And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. (Gen 35:3)
"When we have vowed a vow to God, it is best not to defer the payment of it; yet better late than never" (Matthew Henry). Jacob knew he had to do "his" part. Jacob collected all the idols and "strange gods" in his house in order to be right with God. I don't think a lot of you realize the amount of idols and strange gods you have in YOUR house! Take an inventory - you'll be very surprised...
How often do we forget to do "our" part? I used to do that continuously - pray, offer a "barter" for an answered prayer and forget (or just decide not to) live up to my promises. Those were the prayers I refer to as the "Getmeouts" (God, if you 'get me out' of this one...). I don't pray those any more.
Today I offer a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God, through Jesus! I ask for guidance and wisdom to discern his voice from the voice of the enemy. When I fall short of my own expectations and request that he bring me back into his presence (of which I was never out of in the first place), the comfort and warmth that I feel around me cannot be described. It's an awesome experience to feel the presence of God.
Although we cannot all do as Jacob did and build an altar to God, we can make a place for him in our hearts and a place for him in our homes. No, you do not need to build a shrine. A place to worship...a place to go and offer your prayers - a "prayer closet" - a quiet, undisturbed place without distraction. A place that becomes your own, personal sanctuary. Do not fill it with statues and crosses or crucifixes (as they tend to be distracting - and yes, I know what goes through your mind - you will most likely focus on these things instead of your prayers - I've been there, so leave them out...besides, the idea is to talk to God and worship him - not some tacky replica of someone who can't help you and does not hear your prayers).
Go to the Lord your God in prayer and thanksgiving EVERY chance you get. Make time for him and be comforted in knowing HE HEARS YOU!!! Tear down the walls you have built between yourself and God - get rid of the "false gods" and the "man-made idols" - stop offering sacrifices (prayers) to anyone other than God - ask all things through Jesus' name (no one elses) - he's the only one who can offer you salvation! He's the only one who can take your prayers to the Father! Don't let the enemy have any more ground than he already has! Give your life over to Jesus! Live for him, after all, he died for you!!!