And The Family Altar
“How’s your car running?” That’s a question we often hear. We recognize the importance of keeping our vehicles in good operating order. But let me ask you another question: “How’s your Family Altar running?”
“My family what?” you ask.
“Your Family Altar! What kind of shape is it in? Is it in need of repair?”
“What’s a Family Altar?” you say. “Does it have wheels? What does it do? Will it take me anywhere? And why would I need to fix it?”
One Thing Needful
A Family Altar isn’t a thing. It’s an action. It’s the act of a family coming together to learn of and to worship the Lord. Or perhaps more accurately it’s the Good Shepherd actively getting involved in the family as He speaks to it through His Word.
In our rush-about world other things can easily take priority over the ONE THING NEEDFUL–God’s Word. Bobby has a basketball game tonight. Suzy has a band concert tomorrow. We have parents’ meetings Thursday evening at school. There’s the everyday demands that our jobs and our domestic chores put on our time. Then of course there’s that movie on TV that we just can’t miss. “We’re just too busy. We’ll just have to settle for going to church on Sunday.”
The problem with that thinking is that Sunday worship is only one hour out of a 168-hour-long week. What would happen if we just fed our bodies once a week? When we consider our sinfulness and how we daily need assurance of God’s forgiveness, when we look at the many threats that society poses to our faith, when we reflect upon how fragile we are in times of sickness and trouble–can we really say: “We can get by on a ‘one day, one hour’ dose of God’s Word every week”? Do we really want to be “get-by” Christians?
In 1 Kings 18:30 we read: “He (Elijah) repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” In Elijah’s time the Lord’s altar had fallen apart, apparently due to lack of use. There isn’t a single Christian family today that could honestly deny that their Family Altar couldn’t use a repair job. Well, now is the time to fix it up and tune it up! The way to tune it up is to start it up! The more you use it, the better it works. And, yes, it does have wheels. It will take you places!
Jesus says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life!” (Jn. 10:27-28) Think of it! We have a Shepherd whose voice is filled with Life–ETERNAL LIFE! When we daily gather around His Word, what amazing blessings He imparts!
* There is a tremendous peace that exists within the four walls of a home when the loving words of Jesus echo in the hearts of the family members. It’s a peace of mind that says: “Jesus died and forgave even me. My sin can’t destroy me. Heaven is mine!”
* This forgiving love, in turn, heals the hurts and bad feelings that result from family members mistreating one another, as they are so prone to do. The day by day hearing of God’s Word instills within us an attitude that leads us to “forgive one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
* In His Word we also find direction for making God-pleasing choices. In a society that is giving evidence of the corruption of sin more and more with each passing year, we certainly need such guidance. We could go on and on and on. The blessings that daily family worship bring are truly innumerable and immeasurable!
When he held the office of President, Calvin Coolidge said: “People criticize me for harping on the obvious. Yet if all the folks in the United States would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves.”
What he said to citizens applies just as well to Christian families and their devotional lives. If we would keep the Family Altar in constant running order, our problems would take care of themselves. The Psalmist said it much better: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly . . . But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper (Ps. 1:1-3).”
(If you need some pointers on how to get your Family Altar going again, talk to your pastor. He’d be happy to give you some suggestions. He’d also be glad to order helpful devotional materials for you.)
— Pastor Michael Wilke