I fear… I wrote those words with the intentions of writing what I feared to follow. But I just had to stop there and ask myself, “Do you really fear? Do you have that godly reverence in your soul that was there 20 years ago when you were first saved and realized what God had saved you from? Do you remember those trips to the altar when you were sobbing because the Spirit of the Lord was upon you so heavy? Then you had fear… now you have guilt.” That was a conversation in my head at 3:30 this morning.
David had just gotten called out on a traffic accident and the continuous squawking of the radio kept me awake. I scrolled through Facebook, watched a few videos, enjoyed the warmth of the covers, and then finally my mind returned to the original thought. “Why is the altar empty?”
For my friend Gloria and me, many of our miles lately have been traveled with a conversation about the empty altars in the church. Where the altar used to be lined with praying souls, it is now a handful of broken saints and an occasional child who finds themselves knelt down at the altar. “Why?” I asked myself again. So I ask google. Not even google had an answer for me. So I went to He Who has the answers and this was what read.
6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
You’re probably saying what I said. “But God, I love you!” To which He replies:
7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.
Israel wasn’t bringing their best to the altar. They were bringing their leftovers to the altar. And so am I if I’m honest. Going to the altar has become somewhat ritualistic for me. I go because I know I need to go, and will continue doing so; but I’m not giving my best while I’m there. I give God a halfhearted “help me please…” and then get up unchanged. My heart is not prepared, I’ve brought a lame sacrifice and wet wood. So what will it take to set the altar of God on fire in our church?
9 And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts. 10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
God honestly doesn’t care who we are. He wants to know how serious we are. He wants the doors shut and the fire stoked when we approach Him with request. In my mind I read that as the world being shut out, and the fire within my soul blazing with passion when I make my plea. My focus needs to be on the perfect sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. My sacrifice will always be lame. His was perfect.
I have a tendency to look at an empty altar and get discouraged because the rest of the church is in their seats. That ought not to be…
This morning I want to focus on what I bring to the altar. What will I bring and how will I bring it? I’m believing if I go with passion in my soul that fire will fall from heaven and ignite my wet timbers.
Bring down the fire! Let’s go to church!!!