Altars of Consecration

October 21st, 2014

“Abraham built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7 NKJV.

The promises you seek are only found in the consecration God expects.

My thoughts and comments today are about “altars of consecration.”

The story of Abraham’s journey is told in “milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.” Those characteristics will describe any intentional pursuit of God. Obedience is the sincere expression of faith. By faith Abraham obeyed . . . [and] went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT. Obedience is essential and non-negotiable. (Review EDL, Part 1: www.allenrandolph.com/?p=8077). Today, I suggest the very important, second aspect of Abraham’s faith journey, “Altars of Consecration.”

Altars are significant to God and prominent in each person’s spiritual journey. Godly consecration is essential and non-negotiable to all spiritual progress. Be advised; consecration is not a casual affair; it is costly. Old Testament altars were messy, bloody places where only the first and finest of offerings were acceptable. Those sacrifices merely foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Out of painful recognition of his sin, David discovered God’s heart, “The sacrifices God [desires] are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17. The best definition of a broken and contrite heart that I have heard is: “A heart in which the evil has been crushed.” Today, an altar of consecration is where you humbly bow to the singular sovereignty of God, a sacred place of worship expressed in costly sacrifice and sincere consecration of your allegiance, affections and will.

Consecration became Abraham’s lifestyle, and it must be yours as well. Every place Abraham pitched his tent, he built an altar, dug a well, and worshipped the Lord there. Again and again, it is said of him, “Abraham built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7 NKJV. See Genesis 12:8/13:18/22:9. On every altar, Abraham offered a sacrifice and made a further consecration of himself to God and His promises to multiply and bless his seed. Romans 4:17-21 NIV. No other occasion evidences the extent of Abraham’s obedience and consecration more than his altar on Mount Moriah. Read Genesis 22:1-17.

“By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents . . for he was looking forward to a city with foundations whose builder was God.” See Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV. Consecration is best expressed through obedience despite present realities, while holding fast to a relentless faith in a promised future. The promises and permanence you seek are only found in the obedience and consecration God expects. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us . . Our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV/Romans 8:18.

There are times when an altar of consecration needs to be repaired, as occurred with Israel. “And Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down . . with twelve stones, he built an altar in the name of the Lord . . then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice.” Read 1 Kings 18:30-39. If any, what repair needs to occur to the altars where you have made consecrations to God? “I urge you by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God . . that you may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2. You and your life are “the living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.”

Today, my prayer is that you renew your consecration and devote yourself to be altogether His.

Milestones of Obedience

October 16th, 2014

By faith Abraham obeyed . . . [and] went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT.

Life is a sequence of events and a succession of experiences.

My thoughts and comments today are about “milestones of obedience.”

Life is a journey, comprising a sequence of years, a succession of events, and a collection of experiences. The last – a collection of experiences – may well be the more important of the three. Experiences create the moments where treasured memories are made. Time can be counted in minutes, but life is measured in moments. If you think about it, you will easily recognize the distinction between minutes and moments.

Minutes are too many to all be remembered. Moments are fewer yet forever mark the journey and progress of your life. I don’t remember the day of the week nor the exact time of day when Gayle said yes to my expression of love and proposal of marriage. But more than fifty years later, I fondly recall that moment and the joy I felt when she did.

Many years ago, my friend and spiritual father, Campbell, said a few words which remain of primary importance to me yet today. He said, “Abraham’s journey was marked by milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.” Campbell’s words were a life-shaping moment of spiritual understanding that continues to impact what I believe and how I choose to live my life – “milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.”

Obedience to God is essential and non-negotiable in your faith journey. There are no more consequential moments than when you walk in obedience. Like King Saul, you may try to offer God your preferred options rather than full obedience. Saul did not offer a lesser sacrifice; he tried to offer a different sacrifice from what God asked. “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.” Read 1 Samuel 15:13-15/22 NIV. Any option other than what God requires is unacceptable.

Milestones indicate much more than the irreplaceable time that has passed; spiritual milestones mark the progress and success of your journey, or the lack thereof. They are enduring reminders of the grace of God in your past and the sovereign purpose of God over your future. Such moments are sacred and should be celebrated. Upon Israel’s victory over the Philistines, “Samuel took a stone . . and called it ‘Ebenezer’ saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” 1 Samuel 7:12.

Abraham’s journey began with a divine encounter, as will yours, and his response of obedience. “The Lord had said to Abraham, ‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’” Genesis 12:1 NIV. Imagine the obedience and faith that was required in that. His journey would take him from his “country,” everything previously familiar to him – his “people,” everyone with whom he felt most comfortable – and “his father’s household,” the source of provision he had trusted.

“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT. Obedience requires trust beyond explanation. Abraham did not know where he was going but he knew Who He was following. To follow God obediently, you have to leave where you are to go where God wants to take you. Your spiritual journey cannot take you further than your current obedience will allow.

Consecration to God is essential and non-negotiable in your faith journey. In the next edition of EveryDay Life, we will further examine the very important, second aspect, “Altars of Consecration.” Every moment of consecration at an altar is of eternal consequence in your journey. Every place Abraham pitched his tent, he built an altar and worshipped the Lord there. See Genesis 12:7/8/13:18/22:9. An altar is where you humbly bow and surrender yourself to the supremacy and sovereignty of God, a sacred place of worship expressed in costly sacrifice and sincere consecration. Altars are significant to God and crucial to your spiritual journey.

Today, my prayer for you is for you to grow in the grace of obedience and the practice of consecration.

Priorities and Practices

October 14th, 2014

Where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Matthew 6:21 MSG.

Your attention, efforts, and resources flow to where your interests and investments are.

My thoughts and comments today are about “priorities and practices.”

Every day in many ways, you decide what is important to you. Be sure to make those decisions consciously and deliberately, lest they occur by default through insufficient forethought. More decisions are about a person’s happiness rather than their holiness. Who and what you believe to be of value and importance shapes who you become and determines how and where you invest your time, talent, and treasure.

Haggai, an Old Testament prophet, captured the futility of continuing in unprofitable ways. “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:5-6 NKJV. Isaiah challenged Israel, “Why do you spend money for what . . does not satisfy?” Isaiah 55:2.

Jesus taught this simple, practical truth, Where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Matthew 6:21 MSG. Jesus described an inevitability of destination. When viewing what is near and dear to you, where would you “end up being?” As predictably as water flows to the lowest point, your attention, efforts, and resources flow to where your interests and investments are.

In two stories brilliant for their brevity, Jesus likened His Kingdom to persons who discovered such vast treasures that they sold all they had to possess the riches they had discovered. Read Matthew 13:44-46. Jesus captured the profound simplicity of Godly priorities and practices, “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV. The rule and reign of God must be your priority in all things and your practice at all times.

Never sacrifice the invaluable and eternal for inconsequential trinkets or abbreviated pleasures. Learn a valuable lesson from Old Testament Esau, “who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son . . afterward, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.” Hebrews 12:16-17 NIV. Also see Genesis 25:29-34. Choose wisely; some choices may be irreversible.

Desires, direction, and even your eternal destiny will be shaped by who or what you choose to treasure. Jesus commanded, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-21. Yes; Jesus is right. Where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” I choose Heaven for my destination, because the Savior and others I treasure most will be waiting for me there. I would be disappointed if I were not to see you there as well. “Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will prize the things that are invaluable and irreplaceable.

A Confident Life

October 10th, 2014

“The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NIV.

Confidence is from your conviction of truth rather than your translation of current events.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a confident life.”

Daily life without confidence is tougher than life is meant to be. But confidence can be misplaced. Job searched his heart, “Have I put my trust in money or felt secure because of my gold? Does my happiness depend on my wealth and all that I own? . . If so . . it would mean I had denied the God of heaven.” Job 31:24-28 NLT. Job had it right. Confidence that rests on anything less than God’s Word and character is insubstantial and ultimately unreliable.

Confidence may dissipate when unmanageable and unchangeable situations raise doubts and instill fears. Confidence is not an easy thing to have in the kind of world that struggles against God. Civility and common courtesy are fairly uncommon in an, “every man for himself world.” Entertainment assaults sensitivities with coarse language and violent, sexual, or aberrant improprieties. Negative political ads malign the character and intent of opponents irresponsibly, slinging accusations without liability. To the point of dismay, headlines blare reports of governmental waste, incompetence, and brazen lack of accountability.

Crime and uncaring brutality offend normal sensitivities. Deadly health crises from the other side of the globe land callously intrude our cities, neighborhoods, and homes. In a global economy, one country’s financial recklessness impacts the affairs of other nations. With brutality, terrorists murder innocents without regard for the sanctity of human life. Confidence is hard to come by in such harsh realities.

Don’t look around; you can’t find confidence there. Look up; God is there. Then look inside; God is there too. In this truth, you can be confident, “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NLT. Meditate on that. God lives in you; that indicates permanence. God is greater than all others; that provides security. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 NKJV.

When the Bible speaks of “the world” it is rarely referring to geography. Biblically, “the world is a system of unbelief and misbelief,” a system lacking God as its center or focus. You are warned to avoid the world system, but not to fear it. “Do not love the world or anything in the world . . The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” Read 1 John 2:15-17 NIV.

When faced with Sennacherib, the Assyrian King and his plundering army, Hezekiah, the Godly King of Judah encouraged the nation, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NIV. When you face difficult places, people, or situations, remember the Almighty God is with you; His Spirit abides within you. “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV.

“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength . . The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Isaiah 30:15 NKJV/32:17-18 NIV. That is what a confident life looks like.

Today, my prayer for you is to be assured of the omnipotence and faithfulness of God.

When Life Works Best

October 8th, 2014

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 NKJV.

Life works best when you put God first.

My thoughts and comments today are about “when life works best.”

We have gotten the matter of acknowledging God somewhat backwards. You choose your destination and make your plans and when that inevitably does not work out as expected, you look to God to fix everything that went wrong. Solomon wrote, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6. To that promise, there is an order and priority to how and when you acknowledge God. Solomon tried life by leaving God till last, and learned the hard way that it doesn’t work. Solomon wrote, Ecclesiastes,” about the futility of relating to God and relying on Him only for emergencies. “I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” Jeremiah 10:23 NKJV.

God gifted Solomon with great wisdom, and that wisdom brought him incomparable wealth and acclaim. But like many of us, he took the gifts God had given and made them a substitute for God Himself. He thought wisdom would be enough, but he found that the best of everything without God was only vanity, profound emptiness, and futility. He is not the only one who ever tried to live that way. Finally, when life doesn’t work anymore, only then such people acknowledge God.

However hard you try to make life work differently, life works best when you put God first. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NKJV. Jesus said, “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV. When your plans, decisions, and efforts are not working as anticipated, examine if seeking God for wisdom and direction initiated your journey.

Crises and emergencies are a sure sign that you are not putting God first. Yes, God in His love and mercy will be there for you, even in your crises, but you will have fewer emergencies when you put God first, when at the beginning you “acknowledge Him, in all your ways.” Not just in the more difficult things or the problems you know you can’t handle, but “in all your ways,” including matters you assume you can navigate on your own. The result is guaranteed to be more beneficial.

If you follow this simple advice, you will have fewer relationships that need repair, less mistakes to correct, fewer apologies to offer, and less collateral damage all around. Before the heartache and regret, acknowledge God first in your life. The journey will be better and the destination will be sure. “The steps [and stops] of the Godly are directed by the Lord. [God] delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT.

Now acquaint yourself with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.” Job 22:21 NKJV. As you begin each day, read and reflect on God’s Word and pause to pray for God’s direction; prayer does not have to be long and involved, just sincere. Most importantly, value and obey God’s will. “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Psalm 37:31 NKJV.

Today, my prayer for you is: always let Jesus direct both the starts and stops of your journey.