Summary: Once prominent in churches. Once prominent in life. Now seldom seen in our buildings. Have they also disappeared from our life? We have been called to live an "Altared" life. Why?
Altared - Pt. 3 - Pinky Swear
For some it was padded. For others it folded down. For some a simple rail. For others it was built in and for others it was a separate piece of furniture that often became a display location for offering plates, plastic flowers, and croquette covered tissue boxes. Many, if not all of us, have had life changing moments around an altar. The altar isn't our idea! In fact, as I mentioned last week, the concept of the altar is rooted in the heart of God, mentioned 370 different times in Scripture! The message is abundantly clear . . . God meets man at the altar.
And so we began by talking about Paul's call for us to live an altared lifestyle in Romans 12:1-2. We avoid the pain, death, blood, and time required to stop at the altar. However, Paul was very clear that if we don't lived altared we will become cultured and look more like our culture than our king.
Then last week we dealt with the 2nd altar occurrence in Scripture and from Noah's experience we talked about how after one of the most horrific experiences he built an altar. He teaches us to build altars even when we have gone through tough times. He teaches us that we must establish a daily altar of remembrance or we will become bitter, selfish, and complainers. So I challenged you to become like David and make a covenant that "I will remember"!
God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you;those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left just as God said, and Lot left with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him, along with all the possessions and people they had gotten in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan and arrived safe and sound. Abram passed through the country as far as Shechem and the Oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites occupied the land. God appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your children.” Abram built an altar at the place God had appeared to him.
After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.” Abram moved his tent. He went and settled by the Oaks of Mamre in Hebron. There he built an altar to God.
Then he took him outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!” And he believed! Believed God! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.” God continued, “I’m the same God who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees and gave you this land to own.” Abram said, “Master God, how am I to know this, that it will all be mine?” God said, “Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon.” He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn’t split the birds. Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off.
There are two similarities that are common to all three accounts that I want to reflect on this morning.
God has a pinky and He isn't afraid to use it!
The three altars that we read about were constructed because Abraham had received a promise.
His altar encounters were not a place of request but a place of revelation. It was at these altars that Abraham heard, "Thus sayeth the Lord!" It was at these altars that Abraham gets a word for his life and a word for his wife!
I think this is important to understand because I think so many of us only visit altars with requests. We expect no revelation. We visit pulpits for revelation. We want a word from a man. Why settle for a word from man when we can get to an altar and get directly to the source?