January 1, 2019 • Life for Leaders
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Happy New Year! Today is New Year’s Day, the first day of 2019. Beginning at midnight, people around the world have been celebrating the coming of the new year.
Since I live in Pasadena, California, New Year’s Day is a big deal. It starts with the Rose Parade, with its bands, equestrian units, and world-famous floats covered in flowers. Then there’s the Rose Bowl game, the so-called “granddaddy of them all” because it is the oldest college football bowl game. (Little known fact: My alma mater has a perfect record in the Rose Bowl. Harvard played once, in 1920, beating Oregon with the rousing score of 7-6.)
I enjoy New Year celebrations. But every now and then it strikes me that, apart from a calendar change, there really isn’t much new about the new year. The economy is still the same. The tensions in the world are still the same. The leaders of the nations are still the same. And, really, I am still the same, other than being a bit tired from staying up to midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Newness that matters comes not from the calendar but from God. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God once promised to make his people new: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). Now that’s newness I could really celebrate: a new heart that is no longer divided between good and evil, a new spirit as the Holy Spirit refreshes my soul, a new heart that is tender and open, not stone cold.
What God once promised for Israel he gives to us through Jesus Christ. Remember what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” When we know Christ through faith, though we continue to live in this age with all of its brokenness, injustice, and sin, we also begin to live in the new age, when God’s kingdom will have come fully, bringing healing, justice, and righteousness. Through the Holy Spirit, we begin to live as new people, with new hearts, new minds, and new ways of living.
Today, as you celebrate the new year, may you also ask the Lord for a new heart. May your heart be fully open to all that God wants to do in you.
Something to Think About:
How have you experienced God’s renewing power in your life?
In what ways would you like God to make you new today and in the year to come?
Something to Do:
Talk with your small group or a Christian friend about how you would like God to renew you in 2019. Ask for prayer, that your heart will be open to the newness God wants for you.
Gracious God, thanks for a new year and for all you will do in this year. Help me, I pray, to be open to all that you want to do in me. I pray that you will renew my heart, purifying my passions, reorienting my desires, filling me afresh with love for you and my neighbors. May I live fully for the praise of your glory. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.