Building Altars

So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev.”—Genesis 12:4–9 (NLT)

What’s the first thing you do when you get good news or when something awesome happens? I think it’s safe to say that most of us either call or text our friends and family or make a post on social media. 

Our natural instinct is to share the news with others so they, too, can get in on the celebration with us. And while that is awesome and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, I would like to throw this out there: What if the first thing we do whenever we get good news is to build an altar of dedication to the Lord, the One who gave us the blessing in the first place? What if before we call our bae or bros, we instead offer up praise to our God? What if instead of posting a quick Instagram story, we instead pray and thank the Lord for making the good news we have just received possible? 

Notice that twice in these verses Abram builds an altar and dedicates it to the Lord and worships Him. Abram makes it a point to stop and worship the Lord and offer up sacrifices to Him everywhere he went. It was almost as if walking in the calling that God had placed on his life was too amazing to go any further without breaking out into worship every step of the way, not even waiting until he had arrived at his destination and completed all that God had for him. 

Oh, that we would begin to follow this example and stop moving at the pace the world has set for us! That we would pause with frequency to offer up praises to the Lord, to humble ourselves under His mighty hand and acknowledge that our blessings, works, and our accomplishments are made possible by His strength, grace, and good pleasure. As surely as He gave us this blessing to walk in, He will give us the grace to continue to walk in His power and love every day until we get to see Him face-to-face. 

Now, as we begin to do this with regularity, making a habit of building altars and offering up praise to the Lord, we’ll find that our attitudes will change. Gratitude will become more natural as we walk in it! And then, something amazing will happen . . . we’re not just going to find ourselves building altars in moments of celebration, but also in instances of testing, tribulation, and tragedy. Perhaps we’ll follow in the footsteps of Paul, who rejoiced, “whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12 NIV), who was “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9 NIV). 

DIG: What’s the first thing you do when you get good news? What about bad news?

DISCOVER: Why was Abram’s first instinct always to build an altar to the Lord? How often do you stop and thank the Lord in the triumphant, the typical, and the tragic seasons? 

DO: Today, wherever you go, whatever you do, offer up thanksgiving, praise, and dedication to the Lord.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.