Father, make a difference in my heart that’s daily evident in my life.
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“Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.'” (v 1 NIV)
You had “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles,” (14:27), Lord, and then along came some guys who felt it was their responsibility to set these new disciples straight. In doing so, they were “putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear” (as in, the Jews being able to bear; 15:10 NIV). They were trying to bind these young Christians to what You’d come to free us from.
Wow! This sure sounds rather parallel to what occurs among many of Your children today! You save us by Your grace, but some don’t get it. Some still believe there’s a “catch,” that You still require us to adhere to and strive to strictly obey a long list of rules and regulations. Like the Pharisees who dogmatically believed the “Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses,” (15:5 NIV), some can tout the old covenant or time-honored church traditions as requirements for salvation and acceptance in Your eyes.
“…God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear … the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith … We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are … we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write to them, telling them [a few practices to follow that will help them mature in the faith, stand strong in the face of temptation, and promote peace in the body].” (15:7-9, 11, 19-20 NIV)
Thank You, Father, that You extend Your grace to me (a Gentile). Thank You that You made a choice to save this world, including me, through the sacrifice of Your Son. You sum up all those old laws into just two: 1) Love God with all that I am, and 2) Love others (Matt 22). Through Your strength, wisdom, and grace is the only way that I could ever do any of these things. Keep on fashioning in me the heart of Jesus as You bring forth His reflection in me. Amen.