Summary: Part 1 of FACING THE FUTURE! God says, I will give you: 1. A new heart 2. A new spirit 3. A new covenant. I want to briefly reflect on what these three gifts of newness mean.
GOD’S GIFTS FOR THE NEW YEAR
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you. Ezekiel 36.26
I will make a new covenant…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. Jeremiah 31. 31, 33
There was a couple who were sitting with a marriage counselor for their first session and the good doctor asked them to identify what seemed to be the root of their problems. The wife responded, "It all started when we thought it would be cute to think up each other’s New Year’s resolutions." (SermonCentral.Com)
It is a new year 2004 again! 2004 is gone, 2005 is here, a brand New Year.
Christians are familiar with the language of newness. At the end of our story, the One seated on the throne says, I make all things new.
In his writing to the early church, Paul said,
"If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation, the old has passed away, the new has come." (2 Cor. 5:17)
Jesus said to Nicodemus, you must be born from above, in other words, you must be born again.
Ezekial and Jeremiah, faithful hearers and accurate speakers of the word of God, proclaim a newness in the midst of the destruction of Jerusalem. Through them, God says, I will give you…
a new heart… a new spirit… a new covenant
I want to briefly reflect on what these three gifts of newness mean.
I. A NEW HEART
In the Old Testament, the heart is not the place of love and sorrow, romance and tenderness, joy and compassion. These are old Western meanings of the word heart. In the Old Testament, the heart is the seat of wisdom, the place of memory. A person thinks with the heart, makes plans with the heart, comes to a decision with the heart. Those who are righteous love the Lord with all their hearts, they are upright in heart, pure in heart.
But the heart is also the place of our downfall.
Jeremiah makes a comment:
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt. Who can understand it?"
Why do we do the things we do? As one book has it, why do men do the 10 stupid things to mess up their lives, and these are often smart, intelligent, rational men, right?
In our hearts we are deceitful and corrupt. Sin was classically defined as the heart curved in on itself (cor incurvatum).
·Something is wrong. Something needs to change.
God says, I will give you a new heart.
II. A NEW SPIRIT
And God says, I will give you a new spirit. The spirit gives us power. The spirit gives us energy. The spirit is the wind beneath our wings. The spirit is the breath of God within us. In the Old Testament the word for spirit can also mean breath or wind. Ever tried to do something when you could not breathe? Ever tried to fly a kite when there was no wind? God gives us a new spirit.
And when we have a new heart and a new spirit, we are ready for God’s third gift. God says, I will make a new covenant with you. A covenant is a relationship. God says, I want a new relationship with you. God says, I want to live within you. God says, I do not want to impose my will on you from the outside. God says, I will write my law upon your heart.
III. A NEW COVENANT
At the beginning of the year we renew the covenant. We offer ourselves to God. We enter once again into this relationship.
God wanted to start all over with Israel, in 587 B.C. Israel had broken the commandments. The breaking of the commandments had led to the brokenness of the whole people, the destruction of the temple, the descent into slavery.
God wants to start all over with us. We have broken the commandments. The breaking of the commandments leads to the destruction of our institutions. Our lives, our cities, our nation, our world, are in fragments.
IV. And today is, A NEW BEGINNING
I will give you a new heart, God says. A new heart is a new way of thinking.
I will give you a new spirit, God says. A new spirit is a new motivation.
I will make a new covenant with you, God says. A new covenant is a new relationship.
In Christ, all things are made new. The commercials connect with a deep truth. We can become new creatures. 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. The beauty of the new covenant is that the change comes from within. There is not someone on the outside, forcing us to change; the word is written on our hearts, the spirit is placed within us, and God says, I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.