(Read the previous parts of the series here.) “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done . . . And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. . .” (Genesis 8:20-21, 9:1). Following Noah’s exit from the ark, while his family watched, he immediately was led to offer up the first burnt offering recorded in Scripture. God’s response was one of compassion, mercy, and blessing.
Dads, do we want to intimately know and commune with the holy, righteous, living God Almighty? Do we love Jesus? Do we want God’s blessing on our lives and families? Here is a test to see if our answer is from our heart (a committed way of life) or our head (the way we know it should be, but we don’t live it).
What has it taken in the past for us to neglect our personal and family devotions? If the answer was from our heart, it would have taken a crisis, but if it was from the head, it hasn’t taken much. Also worth noting, some will confuse the consequences of not having devotions as the crisis causing them to be missed.
Of course we don’t have a real “altar” in our home as found in the Old Testament. The altar was the place to meet with and get right with the Lord. It was where sin was dealt with. It was a place of repentance and sacrifice. It was also where Abraham proved that God was first in his life. Just how easy is it for you and me to make something else a higher priority than meeting with our Lord?
This time with the Lord is not an outward religious act of seeking to appease an angry God. Rather, it is a time of meeting and of laying hearts bare before the Living Word. It is an opportunity to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). How can I say I love my Lord and want Him to vibrantly live through me, if I don’t cherish time with Him? Wouldn’t you question my sincerity if I claimed to be a Christian and yet didn’t love to spend time with the One I say is my Lord? Wouldn’t you doubt that I had a Christian home if I were not daily bringing my family before the “altar” of the Lord to examine Scripture together?
We read in Leviticus 6:12-13 that the altar fire was never to go out. Someone had to cut and carry the wood, then place it on the fire before it went out. It took effort and diligence. One could not wait until he felt like checking on the fire or for a convenient time, but he had to devote willful, constant attention. I see that as a perfect picture that the cleansing, purifying work of the altar is to be a continual process in our lives. It will take diligence on our part to make sure it happens. As my heart is exposed to God’s Word each morning, He convicts me of my sin. I’m able to confess it and repent of it. Praise God that He is faithful to forgive us of our sins when we ask.
Some time ago, I had deceived myself in misplacing priorities. I was consistently working so late on Saturday nights that I did not get up on Sunday mornings early enough to have time with my Lord Jesus. At church one Sunday, a dear brother, who seldom has much “fluff” to say, told me what a glorious time he had during his quiet time that morning. He mentioned his magnificent time of confession and worship in preparation for worship at church. He shared how his Sunday morning quiet time was consistently the best of the week. God used that dear brother to convict me of my wrong priorities. I had believed the lie that my personal devotion time was not all that important prior to church, since I was going to worship anyway.
Also note in Exodus 40:29 that the altar was near the entrance to the tabernacle. The acknowledgement, confession, repentance, and restitution for sin had to occur before one could enter the temple and worship God. Even though I meet with another brother and pray prior to church, it isn’t the same as special private time alone with my God while the home is still quiet. My time of corporate worship is much more special when I adequately prepare my heart.
I will also confess that having a Saturday morning quiet time is a constant challenge for me. Since my routine is different every Saturday, it takes extra effort to make sure I have allowed time to meet with my Lord. However, once God convicted me that it was my pride that caused me not to make time with Him the highest priority, I have been able to be consistent in meeting with Him.
Most dads are busy, but if that were used as an excuse to neglect time with our wives, it would lead to an unhealthy relationship. In the same way, if we neglect time with our children, they will quickly seek love and acceptance from others. Truly, how we spend our time reflects our priorities.
If we slight our time with the Lord Jesus, individually or as a family, it reveals the most serious character problem we could have–our pride. It shows whom, deep down in our soul, we are really depending on. If we truly believe God is responsible for every aspect of our lives, we would seek to spend time with Him. We would want to get direction from Him, to lay out the problems we are encountering before Almighty God. Some will wait until they are in the middle of a crisis to call on the Lord, after they have been neglecting Him. He desires to lead us, as His flock, to places of pasture and away from danger.
Frequently, while I’m speaking with a brother, he acknowledges struggles in his Christian walk and does not know God’s direction. I will ask if he is having daily personal and family devotions. I’m never surprised to learn he is not having a quiet time with the Lord in the morning. We cannot have fellowship with God, know His direction for us, and bypass the “altar.”
May we be zealous for loving, serving, and spending time with the Lord Jesus. May we be the heads of Christian homes.