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How to understand the bible when you are confused

what did God mean?

      Would it not be great if we could just lay our head on the leather cover of our Bible and the life application just automatically transfer. It could be very similar to a wireless charger for our phones. 

    But if we were to get real with each other , we all struggle sometimes with interpreting what the Bible actually means. Some of us who dislike the Bible do so because we don’t understand it. 

     Some of us on the other hand dislike the Bible because we do understand it. And we do not like what it says. But the good thing about Gods Word is that even though there is bad news , God offers a solution of hope found in Jesus. 

     So the better we can understand the Bible the more good news we will have for our life.  As a Pastor I spend a lot of my life  helping people better understand the Bible. The good news is that it is not rocket science. 

   You also are not required to be a pastor to understand what the bible says. The Bible is practically the best seller of all time and at the same time one of the most misunderstood books of all time. Have you ever listened to a sermon and thought wow, I get it now?

     Luckily you don’t have to hire me or any other preacher to come live with you to get that experience. It is possible for you to understand what God is saying to you through the verses you study. So lets put that anxiety, intimidation, and past failures aside to get you on track to knowing what the Bible means.   

Pray for understanding: the foundation

      If you are like me you don’t like asking for directions. We like to have the appearance that we know what we are doing. But I can testify that the times I have just tried to find my own way in a strange town it has not caused us to arrive on time. It has actually just left me confused.

      The same truth applies to Gods letter to us ( the Bible). If we are confused and frustrated with the text of His word , the first place we have to go is to Him in prayer. Before we start doing a google search, asking other people, or giving up on the good news of the Bible.

       Often times we skip the step of simply asking God to help us understand what we are reading because that is so simple. We feel like it has to be more complicated than that. God promises to draw near to those who draw near to Him. He also has not once rejected a person with a humble heart wanting to know His will.

     So before we put our head in our hands lets put our hands together in prayer. The result will surprise you. I can tell you from experience that prayer  has opened my eyes to what God is saying in His word. 

     I can be getting nowhere on my message for that week and then I pray. Not immediately , but little by little God opens my eyes to the truth that is before me. So  next time you are frustrated over what a verse means choose to pray. 

Confusing bible=confused christian

      In the above chart you will see  the different translations of John 3:17. After asking God to reveal what He is saying in His Word we next look at the Bible we are using. Do you know which Bible  translation is best? It is the one that you can understand the best. 

      The KJV is an example of a more difficult and wordy translation. The NIV is an example of a more reader friendly translation. The great thing about todays world is that you have at your fingertips tons of electronic Bibles to determine which one you like best.

      The picture above compares six common translations. So a good test is if you can read a chapter of your Bible and not have to get out a dictionary for every paragraph you are good. The reality is that  Jesus was all about people understanding the good news.

     So if the wording of the Bible you are using is hard to understand then change it. That is because a confusing Bible translation will make you a confused Christian. So the more you are able to understand the text, the more you will be able to let Jesus change your life. 

resist one man band syndrome

       It is really hard to do everything by yourself. Especially if you have a lot to do. The same applies for when we are confused about what the Bible is saying. Sometimes after coming to the limits of what we know , we want to give up.

      But oh the blessings we miss when we do that. God has such a great crowd of Christians who are a goldmine of information to help us know what God is saying. The cool thing for us is that oftentimes we don’t even have to leave the comfort of our bedrooms. 

     With  an internet connection we can access pastors, sermons, and Bible studies that shed light on our confusion. Good commentaries  put Bible scholars in your living room. So resist the temptation to limit your quest for understanding to my, myself , and I.

     And allow the wealth of  answers found in the Christian community to ease your burden. Some good resources are the ministry of John PiperJohn MacArthur , and Bible Study Tools.

     Looking at what the church has held as true over time can be a measuring stick of truth for us. As long as these resources are staying true to the foundational beliefs of our faith we should use them. Not to mention the amount of good books written on specific passages. 


Crock Pot solution to understanding the bible

    Everyone loves a good crock pot meal. I love them because all you have to do is fix it and forget it. You can do whatever you want and still be making a great meal. Those sort of meals are usually very flavorful also. 

    Finding the meaning of scripture can  go the same way.  After praying, finding the right Bible, and looking at resources we have to give God time to reply. 

   Mowing the grass, taking a shower, or enjoying your favorite hobby are not spiritual. But when we are seeking understanding oftentimes God speaks to us.  I have had some of my best sermon truths revealed to me on the mower or in the shower. 

   So don’t miss this truth. If we do our part God will do His. And if we are going to hear from God we have to be still and listen. Choose to give Him time to reveal to us what He is saying. So after doing the work of the first three steps , step away for a while. It is in the unexpected of everyday that God will give you your answer.

    Personally , that is the best thing about God. He doesn’t have to have a steeple for reception. All He needs is a heart seeking the answer from Him. Don’t be surprised either that the more you meditate on scripture the more God will reveal to you. Just like that roast is more flavorful at hour eight than hour three. 

The community that combats confusion

      I will start out by saying that no church is perfect. But church has a few things going for it to help you better understand What God is saying. To start with it is a block of time every week where people meet to learn more about God.

      If you and me are going to understand Gods word better then we have to spend time on it every week. Secondly  it is a community of people that includes more mature Christians.

      I am not saying that they are perfect. And you will be highly disappointed if you expect them to be. But they are farther along in their walk with Christ. So they can help you understand where you are at since they were at that place of confusion once.

      At church there is also a devoted time to explaining and applying what the Bible means. That is exactly what you and I are looking for. There is also the added plus of you can ask your questions about your verses and God’s people will help you find the answer.