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  Chaplain Thomas Stackhouse, OCM - Pennsylvania Military Veterans Outreach

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CORAM DEO ( Living Before The Face Of GOD )

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Posted on December 25, 2018 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Walking Your Faith - Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 9:6

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” NKJV 

Beloved Friends and Family,

Please note in the above verse it says, "unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." This means that Jesus was not just given, but HE was given to US. The capital letters in 'Son' and 'Child' tell us this verse is pointing to Jesus Christ. Jesus was given to us, and He was given for us. It is often said, "Jesus is the reason for the season." Let's take a deeper step and remember why Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus came not only to set us free, but He also came to die so that we could live. Jesus died for us so we could live for Him. Are you living for Jesus? This Christmas, give yourself anew to the one who gave Himself for you. Spend some time reading the real Christmas story and ask the Holy Lord to lead you closer to Him. Be in service to Him and to others this year like never before. 

Walking your faith? Jesus was not just given, but HE was given to US. Shalom! Merry Christmas!

ABBA, Father God,

Thank You for the Gift of Grace that we celebrate in this season. Have I been living for Jesus? Please reveal to me any way in which I have failed or am failing to live for Him. I pray this in Jesus' precious name, Amen.

Walking Your Faith

Posted on December 22, 2018 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Walking Your Faith

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” NKJV

Loved Ones,

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are going to be vulnerable at times. We are told that God hasn’t granted us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. That statement is very true when we are trusting in God, but when we allow fear to dominate our thoughts instead of our faith we become vulnerable to the enemy.

Friends, today is the day you trust the Lord with that conversation at work you are supposed to have with your co-worker about Jesus. Today is the day that you make that commitment to serve the Lord in your local community of faith. Today is the day you trust the Lord with that repentance He has been calling you to make. No matter what it is, today is your day. Trust the Lord!

Will this make you vulnerable? Yes... to the Lord. Backing down, freezing up, allowing your fear to paralyze you will make you vulnerable to the enemy. Who will you allow to hold your vulnerability today? 

1 Peter 5:8-11 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” NKJV

Walking your faith? When we fear, we give the enemy our vulnerability; when we have faith, we trust God with our vulnerability. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God,

Help me to not fear. Help me to trust You more. Thank You for leading the way and granting me a sound mind, power, and love. Today, with Your guidance, I will walk by faith and not by sight. In Jesus precious name, amen.

Bible Questions Answered

Posted on November 23, 2018 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Question: "What are the causes and solutions for a hardened heart?"

Answer: To better understand the causes and solutions for a hardened heart, it’s important to understand the broad biblical meaning of the word “heart.” The Bible considers the heart to be the hub of human personality, producing the things we would ordinarily ascribe to the “mind.” For example, Scripture informs us that grief (John 14:1); desires (Matthew 5:2); joy (Ephesians 5:19); understanding (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15); thoughts and reasoning (Genesis 6:5; Hebrews 4:12; Mark 2); and, most importantly, faith and belief (Hebrews 3:12; Romans 10:10; Mark 11:23) are all products of the heart. Also, Jesus tells us that the heart is a repository for good and evil and that what comes out of our mouth – good or bad – begins in the heart (Luke 6:43–45).

Considering this, it’s easy to see how a hardened heart can dull a person’s ability to perceive and understand. Anyone’s heart can harden, even faithful Christians’. In fact, in Mark 8:17–19 we see Jesus’ own disciples suffering from this malady. The disciples were concerned with their meager bread supply, and it was clear that each of them had forgotten how Jesus had just fed thousands with only a few loaves. Questioning them as to the hardness of their hearts, Christ spells out for us the characteristics of this spiritual heart condition as an inability to see, understand, hear, and remember. Regarding this last criterion, too often we forget how God has blessed us and what He has done for us. Similar to the disciples in this instance or the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, when a new calamity arises in our lives, our hearts often fill with fear and concern. Sadly, this simply reveals to God the little faith we have in His promise to take care of us (Matthew 6:32–33; Philippians 4:19). We need to remember not only the many times God has graciously provided for us in our time of need, but also what He has told us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). 

Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin. Now we know that “if we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). However, if we don’t confess our sins, they have a cumulative and desensitizing effect on the conscience, making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong. And this sinful and hardened heart is tantamount to the “seared conscience” Paul speaks of in 1Timothy 4:1–2. Scripture makes it clear that if we relentlessly continue to engage in sin, there will come a time when God will give us over to our “debased mind” and let us have it our way. The apostle Paul writes about God’s wrath of abandonment in his letter to the Romans where we see that godless and wicked “men who suppress the truth” are eventually given over to the sinful desires of their hardened hearts (Romans 1:18–24).

Pride will also cause our hearts to harden. The “pride of your heart has deceived you . . . you who say to yourself, ‘who can bring me down to the ground’ . . . I will bring you down declares the LORD” (Obadiah 3). Also, the root of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness was his pride and arrogance. Even in the face of tremendous proofs and witnessing God’s powerful hand at work, Pharaoh’s hardened heart caused him to deny the sovereignty of the one, true God. And when King Nebuchadnezzar’s “heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory . . . until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone He wishes” (Daniel 5:20–21). Accordingly, when we’re inclined to do it our way, thinking we can “go it on our own,” it would be wise to recall what King Solomon taught us in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

So, what then is the antidote for a heart condition such as this? First and foremost, we have to recognize the effect that this spiritual disease has on us. And God will help us to see our heart’s condition when we ask Him: “Search me O God, and know my heart…see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24). God can heal any heart once we recognize our disobedience and repent of our sins. But true repentance is more than simply a resolute feeling of steadfast determination. Repentance manifests itself in a changed life.

After repenting of our sins, hard hearts begin to be cured when we study God’s Word. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart. . . . I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9–11). The Bible is our manual for living as it is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are to live life to the fullest as God intended, we need to study and obey God’s written Word, which not only keeps a heart soft and pure but allows us to be “blessed” in whatever we do (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25).

Hearts can also become hardened when we suffer setbacks and disappointments in life. No one is immune to trials here on earth. Yet, just as steel is forged by a blacksmith’s hammer, so, too, can our faith be strengthened by the trials we encounter in the valleys of life. As Paul encouraged the Romans: “But we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:3–5).

© Copyright 2002-2018 Got Questions Ministries. Dr. Keith Sherlin, ThD, LLD, guest contributor to Our Chapel Ministry

Walking Your Faith

Posted on November 18, 2018 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Our Chapel Ministry Devotional

Jeremiah 18:4 “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.” NKJV

Loved Ones,

A mound of clay, by itself, is not a very beautiful thing. It may have some intrinsic value but in the end, it's still a pile of dirt. That is, until the potter gets a hold of it. Once the potter gets involved, this pile of dirt begins to take shape. As the potter presses in, the clay becomes thinner. The potter then reaches into the center and is able to scoop out all the excess clay within. While the clay began as a formless pile of dirt, it ends up as a beautiful masterpiece. 

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” NLT

Where God found us, we were like the clay - dirty and formless. We may have tried to mold ourselves, but only the potter is able to mold the clay. Once the Heavenly Potter spoke into our lives, He began molding and shaping us into the image of His Son, Jesus. With each firm press of His hand, we are changed. With every scrape of His tools, sinfulness falls away from our life. This is our Heavenly Father at work and while it is painful, it is worth it. God knows what we need and He is the perfect potter who's loving hands will sculpt our lives into something far greater than we could ever understand. All we have to do is trust and abide in Him.

Walking your faith? God desires to make a masterpiece of your life, you must trust and obey Him through the process.

ABBA, Father God,

I am sorry for my resistance to Your hands in my life. I know that I need to be molded more into Your image, and I ask that You would place my life onto Your potter's wheel. Carve off the sin in my life and shape me into a vessel that can be used for Your Kingdom. In Jesus' precious name, amen.

Consider This...

Posted on November 11, 2018 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Question: "What is the difference between exegesis and eisegesis?"

Answer: Exegesis and eisegesis are two conflicting approaches in Bible study. Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text.

The opposite approach to Scripture is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants.

Obviously, only exegesis does justice to the text. Eisegesis is a mishandling of the text and often leads to a misinterpretation. Exegesis is concerned with discovering the true meaning of the text, respecting its grammar, syntax, and setting. Eisegesis is concerned only with making a point, even at the expense of the meaning of words.

Second Timothy 2:15 commands us to use exegetical methods: “Present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” An honest student of the Bible will be an exegete, allowing the text to speak for itself. Eisegesis easily lends itself to error, as the would-be interpreter attempts to align the text with his own preconceived notions. Exegesis allows us to agree with the Bible; eisegesis seeks to force the Bible to agree with us.

The process of exegesis involves 1) observation: what does the passage say? 2) interpretation: what does the passage mean? 3) correlation: how does the passage relate to the rest of the Bible? and 4) application: how should this passage affect my life?

Eisegesis, on the other hand, involves 1) imagination: what idea do I want to present? 2) exploration: what Scripture passage seems to fit with my idea? and 3) application: what does my idea mean? Notice that, in eisegesis, there is no examination of the words of the text or their relationship to each other, no cross-referencing with related passages, and no real desire to understand the actual meaning. Scripture serves only as a prop to the interpreter’s idea.

To illustrate, let’s use both approaches in the treatment of one passage:

2 Chronicles 27:1-2

“Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. . . . He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD.” 

EISEGESIS

First, the interpreter decides on a topic. Today, it’s “The Importance of Church Attendance.” The interpreter reads 2 Chronicles 27:1-2 and sees that King Jotham was a good king, just like his father Uzziah had been, except for one thing: he didn’t go to the temple! This passage seems to fit his idea, so he uses it. The resulting sermon deals with the need for passing on godly values from one generation to the next. Just because King Uzziah went to the temple every week didn’t mean that his son would continue the practice. In the same way, many young people today tragically turn from their parents’ training, and church attendance drops off. The sermon ends with a question: “How many blessings did Jotham fail to receive, simply because he neglected church?” 

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with preaching about church attendance or the transmission of values. And a cursory reading of 2 Chronicles 27:1-2 seems to support that passage as an apt illustration. However, the above interpretation is totally wrong. For Jotham not to go to the temple was not wrong; in fact, it was very good, as the proper approach to the passage will show.

EXEGESIS

First, the interpreter reads the passage and, to fully understand the context, he reads the histories of both Uzziah and Jotham (2 Chronicles 26-27; 2 Kings 15:1-6, 32-33. In his observation, he discovers that King Uzziah was a good king who nevertheless disobeyed the Lord when he went to the temple and offered incense on the altar—something only a priest had the right to do (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). Uzziah’s pride and his contamination of the temple resulted in his having “leprosy until the day he died” (2 Chronicles 26:21)  

Needing to know why Uzziah spent the rest of his life in isolation, the interpreter studies Leviticus 13:46 and does some research on leprosy. Then he compares the use of illness as a punishment in other passages, such as 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Chronicles 16:12; and 21:12-15.

By this time, the exegete understands something important: when the passage says Jotham “did not enter the temple of the LORD,” it means he did not repeat his father’s mistake. Uzziah had proudly usurped the priest’s office; Jotham was more obedient.

The resulting sermon might deal with the Lord’s discipline of His children, with the blessing of total obedience, or with our need to learn from the mistakes of the past rather than repeat them.

Of course, exegesis takes more time than eisegesis. But if we are to be those unashamed workmen “who correctly handle the word of truth,” then we must take the time to truly understand the text. Exegesis is the only way. 

© Copyright 2002-2018 Got Questions Ministries, Dr. Keith Sherlin, ThD, LLD, guest blogger.

Walking Your Faith

Posted on November 3, 2018 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

"What does the Bible mean by `dying to self`?"

Answer: The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the true essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3–7). Not only are Christians born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process. 

Jesus spoke repeatedly to His disciples about taking up their cross (an instrument of death) and following Him. He made it clear that if any would follow Him, they must deny themselves, which means giving up their lives—spiritually, symbolically, and even physically, if necessary. This was a prerequisite for being a follower of Christ, who proclaimed that trying to save our earthly lives would result in our losing our lives in the kingdom. But those who would give up their lives for His sake would find eternal life (Matthew 16:24–25; Mark 8:34–35). Indeed, Jesus even went so far as to say that those who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for Him cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27). 

The rite of baptism expresses the commitment of the believer to die to the old, sinful way of life [Romans 6:4] and be reborn to a new life in Christ. In Christian baptism, the action of being immersed in the water symbolizes dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection. Baptism identifies us with Christ in His death and resurrection, portraying symbolically the whole life of the Christian as a dying to self and living for and in Him who died for us (Galatians 2:20).

Paul explains to the Galatians the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. Paul’s old life, with its propensity to sin and to follow the ways of the world, is dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him. This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or insensible, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, that which pleases God.

Dying to self is never portrayed in Scripture as something optional in the Christian life. It is the reality of the new birth; no one can come to Christ unless he is willing to see his old life crucified with Christ and begin to live anew in obedience to Him. Jesus describes lukewarm followers who try to live partly in the old life and partly in the new as those whom He will spit out (Revelation 3:15–16). That lukewarm condition characterized the church of Laodicea as well as many churches today. Being “lukewarm” is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live for Christ. Death to self is not an option for Christians; it is a choice that leads to eternal life.

© Copyright 2002-2018 Got Questions Ministries. By guest blogger Dr. Keith Sherlin, ThD, LLD

Walking Your Faith

Posted on October 16, 2018 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)


Acts 7:9 “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him.” NKJV 

Gen 50:20 (Joseph speaking to his brothers) “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” NKJV

Loved Ones,

In the seventh chapter of Acts, we see Stephen reminding the Jewish leaders of their spiritual heritage. He recounts the life of Joseph. The most incredible and amazing thing about Joseph's story was that in many hard and difficult circumstances, God was with Joseph to bring him to just the right place at just the right time. God worked this way in the life of Joseph, Moses, and in the life of David. As a matter of fact, almost everyone in the Bible went through difficult times, and yet we see God use these trials to bless them and others.

If God, Who has interacted with people for so long, can craft a plan for Joseph, He can certainly craft a plan for your life. Even as God was able to figure out how to give Abraham a son and land, place Joseph in prominence and power in Egypt, and turn Moses into the deliverer of Israel, God can and will lead you in your life. Trust Him through those hard times. Let me encourage you to learn about Him and follow Him. See the amazing things He will do with a life surrendered to Him and His will.

Walking your faith? God is leading us in our lives. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God,

My life is Yours. Use me for Your good things; to glorify You and bless others. I've had trials and You have seen me through them. I know there will be more and I know that You will deliver me through them into better things. Thank You. I pray this in Jesus' precious name, amen.

Walking Your Faith

Posted on October 12, 2018 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” NKJV

Loved Ones,

Picture, if you will, a line of people. These people are from different backgrounds and families. Only one thing unites them and that is the fact that all are incredibly thirsty. Each of them longs for a cup of cold water. Now, imagine the first in this great line being given a case of ice cold water. With great anticipation, they grab a bottle and begin to quench their overpowering thirst. The dryness and pain that came with the thirst is quickly forgotten as they embrace the refreshing liquid. After enjoying the comforts of the water, the person is then refreshed and ready to pass on this wonderful gift. With great joy, they proceed to hand a bottle of water to the next thirsty soul - and the refreshment continues. 

Friends, this may seem like an odd story, but it sheds light on our place in sharing God's comfort. All of us have endured suffering. Like these people, we ache for refreshment from the pains of life. After a time of wondering when it will end, God pours out His refreshing comfort on our life and we become encouraged. The danger is to stop at this point and miss the secondary blessing. Rather than selfishly holding on to God's comfort, we should share it with those who are still thirsting for relief. As God comforts us in our suffering we are put in the perfect place to comfort others - and the refreshment continues. 

Walking your faith? God is the source of all blessings, comfort and mercy. When we pass on blessings or comfort or mercy, we are becoming more and more like Christ, day by day. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God,

Thank You for the amazing comfort that I find in You. Because of Your love, I have peace with God and forgiveness for all my sins and transgressions. Because of Jesus, I am free from the penalty of sin and no matter what happens on this earth, I will be healed and loved for all eternity. Holy Lord, help me to remember these things and to pass them on to those who are thirsting for Your refreshing comfort. In Jesus' precious name, amen.

Walking Your Faith

Posted on September 23, 2018 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Galatians 1:11 “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.” NKJV

Loved Ones,

The Gospel changes everything. Not only does it change us, but it also unites us with other believers. Many of the differences that may have divided us before, fall away because of the love of Christ. This is why it is so important to meet together in a local church. When we grow in unity with one another, it blesses our life and is a great picture to our community.

Where does this unity come from exactly? Well, we believe similar things, we share close to the same value system in love God, love people. In addition, we believe God created the earth and sky. Many people may think we are different because we have different skin colors, ways of dressing or ways of making a living? But no matter what you look like or how you may have been raised in Jesus, we are called "one body". As the body of Christ, we are a family that seeks to love unconditionally no matter how different we may be.

Walking your faith? When we meet together, we encourage each other with acts of love and good works. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God,

Thank You for Your church. Thank You for bringing me together with brothers and sisters in Christ. While I know I am not perfect, help me to love others equally and to encourage others no matter the differences. In You, the church is united. Please help me to remember that, no matter what. In Jesus' precious name, amen.

Walking Your Faith

Posted on September 22, 2018 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

2 Corinthians 8:2 “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” NLT

Loved Ones,

It's been said that you can tell the spiritual commitment of someone by looking at their day planner and their checkbook. The day planner shows the way they spend their time and the checkbook shows where they invest their resources. As believers, we should be walking generously in both of these areas. While we all understand this truth, it's harder in the application. One of the reasons it is a struggle is because our enemy does not want you to be blessed, and he knows that if you live a generous life, God is going to bless that. Why does God bless the giver? He blesses because He knows we will continue to use His blessings to bless others. This is why giving is more than just a church or ministry funding effort. God uses giving to grow His children. Here are some important truths about giving:

~ Giving is obedience.

~ Giving is rewarded.

~ Giving is worship.

~ Giving is glorifying.

~ Giving is blessed.

After you look at all those descriptions the question remains, "Why not give?" If we can worship the Lord through our finances, then shouldn't we jump on that? If it glorifies God and blesses others, shouldn't that be a priority? Today, let's pray for God to instill in us generous hearts that love to worship Him with our whole life, including our checkbook.

Walking your faith? True joy does not come through what we get, but lasting joy comes through what we give. God encourages us to give. There is great joy in giving.

ABBA, Father God,

Thank You for the many blessings You have granted me. You have blessed me with my life as well as eternal life through Jesus. Help me to live generously with my time and money. Grant me opportunities to love others and support Your work in my community and around the world. In Jesus' precious name, amen.


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