I am sure you have heard me comment before that I have a pretty remarkable small group. And it's true, they are all individually and collectively amazing. This past Monday, our closing devotional was shared by one of my favorite people. Not only do I get to gather on Monday nights around the book of Acts with her, but I get to walk life by her side. I get to see firsthand how God is challenging her to go deeper, to step outside of her comfort zone and to share her story and all that God has done, and is doing in her life.
I have never had a "guest blogger" here before, but God has been using her words from Monday night to challenge me. With her permission, I wanted to share. I pray that God continues to use her words to pierce our hearts and to challenge us all on this journey of faith.
Thanks for sharing Melinda!
Joshua 5:2 "At that time the LORD said to Joshua, 'Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelite men again.'"
Scripture based on Joshua chapters 1-5
To give a little of the background of the story…
Chapter one Moses is now dead and God is admonishing Joshua to take over the leader role. That he will lead them across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. God reminds Joshua that He has given them every place that Joshua’s foot treads. He tells him over and over again to be strong and courageous because He will not leave nor forsake him.
In chapter 3, Joshua tells the people to follow the Ark of the Covenant and not to lose sight of it. God tells Joshua that He will begin to make him an exalted leader to the Israelites, so they will know that, indeed, God is with Joshua. God will do that by walling up the water of the Jordan as they begin to cross over and will cross on dry ground.
God knows that we have a short memory. So He tells Joshua to get 12 men from each tribe and to set out memorial stones in the middle of the river, so that every time they see them, they can remember the mighty hand of God.
But God also knows that regardless of all the miracles and wonders He performs, the Israelites still have a hard time not doing things in their own strength. SO, in chapter 5, God tells Joshua to circumcise all the men. So Joshua makes flint knives and circumcises the whole nation.
Joshua, for a split second, had to ask: do what? Why over here, on this side of the river, on enemy territory? You know that circumcising everyone will make us sitting ducks, completely vulnerable and exposed to enemy attacks?
But maybe that’s the point
Joshua does it anyway. Later on in the book of Joshua we learn that they attack and defeat Jericho, Ai, Gibeon and all the rest by the mighty hand and strength of God.
It’s a pretty cool story.
I started to think about how this story really applies to me, to us, since obviously we are not talking about physical circumcision …
Circumcision of your heart is spoken about in the old and new testaments:
Deuteronomy 30:6 says “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants and you will love Him with all your heart and all your soul, so that you will live.”
Jeremiah 4:4 says “circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, My wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds.”
Then in the New Testament:
Romans 2:29 says “on the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart - by the Spirit, not the letter. His praise is not from men but from God.”
Phil 3:3 says “for we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.”
So to put all this together…how do we circumcises our hearts, or better yet, how do we allow how hearts to be circumcised and why do we need to?
I think, we have to be like the men of Israel first, we have to surrender...we have to allow it to happen.
When we do surrender what will be cut away?
I think just like those warriors when they got circumcised, Israelites’ protection was removed. Their whole nation became vulnerable and exposed. So it is with us; we have to allow our protection, our calluses, our walls that have built up from past hurts, our shields or our masks that makes it look like we are fine, to be cut away.
It was only after their circumcision that God was able to move in and among the Israelites to show His strength.
And the same is with us…When we are not tender-hearted but closed off because we are afraid of being hurt again, or we keep people at arm’s length, or we don’t allow people to know us because maybe we will feel judged, we aren’t allowing God to use us and our past experience for His glory and His honor.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “…the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who in any kind of affliction through the comfort we ourselves receive form God.”
So when we have a circumcised heart we can know that God is trustworthy in His promises, that He is with us, He will not leave nor forsake us. We can share our hurts, pains, fears and struggles so that others may be able to see the mighty hand of God working in me and in you.