Summary: Abraham's altars hold great instruction for the modern Christian.
Genesis 13:1-5 KJV And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.  And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.  And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;  Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.  And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
I. INTRODUCTION—Van Gogh
More than anything, Vince wanted to be an evangelist. He was only twenty-five, a century ago, and he wanted to devote himself to his fellow man and the Word of God. It was this passion that brought young Vince, in the spring of 1879, to the coal fields of southern Belgium. It was there in a little mining town, that Vince outlined the rest of his life on the back of an old, faded, and wrinkled envelope.
Perhaps it was the young minister's total selflessness that first captured the respect of the crusty old miners in the tiny Borinage community. In a mine disaster, scores of villagers were injured and no one fought harder to save them than Vince. Day and night, he nursed the wounded, fed the hungry, and clothed the poor. There were times that he even scraped the slag heaps to give his small church fuel to warm the congregation. After the rubble was cleared and the dead were buried and the sick were made well, the townspeople turned to the Dutchman and adopted him as their spiritual leader.
Every Sunday they overflowed Vince's services to hear this young unassuming man preach passionately the literal Word of God. He would dress in an old soldier's coat and trousers that were made of sacking. He took his meager salary and gave it to the needy and continued to preach. Then came a disagreement with a church official and young Vince was dismissed from the pastorate of the small church. He was devastated. The career that meant everything to him had been reduced to nothing in just a matter of minutes. There were long weeks of despair that followed. He seemingly could not shake the depression of the event that had shaken his entire being. He lost his allegiance to his God. He lost his devotion to the Word of God and soon was just drifting through life.
One afternoon, Vince noticed an old miner, who was bending beneath the enormous weight of a full sack of coal. In that instant, the fire flamed in Vince, although it would prove to be ruining to his old desire to be an evangelist. In that instance, Vince recognized the desperation and burdens of these people and understood that it would be shared by his own soul. Fumbling through his pockets, the Dutchman pulled out an old tattered envelope, and then a pencil. He began to work. Not on a sermon seed, nor an outline, nor did he jot a Scripture down, he began to sketch. The weary figure on the paper was crude at best, but he labored over and over until he finally completed the project.
Beginning that day, Vince was to capture for the world the torment, triumph, and dignity of the people that he lived with. There was now a new passion, although an improper one. There was a new found job, sadly a lost ministry. The monumental ministry was never born because the preacher became an artist. You know him as Vincent Van Gogh. . . a man of improper priorities.
I am preaching about, The Value of Your Altars. They have the ability to define you and to set you apart and pull you into spiritual greatness if you will just allow them to do so.
• John Knox shook Scotland with his prayers but he was a man who knew his priorities.
• Jonathan Edwards became the father of the Great Awakening because he knew his purpose.
• Charles Finney brought revival during the Civil War because he was focused.
• John Wesley preached to the miners in the Virginian coal mines with great success because of commitment.
Could it be that Van Gogh might have been the key to revival in Holland?
-We will never know because he stumbled into a hidden talent that was much less significant than reaching men for the cause of Christ. A distraction that hindered his purpose.
The Bible, the most brilliant Book that man has access to often uses methods of comparison to illustrate spiritual principles. One of the ways that this is accomplished is to take two characters in a similar setting and similar time reference and show the ways of God.