There is nothing quite so comforting and peaceful as a campfire with people you enjoy being with! As I was growing up I have many fond memories of our family camping trips!
Almost everyday ended with us kids looking forward to settling in for the night sitting around a warm, inviting, and cozy campfire. The soft glow from the flames revealed the faces of those who were telling jokes, sharing stories from the past, or having quiet conversations.
Dad would occasionally play his harmonica!
Mom always made sure there was an ample supply of hotdogs, buns, marshmallows, chocolate bars, graham crackers, bread, fruit pie filling, and pizza pie fillings!
I always enjoyed singing along, eating the goodies, looking at the stars, listening to the crickets and tree frogs, and catching lightning bugs! I still do!
Memories like these can still captivate us and remind us of times when life was carefree and simple! They allow us to remember precious gifts that were deposited into our hearts before we understood their purpose and value! It is often a place we try to recreate and share with our own loved ones!
I recently read a devotion from Charles Spurgeon that rekindled this memory with a different view. It has held my attention and I have been meditating on it for about a month now and it may be that this will speak to your heart like it did mine!
He was using Lev. 6:13 on the altar of sacrifice to make a personal point and appeal to his readers:
”Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out.”
He opens his observations with this:
Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is the very life of all piety. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here, therefore let this burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer of vital and experimental religion.
For if this fire should be smothered beneath the ashes of worldly conformity, it will dim the fire on the family altar, and lessen our influence both in the Church and in the world.
Spurgeon then closes out this devotion regarding yet another altar:
This text will also apply to the altar of the heart. This is a golden altar indeed. God loves to see the hearts of His people glowing toward Himself. Let us give to God our hearts, all blazing with love, and seek His grace, that the fire may never be quenched; for it will not burn if the Lord does not keep it burning. Many foes will attempt to extinguish it. Let us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart’s fire, they are live coal; let us attend sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.
So let’s consider how this applies to us:
1. Recognize and examine the types of altars mentioned here
The Altar of private prayer
Reminds us to set apart time to pray/commune with the Father for the Church, ministry, our own souls, our children, families, friends, neighbors, our country, the cause of Christ and the truth of God throughout the world.
The Sanctuary Altar and The Family Altar
Reminds us that the strength of our families and Church borrows their fires from our private prayer for them. LET THIS BURN WELL!!!
Cautions us that if we grow dim in our praying life, we will lessen our influence in both the Church and the world.
Informs us that the fire on this altar can be smothered beneath the ashes of world conformity.
The Altar of the heart
Reminds us that God loves us and desires to be the desire of our hearts - glowing for Him!
He invites us to seek His grace, by prayer, to keep our hearts ablaze for Him.
He warns us that we have many foes who will attempt to extinguish the fire of our sacrificial love for Him.
He tells us the fuel for our heart’s fire: Scriptures, sermons, and set apart time alone with Jesus.
2. Adding Fuel To The Fire: SECRET DEVOTION!
It is the quality of life that is marked by:
The habit of discretion in an act of prayer or private worship!
Spurgeon describes this as:
*The very essence (the most significant element, quality, or aspect of our faith and the practice of it)
*The evidence (the bearing witness of our faith and the proof of it)
*The barometer (an instrument that measures or indicates fluctuations of the atmosphere of our faith)
Remember to keep your private prayers burning on the altars of the sanctuary, family, and the altar of your heart and LET THEM BURN WELL!
Any way that I look at it, a campfire was always a calming way to end a busy day of fishing, hiking, exploring, working or playing! So now, when I have a campfire or bonfire, I am reminded that I need to be ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE!
My parents probably didn’t consider the lessons that they were teaching us about the Creator! All while building into us an appreciation and sense of responsibility to enjoy, respect and care for the creation. Some lessons were spoken, but many were not - they were lived out!
I don’t remember if I ever thanked them for the values that they were passing on to me and my brothers about the importance of investing in family relationships! Things like working and playing together, taking care of each other, helping each other, and forgiving each other …because yes, there were sibling squabbles!
While it was less than perfect, the family altar was something that they treasured!
-They practiced it in all of the time they spent in planning, and in all of the preparations that had to be made!
-They proved it by sacrificing their own preferences in things that they would rather do, but chose to invest in quality time as a family!
-And I measure it from the memories!
There was something about that family time together that grounded my heart and made me feel secure and loved!
My parents built a fire on the altar of my heart years ago, and the Lord is daily:
ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE!!