Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD. Genesis 13:17-18
Abraham built an altar at the site where King David would begin to reign and extend the Kingdom of Israel to its uttermost borders. Abraham walked the entire length and breadth of his inheritance. Finally, at the Hebron altar, Abraham sought the Lord and laid claimed to his inheritance for future generations.
Before anyone can build the altar of ministry, the other two altars of dedication and worship must already be established.
Imagine this for a moment. A man whispered to me in private, “Hey, if you call on me in church I would be honored to pray publicly.” I say, “Great, I’ll call on you sometime.” A few moments later this man’s wife approached me and said, “I really wish you wouldn’t call on him to pray in church. He can do it and has prayed very eloquent prayers before….its just, well uh, I know he never has a quiet time and rarely prays to God alone. He believes in it; he just doesn’t do it. Also, I have begged and begged him to have family devotions and family prayer times with the children and myself but he never does. In fact, he usually calls on the kids to pray during meal time. It would bother me to hear him pray at church when I know he never prays alone or with his family.”
The point is none of us can have an effective ministry unless we have established in our lives the altar of dedication and worship. If you seek to minister before building these types of altars then you will simply be performing. I know you will agree with me that we have had enough of this in church.
Notice what was going on in Abraham’s life just before he built this altar of ministry. God allowed him to separate himself from Lot. (see Genesis 13:6-14)
In order for God to use us for ministry we must separate ourselves from all the “Lots” in our lives. “Lots” are merely the people we have in our lives that will potentially ruin any ministry God develops. What God allows in our earlier walk with Him has to be excluded as we advance spiritually. It is only when we completely separate ourselves that the altar of ministry can be built.
We commonly call this process “keeping boundaries” here at our house. Sometimes in order for you move on with God, certain relationships or friendships have to go. They may even be family members! It is not that these relationships are bad or sinful. They simply keep you from becoming all God called you to be. It is about where God is taking YOU, not them. God will always let you know the boundaries you need to keep and maintain. It is your choice whether or not you are obedient with these boundaries.
Abraham had to separate from Lot before he could fully enter into his promised land and claim the inheritance God had for him. God speaks about boundaries all the time and He has been speaking to you about the boundaries you need to make and keep. He has been doing this for years.
Remember Abraham’s initial call to leave his home, his land, and his family. Yet, when he left, who did he take with him? Lot, his dead brother’s son. Yes, I am sure Lot needed someone to look after him. Yes, I am sure Abraham was the one responsible for him. God allowed Lot to journey with Abraham for a season.
But Abraham’s original call did not include Lot. In fact, the call excluded Lot. As Abraham was entering into the full measure of his blessing there had to be a separation and boundaries had to be kept.
Why? Because if you and I do not keep well maintained boundaries, we will ultimately lose God’s blessings. Notice, Abraham was already dividing up the Promised Land with Lot. This was not what God originally desired.
When we finally kneel at the altar of ministry, we come alone. It is not about anyone else. It is not about being nice and generous to family and friends. Lot was not walking the same spiritual road as Abraham and Sarah. Lot didn’t keep boundaries and frequently compromised. He and his wife ultimately lived in a whole society full of all types of perversions. For the sake of Abraham, if God had not dragged Lot out of the city, he and his family would have been destroyed.
Are you ready to move forward in your call to effective ministry. I don’t know any pursuer of God who has not had to forsake certain relationships in order to maintain spiritual purity. What are your boundaries? Allow the Lord to speak to these issues today.