Today we are praying for the country of Haiti. Please help us lift up this nation to the Lord today. You can follow the two links below to learn more about the nation and its unreached people groups. You can watch the video below to help guide you in your prayers.
Please take time to meditate on the devotion for today as well.
Please pray for the nation of Haiti by joining in prayer with the video below.
Today's Devotional Thought
Where is the Glory? Part 2
1 Samuel 4:12-22
Eli knew his sons didn’t have priestly character or convictions, but he appointed them to serve as priests of Israel anyway. He heard the bad reports from the people about the evil behavior and profane acts of his sons in the sanctuary, but he made only feeble efforts to restrain them. And even though God warned him to get his house in order or certain judgment would soon come, Eli still did nothing.
Then the Philistines came and killed 4,000 of Israel’s best in the battle. Then the leaders of the army decided they lost because they didn’t have the Ark of the Covenant with them on the battlefield. Then they sent word for Hophni and Phinehas to bring the Ark to the battle. Then the Philistines killed 30,000 more of Israel’s finest, and they killed the two sons of Eli, and they took the Ark of the Covenant. Then the messenger came from the battlefield with the bad news. Then when he heard the bad news, Eli fell from his stool and broke his neck. Then his daughter-in-law went into labor and gave birth to a son. Then just before she died she named her son “Ichabod”. The name means “the glory is departed.” It can also be stated as a question, “Where is the glory?”
Last time we answered the question, “What is the glory?” God’s manifest glory is the self-manifestation by God of His divine presence, divine personality and divine power to His people. We can’t cause it, command it or control it. It’s a sovereign outpouring of God’s providential grace. However, if the gracious self-manifestation of God’s glory is diminished in our lives or has departed from our church, we should know that nothing will change until we change our attitudes and our actions. It’s at the place where providential grace and human preparation through repentance and prayer come together that we can see the outpouring of God’s glory and power again.
Today I want to answer the question of Eli’s daughter-in-law: Where is the glory? Like Israel in the final days of Eli, if we find ourselves spiritually anemic so that the power of God is missing in our worship, in our walk, in our witness and in our work for God, we need to stop and ask ourselves: “Where is the glory? What happened to us?”
This sad story of Eli and his sons reminds us that God will not manifest His glorious presence, personality and power to or through an unholy person or an unholy people. It reminds us that un-confessed and persistent sin blocks the manifest glory of God on us and through us. So, let’s quickly walk through this sad story together to discover the types of sin that can forfeit the manifest glory of God in our midst.
The first sin is pride. Take a moment to read 1 Samuel 2:12-17. . . . Hophni and Phinehas let their position go to their heads. They acted in pride by placing themselves above the law of God. They sent their servants to take the best pieces of meat from the animal sacrifices before the people offered them to God. And if the people refused to cooperate, the servants took the meat by force. And as a result, the people dreaded going to God’s house to offer their sacrifices and worship the Lord.
Eli knew that his sons were corrupt and dishonest. He knew they didn’t know the Lord. And in verse 29 of chapter 2, through a prophet God warned Eli, “But you honor your sons instead of me! You don’t respect the sacrifices and offerings that are brought to Me, and you’ve all gotten fat from eating the best parts” (CEV).
That’s spiritual pride and arrogance at work, folks. Like Eli, sometimes we’d rather save face with men and be red-faced before God, than to deal with sin in the church. And like Eli’s sons, we can feel spiritually fat and sassy when we are really morally bankrupt and spiritually empty. Pride will make us feel right when we are so very wrong. Pride will make us pat ourselves on the back when we should be kicking ourselves in the seat of the pants. May God deliver us from this kind of sinful pride and arrogance. Let’s try humility instead of pride.
The second sin is permissiveness. It’s the “anything goes” and “nothing is ever wrong” attitude that is so prevalent in the church today. Now look at 1 Samuel 2:22-25. . . . Can you believe it? Hophni and Phinehas profaned the house of God by perverting some of the women who came there to worship. And they refused to listen to the voice of their father or the concerns of the people. Their motto was “Whatever feels good, do it!”
And what were the consequences? According to chapter 3, verses 12-14, through Samuel God warned Eli, “In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
O my soul! Eli’s sons made themselves vile before God through their permissive and promiscuous behavior. And though Eli gave them a little talk about it, he didn’t remove them from their service as priests. And in the end, God said enough is enough and declared that no sacrifice or offering would ever be sufficient to atone for the iniquity of Eli’s house. So, Hophni and Phinehas weren’t just doing as boys will do? They weren’t just sowing some wild oats while they were young?
May God help us see that sowing our wild oats today will bring us a harvest of bad consequences tomorrow. May God help us see that our position in the church on Sunday doesn’t free us to live like the devil Monday through Saturday. And may God help us understand that when we live like the devil Monday through Saturday out there, we won’t see the glory of God in the church house on Sunday. May God help us see today that an “anything goes, everything is okay, nothing is really sin anymore” attitude will make the church powerless and leave the church wondering, “Where is the glory?”
A third sin that can forfeit God’s glory is presumption. Look at 1 Samuel 4:1-5; 10-11. . . . Israel made the great mistake of presuming that God would bless in the present because He had blessed them in the past. They presumed that carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the battle would guarantee God’s victory in the battle. They presumed that the symbol of God’s power and presence would guarantee God’s presence and power with them. They didn’t humble themselves. They didn’t pray about it. They didn’t seek God’s face. They didn’t turn from their wicked ways and deal with their sin. They didn’t ask Samuel the prophet about it. They just presumed that God would bless in the present because He had in the past. They presumed that God would wink at their sin because they were winking at their sin and refusing to deal with it. Not!
May God remind us today that we dare not presume upon God’s grace and goodness. Yesterday’s victory doesn’t guarantee victory today. God doesn’t read our history. God looks at our heart. Rehearsing the blessings of years gone by will not open the windows of heaven for the church today. If we don’t pay the price today, we won’t enjoy the blessing today. If we don’t seek God today, we won’t find Him today. If we don’t pray today, we won’t receive today. If we don’t repent today, we won’t be restored today. If we don’t prepare today, we won’t see God’s glory today. Hey, church, we can’t presume that God will show up today just because He came down in glory and power last Sunday or last year or ten years ago. If we presume, we will lose!
Now, the last sin I want to mention is procrastination. Look at 1 Samuel 3:19 – 4:1. . . . Despite Israel’s great sins, God gave them a ray of hope through Samuel. A word from God was rare, but now God was speaking through Samuel. All Israel knew Samuel was a prophet of God, and all Israel heard his word. However, all Israel put off and put off and put off responding to the Word of God through Samuel until it was too late. And as a result, God withdrew the manifestation of His glory and Israel didn’t even know it, until they lost 30,000 men and the Ark of the Covenant in battle with the Philistines.
In the same way, many churches today have not seen the glory of God manifest in their midst for years and years, but they don’t even know that something is missing. God stopped speaking years ago, but they can’t see it. And, if we put off until tomorrow what God expects us to deal with today, we too could lose the most precious thing we need—the outpouring of God’s glory on us and through us. God could stop speaking and we wouldn’t realize it. God could stop showing up and we wouldn’t miss it. Then, like Israel, someday some tragedy will awaken us and we’ll be left crying out, “Where is the glory? What happened to us?”
Listen to the preacher! The devil is the author of procrastination. The devil never tells us, “Don’t do it!” The devil always says, “Put it off.” We’re smarter than that. We can’t behave like Hophni and Phinehas and Eli and Israel. We know better than that. God has spoken, and we must respond. God has warned us, and we must act. We can’t put off until tomorrow what we must do today. We must deal with any pride, permissiveness, promiscuity, presumption, procrastination or any other sin that God has spoken to us about. We must humble ourselves, and pray, and seek the face of God and turn from our wicked ways. We must confess our sins and claim God’s promise of cleansing and forgiveness. And we must do it now!
Until next time....
Gene Pickern has been a pastor and missionary for more than 40 years. He was the first pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Atmore, AL, served as a missionary with the IMB to the Dominican Republic, and currently pastors Beulah Church in Millsap, TX.
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