A few years back my son and I planned to go out for a nice lunch and do some Christmas shopping. We went to the bank and withdrew a nice sum of money. It was going to be a fun day.
After going to the bank, I had to stop by my office to get a few things done. So, Nick tagged along with me. While we were at the office, we decided we should make a list of things we planned to purchase; this insured we would not become overwhelmed with all the tempting options offered.
When we arrived, the woman who cleaned our church was in my office tidying up. I loved this woman. Her smile is bright and kind. She is always helpful, concerned about others, and has a heart of gold! As we began to converse with her, our conversation went from simple pleasantries to talking about her family, who lives in the Philippines.
She shared with us how she worked so she could provide for them. Her family, in the Philippines, had very little. She shared that even their basic needs were often not met. I could tell that providing for them was a burden for her and that she, herself, was struggling to meet the essentials for them. Then suddenly my heart bubbled to the surface. I had some money! I could help! I could do something! I went and pulled out the cash I withdrew earlier and gave it to her; as a result, she could add to her own giving enough to bless her family.
Some might call the ‘bubble’ in my heart a conviction, but I’d rather call it a Christmas “Circumcision of the Heart.”
In my last post, we discussed how God commanded Abram to live in His presence and be blameless. God further told Abram that He was going to establish His covenant with him and multiply him exceedingly. Upon hearing these words from God, Abram fell facedown in worship. God continued, “As for Me, My covenant is with you, and you will become the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram, but your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you. I will keep My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, as an everlasting covenant to be your God and the [God] of your offspring after you” (Genesis 17:4-7 emphasis added).
God not only changed Abram’s name to Abraham, But He also changed his wife’s, “As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai, for Sarah will be her name. I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she will produce nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Genesis 17:15-16 emphasis added).
God was on the move in this couple’s life. Great changes were happening! A call to live in God’s presence opened the door to the impossible; the covenant God gave Abram earlier in his life was enhanced; the name change showed that with God even more than anything one could imagine or ask was possible.
Take particular note of the name change. In both Abraham and Sarah, we see the letters ‘ah’ added. The same letters ‘ah’ is found in Jehovah. The command to live in God’s presence is first reflected in the name, the result of God’s presence in this couple’s life indicated a greater spread of blessing; Abram and Sarai went from being one great nation to many; in this revelation we see the gospel foretold. Not only would the Jews be blessed, but the Gentiles will have the chance to be grafted into the family of God.
A belief in God has its merits, but living in His presence has exponential results.
God’s gift of salvation is free, but there is a cost to walking in His presence. With the price, comes more than a commitment, it’s an intentional mark of a covenant. God called Abraham and the men of his household to circumcision; and this mark distinguished him and his people as a people of holiness; a setting apart for God’s special purpose.
We read, “This is My covenant, which you are to keep, between Me and you and your offspring after you: Every one of your males must be circumcised…every male among you at eight days old is to be circumcised…My covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:10-13). Every male, including any foreigner in his household, was circumcised (another foretelling of Gentiles grafted in the family of God).
We may or may not practice circumcision today, but we do have a mark set upon us if we believe in Jesus as our Savior. His Holy Spirit is our mark of a covenant. He allows us to walk in God’s presence every day, every moment, and always. He is the One who guides our steps and speaks to us from behind saying “This is the Way. Walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
On that beautiful day years ago, I had a Christmas ‘circumcision of the heart.’ I heard the Holy Spirit speak, “You have some money! You can help! You can do something!” Giving that money was not for just the woman I gave it to, its purposes were far broader than the immediate need. Like the promise for Abraham to become more than one great nation, he would give birth to many. God would use this money to enhance the faith of this woman, to meet the supply of her people, but even more to multiply the heart of my son, Nick, who was standing there with us.
To this day, Nick has the heart for giving to the poor, the disadvantaged, and the downcast. He can spot the needy in a crowd. With no hesitation, he will lay hands on people and pray for them. He is not ashamed to share the gospel with anyone who needs Jesus. It’s not by coincidence that Nick was with me that day. He, my son, experienced his own Christmas ‘Circumcision of Heart’ that is lived out daily in his life. This, my friend, is an example of discipleship. But I must say, I did not plan this experience; I had no curriculum that I followed; I merely listened to the Holy Spirit, acted, and fruit (unbeknownst to me) sprouted forth.
Afterward, instead of going out to a nice lunch, we went to subway. Instead of making our original Christmas list, we adjusted it. As we ate our subs, we recounted the blessing God had given us. We praised Him for His provision to bless another, and we prayed for it to extend all the way across the world.
We had a GREAT day celebrating God’s Presence in our life because that Christmas season, we experienced the best gift, a Christmas “Circumcision of the Heart!”
How can you experience a Christmas “Circumcision of the Heart” this year?