To build some landmarks in our life that will lead us to a place of spiritual maturity and confidence, we have followed Abraham in Genesis as he built altars to worship God (Genesis 12:7, 8; 13:18). An altar represents true worship and involves: SURRENDER, SACRIFICE and SERVICE. We spoke about building an ALTAR OF SURRENDER. This is the place in our lives where we experience A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH GOD, PUT AWAY ALL IDOLS, COMMIT TO THE LORD OUR GOD and TRULY WORSHIP HIM. We spoke about building an ALTAR OF SACRIFICE. This is the place in our lives where we willingly part from anything that’s prized to us (including our comfort) for the sake of obeying God and becoming a blessing to others.
Today we build the ALTAR OF SERVICE. We all have heard about Abraham and God’s promise to Him regarding becoming the father of a great nation in a promised land. (Genesis 12:1-3) As he obeyed God’s command to get out of his comfort zone and walk to an unknown place in obedience, Abraham had to deal with some setbacks. He encountered some roadblocks on his way to obey the Lord. The one roadblock we will discuss today prevented him from serving his God in the land He promised. (Genesis 13)
After a temporary distraction in Egypt, Abraham resumed his journey on his way to the land God promised him. On his way there God blessed him tremendously (13:2). Now, wealth did not prevent him from worshiping the Lord. That’s not the case with everyone though! Wealth is not the enemy of worship and faithfulness; to place wealth above God is. There are not many wealthy among us but lusting after wealth is one of the greatest temptations of our time. There are some who are in a dangerous race to gain money and through money, to have more possessions and their version of a better life. Money is a constant thought, not necessarily because they need it but because they want more of what money brings. When they do not get what they feel they must have, they feel depressed and unhappy. Beware of this condition! This feeling does not come from the God who loves you and seeks your faithfulness and worship. (1st Timothy 6:6–10) I encourage you to pray Proverbs 30:7–9. You need to evaluate your life and figure out if you are actively involved in this race. If you are, would you consider admitting it, confessing it and walking away from it? Follow God’s guidelines for stewardship. This may be one of your roadblocks so, deal with it.
Abraham’s roadblock was relational; he had problems with his nephew and his nephew’s interests. (13:5-7) Both men had been greatly blessed but could not see eye to eye in many areas of their lives. Lot tended to look at the material stuff while Abraham was trying to be obedient to God and sought God’s direction and blessing. Lot followed the lust of his eyes (13:10) disregarding the spiritual danger (13:13). Abraham followed the promise and had faith (13:14-18). We must separate from all ‘Lots’ for the Altar of Service to be built. (13:8-9) Just as Abraham was to separate from Lot before he could enter fully into his ’promised land’ and claim the inheritance God had for him, we too need to separate from unwholesome and spiritually unhealthy relationships before we can worship the Lord through our service.
God has a ministry for you but your service cannot become a worshipful expression until your life is in right standing with God. And you can’t be in right standing with God if you are constantly and predominantly hanging out with the wrong crowd. (1st Corinthians 15:33; Romans 12:1–2) Abraham separated from his unwholesome and spiritually unhealthy relationship with Lot and God showed him the land He had promised him. (13:14-18) It was then and only then that he was free to worship the Lord again.
I have many times shared with you a great principle I learned a long time ago. “You cannot soar like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys!” As you seek to build this altar of service to the Lord you will encounter many roadblocks. One of them will be relational. You may have to evaluate the people you hang out with and determine if they are helping you to soar spiritually or they are dragging you down in your faithfulness to your God. The Lord tells us today that we may have not only to part from our stuff but also from some of our relationships to be holy and pleasing to God in our service. It’s up to you. What will it be; will you obey or will you keep on as you are?