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Our Chapel Ministry

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

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CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: I want to start reading the Bible. Where should I begin?


The Bible is unlike any other book in the world. It is actually an anthology, produced by approximately 40

people over more than 1,400 years. Its human authors are as diverse as shepherds and kings. Yet the book

is a cohesive whole, inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16~17) and meant to bring people to knowledge of Him.

With more than 66 books and 31,000 verses, where is a good place to start reading the Bible?


For those who have not previously read the Bible, the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is a great

place to begin. It lays the foundation for our understanding of God, humanity, sin, and redemption.

Continuing through the second book of the Bible, Exodus, helps us understand the Jewish people through

whom God sent our Savior, Jesus.


Many suggest going to the New Testament gospel of John next. It is the fourth book of the New Testament

and was authored by the apostle John. John was one of the 12 original followers of Jesus and was

considered to be part of Jesus' inner circle, along with James and Peter. John's Gospel includes many of

the teachings of Jesus and emphasizes the deity of Christ. John 20:30~31 gives the purpose of the Gospel

of John: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this

book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by

believing you may have life in his name."


After completing the Gospel of John, it would be most helpful to continue with the other three Gospels

(Matthew, Mark, and Luke), also known as the Synoptic Gospels. These books provide a narrative of Jesus'

life and ministry, including His teachings and many miracles. Often the same event is recorded by each of

the three writers, but reading the accounts from different perspectives can illuminate details that enrich

one's understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.


Following the Gospels, the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament provide both the early history

and teachings of the church. Acts provides an overview from Luke (author of the Gospel of Luke) that

covers approximately the first 30 years of the church's history. The epistles offer teachings in the form of

letters written by Paul, Peter, John, Jude, James, and the author of Hebrews. Revelation chronicles the

apostle John's vision of the last days.


Of course, the Old Testament is inspired by God as well and comprises about three fourths of the Bible's

text (including 39 of the Bible's 66 books). It covers the time period from the creation of the universe to

approximately 400 BC, including Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, Abraham and his descendants, Moses

and the people of Israel, the period of the judges and kings of Israel, the prophets, and the return of the

exiled Jewish people to Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah. In addition, an understanding of the Old

Testament helps to better understand the teachings and history of the New Testament.


The Bible is God's Word to humanity. While John is a great place to begin, the important thing is to read

the Bible and to apply its teachings in your life, starting today! As James 1:22~25 says, "But be doers of

the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,

he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away

and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and

perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." Shalom

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Why is the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus so central to the Christian faith?


The bodily resurrection of Jesus refers to the actual body of Jesus returning from the dead after three days rather than merely His spirit in some sort of ghost-like form. There are many reasons the bodily resurrection of Jesus is important.

First, the bodily resurrection of Jesus affirmed and proved the divine nature of Jesus. If God is eternal, then He cannot die. If Jesus was dead and remained dead, then He could not be God. His bodily resurrection proved He was more than a man; Jesus is the God-man, or God in human form.


Second, the bodily resurrection serves as the basis for the Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 we read, "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."


Third, the bodily resurrection, if untrue, means that all who share the gospel message are frauds and liars. Paul wrote that if the resurrection did not take place, "We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised." (1 Corinthians 15:15).


Fourth, the bodily resurrection anticipates the future resurrection of all believers. First Corinthians 15:16 teaches, "For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised." The resurrection of Christ serves as the basis for the future resurrection of all who believe in Him.


Fifth, without the bodily resurrection, believers are still in their sins. First Corinthians 15:17-19 share, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."


Sixth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead fulfilled His own prophecies. Jesus personally foretold that He would die and rise again. For example, John 2:19~21 states, "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking about the temple of his body."


Seventh, if the bodily resurrection did not take place, many Christians have been persecuted and even died for a lie. This would be sad if true, but the fact of the empty tomb and many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus point to a man who was more than a man; He is the Messiah. Those who trust in Him will never be put to shame (Romans 10:11).


The bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the single most important event in world history. Through Him, we can have eternal life (John 3:16) and abundant life (John 10:10).


SHALOM!

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: What does it mean that Jesus died for our sins?


The quick answer is that Jesus died on the cross to provide the way for us, those His Father gave to Him, to receive forgiveness from our sins. The Bible provides many details regarding this sacrifice of Jesus. As we study the Bible, we understand more and more of salvation and forgiveness.


When we say "Jesus died for our sins," we are saying that He died because of our sins. Sin leads to death (Romans 6:23). We were sinners consigned to death, and we had no way to stop sinning. Jesus came into our world and lived a perfect life, so death had no hold on Him. Yet, in His grace, Jesus chose, in complete obedience to His Father, to die on our behalf. He took our punishment for us. As He died "for our sins," as our substitute, He prayed that we would be forgiven. Since our penalty has already been paid, God will forgive those who put their trust in Jesus.


Jesus' death means that we have access to God. In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Sin had separated us from God, but, at the moment of Christ's death, the veil in the temple, separating the priests from the presence of God, was ripped in two (Mark 15:38).


Jesus' death means that the sacrifices of the Old Testament Law are no longer needed. In previous times, various offerings were required by the Law as atonements for sin. Yet these sacrifices were only temporary. With the sacrifice of Jesus, we were provided a perfect, one-time atonement from sin (Hebrews 10:10).


Christ's death means that we are promised forgiveness of sin when we accept Jesus as Lord. Galatians 3:22 says, "the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." Jesus purchased our salvation on the cross by becoming sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). That is, He was the only perfect life, the perfect sacrifice, and took the penalty we deserved on our behalf.

Salvation is by God's grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is made possible through the cross of Christ. "Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). SHALOM!

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: The "PASSION" of the Christ?


While we commonly think of the word passion as belonging within the realm of emotional romantic love or passionate feelings for a specific activity or profession, the word passion has a different etymological root. It comes from the Latin word pati, meaning "to suffer" or "to endure." When the term "passion of Christ" is used, it refers to Jesus' endurance through His suffering, both in the time leading up to His crucifixion and His actual crucifixion.


Generally, within the world of theology, the term passion of Christ has taken on the more specific meaning of referring to the timeframe of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane to the moment of His death on the cross. This was the range of His most profound suffering and required incredible endurance. Around Easter, many churches will produce "passion plays" that depict these last hours of Jesus' life. Each Gospel records the story of the passion of Christ: Matthew 26:36 & 27:56, Mark 14:32 & 15:41, Luke 22:39 & 23:49, and John 18:1 & 19:37.


The suffering that Jesus endured was completely real. The passion of Christ is not merely a metaphorical description; Jesus suffered and died a physical death as well as suffered spiritually. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to see if there was a way around the suffering He was about to endure: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup pass from me" (Matthew 26:39). His agony was so profound that His sweat "became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44). The beating, mocking, whipping, placing of the crown of thorns on His head, being nailed to a cross, and suffocating while hanging there were all indescribably painful things that Jesus willingly chose to endure for the sake of our salvation. But His suffering was not only physical, or even mostly physical, Jesus endured spiritual suffering we can only begin to fathom. He bore the weight of the sin of the world on the cross and the wrath of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus' anguish when He cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) was very real.


The passion of the Christ was prophesied by Isaiah in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:4—12). Christ's crucifixion is so powerful because without it, we would not have a way to be saved and at peace with God. The apostle Paul said, "For I have determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Isaiah 53:5 explains: "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." Through Christ's crucifixion, we have the open door to be made right in God's sight. Once we are saved, Christ's crucifixion serves as a metaphor of our daily life as believers (Romans 6:6~8; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:1~2): when we place our faith in Christ for salvation, we die to our old selves every day so that we may live in Christ and "put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). SHALOM!

Walking Your Faith Devotionally


Micah 3:1 "And I said: "Hear now, O heads of Jacob, And you rulers of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know justice?" NKJV


Friends in Christ,

Today's society is fast-paced and full of busyness. But what are we busy doing? Is it trying to live life with a mission to better ourselves? Any of us who have tried to live this kind of life know that we are never satisfied even when we achieve our goals. If we claim to be a follower of Jesus, we have a responsibility to live a Godly life everywhere we go. God has shown us that life is not about us, it's about knowing Him, loving Him and loving others.


If anyone should know that, it is the body of Christ ~ those who have been forgiven of their sins. Now that God has blessed us with His forgiveness, He desires that we share His love with others. The world needs us to be an example of living the Bible so that they too are drawn to Christ. They need answers, and for us to say we are "Christians" and live our lives in pursuit of personal gain would only be a contradiction to who we say we follow.


2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? ~ unless indeed you are disqualified." NKJV


Friends, let's stand before God often and ask Him to reveal things in our life that are not pleasing to Him. As we do that, others will be drawn to Jesus and living their life for Him just like we should.


Walking your faith? The world is looking for answers, not for hypocrites. Shalom!


Heavenly Father God,

Thank You for loving me. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins. Help me to live a disciple's life wherever I go. Please remove those things that are not pleasing to You so others are not confused. Thank You Lord, for using me to change lives for eternity just as You changed mine. In Jesus' precious name and for Your Glory. Amen.

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: What does 'iron sharpens iron' mean?


Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." When iron blades are rubbed together, each becomes sharper and thus more effective. Likewise, when believers are involved in one another's lives, mutual edification occurs. Ecclesiastes 4:9~12 is a similar passage: "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." Humans were created for fellowship (Genesis 2:18). When we're living in healthy fellowship, we rely on one another and help one another. It is often thought that the threefold cord of Ecclesiastes 4:12 refers to two people in relationship who are submitted to God. It is true that fellowship is beneficial for humans in general, but all the more so for Christians (Matthew 18:19~20).


The New Testament is replete with instructions concerning how believers should relate with one another. They are to do good to each other (Galatians 6:10), bear each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2), forgive each other (Colossians 3:13), restore each other (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19~20), submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11), admonish and exhort each other (Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 3:13), pursue peace and mutual up-building (Romans 14:19), and stir one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24~25). The Body of Christ – "elect believers" – should be encouraging and edifying one another. When they do, they are like iron sharpening iron. Each believer becomes more effective in his calling. He comes to know God more and to more effectively carry out the good works for which he has been made (Ephesians 2:10).


SHALOM!

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS:  Knowing God better?


Knowing God begins with having a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Apart from salvation in Jesus, we are enemies of God. But in Christ we are made children of God (Romans 8:14~17; Ephesians 1:3~14). We are also sealed with the Holy Spirit and indwelt by Him. The Holy Spirit helps us come to know God better and makes us more like Jesus. Once we are saved, we get to know God in a way very similar to getting to know any other person. We spend time with Him, listen to Him, talk to Him, and spend time with others who also know Him.


We get to know God by reading His Word, the Bible. The Bible is God's "special revelation" to us. We know much about God through nature (Romans 1:20) and the things we observe on the earth. But God has told us specific things about Himself through His Word. When we read the Bible, we understand more who God is and what His plans are. When we look at Jesus, in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (Colossians 2:9), we can learn a lot about God.


We also get to know God by praying. In prayer, we share our hearts with God and we also listen to Him. We learn to recognize the Holy Spirit within us and be filled by Him. As we are filled with the Holy Spirit we come to know God more.

Another important aspect of getting to know God is interacting with others who know God. We get to know God by listening to sound instruction from biblical teachers. We also get to know Him when we talk about Him with others. As we share in the lives of other Christians, we see how God works, can learn about Him from one another, and can give Him praise together. Fellowship with other believers also encourages us in our walk with God.


Knowing God is an incredible privilege of salvation. God not only rescues us from the penalty and power of sin, He invites us into a personal relationship with Him. We are made His children. In John 15, Jesus talks about abiding in Him. When we do, we are fruitful for God and our joy is made complete. Jesus came not only to rescue us from sin (John 3:16), but to bring fullness of life (John 10:10). Knowing God is a significant part of what it means to have fullness of life in Christ. SHALOM!

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Truth? What is it?


When speaking of truth, readers of the Bible often first think of Pilate's question to Jesus in John 18:38: "What is truth?" Still today, many wrestle with whether there is anything that is absolutely true or false or whether truth even exists.


A simple definition of truth is to define it as something that corresponds to its object. In other words, it is "truth" to say water is a substance that consists of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and is found in oceans, rivers, and other locations. In fact, to deny this is true is to make a competing truth claim. To say, "That is not true," is to claim the one making the statement knows it is not true because of another truth. Therefore, truth does exist.


The next question is, "Can truth be known?" As limited human beings, we cannot claim to know all truth, but we can claim there are true things we can discover. This is true both of the physical world (such as identifying rocks or trees) and of the abstract world (numbers or ideas). Therefore, we can know truth about reality, including evaluations regarding spiritual claims or truth about God.


At this point, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in discovering whether an idea about God is true. The law of non-contradiction states that two opposing ideas cannot both be true at the same time and place under the same conditions. In other words, 2+2 cannot equal 4 and 2+2 equal 5 at the same time and place under the same conditions. It must be one or the other, 4 or 5.


Applied to spiritual truth, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in evaluating many ideas regarding God. For example, a single God either exists or does not exist. A single God cannot logically exist for one person but not for another. In other words, it is inconsistent to make the postmodern claim, "It's true for you, but it's not true for me" when it comes to God's existence. He either does exist or He does not. He cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and place in the same conditions.


This same view of truth can help regarding many other faith claims as well. For example, Christianity's fundamental belief is the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Did He come alive again or not? There are only two options. The evidence must be evaluated with a conclusion of what is the most likely choice. While acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is an act of faith, the resurrection is a matter of fact. It either took place or it did not.


A similar approach can be made regarding the Bible. Is it the inspired Word of God or not? It must be inspired, inspired in part, or not inspired. The options are limited. It is inconsistent to make the claim "the truth is relative" because truth is not relative. Truth is that which corresponds to its object. Some issues may be a matter of opinion, but others are a matter of fact or of truth.

When we face questions of truth, our wisest response is to evaluate the options and determine the best decision based on the available information. Our understanding of truth may vary from one person to another, but truth is consistent. We need not abandon the concept of truth simply because others view some truths about life differently.


Ultimately, truth is a spiritual issue as well as a philosophical one. Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If He is the truth, then the proper response would be to follow Him and His teachings. Pilate's question, "What is truth?" continues to find far-reaching relevance into each of our lives today as we each must decide what to do when we encounter Jesus Christ. Shalom!

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: God is Love and What Does This Mean?


The Bible teaches that God loves us, yet also teaches that God is love. First John 4:7~9 reveals, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."


In the original Greek used to write the New Testament, there is more than one word for love. The Greek word agapos, often referred to as agape love, is the word used in 1 John 4. It is used when speaking of an unconditional love. This love of God is boundless.


God does not only give love; He is the source of love. As the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1), He is the One who created love. It is because of His love that we are able to love. As 1 John 4:19 notes, "We love because he first loved us."

The fullest expression of God as love was through the Son, Jesus Christ. God created us, sustains us, and has revealed Himself to us through Jesus. John 1:14 declares, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."


Among the most famous of Bible passages on love is 1 Corinthians 13. In these verses we find a picture of God's love expressed in poetic terms that displays many of the aspects of God's love toward us. We are told, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4~8).


Further, John 3:16 teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God has made clear that His love through the Son of God, Jesus, grants an opportunity for those who will believe to spend eternity with Him. It is God's desire for us to enjoy His love both in this life and for all eternity.


The Bible is also clear we have done nothing to deserve God's perfect love. Romans 5:8 shares, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Even when Jesus knew we would fail and even before we were born, He gave His life as the ultimate expression of His love.


God is love. He created love, created us to love Him, and has extended His love to each of us. Our election is to surrender to His great love (Ephesians 2:8~9) that we may experience His love in our lives today (John 10:10) and for eternity (John 3:16).


Shalom!

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Loving One Another


At the Last Supper, Jesus instructed His disciples to love one another: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34~35). What did He mean?


Jesus wants His followers to care for each other on the deepest levels. A distinguishing feature of Christians should be their love for one another. Our love for one another flows out of our love for God, which is a result of God's love for us (1 John 4:19). John, one of Jesus' disciples, wrote often about love. For example, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. … And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 John 4:10~11, 21).


Jesus wants His followers to be bound not primarily by service, command, family, nationality, pledge, race, interest, or anything else, but by love.


When the Holy Spirit appeared at Pentecost, people were gathered from all over the world; people from other nations with varied interests and backgrounds (Acts 2:9~11), yet once they were bound in Christ, they began serving each other, pooling their resources, and giving to those in need (Acts 2:42~47). This was love in action.


Jesus gave us a model of how to love one another. He loves unconditionally (Romans 5:8), sacrificially (2 Corinthians 5:21), with an ability to forgive (Ephesians 4:32), and forever (Romans 8:38~39). He, and His love, is holy (Hebrews 7:26). We are to love like that.


We are able to follow Jesus' example because of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Our choice to follow the Holy Spirit's leading and Jesus' instruction in the Word of God gives us the ability to follow His example.


We are to love each other, our neighbors, and even our enemies (Matthew 5:43~48). This sort of love is described in

 1 Corinthians 13:4~8: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away."


Loving one another the way Christ loved us is only possible with the supernatural power of God (2 Peter 1:3~8). Jesus gives us the command to love one another, then gives us the power to do just that.


SHALOM!

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