Do you have an altar in your life? Abraham had altars, Lot did not. God wants to meet us. Choose life. Man made to glorify God. We are awake for we have an altar. Jacob was lame and could only know God with his weakness. He leaned upon his staff and granted blessing. (Genesis 13:4-5; Genesis 48: Hebrews 11:21)
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller
7:00 PM on 4/15/2020
P. Schaller –
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Thank you, ladies, musicians. P. Pete, thank you. There is a rap
tonight after service with two young people, Elena Occhiolini and Austin Nye and Pastor Pete
and whoever else you want there. P. Scibelli is here and I’m here. I’ll let you make that call. I
don’t want you to have to choose between us! I want to share a message tonight. First of all,
we did have a beautiful drive-in service Sunday morning at 11:00. I want to give all the praise to
God for that meeting. How it happened, the team here is an amazing team of people and the
blessing of Psalm 133 for God commands a blessing when we dwell together in unity. It’s a
different kind of unity, a unity that is spiritual that John 17 speaks about.
It’s a unity that nobody can reproduce. You cannot make this happen by any means. It is the unity of the Spirit.
It is the unity of the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. That unity is a blessing. There is a blessing.
God commanded a blessing when we are in unity. I want to share tonight from a few portions
on the subject of worshiping God, being a worshiper and the grace of God given to us
through Jesus Christ. The second thing: Sunday morning, this past Sunday morning when we
came together and honked our horns and waved and enjoyed the event being so unusual and
so unique. Easter. The celebration of Christ raised from the dead.
The period of time we are in now in the world with this pandemic, that period of time we are in in our country can bring to surface things that are in our lives. I want to speak about the unbeliever at this period of time
and then I want to share a little bit about the believer and a few points on that. First of all, the
unbeliever. If you turn with me in your Bibles to Genesis 13, we have the story of Abraham who
went down into Egypt. When he came out, he went to the place of the altar in vs. 4. Do you
have an altar in your life which you had made at the first? When you first became a believer,
God introduced you to an altar. What altar is it?
The only altar where God will meet people. God will not meet people outside of this altar. Behind every cry is what he is looking for in the heart of a person. That person comes. He brings them to the altar. This is very important. After Abraham made the altar, I believe he had six of them in the book here in his life. When he’s
making decisions, he has an altar. When he’s traveling and moving, he has an altar. In this
chapter, he gets, his herdsmen get into a conflict with Lot’s herdsmen and decide to go
separate ways. Abraham has an altar in his life. Wow! I want to preach that Abraham has an
altar in his life. Wow! I have two sons. I’m so thankful for them.
They are a gift to my wife and I. I have two daughters. I’m so thankful for them. They are gifts to us and our family. They’re very precious to us. I have had times in my heart where I love them very much. I love them very
much and God spoke to my heart and said give them to me. Give them to me. Give them to me.
This morning my younger son is up in Pennsylvania studying and he is in a program. Of course, I
want the best for him. Of course, I love him. Of course, he is important in my heart. But no, I
have an altar. On the altar is everything precious to you. On the altar is everything you decide.
On the altar is your life. Why do we say this? God gave us an altar. This is a God-given altar. It is where you and I meet God. It’s where we surrender our life to God.
Notice in this story Abraham had an altar and Lot when he is deciding where to live does not have one. He does not
have one. He lifts up his eyes and sees a beautiful piece of property down the road and says,
that’s where I’m going. I’m going to go where the weather is best. I am going to go where there is a party. I’m going to go where I have security. I’m going to go where I get my way. I live my
life my way. He got into a lot of trouble. This morning by way of testimony I checked my heart
about these things. Another thing people love very much and I think it’s affecting people; we
love our jobs but what about I don’t have one right now. We love our homes but what about
that? We love our wives, our families but what about that? Great. How about our health? Our
health is important to us. But we have an altar. This is the difference between Abraham and
Lot. Abraham brought his life to God.
I was thinking of P. Jay Estabrook up in York, Pennsylvania. One of his leaders came and knocked on my door on Easter and gave a gift. I really appreciated it and the two brothers that came to the house were very precious. I thought about that church that was manned by one elder I believe. You could easily say our church is
past. I’m the only elder left. The congregation is gone. We have a building and not much here.
But that brother had an altar. He could bring the old building, the old way; he could bring the
dead church. He could bring the empty chairs to God. He could bring his tattered soul. He could
bring his empty self. I met the brother but not speaking specifically about him in that way but I
know the principle. No matter where you are at in your life, you and I have God and God wants
to meet us.
That’s the meaning of Easter. Easter is where God is showing us you can go to the
very bottom where everything is dead and gone. You can go to the place where there is nothing
left. You can go to the place where you heart is broken, where you have been married two or
three times and have kids over here and over there and nobody is calling you. You’re by
yourself at the latter part of your life. You have an altar. You have a place where God will meet
you. You have a place that will cost you and I something, but when we go there, what we lose
can hardly be compared to what we gain.
God wants to meet everybody all the time. I believe that there are unbelievers paying attention now not like a few months ago or a year ago. It reminds us of Deuteronomy 30:15, “I set before you life and death.” That’s what we are looking at, life and death. Choose life. What does that mean? God is life. God is the way. Christ is the answer. What
does it mean that God is a God that visits us in the night season, who forgives our iniquity, who
casts our sins in the deepest sea, who puts our name in the book and saves us. We have an
altar. I was reading this little devotional book by E. Stanley Jones. He said about a man, a doctor
who had resentment.
The doctor says, “there was a time I held a strong resentment against an
individual for nearly a year. But almost the moment my letter of apology dropped into the mail
box, the resentment vanished. It has never returned.” It has never returned. When I put a letter
of apology in the mailbox, it was over. I don’t resent him anymore. We have an altar and we
have a God that gives us counsel and advice and direction. Every step where Abraham went, he
built an altar and had fellowship. God spoke to him and God edified him in a spiritual way. I
believe there are many people in our country who want to be edified in a spiritual way. I wrote
down a few things. Maybe I used to go to the health club but now it’s closed.
I have more time on my hands. What am I going to do with myself? Maybe I was addicted to shopping as a way of
sublimating but now the stores are closed or empty. How can I be happy or satisfied or
contented or how can I mollify my wounds or my emptiness that is in my life? The emptiness is
good. It is God speaking to us. Come unto me. I am the living God. You don’t find me in the
store. You find me at the altar. You may not find me in loving yourself. You find me by turning to me. Turn to me and you will be healed. Trust in me. I will answer you. Knock it will be open.
Ask and I will answer. Seek and you will find. Wow! There is another story here. Turn to Genesis
48. I’m stirred up. I’m thinking of the Bible college students.
They are studying in these last weeks and months. I believe we will have an outdoor drive-in service again. We will decide that tomorrow as we look at the weather. I don’t know how the things are going to roll out but I’m
very encouraged because of what I am preaching tonight. I believe there are people tuning in
and seeking for a real answer. I’d like to say to them by simple faith you come with your heart.
We mentioned resentment, addictions, bad habits, negativity. Sometimes the negativity I carry
in my soul is an indicator of how I need an altar. The altar is a place where they slew the animal.
This is the place for us where Jesus died. He was the lamb of God that was slain for us. It’s there
where God has put our sin.
He put our sin on the Son of God so we could meet the Son of God. We could meet God at that place. You come by faith. There is no program. It’s your heart, your trust. It’s looking at him. It’s believing he is enough. He is the Creator of the universe. He is the Savior of the world. He is the one you are made for. In our design there is an adulterated kind of life. Sometimes we illustrate like a Mercedes Benz automobile, brand new, highest quality
and you put it on a ship and punch holes through the windows and put a chain through it and
use it as an anchor in the ocean. A Mercedes Benz weighs a couple thousand pounds and could
be a great anchor for a ship except it’s not made for that purpose. Man is made for something
extraordinary. Man is made to glorify God and be like God.
Man is made not to pine away in negativity and unbelief and fear and worry. Man is made to glorify God and be filled with the Spirit and know God is a God of freedom, a God of love, of purpose, of focus, a God that has
direction. He is the way, the truth, and the life. But because of my emptiness, there is also a
misery. May I say to the body of Christ listening tonight, don’t have this time of emptiness in
your life pull you into alcohol. Don’t have this time of emptiness or boredom or fear or worry
bring you into some vice. Don’t have this trouble with all this extra time perhaps or the worry
or the fear about your family or anything about your life. You have an altar. That misery that is
experienced in the human heart happened to Solomon.
Solomon was seeking and seeking and not finding. Solomon was very wise and capable and very much understanding as I seek these things horizontally, my heart is being vexed. My heart is unsatisfied. Like Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, his heart was vexed every day because he was in the presence of people that did
not find and know God. I’m concerned that people would get used to living without a church,
that people would get used to living without listening, without focus, without concentration.
They may go from movies to movies and Netflix and all the different things that are going on
and the History channel and Discovery and all the entertainment and so on as a continual way
of life with no motivation.
Have you felt it? I lost my motivation. I lost my interest. Can that happen to a person? Yes, it can. But we are awake. We realize I can be tempted but I have an altar. I can be miserable, but I have an altar. I can be afraid, but I have an altar. I can be guilty, but I have an altar. I can be lost, but I have an altar. Keep your eye on me. I have an altar. There is something that God gives to people that have an altar. There is a Holy Spirit presence that
God gives to people that live coming to God and emptying our heart before God and believing
him and the Holy Spirit leading us in the messages and in faith and leading us in vision. I think this is a time of preparation for our summer, that we would like to do mission work. We would
like to care for our city.
That our neighborhoods, we would care for our neighborhoods and God
would give us some divine appointment where we are able to talk in a personal and deep way.
Maybe God is preparing the unbeliever to become a believer. I think it’s time for church
growth. I think it’s time for people to be reading their Bible. I think it’s time for people to be
caring about other people. I heard in the last weeks about some of our brothers meeting in
their parking lot in their own cars and bringing their coffee and coming together in the parking
lot in the morning at 7:00, having a little walk and talking and sitting in their cars and having
prayer and coffee together.
Then brothers and sisters that are listening to Zoom meetings and Go To Meetings and YouTube videos and all of this amazing blessing we are in. Our prayer is that in our hearts that it would be personal for you and me, an altar. We would come alive out of the tomb, off the cross at the death side and life side. We become alive and the Spirit
ministers. We care about our sisters and brothers that are in prisons in Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia and China and Vietnam and other places. We care about our brothers and sisters that
have not even heard the gospel one time. We are not distracted for we have an altar. God gets
our attention and we see God. God leads us on the island of Patmos and says this is not the end
of the road. I have something to show you.
Sweet in his mouth and bitter in his stomach for he understood what reality is. At the altar, you find God’s reality. Then I’d like to say the amazing outpouring of love in the Body. The amazing communication we have with each other. The amazing attitude we see in each other’s hearts. We say glory be to God. It’s because we have an
altar in our life. Let me finish up with a story about Jacob. Jacob was an old man and he put his
hands on Ephraim and Manasseh. I’m sorry because of the time I don’t want to go too much
into the detail. You see it in chapter 48. It’s a beautiful story. Jacob is an old man now, very old.
He said to his son Joseph, I didn’t even believe I would ever see you again, but now I see not
only you but I see your children. Jacob was so touched by that reality.
God had done more for Jacob than he ever realized. That Jacob knew his grandfather Abraham and his promises and the altar and from his father Isaac that had altars. And Jacob also had altars in his life. This is
something about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that understood about being in contact with God.
Now he is old. His body is withered. He’s probably bent over a little bit and blind. He can’t see
very well. He has the two sons and crosses his hands in blessing them. I don’t want to speak
about that point but I want to speak about Hebrews 11 and finish up talking about the meaning
of this. Vs. 21. When Jacob was dying – when Jacob was dying what does a dying man look like?
He’s on the bed and old and withered.
He’s also lame. He’s been lame all this time from when he wrestled with the angel, Jesus Christ, God. This is vs. 32. He was a lame man leaning on the staff. The staff is his way of walking around as a crippled man. He is leaning on the staff. Some of us need that. I need my weakness because I need to know God in my life. You won’t really
know God without weakness. You won’t really know God if you are so strong in yourself. You
won’t really know God if you are so smart and so capable, so skilled and so able and so
empowered. You don’t know God without an altar. The altar is the key to seeing. He’s blind but
he can actually see what son to bless. He goes the younger one will be blessed with my right
hand. Joseph said, no, no! He said, oh yes. In this world, this is how it goes.
God is different from men. God does things differently. We don’t know the ways of God. We don’t know why
things happen. Maybe they happen because God is drawing us to himself. Let’s remember that.
Let’s finish us. Vs. 21. Leaning upon the top of his staff. Couple points. What is he saying to his
sons? You inherit the land. He blessed them, the little boys actually because they came
between Joseph’s legs when he brought them out. They were little boys, toddlers. He is saying
you are tribes and you are going to inherit the land. How do you know that? Because God told
me. God told my grandfather, Abraham. God told my dad, Isaac.
It passed down to me. That blessing is going on you. That’s a real thing. God is working this way in this world. Don’t
underestimate what God is doing. Don’t underestimate what God is doing in your heart. Don’t
underestimate what God is doing in your home. Don’t underestimate what God can do with
your children. Don’t worry about the immediate tension that can happen at different times in a
family. I heard of a family that was in terrible condition – negative, fighting, throwing things and
everything and then they get a visit from Pastor Moore and they get invested in and their lives
turn around. They turn around because someone from the church visits. They turn around
because they hear a message and make a decision.
They turn around because instead of being critical they learn to edify and say yes, yes, yes, many times. Yes, to God. Yes, to God. Yes, to God. Yes, to my wife. Many times. Yes. What can I do for you? Yes, son. Yes, daughter. There is something new because of what Jesus does in our lives. Are you weak? Yeah. Jacob is dying.
He’s not just old. But he’s dying but he blesses because he knows the promise and he knows
who God is. He is leaning on the top of his staff. He knows what the staff means. He’s been
walking with it for a long time. He leans on that and so do we. I don’t know about my son. He’s
an amazing young man and I’m so proud of him in many ways, but his life is in the hand of God.
I don’t know about our Bible college students.
They are precious and I care about them. Every day we do as a team but I don’t know about our Bible college. I don’t know about all the GGCA teachers and parents and everything we are doing by all means for all of our young people. I don’t know where everything is going to go and how it goes, but I know that life is simple if I
have an altar. I I have an altar. I have a death and life that I wouldn’t have. I would not have it
but I have it because God came and met us at the altar. Jesus died there and he was raised from
the dead so we could have new life.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.