Family Alters

Joshua 4:4-7

Joshua 4:4-7

4 So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 6 Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

It was a long day filled with phone calls, emails, meetings, study and a lot of back and forth from one place to another. As I pulled into the snow covered driveway upon returning home I knew my work wasn’t done. I turned over the engine on the snow blower and spent the next 30 minutes clearing the drive of several inches of snow. Upon entering the house I saw Stephanie dutifully changing diapers, feeding hungry mouths and working with caring hands as only a mother can. The children were distracted by various media devices, Legos and play pretend. It was another normal day in the Davidson home. Before long bedtime drew near and the mad dash to get teeth brushed, potty breaks taken care of, jammies put on and water bottles filled became the focus of the evening. Before long the children were fast asleep and another night had gone by and their father had forgotten to sit down with his family and do the most important work of the day. In the mad dash to take care of the many physical needs, dad had neglected the spiritual well-being of the family. Now, I am sure that this scenario has and does play out in the families of LWBC on a near daily basis. The names and faces may be different but the scenario is unfortunately an endless narrative of our lives. At the end of all this, on many days, we often suffer from an extreme misplacement of our priorities. As Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan River after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, from the land of desolation to the Promised Land of plenty, he did not have misplaced priorities.

Upon entering the long awaited rest of God in the land of Abraham he promptly set up an alter to the Lord and gathered the people of Israel to teach them of God’s incredible care and laws. The leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel were commanded to remove stones from the Jordan and set up an alter to God. These stones were not mere pebbles, but rather large and extremely heavy boulders. The root Hebrew word to describe the nature of this alter is, “To build and set surely; immovable”. Joshua set up an immovable monument to the Lord to remind the children of Israel, both young and old, of the greatness of the Lord. Every time the children of Israel cast their eyes upon this monument they were to be taught and reminded of God’s laws, commands and incredible love and mercy for His people. This alter was built upon an unmovable and unshakable foundation of stone, built with the exertion, sweat and care of the leaders of the households of Israel. While you and I were not saved from the literal desolation of the desert of the near east by crossing over the Jordan River, we have been saved from the desolation of sin and wrath. We have “crossed over” from death to life and have been welcomed into God’s promise of eternal life in paradise through the blood of Jesus Christ. My question for each and every house hold leader in the body of LWBC is this. “Have you set up an unmovable alter of family devotions, prayer and bible study in your homes?” Have you, by the exertion of your hands, set in place an immovable “alter” of time to teach your wives and children the incredible truths of God’s laws, commands and mercy to your family? There is no question that setting aside an immovable time of family devotions is a difficult task indeed! With the business of our lives, the distraction of media devices and the endless schemes of the enemy to get our minds off of the Lord and onto various trivial pursuits, it seems that the teaching of God’s truths are often relegated to, “the time we have left over”. The importance of teaching ourselves, our wives and our children God’s truths by the guiding of the Holy Spirit cannot be understated.

Leaders of God’s households, can you set up an immovable time of teaching and devotion in your homes that remains immovable, no matter the distractions at hand? When 6 o’clock rolls around (or whatever time may be decided upon) are you willing to set aside the current work/distraction and gather around the “alter” of family devotion to prayer and teaching? It will be hard work, possibly harder than hoisting the large, heavy boulders from the Jordan and moving them to the set place. But is this alter of sacrifice to the Lord worth more to you and your family than snow removal? Media? Leisure? Or even other “good” work of your hands? Fathers and mothers, husbands and wives of LWBC, this devotion time is not just for those of us with children or even just for those of us who are married. Each and every leader of the home must set up this “alter” and treat it with utmost care and maintain it well. Never chisel away at it, compromise it or alter it in any way, but rather, stay committed to this time of holy communion with our Lord. You will never regret meeting with the Creator of the universe and introducing your family to His truths. You will however, regret dismantling this alter and replacing it with idols.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor John