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Our Chapel Ministry

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

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CONSIDER THIS... What did Jesus mean when He said, 'let this cup pass from me'?

In the Garden of Gethsemane, before being betrayed, arrested, and facing the agony of His death, Jesus prays three times to the Father: "…if it be possible, let this cup pass from me …" (Matthew 26:39). The NLT refers to it as "this cup of suffering." The "cup" is a symbolic reference to the suffering and anguish that Jesus was about to endure. Jesus would be required to drink the entirety of the cup, and, knowing how bitter and difficult it would be, He prays to let the cup pass from Him, if at all possible. In the same prayer, Jesus adds, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will," which shows His willingness to fully drink the cup and His total submission to God's will (cf. Philippians 2:8).

The disciples and Jesus had just celebrated Passover in the upper room. Part of that meal includes drinking from four cups. Jesus takes the cup after supper, which is traditionally the third cup and known as the cup of redemption or blessing, and He infuses it with new meaning. He says, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." By using this particular cup as the symbol of the new covenant, Jesus draws on the promise found in Jeremiah 31:31~34. In that passage, God promised a new covenant with His people to replace the one they had broken (the Mosaic covenant). In the new covenant, God promised that, "… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:33). At the Last Supper, Jesus declares that the new covenant would be ratified with His blood. Just as the old covenant required the shedding of blood (Exodus 24:8), so did the new. To purchase our redemption, Jesus had to sacrifice Himself on the cross. It was a bitter cup that He had to drink to save us from our sins. (For another reference to a "cup" as a symbol of suffering, see Mark 10:38~39.)

Jesus' humanity can clearly be seen when He prays, "Let this cup pass from me." The struggle of what He would face was intense, and Jesus was battling the flesh. His wish to bypass the cup "if it be possible" expresses the natural human desire to avoid pain and suffering. Jesus was fully God and fully man (Hebrews 2:17). Being fully divine did not exempt Jesus from experiencing the agony of death. Jesus knew that He would have to be crushed and "pierced for our transgressions" and bruised for our healing (Isaiah 53:5~10). He wanted the Father's will to be done, but His humanity dreaded the scourging, mocking, and physical agony that He would endure, not to mention the guilt He would bear as our sin-bearer. "… The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).

Jesus' request to "let this cup pass from me" was a very human response to the torture that awaited Him. Jesus was not faltering in His decision to do the Father's will. He was committed to completing all that the Father had sent Him to do. Could God's plan of salvation be completed any other way? The events that occurred after this prayer prove that there was no other way. The only way for salvation and redemption to be offered to humanity was for Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice, to fully experience God's judgment against sin. It was impossible for Him to bypass the cup. Despite the torment He endured, Jesus fully drank that bitter cup so that we could be free and forgiven, according to God's will.

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS OurChapelMinistry.US 06252022


1 Peter 1:1 "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia," NKJV

Friends in Christ,

In 1 Peter 1, Peter describes the church at that time as "pilgrims". This could also be translated as "foreigners" or "aliens". The idea is that they are not of this world. In this statement, Peter is affirming an important Truth for all believers. This earth is not our home. When we are turned to Jesus for salvation and are born again, we are born into a new nature. We begin thinking & acting differently. While our bodies may be here on earth, our thoughts are on Heaven where we will one day live. Even our bodies are referred to as "tents" because they are simply temporary dwelling places.

If we are of Heaven, how are we supposed to live in this world? The answer is that we live for God. We invest our time, energy, finances and anything else we have on earth into eternal things. God calls us to enjoy the blessings of this planet, but we should never hold on to them as if they are all we have. When Heaven is in our view, we can give our lives away without fear because we know that no matter what, Heaven waits for us on the other side.

Walking your faith? While Christians may live on earth, our home is in Heaven. Shalom!

ABBA, Father God,

Thank You for the hope of Heaven and the promise of an eternity with You. Help me to remember Heaven is my home so that I can find peace even in difficult times. Lord, please use my time, money and other resources for the Kingdom of God. Today, I desire to live for eternity. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS OurChapelMinistry.US 06182022


Where is the death and resurrection of Messiah prophesied in Hebrew Scriptures?

There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the Messiah Jesus, many involving His death and resurrection. Most of these prophecies were given hundreds or even thousands of years before Jesus was born; yet we see that He fulfilled all of them.

After God created Adam and Eve, they fell prey to Satan's temptation in the Garden of Eden and sinned against their Creator. Even as God handed down judgment for their sin, He gave hope by alluding to One who would "crush" Satan's head (Genesis 3:15). This is the first prophecy of the Messiah, spoken by God Himself.

As we go further into the New Testament, we see a wealth of prophecies about the Messiah, written by different men and spanning thousands of years. If we look back to one of the Jewish patriarchs, Abraham, we see God's promise to establish an everlasting covenant with him in which all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3; 17:19; Matthew 1:1). The prophet Jeremiah declares that the promised Messiah would be a descendant of King David and an heir to his throne (Isaiah 9:7). Isaiah 53 is one of the better-known prophecies that tell of who Jesus is and why He came as the Messiah.

Many Old Testament prophecies give precise details about Jesus' trial and death. For example, the prophet Zechariah speaks of the 30 pieces of silver Judas took when he betrayed Jesus, and which were later used to purchase a potter's field (Zechariah 11:12~13). Isaiah 53:7 says that Jesus would be silent before His accusers. The same chapter also tells of Jesus' burial place, which was among the rich (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57~60). In Amos 8:9, we see a foretelling of the darkness that fell over the earth when Jesus died.

The Old Testament also records many prophecies of Jesus's resurrection. In Psalm 16:10, the writer (King David) proclaims, "… you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption." Isaiah 53 also speaks of Jesus' resurrection: "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11). Other prophecies allude to the fact that the resurrected Christ returned to heaven after His resurrection and rules with God the Father (Psalm 45:6~7; 110:1).

There are many more prophecies throughout the Bible, and we know them to be true and accurate because we can see that Jesus was the only one to fulfill each of them (John 5:39). The prophecies and their fulfillment are one of the strongest evidences that Jesus lived and that He was both fully God and fully man.

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What are some tips to help me memorize Bible verses?

Memorizing Bible verses is a great way to grow in your faith and knowledge of God's Word. The more we learn God's Word, the more we gain His perspective on the circumstances and situations we will face throughout our lives. The psalmist says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). The more we know God's Word, the more readily we will have it available to help us throughout our daily lives.

When you want to memorize a verse, first off, read the surrounding verses or chapter. This will ensure that you understand the context of the verse you wish to memorize, and it may also encourage you to memorize a couple of the surrounding verses. When you know the context of a verse, it provides you with more accurate understanding of it and helps you to value its meaning even more.

Here are some practical ideas you can use to help you memorize Bible verses:

1. Write them out and keep them somewhere visible. Try writing out verses you wish to memorize on small 3"x5" notecards. Keep them in your purse or wallet, or stick them on your mirror or refrigerator. You may want to post them along the edge of your office computer or keep them at your desk. The main point is, keep the Scripture notecards somewhere you will see them often and will be able to commit them to memory.

2. Practice reading and speaking the verses out loud. By doing this, you are not only learning by seeing but also by hearing. Another benefit of speaking verses out loud comes in knowing that when we hear the Word of God, it increases our faith.

3. Meditate on the Word. Psalm 119:15 says, "I meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways" (see also Psalm 1:1~2). When we meditate on something, it means we are focusing and deeply thinking about it. By meditating on God's Word, we better learn how to apply the truths within it to our own lives. Beyond merely memorizing, meditating on the Bible allows God's words to abide in us, transforming us from the inside out (John 15:7).

4. Create something artistic. If you are so inclined, try creating a piece of art or writing a song based around a Bible verse you wish to memorize. Many times, in children's church, kids learn songs that teach them Bible verses with accompanying hand gestures, actions, or dances. The use of creativity to connect with Bible verses can be a great tool in memorization.

These are a few strategies you can try incorporating on your own Bible memorization journey. You do not have to do them alone. 

Try them with a friend or spouse. When you practice memorizing Bible verses with a friend, it generally comes with a discussion of the ideas contained within the verses. Discussion provides additional revelation and helps you to internalize not only the words but the meaning of the verses.

When you memorize Scripture, you may find that the Holy Spirit brings pertinent verses to mind throughout your daily life. If you are praying for a friend, He may remind you of a verse of encouragement you have committed to memory. When you know God's Word, you know His heart and how to approach Him in prayer, according to His will: "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11; see also 1 John 5:14). The Lord will honor your desire to honor Him and memorize His Word. Doing this will help you grow into a mature believer. SHALOM!


CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS 12172021 In what way is peace a fruit of the Holy Spirit?

The fruit of the Spirit, the effects the Holy Spirit has on the life of a believer, generally relate to our relationships with others. Among other characteristics, Galatians 5:22~23 lists love, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness, all of which must be expressed toward an object. It's not enough to be kind in one's heart, one must show kindness to others.

Peace is no exception. Biblical peace is more than the cessation of hostilities. It is harmony, safety, friendliness, and relational tranquility. Humans are incapable of creating such conditions, as five minutes' viewing of any newscast will prove. Only God can establish peace.

The peace of God begins with God's making peace between Himself and mankind. A true state of peace requires the unity of at least two parties. It also requires sacrifice as self-interest is subordinated to the good of the relationship. The peace between men and God is no different. God's contribution was to send Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), to submit His life (Isaiah 53:5). When we repent and respond in faith to the gift of God, He saves us, and peace is born (Romans 5:1).

When two people are at peace with God, they will also be at peace with each other. Jesus told the seventy disciples, "Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you" (Luke 10:5~6). If the owner of the home had peace with God, he would naturally be at peace with God's messenger. Romans 14:13~19 shows that those who value the kingdom of God will live in peace. And Ephesians 2:14 says that Jesus is more than just an example of peace or the bestower of it; He is our peace.

God's peace will guard our hearts and minds during times of trouble (Philippians 4:7). It is a peace unlike anything the world can give and is the antidote to fear and anxiety (John 14:27). John 16:33 says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." Peace with God overshadows conflict in the world.

Romans 8:6 explains exactly where peace comes from: "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." It's "perfect peace," according to Isaiah 26:3. As we allow the Spirit to develop fruit in us, we will have real peace with God and each other. SHALOM!


I'm overwhelmed by the needs of the world; am I too sensitive?

There is a difference between being sensitive to and caring about the needs of the world and being overwhelmed by them; one is healthy while the other isn't. Healthy sensitivity to the needs of the world leads to compassionate action that can help alleviate the struggles and problems that others are dealing with. This becomes unhealthy when it gets to the point of being consistently overwhelmed by the world's needs. This is a sign that you have slipped from compassion into control, believing that fixing and bearing the weight of the world's misery lies primarily on your shoulders. Only God can bear the full weight of the world's needs.

First, being sensitive about the needs of the world is absolutely important. It's good for you to care about the needs of the world, for it shows that you are not exclusively self-focused and are walking as Jesus did. We see the effects of the fall around us every day. The presence of sin in the world opens the door for pain, sorrow, and all types of disasters (Genesis 3:16~19). When we see these struggles, we should be like Jesus; moved with compassion that compels us to action (Matthew 9:36; 14:14). Paul instructs us to "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2), and John tells us that giving to those in need is a sign of God in us: "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" (1 John 3:17; see also James 2:15~16). This does not mean that there are no boundaries in how we give (Deuteronomy 16:17; Matthew 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

In this modern digital age, we are inundated daily with news of all the worst tragedies and issues happening around the world. Now, more than ever, it's easy to fall into the trap of being overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed can lead to overextension and an anxious attempt to control everything; "it's up to me to fix this", or it can lead to under involvement and a false feeling of validation in our own apathy, "what could I do that would make a difference?" Both may feel correct, but neither of these are the best option. As Christians, we need to stay sensitive while maintaining healthy emotional boundaries. It's good to experience sadness over the needs present within the world, but it becomes unhealthy when it gets to the point of feeling hopeless, making us become controlling or apathetic in our response to pain.

Yes, we are to do what we can to be generous toward others with our resources, recognizing that all we have is a gift from God. This is part of what James refers to as "true religion" (James 1:27; see also Proverbs 19:17; Zechariah 7:9~10; Galatians 6:9). We must also remember that, ultimately, God is in control. And if we give in to fear or the feeling of false responsibility, we are essentially trying to take away the control from Him. Jesus promises: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28~30). We are to cast our anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7). As we do what we can to seek justice and help others, we can find peace in knowing that God is the One who will bring ultimate judgment to wrongdoers and justice to the world (Isaiah 1:17; 61:8; 1 Peter 1:17; Job 34:12).

Galatians 6:9~10 says, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." We should do what we can to tangibly express God's love and His justice to our hurting world. We must also remember that the best gift we can give is to share the truth of His gospel; comfort in this world is ultimately meaningless apart from Christ. Let us love in truth and in action, being ambassadors for Christ in the way we live and interact with a hurting world. Rather than be overwhelmed by the needs of our world, let us take them to God in prayer, praising Him for His care and responding to His direction. He is far more sensitive to the needs of the world than we are, and He will one day bring full restoration. SHALOM!


What is biblical hermeneutics?

Biblical hermeneutics is the field of study related to the interpretation of the Scriptures. Because Christians have historically lived based on the teachings of the Bible, and because "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17), a proper interpretation of the Bible's contents is vital. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, the Christian's goal is to "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."

Biblical hermeneutics involves many principles of literature that have developed over time. For example, one principle involves first identifying the genre of that particular passage of study. Genesis included much narrative content. Many of Paul's writings are letters. The Psalms are poetic while the Proverbs are wisdom literature. Each genre is understood in unique ways that help readers better understand the meaning of the particular passage.

Three important guidelines related to biblical hermeneutics include observation, interpretation, and application. Observation focuses on what the text says—the who, what, when, why, and how? Interpretation seeks to understand the meaning of the passage along with various controversies regarding particular passages or topics. Application then applies the original, historic understanding of a biblical passage to a contemporary context.

Of great importance in this process of biblical hermeneutics is to interpret Scripture according to its original setting. This includes the historical context, grammar, genre, literary context, and more. Rather than asking, "What do these words mean to me?" proper biblical hermeneutics first seeks to understand what the passage meant when written. Only after this does the reader or interpreter look to discover how the original intent of the writing applies to one's own personal context.

In more recent years, postmodern literary theory has attacked this historic biblical hermeneutic, emphasizing "reader response" more than or instead of the author's original intent. While application and human emotion are important elements to spiritual growth, this does not negate the importance of understanding Scripture from its original perspective. Both inductive study as well as modern application must serve as part of a healthy biblical hermeneutic.

Finally, a biblical hermeneutic is of great importance because of the power of the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 teaches, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Scripture offers much power for those who would study its contents and look to apply its principles to their lives today. SHALOM!

CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: What is the importance of daily prayer in the life of a Christian?

A Christian's relationship with God is, in some ways, just like other relationships. We spend time with those we value. The more time we spend together, the closer we become.

The more importance you place on your relationship with God, the more time you will want to spend with Him, learning about Him, sharing your praises of Him, telling Him what is on your mind, asking Him for wisdom and help, interceding for others, and learning from Him.

Praying is a cornerstone of the Christian life because God tells us in the Bible that He wants to be known. Praying is acknowledging His presence in your life and growing your relationship with Him.

Praying is found throughout the Bible, from Adam and Eve conversing with God in the garden of Eden, through John receiving revelation from Jesus. God expects us to call out to Him. Christians should be conversing with God throughout the day and night as we go about life (1 Thessalonians 5:16~18; Ephesians 6:18) and at times that are specifically set aside to pray to Him (Matthew 6:5~6). It may look different for each Christian and each day, but we are called to daily prayer.

When you pray, you may start by acknowledging who God is, the Creator of the Universe (Genesis 1), the one who holds all things together even now (Colossians 1:17). He is the one who initiated a relationship with you and rescued you. Colossians 1:13~14 says, "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." It is because of Jesus that we have access to God through prayer (Hebrews 4:14~16; 10:19~23).

When you pray, you can tell God what is concerning you, allow Him to speak to you about it and to take any burden from you. 

First Peter 5:6~7 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." Philippians 4:6~7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." We can daily give God our concerns and trust Him to care for us.

When you pray, you should confess any sin or shortcoming that may hinder your fellowship with God. First John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." James 5:16 talks about confessing our sins to one another and praying for each other.

When you pray, you can tell God how grateful you are for what He has done in your life. There are several psalms that show God's enduring love and action. For example, Psalm 118 repeats this refrain: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"

When we pray, we acknowledge who God is, we fellowship with Him to build intimacy, we cede control of our lives to God and gain peace. These are things we should do daily.

Philippians 4:4~7 offers us a template for prayer: rejoice, do not worry, give thanks, ask, and receive: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Prayer is one way of drawing near to God. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us (James 4:7~8). Praying is also part of the spiritual armor God gives us (Ephesians 6:10~18). Prayer is a privilege and a tool God has given us that we may be in communion with Him.

With all these benefits of praying, maybe the better question is why not pray every day? SHALOM!

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).


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!


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).


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).



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.