01/18/21 Preparing to Build an Altar

READING: Genesis 33-35, Matthew 11:20-12:21

Too often, we head to worship without really preparing our hearts to meet God. We show up for “worship” simply because it’s time for us to gather, and we then expect the worship service itself to bring us into the presence of God. When we haven’t gotten ready for worship, the service then actually becomes only preparation for worship. That is, it moves our heart to get ready to meet God—but then the service ends until the next week. 

We don’t even think about some of the things Jacob did as he prepared to build an altar to God in Bethel. First, he challenged his family to get rid of their foreign gods (a clear reminder that even the patriarchs’ families still struggled with idolatry—so it shouldn’t surprise us that we do, too). They simply could not worship the true God and false gods at the same time. Then, they were to cleanse themselves and change their clothing, both symbolic pictures of a cleansing of the heart and mind. God had been with Jacob wherever he had gone, and He was worthy of absolute commitment from the patriarch and his family. 

It’s only Monday, and we have several days before our churches gather for worship next Sunday. In the meantime, though, it’s right for us to check our hearts every day. How might the worship service be different next Sunday if we gather having first eradicated our idols, turned from our wrongs, and purified our hearts? Building our altars and honoring the Lord together would be a joy. 

PRAYER: “God, show me where my heart really isn’t ready to build an altar of worship to You.”

DAILY ACTION STEP: As God shows you yourself, put away your false gods and cleanse your heart.  

TOMORROW’S READING: Genesis 36-38, Matthew 12:22-50