Reading: Psalm 43
Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause
against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked.
You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?
Send me your light and your faithful care,
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God (NIV).
I want to be proven right. Over and over again I find myself pleading to be heard—pleading to be proven right. That’s what it means to be vindicated. As I look about my country—as I look about the world—and read or watch the news of the day, I see so much injustice. Senseless death and destruction are everywhere.
Courts that are intended to protect the innocent and vulnerable do the complete opposite. Evil is on a rampage. Islamic militants taunt and behead the innocent. Russian tanks invade Ukraine as long range artillery flattens villages. Bellicose dictators threaten nuclear war. Vicious rapists glory in their shame. In our cities gangster thugs roam freely.
But there is a better way—the way of the cross—the way of the Prince of Peace. Why can’t others see it? Why can’t they grasp it? Along with David we cry out, “Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked.”
In this bleak state of affairs, David appeals to the mercy of LORD, “Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.”
David journeys to the altar. He is altered at the altar. The world is altered at the altar of God. Vindication comes at the altar. Victories over sin are won at the altar. Jesus is the sacrifice on the altar of God and when we gaze on him we are changed. Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14-15). Because of the cross—the altar of God—we have hope for the future.
Response: LORD God, alter me at the foot of the cross. I need you to change my heart, my life, my attitude. I put my hope in you, Lord. You are my Savior and my God. Amen.
Your Turn: Has your life been altered by the cross? Are you thankful for what happened there?
For my Canadian readers, I wish you a joyous Thanksgiving Day with greetings from our house to your home.
Have you been altered at the altar? Has God changed you there—really changed you in the hidden places?
Every rightly built house of God has a change table. Most often it’s called an altar. God fixes us up there. That altar can look quite different depending on which church tradition you follow. But the purpose for the altar is always the same. It is the place where we are cleaned up. Sin is washed away.
What parent throws out their infant on the first occasion when they soil their diapers? Every parent knows that baby messes come with the baby. Changing diapers quickly becomes a part of the family routine.
As a father of two infant sons, I had ample opportunity to practise my diaper changing skills. I would lay the baby on the change table and in a minute or two everything was fixed up—put to right—on that change table.
God has a change table for us. He is intimate with us there. The outward trappings of righteousness are stripped away. He sees us completely. You see there is no place for human pride at the altar of God. Our heavenly Father gently lays us down and does his work on us. There is nothing we can hide. Why would we want to? Let’s deal with all of it.
Cleanse me should be our only cry.
I am reminded of what happened at the dedication of the first temple. Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13-14 NIV).
But isn’t the altar just for babies? LORD, haven’t I grown and matured since my first trip to your altar? I would like to think so. I’m not tripped up by the same things anymore. Surely, I don’t have to humble myself yet again!
If we have outgrown the altar, then we have outgrown God. And that’s preposterous!
The LORD God Almighty has not lost any of his awesome power or majesty, simply because we have grown older and supposedly wiser. We are still in need of His correction, His discipline, His mercy and His love. I still need to get onto God’s change table on a regular basis. Moral perfection keeps eluding me. The smugger I feel about my self-deluding, superior spirituality complex, the more I prove that I need to be altered on the altar.
I hear God whispering “Lay down. Lay it all down. I want to change you.”
Response: Lord Jesus, forgive me. Change me. I am not the person I want to be. I need your help to change. Thank you, Holy Spirit for working on me from the inside out. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been altered at the altar? Have you outgrown the altar?