Text: 1 Samuel Chapter 4
I've been in many churches while going through school. I was a pulpit supply pastor for several years while in Bible College, and had the opportunity to visit many churches of various kinds. Some churches were alive, and some churches were dead. In some churches the glory of God was evident, and in some, there was a deadness where it could be said that the glory of the Lord had departed.
A church without God's Glory is an empty church, no matter how many people attend.
I. God's Glory Departs When our Leadership is Compromised.
A. Lacking Character
- When the leadership becomes ungodly, the church follows not long thereafter. God will not honor ungodly leadership with His presence.
* I saw an interesting political cartoon the other day in the paper. John Tower was on the witness stand and was asked:
"What would you do if we rejected your nomination on the grounds that you're a boozing womanizer?"
His reply: "Move to Massachusetts and run for the U.S. Senate."
While acceptable moral standards may vary from state to state, the standards of moral conduct have never changed with God.
*When wealth is lost, nothing is lost;
When health is lost, something is lost;
When character is lost, all is lost.
-- Anonymous, Quoted by Ted W. Engstrom in Integrity.
* It is better to live for Christ than to wish you had.
- PULPIT HELPS, July, 1991
B. Lacking Control
- We lack control when God is not in control. When self is on the throne, there is total abandon to what pleases the self. When God is on the throne, then there is abandon to what pleases God.
*We live under the illusion that if we can acquire complete control, we can understand God, or we can write the great American novel. But the only way we can brush against the hem of the Lord, or hope to be part of the creative process, is to have the courage, the faith, to abandon control. For the opposite of sin is faith, and never virtue, and we live in a world which believes that self-control can make us virtuous. But that's not how it works.
-- Madeleine L'Engle in Walking on Water. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 4.
II. God's Glory Departs When Our Worship is Compromised.
A. Superficial Action
- Going through the motions, and trying to manipulate God.
· Words only salvation
· Working for grace
· The total method mentality (it is not about programs but what is behind the programs.
B. Superficial Adoration
- Looking to the hand of God instead of looking to the heart of God.
* Years ago, Hollywood made a movie called Cipher in the Snow. A cipher is a "nothing," or a zero. This movie told a true story about a little boy who got off a school bus and fell dead in the snow. The remainder of the movie was an investigation into the cause of his death. Investigators soon learned the boy's favorite teacher didn't even know his name. They later learned his parents really didn't love him. In fact, when the boy's parents were told about his death, the father simply commented, "Well, he's probably better off dead, anyway." Other students at the boy's school didn't really like him and made fun of him all the time. When the autopsy report revealed no physical reason for the boy's death, the medical examiner concluded that he literally died from a lack of love.
- Randy Brantley, "Speaking to Youth," Proclaim, (Nashville: Sunday School Board, Oct-Dec, 1996) 18-19
III. God's Glory Departs When Our Testimony is Compromised.
A. No witness to who God is
- Unable to give witness to someone you don't know. The church takes place of the person. The impersonal replaces the relational.
B. No witness to personal connection
- An empty profession is like saying you know a movie star because you think it will impress someone and finding out someone else really does know them and exposes you by questions relating to the star that you can't answer. (I've Got Connections!)
IV. God's Glory Departs When Our Beliefs Are Compromised.
A. Our beliefs about God
- Not understanding the greatness of God.
- Downsizing God. God in a box (the ark)
*A seeker asked a Christian: "Say, what do you believe about God?"
"I believe what my church believes," said the Christian.
"And what does your CHURCH believe?" asked the seeker.
"My church believes what I believe," said the Christian.
"And what do you AND your church believe?" asked the seeker.
"Why, we both believe the same thing!" said the Christian.
*After hearing his Dad preach on "Justification, "Sanctification," and all the other "ations", a minister's son felt suitably prepared when his Sunday School teacher asked if anybody knew what "PROCRASTINATION" meant.
"I'm not exactly sure what it means," he said, "but I know our church believes in it!"
B. Our belief in God
- Trusting in the functions of a machine, or trusting in a person.
*Michael Faraday, the great scientist, was taken ill. When it became evident that the sickness that had fastened itself upon him would soon result in his death, a group of fellow scientists
came to see him--not so much to talk about science as to talk
One of them said to him: "Mr. Faraday, what are your
speculations about your future?" With evident surprise to them
he replied: "Speculations! I have none. I am resting on
certainities." Then he quoted II Tim. 1:12: "For I know whom I
have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that
which I have committed unto him against that day." ("Choice Illus." W.W. Clay pg. 63)
Where is the glory of God to be found? It is to be found in churches where leadership is under the hand of god; Godly men who yield themselves to His control.
It is to be found in churches where worship goes more than skin deep, and true adoration that follows after the heart of god is experienced.
God's glory is to be found in churches where people really know God and can give testimony of a knowledge of who God is, not only because of what they hear others say about God, but because of a personal knowledge of who God his from a personal connection with him.
It is where the truth of God and his grace are proclaimed, and those truths give birth to faith in a loving God who is faithful to those who enter into a profound and life changing relationship with Him.