Abraham is often referred to as the Father of the Faithful. The first patriarch, he is a model of faith and steadfast trust in God. God called Abraham to leave everything he knew and to lead a nomadic life, all the while believing that God would fulfill the promises He had made to him. In Abraham's life, we read about four important altars.
Abraham built his first altar to God after God had made the first part of His covenant with Abraham. He built this altar in a place called Sichem, a name that means shoulder (strength). The name of the place reflected the situation Abraham found himself in. He had a journey ahead, the journey of a lifetime, in fact, and he needed strength from God to continue on the pathway.
There is something so powerful about an altar. While we often think of the altar as a place to repent (and indeed it is a wonderful place for repentance), the biblical altar is so much more. In Abraham's case, the altar he built to worship was not built out of shame for a sin he had committed, but rather it became a place for him to gain strength. In living for God, it is vital that we have altars in our lives. It is at the altar where we receive strength -- for the day, the week, the year, and beyond. It is where we gain courage to face the struggles of life. It is where our weakness meets God's might, and we gain all that we need to continue on the path He has set before us.
In the articles to come, we will explore the remaining altars of Abraham and how they continue to impact our lives today.
The timeless hymn, "Love Lifted Me" offers a beautiful reminder of how Jesus can save from even the stormiest seas life can throw at us.
He saved Noah from the raging waters through preventative measures. Noah built an ark and never had to experience the feeling of being overtaken by the waves.
He saved Peter from the raging waters even as the disciple walked to Him across the sea. Peter stood in a place of transition, partly atop the waves, and partly under. And yet Jesus still was able to reach him.
He saved Jonah from the raging waters even though he had fallen far beneath the ocean's surface. When Jonah thought he had fallen too far, that he might never see the sky again, God prepared a fish to keep him safe even in the deepest and darkest waters until he could find a place of repentance and mercy.
We experience the same raging waters on many levels in our own lives.
Sometimes we are able to prevent falling prey to the flood. Sometimes we are walking on top of the water, making our way to Jesus. Sometimes we make mistake after mistake and feel completely inundated with the stormy seas of life.
We worry that we have fallen too deep, as if God's arm cannot reach quite that far. But Isaiah 59:1 offers us the beautiful reminder, "Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear."
God sees us, and He can save no matter how far above or below the storm you may be.
In these few lines I want to explore some things that the Bible states that God is looking for. John 4:23,24 tells us that God is seeking true worshippers. What is a true worshipper? Verse 24 declares that they worship in Spirit and in truth. This is balanced worship, Spirit and Truth, the two mighty wings with which we soar into His presence!
1 Samuel 13:14 God is looking for “a man after His own heart.” Another verse says that man look on the outward appearance but looks on the heart. The proverb declares “as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” There is a sure link between our thoughts and our heart. God is looking for people with a pure and compassionate heart like His.
John 15: 8 God is seeking fruitful Christians. Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Ezekiel 22:30 God is looking for intercessors, prayer warriors that break through Satan’s and sin’s barricades to snatch the lost from death and destruction. Prayer is powerful! (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. The entirety of the Bible is the love story of redemption, how God came to restore His lost creation and save lost humanity through Jesus Christ. He came here seeking for you!
It was an unusual coronation day in Judah. The robe and crown were ready, but they were much smaller than usual, sized to fit the tiny head and small shoulders of an eight-year-old king. Josiah, the child king of Judah, was faced with a difficult situation. His people had turned away from God after generations of wicked leadership.
Josiah needed help. He could have sought out the greatest warriors to keep the kingdom safe. He could have sought out the greatest spokesmen to inspire the people. He could have sought out inventors to bring about a technical revolution. But Josiah knew what the nation needed most was a teacher.
As he began to restore the temple that had fallen into ruins, Josiah came across a set of scrolls, the divine Scriptures that had long been forgotten. They needed someone to interpret the words of God, and so Josiah sent for a teacher named Huldah, a woman who he hoped would be able to guide him. Huldah was not the woman his advisors wanted, but she was exactly what the kingdom needed. She taught the young king about his heritage and, more importantly, about his God, and her teachings inspired and equipped a young boy to lead his nation back to God.
He could have chosen anyone: a warrior, a spokesman, an inventor, but he knew that if he were truly going to turn his world around, it would take a true superhero: it would take a teacher.