“O come to the altar / The Father’s arms are open wide / Forgiveness was bought with / The precious blood of Jesus Christ” (Elevation Worship)
We all have an altar in the center of our hearts.
We all have the place from which we give our affection, our attention, and our appreciation.
We all have the core of our beliefs – if God is real, if forgiveness is necessary, and if joy is possible.
We all have the driving force of our thoughts, our actions, our words, and our feelings.
What’s on your altar?
Is it self-righteousness, the feeling of being better than others at life and faith?
Is it self-importance, knowing you have the right name brand stuff or social media “friends”?
Is it shame, a feeling of being dirty and unworthy because of bad choices?
Is it fear, the overwhelming anxiety of not being in total control?
Is it lust, the all-consuming passion for things not meant for you?
Is it anger, the rage and frustration that overwhelms kindness?
Is it jealousy, the deep-seeded desire for blessings you see in other people’s lives?
Is it greed, a selfishness that keeps you from acts of generosity?
Is it God’s love, which is bigger than any situation you will face?
Is it God’s grace, which can redeem any situation for His glory?
Is it God’s hope, which reminds you daily of His purposes for you?
God wants whatever is on the altar of your heart.
And if it isn’t His best for you, He wants to burn it up.
Because He wants to place His grace there instead.
He wants to overflow you with forgiveness and freedom.
He wants to generously give you life, joy, and peace.
He wants to change who you are so you best reflect Him.
And it starts with our altars.
And what is influencing us.
He warned Old Testament Israel repeatedly about the altars they would encounter in the Promised Land – “But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images)” (Exodus 34:13). Because My children Israel, these altars represent all the things I, Your God, want to protect you from – greed, lust, selfishness, idolatry, and pagan sacrifice. Stay far away from such things. Destroy the ones you come near. Do not let them persuade you or distract you. Remove them as obstacles, because they will ultimately hinder our relationship and stop the blessings I want to give you.
Instead, be like Abraham in Genesis 22. Lay your most precious things on the altar of His love. Give Him all you have – especially those things of highest value and biggest sacrifice. Trust Him with the outcome of your offering. And like Abraham, He will bless you with more than you could expect.
So I will ask again – what is on your altar?
God wants to take anything that isn’t His fruit or His best and redeem it for your good and His glory. Like He did for Israel with Elijah – 1 Kings 18:38-39 – “38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’”
He will replace your self-righteousness with compassion, self-importance with humility, shame with freedom, fear with courage, lust with self-control, anger with forgiveness, jealousy with contentment, and greed with generosity.
Then your altar becomes “El Bethel” (Genesis 35:7) – of the glory of God.
So will you answer God’s invitation to “O come to the altar”? Be like David and run with loud praises and great affection “to the altar of God”, where you will find unending grace and unwavering mercy leading to “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4).
Marie Fremin. 1/28/18. 2/3/18. 2/18/18. 3/10/18. 5/22/18. 6/7/18.