Our Chapel Ministry

Walking Your Faith, Day By Day, In God's Holy Word ~ Chaplain Thomas Stackhouse

CORAM DEO ( Before The Face Of GOD ) ~ LAUS DEO ( Praise Be To GOD )

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CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: The Value of a Church Family

First, we have to determine why we refer to the church as a family. The Bible explains that "all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ …" (Romans 8:16–17). Becoming a Christian means being adopted into God's family as a child of God and brother or sister to fellow believers. This understanding explains why we refer to the church as a family. So what is the value of this family?

There are numerous verses in the New Testament that refer to how believers are to interact with "one another." Looking at some of these verses, we can determine what value a believer gains by belonging to and interacting with the church family.

Jesus Himself calls His disciples to "love one another" in such a way that "all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34–35). So one benefit in having a church family is being loved and loving others in a way that is different from how people in the secular world love. This love is to be sacrificial and unconditional like the love Jesus has shown to us (John 15:12). The other commands about how believers are to interact with "one another" essentially detail how that love plays out practically.

Galatians 6:2 says to "bear one another's burdens." In a church family, we can share our struggles and others will help us bear those burdens. Galatians 5:13 says, "… through love serve one another." So when struggles are brought to the church family, those believers are to respond by serving one another, alleviating the suffering wherever possible. When those struggles cannot be alleviated, James 5:16 says to "pray for one another, that you may be healed." Similarly, 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to "encourage one another and build one another up." Second Corinthians 13:11 commands us to "comfort one another." So another value to having a church family is that facing our struggles and bearing our burdens becomes easier.

Colossians 3:16 states that believers should be "teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom." Likewise, Ephesians 4:25 says, "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." So another way a church family's love for one another plays out is in speaking truth into each other's lives. Teaching each other what God has revealed in Scripture so "that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Hebrews 10:24 calls believers "to stir up one another to love and good works." A further benefit of having a church family is that a believer receives teaching and is equipped and stimulated to do the good works God calls him or her to do (Ephesians 2:10).

James 5:16 says to "confess your sins to one another." Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Bringing sin to one another should be a time of forgiveness, encouragement, and support. Confession brings an opportunity for accountability and forgiveness, both of which are crucially important in the battle to overcome sin.

The value in having a church family is not only in receiving—receiving love, bearing lighter burdens, learning truth that equips, and having help to overcome sin. There is value also in having the opportunity to give in each of these areas to other believers. Serving—whether by extending love and acceptance; offering to cook, drive, or babysit; teaching children or discipling those younger in the faith; or meeting with someone to provide accountability and encouragement—brings a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Knowing that God has a role for each believer to play in the lives of other believers gives meaning and direction to our lives.

It is not only the New Testament that recognizes the need for followers of God to be in community with one another. The Old Testament also points out how vitally important community is. Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 say, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken." These verses point to the reality of how community makes our burdens easier to bear.

Proverbs 27:17 states that, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Being a part of community allows believers to help each other to better understand and live out the truth. Proverbs 27:6 and 9 say, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend… the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel." These verses show that accountability from a friend is a blessing in our lives.

When a church family faithfully lives out these principles of love, God is ultimately glorified. Jesus commanded His disciples to "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). In light of the fact that engaging with our church family glorifies God and given the other benefits of interacting with the church family, let us "not [be found] neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but [let us be] encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25).

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Evangelizing without offending?

Most Christians have someone in their lives, someone they know and love, who is not a believer. Very often, pain and separation occurs because of attempts to win loved ones to Christ. We don't want to offend or hurt them, but we are driven to tell them about the danger they're in. We don't want to create tension or a rift in our relationships, but love compels us to implore them to be reconciled to Christ. More often than not, no matter how carefully we tread, offense will occur (Luke 12:51-53). Despite the risk, sharing the gospel with our friends and family is important and something Christians should not hesitate to do (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).

Is there a way to evangelize friends, family, acquaintances and co-workers without creating conflict? How should we go about the task? According to the Bible, we should be diligent to pray for them, asking God to open their hearts to His truth, helping them to see past the lies with which Satan has blinded them (2 Corinthians 4:4). Prayer is also important for each Christian, as we need God's wisdom (James 1:5) and strength, His love and peace (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 6:15). Rejection by those we love is painful, but our love for them, flowing from God's love, should help us to stand firm and continue to proclaim the truth that they desperately need. The way we live our lives is also important, as we are an example of Christ's influence on human life. The hope and peace we experience through Him should be evident in our actions, words and demeanor (1 Peter 3:1-2, 15-16).

Preparedness is an important factor in sharing the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). Our weaknesses work against us and are used against us by the enemy as we try to rescue souls from his domain. If you are a timid, shy person you may find yourself unable to be bold or unable to think of what to say. If you are an outgoing person, you may be tempted to push too hard or become angry. If you are a persuasive person, you may find yourself tempted to change the message so that it is more palatable or easier to accept. Because of all these things, it is very important that Christians rely fully on the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us through the Word, for when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 1:25). He will give the timid such love for the lost that they cannot be silent. He will give the bold the ability to temper their speech with joy and compassion. He will infuse the influential with conviction and commitment to the truth and with the understanding that it is God's power that saves, not man's wisdom or persuasive words (1 Corinthians 2:4).

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Growing As A New Believer

Being a new believer in Christ is an exciting time for every follower of Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us that the life of a new believer begins when, by the grace of God, "you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved" (Romans 10:9–10). What comes next is the beginning of a day-to-day journey of believing, trusting, obeying, learning, and living.

This day-to-day living begins with spending time with God through reading the Bible and praying. The Bible teaches us who God is: God is love (1 John 4:7–21); He is gracious, compassionate, slow to get angry, and merciful (Psalm 103:8); He cares deeply for those who are hurting (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 147:3; Psalm 23). Reading the Bible helps us learn how to recognize sin and its consequences (Romans 6:23; 2 Timothy 3:15), learn how to succeed in life by obeying God (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Joshua 1:8; James 1:25), and be equipped to serve God (2 Timothy 3:16–17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

Prayer helps us in many ways including in making decisions (Luke 6:12–13), not being anxious (1 Peter 5:6–7; Philippians 4:4–8), overcoming temptation (Matthew 26:41), and engaging in spiritual warfare (Mark 9:14–29; Ephesians 6:10–18). God, in response to our prayers, grants us wisdom (James 1:5). Reading the Bible and praying are the most important parts of our every-day Christian lives, whether new believers or having known God for decades.

Another key is spending time with other Christians. Together, believers, the children of God (1 John 3:1), are the church (Ephesians 1:22–23; Colossians 1:18). Every believer, including new believers, is part of the body of Christ on earth (Ephesians 1:22) and we are each given different spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit to serve one another and to bring the light and hope of Jesus into a dark world (Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11) and to help make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20; John 13:35).

We should also, even as we just get started as new believers, begin to allow God to change how we think and live. Romans 12:1–2 says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." These verses tell us that we can trust in God's mercy, live according to His will and not our own, and understand that we are set apart from this world by God for a special reason. It begins with how we think, believing the truth of God and not believing the lies of this world.

Additionally, it is important that we live differently because of what we are learning about who God is and what He wants for us. All believers in Christ, including new believers, need to learn how to obey God or to "walk by the Spirit," which is one of the ways the Bible refers to the Christian life (Galatians 5:16). While being a Christian is not about believing that dos-and-don'ts will somehow get you to heaven, thankfully, God does provide helpful lists so we can know what He expects of us. Galatians 5:19–21 provides a list which warns us against certain behaviors while Galatians 5:22–23 tells us that "walking by the Spirit" results in "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." These are the fruits produced in us by the Holy Spirit, who indwells us when we are saved in Jesus Christ. We aren't left to live the Christian life alone, but are instead empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so (Ephesians 1:3–14; Philippians 2:12–13).

Because there are things that God wants us to avoid, we should focus on what is good for us and avoid what harms us and others. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that we should, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." When we trust God and surrender our lives to Christ, we become citizens of another kingdom, God's Kingdom (Philippians 3:20). Our behavior will begin to change as our minds begin to adjust from being focused on what this world thinks we should do and instead on God's will for us. When we believe God is trustworthy, that He is a good and loving Father, we will examine our friendships, our work, our habits, and our thought lives, asking, "Is this good for me? Will it please God?" (see Philippians 4:8).

What pleases God is that we have said "Yes!" when Jesus invited us into a relationship with Him (Matthew 4:19; 11:29; John 6:29, 40; Revelation 3:20). He has made us into something new and different: "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Because of God's love for us (John 3:16; Romans 5:6–8; Ephesians 2:1, 4–5), He saved us and has already begun the good work of helping us to grow (Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:28–30). The Bible tells us that, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8–9). As a result, we get to live, in freedom (Galatians 5:1), grow in our relationship with Jesus, and then begin to do good works as well (Ephesians 2:10).

Being a Christian is a never-ending and growing relationship with God. New believers need to do the same things that all believers do in order to grow in Christ. The Christian faith is measured by progress not success. James 4:8 encourages us to "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." As you begin your new relationship with God, draw near to Him, spend as much time with Him as you can. He is a good and loving Father who delights in spending time with you.

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: On Effective Witness

An effective witness for Christ could be defined as a person whose life bears fruit for the gospel. Ultimately, when a person is saved, it is by God's power (1 Peter 1:3-5), not ours, and as we speak the truth to unbelievers, it is important to remember that their salvation does not hinge on our speaking abilities or the strength of our faith, or how well we know how to explain things. Even in cases where we speak the truth very clearly and with conviction, it may not result in the salvation of the hearer. In the end, each person bears the responsibility for his own choices (Galatians 6:4-5). This should not be a deterrent, however. We are called to do everything in our power to witness to the lost, and to aim for effectiveness. Here are a few basic guidelines to being an effective witness for Christ.

An effective witness is humble. We cannot judge who will or will not accept the message of the cross, so we should be impartial and unprejudiced about whom we approach with the good news, remembering that our own need for salvation is just as great as the need of every person yet to be saved (Romans 3:19-20). An effective witness will approach unbelievers with kindness and patience, rather than an arrogant, quarrelsome attitude (2 Timothy 2:23-26).

An effective witness represents the Scripture. God has chosen to reveal Himself to the world in part through a book, the Bible. Regardless of whether this makes perfect sense to us, it is the way He chose to do things. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador for a nation speaks only what he hears his king or President speak - no more, no less. When we invent new gospels, or bend the truth in an effort to make God's message more palatable or easier to accept, we are being unfaithful, and if people are converted, they are converting to a false gospel. The truth will always be fragrant to the one who desires salvation, and powerful to effect that salvation (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). We should not be ashamed of it (Romans 1:16).

An effective witness represents the Savior. Just as we are faithful to accurately speak His Word, we should be faithful to accurately portray His character. The world has an image of Jesus that is often incorrect, and we should strive to make His true nature known to them. Jesus Christ was not always nice. He rejected the hypocritical religious leaders of His day, pronouncing woes on them (Matthew 23:1-36). He spoke the truth with conviction (John 3:1-15). He confirmed the existence of eternal separation from God (Matthew 7:21-23). At the same time, He accepted the outcasts of society and forgave them freely (Luke 19:1-10). Nobody who wanted to be with Him was rejected. His focus was to save them, rather than to judge their sin (John 3:16-18). An effective witness for Christ will be intimately acquainted with Christ's character and attempt to emulate Him.

An effective witness is honest. Not every mystery in the Bible can be explained or understood, even by the wisest theologian or the most studied scholar. If an unbeliever asks a question we cannot answer, we should not be afraid to say "I don't know." Honesty, and acceptance of our inability to fathom God, is not a sign of weakness, but rather a trust in God that is unfathomable (Hebrews 11:1-3). How can we hope to fully understand a God whose mind is so far above ours? But we are not called to fully understand, but simply to trust (Proverbs 3:5-6).

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Is Christian conduct important to how the unbelieving world views Christ?

Yes. For proof, talk to any unbeliever you know, and ask them their reasons for unbelief. One of the main reasons is sure to be the conduct of someone, probably someone they trusted or knew intimately, that did not align with their beliefs. Hypocrisy among the believing is one of the main reasons the unbelieving give for turning elsewhere for answers. This phenomenon is nothing new. The Bible mentions hypocrisy of this kind many times.

Jesus pronounced woes on the Pharisees, saying "They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger" (Matthew 23:4). True Christian conduct would be mercy and grace toward sinners, just as God has forgiven us, we are to forgive others (Luke 6:37). But instead, sometimes Christians stand in judgment over unbelievers, as if we, minus the Holy Spirit, could do any better than they do.

Paul, speaking to the Jews in Rome, said this: "But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, 'The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you'" (Romans 2:17–24). As Christians, we often think of ourselves as "a guide to the blind" or "a light to those who are in darkness" and if we give them the gospel then yes, we are. But if we give them nothing but our own prideful opinions, while disobeying the Bible and the God we claim to love, is it any wonder that the unbelievers make fun of us, and make fun of Jesus Christ?

Christians do not get to Heaven on merit. Our good conduct does not get us into God's favor. The gospel makes this clear. The only way for any of us to be saved is by God's gift of redemption to us in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). But our conduct says something about whether or not we truly believe what we say. To unbelievers, our preaching seems like lip-service to a God we don't really think exists if we do not also live out what we preach. Why should they believe in Him, if we apparently don't? Why should they obey Him, if we don't?

How many of us truly live according to this principle: "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Galatians 5:13–14). As Paul said to the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves." (2 Corinthians 13:5). Do we practice righteousness, or do we practice sinning? (1 John 2:29, 3:4–8). Does your conduct match your profession? If you were to ask unbelievers that question, what do you think they would say? How would you feel if they said no? Christian conduct is not only important to how the unbelieving world sees Christ, how the unbelieving world sees Christ should be important to Christians, because it tell us something very important about ourselves.

CHAPLAIN'S THOUGHTS: What does the Bible say about trusting others?

Trust is foundational to human relationship, but not all people are trustworthy. So how can we know whom to trust and with what? The Bible gives us advice.

We must first acknowledge that all humans are sinful (Romans 3:23). More than likely our trust will be broken at some point in several relationships. Perhaps even more sobering to realize, we will hurt others in our relationships and prove ourselves unworthy of their complete trust. But this is not a reason to avoid relationship or decide to never trust. Rather, this understanding helps us reset our expectations. Sometimes we feel betrayed or as if our trust is broken simply because we expected the other person to be and do what only God is and does. Any time we put our trust in another human to be our God, we will be disappointed, and rightly so. At the same time, we may expect another person to be honest or to act with integrity or to fulfill a promise and still find our trust broken. But, again, the answer is not to avoid relationship all together. Rather, we must rely on God first and put our trust ultimately in Him.

Psalm 118:8–9 says, "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes." Proverbs 3:5–6 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." When our trust is first in God—not in others or in ourselves—we are free to trust others. An understanding that God is sovereign and that He works on behalf of His children (Romans 8:28–29) removes much of our fear in relating to others. We know that even if we are betrayed, God will never forsake us. Hebrews 13 gives some instructions for Christian living. In part, it reminds followers of Jesus that God has said, "'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5–6).

That our trust is ultimately in God instead of others does not mean that we blindly trust everyone with everything. Jesus warned His disciples, "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16). It is good to recognize that not all people have pure motives and to temper our trust accordingly. Proverbs 13:20 says, "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." First Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'" Proverbs 22:24–25 says, "Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare." Second Corinthians 6:14 cautions believers from being unequally yoked with other believers in close relationships such as marriage. We must be discerning about our relationships and the people to whom we give our trust.

Equally important is discernment about the institutions or societal influencers we trust. First John 4:1 says, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." Just because a particular teaching appears to have authority or popular acceptance does not mean it is biblically sound. While we should submit to our leaders (Romans 13:1–7), we cannot blindly trust everything we hear from sources of supposed authority. We should be especially skeptical of institutions with worldly motives.

While caution is advised in giving trust, engaging in trusting relationships with others is rewarding and certainly biblical. Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 talks about the ways in which "two are better than one." Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:5–6 says, "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Hebrews 10:24–25 talks about the importance of believers gathering together and stirring one another up to love and good works. Ephesians 4:15 talks about speaking truth to one another in love. Real trust includes willingness to be honest with one another, even if that honesty feels awkward or potentially painful. There is no substitute for faithful friends and vibrant Christian community. When we can live in trusting relationships with one another, we edify and encourage one another.

One practical way to go about learning to trust others is to focus on being trustworthy yourself. Being a person others can trust involves honesty and integrity. It means keeping your word, not belittling others, admitting when you are wrong, seeking forgiveness, being willing to forgive as you have been forgiven in Christ, and having the courage to share the truths of God's Word and to strive to live them out.

Psalm 1 declares that the man who delights in the law of the Lord is blessed. When we seek God's kingdom and His ways first, we will draw closer to Him and our trust in Him will increase. We will also learn to be trustworthy people ourselves. As we do these things, we can learn to more freely trust others. We can ask God for discernment in whom to trust and with what things, and ultimately trust Him with the results.

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: What does it mean to walk with God?

God created us for fellowship with Him and He desires us to walk with Him (Micah 6:8). Before the fall, Adam and Eve would walk and talk with God in the garden of Eden, but after they had sinned, they were ashamed and hid when they heard Him coming (Genesis 3:8). Their sin separated humanity from God (Romans 5:12). But Jesus came to offer us forgiveness and restoration. The sacrifice of Jesus enables us to have a personal and close relationship with God through the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17). When you put your faith in Jesus, your relationship with God becomes the most important thing in your life. You want to talk with Him, seek Him, and please Him in all your ways. This is walking with God.

Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Noah (Genesis 6:9) were called men who walked with God. When you walk with God, you factor Him into your everyday life and your decision making. You spend time praying and talking with Him throughout the day.

If you go on a walk with your friend, what do you do during your walk? Besides the obvious, walking, you are having a conversation, sharing things that are on your mind, and listening to your friend do the same as you head to your destination. You stay focused on what each other is saying and do not get distracted. As a believer in Christ, you can walk with Him throughout your entire life here on earth until you arrive in heaven. God loves to be in relationship with us, and we can converse with Him through prayer and reading His Word, hearing His love and gaining His wisdom for us as we live our lives here on the earth (Psalm 32:8; 1 John 3:1).

Walking with God means you are in agreement with Him and His ways (Amos 3:3). No one is perfect, but when you are walking with God your desire should be to see your own selfish desires die for the sake of seeing God transform you more and more into the image of His Son: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17; see also 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Another name for walking with God that is commonly used in the New Testament is "walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:4). When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left the Holy Spirit with us. The Holy Spirit, being on the earth and in us when we believe in Christ, is our direct link to God (Romans 8:9–11, 26–27; Ephesians 1:13–14).

Walking with God is a way of life, and it is a choice. We can walk in God's ways or the ways of the world, but we cannot do both (2 Kings 8:27; Ephesians 2:2; Matthew 6:24; James 4:4). There will be sacrifices made no matter which path you choose, but walking with God is the way of eternal life (Hebrews 12:1–2). It will not be without cost, but it will be worth it (Matthew 7:13–14). Walking with the Lord means you live to please Him and not yourself. We cut things out of our lives that keep us from walking in the ways of God, because we are motivated by His love and a desire to be close to Him (Romans 13:14; Psalm 1:1–3). We also depend on the power and work of the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk with Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:12–13).

People who walk with God display the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Christ followers live in contrast to the ways of the world surrounding them (Philippians 2:15). When Peter and John were arrested and brought before the authorities for preaching the gospel, the authorities took note of the men's boldness "… and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). When you consistently walk with God, others will be able to recognize that, though you are flawed and imperfect, you have been with Jesus.

Walking Your Faith Devotionally

1 Corinthians 10:23 "You say, "I am allowed to do anything"–but not everything is good for you. You say, "I am allowed to do anything". but not everything is beneficial." NLT

Friends in Christ,

People often think that Christianity is a list of do's and don'ts. While we should seek to walk in obedience to Christ, our salvation is not dependent on a list. Because we are saved by grace through faith, we have a freedom that the world does not understand. This freedom includes the right to make choices others may question and may include things the Bible does not directly speak about. Of course, even though we may have this freedom, we must ask ourselves...

Is what I'm about to do going to help build my faith?

Is it going to share my faith or the Good News with unbelievers?

Is it going to encourage people?

If the answer is "no" to all of these things, then it may be best to steer clear. Because of what Christ has done for us, we have freedom to make various decisions, but we also have the responsibility to make sure our choices are Christ centered. As Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians, "I'm allowed to do anything, but not everything is beneficial."

Walking your faith? Choose to spend time doing things that have a spiritual benefit. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God,

Thank You for Jesus and that salvation is not by works, but by grace. Lord, I pray that You would help me to be mindful of the choices I make so that they are centered on You. I am thankful for the freedom I have in Christ and pray that I can use that freedom for the benefit of others and the Gospel. In Jesus' precious name and for Your Glory. Amen.

Walking Your Faith Devotionally

Daniel 6:3-4 "Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him." NKJV

Friends in Christ,

The government was in transition from Babylonian rule to the rule of the Medes and Persians. Daniel was in his mid-eighties, well acquainted with all the government affairs and filled with an excellent spirit from the Lord. This drew out a level of envy from his coworkers that caused Daniel to be set up and thrown into the lion's den.

Friends, it's difficult for the world to see the blessing of God's Spirit on our life and not retaliate against it. The Bible tells us all who live godly in Jesus Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). When you excel in your work as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23), pray persistently and develop a deeper devotional life with the Lord It's important to know that the enemy often doesn't let that go unchallenged. The amazing thing is that the Lord utilizes those moments of difficulty for us to see and experience the joy and peace of Jesus Christ on a level we haven't seen before. As we see the Lord in those times He allows it to be a witness to those around us as well.

Daniel 6:26-27 "I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,

And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions." NKJV

Because of the excellent Spirit that was upon Daniel we don't see Daniel fret about the lion's den before him. What we see instead is God steadfast at work in him through his trial causing a great witness to the King. The Lord purposes to do the same thing in our lives when we face our difficulties in life. Whether it's in our marriage, our family, or our workplace that we find opposition, God intends for us to experience Him and His power in us as a witness to those around us.

Walking your faith? Our prison, problems, persecution, and performance is often the passport to our deeper relationship with Jesus Christ in our life. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God,

Thank you that by Your Grace and by Your Spirit I can have Your power and goodness flow through me. I ask You to help me be found faithful in all I do. When opposition comes please grant me the grace to be at peace and rest in Your presence. In Jesus' precious name and for Your Glory. Amen.

Walking Your Faith Devotionally

John 4:4 "But He needed to go through Samaria." NKJV

Loved Ones in Christ, In John 4, we see our Lord travel through Samaria.This may not mean much to us, but in that time, the hatred between Jews and Samaritans was legendary. Despite the cultural issues around Him, Jesus continues His journey through Samaria because there was a 'need'. What could be so important that Jesus had to go through Samaria? Why would Jesus walk through hostile territory? Simple. There was a woman in Samaria who was burdened with sin and shame, and Jesus had the answer to her problem. Friends, this should be our hearts desire - to be like Jesus. We should be willing to face possible hardship in order to reach others with the Gospel and God's Living Water.

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

The action of sharing our faith is not an option for those who claim Jesus as Lord. We are commanded in Matthew 28 to 'GO' and there is no exception found in that verse. The ultimate goal of any believer is to deliver His Word, and as we do, we will see this world changed one soul at a time. Pray today that God would bring someone to you who you can share His Love with. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but as you step out in obedience, God will take you where you need to go to share with someone who needs to hear.

Walking your faith? Sharing your faith is not an option, it is a command. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God, Thank You for forgiveness and grace. Father, help me to not only admire Your Goodness, but to share it with a world in need. Grant me opportunities to share with my family, friends and others around me today. Grant me Your words and guide me by Your Spirit. In Jesus' precious name and for Your glory. Amen.

Think deeply... Live differently, 

Chaplain Thom.Stackhouse, OCM

Consider This... EVANGELISM

What needs to be conveyed to unbelievers in order that they might understand and embrace salvation?

Many of the modern trends in evangelism have tended to take a minimalist approach to the question. Unfortunately, the legitimate desire to express the heart of the gospel clearly has given way to a less wholesome endeavor. It is a campaign to distill the essentials of the message to the barest possible terms.

The glorious gospel of Christ—that which Paul called “the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)—includes all the truth about Christ. But American evangelicalism tends to regard the gospel as a “plan of salvation.” We have reduced the message to a list of facts stated in the fewest possible words—and getting fewer all the time: “Six Steps to Peace with God”; “Five Things God Wants You to Know”; “Four Spiritual Laws”; “Three Truths You Can’t Live Without”; “Two Ways to Live”; or “One Way to Heaven.” (This is not a critique of these specific presentations, but is merely an observation that we seem eager to produce and use “plans of salvation” that enumerate and consolidate the gospel message.)

Another trend, equally dangerous, is to reduce evangelism to a memorized script. Often, evangelism training consists of having Christians memorize a series of questions, anticipating that each question will fall into one of a few categories that has a pre-planned response.

But the gospel is not a message that can be standardized, abridged, shrink-wrapped, and then offered as a generic remedy for every kind of sinner. Ignorant sinners need to be instructed about who God is and why He has the right to demand their obedience. Self-righteous sinners need to have their sin exposed by the demands of God’s law. Careless sinners need to be confronted with the reality of God’s impending judgment. Fearful sinners need to hear that God in His mercy has provided a way of deliverance. All sinners must understand how utterly holy God is. They must comprehend the basic truths of Christ’s sacrificial death and the triumph of His resurrection. They need to be confronted with God’s demand that they turn from their sin to embrace Christ as Lord and Savior.

Furthermore, in all the instances where Jesus and the apostles evangelized - whether they were ministering to individuals or crowds—there are no two incidents where they presented the message in precisely the same terminology. They knew that salvation is a sovereign work of God. Their role was to preach truth; the Holy Spirit would apply it individually to the hearts of His elect. (Isaiah 55:11)

The form of the message will vary in each case. But the content must always drive home the reality of God’s holiness and the sinner’s helpless condition. Then it points sinners to Christ as a sovereign but merciful Lord who has purchased full atonement for all who will turn to Him in faith.

Christians today are often cautioned about the danger of saying too much to the lost; even offering empty promises "on behalf of God". Certain spiritual issues are labeled taboo when speaking to the unconverted: God’s law, Christ’s lordship, repentance, surrender, obedience, judgment, and hell. Such things are not to be mentioned, lest we “add something to the offer of God’s free gift.”

Worse still, there are some who take this reductionist evangelism to its furthest extreme. Wrongly applying the Reformed doctrine of sola fide (faith alone), they make faith the only permissible topic when speaking to non-Christians about their duty before God. Then they render faith utterly meaningless by stripping it of everything but its notional aspects. This, some believe, preserves the purity of the gospel. But what it has actually done is undercut the power of the message of salvation.

It has also populated the church with false converts whose faith is counterfeit and whose hope hangs on a bogus promise. Numbly saying they “accept Christ as Savior,” they brazenly reject His rightful claim as Lord. Paying Him glib lip service, they utterly scorn Him with their hearts (Mark 7:6). Casually affirming Him with their mouths, they deliberately deny Him with their deeds (Titus 1:16). Addressing Him superficially as “Lord, Lord,” they stubbornly decline to do His bidding (Luke 6:46). Such people fit the tragic description of the “many” in Matthew 7:22-23 who will one day be stunned to hear Him say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Sad words to hear for those who, heretofore, considered themselves "SAVED" without a doubt.