Tag Archives: wisdom and understanding

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 Understand God’s Will

Learn how to understand God’s will ...

How to Understand God’s Will

Recently I received a question from a reader that I thought was an excellent question and worthy of sharing…

“How can we understand about God’s will for us? I’ve been struggling with the feeling that I may have done something out of His plan, and it saddens me so much.”

I think this is something that many of us have wondered about at one time or another.  How do we understand God’s will, and what happens if we feel like we’ve missed it or did something opposed to His will?  This week I’d like to discuss a couple of ways to understand God’s will, and also address what happens if we miss it.

First let me say, don’t beat yourself up too much if you feel like you’ve done something out of God’s will or plan.  We ALL have “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s”.  I screw up all the time! 🙂 The cool thing I’ve learned is that I can never mess up so much that God can’t fix it or even use it.  God can turn anything around.  I wrote about that in “Mistakes Can Turn Into Success” if you want to see an example in the bible.  Romans 8:28 says “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  So if you know you’ve messed up, repent (admit it, apologize and don’t do it again), and then ask God to fix it or work it out to be something good. 

As for understanding God’s will, I’ve learned that the best way to learn and understand God’s will is by reading the bible.  His will is in His word.  Romans 12:2 says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Other versions say “renewing your mind…to discern what God’s will is”.  We renew our mind by reading the bible.  God’s will or plan will NEVER contradict what the bible says.  For example, God’s will is never for someone to have an affair because the bible clearly calls that adultery, which is a sin, or God’s will is never for somebody to go to hell because God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

I’ve also learned that I can ASK God to show me what His will or His plan is.  James 4:2 says, “You have not because you ask not.”  That means if we want something we need to ask for it.  The same can be true when trying to understand God’s will—We just need to ask.  So first I pray (i.e. God, please help me to understand your will and plan in this area…). Then secondly, I just spend some time reading the bible.  I usually just do this in my regular daily quiet times, and I try to pay attention to anything that stands out.  A lot of times God will answer my question (usually not right away though) in some of the verses I read.

A recent example of when I was trying to understand God’s will was when Continue reading

Things I Discovered From Being Annoyed by Cheerleaders

Things I Discovered From Being Annoyed by Cheerleaders

Things I Discovered From Being Annoyed by Cheerleaders

Okay.  I’m going to open up and be vulnerable and honest with you for a bit.  Cheerleaders get on my nerves.  There I said it.  Let me clarify.  I don’t mean the cheerleaders themselves.  I’m talking about the actual cheerleading during the game.  For some reason, they seem to start cheering right as the next play is starting or right when they are announcing something over the intercom.  Some of the cheers seem never-ending.  A few of the cheers don’t even match what’s happening on the field.  I find it to be annoying and distracting.  I mean, after all, I’m here to watch my son play football not the cheerleaders!  Sometimes I just want to yell, “Shut up!”

Now that you all think I’m a horrible person… 🙂

I think I should give you an explanation and some background information.  In my younger years, I actually used to be a cheerleader.  I cheered for five years, two of those serving as Captain of the cheer squad.  Looking back to when I cheered as a young middle schooler and high schooler, I can now see that I was completely unqualified.  I had no business cheering, let alone acting as Captain!  I didn’t know anything about football.  I think I may have learned maybe a handful of basics.  Offense means our team has the ball.  Defense means their team has the ball.  A touchdown is when we score.  That was about the extent of my knowledge back then.

Currently as a wife of an avid football fan and the mom of a young football player, I’ve learned quite a bit more about the game.  I’ve especially learned more also as a participant of a fantasy football team (more on that story here).  Understanding the game has actually enabled me to enjoy it more.  If I were being honest, I think when I cheered in school it wasn’t so much because I loved the game of football but probably more the idea of it.  I loved the games and the exciting atmosphere.  I loved the comradery.  I loved the competition.  I loved getting up in front of people cheering and the attention I got.

Senior Cheer-Tracy

This is me…the cheerleader that didn’t know football!

I’m a little bit embarrassed now after the fact because I can see areas where I may have been more of a hindrance than a help as a cheerleader.  Continue reading