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A New Beginning for a New Year
As we approach the coming of the New Year, many of us are thinking and making resolutions about those things we know we have to do, like losing weight, exercising, eating healthier, and taking our vitamins. We also begin to list out what we need to do spiritually, like reading the Bible and praying every day, using our gifts and talents in God’s service, to be more loving, Christ-like, and obedient to God’s word.
The only problem is that while we resolve to do these things, our resolve soon fades because we really don’t have the power to keep them. And it doesn’t have to do with our will power, but rather because circumstances beyond our control happened which puts all our plans on the back burner, if not in the trash.
And I think I can safely say that this is what happened in 2020.
And so, as we enter into 2021, what we need is a new beginning, which starts with a new heart and new spirit. This promise is given to us by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27 NKJV)
A New Heart
“I will give you a new heart … I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”(Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV)
What the Lord is talking about is giving us a heart transplant, but not a physical transplant, but rather a spiritual one. The heart is more than a bodily organ that pumps life-giving blood to the rest of the body. The heart is symbolic of all that it means to be human.
There are over 5,000 heart transplants done every year, and we are the first generation to understand how a new heart can replace an old one. Having witnessed the actual, physical transplant of a human heart, we are the first generation who can get the feel of the kind of heart transplant God desires to do, and we can understand the notion of how a new heart might change us radically and alter us forever.
Having such a new heart will give us a strange and wondrous feeling that somebody else is inside us, and how grateful we are to the one who has given it to us so that we may live. As believers we can also be grateful, because beating inside of us is God’s own heart.
Often times when we think of the heart, we think of it in terms of love, romance, and compassion. And while this may be, in the Bible the heart is the seat of wisdom; it’s where all of our decisions are made. Solomon said that as a person thinks in their heart, that is who they really are (Proverbs 23:7a).
But that isn’t really a good thing, because it’s from our hearts that most of our problems develop. The prophet Jeremiah makes this observation.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)
Jesus talks about how important the condition of our hearts is. He said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NIV)
And while this is the main reason why we need a new heart, we also need a new heart because our hearts have become hardened by life’s trials.
Today, especially during this holiday season, and with the pandemic in full swing, our hearts have become hardened. But God can give us a heart transplant, where He’ll remove our stony heart and give us a heart of flesh, that is, a heart that is open to all God has.
Therefore, let’s ask God to do some cardio-vascular surgery to get our hearts pumping once again with that life giving and life saving blood of Jesus Christ.
But beyond a new heart, God also wants to put a new spirit inside of us.
A New Spirit
I will … put a new spirit within you … I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27 NKJV)
God gives us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of power. In the Old Testament that word for Spirit is “ruach,” which means wind or breath. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is the breath of God.
Some of you have a hard time catching your breath. And it’s really hard to do something when we cannot breathe. In the same way it’s hard to fly a kite without wind. And so God gives us a new spirit, a new breath of life to assist us in our time of need.
Literally God is giving us breathing assistance to keep us going through the critical times until our transformation is complete.
Like the new heart, the new spirit begins when we come to faith in Jesus Christ. This is seen when the disciples first encountered the risen Jesus, and it says that Jesus breathed on them, that is, He breathed into them the very breath of God, the Holy Spirit and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
Just as God breathed into Adam and made him into a living soul, so Jesus breathes into us and makes us into new creations in Him, spiritual beings ready for heaven once this life is over.
A New Beginning
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
There is a wonderful old saying: “Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.”
We can change!
But we cannot change on our own. Change comes from within. That’s what transformation is all about, it’s a change that takes place on the inside. And that’s the beauty of the promise given by God through Ezekiel is that we’ve been given a new heart and a new spirit, that is, God’s word written on our hearts, and the Holy Spirit being placed within us.
And so as we look to start this New Year, let’s do so by asking God to give to us a heart that is new, a heart that has been cleansed through confession and forgiveness, and then ask the Lord for a renewed spirit through a genuine Holy Spirit revival in our lives and in the life of the church.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study