Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Cut Hearts

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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 7-8; Psalm 122

“‘You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you’ … When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.” Acts 7:51,54

Eloquent Stephen concluded his speech of defense to the high priest and the council by condemning them. His description of them as “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears” certainly stirred them up, though not in a safe way. It was the last speech Stephen ever made.

A couple of things snag attention here.
1. We can be in the presence of God’s truth, as the religious Jews were, and still not be touched by it. Our unregenerate hearts readily filter out what our ears don’t want to hear.

2. If and when we are “cut” by God’s truth about us and our lives, our reaction can be negative or positive.
Stephen’s speech to the council cut their hearts not to “circumcise” or alter them in the way of being marked for God’s kingdom, but to make them angry; they “gnashed at him with their teeth.” In this way they sealed their own fates—though young Saul at whose feet the stoning people laid their clothes (Acts 7:57)* later had his own heart circumcision encounter.

Let’s take seriously the fact that being in the presence of God’s truth about us isn’t enough. We still have the choice to resist the Spirit or let His words to us cut and mark us as His own.

PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to have a heart and ears that are sensitive to what Your Holy Spirit says to me. Amen.
PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 122

* A note in my NKJV Cultural Background Study Bible comments on the stone throwers laying clothes at a Saul’s feet (Acts 7:57):
“Because the activity was physically strenuous, they could lay aside their outer garments, as was customary during exercise. … Ancient practice, however, specified not the stripping of the executioners but rather the stripping of the person being executed. Luke may ironically emphasize their stripping themselves to remind the reader who is really on trial” - Kindle Location 206,939.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

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