Praise to God for a living hope - James Bell

I am privileged to talk with many of our young men and women each week, who are the guardians of our freedom and our very lives.

These are the soldiers of our armed forces, both men and women, young and middle-aged, some just enlisted in the army and are headed for basic training, others are already veterans of battles in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now returning to their units there.

They all have one thing in common: They are proud of their country and are confident they can do whatever is required to defend our way of life.

I thank them for the job they are doing and tell them we citizens are proud of them and want them to know we do appreciate their sacrifice and service for our nation and our way of life.

I tell them we stand behind them and try to help them in the small ways we can, and that we love them and support them with our prayers. They are always thankful to know that we do pray for them and are their supporters and encouragers.

As a volunteer chaplain and a Korean War veteran, I immediately identify with our soldiers, as one who knows, at least, some of the things they are faced with -- and we easily establish a mutual bond of respect.

They are accustomed to talking with chaplains and know we are going to share a word from the Lord with them. I tell them the Lord loves them and wants to have a relationship with them. I can tell by their interest in what I am saying that they do have a hope in the Lord, although many of them, while they basically believe in God, do not know Him as their personal Savior

I have often thought it a little severe to ask them a question about dying, because of the real dangers they face daily, but they don't seem to mind. I tell them I would like to ask them a serious question if that would be alright.

They agree, and I say, "Now, we know this won't happen, but suppose you died tonight and you stood before God and He said to you, 'Why should I let you into my Heaven?' What would you say?"

I get all sorts of answers, from "I don't have a clue," to many "works" answers, revealing that they believe one can get into Heaven through good works.

I'm quick to tell them God would never ask them this question, because He already Knows the answer. What He requires to get into Heaven is a relationship with Him. I say, "As a chaplain, we say it's as easy as A-B-C to meet this requirement: A-we must admit our sin; B-we must believe in God; and C-we must confess our sins.

I ask them if they would pray a short prayer with me, asking God to forgive them, and so establish a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. Most agree and pray with me.

In 1st Peter 1:3-5, the Bible says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in Heaven for you, who by faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation, that is to be revealed in the last time."

This is a wonderful hope that all Christians have, and I am very happy to share it with everyone I can-even to any lost person who might read this article.

If you are not a Christian, will you put your faith in Jesus Christ and pray to receive Him as your Savior today?

I pray you will.