New Living Translation (NLT)
5; But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”
6; So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue.
7; At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe.
8; God knows people’s hearts, and He confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us.
9; He made no distinction between us and them, for He cleansed their hearts through faith.
10; So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers[a] with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?
11; We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
God sees our heart.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says "But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
There was a question of circumcision in the early church. To be circumcised meant to try to live by the law. If circumcision had been all that was required to be in good standing with God, then Jesus came for no reason at all. It is not the cutting of the flesh that brings right standing with God, but a cutting of the heart.
Our hearts are what need to be circumcised. Cutting away the old useless outer shell that has made us hard-hearted against the things of God reveals a soft pliable heart, waiting for God to speak to it and move on it.
Once we are pliable before God we are usable. Let me tell you a personal story.
There are times I have put on a fake smile for the world to see, hiding behind my outward persona so no one would know my heart. Meanwhile, I was usually mad at the preacher, and bitter about my place in the world. I did not fully trust God to every part of me, I only acted as if I did. I was only fooling myself.
God knew my heart all along.
Have you ever done this? Have you said you were "fine" when another believer asked "how are you?" Have you pretended nothing was wrong in your family because you did not want anyone at church to know about your misbehaving teens? Have you hid behind a smile and a nice dress on Sunday so everything "looks" okay in your life?
God sees the heart.
There is no part of your life too big or too small that God does not want to be involved in. He cares for you. He wants all of you. He wants what you hide from everyone else. He wants your heart.
When we surrender our ideas of what is or isn't righteous and just seek God, He begins to peel away the layers of our heart to reach our innermost being. This is His kingdom because He dwells in the hearts of men.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
Nothing we wear, nothing we say, nothing we do will ever change this. Our relationship is based on His grace, and not on anything else. It is not about what church pew you sit in, or what car you drive. It is not about how big your ministry is or how well behaved your kids are. Our salvation can only come from God.
Let down your guard and begin to surrender your heart to Him. This is when real change and life begin to take a hold of us and we become more like Christ.
Circumcise our hearts Lord. Have your way with us. Help us to yield to you and to allow you to work on our innermost being.
Cleanse our hearts Lord, make us new. Let us look more and more like Jesus. Forgive us for being so hard hearted. Remind us Father that it is more important to please you than it is to please man. It is by your grace we are saved and not the works of man. Nothing we wear, or say, or do will change that. Thank you for your word. May it accomplish what You sent it to do. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
By Dayna, Texas