1. Becoming More Forgiving
Source: Psychological Science – In one study, people who prayed for a romantic partner/spouse harbored fewer vengeful thoughts and emotions and were ready to forgive and move on after a conflict.
Spiritually: The Bible, New Living Translation (NLT) – Romans 5:15 stated, “But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. “James 5:13 stated, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – God’s generous gift of forgiveness through Christ (justification) has a greater but opposite effect than the trespass of Adam and its consequences. Yet in each case, the act of one affected the lives of many. Because of Adam’s sin, death entered the human race, and since then all people have died (with the Bible’s exceptions of Enoch and Elijah). All people will die until the end of this age. Because of Jesus Christ, however, we can trade judgment for forgiveness. We can trade our sin for Jesus’ goodness. Our Lord Jesus Christ offers us the opportunity to be born into His spiritual family – the family line that begins with forgiveness and leads to eternal life. If we do nothing, we have death through Adam; but if we come to God by faith, we have an abundant life here on earth and eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever.
There are many responses to suffering. Some of us worry; some of us vow revenge against those who have caused the suffering; some of us let anger burn inside us. Some grumble. But James says the correct response to suffering is to keep on praying about it (see also Psalms 30; 50:15; 91:15). This is not necessarily a prayer for deliverance from the trouble, but for the patience and strength to endure it. If we are fortunate enough to be happy, we should thank God by singing praises to the Lord (see also 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Because our praise is directed to God, singing is actually another form of prayer.
2. Achieving Goals More Effectively
Source: Psychological Bulletin – Prayer affects regions of the brain that improve self-control, and people who view their goals as sacred put more effort and energy into attaining them.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – James 1:4 stated, “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – It is not our nature to endure. When it comes to trials, we would rather escape, explain, or exit the difficulty. In fact, we will tend to do almost anything to avoid enduring a trial. Faithful endurance, however, generates whole people, recognized as strong in character, or mature. We will be seasoned, experienced, well-developed, fit for the tasks God sent us into the world to do. This strength is a quality developed by how much we have learned from the trials we have experienced. We are also ready for anything because we have been fully trained. The weaknesses and imperfections are being removed from our character; we are gaining victory over old sins; we are demonstrating a sense of competence about life. This completeness relates to the breadth of our experience.
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS ALIVE IN THE PERSON OF, GOD – THE HOLY SPIRIT!
3. Living A Longer Life
Source: Health Psychology – More people found that in addition to private prayer, attending religious services/gathering in Home Fellowship Churches/Bible Study Groups, and being involved in other church/group activities predicted a longer and healthier lifespan.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 stated, “14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Everything that Paul and his companions did was to honor God. Not only did fear of God motivate them (see 2 Corinthians 5:11), but Christ’s love controlled their actions. Out of His great love, Jesus had given up His life for their sakes. He had not acted out of His own self-interest, selfishly holding on to the glory of heaven that He already possessed (Philippians 2:6). Instead, Jesus had willingly died for everyone. Those who believe that also believe that they have died to the old life. They should be willing to abandon their old, selfish ways in order to live a new life for Christ (Romans 6:6-14; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:20). Like Paul, we should no longer live to please ourselves. We should die to ourselves and live for our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive today and interceding with God on our behalf (Romans 6:22).
4. Coping Better With Breast Cancer
Source: PscyhoOncology – Praying in an online support group helped breast cancer patients experience less stress, have lower levels of negative emotions, and experience greater well-being. In addition, belief in an afterlife reduced fear of death.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – John 11:25-26 stated, “Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.* Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – To the woman at the well (John 4:25-26), our Lord Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah; to the blind man (John 9:35-37), He disclosed Himself as the Son of Man; but here He enlarged the picture by revealing Himself as the source of resurrection life.
To understand Jesus’ statement, we need to see it in two parts. First, Jesus explained the resurrection: “I am the resurrection . . . Those who believe in me, even though they die . . . will live again.” Then He explained the life: “I am . . . the life . . . They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish.”
The believer will not experience eternal death. Lazarus had been a believer in Jesus; therefore, even though he died, he would live. Every Born-Again Christian believer who has died will yet live, and everyone who is still living and believing will die, but not eternally. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not promise the prevention of physical death; He guaranteed in Himself to give abundant life, including resurrection and eternity with Him. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not prevent Lazarus’s physical death (after being raised, Lazarus would eventually die again), but Lazarus had the guarantee of eternal life.
5. Protecting Teens Against Drugs
Source: Psychology of Addictive Drugs – Teens who view religion as a meaningful part of their lives are half as likely to use drugs, compared to non-religious teens – especially during stressful times, (COVID-19 Stay-At-Home, unemployment, etc.) such as having an unemployed parent, and lockdown small businesses.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 1 Corinthians 10:13 stated, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Temptations come into every believer’s life – no one is exempt. Temptation is not sinful; the sin comes when the person gives in to temptation. Born-Again Christian believers must not be shocked or discouraged, or think that they are alone in their shortcomings. Instead, they should realize their weaknesses and turn to God to resist the temptation. Enduring temptation brings great rewards (James 1:12). But God does not leave His people to Satan’s whims. Instead, God is faithful. He will not always remove the temptation, because facing it and remaining strong can be a growing experience; however, God does promise to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. The secret to resisting temptation is to recognize the source of the temptation and then to recognize the source of strength in temptation.
Not only that, but God also promises to show you a way out so that you will not give in to the temptation and fall into sin. It will take self-discipline to look for that “way out” even in the middle of the temptation and then to take it when it is found. The way out is seldom easy and often requires support from others. One of the God-given ways of escape from temptation is common sense. If a believer knows that he will be tempted in certain situations, then he should stay away from them. Another way out of temptation is through Christian friends. Instead of trying to deal with temptation alone, a believer can explain his/her dilemma to a close Christian friend and ask for support. This friend can pray, hold the person accountable, and give valuable insights and advice.
The truth is that God loves His people so much that He will protect them from unbearable temptation. And He will always give a way out. Temptation need never drive a wedge between believers and God. Instead, a believer ought to be able to say, “Thank you, God, for trusting me that much. You know I can handle this temptation. Now what do you want me to do?”
6. Recovering From Abusive Relationships
Source: Social Psychology Quarterly – Prayer helps victims of abusive relationships to recover a positive view of themselves and reduces emotional pain. In addition, people who are religious are less likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] after being victims of violence in a relationship.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 stated, “14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil*? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – After passionately appealing to the Corinthians to open their hearts to him, Paul exhorted them, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.” He urged them not to form binding relationships with nonbelievers because this might weaken their Christian commitment, integrity, or standards.
Earlier, Paul had explained that not associating with unbelievers did not mean isolation from nonbelievers (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-10). The Corinthians were even to remain with their unbelieving spouses (1 Corinthians 7:12-13). In order to witness to their neighbors, believers were to adopt some of the customs of the people to whom they were witnessing (1 Corinthians 9:2).
7. Reducing Financial Stress
Source: The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion – Older people found that faith and attendance at religious services/Home Fellowship Churches/Bible Study Groups offset the emotional toll of financial strain. Prayer increases gratitude which, in turn, reduces negative impact of financial difficulties.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Philippians 4:19 stated, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The same God who had taken care of Paul would also supply all their needs. The Philippian church was not wealthy. God had met Paul’s need through the generosity of the Philippian church. God would more than repay that generosity by supplying the need of the Philippian church. Not only would God supply all our needs, but He would do it from His glorious riches. Born-Again Christian believers cannot begin to comprehend God’s riches in glory – His riches are limitless, infinite. If it is from that storehouse that believers’ needs are met, then we as Born-Again Christian believers could rest assured that God would indeed meet every need, [not wants] no matter how large, desperate, or hopeless it seemed.
8. Reducing Genetic Risk for Depression
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Matthew 11:28-30 stated, “28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – While those wise and learned in their own eyes are blinded to the truth (Matthew 11:25-26), our Lord Jesus Christ invites those who are weary and carry heavy burdens. The “wise and learned” Pharisees had placed so many rules and regulations on the people that religion had become like “labor,” and a life of devotion to the Law had become a burden to carry (see Matthew 23:1-4). But Jesus invited the “little ones,” true disciples with eyes open to see the truth, to come to Him and find rest from these labors. Jesus was clearly admonishing them to abandon Pharisaic legalism and join Him. Those who follow Christ will find refreshment in their renewed relationship with Him, freedom from guilt over sin, deliverance from fear and despair, and the promise of continued help and guidance from the Holy Spirit. (See Hebrews 3–4 for more on the New Testament view of rest.) A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of animals, such as oxen, that is attached to a piece of equipment that the animals are to pull. The law was a “yoke” that was considered hard to bear. Our Lord Jesus Christ used the familiar phrasing used of the law as an invitation to discipleship. “Take off the burdensome yoke of the Pharisee-styled law,” Jesus said, and “take my yoke upon you.” Following Jesus would not be a free ride; Jesus had already described the persecution and rejection His followers could expect (Matthew 10:17-42). They were not free from all constraints; they would carry a yoke, but it would be light. Again, this did not belittle the importance or difficulty of carrying out His mission; indeed, Jesus asked for more than mere obedience to the law. Discipleship requires extraordinary effort. These words focused on Jesus’ care and concern for His followers, His promise of guidance and presence (Matthew 28:20), and the ultimate future rewards.
Jesus said, “Let me teach you.” Jesus, their leader and example, was also the ultimate servant, humble and gentle. His path of humble service is the pattern for us to follow.
9. Increasing Happiness and Financial Satisfaction
Source: Journal of Religion and Health – Adults who are the most religious (spiritually matured and in good health), in terms of prayer with a positive focus, attendance at church services, home fellowships, Bible studies, and using their faith to deal with day-to-day problems in a positive way, are happier and more satisfied with their financial situation.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Book Chapter:Verses “God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The hunger about which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke is a hunger based on poverty because of one’s lot in life or for taking a stand with Christ. The word hungry pictures an intense longing that needs to be satisfied; people who do not get food will eventually die of hunger. Jesus’ promise to those with this kind of hunger is “you will be satisfied.” Jesus will completely satisfy those with spiritual hunger.
Our Lord Jesus Christ promises that those who weep now . . . will laugh with joy. Scholars differ on the exact nature of this “weeping.” Jesus may have been referring to the nation of Israel weeping for its sins; others interpret this more personally, explaining that it refers to those who weep for their own sins or even for personal grief or oppression. Still other scholars see in the word “weeping” a picture of God’s people who suffer because of their faith in Him. Most likely it refers to people who are sensitive to the world’s sin and resultant suffering. While their pain is real, they can know the end of the story and laugh.
10. Improving Recovery From Heart Surgery
Source: The Gerontologist – People who pray with a positive, hopeful attitude as an ongoing part of their lives prior to undergoing heart surgery, experience less depression and anxiety afterwards, both in the short and long term.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 2 Corinthians 13:9 stated, “We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Just as parents will make great sacrifices for their children’s welfare, so Paul didn’t hesitate to make sacrifices for the Corinthians. Paul wanted the Corinthians to grow in the faith and to become strong Christians and be recovered and restored to maturity. If he had to exhaust himself, deplete his own resources, and appear weak, he would do so for their sakes (see also 2 Corinthians 1:6; 12:14-15).
11. Improving Outlook Among Prostate Cancer Patients
Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine – Those whose religion or spiritual good health gave them a sense of meaning and peace were less likely to experience depression and coped more effectively with their condition.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 stated, 13 “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Paul’s final words to the church in Corinth sum up what he has written in this letter.
They were to be on guard, constantly watchful for spiritual enemies that might slip in and threaten to destroy them, whether it be divisions (1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 11:18), pride (1 Corinthians 3:18-21), sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-8), disorder (1 Corinthians 14:40), or erroneous theology (1 Corinthians 15:12).
They needed to stand true to what they believed – the Gospel that had brought them salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
They had to be courageous so that they could stand against false teachers, deal with sin in the congregation, and straighten out the problems that Paul had addressed in this letter.
They should be strong with the strength given by the Holy Spirit.
They should do everything with love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13), because without love, they would be no more than prideful noisemakers.
12.0 Enhancing Recovery From Brain Injury
Source: Rehabilitation Psychology – Those who suffered traumatic brain injury and felt the strongest connection to a higher power [especially with God, the Holy Spirit ] were least distressed, most satisfied with their lives, and experienced better recovery.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Matthew 10:7-8 stated, 7 “Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Our Lord Jesus Christ sent His disciples out to announce that the Kingdom of Heaven was near. Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom. The Kingdom is still “near.” Jesus, the Messiah, has already begun His Kingdom on earth in the hearts of His followers. One day the Kingdom will be fully realized.
The disciples were also to use the authority and power Jesus had given them (Matthew 10:1). He gave the disciples a principle to guide their actions as they ministered to others: Give as freely as you have received. The disciples had received salvation and the Kingdom without cost; they should give their time under the same principle. Because God has showered us with His blessings, we should give generously to others of our time, love, and possessions.
13. Protecting Against Stress
Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine – Seniors or older people with strong personal religious beliefs do not experience significantly elevated blood pressure when faced with stressful events. Prayer fosters compassion and a loving attitude which reduces a harmful stress response in the brain.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Romans 9:14-16 stated, “14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! 15 For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” 16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau, not because of their character or their actions, but simply because that was His choice. “Was God being unfair?” we might ask. “Surely those Jews who are working so hard to follow all of God’s laws should be chosen. Isn’t it rather arbitrary of God to just choose some and reject others?”
Paul’s wording of the question in Greek expects a negative answer, which he emphatically supplies: Of course not! If God gave anyone exactly what they deserved the results would be disastrous! Both Isaac and Jacob were scoundrels. God demonstrated unexpected grace when He chose these men in spite of their weaknesses and failures. God is absolutely sovereign. He had explained to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose” (see Exodus 33:19). We might still be tempted to say, “Doesn’t that seem a bit unfair?” But by asking such a question we are claiming a higher understanding of fairness than God Himself.
We must remember that God has no obligation to show mercy or compassion to any of us – not one of us deserves His slightest concern. For God to even choose anyone is evidence of His great mercy. These Words of God reveal that He does show mercy and compassion, but they are by His sovereign choice.
We tend to read God’s statement to Moses (which was a response to Moses’ request to see God’s glory) as if it were an expression of God’s withholding mercy rather than a statement of His merciful generosity. In the context of this statement in Exodus, God was not justifying Himself, but saying in effect, “I will have mercy on people you would not expect, and I will have compassion in ways that will surprise you, especially when I am compassionate with you!” No one can know the heart of a person in the way that God knows. No individual, court of law, or group can perfectly assess the righteousness of a person. So we must leave the choosing and judging to God.
14. Reducing Impact of Chronic Pain
Source: Journal of Behavioral Medicine – People with chronic pain who prayed with a positive attitude were less affected by pain in their daily lives, and were able to manage it and had a more positive outlook on life.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 1 Peter 5:10 stated, “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to Him forever! Amen.
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – When we are suffering, we often feel as though our pain will never end. Peter gave these faithful Christians the wider perspective. In comparison with eternity, their suffering would last only a little while. This repeats what Peter said in 1 Peter 1:6. Some of Peter’s readers would be strengthened and delivered in their own lifetimes. Others would be released from their suffering through death. After that time of suffering, God promises to restore (set right what has gone wrong, put in order, complete), support (by admonition and guidance), strengthen (give courage no matter what happens), and place them on a firm foundation (build on a “rock,” therefore being unmovable). While their suffering will be only for a little while, their glory in Christ will be eternal. In life or in death, God’s purposes will be accomplished and His promises to Born-Again Christian believers will be fulfilled because believers have been called into God’s eternal glory. God called – this was His initiative. He will do as He promised because all power is His forever and ever.
15. Decreasing Alcohol Abuse
Source: Hospital and Community Psychiatry – People who frequently pray and regularly attend church services are less likely to abuse alcohol. Watching or listening to religious television or radio programs does not have the same impact.
Spiritually:The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Luke 6:27-28 stated, 27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt [or abuse] you.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Our Lord Jesus Christ taught that love must not be selective. His followers are to love all people, regardless of how unlovely or even hostile they may be. They also must act on that love by being willing to do good when it is in their power to do it. There are several words for love in Greek. The word used here is agape, meaning the kind of love shown even when the one loved has no merit for that love. It is love that must be chosen and willed.
All people have experienced agape from God. God loved the world even while people were sinful and rebellious. God willed to love His people and sent His Son to die for them, not because they deserved it or had any merit, but only because of God’s love. Those who have experienced God’s love understand what it means to be loved undeservedly. People who were once enemies of God and have joined His family can understand what it means to love your enemies. Only with the help of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, can His people do good to those who hate them, pray for the happiness of those who curse them, and pray for those who hurt them (see Romans 12:14-21). When Born-Again Christian believers are hated, cursed, and hurt, they are to respond with love.
16. Kids Doing Better in School
Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion – School-aged children who are involved in church activities have higher educational expectations and are likely to do better in math and reading. Children who attend religious services at least once a month are half as likely to repeat a grade than those who attend less frequently.
Spiritually:The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 2 Timothy 2:15 stated, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The antithesis of the false teachers are ministers who work hard for God. A good worker who correctly explains the word of truth would be the most effective silencer of the false teachers. The Christians would need unity, strength, and the truth of the Gospel to survive the persecutions ahead, to impart the truth to future generations. This incredible responsibility means individual teachers, ministers, and leaders must seek not the approval of people, but the approval of God. An unashamed worker can present his or her life and ministry to God, knowing that God will approve the quality of work. Approval of one’s ministry before God will depend on how well one has proclaimed, explained, and applied the word of truth. We must help the Gospel cut a straight path and do nothing to hinder it.
17. Significantly Lowering Health Risks
Source: International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine – People who hold and practice religious beliefs with a positive outlook have lower health risks. For example, in a study of nearly 6,000 Californians between the ages of 21 and 75, attending weekly religious services reduced risk of death and disease for women to the same extent as not smoking, not abusing alcohol, oe being physically active. Benefits for men, although notable, were not as pronounced.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – John 5:14-15 stated, “14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Perhaps the man had gone to the Temple to give thanks to God for his healing. When Jesus found him, he told him, “Stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” This statement leads to the conclusion that the man’s sickness was in some way caused by sin. This does not contradict what Jesus said in John 9:3 about the man born blind because Jesus did not say the blind man never sinned; rather, he was pointing out that sin had not caused his blindness. One of the results of sin is suffering, but not all suffering is the result of personal sin.
In this case, Jesus sought out the healed man to warn him that though he was healed physically, his thirty-eight years as an invalid would be nothing compared to something worse-that is, eternity in hell. The man needed to stop sinning and come to salvation in Christ. He had been lame, but now he could walk. This was a great miracle. But he needed an even greater miracle-to have his sins forgiven. The man was delighted to be physically healed, but he had to turn from his sins and seek God’s forgiveness to be spiritually healed.
After this encounter, the man told the Jewish leaders what he could not tell them before: It was Jesus who had healed him. This report triggered the Jews’ persecution of our Lord Jesus Christ – a persecution that continued from that day onward.
18. Making Substance Abuse & coronaVirus (COVID-19) Treatment More Effective
Source: Psychiatric Services – An analysis of data from Veteran Affairs hospitals showed that among 600 veterans who underwent a substance abuse treatment program, those who were most religious were 34 percent less likely to need readmission for further treatment. Other studies of people who were not veterans show similar benefits.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Colossians 3:17 stated, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Earlier Paul listed a few vices and virtues to give the Colossian believers an idea of what was expected of them in their attitudes toward one another, but he did not want to regulate every area of life with a list of rules. So Paul gave this general command to cover every area of life.
Everything Born-Again Christian believers said and everything we did should be done as a representative of our Lord Jesus Christ, realizing His constant presence and bringing honor and glory to Him in every aspect and activity of daily living (see also 1 Corinthians 10:31). To act in someone’s name is to act on His authority; we act as Christ’s representatives and/or ambassadors.
Paul echoed the need for giving thanks, as he had in Colossians 3:15 and 3:16. All we do for our Lord Jesus Christ should be done with the spirit of thankfulness for all He has done for us. We as Born-Again Christian believers are not enslaved to rules about every word people speak or deed they do; instead, we freely put ourselves under the Lord’s guidance because we love Him, have accepted His salvation, and live to glorify Him.
19. Reducing Risk for Diabetes Complications
Source: Diabetes Care – People with diabetes who attended religious services, at least occasionally, were less likely to have chronic internal inflammation (measured as C-reactive protein). Inflammation indicates increased risk for heart disease and complications of diabetes.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Acts 15:24-26 stated, “24 “We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! 25 So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – In this letter, the Jerusalem church disassociated itself from those men who had troubled the Gentile converts regarding circumcision. They had received no such instructions from the apostles and had been acting without their approval. They were not to be regarded as spokesmen for the church. Rather, the men bringing the letter (Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas) had been chosen as representatives of the church, with authority to speak on behalf of the elders and apostles.
20. Recovering From the Loss of a Loved One
Source: Journals of Gerontology – People age 60 and older, those who believed in a good afterlife were less likely to develop high blood pressure after the death of a loved one. Thus, they were in better health.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 stated, “50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. 51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The resurrected bodies have to be different from these present, physical bodies because flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These bodies cannot go into God’s eternal Kingdom because these present bodies were not made to live forever – otherwise they would. So God has prepared new bodies that will live forever. The resurrection is a fact; new bodies ready for life in eternity is also a fact.
With great emphasis Paul passed on to these Corinthians a secret – knowledge given to him by divine revelation from our Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase not all of us will die means that some Christians will still be alive at the time of Christ’s return. They will not have to die before they get their new resurrection bodies. (For further discussion of these new bodies, see 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.) Instead, they will all be transformed, immediately (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). A trumpet blast will usher in the new heaven and earth. Christ will return, the dead will be raised out of the graves with transformed bodies. Those still alive will be transformed, also receiving their new bodies. This change will happen instantly for all Born-Again Christians, whether they are dead or alive. All will be made ready to go with our Lord Jesus Christ.
21. Lowering Men’s Risk for Fatal Heart Disease
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology – Men between the ages of 42 and 77 who lacked close friends or a social network and did not attend religious services had significantly increased risk of death from heart disease.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Acts 10:23-24 stated, “23 So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Peter had been staying at the house of Simon the leatherworker. Peter continued to remove barriers: not only was he staying in a place that his prejudices would have previously prohibited (see Acts 9:42-43), he went a step further by inviting Gentiles into that home to be his guests. This kind of fellowship would have been unacceptable to a strict Jew. A sheet had been let down from heaven, and Peter’s eyes were being opened.
Peter was wise to take with him some other believers from Joppa (six believers, according to Acts 11:12). Some things, particularly changes as radical as Peter suspected were on the horizon, were better observed firsthand rather than explained secondhand. Possibly Peter knew that it was easier for him to accept this new Gentile openness to the Gospel because he had been present at the “Samaritan Pentecost” (Acts 8:15-17). If God were truly doing something new, it would be best that other believers could see it as well. The eagerness and expectation of Cornelius was obvious, for he called together his relatives and close friends, probably many, considering Cornelius’s reputation for kindness and piety.
22. Enhancing Satisfaction With Life
Source: Psychosomatic Medicine – Giving help brought about greater benefits than receiving help. Helping others through one’s religious activities increases satisfaction and improves one’s outlook on physical and spiritual lives.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Galatians 6:7-10 stated, “7 Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – This sentence, inserted within Paul’s flow of thought regarding money, gives a general principle about the attitudes of kindness, giving, and sharing. While people can deceive one another, and even themselves, about their motives and attitudes for giving, they cannot deceive God. Paul said that these believers themselves must not be misled. People can’t ignore God and get away with it. What they sow, they will reap. Sow means “spread, utilize, invest.” Whatever we use as key values determines the course of our life. Jesus taught the importance of investing our time and utilizing our resources wisely for the Kingdom (Matthew 6:19-21).
While believers have received God’s special blessings and promises, God does not change the positive and negative of the natural law that people will reap what they sow. From farming to finances, this saying holds true (Proverbs 22:8). A farmer plants corn and grows corn; he should not expect nor desire anything else. Believers must decide what crop they want and plant accordingly, for what they get back will be directly related to what they put in, as Paul explains in the next verse.
Believers who use their lives and sow their resources to satisfy their own sinful desires will earn a harvest of decay and death. Those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21). When we sow to the flesh, we bring these seeds of destruction into our life. Born-Again Christian believers who sow their resources and invest their lives to please the Holy Spirit have a far different harvest. They will reap everlasting life.
How do we sow “to please the Holy Spirit”? When we use our resources to grow spiritually and to support the Lord’s work so that others can enter the Kingdom and grow spiritually, we are sowing to please the Holy Spirit. Why? Because our harvest results in spiritual growth and souls reached for the Kingdom; thus, our harvest lasts forever. This kind of stewardship of our resources can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit controls a believer’s life, the results are amazing. As Galatians 5:22-23 pointed out, the fruit borne in a believer is life-changing. That change will affect the believer’s handling of money, use of talent, and investment of time.
While good works will never earn salvation, Paul did encourage believers to persist in doing what is good. While we do good, we should not get discouraged and give up. To continue the analogy of sowing and reaping, a farmer will have no harvest to reap if he becomes too weary to labor in the fields or if he gives up altogether. The harvest will not reap itself. Every aspect of farming, planting, maintaining, and finally the harvesting takes hard work. So, too, Born-Again Christian believers must not become discouraged and give up when they follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, grow spiritually, and do good for God’s Kingdom. While it may seem at times like a losing battle [Corona Virus/COVID-19], we are assured that we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time, in God’s timetable.
What kind of harvest did the apostle have in mind? A Christian will reap a harvest of present blessings: the fruit of the Spirit, well-instructed believers, restored sinners, and mutual support. But ultimately he or she will reap the harvest of eternal life in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 6:8). Though the appropriate time is the time of God’s own choosing, Paul was most likely referring to the time of the fulfillment of God’s promises at Christ’s second coming (1 Timothy 6:15).
Every time we have the opportunity to do good, we should do it. The timing for doing good is always right. The opportunity is not optional. We are to treat it as strategically placed by God in our path. Our settings may continually change, but each one will bring a fresh opportunity for helping and serving.
God calls Born-Again Christian beleivers to do good to everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike. The fruit of the Holy Spirit must be shared with both the Christian and the non-Christian world. Some fields may be very difficult to “work,” but our purpose should be to sow goodness anyway!
If Paul still had in mind our financial responsibility, we should be willing to help others financially whenever we are able. But we should focus particularly on the needs of our Christian brothers and sisters. The Christian family extends far beyond the walls of a particular church or the limits of a particular denomination to include all true believers.
When Paul told individual believers to “do good,” he spoke to their responsibility in the community as well as in the church. The church is not meant to become merely a social agency, but individual believers can work together in meeting social needs, giving time and resources as God calls and enables them. Sowing seeds of kindness to those in need expresses our Lord Jesus Christ’s love and prepares hearts to receive the Gospel.
He left the Galatians with a strong word-picture of the Cross of Jesus Christ. The decision that faced his readers was not really between two competing voices of authority; rather, the choice was between denying the Cross or finding through it the only true Way [Jesus Christ] of life [see John 14:6 below]
John 14:6 says, Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ replied: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus’ response shows that the destination is not a physical place but a person (the Father), and that the way to that destination is another person (the Son). Jesus is the Way to the Father; Jesus is the Truth (or reality) of all God’s promises; and Jesus is the Life as He joins His divine life to ours, both now and eternally. Jesus is the Way that leads to the Truth and Life.
Our Lord Jesus’ exclusive claim is unmistakable. It forces an unconditional response. Lord Jesus Christ invites people to accept or reject Him, making it clear that partial acceptance is rejection. His self-description invalidates alternative plans of salvation. Some would say that a single way is entirely too restrictive. But that attitude fails to see the desperate state of the human condition. That there is a way at all is evidence of God’s grace and love. The state of human rebellion can be seen in this: We are like people drowning at sea who are graciously thrown a life-saving rope but who respond by insisting that we deserve a choice of several ropes along with the option of swimming to safety if we so choose.
23. Lowering Kids’ Anxiety Before Surgery
Source: Anaesthesia and Intensive Care – A test group of 120 children ages 5 to 12 were tested while they were waiting to receive anesthesia for surgery. Those children whose mothers were religious were less anxious.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Philippians 4:6 stated, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – Attitudes of joy and gentleness, combined with constant awareness of Christ’s return, should dispel any worry. Believers should not set aside life’s responsibilities so as not to worry about them; Paul was focusing on believers’ attitudes in daily life and as they faced opposition and persecution. Christians are to be responsible for their needs and their families and to care about and be concerned for others, but they are not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34).
Worrying is bad because it is a subtle form of distrust in God. When believers worry, they are saying that they don’t trust that God will provide and they doubt that He cares or that He can handle their situation. Paul offered prayer as an antidote to worry. Instead, pray about everything. Prayer combats worry by allowing us catharsis or to release of pent-up feelings and repressed emotions. We can off-load our stress onto God. Paul said to take all the energy that is used in worrying and put it into prayer. This includes praying about everything. No request is too small, difficult, or inconsequential to God. Paul encouraged the believers to pray about what they need and then to thank God for all He has done. It may seem impossible not to worry about anything, but Paul explained that this can happen if Born-Again Christian believers truly give their worries to God. Worry and prayer cannot coexist.
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