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Rebuilding the Altar of the Lord

“No man is greater than his prayer life….failing here, we fail everywhere.” Leonard Ravenhill

It is time we rebuild the altar again brothers and sisters.  The Spirit of God is calling us to return to the prayer closet.

Remember the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel? Before the fire of God could fall on the offering, Elijah had to rebuild the altar of the Lord “that was broken down“.

Broken down… neglected…disused….Nobody cared enough to do something about it until Elijah came.    It was a time of backsliding in Israel. Evil king Ahab was ruling with his evil wife Jezebel.  Witchcraft and the occult was abounding, people were turning away from the true God and to lesser gods. Sound familiar?

And then Elijah comes to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord.

Just like John the Baptist would do later, Elijah confronted the people with his holy life, and with his words:

“How long will you falter between two opinions?”

But they answered him not a word. How sad. When God’s people no longer seek Him they lose the conviction within them for the truth, they go silent on good and evil. Things that were once detestable to them slowly start to be tolerated. It’s a recipe for lukewarm-ness.

“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” 1 Kings 18:30

Notice Elijah rebuilt the altar in front of the people. His life was an example to others, just as ours should be, particularly in ministry. We can’t call others to pray if we aren’t doing it ourselves.

The altar represents prayer, coming before the Lord and offering up the sacrifice of praise.

Let’s rebuild the altar again Church so that the fire of God can once again fall!

 

God bless!

 

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Jesus Christ and The Brazen Altar part 3

So far in our study of the typology of the Brazen Altar we have seen :

source: blingcheese.com

source: blingcheese.com

  • The word “altar” literally means “slaughter place”, “high” or “lifted up”
  • That it was made from Bronze/brass representing God’s judgment against sin; and acacia wood representing the incorruptible humanity of Christ.
  • That the Brazen altar is a picture of Christ Himself and His blood atonement

The Brazen Altar is Also a Picture of the Cross

A Place of Substitutionary Death

As we saw in the last post, the altar was a place of shed blood, a place of death. The place where God’s judgment on sin was poured out upon the innocent animal, whom took the place of the sinner. There the blood was poured out and the fire of God consumed the sacrifice.

Of course at the cross Jesus’ blood was shed and He took the judgment and wrath of God upon Himself for our sins. Jesus’ death upon the cross fulfilled all of the Old Testament sacrifices and did away with them once and for all.

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:12-15

Outside the Camp

cross-on-hillOnce an animal had been sacrificed on the altar, the remaining ashes and the offal were taken outside the Israelite’s camp to be discarded and burned.

And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen trousers he shall put on his body, and take up the ashes of the burnt offering which the fire has consumed on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments, put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.” Leviticus 6:10, 11

This also points to Jesus Christ who suffered “outside the camp”. Calvary was outside of the walls of Jerusalem in a place of shame.

For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” Hebrews 13:11,12

As followers of Jesus Christ we are to gladly bear His reproach too. Sometimes we are persecuted, shamed and rejected because we follow the Lord. This means we are following in the footsteps of our Master. Let us not try to court the world’s favour, instead “let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” Hebrews 13:13

The Horns of the Altar

Horns signify the strength or power of the animal. The altar had one on each corner. The animal sacrifice would be bound to the Brazen altar by these four horns. So too was Christ nailed to the cross. Whilst the animal that was sacrificed had no choice in the matter, Jesus Himself did, and He willingly laid down His life for us.

““Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again….” John 10:17,18rickeyminor.org

The four horns of the corners of the altar speak to us of Christ’s sacrifice being for all of humankind – the power of His grace extending to the four corners of the earth. They also signify the power of the gospel going out to the four corners of the earth.

The Fire on the Altar

God Himself lit the fire on the Brazen Altar. It was a divine fire, sovereignly started by God, wholly initiated by Him. As we see in Leviticus 9:24 the fire came out from the Most Holy Place and consumed the burnt offerings on the altar:

Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:23-24

It was unacceptable for man to light his own fire, in fact it was a crime was punishable by death. We see this with Nadab and Abihu upon whom the judgment of God fell when they tried to offer profane fire (Leviticus 10). This is a very clear picture for us and one we do well to heed.

You see God has a proscribed way of worshipping Him. It is always on the basis of the blood of substitutionary atonement.

It is always and only the way of the cross.

fireGod sending the fire of judgment upon the Brazen Altar was His acceptance of the offering presented there. God’s fire of judgment falling upon Christ at the cross showed forth His acceptance of His Son as the perfect offering for sin. Our sin was judged at the altar of the cross by the divine fire and because of that we are able to stand before God. If we bypass the fire of that altar, then we are choosing to stand before God apart from the death of Christ and be judged according to our own works. Of course the judgment that has to fall on the flesh is death because “the wages of sin is death”.

God commanded that this fire was to never go out.

A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out” Leviticus 6:13

The fire was lit sovereignly by God but was to be maintained by man. It was to never go out and so it was the responsibility of the priests to bring the wood every day to keep the fire burning for the morning and evening sacrifices.

We saw previously that the fire signified God’s judgment on sin. However this fire also speaks to us of the Holy Spirit. When we accept Christ as the divine substitution for our sin, and subsequently lay down our lives for Him, God sends the Holy Spirit to live within us. The basis for the Holy Spirit coming to live within us is always the altar or cross of Jesus Christ. It can never be initiated by us and our fleshly good works. His divine life enters our spirit by His Spirit only when we have been to the cross, and suddenly a fire is kindled within.

Although God sovereignly ignites the spark it is our responsibility to maintain the divine fire every day, just as the priests did. We are to pray and read the Word of God daily. This is the way in which we keep the fire of God burning within.

 

Next Lesson… The Brazen Laver


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Jesus Christ and the Brazen Altar – Part 2

When God instituted the Mosaic Covenant it was strictly with the nation of Israel. Why then do we, the people of the New Covenant, have an interest in studying it? The answer is varied, but one part of it is this:

  • through the Mosaic Covenant God showed forth some wonderful eternal truths pointing to His Son and the Church.

It is worth looking into these things because it adds layers and depth to our faith as God reveals these truths to us by His Spirit.

In the last post we saw the significance and typology of the materials used in constructing the Brazen

source: mudpreacher.org

source: mudpreacher.org

(or bronze) altar of the Tabernacle of Moses and we saw that the altar was a picture of the cross of Jesus Christ. In this post we will look at the significance of the blood of the altar and how this points to Christ’s atonement for us.

The Altar of Blood

Having just been confronted with the 7.5 feet high linen walls of the Tabernacle, signifying God’s holy righteousness, the sinner enters through the one and only entrance of the Tabernacle – the Gate.

Now the first piece of furniture he encounters is the Brazen Altar. Imagine standing in front of this piece of furniture.  This is where where many, many innocent animals had been slain for the sins of the people. It was not a pretty picture. It was most likely intimidating. The altar was the place of death and blood. The place where the full penalty of sin became gruesomely obvious. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

source. kenraggio.com

source. kenraggio.com

It represented sacrifice, death and blood atonement. For the sinner to proceed any further into the Tabernacle, innocent blood would need to be shed upon this altar on his behalf. Any attempt to bypass this step and approach God without blood would have resulted in death.

“….without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness of sins)” Hebrews 9:22

No one, not even the High Priest, could approach the Lord except on the basis of innocent shed blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11

The altar demonstrates that the only way a person can meet with God is on the basis of substitutionary atonement. On the basis of BLOOD.

The Blood Covenant

In fact, the Mosaic Covenant became known as the “Blood Covenant” (Hebrews 9:19, 20) due to the huge number of animals that were sacrificed.

“This elaborate sacrificial system with its multiplied continual sacrifices was given for two major reasons.

  • First, it was to illustrate that no amount of continued animal sacrifices could effectively take away man’s sinfulness.
  • Second, it was to point to Christ’s perfect, sinless, and once-for-all sacrifice that could take away man’s sinfulness (Hebrews 9,10).” source (1)

God instructed the Israelites to bring offerings to Him on the Brazen Altar:

Sacrifice Verses Elements Purpose
Burnt Offering Lev 1; Lev 6; Lev 8; Lev 16:24 Bull, ram or male dove. Must be a male without blemish Atonement for unintentional sin; act of worship
Grain Offering Lev 2; Lev 6:14-23 Grain, fine flour, olive oil, incense, baked bread, salt. Always accompanied burnt and fellowship offerings (with drink offerings Act of worship, recognition of God’s goodness and provision; devotion to God
Fellowship/Peace Offering Lev 3; Lev 7:11-34 Any animal without defect or blemish from herd of flock; breads Act of worship, thanksgiving and fellowship (it incl a communal meal)
Sin Offering Lev 4; Lev; Lev 8; Lev 16 1.     Young bull for high priest and congregation

2.     Male goat for leader

3.     Female goat/lamb for common person

4.     Dove/pigeon for the poor

5.     10th of an ephah of fine flour: for the very poor

Mandatory atonement for specific unintentional sin; confession of sin, cleansing from defilement.
Guilt/Trespass Offering Lev 5:14-6:7

Lev 7:1-6

Ram Mandatory atonement for unintentional sin requiring restitution; cleansing from defilement; make restitution; pay 20% fine

Table adapted from NIV Study Bible

 

The Altar & the Blood Point to Christ

“…he must bring to the LORD a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. He is to present the bull at the entrance to the tent of meeting before the LORD. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it there before the LORD.” Leviticus 4:3, 4

Just as the innocent animal became an offering for the sin of the Israelites, so too Jesus became an offering for the sins of the whole world. The New Testament says:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 1 Corinthians 5:21

So we see the Altar is a type of Christ because He is:

source:wordlive.org

source:wordlive.org

  • A substitutionary atonement for us,
  • Blemishless because He never sinned,
  • The innocent substitution on our behalf

At the cross Jesus’ blood was poured out and He took the judgment for our sins upon Himself.  All of the animal sacrifices upon the altar pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of God’s perfect, blemishless Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus death upon the cross fulfilled all of the Old Testament sacrifices and did away with them once and for all.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,  how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:11-14

Next post….

  • Outside the Camp
  • How the altar points to the cross

Sources: 1 The Mosaic Covenant, Kevin J Conner & Ken Malmin


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Jesus Christ and the Brazen Altar

The significance of the Brazen (or Bronze) Altar is huge.  This post will be followed up by two

source: blingcheese.com

source: blingcheese.com

more on the Brazen Altar, in order to attempt to cover as much as possible its incredible importance and typology.

Firstly the word “altar” means “slaughter place”, “high” or “lifted up”.

The Materials and Measurements of the Altar

In Exodus 27:1-8 God tells Moses how to make the altar:

“You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide—the altar shall be square—and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze. Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall make a grate for it, a network of bronze; and on the network you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. You shall put it under the rim of the altar beneath, that the network may be midway up the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. The poles shall be put in the rings, and the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar to bear it. You shall make it hollow with boards; as it was shown you on the mountain, so shall they make it.”

(The material used in both the Brazen altar and the Brazen laver was either brass or bronze, but more likely bronze because it was discovered much earlier than brass.  Bronze and brass are a very similar metal, both made from copper.  Bronze is made from a mixture of copper and tin and is a hard, non-corrosive metal.)

In Jesus and the Tabernacle Materials we looked at the materials used in the construction of the Tabernacle.  We saw that each material was deliberate and represented something important.

Looking at the Bronze Altar, we see it was made from acacia wood overlaid with bronze:

  • Bronze/Brass :             Representing Judgment against sin
  • Acacia wood  :             Representing the incorruptible humanity of Christ

 

God gave Moses the exact measurements for everything in the tabernacle.  Nothing was left to chance or Moses’ own decision.  God specified that the Altar was to be 5×5 cubits wide and long.  It was to be 3 cubits high.  It had 4 horns, one on each corner.

5   is the number of grace, the number of atonement

3 is the number of the Godhead (ie, the trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit).

4  is the number of earth (the 4 seasons, the 4 winds, the 4 corners of the earth) and the creation

Summary:  It is clear that from the materials used in the Altar and its measurements we can see that the Altar represents:

  • God’s judgment against sin
  • Sacrificial atonement
  • Christ’s incorruptible human nature
  • Grace
  • Atonement
  • The Godhead/trinity
  • The whole earth

As noted earlier the word “altar” means “slaughter place”, “high” or “lifted up”.

Jesus Himself said :

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up…” John 3:14

And “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die” John 12:32, 33

When Jesus was crucified He was the offering for sin upon God’s appointed altar – He was lifted up from the earth upon the cross.

The next post will cover:

  • The significance of blood
  • The offerings of the Brazen altar


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Jesus and Incense

In Jesus and the Altar of Incense we saw that the Altar itself is a type of Christ, pointing the way to Him.

censerAs the Altar of Incense fore-shadowed Christ, so too the incense offered on the Altar also fore-shadows Him.  This is how:

The Incense

Old Testament Shadow New Testament Reality in Jesus The Church’s Application
It was made of a delicate blend of four different spices. Each spice had to be of equal quantity, exactly balanced. Jesus Christ is the One in whom is perfectly balanced grace and truth, holiness and love, righteousness and mercy. Christ lives His holy life through the Church, as His Body. “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”
Each spice had to be crushed to a fine powder before it was added to the incense. Christ was “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities”. He was smitten, stricken, crushed. His perfect, sinless life poured out. This points to “death to self”, the humbling of the believer.
Salt was added to the incense – salt is a seasoning and a preserver Salt points to the holiness of Christ and the flavor of His life. The Church is the salt of the earth –a preserving agent.
The incense was burned on the altar in front of the Ark of the Testimony. Christ went through the fire of affliction in His sufferings and ultimately His death on the cross. Our faith is tried by the fire of affliction and suffering.
The incense sent up a sweet perfume which entered the veil into the Holy of Holies, surrounding the Ark of the Testimony. Christ’s sinless life of obedience was as a sweet perfume unto God. Christ has entered the veil  and has made the way open for us too through His shed blood. We are now able to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”
Aaron was to burn the incense in the morning and the evening when he also attended the lamps. “As Christ ministers to the Church interceding for His own, He trims the wicks of the lamps and supplies the oil of the Spirit.”(1) We are to pray in the Holy Spirit. “Prayer is the key for the day, the lock for the night” Corrie Ten Boom
No strange incense was to be offered on the altar, nor was anyone to make for themselves the incense. It was to be holy to God. Points to Jesus being the only Way to the Father, there is no other Name under heaven whereby man can be saved. It’s only through faith in Christ that we are saved. We are to have no other gods before Him. We are to pray in Jesus’ Name.
The incense was to be “perpetual…before the Lord”. Points to Jesus as our High-Priest “who ever lives to make intercession for us.” We are commanded to “pray without ceasing”. Our life is to be a perpetual prayer unto the Lord.

 

The Golden Censer

Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die” Leviticus 16:12-13

Old Testament Shadow New Testament Reality in Jesus and the Church
On the Day of Atonement the High Priest brought a golden censer full of fire and a handful of incense into the Most Holy Place. He put the incense on the fire in front of the Ark so that the cloud of incense covered the mercy seat. He then sprinkled the blood of the sin offering upon the mercy seat. The mercy seat is a picture of Christ Himself. The sprinkled blood points to Christ’s shed blood. The censer of incense is significant of Christ taking the prayers of His people within the veil to God’s presence, on the basis of His shed blood. Read also Revelation 8:1-5

Incense is simply an Old Testament shadow or type of prayer and intercession.  God is no longer interested in the shadows or types, but rather in the eternal realities to which these shadows point.

He is extremely interested in the prayer and intercession of His Church. For the life of a believer to be truly saturated in prayer is well-pleasing to God.

Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” Ephesians 6:18

 

God bless!

  1. Page 49, The Tabernacle of Moses, Kevin J Conner

 

 


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Jesus and the Altar of Incense

“The New is in the Old concealed, the OId is in the New revealed.”

The Tabernacle of Moses was built as an earthly copy of the true, heavenly Tabernacle. As the earthly, temporal priests ministered at the earthly Golden Altar, (or the Altar of Incense),on behalf of the Israelites, so too our eternal Great High Priest ministers at the true Golden Altar in Heaven, on our behalf.

In New Covenant Hope:Jesus Our Priest we saw that Jesus was made Priest by an oath:

God has sworn and will not relent: You are a priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek” Psalm 110:410-1_altar-of-incense

The ministry of the priesthood in the Tabernacle of Moses points to Jesus Christ’s ministry now as our Great High Priest. Understanding the principles concealed in the Tabernacle of Moses unlocks so many wonderful eternal treasures about the One we love, Jesus Christ. It also relates to us as believers in our ministry of prayer and intercession.

 

The Altar of Incense  itself is a type of Christ:

Old Testament Shadow New Testament Reality in Jesus The Church’s Application
It was made of acacia (or shittim) wood. Acacia wood was a very durable, non-decaying wood. Wood points to Christ’s human nature.Non-decaying wood points to His incorruptible, sinless humanity.
 It was overlaid with gold Points to Christ’s Divinity/Godhood
It had four horns on each corner of the altar. Horns are the strength and power of an animal. Points to all power given to Christ in heaven and earth. Points to the gospel of Christ going to the 4 corners of the earth under the authority of Christ’s Church
On the Day of Atonement blood from the Sin Offering was applied to the horns of the altar and sprinkled seven times. It is Christ’s blood that was shed on Calvary (or the Brazen altar) which forms the foundation of His ministry of Intercession. The blood of Jesus allows us to stand before a Holy God and gives power to the incense of prayer.
It had a crown (or moulding) of gold around it. Points to Christ being the King-Priest The Church joins Christ in His King-Priestly ministry as a kingdom of priests.
It was 2 cubits high, making it the tallest piece of furniture within the actual Tabernacle Points to the highest ministry of Christ now on behalf of the Church – prayer and intercession The highest ministry of the Church is also intercessory prayer
It was in the Holy Place, in front of the veil, before the Ark of the Testimony. It was the nearest piece of furniture to the Shekinah Glory of God. Points to Christ’s earthly life of prayer and His ascension to the presence of God in His High-Priestly ministry. Points to the place of prayer being the closest place to the presence of God.

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2

Next post….Jesus and Incense

 

 


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Holy Fire vs Profane Fire

” A fire shall always be burning on the altar, it shall never go out.” Leviticus 6:13

This verse jumped out at me the other day as I was reading that most mis-understood of books, Leviticus. I’d like to share with you what God brought to my heart.

Leviticus 6:8-13 is the record of the law of the burnt offering. This is Old Covenant stuff yes, but the principle presented here is eternal, and is recorded for our benefit.

God is here setting forth His commands to the priest, Aaron and his sons. All believers are now priests unto God under the New Covenant, so there is something here for us.

“And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, is shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings.” Leviticus 6:12

Two points here:
1. God requires that the fire on the altar never goes out
2. God requires that the priest shall keep the fire burning by bring wood every morning

Where does the fire come from? It is a divine fire, lit by God Himself.

“…Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:23, 24

The fire must be lit by God to be holy. God will never accept our self-effort, it is a “profane fire” to Him. The fire must be initiated by Him and comes from Him alone. We see on the Day of Pentecost the fire of God settling upon each of those in the Upper Room (Acts 2:3). This was fire sent by God, as John the Baptist had prophesied “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but He who is coming after me is mightier than I… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11.

All of our fleshly works must be consumed. Look at what happened to Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu when they offered the “fire” of their own self-effort…

“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:1, 2

So we see that God will never accept fire, or works, initiated by man. However God does require man to play his part too.
Whilst the fire is initiated by God, God gives the responsibility to maintain the fire to man. God will never do for us what He expects us to do ourselves. So He commands the priests to keep the fire burning, to not let it die out.

How do we keep it burning continually? Well God even tells us how to do that…
“And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning…” Leviticus 6:13
Praying and spending time with the Lord, in His Word daily keeps the fire burning.

“…and lay the burnt offering in order on it…” Leviticus 6:14. How?
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1

“You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire.
Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.” Leonard Ravenhill

Be blessed!