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The Source of Ministry
June 2015

True believers know that they are called to minister for Jesus in some capacity.  Every believer is told to go throughout the world and make disciples by sharing the Gospel.  We have all been given the ministry of reconciliation.  We are all called to be the light of the world that shines in the darkness so that whoever receives that light shall glorify the Father in heaven (Ref. Matthew 28:18-20; 2nd Corinthians 5:18-19; Matthew 5:14-16).  In short we are all called to ministry.  It doesn’t matter if you stand behind a pulpit on Sunday morning or just throw scripture text written on a slip of paper out the window of our apartment.  The point is that God wants to put His anointing and grace on all believers in order to permeate the earth with the Gospel of His Kingdom (Ref. Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-20).

Ministry however, carries with it an awesome responsibility, much understanding and wisdom, absolute consecration and total dedication for it to be successful and fulfilling.  Therefore let us examine "where we must be firmly grounded in order for our ministry to succeed?"  Have you ever asked the question why so many ministries are devoid of power and results and as a consequence, fail?  Could it be that they have never learned from whence a ministry's life, fruit and power originate?

All ministries must find its life, its fruit and power in the Holy of Holies.  For all ministries that originates and exists outside of the Holy of Holies are self centered, conversely all ministries that flow from inside the Holy of Holies are God centered; for it is in the Holy of Holies where God dwells, indwells and directs.  God’s ministry is for one purpose alone; salvation; yes!  But that is only the first step on the journey to making disciples (Ref. Matthew 28:19)!  But in order to make true disciples we must first be a regular visitor on God's designed altar found only in the Holy of Holies.  Only there we will receive His life, His will for our life, His power, His anointing and the fruit that goes along with His presence; in short; a successful ministry.

While attending Bible College there was this foreign student staying in the single dorms that was complained about by many of the students because he would often pray through the night and his prayers were often spirited and energetic; so much so that they often kept the other students up at night.  Some of the students complained about the resulting lack of sleep and the young man was at the center of their complaints.  This continued until the student's first outdoor evangelistic campaign when the young foreign student had tremendous results in his witnessing and his intercession, unfortunately the others had little to no results. The Lord made sure everyone understood the reason why.  This foreign student understood that any and all ministry starts from spending time at the altar found only in the presence of God in the Holy of Holies.

The Holy of Holies is found in God’s tabernacle which is called the “Tent of Meeting” (Ref. Exodus 39:32, 40, 40:2, 6, and 29).  It was called the "Tent of Meeting" because it was the place God promised to meet with His chosen people (Ref. Numbers 25).   The Altar is the place located in the innermost center of the tabernacle, called the Holy of Holies; the place where the person and power of God meets the presence of man.  It is a divine meeting place chosen by God where He can commune with His children; it is the place where God dwells; a place where we find wisdom, guidance, help, power, truth, anointing and direction of God. God dwells above the mercy seat and desires to meet with His people and commune with them.  Seven times the Word of God tells us that the Lord sits “between the cherubim to meet with us” (Ref. Psalms 80:1; 99:1). “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you...” (Exodus 25:22). This was the holiest of all altars. God revealed His heart and mind from His place above the Mercy Seat between the two Cherubim.

What exactly is an altar?  What is the purpose of an altar?  Are there different kinds of altars?  The word altar (Hebrew – mizbe’ah) comes from a word meaning “to slay”).  It is any structure on which sacrifices are offered. The corresponding Greek word "thusiastērion" is used in Hebrews 13:10-12 for the sacrifice offered upon it.  The sacrifice referenced in Hebrews 13 was Jesus Christ who offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin.

Altars fall under two different classifications which are so dissimilar in appearance that no reader could possibly confuse them. The first was an altar consisting of earth or un-hewn stones (Ref. Exodus 20:24-25).  

It had no fixed shape, but varied with the materials.  It might consist of a single large stone (Genesis 28:10-13; Judges 13:19; 1 Samuel 14:33-35) or a number of stones (1 Kings 18:31).  It could have no horns, because it would be impossible to give the stone horns without cutting it, nor would a heap of earth lend itself to the formation of horns.  It could have no regular pattern for the same reason. On the other hand we are given a group of passages that refer to altars of quite a different type. We read of Altars, of fixed measurements and a particular pattern, usually made of bronze.

The first will be termed “Lay Altars” since the Law permitted any layman to offer certain sacrifices at an altar of earth or un-hewn stone without the assistance of a priest.  The second will be referred to as “Horned Altars,” due to their possession of horns which, as already pointed out, could not exist in a "Lay Altar" that conformed to the provisions of the law. The "Horned Altar" is rectangular, containing horns on the four corners at the top. More importantly the material used consisted primarily of bronze.  The whole construction was unlike that of the ordinary "Lay Altar." This Altar was usually found in a Holy structure designed by God and built and used according to God's very specific specifications and used only by priests.

The difference is plain the “Lay Altar” was an altar built by man’s own Imagination, wisdom, desire, strength and the sweat of his own-brow. Once completed to his own satisfaction it was then dedicated to God.  The “Horned Altar” was one designed in every detail by God.  It was to be built to specific dimensions and pattern that God ordained using the precise material determined by God. Once built to God’s satisfaction it was then allowed to be presented to Him but only by His chosen and blood bought vessels – the priests.  

"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...?" (1st Corinthians 3:16)! Are you also aware that you are the sacrifice called by God to be offered on the altar of God each and every day of your Christian life (Ref. Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17)?  It is my responsibility to build an altar to the Lord in my heart, maintain it, and visit it frequently.  I take my sin, sorrow, faults, and failings to God at this altar and offer them as I would a burnt offering, letting God’s fire consume them and reprove me. I take my confidences, joys, and praise as peace offerings, willingly sharing them with my Master and continually submitting them to Him. I call on the Lord at this altar, discussing my requests and desires with Him, and seeking His face concerning them.

Finally, it is at my heart's altar that God answers from Heaven by fire and since my body is the temple, I can never leave my altar. As I maintain altar-consciousness and listen for God’s voice, I will hear Him speak through His Word, through other Christian brothers and sisters, and even through observations of nature, which after all is the work of His hands.  Consider this:  "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, (5) you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:4-5).

I encourage you today to become altar-conscious. If you’re just starting out, build your heart’s altar to the Lord by making a determination to spend daily time with Him. You may have to repair your neglected altar. That’s all right; just do it and take up where you left off.  If you already spend regular times with God, keep it up. Whatever the case, it’s a joy to know that God eagerly desires to spend time with you.

What kind of altar are you building for God?  This question is too often not considered or even thought about; but it is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself.  It is a question when correctly answered will change your heart, mind and ministry beyond your wildest imagination. 

Are you building an altar to dedicate to God designed by your own hands and built by the sweat of your brow?  Or are you building an altar whose design comes from God’s own heart; an altar that He has dedicated to Himself alone and demands you to use?  If you are building your own altar to use that is good. This kind of altar will allow you to hear from God and you will be blessed because God will meet you there.  However that being said, it is time to rethink what you are doing and start building anew.  Only this time, allow God to ordain the material and create the design.  Why? You may ask; because God desires more for you!  Creating your own altar is equivalent to the Israelites desiring the land on the east side of the Jordon and not following God into His chosen and promised land on the west side of the Jordon.  In other words God desires more for you than second best.  Do not get me wrong, God was with them on the east side of the Jordan, God permitted them their request for that land and God blessed them there, but it was still not the best God had for them.  It is like making it to the Super Bowl or the World Series and being so content that you choose not to win the title.

On the other hand, being in the perfect will of God brings blessings which are beyond imagination 

(Ref. Ephesians 3:20).  All that God wants for you are now there for the asking; His promises, His presence, His power, His possessions and His purpose for your life lay right in front of you.  This altar's position demands the holiest and purest of sacrifices because it is where the fire of God emanates; the fire that will consume you, for good or bad (Ref. Exodus 24:15; Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; Hebrews 12:28-29).  Meaning a much more consecrated life must be offered as a sacrifice to God.  This individual if not pure of heart will never be allowed to enter the Holy of Holies and receive the indescribable and unfathomable riches contained within its walls nor will he ever experience the consuming fire of God.  Simply stated; how much of God do you really desire?  Build your altar accordingly! 

Another reason for building this type of altar is the coming tribulation.  It will demand an altar built in accordance with God's heart; designed by Him and built with His designated material an altar capable of handling the consuming fire of God.  The Scripture warns us that "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (13) each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. (14) If any mans works abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (15) If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" (1st Corinthians 3:11-15).

A Godly altar contains three important elements.

1.      The Structure – We are the structure made according to material and design shown us by God
(Ref. 1st Corinthians 3:16).

2.      The Sacrifice – We are the living sacrifice which is to be sacrificed daily within God's holy temple (Ref. Romans 12:1).

3.      The Priest – "We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people" (Refer 1 Peter 2:5, 9). 

In these last days God is raising up Holy, sanctified, dedicated and courageous believers from all around the world who will stand and defend the altars of God. They will not permit anything unholy to stand before it even if it means their lives. Are we ready to defend the altar of God with our lives?  If so it will demand 15 things of us. Read the story found in 1 Kings 18:17-40 and you discover what those 15 requirements are.

  1. We must be willing and strong enough to face the enemies of God alone - (1 Kings 18:9).

  2. It calls for a decision - (1 Kings 18:21-22).  Will I wholly follow God or not?

    1. Laodicea – If neither hot or cold you will be forcibly expelled – Revelation 3:14-16

  3. It calls for genuineness - (1 Kings 18:30-31).  Elijah finding the ruins of the Lord's altar chose to repair it (verse 30).  He made it clear that he was not about to introduce any new religious system or idea, but to revive the faith and worship of their fathers’ and return them to their first love, their first works. He repaired the Lord’s altar with twelve stones, according to the number of tribes in Israel.

  4. It calls for a total repair of the altar - (1 Kings 18:30).  We must clean it, purify it and fix its imperfections and as soon as we start to repair it more imperfection and weaknesses will appear.  Therefore, all repairs will be ongoing; they will only stop when Jesus brings us to glory.

  5. It calls for building it with living stones according to God's design, built on a solid foundation - (Ref. 1 Kings 18:31-32).  Ephesians 2:20-22 confirms this when it says; "being built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone, (21) in whom all the building being fitted together grows into a holy temple in J the Lord, (22) in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."

  6. It calls for building a fence and establishing boundaries - (1 Kings 18:32) If you are the Altar of God you must set yourself boundaries that do not allow any entrance by that which is unholy. And as the priests of your household you must establish a family Altar (Ref. Genesis 12:8; 13:18, 26:25) with fences and boundaries that totally protect them from evil as well.

  7.  It calls for order in your altar - (1 Kings 18:33) When the altar (your life) (Ref. 1 Timothy 1:4-5, 18-19, 3:1-7) is properly set up and in order with first things first, all ministry increases because the foundation is solid and secure (Ref. Luke 6:48; 1 Corinthians 3:10,11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Timothy 6:19; 1 Peter 2:6; Revelation 21:14). God cannot honor disorder - for order multiplies order and disorder multiplies disorder (Colossians 2:5-10).

  8. It calls for a perfect sacrifice - (1 Kings 18:33) you are that sacrifice (Ref. Romans 12:1-2) you must die for only a dead sacrifice can be offered (Ref. Romans 6).

  9. It calls for facing challenges - (Ref. 1 Kings 18:33-35) All ministries face desperate challenges – some self created others presented to you either by God for purification and strengthening or by the devil to destroy you and the work of the ministry (Ref. Matthew 18:7; 24:6; Luke 21:9).

  10. It calls for doing all things in God’s timing and at His word – (1 Kings 18:36) So that everyone knew that he was divinely directed in all that he had done publicly as a prophet, in proclaiming the drought, in gathering this assembly, and in proposing this trial. We must only operate in the Rhema word of God, not on yesterday’s experiences or other ministries, or successful formulas, but only on God’s word and in God’s perfect timing, respective to our function and calling in the Body of Christ.

    1. The timing is extremely significant because it was done at the third oblation, or the “ninth hour” or 3:00 pm, which is often referred to evening or twilight (Exodus 12:6, 23:5 cf. Matthew 27:46). The significance of this hour is that it was the same time of the day that the “Passover lamb and the “sin offering” were to be sacrificed. This Elijah understood and used to demonstrate his unwavering obedience and reverence to the God of Israel. Jesus was sacrificed at the ninth hour of the day also.

  11. It calls for a positive and unwavering attitude - (1 Kings 18:37) Never waver, always believe that God is the heart changer. He is in control and no situation is beyond His influence (Malachi 4:6; Luke 1:16; Romans 11:26).

  12. It calls for the fire of God - (1 Kings 18:38) we need the Holy Ghost fire in our ministries for the hearts of men and women everywhere to be changed. Fire in the Old Testament is specially associated with the Divine presence of the Godhead, e.g. in the making of the Covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:17), in the burning bush. (Exodus 3:2-4), in the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21), on Sinai (Exodus 19:18), in the flame on the altar (Judges 13:20). Yahweh was “the God that answers by fire” (l Kings 18:24, 38).

  13. It calls for being fearlessness in the face of certain trouble - (1 Kings 18:17-20) Elijah faced Ahab and the 450 prophets of Baal along with the 400 prophets of Asherah.

  14. It calls for absolute separation from all things not of God - “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (15) And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? (16) And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (17) Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (18) “1 will be a father to you, and you shall be My Sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 cf. 1 Kings 18:40).

  15. It calls for an absolute expectation that God will move and bring breakthroughs on your behalf - (1 Kings 18:41-42) “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. (22) AAnd whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

When all these demands are met God is assured to answer with fire; because there is something very special in the all consuming fire of God.

  1. God’s presence is in the fire ((Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2, 13:21, 19:18; Judges 13:200)
  2. The voice of God speaks from the fire (Deuteronomy 4:33, 5:24-26) - Israel heard the voice of God speaking from the mountain through the fire.
  3. The Holy Spirit's influence is in the fire (Matthew 3:11) – I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
  4. Tongues is found in the fire (Acts 2:1-2)
  5. Judgment is in the fire of God (Deuteronomy 5:26; 18:16; 1 Kings 18:24)
  6. Our oblations are made by fire (Exodus 29:25; Leviticus 21:6)
  7. Holiness is represented by the fire (Leviticus 21:21) –the offerings made by fire to the Lord cannot have any defects whatsoever.
  8. Provision and nourishment is in the fire (Exodus 12:8-9) – Priests must eat only the sacrifices after they were cooked in fire – this was there portion
  9. Miracles are linked to the fire (Genesis 15:17; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 1 Kings 18:38) - Abraham Sacrifice, David’s Sacrifice, Elijah’s Sacrifice
  10. Inspiration is found in the fire (Isaiah 6:6-7) – Isaiah’s coal off the altar
  11. Fire is a signal for War (Jeremiah 6:1) - “0 you children of Benjamin, Gather yourselves to flee from the midst of Jerusalem! Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a signal-fire in Beth Haccerem; for disaster appears out of the north, and great destruction.”
  12. The Word of God is likened to fire (Jeremiah 5:14; 23:29) — for judgment and correction
  13. Guidance is in the fire (Exodus 13:21) — pillar of fire
  14. Protection is in the fire (Exodus 14:24) — Pillar of fire used to trouble the Egyptian army
  15.  God’s enemies are destroyed by His fire (2 Kings 1:9-12) – Elijah sends fire upon the captains of 50 sent to bring him to the king of Israel Ahaziah
  16. God’s power is in the fire (Psalm 104:4; Jeremiah 20:9; Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16) – the Holy Spirit will baptize you with fire.
  17. Purification is found in the fire (Numbers 31:23; 1 Peter 1:7 Revelation 3:18) - “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”
  18. God's anointing is found in the fire (Jeremiah 5:14) - “Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts: “Because you speak this word, Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, And this people wood, And it shall devour them.”
  19. The Glory of the Lord as seen by His people is found in the fire (Exodus 24:17) – “The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.” In this Scripture the word consuming means to be completely devoured – here it is referring to sin. That can be applied in two ways, one for the ungodly the other to the Godly.
    1. To the ungodly – It will do to them what was done to Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2)
    2. To the Godly – It will completely devour all the sin within us and as a result we will die to ourselves allowing Christ to live in us. For as I die – Christ lives. Paul said it is not longer I who live but Christ who lives within me (Galatians 2:20)

Therefore we must,

Pray for itJohn 14:14 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (15) “If you love Me, keep My commandments. (16) And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever (17) the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (18) I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

    Seek diligently for itMatthew 13:45-46 - “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it”

    Most of all expect itMatthew 21:22 - “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Mark 11:24 - “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” We want the fire of God in our lives and in our church do we not?  Then we must pray for it.  If we desire the fire let us do so with utmost longing crying before the altar of God day and night for it; but at the same time let us count the cost of obtaining it. It will change the way we live and as a result it will change our neighborhood, county, state and world (Ref Acts 1:8).

Let me summarize – NO HOLY PLACE EXPERIENCE – NO GODLY MINISTRY. Only those who present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God with pure hearts and hands continually, are allowed entrance into the Holy of Holies.  It is only through that experience can we know God's will for our lives and ministry.  It is only after spending long hours there that our faces will shine with the brightness that can be seen and felt by all around you.  Then and only then can we be called great or powerful men and women of God, ministry size and numbers notwithstanding, for all Godly ministry originates from the very heart and mind of God.

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