Access to God has always been through an altar. Not the altar of material, but the altar of the heart. The intention of the heart. Man cannot come to God on man's terms; it must always be according to God's demand.
The word altar is used in the Bible several times and has various meanings. Our purpose in this message is not to discuss the various meanings of the altars of the Bible, but to simply make a few applications of an altar.
I. WE HAVE AN ALTAR OF CONFESSION
A. The Altar Of Confession Always Deals With Conviction.
1. The conviction of the wickedness of our heart.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9)
a. Jesus told the Pharisees that their problem was their evil heart.
b. The thing that stands between God and our pleasing Him is the wickedness of our heart.
2. It can't be covered up.
"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders," (Mark 7:21)
B. We need to go the Altar of Confession.
1. Confessing our sins.
a. Confessing our sins is to see ourselves as God sees us, a sinner.
b. Confessing our sins is to acknowledge that we need forgiveness.
2. Forsaking our sins.
a. When we really get sick of our sin, then we will forsake it
b. Many of us have not gotten sick of our sins yet, therefore we continue on in sin.
3. Making things right with God and fellow man.
4. The confession altar should be frequented by Christians.
II. WE HAVE AN ALTAR OF PRAYER
A. The Prayer Altar.
1. What would happen if we had this altar filled every service with folks praying for the power of God?
2. The forgiveness of God?
3. The burden of God?
B. We need to be at this altar of prayer.
1. Praying for salvation.
a. More likely than not I am saved today because of the prayers of others.
b. I know that my mother prayed for me.
c. Every Christian mother and father ought to pray for their children's salvation.
d. Prayers should be offered up on behalf of loved ones, co-workers, neighbors, and all those we know who are unsaved!
2. Praying for service.
a. First for ourselves: Do we pray that God will use us to bring Him glory?
b. Then for our children and loved ones:
III. WE HAVE AN ALTAR OF SACRIFICE
A. An altar is the place of sacrifice offered for man's sins.
1. There can be no forgiveness of sin without an offering of sacrifice that has been designed by God Himself.
2. Man has not the freedom to decide what the sacrifice can be.
3. It must that that God has designed.
"Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate." (Heb 13:12)
4. That day in John 1:29 when John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" he was speaking of the "altar of sacrifice".
B. The Altar Of Physical Sacrifice.
1. God is not going to require us to offer our children to some cultic god.
2. He will not require us to do anything that is contrary to the Bible.
3. He does, however, expect us to be sacrificial with our time, our money, and our efforts.
4. We are talking about commitment.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Rom 12:1)
IV. WE HAVE AN ALTAR OF PRAISE
"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." (Heb 13:15-16)
A. Praise is God's Command to us.
1. We are often guilty of the sin of not praising the Lord.
2. God demands that we praise Him. cf Ps 150:1-6
3. We see here that there are thirteen times that we are commanded to praise the Lord, in these six verses.
4. If we do not obey scripture, we commit sin.
B. Praise Him For His Provision.
1. Surely it is a an act of pride for us to live on God's earth, breathe His air, drink His water, enjoy His comforts of life, and not praise Him.
2. We should be ashamed!
3. "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD." cf Ps. 150:6
4. God is so good!
C. Praise Him For His Salvation.
1. To us personally.
2. To our loved ones.
3. For salvation itself!
D. We ought to frequent the altar of praise!
I am thankful tonight that we have:
"And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down." (1 Ki 18:30)
"And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD." (2 Chr 15:8)
"And he (Manasseh) repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel." (2 Chr 33:16)
"Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God." (Psa 43:4)