• The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. God became Man for no other purpose (C. S Lewis)
  • Until divine love becomes our centre, until love is our organizing principle for living and our compelling energy for relating, we will live to protect ourselves from others or to preserve ourselves through others (Larry Crabb)
  • A wife who is 85% faithful to her husband is not faithful at all. There is no such thing as part-time loyalty to Jesus Christ (Vance Havner)
  • The word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart, but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind (C. Sproul)
  • To trust God in the light is nothing, but trust him in the dark that is faith (C.H. Spurgeon)
  • When you lose our sense of God, we inevitably exaggerate our sense of self (Ray Ortund)


Text: 1 Samuel 4: 1 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel. Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god ha] come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.


One of the foundational core beliefs is on who we are in relation to God and who He is to us.  A person with a clear revelation of who God is, is not subject to cultural forces. Knowing that God who creates a hunger in us to seek him, has a strategy to give us divine power, the Holy Spirit who leads, guides, counsels and teaches, is great security. To be unsure of who God is makes people experience powerlessness, which induces experiences of self-dehumanization. Powerlessness makes people have poor self-perception, and view others as a threat. Relationships with God run on the same line with relationships with His word.  That may explain why God’s call to Abraham was to give up his past, his knowledge, his future and allow God to show him ((Genesis 12:1-2).  It is worth noting that ‘what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse’ (Romans 1:19-20). The word of God known, believed, and acted on is what makes a person not allow infiltration by what is around one.  The beliefs of a people whose knowledge of God is dependent on their performance can influence others and so they keep getting pulled away from what they should know and worship.  How do we explain that a people who have experienced God’s presence sliding into where they take His goodness, love and mercy for granted?




A community of God’s people becomes so helpless that they normalize ungodly acts of those in charge and assume that God understands it Wickedness that was expressed through greed, immorality, abuse of the weak and disrespect of people: that was the lifestyle of the sons of priest Eli. ‘Now the sons of Eli were [worthless men; they did not know the Lord . . . the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the LORD. . .  Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. (1 Samuel 2: 12- 17, 22-25). They seem to have taken God for granted and would use him as an instrument that you turn on and off.  When the battle came, as was expected, the priest led and sounded the trumpet.  ‘So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.” (Joshua 6; (2 Chronicles 13:12). The army of God experienced shame and embarrassment as they experienced a very serious defeat. They assumed that by taking the ark of the Lord, God’s presence would make a difference.

Let me use a story because we know instinctively all of us are in our own story ourselves. Four decades ago, I presented myself to the traffic police, a third time for a driving test. The first time, I did not get to the car because I reversed the toy car onto a main road. The next time, I qualified for the road test but could not make a three-point turn. As a way of starting a conversation, I told my examining police officer that my hope was on the Living God and that I was willing to keep being examined until God enabled me to do what is required. That led the officer to ask whether I was one of the born again. That led him to share about Christians who carried weapons in church and would not worship without the police. He went on to say that the police had deep respect for serious Christians. He said that once they realised one was sincere, they knew that person could not bribe and so they wanted to have them get their license so that they do not collide with God. The Police officer said that many who claimed to be ‘born again’ just needed to fail the first test and they went looking for how to give the ‘bribe’. That, he explained, was the reason to be sure about the commitment to the faith.

It is important to know that God’s majesty and authority cannot be minimized or obscured because those who claim to know cave in to their fears and human desires.




The Philistines were shaken on realizing that God could be in the midst of his people. ‘The Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness’ (1 Samuel 4:8). What outsiders heard seems to have had little impact on the ones who experienced it. Remember how Joshua and Caleb were mishandled for giving a report that indicated God would lead the people. In Numbers chapter 13 and 14, ‘Ten said no there are giants in the land, two said go, God will lead us by the hand’. At that time Rahab the prostitute was confessing, ‘We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed’ (Joshua 2:10).


Carnal living – ‘Carnality refers to the flesh as opposed to the pneuma, “spirit,” and denotes, in an ethical sense, mere human nature, the lower side of man as apart from the Divine influence, and therefore estranged from God and prone to sin’. A carnal person is controlled or dominated by his or her bodily appetites.  It is possible to know God’s word, act on it and still be carnal because some beliefs are intertwined. You are active in bible study, have quiet time, preach and share the gospel with others who turn to the faith while at the same time listening and believing all the complaints about the boss, envious, entertaining anger and bitterness., etc. Some additional examples of carnal living could include complaints about salary, political activism that puts trust in the governing systems, jealousy, ambition for a reputation, pervasive life-long pattern of self- centerdness, grandiosity and other narcissistic traits. Sacraments and rituals of the systems/church, though important, cannot make up for lives not fully surrendered to God. Carnal living can be so shared among people that it looks normal.  That is how people start underestimating who God is, probably acting on Jonah’s realization that God is slow to anger and abounding in love ((Jonah 4:1). It is possible to assume that slowness is being deaf, blind and dumb and so the human beings are the ones who choose to turn Him on when they need Him.


Assuming God can be contained in a box, building or system – The joy the people expressed at the sight of the ark of the covenant revealed their assumption, that God so loved them that He would not allow them to be humiliated by their enemies. To assume that when the struggle shows up is the time for fasting, increased church attendance, saying lengthy prayers, tithing and increasing ‘good works’ as a way of winning God’s favor is a sign that you do not know Him.  These activities are very good but cannot make up for a life of total submission to the lordship of Christ.  A.W. Pink says that thousands of people are deceived into supposing that they have ‘accepted Christ’ as their ‘Savior”.  While they have not received Him as Lord. He explains that the Son of man did not come to save His people in their sin but from their sin (Matthew 1:21). To be saved from sins is to be saved from ignoring and despising the authority of God. It is forsaking, dying to self-will and surrendering to God’s authority. To be active in ‘ministry’ without yielding to the dominion of God is to fail to know who God is.  Taking the ark of the covenant to the battlefield as a way of having God’s presence resulted in great defeat and death of many people that included the elderly Eli, his daughter in law (Mama Ichabod) among others.

The police testing my driving skills 4 decades ago knew that there were people who knew the lordship of Christ but others who said they knew but were not willing to pay the price. The Philistines knew that the God of Israel was not like their gods, but the Israelites did not know. Unbelief, spiritual immaturity, spiritual deafness, loving the world and its systems cannot minimize the power of God but can make people fail to benefit from it. As disciples of Jesus Christ who desire to spend eternity with Him it is important to be conscious that we are in a fallen world that gravitates to the negative. What the scripture says is that people’s preference is chaos, deception, acting, lording it over others, etc. ‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19). What is disturbing is having knowledge of what is right but failing to act on it.  If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17). This is not the same as ignorance where one is unaware of the knowledge required. To act on information entails taking the abstract (knowledge) and converting it into the concrete (experience), by putting it into practice. Where the abstract knowledge of God has been internalized, believed and acted on, it has led to transformation of nations. There are so many people that are yet to hear the gospel message of the saving grace of the Lord. The children of Eli knew what was expected of them, allowing their fleshly desires to take over. The elderly Eli and the community acted helpless, while believing that God would manifest His power in the battlefield with the Philistines if they had the ark of the covenant. Read the bible and allow the bible to read you so that you do not incubate contradictory beliefs. It is not possible to fake holiness. ‘Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). The question of what one does when surrounded by people who take God and His word casually should be of interest. To fail to think and instead use the group think will result in the sin of tolerating what God does not tolerate.  Check for signs that follow those who believe and know their God.  Are you making an effort to be clean (John 15:3) and have a clean environment that enables God’s power to be displayed on earth as it is in heaven?


As the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so the denial of God is the height of foolishness’ (R.C. Sproul)


Respond through beckyjohn2008@gmail.com