PRAYER IMPROVES MENTAL HEALTH

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

“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.

This data showing 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 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. Recent research has found Christians are exceptional at giving, fare better in relationships, church attendees are happier and more content, and churchgoers have better mental health.

Can I suggest you also take a look at my other posts on prayer: Praying Effective Prayers. December 7th, 2022, What Does Prayer Do? October 22nd, 2022, Prayer Connects You to the Source of Life. September 27th, 2022, Pray, Pray, Pray. March 27th, 2022, Praying and Meditating on Scripture Will Improve Your Health. March 14th, 2022. Other posts of possible interest could be Do You Want Greater Hope and Resilience? April 26th, 2022, Young People Religion is Good for You. November 13th, 2022.

WHAT ARE YOU HOPING FOR?

The Scriptures reveal what our hope should be in, it is in Jesus Christ’s return. Verses about Jesus’ glorious return and the years immediately preceding it comprise nearly 25% of the Bible.

Our hope comprises all of the following: resurrection from the dead”(Acts 23:6), the hope of glory (new amazing body) (Col 1:27), to rule over the nations with Jesus (Rom 15:12), the presence of our Lord Jesus and all of our loved ones who know Jesus (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Note what Peter tells us to do: prepare our minds for action.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1:13

.This is a lot to hope for, and all of these things happen upon Jesus’ return. Paul had this to say about those who only hope in this life and not in the return of the Lord:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” 1 Corinthians 15:19

The Coming of the Lord
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this, we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord, himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body,Philippians 3:20

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.Revelation 2:26-27

Our hope is for Jesus’ soon coming return when all of these wonderful promises will be fulfilled. Surely, we are prepared to face the coming tribulation knowing that the indwelling Holy Spirit will ensure we can handle it just as He did for Stephen when he was stoned to death. Even more important, surely you want to complete the work God has for you to do in these last days in order to receive His commendation.

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God… And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.Acts 7:55-56, 59-60

HOW TO STAND STRONG IN THE END TIMES

We are witnessing shakings that disrupt virtually every life, disrupting the world, setting cities on fire, changing governments, and ushering in an agenda that wars against God’s people. Is there a way to stand strong and immovable through it all? Jonathan Cahn tells us how to find it – and live it.

There is no doubt in my mind that God is using Jonathan Cahn to alert the church to what God is doing in line with end times Biblical prophecy. Regardless of what Satan does to deceive the world when the Antichrist comes on the scene, our hope must be in the fact that God is in control of history. Satan’s time of controlling the world is coming to an end. Make sure you are on the winning side.

DO YOU WANT GREATER HOPE AND RESILIENCE?

American Bible Society today released the third chapter of the 12th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. Today’s release shows that Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.

American Bible Society is in its twelfth year of conducting State of the Bible, asking American people their opinions and practices relating to the Bible.

Our research continues to confirm that consistent Bible reading leads to hope and greater flourishing. Christians know that Jesus offers us full life; there’s no surprise here. But for those who are questioning their faith or even who need reassurance after a hard season, the data validates that applying the truths of Scripture leads to better health, better relationships, and a higher sense of purpose and meaning—all while bringing us closer to God,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society“To put it simply: the Bible’s message is not only spiritually transformative; it also transforms how we experience life on earth. There is restoration and healing in the Word of God, and we urgently need to point our hurting neighbors toward that life-changing truth.”

The State of the Bible 2022 findings come from a survey in January 2022 conducted by the American Bible Society in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, which produced 2,598 online or telephone responses from American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS

This video is an excerpt from the feature-length documentary THE CASE FOR FAITH produced by LA MIRADA FILMS. It is a documentary I suggest you acquire.

Through the resurrection of Jesus, God transformed the worst event the world has ever known into the greatest possible good – the salvation of humanity. Featuring N.T. Wright, Peter Kreeft, Greg Koukl, J.P. Moreland and Lee Strobel this video is an excellent resource for you to use in evangelism and training disciples of Christ.

The resurrection of Jesus celebrated at Easter is a declaration of the transforming power of Christ to overcome darkness and bring hope.

We continue to see much darkness over the world. We have experienced the darkness of Covid-19. We see increasing darkness as the world rejects God and His values, lawlessness abounds. Jesus warns us that darkness will only increase as we approach the time of His return. He has given us many “end times” signs so that we will not be unprepared.

As Christians who are being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be lights into this darkness. We are called to share in the mission of the risen Jesus. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the reason we know that there is an answer to the darkness and brokenness of this world. There is hope and salvation. There is a light that cannot be overcome.

May you this Easter know the transforming power of the Risen Jesus, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and so be a light to others to the glory of God our Father.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR SUFFERING

If we recognize God’s sovereignty, particularly over Satan’s work, it changes our perspective about our lives and suffering.

Satan and God intend the same suffering for entirely different purposes, but God’s purpose triumphs. Satan sought Job’s ruin and loss of faith; God sought Job’s refining and faith-building. The very thing Satan intended for Job’s destruction, God intended for his betterment and ultimate reward (though certainly at a terrible cost).

2 Corinthians 12:7 gives us a striking picture. We see God sending a physical disability for His purposes and Satan sending the same disability for his. Paul says, “To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh.” If the text stopped here, it would be obvious who gave the thorn in the flesh—God, who wanted to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Certainly, the devil would not lift a finger to prevent Paul from becoming conceited.

But Paul continues to describe the thorn in the flesh as “a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Two supernatural beings, adamantly opposed to each other, are said in a single verse to have distinct purposes in sending Paul a thorn in the flesh. God’s purpose is not to torment him, but to keep him from becoming conceited; Satan’s purpose is to torment him, likely in the hope of turning him from God. Whose purpose will be accomplished? Who will win?

Paul says, in the next verses, he asked God three times to remove the “thorn,” but God refused. He did, however, reveal the purpose behind Paul’s unanswered prayer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

How did Paul respond? ”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul rejoiced in his afflictions. Why? Because he knew God had a sovereign and loving purpose.

Joseph’s brothers intended his suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Job’s suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Jesus’ suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Paul’s suffering for evil; God intended it for good. In each case, God’s purpose prevailed.

Satan intends your suffering for evil; God intends it for good. Whose purpose in your suffering will prevail? Whose purpose are you furthering?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

Satan attempts to destroy your faith, while God invites you to draw near to Him and draw upon His sovereign grace to sustain you.

Some Christians constantly assign this mishap to Satan, that one to evil people, another to themselves, still others to God. Sometimes they are right, but how can they be sure which is which? 2 Corinthians 12 makes clear that God works through everything that comes our way, no matter whom it comes from. If God can use for good “a messenger of Satan,” then surely He can use for good a car accident or your employer’s unreasonable expectations.

You might not know whether demons, or human genetics under the Fall, or a doctor’s poor decision, or God’s direct hand have brought about your disease, but you know as much as you need to—that God is sovereign, and whether He heals your body now or waits until the resurrection to heal you, He desires to achieve His own good purpose in you.

Adapted from the article ‘Whose Purpose in Your Suffering Will Prevail?’  Feb. 3rd, 2022, by Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM)

A MESSAGE OF HOPE INSIDE PRISON

Prison Fellowship partnered with Riding High Ministries to present the hope of Christ through the powerful, hands-on experience of breaking a wild horse. What a great way to deliver the message of Christ to these prisoners. It should be a challenge to us all to determine what the good works are that God has prepared for us to do.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 5:16

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.Philippians 2:13

If you’re a believer in Jesus and don’t know who Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship was, the good news is that you will meet him in God’s presence. But before you meet him there, I recommend you become familiar with this remarkable man. Here he is giving a presentation to the Veritas Forum where he tells his fascinating story of his radical conversion to Christ.  If you want to know that story from other sources, read his bestselling Born Again, or Jonathan Aitken’s Colson biography.

BIBLICAL PROPHECY REVEALS COMING CHAOS AND TRIBULATION PRIOR TO JESUS TRIUMPHANT RETURN

Fulfilled Biblical prophecies are proof the Bible is God’s Word that reveals not only the true history of His world but it reveals how He will end the story.

There are more prophecies about Jesus second coming to this earth to rule and reign for one thousand years than there were for His first coming to earth and there were more than three hundred of those that were all fulfilled to the letter.

That’s why biblical prophecy is so important. Each prophetic verse in the Bible is another brick in the tower of HOPE that God wants to build in our minds and hearts.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

Biblical prophecy never leads us down dark pathways. It leads us past chaos and tribulation to Christ Himself, who is over all victorious. Those without Christ will feel ill at ease when reading God’s plans for the future. But those who walk with the Lord should rejoice whenever our mind learns something more about the “glory which shall be revealed”

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:18-21

The writers of the Bible viewed the End Times as the opening curtain for the return of Christ, and they anticipated the scene.

Peter told us we should be “looking forward to these things”.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peacetake care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.2 Peter 3:14,17-18

And Jesus said,

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near Luke 21:28

They 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 were 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 20:4-6

Biblical hope is sure, certain, and inexorable—promised by the decrees of God, guaranteed by the resurrection of Christ, and confirmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

THE GREATEST CURE OF ALL

God has used Nick Vujicic to bring the Gospel message to millions. Listen to this powerful message from Nick, you will be inspired and encouraged. Share this video with others, it will probably be the most important thing you can do today.

Nick is right, the greatest cure of all is Jesus Christ. Connect with Nick Vujicic. He wants to help you with your next steps in your journey with Jesus! He shares here, a message of encouragement especially to those who are still asking the biggest spiritual questions and wondering, “Who are we? Why are we here?” Being born without arms and legs has definitely forced Nick to consider the bigger questions of life. And maybe you’ve seen him on YouTube. Nick just wants the world to know that God is real and hope is real.

In this video Nick poses important questions: ” Maybe right now your crisis has to do with your family, relationships, maybe your job. And as a society facing uncertain times, we kind of get stopped in our tracks. We put our confidence in what we normally accept as normal–that we have a job, that we go to school, that we have people in our life. What happens when we put confidence in things or people and they’re taken away? Where do we get our strength from, and where do we find our hope? Jesus is the greatest cure of all.

GATHERING FRUIT FOR ETERNAL LIFE

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.Matthews 9:37

Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.” John 4:36-38

Jesus made it abundantly clear that all of us are called to make disciples not just the clergy.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Are you gathering fruit for eternal life? Do you even think about rewards in heaven and on the new earth? And yet Jesus taught that being an obedient disciple of Christ brings its reward, even great rewards. You need to be living eternal now not just for eternal rewards but for peace and joy in this life that can only be realised when you are in a right relationship with God, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in your spirit.

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.Luke 6:22-23

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.Romans 15:13

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.Romans 14:17

Don’t you want to abound in the hope that Paul had, as expressed in the above and following two Scriptures. I do!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.Romans 8:18-21

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38

What role will you have in the Kingdom of God during Jesus Millennial reign on earth? What you do on earth in this life will determine that role.