Don’t you love an altar? You know, one of those places where you kneel down and pray. A place where you meet God and God meets you. An altar has always been really important in my life.
I have notice that many churches no longer have the altar bench in the front of the Church. People use the edge of the platform or a pew for an altar. Other people just kneel in the middle of the floor for an altar. I don’t have a problem with this; it is just a little different from the way it was when I was growing up in Pentecost. We had an altar bench.
When I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, at age eight, it was at an altar bench. It was just a little high for me, but obviously it worked! Many times I have gone to the Church alone and knelt at a familiar spot at the altar bench and touched God. It was like we were sitting in the living room of my soul, just talking. I have even taken my problems and literally laid them on the altar bench and said here they are God; I am giving them to you. We have three children which we dedicated to the Lord when they were born. We stood before the same altar bench and gave them back to God, promising to raise them to love and serve Him. Yes, an altar is very special in my life!
Several years ago I was preaching a message about the altar and felt to have each family build a “family altar.” I told the church if you have one you already are using bring it. If you don’t have one, make one and bring it. We set a date and on that date each family brought their family altar to the church and we dedicated those altars, together. It was at this point that I was impacted by the fact that the altar doesn’t have to be a bench but can be anything where you meet God and God meets you. People brought chairs, ottomans, body pillows, benches and a variety of other things that they used to pray from. What a service we had that night as we committed a place as being sacred before God. A place committed to meet God and for God to meet us.
Later that year at a youth camp I directed, we decided to teach on the importance of an altar in our lives. As the craft project for the campers they built a personal altar which we dedicated in the last night’s service. My daughter and youngest son were campers that year and both made altars. When my daughter married, she had her altar and a family Bible as part of her ceremony. She had already experience the power of a family altar in her life. My son also has his and it is special to him.
It wasn’t long after this time that our oldest son began to struggle in his walk with God. His mother and I were so desperate to see him live for God. Our hearts were breaking in a million pieces. I will never forget on a particular day we each knelt together at our “Family Altar” and poured our hearts out to God. We met God there and God met us there. There have been many times since that day that we have returned to our family altar and wept for our son and God has always met us there.
I remember when my oldest grandson was born. I was so overwhelmed with love which was, and still is, indescribable. I was also frightened for his future. His parents had walked away from God. They had divorced just before he was born. I couldn’t stand the thought of him being raised in an environment that would not give him the spiritual nurture he needed. I slipped away, one morning. He was about three weeks old and Mema and Poppy were taking care of him. The house was quiet and I carried him into another room. There I knelt before my altar and made a commitment to stand in the gap and make up the hedge between him and God. I met God and God met me!
I recall several times my daughter has called us and asked for us to pray. We would make our way to the altar. We would take our daughters health and the health of the baby she was carrying and place it on that altar. We would meet God and God would meet us there. Today that baby is a strong healthy two year old boy, just full of life. It was at an altar I helped his Mother and Father as they dedicated his young life to God. They met God and God met them at the altar.
It was to the altar we ran, just recently. Our youngest son’s heart broke with the news of the tragic death of his fiancé. It was more than we could handle on our own. So many times we have taken it to the altar. There we have met God and God has met us. There we have found a peace and a blessing.
The bench has been passed on to someone else with great sentiment. In its place is the end of the couch or the side of the bed. I have found it is not necessarily the object; it is the sacredness of the time and the occasion. Jesus spoke of it as a “closet. “ A time and place committed to God. An altar, the place where we meet God and God has agreed to meet us.
I am reminded of the altars of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. The Altar of Sacrifice where Israel laid their offering before the Lord and offered it to Him, it was a type of our repentance before God. The Altar of Incense that was a type of our worship. The incense offered here emitted an aroma that filled the Tabernacle the same as our worship comes before the Lord as a sweet smelling aroma. Then there was the Mercy Seat which sat atop the Ark of the Covenant. It was here the blood from the sacrifice was applied. It was here the presence of God descended, atop the Covenant between God and Israel. It was here that Man met God and God met man!
We no longer drag a calf to be offered on an altar. Nor do we burn incense in the Sanctuary. We do not go through the ritual of placing blood on the Mercy Seat. This is all done spiritually in our lives today. We come to Him in repentance. We allow His forgiveness to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We come into His presence with worship partaking of His Word, exalting His mighty attributes. Then we step into His presence! Then we come before His throne! Then we come to that Altar seated above His Covenant with us. That promise that he would be our God and we will be His people. The place where we meet God and God meets us!
In Exodus 20:24 God promised Israel if they would build an altar He would come there, wherever it was, and bless them. Hebrews 13:10 speaks of an altar that the New Testament Christian has access to that is different from the altar of the Old Testament, a place where we can meet with God and God will meet with us. In fact Paul tells us that we can come boldly before the “throne of grace” that altar and have confidence that God will meet us there.
Let me encourage you to build a “Family Altar.” Whether or not you want to build a bench, use the couch or the side of the bed is immaterial. What is important is to have that assurance that wherever you are and whatever the need might be you can go to that altar and God will meet you there. I am thankful for a “Family Altar!”
Just a thought!
I am a 4th generation Pentecostal preacher. I have been in the ministry for 38 years. I have pastored for 25 years. Currently I am evangelizing. I am the founder of TEAM Ministries which means Together Experiencing Apostolic Ministry. I am married, 34 years, have three children and three grandsons. I live in Conway, AR. I believe it is the desire of God to heal the broken hearted, deliver the captive, open the eyes blinded by lifes issues & liberate those that have been bruised & do it todayView all articles by Don Doran