestle with Him so you can be connected with the Creator of the universe.”[1]

I love how he used this analogy to free us from some of the guilt of having doubts and questions.  You can also see more of Dave’s amazing photo devotions on his reading plans on the Bible app (YouVersion): 7 Hebrew Words Every Believer Should Know and 7 More Hebrew Words Every Believer Should Know.  Dave also has a photo devotional book called Chasing the Light.

God wants us to understand

Nevertheless, like I said before… God wants us to read our Bible and to understand it. He doesn’t want it to be difficult or overwhelming for us. Because God is not a God of confusion, we should be at peace and not in a state of confusion. Scripture is given to us to help us, not to hinder us. It’s meant to be useful for us.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV)

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16(NLT)

So on to the tips!

8 Tips for Understanding the Bible:

  1. Try these 8 tips to help you understand the Bible better

    Find a translation that makes it easy to understand the Bible verses and passages

  2. Read a verse or passage in multiple translations
  3. Use a Bible commentary
  4. Read related verses or cross references
  5. Use a concordance
  6. Ask someone else
  7. Look up or research what you don’t understand
  8. Pray more specifically about a particular part that you don’t understand

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Prayer to Help Understand the Bible

Say this prayer to help you understand the Bible better...

Prayer to Help Understand the Bible

Sometimes it’s hard to understand the Bible, which can be very frustrating. Often this will tempt us to just stop and give up trying. This is especially true if we’re not in a habit of reading it on a regular basis. However, I will say it gets easier the more consistent we get in our reading habit. Today, I’d like to share some scriptures and a prayer based off of scripture that we can pray to before we begin reading in order to glean the most out of our reading session.

God wants us to read our Bible. He also wants us to understand the Bible. He doesn’t want it to be difficult or overwhelming for us. We should be at peace and not in a state of confusion. God is not a God of confusion. Scripture is given to us to help us, not to hinder us. It’s meant to be useful for us to help us lead a successful, happy, healthy and prosperous life. It is effective and powerful and always relevant to any and every situation we face.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV)

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) 

There is simplicity in Christ

Beth Jones explained once that we don’t have to understand all of the complex parts of the Bible to learn about Jesus and have relationship with him. Beth compared it to driving a car. You don’t have to understand all of the inner workings of a car engine to be able to drive the car.

Similarly, you don’t have to be all deep and philosophical and intellectual when reading scripture. He’ll help you out along the way. You’ll grow in knowledge and understanding as you walk with him. In fact, Jesus liked to keep things simple. It was the other religious leaders of the day that tried to make things confusing, complex, and super formal. He’ll meet you where you are and help you to understand little by little.

“But I fear, lest somehow, he serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 (NKJV)

 Scriptures to use when we need to understand the Bible 

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How to Conduct Research

How to Conduct Research

How to Conduct Research

Recently, I wrote a post on Barabbas and discussed how I encountered some conflicting information. I decided to do some research. During that process I found both credible and not-so-credible resources. The thought came to me that some people may not know how to discern if material is reliable or not. So this week I thought I’d share just some basic tips on how to conduct research and evaluate information.

They do teach some of this in high school and in college. So many of you might already know how to do this effectively. Sometimes though it’s nice to have refreshers. You might also learn a few tips and tricks of which you may have been unaware. I think you’ll also find some techniques very helpful when doing some Bible study and research.

Additionally, there may be some readers who find this helpful—especially in our current culture of biased media, people throwing out inaccurate data, and a world full of activist agendas. Even if you feel proficient in conducting research, feel free to watch the short video clips and learn a few tricks for web searches and such.

The CRAAP Test

I teach the CRAAP Test in my college classes. Sounds kinda crude doesn’t it? I joke with my students that this is the method they’ll use to recognize fact from crap! 😉 In all seriousness though, it’s a method used to help you know how to evaluate sources and material. It will help you determine which is good information and which isn’t.

Basically, CRAAP is just an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. This handout by California State University, Chico is one we refer to and distribute in my classes. However to give you a basic rundown of what it entails, I’ll describe each step. Continue reading

The Importance of Writing Things Down

The Importance of Writing Things Down ...Learn some of the benefits and advantages of taking notes during quiet times and sermons.

The Importance of Writing Things Down

We recently talked about reading the bible on a regular basis (with tips here and how to stop spiritual cramming here).  This week I’d like to take that a step further and share about the importance of writing things down.  It’s a good idea to keep a journal or notebook for taking notes during our quiet times and even during church.  For a lot of people they know writing things down is helpful and that it’s probably a good idea (much like reading the bible on a regular basis), but they still neglect to do it merely for the hassle or inconvenience of it.  I’d like to discuss why the benefits of writing things down might outweigh the disadvantages of it.

Writing things down helps the information sink in…

Writing things down takes listening and reading a step further.  The simple act of writing forces us to think about what it is that we are hearing or reading and then reiterating that or abbreviating that onto paper.  When we take notes it help us to recall the information later.  How many times have you written a list only to find out that you didn’t even have to refer to it?  But try not writing that same list, and chances are that you will forget many of the items.  It’s almost a catch-22.  The process of writing things down will help you to remember what it is that you’ve written.  Skip the notes and potentially forget—with an added disadvantage of having nothing to refer back to if you’ve forgotten.  Which brings me to the next benefit…

Writing things down gives you something to reference…

Overall, the purpose of taking notes is to key in on the important information that we need to remember and to use as a future reference.  We need to write things down to remember—even for those with a good memory.  Exodus 17:14 (NLT) says, “…the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder…”  Jeremiah 30:2 (AMP) says, “This says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write all the words that I have spoken to you in a book.”  Psalm 105:5 tells us to “remember” the wonders God has done, and Psalm 103:2 tells us to bless the Lord and “forget not” all his benefits.  If we are being told to “remember” and “forget not”, then apparently it is possible to forget.  Writing things down will serve as a reference for those things that we may have forgotten.

I’ve also heard it said that writing things down can also give the Holy Spirit something to work with—a reference of sorts.  In John 14:26 it says that the Holy Spirit will “remind” us.  Taking notes will act as a reference to which the Holy Spirit may even trigger us to go back and look at.  Continue reading