GOD LOVES YOU, DO YOU LOVE GOD?

Dr. Josh Packard, executive director of Springtide Research Institute, told CBN’s Faithwire about his extensive research into 13-to-25-year-olds, noting studies have long found “religion is good for you.”

God is real and He is concerned about His Cosmos particularly those in it that He made in His image to be in a relationship with Him so it is natural that He responds to those that sincerely call on Him in prayer.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.Matthew 7:7

“Faith and spirituality are good for you,” Packard said. “If you’re a person who believes in some kind of higher power and has a connection to that higher power, you’re generally flourishing more than your peers.”

He continued, “Those who pray more tend to be flourishing more in all areas, including their mental health.”

Packard’s comments are particularly stunning when America faces an “epidemic of mental health [crises] among young people.” Meanwhile, there’s also a massive rise in the proportion of “nones” who no longer affiliate with a specific faith or religion.

Data pointing to increased wellness among the faithful is particularly pertinent in the midst of these dynamics, pointing to a potential solution to cultural conundrums.

Packard said there are lessons in Springtide Research Institute’s findings that can inform the culture and churches alike, especially in an era in which faith is being downplayed or diminished.

“Young people would be … better off if more of them had a connection to something bigger than themselves,” he said. “But also, I think a lot of religious institutions and leaders would do well to take mental health into account, so that like faith and belief could be appropriately part of somebody’s overall approach to health.”

While young people might not be aligning with Christianity at rates they once were, Packard said many still see themselves as spiritual, and more than half pray.

While the separation from biblical truth is undoubtedly troubling for Christians, these realities show at least openness to a higher power. And that intrigue could lead to receptive Gospel introductions.

“We see lots of desire from Gen Z to embark on these conversations and explorations of meaning and purpose and, ‘Why am I here on this Earth?’” he said. “So, the desire hasn’t gone away. The exploration hasn’t gone away.”

As Faithwire has extensively reported, countless surveys and studies show the benefits of faith.

Human beings were created to live in fellowship with God. We know from God’s Word that the two people God created, in the beginning, disobeyed God and the consequence of that disobedience was separation and subsequent death.

We also know from God’s Word that God created angelic spiritual beings prior to making mankind and that rebellion by one supreme angelic being named Lucifer, now renamed Satan convinced one-third of God’s angelic beings to rebel with him. Moreover, it was Satan that tempted Eve who then enticed Adam into disobeying God. Satan is now the prince of this world and our prime battle is against him and his demons.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.Ephesians 6:12-13

God has provided all we need to overcome Satan and his demons. God sent Jesus, His Son to pay the price for our rebellion against Him. Once we repent of our rebellion and accept Jesus’ offer of Salvation and submit to Him as Lord then God the Father sends the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to indwell our spirit and enable us to live the Christian life as our counsellor, comforter, and teacher. Moreover, He teaches us how to pray and will even intercede for us when we do not know how to pray.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:26-28

God has also told us the end of His Story. Satan is defeated and Jesus is made king and will rule and reign on this earth for one thousand years.

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:9-11

They (resurrected Saints) came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:5-6

KNOWING GOD

Believers are usually pretty comfortable with revering God for his immortality, power, and perfection, and so we should be. He is the Creator, in whom we live and move and have our being. He is the Great I Am. But our connection with God will always be unfolding. If a person only focuses on the immensity of God, and on reverence for him, they will know little intimacy. If a person understands the great freedom we are promised in Christ but knows no reverence, they will be without foundation, To walk closely with God, we must be ever journeying, getting to know facet after facet of the divine nature. It is madness to think of him as less complex, less finely calibrated than ourselves.

God has sovereignly chosen to make himself vulnerable, in that he experiences difficult and negative emotions, along with great joy and delight, in response to earthly events.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7

Divine regret is a difficult concept, as it challenges our understanding of infallibility. We relate regret to either poor choices, bad luck, or lack of knowledge – ‘If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.’ But God was fully cognizant of every one of his actions and choices, and still found himself regretting some of them. For God to feel regret, he must therefore be vulnerable to our choices. Free will must actually be free, and poor choices on our part can cause divine pain. The Lord gets upset and frustrated, just as He is pleased and delighted by us in turn. The only way I can make sense of this vulnerability is as a deliberate, sovereign choice. The Lord of All could have placed himself above such feelings, but instead, he chose a version of creation in which the choices of his children affect him.

We can see the breadth of God’s emotions at work in the life of Jesus. What do you make of the following passage?

‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!’ Matthew 23:37

Compassion, for example, drove him to acts of kindness and mercy, such as healing the sick.

‘And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.’Matthew 14:14

Jesus knew ordinary, everyday emotions too, such as pleasure and friendship. There was a particular disciple he was closer to than any other, on a human level. John is referred to as ‘the disciple that Jesus loved’ on several occasions and was depicted leaning back on Jesus’ chest at the last supper to ask him a question. On the cross, Jesus charged this same disciple with looking after his mother, and his mother with looking after this disciple.

When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.’John 19:26-27

How human! How relatable! On the day of his death, he was concerned about those he was leaving behind, providing for their emotional needs by calling them, mother and son. How dear, how important, this must have been to Jesus, at that moment.

There was no time when the emotions of God were stretched like they were in the Garden of Gethsemane.

‘And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.’ Luke 22:41-44

At that moment Jesus was a man in torment, able to prevent his own suffering but choosing to embrace it anyway. He was desperate to escape the agony of the cross – not just the physical pain, but the spiritual horror of becoming all human brokenness, for our sake – and yet he bowed his head. This total mastery of self serves as a supreme example to us. If Jesus were not a deeply emotional person, mastery might have been easier, but being torn up inside and still submitting to God? That is staggering, to me, what about you?

Adapted from an article by Duncan Edward Pile, October 27th, 2021 “Hold Me Closer Cosmic Dancer” http://www.patheos.com

GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO

Think about how Joshua felt when God told him to lead the Israelites into Canaan, drive out the pagan inhabitants, and secure the land as a homeland for His people.

In the natural, this would seem to be an impossible task but the key of course is revealed in the following Scripture:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 

God does not commission us without the promise of His presence and provision. We only have to be “strong and of good courage.”

How would you like to be Noah, being told to build an enormous boat as God was going to destroy every living creature on the earth save those on this boat Noah was to build. We are simply told that “Noah did this; he did all that God had commanded him” Genesis 6:22

How Long Was the Ark?

At approximately 510 feet long, it would take nearly one and a half football fields to equal the Ark’s length. That’s big enough that NASA could lay three space shuttles—nose to tail—on the Ark’s roof! 

How Long Was the Ark?

How Tall Was the Ark?

The roof of Noah’s Ark was more than 50 feet from the ground—higher than a modern four-story house. That’s plenty of space for three extra-tall inner decks as the Bible describes.

How Tall Was the Ark?
Truckloads of Cargo Space

The Ark had the same storage capacity as about 450 standard semi-trailers. A standard livestock trailer holds about 250 sheep, so the Ark had the capacity to hold at least 120,000 sheep.

And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” Genesis 6:13-22

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Are you confident that God is with you wherever you go? He will be if you are obedient to His commands. Moreover, you will know if you are not being obedient because you will experince His discipline. What form that takes varies widely but repentance is required to get you back on track. This is a word usually not spoken of in apostate churches.

Do you want times of refreshing from the Lord? If you do then repent.

BE BOLD AND COURAGEOUS IN SHARING YOUR FAITH

A Christian, Pratt is clearly not shy about his faith, and is unafraid to call us all to a higher standard – that’s exactly what he did at the MTV “Generation Award” in June. The actor brought down the house with a poignant speech, providing the next generation with “9 Rules” for living. The “Jurassic World” star cleverly interspersed words of profound wisdom with a series of hilarious life tips.

“I’m going to cut to the chase, and I am going to speak to you, the next generation,” Pratt bellowed as he took to the podium. “I accept the responsibility as your elder. So, listen up.”