Sr. Pastor Darrell G Vaughn
                                                        Faithfulness - A Key Step to Happiness
Sept 19, 2010                         "Get the Ashes off the Alter!"

Sun Am Worship                              

Text: Numbers 4:13 (King James Version)

  "Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."

                            The Fields are white and the laborers are few!
2. C.H. Spurgeon said, "If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival;

PULL UP THE ROOTS OF BAD HABITS EARLY

A wise old minister was once taking a stroll through a forest with a curious youth. The minister suddenly stopped and pointed to four plants close by. The first was a tiny sprout, just coming out of the earth. The second had rooted itself quite firmly in the fertile soil. The third was a small shrub. The fourth had grown into a well-developed tree.
The minister said to his young student, "Pull up this first plant." The youth pulled it up easily with his fingers.
"Now pull up the second." The boy obeyed, and with slight effort the plant came up, root and all.

"And now the third." The boy pulled with one hand, then the other, but it would not come. Then he took both hands, and the plant yielded to all his strength.

"And now," said the teacher, "try the fourth." The youth grasped the trunk with all his might, but hardly a leaf shook.

"I cannot move it," he said.

And so it is with our vices, bad habits and all our strongholds. When they are young and small, we can cast them out, but when they are full grown, they cannot be uprooted."

Text: Numbers 4:13"And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon..."

Brothers and sisters, biblically, the origin of the altar goes clear back to Genesis when Noah built an altar to offer sacrifices after the flood. Genesis 8 & 20 says: "And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar." Following that there are many references to the altar, beginning with Abraham and continuing through to the New Testament.

Now in Old Testament times, there were many restrictions concerning the altar. In Exodus 20:24-26, for instance, the altar was to be made "of earth or stone that had not been shaped or cut with human hands" and "there were to be no steps up to the altar."

And then, in Deuteronomy 27:5-6 and Joshua 8:31 it says that "the stones were not to be hewn or cut stones because this would pollute the altar."

Now the altar was used to make animal sacrifices to the Lord. The purification of the altar was accomplished by sprinkling it with blood. Altars were often erected in places where the Lord had accomplished some great work or delivered some prophetic message.

Later, the Israelites had altars in the tabernacle in the desert and once Solomon's temple was built there were altars in the temple. The Lord gave very detailed instructions about where the altar was to be placed and how it was to be built. But the main function of the altar was for sacrifice and worship -- and special care had to be taken to keep it Holy. -- And part of that special care was to "GET RID OF THE ASHES THAT ACCUMULATED ON A DAILY BASIS."

Now why was that important? I'm glad you asked me! Not too many years ago people used coal to heat the house, they had either a coal furnace or a pot belly stove. That old coal furnace or stove provided plenty of heat in the winter and was the appliance that cooked their meals everyday. They didn't have gas or electric heaters and stoves like we have today. They used coal.

The coal man would come once a week, and dump a load in the basement, and those old saints would go down in the basement and shovel it in, or go down there with a bucket and bring up a load to put in the stove.

Now the coal was alright, but coal is dirty and if you weren't careful you'd have coal dirt everywhere! Not only that, but after the coal burned out, there was a big pile of black soot... and if you didn't remove the soot from the stove or the furnace, every now and again, it would smother your fire and cause it to go out.

Now watch this here: One of the jobs of the priests in the Old Testament was to never let the flame on the altar go out, because the flame represented the presence of God. Now they didn't have coal back then ... they used wood. And since the altar flame burned day in and day out, night in and night out, the priest [on a daily basis] would have to go to the altar and scrape the ashes off -- because if they left them there, the ashes were subject to put-out the fire and bring down punishment or Judgement from God on them and the entire camp... and then the priests would redress the altar with purple cloth.

An old pastor told me one time,  The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and having the two as close together as possible.

That may not be the case here today.

 

Now what God dropped into my spirit from this passage: Many of us need to go and get in a proper worship position and scrape-off the stuff that's causing us to miss our deliverance and causing our fire to go out.
Some of you may be wondering why you can't get your break-through... it's probably because you're trying to come to God for a blessing, but you're holding-on to mess in your life!

-- You want God to bless your finances, but you're still playing the lottery!
-- You want God to fix your marriage, but you still want to flirt and sleep around!
-- You want the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, but you still want to entertain Prince Valuam!
-- You want to be used by God, to tear down strongholds in your children or families lives or to minister, but you haven't learned how to get along with the folk you see every day!
-- Whatever you are waiting on or whatever blessing or miracle you may be in need of may be delayed because God is waiting for you to scrape- off your ashes!
[Tell your neighbor: "IT'S TIME TO GET THE ASHES OFF THE ALTAR!"]

Sin regardless of how big or how small still separates us from the Presence and the Power of a holy God!

In JOSHUA 7:1-26
Israel has just been involved in the greatest military conquest in their historythey have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho and they are still basking in the glow of that great event
but verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people

They thought that they were standing on the edge of a great string of victories that would see them conquering the entire land of promise yet what they didn't know at this point was that there was a problem there was sin in the camp

There was one in the midst who was causing a problem for the entire family of God  -expound- The sin of that one man brought judgement on an entire people!

Things are still the same today? folks-we are all members of one body Notice I Corinthians 12:26-27
When one member of the body has problems the entire body has problems
What you do effects the entire Church body! We have people in this ministry that is in desperate need of a Miracle and God is waiting for the alter to be swept clean. 

My desire in preaching this message is that each of you would search your hearts and examine your life expound

Sin causes problems it causes them for the sinner and for everyone else around them remember the first trip to the Jordan

When we allow sin into our lives and when we try to hide our sins and try to cover it up we bring pain and trouble into our lives

You see we are all Achans from time to time and when we are our sins causes aching in our lives and so often in the lives of those around us

However  God has a prescription for an Achan heart

I)--A Painful Defeat-----V. 2-5
Israel was still basking in the glow of their victory at Jericho and they looked at Ai and felt like that little town would be no problem for such a great army
Israel was a confident people, but a closer look reveals that their confidence was misplaced.

 they fell like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little AI These people are guilty of resting on their laurels

Israel did not realize it but they are living through one of the most dangerous times of life you see the time just after a great spiritual victory is a dangerous time
often, like Israel we will be over confident and believe that we can handle any battle that comes our way.
Proverbs 16:18--"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling"

So often when God is growing you in your walk with Him or God is growing a Church you had better watch out Satan is on his way

Confidence is a good thing as long as one's confidence is in the right place

b)--Israel was a conquered people
When Israel went up to Ai they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their men were killed. now looking more closely at their actions it is easy to see that they made several mistakes mistake's that many of us are guilty of making as well

1)--Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that Joshua and the people of Israel sought the will of God for dealing with Ai
If they had prayed God would have revealed the problem before people died expound
It is far better to consult God before we make the mistake than it is to expect Him to clean up our messes afterwards

 

God never has nor will he ever  pour out his New wine in a flask full of Filth.

God wants someone to know that He's trying to feed you a full course anointing, but all He can give you right now is a snack because your divine entree is being contaminated with the ashes of sin!
Have you ever cooked out on the grill and accidently dropped a piece of meat down through the slots in the grill? Be honest... if no one was looking, you probably fished it out, put it back on the fire, finished cooking it, then took it off the grill, put it on a plate and served it to your guests -- but you made sure [when YOU ate] you didn't get that real black, crusty piece, because you knew what it
would taste like!

Well guess what, God wants feed you with the goodness of His Word. -- But before you can enjoy the goodness of the Word, you've got to remove the ashes!

Well here's what I've learned about ashes: [I have three points to give you]

First of all: I'VE LEARNED THAT ASHES ARE BITTER!
No one, in their right mind, enjoys eating ashes. Why? ... because ashes are bitter! WATCH THIS: Some of us have been eating the ashes of painful relationships and experiences for so long .... that now, we're just bitter all of the time with every one we come in contact with!

The Apostle Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:15: "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." In other words, Paul is telling us that the root of bitterness will not only defile US, but folk around us! When we feed on ashes [that is to say when we allow the cruel things that were done to us yesterday affect how we feel and function today] ...

we become bitter, not only within ourselves, but to every person that comes into our lives!

Have you ever been so angry or frustrated by a situation that you snapped at someone who had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to you? Some of us snap at our husbands or wives for stuff our bosses at work did! Some of us punish our children for what our ex's did! Some of us even kick the dog [who loves us unconditionally] because we've allowed the root and soot of bitterness to defile us! But you ought to turn to your neighbor and tell them: "I didn't do nothin' to ya' stop snapping at me for what other folk did!"

Brothers and sisters, I've discovered that the enemy loves to keep, in my face, stuff that hurt me yesterday so that I might be miserable and bitter today. But thank God for Jesus! Jesus said that: "The thief comes to rob, steal and destroy, but I've come that you may have life and have it more abundantly". In other words, Jesus is saying that: "I've come to take off what the devil has put on and to put on what the devil has taken off!"

You need to understand that Satan comes to try to steal from you the morning joy that God's Word promises you will come after you've endured a night of weeping! David said that "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning". -- And I believe that the reason the enemy attacks us with different levels of intensity at any given time is because he has literally peeked into some of our destinies with God and has gotten a glimpse of the joy down the tracks that's
headed our way -- and so, he tries to break into our spirits and `joy-mug' us before our joy train can pull into the station!

Have you ever noticed how intensely and ferociously the devil attacks you after you have had a divine revelation or experience? Satan doesn't usually bother you much when you're just sitting around watching television, or out at the mall shopping, or relaxing on the front porch or back yard on the chase lounger, with a tall, cold glass of iced tea in your hand.

NO... he waits until:
-- YOU JUST CAME OUT OF BIBLE STUDY!
-- YOU JUST FINISHED GETTING YOUR SHOUT ON!
-- YOU JUST MADE UP YOUR MIND TO FORGIVE THOSE WHO HURT YOU OR DID YOU WRONG!
-- YOU JUST DECIDED TO STOP GETTING CRUNKED!
-- YOU JUST MADE UP YOUR MIND TO STOP RUNNING AROUND AND BECOME A GOOD A GOOD HUSBAND OR A GOOD WIFE, OR A GOOD DAD, OR A GOOD MOM!
... THAT'S WHEN THE DEVIL TRIES TO CARRY YOU BACK TO WHERE YOU HAVE JUST COME FROM AND CAUSE YOU TO SIT ON A PICNIC TABLE... AND EAT ASHES! But I wish you'd turn and tell your neighbor: "YOU NEED TO STOP EATING ASHES!"

Ashes are bitter! But not only are ashes bitter, but secondly: ASHES PROVIDE NO STRENGTH
There is absolutely no nutritional value in ashes! Matter of fact, we will grow weaker day by the day if we "FEED ON ASHES". David said in Psalm 102:4 -- "My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread."
And then, he says in Psalm 102:9 -- "For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping."
In other words, David is saying: "I became so busy dealing with yesterday's junk that I forgot to eat the bread of life!" What happens when we forget to eat We grow weak! Likewise, when we fail to eat the fresh bread of life each day, we begin to decline and wither like the grass! That's why you need to start your day off with personal bible study and meditation.
You need to understand that your spiritual strength is directly proportionate to how much fresh spiritual bread you eat daily! I don't care how much you ate yesterday, today's strength hinges on today's meal!

-- I may have been fed yesterday, but I need a meal today!
-- I may have shouted last Sunday, but I need to be able to cut a step today!
-- I may have heard a good word from the pastor last week, but I want to know, TODAY, "Is there a Word from the Lord?"

Let me move on here:
Number 1: ASHES ARE BITTER!
Number 2: ASHES PROVIDE NO STRENGTH!
And number 3: ASHES WILL MAKE YOU SICK!

In EXODUS 16, when the Lord gave Moses instruction concerning the manna, He said, "Take just enough for today, and don't let any sit until tomorrow morning!" However, the Bible lets us know that some people ignored the instruction and kept some overnight and the Bible says that "worms got in it and it stank!" But watch this: when they followed God's instructions and gathered fresh manna every day, the Word says in Numbers 11:8 that: "the people ground it in mills, or
beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil." Anytime you see oil mentioned in the Bible it represents "The Anointing of God!"

What are you saying Pastor?
Yesterday's manna breeds worms and stinks, and if we try to eat it, it will make us sick, but today's manna tastes fresh and strengthens us! You need to make up your mind that despite yesterday's stinky situation... TODAY you're going to seek a fresh anointing in your life!

-- TODAY... you're going to go to a higher level in your relationship with God!
-- TODAY ... I'm going to stop letting folk take me there!
-- TODAY ... I'm going to get a proper position so I can hear from God!
-- TODAY... I'm going to get a fresh anointing!

If you get a fresh anointing today: -- You can deal with yesterday's fools!
If you get a fresh anointing today: -- You'll stop trippin' over yesterday's unpaid bills!
If you get a fresh anointing today: -- You'll find strength to deal with the pains in your body that you had yesterday and may have even woke up with today, but you'll be able to endure it with a smile because you have gotten the ashes off your altar! You ought to slap yourself a high five and tell yourself "I want a fresh anointing and I want it right now!"

I'm about finished, but ashes on the altar produces in us: Bitterness, Weakness, and Sickness, but when you get a fresh touch from God you receive just the opposite!
-- BITTERNESS is replaced with SWEETNESS!
-- WEAKNESS is replaced with STRENGTH!
-- SICKNESS is replaced with HEALTH!
-- And HUNGER is replaced with SATISFACTION!
... Church... I don't know how you feel about it, but I've made up my mind that:

I must be anointed with fresh oil, not day old oil!
Well, as I just told you... in the book of Numbers, chapter 4, instruction is given concerning the offering of the sacrifice and what the children of Israel needed to do before they could get the approval of God. And down at verse 13 it says: "And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon." In other words, before the sacrifice could be made, the ashes from yesterday's sacrifice had to be cleared away and the royal, kingly color of purple had to be draped over the altar.

What this is telling is that, before they could receive God's favor they had to get rid of the leftover residue and dress the altar like it was fit for a king.

I'm closing here, but if you need a fresh anointing from God, before you can receive it, you must get rid of yesterday's ashes and dress the altar of your life in a manner that is pleasing to the King of Kings and Lord of Lord's!
Paul says in 1st Corinthians 9:27"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

What are you saying, Paul?
Simply this: I must keep my experience fresh, so that after I have fed others the good food of the Word I don't wind up "FEEDING ON ASHES!"

If it means that I must die daily, suffer persecution, receive stripes, whatever it takes, come hell or high water.... I WILL put forth the effort to build a fresh altar, and keep it clean that I may partake of the anointing of God every day of my life! Whatever the cost I cannot afford to let my altar get ashy!
Someone listening to me right now... you are standing at a crossroads. You're hungry, you're tried, you're weak, you're looking for satisfaction. ... And lately you've been feeling like Otis Redding and you're saying,

"I've tried and I've tried, and I've tried and I've tried... but I can't get no satisfaction!" ... But the Lord sent me to tell you: Get up from your depressed state and gather the wood of the Word, dig deep and plant it in your spirit, prepare your inner man with Holy Ghost fire, and then get ready for a fresh touch of strength and anointing!

-- STOP FEEDING ON ASHES!
-- STOP BEING CONTENT WITH ASHES!
-- STOP TRYING TO FILL UP ON ASHES! THAT STUFF IS MAKING YOU SICK AND STEALING YOUR STRENGTH AND JOY!
... INSTEAD, GET A FRESH DOSE OF THE HOLY GHOST!

In conclusion, here are questions that each of us must ask ourselves in midst of desire to have real joy in our lives:
-- Are we willing to put forth the effort to cut new wood?
-- Are we willing to dig into the Word for the ingredients to make fresh bread and meat?
-- Are we willing to build a fresh altar and pray for fresh fire?
... Or, will we be content to leave the ashes on the altar and never receive the breakthrough that God is trying to give us?

"It's Time To Get The Ashes Off The Altar!