The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Testing of the LORD

Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them” – Judges 3:1

Have you ever asked yourself why has this happened to me? Everyone at one time or the other asks themselves this question. Sometimes the answer is that we are suffering the consequences of our own sinful choices (e.g. Jeremiah 2:19). Difficulties and trials may be the result of spiritual warfare (e.g. Job). Nothing can happen to us that God has not allowed to happen. We may not understand why God allows certain things to happen. And we may not like what He allows to happen. But God is big enough to handle our questions and objections. God is sovereign over all.

There is another source of difficulty that we may find hard to understand or accept. Some testing and trials come from God. That is the testimony of scripture. The book of Judges is a history of God’s people in the Promised Land. In the opening portions of Judges it states: “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan 2 (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), 3 namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. 4 And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.” (Judges 3:1-4)

God had enabled His people to take over the Promised Land and fully occupy it (Joshua 21:43-45). But this passage in Judges tells us that God purposely allowed some of the pagan peoples to remain. These pagan peoples would be the source of trouble for God’s people. But God, fully aware of this, allowed them to remain. Why did God allow these pagan nations to remain? The answer to that question is of great value because it gives us insight into how God ministers to us. The above passage states God allowed these pagan nations to test His people. They would be tested in two ways.

First, God allowed the pagan adversarial nations to remain in order to strengthen His own people (Judges 3:1-3). There was a generation of Israel that had not lived during the conquest. They needed to learn how to fight and defend themselves. God allowed adversaries to remain to serve this purpose. Faith is like a muscle, it needs exercising. A muscle grows only when it is stretched and strained to capacity, even beyond capacity. Then the muscle is fed, nourished and rested. And when restored it will be restored larger and stronger than before the workout.

Do you have an adversary in your life? It may be a person. It may be a circumstance or situation God has allowed in your life. Have you asked God why this is happening to you? It may be that God wants to strengthen you and prepare you for a future task. Why does God allow cults to exist? Perhaps it is that the testing that comes from confrontations with cults is a means for God to strengthen our faith. Enlightenment and understanding comes when we are motivated to study to prepare for ministering to cultists. How many Christians have been motivated to study the word of God in order to be prepared for that inevitable knock on the door from a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon? That atheist or skeptic you know and that is always trying to trip you up with questions may be a tool of God to move you deeper in His word and closer to Him. God uses adversaries to test and strengthen our faith.

Secondly, God allowed the pagan adversarial nations to remain in order to bring us through decision to obedience (Judges 3:4). It states that God allowed these nations to test them, “to know whether they would obey the commandments of the LORD.” It isn’t that God needed to know this. God is omniscient. He knows everything! What God was doing was helping His people know what was in their hearts. It’s easy to talk a good talk, but can you walk the talk?

God’s people were often quick to pay lip service to God. At the end of his life Joshua challenged the people saying, “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15) The people’s immediate response was, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve others gods.” (Joshua 24:16). Then what did the people do? They forsook the Lord! We see this in a repetitive cycle in Judges consisting of sin, suffering consequences of that sin, crying out to God, God delivering the people through a judge, rest and peace, and then the cycle happens all over again. It’s true, talk is cheap!

Why was and is obedience so important to God? Obedience leads to blessing (Deut. 28; Joshua 1:8). God gave the Law and the instruction of His word in order to protect His people from danger. God instructs His people in order to show them the way in which they can experience and maintain a close personal eternal walk with Him. God loves us and He instructs us to show us what is best for us. If He says “No” to something, it is only because what we are intending to do or what we are asking for is harmful for us. He has something better for us. When we disobey we never get God’s best. Obey God and you’ll always get His best.

But there’s another reason why obedience is important. Obedience is a way of expressing our love for God. Love and obedience are connected (cf. Deut. 11:13; 30:20).  Jesus said if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:15, 21).  We can say we love Jesus all we want, but if we are living in sin we prove ourselves liars. You may say you love your spouse, but if you cheat on them and commit adultery in thought or deed how valid or true is your love? Cheating on them breaks your marriage covenant. We can rationalize and excuse ourselves but the reality is still we have broken something precious. It is only through repentance and actual change that reconciliation is possible. Usually that comes through getting caught; through testing. Maybe this teaching is a test for some of you.

God knows what is in our hearts but we don’t (Jeremiah 17:9-10; 1 John 1:8, 10). The heart is deceitful and wicked. We can only know what is really in our heart by looking into the mirror of God’s word (James 1:22-25). God’s word speaks of His testing. It is God’s word that tells us the truth about ourselves (Hebrews 4:12-13). God tests us to bring us to a point of decision. When we choose to obey Him it expresses our true love. When we choose to disobey it exposes false love. God tests us for our own good, to strengthen our faith and show us the truth about ourselves. God’s testing makes a way for us to experience His best.

The psalmist was inspired to write, “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:10-12). Sometimes rich fulfillment only comes through testing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Teach us to Number Our Days – Psalm 90

What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose for which we were created? How can we find meaning in life; satisfaction? What legacy will we leave behind in regard to these questions? These are profound questions every human being ponders at some point in life. In Ecclesiastes it states, “He has put eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God puts such questions in our hearts. These questions are part of God’s prevenient grace, the grace that goes before, the grace of God drawing us to Himself (John 6:44). Psalm 90 addresses such questions.

Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses as one of his prayers. Therefore when we study this Psalm we should keep in mind him and the Pentateuch (i.e. the first five books of the Bible) which he was inspired by God to write. In verse 12 of this Psalm a concluding exhortation is given which says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” How we live our lives is important. That is the crux of this verse. Wisdom is not the mere accumulation of knowledge and facts; it is processing knowledge in a way that solves the problems and questions of life. Moses addresses this question as a prayer to God. This is important. The only way we can answer questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life is by turning to the One who created us, God. Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising to us when Moses begins this Psalm by doing just that.

Moses opens Psalm 90 with the words, “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (90:1-2). Referring to God as “LORD” is significant because it points us back to Moses first encounter with God. In the wilderness God revealed Himself to Moses by way of a burning bush. Moses had been brought up in Egypt for forty years which climaxed with his futile attempt in his own strength to free his people who were in bondage. The result was a murder that caused him to have to flee for his life. The next forty years were spent in the wilderness of Midian as a sheep herder. God gave Moses a lot of time to think about his life and the meaning of it. At eighty years of age God appeared to Moses and called him to be an instrument of liberation for His people. Moses resisted, but God can be pretty persuasive. At one point Moses said to God, “When I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” God’s answer was, “I AM WHO I AM . . . . Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3). “I AM” means I Am eternal and I Am all that I ever need to be. It is a name that expresses God’s eternal nature; He has no beginning or end. It is a name that expresses God’s total sufficiency; He is eternally all He ever needs to be to fulfill His will in all circumstances. That is the name Moses is inspired to use in the opening words of this Psalm. And that eternal sufficiency is what is expressed in these verses. That is why we need to turn to God first when considering questions on the meaning of life.

The next thing Moses does is contrast this eternal God with temporal humanity. He is inspired to write:

 Psalm 90:3-6 - 3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.” 4  For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night. 5  You carry them away like a flood; They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: 6 in the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers.

God is not limited by time. A “thousand years” are nothing to Him; a mere “watch in the night.” God is omnipotent, all powerful and He is Sovereign. God holds our destiny in His hands. “You turn man to destruction. . . .You carry them away like a flood.” Perhaps Moses was reminiscing about when God parted the Red Sea to let His people through and then closing it in on and vanquishing the pursuing Egyptian army (Exodus 14). God is eternal. Humanity is so very temporal and transient, “like grass” that grows and withers so weakly. By making this contrast Moses is subtly pointing out that we humans are very fragile. Our lives are short. Therefore, we need to rise above the mundane present and consider the serious matter of the meaning of life. Before we know it, our end will be here.

The import of considering the meaning of life is amplified by viewing our destiny from the perspective of God as a Sovereign Holy Judge. God is not a deistic distant God who has no interest in the affairs of humanity. He is a Sovereign Royal Overseer who is very much attendant to our lives. Moses continues:

 Psalm 90:7-12 - 7For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. 8 You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. 9  For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh. 10  The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

When Moses speaks of God’s “anger . . . and . . . wrath” he is pointing out that God is providentially involved with us; the way we live matters to God. “Our iniquities . . . our secret sins” are “before” God. He is omniscient or all knowing. Nothing is hidden from God (cf. Heb. 4:13). The way we live can anger Him and cause Him to respond in wrath. We live “seventy . . . eighty years,” and there are some who live those years with no thought of God in “labor and sorrow” and are “soon cut off . . . and fly away.” Life without God is meaningless. Life without God is sinful. Sin separates us from God (Ps. 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; Hab. 1:13). Those who live in sin, separate from God are destined to experience or know the “power of” God’s anger. Those who live in sin are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:1-3). Moses says in light of this, “For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.” In other words we need to live in reverent awe of God who holds such sovereign power over our eternal destinies.

For contemporary eyes the mention of God’s “anger” and “wrath” are often unfamiliar and even unwelcome. Such thoughts don’t jive with the “God” they have conjured with personal opinion. But any view of God that does not depend on God’s own revelation is idolatry. God is not who we say or think He is. God is who He has revealed Himself to be. The prime instrument of God’s self-revealing is His word the Bible. The truth about God is found in His word of truth (John 17:17). These realities may make us uncomfortable, but they are truths we need to factor into our thoughts on the meaning of life. They are not the only factors, but they are factors the wise person needs to consider.  Without the revealed just anger and wrath of God we remove the reason for salvation. When the question arises, “What do we need to be saved from?” We are left to shrug our shoulders. No, God is a just judge and man is appointed to die once and then come before God for judgment (Acts 17:31; Heb. 9:27). This is a reality and we would be wise to consider it.

It’s interesting and important to realize that the awareness of the “anger . . . and  . . . wrath” of God mentioned here by Moses does not drive the inquirer away from God but instead toward God. Moses, in light of this awesome depiction of God and His Sovereign rule over us, goes to God, saying, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We might interpret that to mean, “God, in light of this precarious position we find ourselves in teach us how we should live our relatively short lives. Give us the wisdom to live life in a way that is pleasing to You.” This marks a transition in the Psalm. Moses has laid out the plight of humanity; the problem. He has addressed the wrong way to live life; life characterized by “iniquity” and “secret sins” separate from God.  Now he directs us to the wise solution.

What is the solution to finding meaning, purpose and satisfaction in life? Moses is inspired to write:

 Psalm 90:13-17 - 13 Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. 14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! 15  Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. 16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. 17  And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

The life of iniquity and secret sin inevitably results in distress and misery. There is a penalty for living in sin. If a person lives in sin they reap corruption (Gal. 6:7-9). Living in sin has its own correction and consequences (Jer. 2:19). This is the life principle God has ordained and to which Moses refers to when he says, “according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil.” God allows sin’s consequence. But man’s extremities are God’s opportunities. Turning to the LORD is our only hope.

Moses wonders how long this situation of living under the anger and wrath of God will go on. He turns to the LORD seeking His “compassion.” Moses directs us to turn from our sins to God and seek a change in our relationship with Him. He turns to God knowing and relying on the compassion or consolation of God. God is a God of love. He is Holy, Just, Sovereign and All Powerful, but He is also a God of Holy Love. God is love (1 John 4:8). There is no love like the love of God. Furthermore, Moses points us to God referring to himself and those he represents as “servants.” We need to come before God humbly as servants ready to do whatever He directs us to do. We need to raise the white flag of surrender when we come to God. This is repentance and this is the path to understanding the meaning of life.

Moses cries out, “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy.” Satisfaction and fulfillment are found in God’s mercy. Justice is getting what we deserve. This is what Moses described earlier in the Psalm when he spoke of God’s anger and wrath on the sinner. Now he comes humbly to God seeking God’s “mercy.” Mercy is not getting what we deserve. We deserve condemnation for our sins but God has made a way that we don’t get what we deserve. Here is where we must introduce the work of Christ. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The wages of sin is death; we deserve eternal death; separation from God. But God in His grace has provided a means of escape from that debt of a death penalty for our sins. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Grace is God’s redemption at Christ’s expense. Jesus has gone to the cross and died as our substitute. He paid the penalty for our sins so that when we put our faith in Him and ask God’s forgiveness for our sins based on His work on the cross and His work alone, God has promised to forgive us (John 3; Rom. 6:23; 5:1; 10:9-10). God is a Just Judge. He rules righteously. He does not merely overlook sin. He applies justice in judgment of sin. He forgives our sin by applying justly the righteous payment for our sin by Christ on the cross to our account when we place our faith in Him. This is the only way we can receive God’s mercy and avoid the death penalty we deserve. No one comes to the Father except though Jesus (John 14:6). God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died or us” (Rom. 5:8). “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). That is the doorway we must pass through to begin to understand and experience fulfillment and meaning in life (John 10:7, 9).

Experiencing the loving compassion and mercy of God through faith in Christ leads to fulfillment and purpose in this great salvation. Moses directs the reader to follow this path so, “that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” Joy is not mere happiness; it is ultimately an inner assurance and strength rooted in the inner presence of Jesus. This presence of God in us comes when the Holy Spirit dwells in us to give us new life at our conversion (John 14:26; Rom. 8:9-11).   The words Moses uses here mean literally to shout for joy. When we deal with our sin problem through the gospel of Christ the burden of sin is lifted and we can jump for joy. Do you have this joy of Jesus in you? Have you experienced this meaningful blessing in your life?

Experiencing the compassion and mercy of God in Christ leads to gladness (vs. 15). It results in changed lives that now see life’s meaning in light of God’s work (vs. 16). The meaning of life is found in first focusing on the work God has done; His work in Christ. Life becomes a beautiful thing when we wisely factor in God as the center of it. “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands” (vs. 17). Here is the climax and answer to our questions on meaning in life. The answer to these life questions are rely on God’s work in Christ first, then trust Him to lead you and to “establish the work of our hands for us.” God works in us for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). His pleasure is a good thing. It’s in seeking His pleasure, not our pleasure in life that we find meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in life. Therefore our prayer should be for God to teach this to us and those around us. Our prayer should be, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”







Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cylces of Revival: The Reasons for Revival – Judges 1-2

"and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers" - Judges 2:12a 

The first two chapters of the book of Judges serve as a prologue and lay out for us the basic reasons why revivals are needed. These opening chapters reveal why God’s people went down spiritually and why it was necessary for God to revive them once they repented.

Relying on People – the arm of the flesh - Not God

1     Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” 2 And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.” 3 So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him.

After Joshua died the children of Israel asked the Lord who should go up against the Canaanites first. God said Judah should go up. God didn’t say “Judah and Simeon.” He said, “Judah.” And God said, “I have delivered the land into his hand.” God delivered the land into Judah’s hand, not Judah and Simeon’s hand. The reason I point this out is that the children of Israel did right by seeking direction from God. But they didn’t listen close enough to what God said. God confirmed the land was as good as delivered into the hand of Judah. But Judah leaned on the arm of the flesh in their kin from Simeon. God called Judah. But Judah didn’t have enough faith to rely on God without the help of the arm of the flesh.

We see this happen in ministry when someone feels called to ministry, but then they call around looking for someone to support them financially. The Biblical model for ministry is that those called into ministry should be willing to work. Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). Peter, James and John were fishermen (Mark 1:16, 19). Where God guides God provides. And God often provides by opening the door to employment outside of ministry.

There’s nothing wrong with working outside of ministry to support oneself and family until ministry demands prohibit work outside of the ministry and the ministry is able to financially support the minister. If ministers seek to rely on their ministry (e.g. church) they run the risk of burdening that ministry. Ministers should never be a burden to the ministry they serve in. There is a certain amount of sacrifice and denying of self that comes with ministry. It’s sad to sometimes see that the same entitlement mentality that much of the world has is also seen in the church; in ministry. There is much to be learned, character to be built in ministry and God uses sacrifice to do that. Don’t be cheated of what God wants to do by adopting worldly mindsets (cf. Col. 2:8). The ministry and Christianity should transcend worldliness. That’s because we love the Lord and He provides for us (1 John 2:15-17).

Bi-vocational arrangements often open the door to further ministry. There were certain women who were in Jesus company of disciples who “provided for Him from their substance” (Luke 8:1-3). But nowhere do we see Jesus soliciting for support the way some do in our day. There is a place for missionary support by others than the missionary. But there is also a place for employment to meet one’s needs. God will supply all our needs in Christ (Phil. 4:19).

The first indication that a problem was arising among God’s people was that while the children of Israel sought the Lord about who should march out first to complete the final stage of the conquest of the Land, the first action once a tribe is chosen was to rely on another tribe for help instead of seeking God’s help. Judah is chosen and the first thing Judah does is seek for Simeon to join them in their mission. Yes, this may be taken as unity of tribes. But before unity comes the priority of seeking the Lord and being strengthened by Him. By seeking Simeon first Judah was relying on an arm of the flesh. And when God’s people begin to lean more on the arm of the flesh than God Himself, a revival is needed.

4 Then Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. 5 And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fought against him; and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6 Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7 And Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.” Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

God gave Judah and Judah’s helper Simeon victory over the Canaanites. They captured the notorious Adoni-Bezek, (or literally lord of the place called Bezek) who had cut the thumbs and big toes off of seventy kings he had defeated. Sometimes God works in spite of us.

8 Now the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire. 9 And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who dwelt in the mountains, in the South, and in the lowland. 10 Then Judah went against the Canaanites who dwelt in Hebron. (Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kirjath Arba.) And they killed Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.

11 From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. (The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath Sepher.)

When we rely on human resources we can experience a measure of victory. We may even be able to defeat and enemy. Adoni-Bezek was defeated and justice was served. Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Debir were taken. But still there was a seed of a problem sown that would crop up later.

War in Faith or the Flesh?

12 Then Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.” 13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. 14 Now it happened, when she came to him, that she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you wish?” 15 So she said to him, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

Caleb reminds us of a man who was strong and courageous in faith even in his later years. To marry into Caleb’s family was a great prize and Othniel won that prize. He demonstrated a similar courageous faith as his uncle Caleb had.

Caleb represents the faithful remnant that God always leaves to perpetuate His truth and way. Here God through Caleb is identifying a man of courage and faith, a model to be followed. Caleb warred in faith not the flesh and God blessed him. When people disregard the Caleb’s God puts in place, a revival is needed.

16 Now the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up from the City of Palms with the children of Judah into the Wilderness of Judah, which lies in the South near Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.

The Kenites were not Israelites. They were descendants of Moses’ father in law Jethro (Exodus 18). Jethro had been a pagan priest from Midian. Jethro apparently gave his heart to the LORD while with Moses. But perhaps some of the descendants of Jethro who remained with God’s people continued in their pagan practices. If so, this may have been a detriment to God’s people. God never ordered the eviction of Jethro’s descendants so we can’t be dogmatic about this. But it is a possibility.

An Incomplete Effort

17 And Judah went with his brother Simeon, and they attacked the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the name of the city was called Hormah. 18 Also Judah took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. 19 So the Lord was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron. 20 And they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said. Then he expelled from there the three sons of Anak. 21 But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

God was with Judah and Simeon and they were successful, for the most part. But the first signs of a problem come when we see “but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron” (1:19). God had defeated the chariots of Egypt (Exodus 13-14). In the initial conquest of Canaan led by Joshua Canaanites armed with chariots had been defeated before (Joshua 11). Why not now? It states they had chariots of iron but this wouldn’t have proven insurmountable for the Lord. We are also told that Benjamin “did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem” (1:21).

22 And the house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 So the house of Joseph sent men to spy out Bethel. (The name of the city was formerly Luz.) 24 And when the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they said to him, “Please show us the entrance to the city, and we will show you mercy.” 25 So he showed them the entrance to the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword; but they let the man and all his family go. 26 And the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.

The tribe house of Joseph went up against Bethel/Luz and defeated the city with the help of some reconnaissance from an inhabitant of the city. In payment for his cooperation they showed him mercy. Notice they didn’t seek the Lord’s advice on this. This man and his family it states “went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz” (1:26). Seems harmless enough, until you read in Judges 3:5-6 that the Hittites and the other people groups that were incompletely defeated because a temptation. Israel intermarried with them and “served their gods.”

Incomplete work, even when clothed in mercy, if it does not follow God’s orders, is disobedient and destined for problems. And we see further incomplete efforts from the other tribes as well in the following verses.

27 However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.

29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; so the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

30 Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol; so the Canaanites dwelt among them, and were put under tribute.

31 Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob. 32 So the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.

33 Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh or the inhabitants of Beth Anath; but they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were put under tribute to them.

34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains, for they would not allow them to come down to the valley; 35 and the Amorites were determined to dwell in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim; yet when the strength of the house of Joseph became greater, they were put under tribute.

36 Now the boundary of the Amorites was from the Ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela, and upward.

Manasseh failed to completely drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and others (1:27-28). Ephraim didn’t completely drive out those who dwelt in Gezer (1:29). And the same is true for Zebulun (1:30), Asher (1:31-32), and Naphtali (1:33). The tribe of Dan were forced into the mountains; forced out of a portion of their inheritance. They were successfully resisted by the determined efforts of the Amorites (1:34-35). Anytime the unsaved can successfully resist God’s people it indicates a problem with God’s people. The problem is not with God but with His people.

When the work God gives is done incompletely it is a sign that revival is needed. When God’s people show evidence of weakness or being overcome by their enemies, it is a sign that something is wrong and revival from God is needed to right the wrongs.


2     Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. 2 And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? 3 Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’ ” 4 So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 Then they called the name of that place Bochim; and they sacrificed there to the Lord. 6 And when Joshua had dismissed the people, the children of Israel went each to his own inheritance to possess the land.

Let’s review a bit of how we got to this point:

1.      The downward spiral begins with relying on people (the arm of the flesh) before God (1:3)

2.      It continues with allowing unbelievers to camp with you (1:16f.)

3.      It continues with a lack of faith in God that leads to being unable to drive out the enemy (1:19)

4.      It continues with a lack of drive or passion to care to deal with resident enemies (1:21).

5.      It continues with incomplete efforts to fulfill God’s plans (1:27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33).

6.      And it continues to the point where they were forced out of some of their inheritance (1:34).

What follows is outright evil. It is very dangerous to open the door of disobedience even a crack. When you do, it’s usually not long before whole scale rebellion against God takes over.

The Angel of the LORD in Judges 2 is Jesus in a Christophany. And Jesus points out the problem in no uncertain words. He reminds them of how in Egypt they had been victorious when they relied in faith on Him for victory. He reminded them of the covenant with God and that God had been faithful to keep the covenant (2:1). He reminded them that the covenant stipulated they were not to enter into covenant with the pagan inhabitants of Canaan. Instead they were to pull down their pagan altars. “But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?” (2:2). Why? Because they allowed themselves to grow cold in their faith. They allowed themselves to drift from the Lord and the first step of such drifting was relying on people first instead of God first.

What was the consequence of their lack of faith, their backsliding? Jesus would not drive out the Canaanite enemies but would leave them in place to, “be thorns in your side, and the gods shall be a snare to you” (2:3). 

When the people heard this they cried out to the Lord and wept (2:4). They even named the place “Bochim” or weeping. They sacrificed to the Lord and then were dismissed by Joshua to return to their homes. One wonders if their tears were not more like those of Cain who wept because he lost the inheritance and blessing; he was sorry for his loss but not sorry enough to repent (Hebrews 12:16-17). We see no genuine godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). What we will see is a repeated going down into sin and backsliding from the Lord. And disobedience to God and His word is a sure sign that a revival is needed.

Signs of a Breakdown in the Family

7 So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. 8 Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. 10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.

Joshua their leader died. They buried him. And with his burial was put to rest the knowledge of any relationship with God. It only takes one generation to not be taught to follow the Lord for a people to die out. Joshua and the people were evidently not attentive to or effective in discipling the next generation.

There are no grandchildren in heaven, only children of God. Each person has to decide where they stand with Jesus. Parents are entrusted with a precious stewardship; their children. Children are a gift from God, but He retains the rights to every one of them. He entrusts them to parents to train and disciple so that godly offspring in succeeding generations will perpetuate His glory (cf. Malachi 2:15). Joshua’s generation either failed miserably or the following generation was spiritually disinterested and particularly rebellious against the Lord. Probably a combination in some way.

Perhaps Joshua’s generation assumed that their children would simply absorb the truth of God by osmosis; by seeing the victories wrought in God. Parenting is not a passive task. Parenting must be active; hands on. God through Moses went into great detail about how the family was the center of learning about God; about teaching God’s word and who God is and how people can and should relate to Him (cf. Deuteronomy 6).

When the family unit breaks down in terms of its priority to train children to be godly then revival is needed. Revival restores priorities in the family. How’s your family? Are your children being taught and trained in the ways of God? Does your family need a revival?

Outright Evil

11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals;

The word “evil” (Hebrew rawaw) means evil, displeasing, bad. It comes from the root word rawah which means spoil, breaking to pieces, good for nothing, bad, evil, The children of Israel turned their backs on God and began to serve other gods. They became spiritual adulterers forsaking the love of God for pagan idols. The proliferation of evil is another sure sign that revival is needed.

12 and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.

The word “forsook” (Hebrews awzab) means to loosen, let go, relinquish. They let go of God and took hold of false gods. It’s as though they were anchored and steady in God and simply let go of Him and drifted into idolatry. If you are in the stream of life in order to prevent yourself from being taken with the current of the world you have to be anchored in the Lord. If you let go of that anchor you will drift away from God.

The inclination is to drift away not toward the Lord. That is why it’s so important to have a regular daily quiet time where you meet with the Lord with His open word before you. That quiet time anchors us and keeps us from drifting away. How sad it is when people let go of God. When you do, even for a moment, you will find yourself drifting. You will drift into lukewarmness, chronic negligence of the things of the Lord and then you will be ripe for the enemy to tempt you into some sin. Eventually as you digress in this downward spiral you will find yourself involved with depths of sin you never imagined you would give in to. Beware! Seek the Lord! Repent and be revived!

14 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed.

When we forsake God, He will give us over to the enemy. And on our own before the enemy we will not stand. God did “as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them.” And they were “greatly distressed” (Hebrew yawtsar), pressed into a narrow place, and squeezed into a hard place, vexed. Whenever you turn your back on God life becomes difficult. God loves us enough to discipline us (e.g. Hebrews 12). There is a consequence to sinful choices (Gal. 6:7-9).  

16 Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.

But thanks be to God there is a “nevertheless.” That “nevertheless” points to God’s grace. God is merciful. He makes every effort to revive the backslider. He desires none to perish (2 Peter 3:9). By grace God raised up and raises up judges, people to offer us revival and restoration through.

17 Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so. 18 And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.

If these last verses don’t tell us the story of humanity I don’t know what words do. God is merciful and waits with outstretched arms to receive us back and revive us. We come back, for a little while, and then revert right back to our old ways. And that’s so sad. God “was moved to pity by their groaning” (2:18). “Pity” (Hebrew nawkham) is a sigh, a sad sorry sigh. God’s people, because of their stiff necked and repeated rebellion and return to evil were reduced to groans under the weight of sin. Sin may have pleasure for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but any such pleasure passes and there is hell to pay and pain to experience. This gives God no enjoyment. It grieves Him deeply. He loves us. Like a parent of a prodigal He waits in hope for the return of the one who walks away into prodigal living (e.g. Luke 15).

20 Then the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, 21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, 22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the Lord, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” 23 Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.

God knows the deceitful and depraved nature of our heat (Jeremiah 17:9-10). He knows that tough love is sometimes the only course of redemption. It angers the LORD to see the objects of His affection willfully choose to walk in evil and sin. So God leaves things in our life to test us, prove us, and prove the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:6-9). He will test us to bring us out to rich fulfillment (Psalm 66). It’s a hard life to live and a hard row to hoe when we leave the safety of the Lord and venture out on our own past the parameters of His word. That is our inclination. And the only way to change such a destination is repentance and revival. That is what we’ll see in the book of Judges.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Restoration and Personal Revival

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies; blot out my transgressions” – Psalm 51:1

David was a man after God’s own heart. He was the sweet psalmist of Israel; one who the Spirit revealed incredible truths through in the Psalms. He was an anointed King: one who God defended and led; a victorious warrior for the LORD. But a day came when David slacked off. He didn’t go out to war like he usually would. This led to finding himself in a place he shouldn’t have been where he was exposed to something he should not have seen. It led to a sin that opened the door to some of the darkest days in David’s life (2 Samuel 11 and 12).

David, choosing to remain in his palace instead of going out to battle as was the normal practice of the day, wandered out to his rooftop where he happened to look down and see a beautiful woman bathing. Lust took hold of him. He inquired as to who she was. He was told she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. the Hittite. Uriah was a loyal soldier in David's army. It didn’t matter to David. He had Bathsheba brought to him and he slept with her. She became pregnant. His secret liaison, if it became public, would disgrace him. He began attempts to cover his sin.

When David sinned with Bathsheba his life became a living hell. He had committed adultery. He had impregnated another man’s wife. He risked disgracing his office of king if word ever got out about what he had done. He knew he was wrong. He tried to cover his sin by calling her husband Uriah back home from the front lines of war. He hoped that Uriah would sleep with his wife and no one would know that David was the father of the child. Uriah was too much a man of integrity for that. Therefore, in a carnal act to preserve his reputation David orchestrated the premeditated murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. Then he presented himself as a shoulder for Bathsheba to mourn on. Eventually, with Uriah out of the way, He took Bathsheba to be his wife giving the impression of being a compassionate king. Sin begets more sin. Horrible.

A year went by and while David had duped the world around him, he hadn’t duped God. The guilt of what he had done weighed heavy on him. Finally, after waiting a year for David to come clean it was time for God to act. God revealed the truth to Nathan the prophet who then confronted David. I wonder if it was almost a relief to David at that point. As soon as Nathan confronted David, David repented. And what he was inspired to write in response to his situation is found in Psalm 51. This Psalm is the perfect word on being restored when we have grieved the Holy Spirit of God.

David begins by appealing to the mercy, lovingkindness; the multitude of God’s tender mercies and asks God to blot out his transgressions (51:1). “Lovingkindness” (Hebrew chesed) is an incredible word. It refers to the beauty of God as seen in His holy goodness, kindness and love. God’s “tender mercies” (Hebrew rakham) refers to God’s compassion like a mother’s cherishing the child within her womb. David appeals to the core of who He knows God to be.

David knew he was guilty. What he did was willfully transgress; not only break God’s law but do so rebelliously (i.e. “transgression” Hebrew pehshah). He knew he deserved God’s just punishment. But David also knew that God was merciful. Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. God is loving and His love flows through His mercy. David had a loving relationship with God. He had allowed sin to interfere with that (e.g. Isaiah 59:1-2). Now, exposed for what he had done, he ran back to the God of love he knew.

David hungers for his transgression to be blotted out (51:1). He yearned to be washed and cleansed thoroughly from his “iniquity” (Hebrew awvone) or evil perversity and his “sin” (Hebrew khattawaw) his offense or breaking of God’s holy law (51:2). His sin made David feel dirty. He was stained. He knew only God could remove the filth he had brought into his own life with his lustful and murderous actions.

David also recognized that God’s cleansing began with his acknowledging, admitting; owning up to his sin (51:3). There could be no rationalizations, no excuses, no prevarication or equivocation. David must come humbly and honestly before God in full surrender admitting his sin in truth. David’s sin was “always before me,” like leprosy, like a painful rash, like an indelible mark, a scar. He couldn’t escape it. He couldn’t escape the conviction of the Spirit (e.g. John 16:8-11). His sin haunted this man of God.

“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight – that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (51:4). David knew Nathan was only the mouthpiece of God. He knew his sin, while against Uriah, Bathsheba, and God’s people, was ultimately and primarily against God. And God was just in exposing it and David’s efforts to conceal it. Perhaps if David had come to God sooner and confessed his sin he might have spared himself some of the pain he felt at this point. But David had been hardened and dulled by his sin so that he thought he could get away with it.

David acknowledges his sinful nature (51:5). And he acknowledged that God desires His people, (especially His leaders) to be truthful (51:6). David knew God would “make me to know wisdom” or bring understanding in all of this restorative process. God wants us to be truthful with Him. Really, thinking that we can hide our sin from God exposes a distancing from God. God knows all. “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile” (Psalm 94:11). God is truthful and relates to people on the basis of truth. Truth is essential and necessary if we are to be restored to Him.

God brings to David’s memory the Passover sacrifice (51:7). When the blood of the lamb was put on the doorposts of the homes of God’s people the destroyer would “Passover” and not destroy the firstborn (Exodus 12:23). A hyssop branch was used to smear the doorposts with the blood of the lamb (Exodus 12:22). Hyssop was used to sprinkle the blood of sacrifice on the altar of God. David knew his sin was serious. He knew it would require the blood of a sacrifice to purge, clean and wash away his sin. And he also knew that God would so thoroughly wash away his sin that he would be fully cleansed “whiter than snow” from the filthy stain of his sin. Blood is required to cleanse from sin (Hebrews 9:22). And we know that it is not the blood of animals that cleanses from sin but the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from sin (Hebrews 9 and 10; 1 John 1:7 and 9).

Once cleansed, David seeks restoration with God. He seeks restoration of the joy of the LORD. He likens the guilt and pain of bearing his sin to broken bones (51:8). What was broken was his joy because his sin had separated him from God’s presence (e.g. Psalm 66:18). As David experiences the cleansing from sin he begins to come to his spiritual senses and sees what he has done. He is ashamed that he could have drifted so far from the Lord and into such dark depravity. And so he asks God not to look on his sin. “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” “Lord, don’t look on my sin anymore. Blot it out” David cries. It’s painful for David to think of Holy God looking on his unholy sin.

Then David gets to the heart of restoration with God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (51:10). “Renew my heart Lord!” we can imagine David crying out. David seeks to be restored to what he was before this great sin. He recognizes now that his problem was a heart problem. He had allowed his heart to drift from God. Now he prays for God to erect a right spirit within him (Hebrews koon). David has a heart of repentance and doesn’t want to repeat his sin. He knows only God can help him with that. So David seeks the strengthening of the Lord.

David never wants to be “cast . . . away from” God’s presence again. Never again does he want God to “take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). David is not speaking of losing his salvation. He is speaking about the presence and anointing of God. He could not continue to efectively serve as king without the presence of God and anointing of the Holy Spirit. No leader can effectively serve God without His presence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit” (51:12). “Joy” (Hebrew sawsone) means cheerfulness, gladness, joy, mirth, and rejoicing. “Generous” (Hebrew nawdeeb) means generous, liberal, willing hearted, giving. David comes to God knowing His generosity and grace and asks for God to “restore” (Hebrew shoob), to turn back or return to the beginning and give David a renewed a revived sense of the joy of salvation. This is a call for revival from David to God.

Once revived David will “teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You” (51:13). Renewed and revived in the joy of salvation and anointing of the Spirit, David purposes to minister for the Lord. Delivered from the guilt of bloodshed, saved by God from his sin, David will “sing aloud” of God’s righteousness (51:14). Imagine what it must have been like for this sweet Psalmist of Israel to be muted and living outside the presence of the Lord! David promises to give testimony of God’s mercy and lovingkindness in restoring and reviving Him. “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise” (51:15). David prays for God’s enablement. He can’t wait to sing praises to His Lord again.

In the end David recognizes that the route to restoration and revival is not ritual sacrifice and offering (51:16). If it was, David would gladly give it. No, the Lord has made David “know wisdom” deep within his “hidden part” (v. 6). David has learned, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart” (51:17a). “Broken” (Hebrew shawbar) means literally to burst, break down, break in pieces, break up, and bring to birth, crush, or tear. The word “contrite” (Hebrew dawkaw) means collapse, crouch, contrite. God is looking for a brokenness and collapse of our attempts to prop ourselves up before Him. We must be broken open before God if we are to give birth to restoration and revival of His joy and presence. “These, O God, You will not despise” (51:17b).

As we draw to the close of this great Psalm we see David moves to concern for Zion, God’s holy city and people. His restoration fruit is seen in his concern for others. He drifted from God and indulged a sinful self-centered lust. Now restored by God, he moves from himself to others. He calls for God to “build the walls of Jerusalem” (51:18). He calls for God to continue the building of His work for His city and His people. It is only after a sincere and truthful admission of our sin and humble breaking before the Lord that anything we give to God will be acceptable to Him. Revival is often pronounced with a concern for others.

David’s restoration and own personal revival is evidenced in the final verse of this Psalm. “Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then they shall offer bulls on Your altar” (51:19). The word “pleased” (Hebrew khawfates) means to be inclined to, to bend toward, to be pleased with, to have one’s desire fulfilled, to take delight in. David ends this psalm with an entirely redirected personal worldview. No longer is he caught up in selfish lust. Now he is focused on “Your good pleasure” (51:18) and whether or not “You shall be pleased” (51:19). It’s as though David shares his version of “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31; cf. also Colossians 3:17, 23). The fruit of restoration to God and personal revival will always lead to a harvest of holy living for the glory of God.

Have you sinned your way out of the presence of the Lord? Are you a leader who has lost the anointing of the Spirit because of some sin? David committed adultery and murder, two serious sins. He was able to hide his sin for a time. But all the while his bones and heart were breaking within. With a little help from a faithful prophet, David repented, was restored and revived by God. Don’t hesitate to come clean with God if you’ve sinned. If you are sinning now, if you are committing adultery or worse, repent and God will restore. Come with all your broken pieces in humble submission to God. Life outside the presence of the Lord is brutal. But God is able to wash away your sin and create a clean heart in you. He is able to restore your joy and the anointing of the Spirit. God is merciful, loving, and generous. He waits with open arms. Run to Him.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Passing of Pastor Chuck Smith

Thursday October 3rd, 2013


Dear Brothers, Sisters and Friends of Calvary:

Pastor Chuck Smith, affectionately known as "Pastor Chuck," founding father of the Calvary Chapel movement, has gone home to be with our Lord. He passed away early this morning.

He was an incredible instrument of the Lord and used so mightily. So many owe so much and are so thankful to the Lord for Him. I am one of them. His teachings were used by the Lord to edify and direct my calling as a pastor, to enrich me as a disciple of the Lord. He remains my favorite Bible teacher. I can still remember meeting with him to discuss planting Calvary Chapel of Hope. He was so relaxed, at peace, open, so generous, gracious, encouraging. I can still remember his words to me, a young pastor seeking wisdom and direction for a venture in faith. He was always open to follow the leading of the Lord. He was available and accessable, though a man of many responsibilities. And when it was my turn to speak with him he patiently listened to my circumstances. When all was said and done he said to me, "Go for it!" God used Pastor Chuck to change my life. He has been used by the Lord to change the lives of many, many others, thousands throughout the world.

Pastor Chuck Smith was used by the Lord to bring me closer to the heart of the Lord. Calvary Chapel of Hope is directly connected to the ministry of this teacher of the word of God, man of faith, man of grace, man of Jesus our Lord. He was a pastor to so many. He was always available to patiently listen with a smile and gracious empathetic response. I am so grateful.

Pastor Chuck was always open to a venture in faith. He had a great trust in the Lord. He feared nothing in the strength of the Lord. He faced everything in the Lord. He remained true to the Lord and His word to his final breath. There were no deviations or caving to culture or society that are sometimes seen as people age in their final years. Pastor Chuck Smith was greatly used by the Lord and is a godly example for all to study and follow.

Pastor Chuck was a humble servant hearted man, never lording his God ordained authority (which was immense) over any. He was humble enough to pick up trash on his church campus. He was courageous enough to step out in faith in numerous Spirit led ways to encourage incredible ventures of faith throughout the world. He literally impacted the world for the Lord. Always true to the word of God and the Lord. I'm not the only one he encouraged with the words, "Go for it!"

Pastor Chuck led by example, an example that knew by experience that everything he had and everything he accomplished was a product of God in him not himself alone. To God be the glory! He held whatever the Lord blessed him with with open hands in full submission to however the Lord wanted to use it. He lived for the will of God and to glorify God. May his legacy continue to glorify God through us.

We will miss Pastor Chuck. But our loss is heaven's gain. He is in awe right now as he finally takes in heaven as Jesus welcomes him in. Pastor Chuck, like the Apostle Paul, knew who he believed in and was persuaded that God was able to keep what he had committed to Him until this day. Let's take the baton and carry on to that higher calling of God in Christ Jesus. We can only hope to be used like God used Pastor Chuck.

Please pray for his wife Kay and his family. The joy of the Lord is their strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Be strong in the Lord. God bless you all.

in His service, by His grace, for His glory,

 Pastor Claude

 Pastor Claude T. Stauffer

Calvary Chapel of Hope

803 County Line Road

North Amityville, N.Y. 11701




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