God has provided the altar as a place for God’s people to do business with Him. It is a place to lay our burdens, surrender our wills, rededicate our lives, vow our trust and faith, and spend time in His presence. As Christians, we can each recall a time where we met God at the altar and made decisions that changed the course of our lives. The altar is a place where we started our lives in the family of God. We must stay familiar with it and keep our hearts soft to God’s call to meet us there.
While we should never hesitate in going to the altar, there are also ways for us to enter God’s presence with purpose. Our time spent there can be more refreshing, more productive, and have a greater impact when we put a plan behind it. Here are four ways to keep us revisiting the altar with purposeful intention.
It is a good idea to remember what God has done for us before at the altar.
Genesis 35:1 says, And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. When God sent Jacob to Bethel, He reminded him that they had met together at the altar before. He wanted Jacob to remember what He had done for him in his time of need. God prompted Jacob to recall the time when after time spent at the altar, God had done a great work in his life.
Christians today neglect to remember how at an altar, God so graciously saved them from Hell, whether that altar was in a church or at their front door. Just as God met with us there to forgive our sins, He wants to meet us there again today to lighten our burdens. In the same way that on bended knees we gave Him our impossible situation and trusted him to make things possible again, we can revisit the One Who will fulfill the promise He made to never leave us or forsake us. In remembering those visits to the altar, we can approach God’s presence with the confidence that when going to the altar, God will meet us there!
It is a good idea to take others with us.
Genesis 35:2 says, Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him,… Verse 3 says, And let us arise, and go up to Bethel;… When Jacob was at Bethel before, he was there by himself. God wanted him to return to Bethel and to the altar, and this time Jacob took his household with him. It is a good idea to head back to the altar and take somebody with us. We need to get back to doing business with God, not just going through some religious motion. Not only is it a good idea to be in church on Sunday, but it is also a good idea to bring somebody with us: our household, our neighbors, our coworkers, or a complete stranger. A lot of households neglecting the altar is because the head of the household is afraid to say, “Let’s go.” As Christians, we need to get back to Bethel to build the altar and to take somebody with us.
What would happen in our communities and cities if every Christian would be in the house of God on Sunday? How would it change the world if every Christian would bring somebody else with him to the house of God? Our nation needs God’s people to take responsibility to reach people. We must get to the altar AND take someone with us.
It is a good idea to put away strange gods.
Genesis 35:2 says, Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you,… Before Jacob told them in verse 3 where they were going, he told them in verse 2 what needed to be done. Today, there is much rhetoric about God healing our land, but no amount of social media posts or hashtags can accomplish that. Some Christians cannot and will not get back to the altar because they are unwilling to put away their strange gods.
Christians have put other things in front of God, distracted in the land of plenty with the benefits of capitalism and freedom. It is sad when Christians know more about those in Hollywood than the Apostle Paul or John the Beloved. We have the “strange gods” of careers that are put ahead of our Christianity. How much protection, peace, and joy do the strange gods of entertainment, careers, and the things of this world give to us? After what God has done for us, it is sad to think that we would allow anything to get between us and our God.
If we want revival in our nation, we must let the Spirit of God bring conviction to our hearts about the strange gods that keep us from fully serving Him or hinder us from a greater relationship with God. Christians need to do away with their strange gods.
It is always a good idea to clean up.
Genesis 35:2 says, …Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: God connects strange gods with filth. We must put away strange gods to be clean. What can take someone from the gutter of the world, clean him up, and put him on the right path? God can! Does it not make sense that if we leave the altar and hold onto strange gods, the opposite would be true? When someone leaves the things of God, in a short amount of time he will be not recognizable as a Christian.
When we get the filth of the world on us, it is evident to others. Some avoid the Bible-preaching churches because they do not want to put away their strange gods and clean up. They just want to go where it is acceptable to continue as they are.
Our world has more “Christians” than we have ever had, so what is the issue? They refuse to obey when God says to clean up and to return to the altar. They try everything else except what God has said. Do we want God’s protection, blessings, and provisions or not? It is time to clean up!
Genesis 35:5 says, And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob. Jacob and his family were the minority in a land of hostility, but because they followed God’s instructions, God protected them. God has never needed the majority; He has always preserved the remnant. God will protect us and preserve us to do His work, whether collectively as God’s people or individually as a child of God, when we obey His instructions and get to the altar.
What is keeping us from the altar? Why have we neglected time at the altar with our God Who waits, willing to deliver us? We should revisit what He has done at the altar for us before. We must take others to meet Him there. Let us put away strange gods that hinder fellowship and clean up the filth in our lives. He wants to give us victory and grant us peace, but we must prepare to purposefully enter into His presence. Let us commit to not neglecting the altar where our God waits for us to lead us to a victorious future!
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.