April 12

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NIV) 6The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

In the April 3rd devotion we looked at Deuteronomy 10:16. There the Lord commanded us to circumcise our hearts. Here, He says that He will circumcise their hearts and that of their descendants. This expression comes after the Lord promised to return them from the lands to which they were driven. I believe we have yet to see this fulfilled. We have not seen an Israel sensitive to God, but one over whose faces a veil has been placed. But in our day we have seen another return to the Land. Is the time approaching in which the times of the Gentiles will be over and the time for the Jewish people to have their hearts circumcised by God to begin?

As we wait and watch, we should allow God to do that work in our hearts. He will make us ever more sensitive to Him if we allow it. That is His desire. He will not do so against our wishes. He waits for our permission to do a deeper work in each of us. It is a deeply personal relationship that is willing to have a love that feels the joys and pains of another. Are you willing to share God's burdens? He shares yours. Are you willing to rejoice at the things that rejoice His heart? If you have His Spirit residing in you, then you already do. Still, you can be increasingly sensitive to His heart.

Consider: Invite God to do a deeper work. Take time to share His joys and pains as He does with you. Never be too busy to do so. He is never too busy for you.

April 12

Mark 5:18-20 (NIV) 18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

On this first venture into Gentile territory, Jesus' boat was met by a storm. Then, upon arrival, the welcome committee came to meet Him, a demon possessed man who could not even be held by chains. God was bringing the light of the world to the Gentiles, and Satan was doing all he could to keep that from happening. Whenever the Kingdom of God is about to go forward, Satan will be there in opposition. But watch how Jesus turns it around!

The demons did not leave when Jesus commanded them to. They recognized that He has the authority and that they will one day meet their destined fate, but for now they asked to go into a herd of pigs. The Greeks sacrificed pigs to their gods, so this would have been comparable to a flock of sheep to the Jews. Jesus gave them permission, and the pigs jumped off a cliff into the ocean. The people of the region asked Jesus to leave. This Jew, Jesus, had caused them to lose their valuable sacrifices. Satan said, "Check!" It looks like he won that round. Jesus had to leave. But Jesus had one more surprise move.

The man who had been possessed wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus sent him back into the town to be a witness of the deliverance that Jesus can bring to men. This infamous man became the first Gentile missionary of the Gospel! When Jesus returned to the region, He fed the 4000 and many were healed and delivered. Satan may win a round, but Jesus wins in the end! What is incredibly marvelous is that He uses the most unlikely characters to defeat Satan's schemes. If He can use an infamous demon possessed man who was into self-mutilation, He can use you and me too.

Consider: In the process of restoring all things, the Lamb shows His amazing attributes of love, mercy and grace.