Friday, March 30, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: An Altar of Stone and Making Room for God

Stones of Trouble, Stones of Triumph
A devotional by Rev. Nathan D. Maki

"And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. "~Exodus 20:25 (KJV)

When the Israelites built an altar they were forbidden to take tools and square off the stones to make them fit together beautifully. They were to build it of whole stones, uncut, from right there where they were.

Why? Why would God say they had polluted the altar if they squared off the stones? Because human effort can never replace God’s power to consecrate and redeem.

Sometimes, the stones they found would have been rough, like the ones Jacob set up at Bethel while fleeing from his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him. Sometimes we have to build our altar out of Stones of Trouble.

On another day, as God miraculously parted the waters of Jordan and a leader from each tribe pried a stone from the streambed and carried it ashore to build an altar those stones would have been smooth, made glass-like by the flowing waters of the river. Sometimes we build our altar out of Stones of Triumph.

When you build an altar of consecration in your life, build that altar out of whatever circumstances are particular to that area of life. Every one of these altars the Israelites built would have been totally unique because each of our lives and each area of our lives is unique.

Build an altar in your home.

Maybe at your house, you’re building with Stones of Trouble, like Jacob. Build an altar and say “God, I’m going to consecrate my home to you. I’m going to live my life in front of my family in such a way that they can SEE you in me.”

Maybe at your house that you’re fortunate enough to be building with Stones of Triumph. Maybe things have been going well, and your home is full of love and peace. Then build an altar there in thanksgiving to God for what He’s done already.

Build an altar at your job.

Maybe at your job, you’re building with Stones of Trouble. Maybe job security is precarious, maybe coworkers are causing problems, maybe it’s stressful and high-paced. Build an altar of those stones to God. Offer the stresses and the problems to Him, and say, “No matter what, I’m going to trust in you and I’m going to make you a daily part of my life here at my work.”

Maybe at your job you’re building with Stones of Triumph...maybe you’ve got opportunities to witness regularly, seize those chances. Maybe you’ve got opportunities just to show the love and goodness of God in a practical way, do it as unto God. Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.

Build an altar in your finances.

Maybe you’re in a bit of a rough stretch financially. God’s message is still the same, PROVE me, TEST me, by giving your tithes and your offerings to me and living on the rest, and just watch and see how I bless you for your faithfulness. Build an altar with those Stones of Trouble, and you’ll be amazed at what He will do.

Maybe in your finances, everything’s going well. Build an altar of thankfulness. And build an altar of giving. Don’t close your fist around the blessings God’s already given you, or those blessings will squeeze through your fingers and leave you empty-handed. And God can’t refill a closed hand.

Build an altar in your time.

Maybe you feel like you’re on a treadmill and there’s no off switch, it just keeps speeding up. It’s in those times that it’s so important to stay close to God. He is our rest. A few minutes set aside from a hectic day to get down and pray or read the Word can refuel and reenergize you like nothing else can. Make time for God and everything else will fall into place.

Or maybe you’ve got plenty of free time, you build your altar in the way you spend it. Often it's when we have the most free time that we accomplish the least. Don’t let leisure sap your drive and your ambition. If you have free time in your day, redeem that time. Use it to accomplish something. Build an altar there and sacrifice it to God.

In the end, it’s not about the stones we have available, it’s not about the circumstances we face, it’s about God and how He can step in to transform and make them holy if you’ll consecrate good and bad alike to Him.

Author Bio:

A life-long love for historical fiction and a passion to create high-intensity, realistic novels from a Christian worldview has propelled Nathan into his writing career. 

He is the author of the War Within series of novels set in Ancient Rome, and most recently The Keeper's Crown, a novel of the Apostle Paul.

A recent trip to Rome to walk the ancient streets, explore the Catacombs and stand in the Coliseum plunged Nathan even deeper into the ancient world he brings to life for his readers.

Nathan's novels combine the faith and romance of Francine Rivers's Mark of the Lion trilogy with the action and adventure of Bernard Cornwell or Conn Iggulden.

Nathan lives in Ontario, Canada, with his wife, son, and three very spoiled dogs. He pastors a church and manages his own business in addition to his writing. Sometimes he even sleeps.

Connect with Nathan:
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