Acts Devotionals

Circumcision of the Heart

We live in a world where there are no boundaries as to where people migrate or immigrate to. One could take almost any country in the Western World and find citizens living and working in any amount of countries. This is true of our own country. There are so many South Africans living and working in New Zealand, Australia, Middle Eastern Countries, European Counties, Britain, the United States, many South American Counties and the list goes on. There are many reasons for this … it could be health, economic, political, etc. In Abraham’s case it was spiritual. I hesitate to say “religious” because our modern understanding of religious is very different to what Abraham would have described religious. Although it was after God’s initial call, the Bible (God) says of Abraham:

Ge 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Abraham was a man of faith. He believed God. He was not into any shape of religion that included rituals or works. His salvation was all of faith that is why God credited Him as righteousness. We ended off yesterday saying that Abraham’s migration that became immigration was because “a people from his seed would be the people ushering in God’s Messiah”. Should you lose this thought, the Biblical thread from Genesis 3:15 to Jesus would be broken and the Incarnation rendered void.

1) Abraham spent time with his father in a new land (Haran). After leaving Ur of the Chaldeans in Mesopotamia, they settled in Haran. It seems as though he lived in Haran until he was 75. After his father died he moved on under God’s instructions. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.  That is, he moved from Haran to Canaan under the direction of God.

2) Abraham was not given any inheritance in Canaan at that time.

Ac 7:5 “He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.”

The writer to the Hebrews helps us here:

Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

(1) His inheritance of the land was in the future through his descendants. He lived in the land as a stranger as a foreigner. He had no fixed abode. This is what faith does. It trusts God who always knows better.

(2) His inheritance was a promise. That is, God’s promise. This is why he was credited with righteousness … he trusted God even though he could not see, touch and experience the promise in the flesh.

(3) His real inheritance was heaven. It was in the future. It was a home crafted by God Himself. It was heaven. True faith looks beyond the here and now. However important a country is, a home is, finances are, possessions are … they are in fact meaningless and unimportant in the after world … the spirit world … the world where believers will be for eternity. Remember during their crisis on hearing of Jesus’ departure the disciples were told:

Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Saving faith knows there is life after death with God. Saving faith knows where this life will be. Saving faith knows this place is all ready and waiting for the soul’s arrival. It is heaven, the paradise of God … the place where God is!

3) Abraham would become a nation within another nation.

Ac 7:6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves’.

Stephen now takes his message into Egypt. He will elaborate on this soon, but suffice to say that once Joseph landed up in Egypt followed by his father and brothers, God built them into a nation known as Israel, the name God gave Jacob.

4) After many years of growth followed by terrible hardship, God brought them out of Egypt into the “Land of Promise” or into the “Promised Land” … that is, the land God promised to Abraham … the Land of Canaan … and in specific … this land where you are now living.

5) Abraham’s descendants’ oppressors were punished severely for the harsh treatment levelled against the Nation of Israel. There are always punishments that follow the persecution of the people of God. In God’s time and in His way He will return by tenfold what the enemy dealt out against the people of God.

6) After their deliverance, God brought them to the Promised Land. God said, “and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.” Notice the reason for given them their own land … that they might worship God away from all the distractions of slavery, idols and pagan people. This is the reason when Joshua went into Canaan to take the land he was instructed to destroy the people because the people were pagans steeped in idolatry … and idolatry, because it is seen and easy, could become attractive and lure God’s people astray. (As the years passed on, this is what happened to Abraham’s descendants!)

7) Coming back to Abraham, God gave the rite of circumcision.

Ac 7:8 “Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision.”

The word “circumcision” means “a cutting round”. It was a sign to identify the male descendants of Abraham as belonging to God. They viewed all other men as “uncircumcised” meaning “not cut around”. Circumcision of the flesh was meaningless without the circumcision of the heart. For us, the Gospel requires a circumcision of the heart. This reveals true salvation for those taken out of the world, placed into the Kingdom of Jesus to grow spiritually and worship Him intentionally. Unless the heart has experienced “the cut” there can never be salvation, spiritual growth and true worship.

Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit who is the spiritual surgeon, cutting the heart free to love, follow and worship You. Amen.

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