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When Was the Last Time You Went to the Altar?
James Tollett – October 11, 2013

As an evangelist and conference speaker, I am in and out of a number of churches each year.  During the past decade I have noticed a trend that I find bothersome.  A number of churches have taken the altars out of the sanctuary; and for some churches, the altar is little more than a piece of furniture that is decorated at the front of the sanctuary.  To such a practice I say; “Lord have mercy!”

In the Old Testament, the altar played a significant role in the lives of God’s people.  An altar was a designated place to meet with God.  The first formal altar mentioned in Scripture is in Genesis 8:20-22, where Noah built an altar.  Noah offered sacrifices, the Lord smelled the aroma, and He responded by putting into place the Noahic Covenant.

The second formal altar mentioned in Scripture was built by Abraham (Gen. 12:7-8).  Abraham would return to that altar (Gen. 13:3-4) and call upon the Lord.  From Abraham, the believer learns that the altar is not to be a one-time place or event, but a place to constantly remember the Lord and to go to on a regular basis.

In the Bible, an altar was a place to:

As a believer, one must keep the altars up and in repair.  More importantly, the believer needs to use the altars regularly.  Paul instructs us to present ourselves before the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2).  The believer’s task is to build the altar, maintain the altar, and use the altar.  As a believer kneels at the altar, he is seeking the Lord, and I believe it is at the altar that God will respond.

In addition to altars in our church buildings, I believe that each one of us needs an altar at home.  It may be beside your bed, in your living room, at a kitchen table, or somewhere in your yard.  The point is: each believer needs a place where he/she goes to meet with God.

Why are altars disappearing from church sanctuaries?  Perhaps the problem is that each of us has forgotten how to pray and how to use (approach) that old-fashioned wooden altar.  Could I suggest that you reacquaint yourself with the altar this week?

My friends, how long as it been since you went to the altar?  Well that is too long!

Until next week, I am James Tollett, your missionary to America.  Oh, and by the way, I am going to my altar today; why don’t you join me there?