The Holy Spirit and Wellbeing!

Welcome back! Thanks for visiting my blog today! We are exploring together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life?

We recently finished our series on five scriptural tools to maturity: praise, prayer, fellowship, outreach and receiving teaching to cultivate the results of biblically-based wellbeing in our lives. We discussed four of these results: forgiveness, hope, empathy and gratitude. An important verse with additional results of biblical living is Galatians 5:22-23 which denotes the ‘fruit of the Spirit’: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What role does the Holy Spirit play?

This is an important issue to understand how the Spirit works in conjunction with the tools to maturity to produce good results in our lives. Consider that the five tools represent the motor for maturity. The Spirit acts as the gasoline, enriching us with power to drive the engine. Both must be present and work in conjunction to each other to create movement.

The Spirit is often misunderstood and Christians are often unclear how it works in their lives in a biblically-based way. We can summarize the Christian’s relationship to the Spirit in three basic ways:

  • Non-variable actions of the Spirit: These include: convicting the world of sin (John 16:9), regeneration to life of new believers (Titus 3:5), indwelling believers from the time of salvation onwards (Ephesians 1:13-14) and praying for believers (Romans 8:26).
  • Variable actions of Christians: As believers we can influence our relationship with the Spirit and so we are told not to quench or grieve the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19 and Ephesians 4:30, respectively) but to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and be filled (mature) in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
  • Variable actions of the Spirit: If the Christian, being indwelt by the Spirit, allows Him to act then the will teach us (I John 2:20,27; John 16:13), put to death the deeds of the flesh, lead us based on the word of God, comfort us that we are His sons and daughters (Romans 8:13-16) and act to empower our lives through the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

It is impossible to overestimate importance of the Spirit in our lives. He has given us new life through our faith in Christ and lives in us permanently, making available the full power of God for us based on his Word to mature us providing the fruit of the Spirit and the enhanced wellbeing of our lives. Indeed it is the Spirit that fuels the engine of our growth as an obedient Christian to God’s Word.

Good characteristics to enhance wellbeing!

Welcome back! Thanks for visiting my blog today!

We are exploring together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life? Recently we have been discussing the 5 scriptural tools to maturity (Acts 2:42,47) as a means to build robust Biblically based wellbeing into our lives! Today, with these tools in hand we discuss the results of the process!

The fruits of maturing in Christ are multiple and are mentioned throughout the New Testament. Let’s begin by focusing on four Bible-based characteristics shown beneficial for wellbeing in the medical literature (forgiveness, gratitude, hope and empathy). Read here! To accomplish our goal we reviewed clinical studies covering these four characteristics in patients from 1966 to present. We included 63 articles in the review.

All four measures evaluated in our study were shown to improve wellbeing, from pre-adolescents to older adults. Further, these measures were associated more specifically with improved social relationships and physical health as well as reduced delinquent behavior.

Although our review focused on the effect of four specific measures on individuals themselves, and not on the recipient, we might speculate that any increase in wellbeing among the evaluated individuals could transmit a greater sense of wellbeing to others.

The source of the four evaluated parameters also was evaluated and only two primary sources were found! First, forgiveness, gratitude and empathy could be taught, at least to some degree, through classes or a training module. Hope has not been evaluated in a training module to our knowledge.

Second, a person’s religious faith, or their involvement in a community of believers, appeared positively associated with all four evaluated measures. How the measure was developed through religion was not completely clear. We might speculate that forgiveness, gratitude, hope and empathy were produced through knowledge from the religion’s scriptures, through self-learning or sermons, or through interaction with the faith community. Importantly, almost all articles evaluated in our review were from traditionally Christian countries.

Our review suggests that forgiveness, gratitude, hope and empathy may improve general wellbeing, pro-social and positive relational behavior and demonstrate positive health effects. These four measures may be derived from religious instruction and through a faith community.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations!

Thanks for visiting my blog! We are discovering together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life? Recently we have been discussing the 5 scriptural tools to maturity (Acts 2:42,47) as a means to build a powerful biblically-based wellbeing! Today, we discuss the 5th and final tool: outreach to other believers and non-Christians.

The first four characteristics of the early church (prayer, praise, fellowship and receiving Biblical teaching) were centered around assisting the individual believer and the faith community itself. However the 5th principle concerns reaching beyond the established community to those in need, physical or spiritual. This tool was noted in Acts 2:47 ‘And the LORD added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ Since we know that to believe in Christ people have to be told verbally (Romans 10:14), consistent with one of Christ’s last commands on earth to ‘teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 28:19), it is highly probable that those in the first church were telling others about their faith. 

Further, the Apostle Paul urges us to teach others individuals in the faith (I Timothy 4:6,11,16; II Timothy 2:25). Even more simply we are to encourage one another to love and do good works (Hebrews 10:24) and to speak to others according to their need (Ephesians 4:29).

Beyond this we are told to do good and pray for all men, be good citizens (I Timothy 2:1-2; I Peter 2:13-15), work hard and honestly to the glory of God (II Thessalonians 3:10-12; I Timothy 2:1-2; Colossians 3:17), and within the church provide social help to those in need (I Timothy 5:1-16).

Why does Scripture tell us to reach out to serve and influence others by teaching our beliefs? We do not know for certain, but we might hypothesize several results of teaching and serving others:

  • It takes our mind off ourselves and focuses on someone else’s needs. This most likely is healthy for us and gives our mind a rest from ruminating over our own troubles.
  • It orients our goals under those of the almighty God and recognizes His purposes are greater than ours. Therefore, our personal troubles are set in proper perspective, providing a balance to our own mental health. 
  • It helps build community, both in numbers and maturity, by encouraging a civil and gracious society.

Outreach and service combine as the last of our 5 tools to maturity. When practiced in balance according to God’s Word these 5 areas will provide you the opportunity to incorporate the wise characteristics in the Bible that were known by the apostles and the first-generation Christians.

What are these characteristics that are so beneficial to wellbeing? Join me next week as we begin our discussion of the Biblical characteristics that can change your life.

Community of Believers

Welcome back! Thanks for visiting my blog!

We are discovering together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life? Recently we have been discussing the 5 scriptural tools to maturity (Acts 2:42, 47) as a means to build powerful biblically-based wellbeing into our lives! The first three tools were scriptural knowledge, praise and prayer. Today, we discuss fellowship!

Fellowship is vital to our Christian walk. It may be best described by the Greek word ‘koinonia’ (the New Testament was originally written in Greek) which speaks of our partnership with fellow Christians in the brotherhood in Christ. The basis of our fellowship is our mutual forgiveness in Christ by grace (1 John1:6-10) and that each of us are placed into the church universal by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Practically speaking, those of us in the church universal often express our fellowship with those in the local church, church based small groups and close Christian friends.

How then do we have fellowship? Although fellowship ‘lite’ might be merely being in the presence of another Christian, effectual fellowship depends on several biblical standards based on how we think and speak:

  1. Careful Reflection – Even before we interact with another Christian we should consider how we can meet their needs; do they need to be encouraged, taught, reminded of scripture, or just to have a quiet and listening friend? This takes a bit of time and prayerful reflection to know how to best help other people and bear their burdens (Ephesians 4:30; Galatians 6:2).
  2. Effective Speaking – After reflecting, we need verbally to convey our thinking to our friend or colleague based on their needs and not to satisfy our own emotions (unless we are in desperate straits). Importantly, our speech should be used as a tool for the good of other people to express: gratitude, commendation, encouragement, admonishment and teaching (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:23-24). 

These two steps, used together and sequentially, help assure effectual fellowship with other believers so we can help fortify each other in our faith, push each other on to greater acts of service, and a live a godly lifestyle before our precious Father (Colossians 1:9-10; Hebrews 10:25). Fellowship must be done in balance with the other for tools to maturity.

Stay tuned next week as we discuss the final tool – outreach to other believers and non-Christians.

Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow

We are discovering together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life? We have been discussing the 5 scriptural tools to maturity! The first two were biblical knowledge and prayer. Today, we discuss praise!

Praise is paramount in our Christian life. The epistles frequently attribute praise, honor and glory to God and Christ which they deserve because of their perfect character and magnificent actions.

As mentioned in prior blogs, for the first church in Jerusalem praise was an ongoing occurrence among these first believers (Acts 2:47). Our lives also are to be a praise and honor to God (Philippians 1:11). In addition, we make a sacrifice of praise to God as a part of our daily lives (Hebrews 13:15).

Why is praise so important for a Christian? Prior Teleios sponsored research showed in a Bible believing church praise was associated with greater wellbeing especially with greater frequency.1

We do not know the exact reason that praise helps personal wellbeing. However, we might suspect the following:

First, praise commends our great God for who He is and what He has done. Not only does He deserve this praise but it helps us think of ourselves as well as our personal issues and problems in proper perspective compared to God and His higher goals. This helps us maintain a humble attitude in life and promote service to God and others (Romans 12:1). Such an attitude allows the Holy Spirit to better work in our lives and allows us to know God better (Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Second, recognizing through praise that we have a great and powerful God, who also answers prayer, helps us to know more fully that we can trust our issues and problems to him (John 14:13; Philippians 4:6).

Praise God frequently. He deserves it and you will be better for it!

Thanks for reading my blog and please join me again next week as we continue this series on the tools to maturity

  1. MacIlvaine WR et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-255.

 

Pray the force be with you!

We are discovering together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life! We recently discussed the first step to entering the gateway to biblically-based wellbeing: becoming a Christian by accepting Christ’s forgiveness by faith, understanding our salvation is permanent, and that we should not feel guilt. What great promises!

Based on this sure foundation, we began to discuss the 5 scriptural tools (Acts 2:42-47). to mature our faith (scriptural knowledge, prayer, praise, fellowship and outreach). Today, we discuss prayer!

Prayer is one of the cornerstones of the Christian life. Scripture tells us that we should pray frequently and persistently. As Christians we can come boldly before God in prayer uninhibited and unafraid to receive mercy in our every time of need (Hebrews 10:19-22). The content of our prayer should be thankfulness for God and others (Philippians 1:3-4; Colossians 1:3), praise (Hebrews 13:15) and petitions for ourselves and others (Philippians 4:6).

The content of our prayers should be consistent with what glorifies Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14; John 15:7). Paul offers 3 model prayers in which he emphasizes what God wishes us and others to attain by our prayers no matter the situation (Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 3:14; Colossians 1:9-15) including: knowledge of our salvation and the Bible, understanding, hope, power and love as well as demonstrate service, patience and persistence in our Christian walk.

Medical research indicates that the active prayer increases wellbeing and the more frequent the prayer the better for wellbeing (1-5). Why would this be? Well this has been studied little to my knowledge but several potential benefits might be:

  • Prayer provides a release for our emotions to God perhaps relieving tension and frustration.
  • It engenders a sense that somebody cares and is listening. We also know that the Holy Spirit and Christ Himself pray on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:26,34)
  • It causes us to pay attention to Scripture, hopefully, as we pray and so offers us help to consider, and form an answer to, our problems as we deliberate mentally our requests to God.
  • It reminds us to be thankful for others and for His blessings to us.
  • It helps us to praise and remember that we have a great God whose purposes are greater than ours. Thus, it helps keep our own problems in prospective.

In addition, as Christians we have the benefit of God’s promise to answer prayer so there may be a further benefit through His gracious provisions (John 14:13-14).

Therefore, prayer is a key tool to maturity as a Christian, invoking God’s help, but yet reminding us of Scripture, praise and to be thankful, all which may our assist our wellbeing. Prayer is one of the great benefits of our Christian life. Thanks be to God for such a provision.

Thank you for joining me. See you next time!

  1. Stewart WC et al. The source and impact of specific parameters that enhance well-being in daily life. J Rel Health 2015; in press.
  2. MacIlvaine WR et al. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-582.
  3. MacIlvaine WR et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-255.
  4. Stewart WC et al. Review of clinical medicine and religious practice. J Relig Health 2013;52:91-106.
  5. Stewart WC et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to attitudes regarding glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Ophthalmic Res 2011:45:53-6.

Know your scripture!

Welcome back! I am glad you are here. We are discovering together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life! We recently have discussed the first step to entering the gateway to Biblically based wellbeing: acceptance of Christ’s forgiveness by faith (i.e. becoming a Christian), understanding our salvation is permanent, and that we should not feel guilt. What great promises!

Where do we go from here? Last week we discussed that we can proceed in our faith using the 5 tools to maturity outlined in Acts 2:42 and 47. Today we begin to examine these tools individually and how they can promote wellbeing. Today, scriptural knowledge!!

We know from the medical literature that identifying as a Christian, church attendance and prayer can enhance wellbeing as well as various measures associated with wellbeing (1-3). To gain a better understanding of this effect Teleios has analyzed specific measures associated with wellbeing, one being scriptural knowledge. Several studies indicate that studying scripture in general enhances wellbeing (4,5). Knowledge of individual important scriptures could improve wellbeing, such as: acceptance of salvation, confidence in salvation and lack of associated guilt. Interestingly at a study done at the University of Georgia, Christian and non-Christian students alike recognized scriptural wisdom as being good for their life, such as ‘Be slow to speak and quick to listen’! More research is needed to evaluate the effect on wellbeing associated with pivotal scriptures, but we are all off to a good start!

Why would Bible study improve wellbeing? Scripture is the manual by which we can mature and live our Christian life. Scripture indicates good fruit in our life will occur as we mature in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Importantly, the Spirit uses God’s word to teach us and provide us power (1 John 2:27; Ephesians 6:17). Just as when we buy a new iPhone or droid we read the manual (hopefully!) to determine how it may be used to help our life, so we should study Scripture for our Christian life. The more we read and understand the more fruit we should gain.

Importantly, this takes personal study of God’s word. It is not enough to live by the jargon within church society which may actually not represent God at all (e.g., ‘I will do this will when I have peace from God’; or ‘God will open the door’). We are to the act obediently whether or not we have peace or not and we make decisions based on His Word and prayer and then act in faith (1 Timothy 4:4-5; Romans 14:23). In a recent survey of conservative pastors conducted by Teleios, they overwhelmingly supported the concept of using scripture to teach truth and not jargon in the church.

Study God’s Word and reap the reward! If you do not know how to study the Bible contact us here please at Teleios and we will make every attempt to help you. Thanks for joining me today.

  1. MacIlvaine WR, et al. (2014). Association of strength of community service to personal well-being. Community Ment Health J, 50: 577-82.
  2. MacIlvaine WR, et al. (2013). Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract, 19: 251-5.
  3. Stewart WC, et al. (2013). Review of clinical medicine and religious practice. J Relig Health, 52: 91-106.
  4. Hamilton JB, et al. (2013). Reading the Bible for guidance, comfort, and strength during stressful life events. Nurs Res, 62:178-84.
  5. Levine EG, et al. (2009). The benefits of prayer on mood and well-being of breast cancer survivors. Support Care Cancer, 17:295–306.

Tools needed to mature your relationship with God

Welcome back to my blog. We are on a fascinating journey evaluating what the Bible says about wellbeing. We recently discussed the first step to entering the gateway to Biblically based wellbeing: acceptance in Christ’s forgiveness for our misdeeds by faith in his death on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-26). Then we evaluated the importance of understanding that our salvation is permanent – no matter what – and that we should not feel guilt in daily life (1 Peter 1:4-5; John 10:27-31)!

This is a great start but is there more? Can we further improve our lives with the benefits of Christianity and the Bible?

The answer comes from the Bible’s 5-step approach to maturing our relationship with God which helps us access additional benefits to our wellbeing. I call this method the ‘5 tools to maturity’ and they are taken from Acts 2:42 and 47. They are as follows:

  • Prayer
  • Praise
  • Fellowship
  • Receiving Biblical teaching
  • Reach others with Biblical truth

These five tools describe the activities in the very first church in Jerusalem and provide a model to us today for what actions individuals and the church should perform routinely. Importantly, these five activities are confirmed in later verses in the epistles.

Why are these 5 tools important? When implemented consistently, and in balance with each other, these activities appropriate God’s Word into our daily lives. We will consider them individually in upcoming blogs.

For now it is important to emphasize that the 5 tools may enhance personal wellbeing, not only when performed individually, but even more so done in aggregate. A number of studies have shown that church attendance, which would allow for these 5 tools to be expressed in a community setting, may enhance personal wellbeing (1-4). Further, several studies sponsored by Teleios also have noted that individuals who perform these activities have enhanced wellbeing and especially when performed in aggregate (5-6).

This is exciting news! Consequently, scripture tells us that we can have a sure and certain relationship with God, guilt free, and He provides us measures to propel our spiritual growth leading to better personal wellbeing. What great promises! Join us in upcoming blogs as we look individually at these 5 tools, and why and how they can promote wellbeing. Thank you for joining me today. I look forward to seeing you next time. Please tell me your questions and comments and please share this blog with your friends.

  1. Parsons S et al. Religious beliefs, practices and treatment adherence among individuals with HIV in the southern United States. AIDS Subject Care STDS 2006;20:97-111.
  2. Reed P. Spirituality and well-being in terminally ill hospitalized adults. Res Nurs Health 1987;10:335-44.
  3. Keefe F, et al. Living with rheumatoid arthritis: the role of daily spirituality and daily religious and spiritual coping. J Pain 2001;2:101-10.
  4. Cotton S, et al. Exploring the relationships among spiritual well-being, quality of life, and psychological adjustment in women with breast cancer. Psychooncology 1999;8:429-38.
  5. MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82.
  6. MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-5.

Your Relationship with God is Secure!

Welcome back. We recently started an important journey on what the Bible says about wellbeing. Last week we considered the vital topic of entering the gateway to receiving improved Biblically based wellbeing: by faith in Christ’s forgiveness for your sins by his death on the cross. By his gracious sacrifice, God sees you as without fault and completely accepted by him (Ephesians 2:7-9; Romans 3:21-25; Romans 10:9).

What is the next step? This is also most important and it is to realize that as a Christian you are SECURE in your relationship with God. Why is this critical? We cannot grow in our faith and serve others well if we lack confidence God that accepts us.

The Bible itself makes a great example in Ephesians 5:20-33. In this fascinating letter the Apostle Paul likens the relationship between Christ and the church (individual believers) to marriage. In the same way a married couple will find it difficult to grow in their love, intimacy and confidence in each other if they fear their partner will reject them, so a Christian will find it next to impossible to grow in the love of God if they fear His repudiation.

Likewise our loving God, who made and understands us, knows we cannot grow in His love without the confidence that He will not reject us. Wow, this seems incredible! How can we know this from Scripture? There are three basic arguments:

What great promises! Because of our faith in Christ we are a new person who cannot be unmade, with legally unchangeable promises that guarantee our salvation. This comfort and confidence allows us to invest ourselves in knowing and serving within a wonderful relationship with God. We should not be burdened with guilt and worry over the status of God’s acceptance of us.

Everyone wants security! Next time we will continue our discussion security and how it relates to guilt.

Thank you as always for joining me. I’m honored that you would read my blog.

Scripture that can impact our wellbeing: Salvation!

Welcome back to our blog. I appreciate you spending time with us.

So far we have been exploring Teleios’ research regarding Christianity and wellbeing. Teleios’ purpose in conducting this research is to show the validity and usefulness of God’s Word in living a content, productive and purposeful life. How exciting! Teleios’ research on this topic is ongoing and we will share more information as it becomes available.

Now we want to turn our attention to specific scripture that can impact our wellbeing. Let’s start from the beginning: salvation!

Prior psychological research has shown that an adverse relationship with God hurts wellbeing and places a person at risk for depression (1). In contrast, Christianity is generally associated with positive wellbeing and a positive relationship with God (2,3). How does a person transition from a negative to positive relationship with God?

Scripture provides the clear sure pathway! It states an adverse relationship with God may be corrected by admitting our need for forgiveness, recognizing that Christ died on the cross for all wrongdoings so we could receive forgiveness. We receive this forgiveness by simply asking God by faith to forgive us and correct our relationship with Him.

Scripture declares:

  • For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
  • If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

It’s as simple as that, 3 steps:

  • Recognize that you need a correction in your relationship with God because of your past wrongdoings.
  • Recognize He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross on your behalf because of your past wrongdoings.
  • Trust God by faith that you’re forgiven as activate the free gift of salvation.

This is the first and ground-laying step to increased wellbeing in your life. If you have not done so, take this first step to a sure relationship with God. We will then explore together how it will enhance your life and you will in turn benefit others.

Thanks for visiting and I look forward to seeing you next week.

  1. Fitchett G et al. Religious struggle: Prevalence, correlates, and mental health risks in diabetic, congestive heart failure and oncology patients. Intl J Psych Med 2004;34:179-96.
  2. MacIlvaine WR et al. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82.
  3. MacIlvaine WR et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-5.