Today we are praying for the country of The Dominican Republic. 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.
Also, we are including a devotion from a source beside myself this week: Gene Pickern. This is a new development. In the coming weeks and months we will be introducing devotions/articles from new contributors. Some of these contributors are pastors, former missionaries, and current missionaries (some in very hostile nations). I know that you are going to benefit greatly from these additional contributors!
Please pray for the nation of the DR by joining in prayer with the video below.
Today's Devotional Thought
What is the Glory?
1 Samuel 4:19-22
1 Samuel 4:19-22 says, “Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, ‘Do not fear, for you have borne a son.’ But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, ‘The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.’”
Even though he knew they were not priestly material, and though they didn’t have priestly character or convictions, Eli appointed his two sons to serve as priests for Israel. Even though God warned him through Samuel to get his house in order or sure judgment would come, Eli did nothing. And in the end, the Philistines defeated God’s people, took the Ark of the Covenant, and killed Eli’s sons. Then when the bad news came, Eli fell from his stool and broke his neck, and his daughter-in-law went into labor. Eli’s daughter-in-law died giving birth to her son, but she was able to name her son just before her death. The name she gave him commemorated the tragic circumstances surrounding his birth. She named him “Ichabod”. It means, “The glory is departed”. The meaning can also be expressed in this question: “Where is the glory?”
In this post and a couple to follow, I want to answer the following three questions that are rooted in this tragic story of Ichabod: What is the glory? Where is the glory? When will the glory return? This time I want to answer the first question: What is the glory?
To check whether the glory has departed from our lives and to know for sure when the glory of God returns, we need to know what it is. If we hope to experience God’s glory in new ways, we need to know what it is so we’ll know it when we see it again. This is my definition: God’s glory is the self-manifestation of His divine presence, divine personality and divine power. Note carefully that God’s glory is His own personal self-manifestation. It is not what we discover of God on our own, but it’s what God chooses to reveal of Himself to us.
For example, King Uzziah had died. The nation was mourning. Isaiah needed some answers. He went to the temple to pray. He expected to pray and go home as he had many times before. Please open your Bible and read Isaiah 6:1-8 to get the story. Don’t assume you remember the details! Read it again now like it’s the first time.
Isaiah saw the Lord that day in the temple only because God chose to pull back the curtain of glory and give the prophet a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. In verse one we see the self-manifestation of God’s holy presence. Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on the throne of glory and the train of His robe filling the temple on earth.
In verse two we see the self-manifestation of God’s holy personality and purity. The seraphim cried out: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” And according to the Revelation of John, the hosts of heaven at this very moment never cease to sing and shout: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is and is to come.”
Then in verse four we see the self-manifestation of God’s holy power. According to Isaiah, “the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.”
So, here’s the bottom line. The self-manifestation of God’s glory is a holy visitation by Almighty God Himself. God’s glory is Holy God choosing to reveal Himself to unholy man. And this kind of holy visitation is the result of divine providence, not human manipulation. Isaiah never expected what he got in the temple that day. He went to the temple to pray, not to peek into the throne room of glory. He went to pour out his grief to God, never expecting to see the glory of God as he did. But God graciously chose to reveal Himself to Isaiah. Isaiah didn’t deserve it. God just did it!
We should always remember that the self-manifestation of God’s glory is a sovereign act of providential grace. We can’t cause it. We can’t command it. We can’t conjure it up. And when God chooses to come down in His manifest glory we won’t be able to control it. And if we don’t want it unless we can control it, we’ll never see it!
But there’s another side to the coin. A holy visitation by Almighty God Himself is the result of divine providence, but it is also the result of human preparation. Though we can’t cause it, and we can’t command it, and we can’t control where, when, what or why it happens, we can be sure it won’t happen unless we prepare for it. Uzziah had died. Isaiah was desperate for help and direction. He went to the temple prepared to pray and seek God. And God chose to show up in a totally unexpected and new way.
Don’t miss this! God manifests His glory in the place where human preparation and divine providence come together. We could look at a bunch of other examples, but let’s take a peek at just one.
To save space in the blogosphere, please get your Bible and read the following sections: 2 Chronicles 5, verses 1-3; verses 6-7; verse 12-13, and 2 Chronicles 7, verses 1-3.
I hope you see it. A holy visitation by Almighty God is an act of divine providential grace that we cannot cause or control, but it’s also a result of human preparation. I don’t think Isaiah would have seen God’s glory in the temple that day had he not come hungry and desperate and prepared to seek God with his whole heart. And I don’t think Solomon and his people would have seen the glory of God fill the temple had they not completed all the preparations required by the Lord.
So how do we prepare? What’s our part? 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us: “If My people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” That’s it! Will you do it?
A lot of products we buy today have warning labels: Could be hazardous for your health, dangerous for the eyes, small parts that can easily be swallowed by small children, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery while taking this medication because you might injure yourself or kill someone else in the process, etc.
I feel like this call to seek the glory of God needs a warning label. When Isaiah saw God as He really is in all of His resplendent glory, the prophet also saw himself as he really was in his sinful state before Holy God. A holy visitation by Almighty God that gives us a true vision of Holy God will always magnify man’s un-holiness before God.
We sing: “Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch Him and say that we love Him. Open our ears Lord and help us to listen; open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus.” But do we really? If we see Jesus as holy as He really is, we will also see ourselves as unholy as we really are before Him. Do we really want that? If it means seeing yourself as you really are, do you really want to see Jesus as He really is?
When Isaiah saw the Lord, he didn’t shout the victory and jump the pews and swing from temple chandeliers. He fell on his face crying out in repentance: “Woe is me, for I am undone!” We may get to the singing and shouting and jumping the pews and dancing in the isles later, but I’m pretty sure that when God shows up in His manifest glory, our first response will be to fall on our face and cry out to God for mercy. Are you ready for that? With the warning clearly given, will you dare humble yourself before God, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from your wicked ways, and cry out for Him to show us His manifest glory again?
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.
Please pray and share!