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A new heart [& fresh heart]…6 months ago
An encouraging message from Alongside Manager, Revd Jolyon Trickey
I was researching old testament reference to the (Holy) Spirit as part of our local Church teaching series. One verse and phrase in 1 Samuel 10 stopped me in my tracks. Samuel is anointing Saul as ruler over Israel and he has just given him several signs of what will happen next. Then, as Saul turns away to leave, we read in verse 9: ‘God gave him another heart (and all these signs were fulfilled that day)’. God gave him a new heart!
Looking more closely I noticed that one of the signs which Samuel foretells is a meeting with a band of prophets. Samuel says, verse 6: ‘then the Spirit of the Lord will possess (or ‘rush about’) you, and you will be in prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person’.
Here, long before the prophecy of Ezekiel 36.6, that the Lord will give his people ‘a new heart and a new Spirit’, God is doing exactly that for Saul. Saul is chosen, anointed and given ‘another’ heart. As predicted he then meets prophets and a prophetic frenzy seizes him as the Spirit of God possesses (or rushes upon) him. When this happens, I believe the two events of verses 9 and 10 are inextricably linked.
I love that we have here old testament teaching about the work of the spirit. Here is prophetic frenzy: an outward manifestation of God at work. But the true focus and wonder is the deep, powerful and invisible inner transformation of an ordinary man, Saul.
I think of Nicky Gumbel’s testimony of his first experience of the Spirit and the prophetic interpretation given at the time about his future calling and role. His heart was being prepared through a powerful encounter with God, the Holy Spirit.
I also remember a dear friend hyper-ventilating and falling to the floor as the Holy Spirit came upon him at my first a parish weekend, in my first parish. Many others were deeply perturbed by this extreme and disruptive behaviour. What they did not know, and could not perceive, was that this very new Christian was exploring ordination and would be in training within 15 months. He would go on to lead one of the largest ang growing Anglican Churches in England. He too was being transformed and prepared on the inside, given a new heart, turned into a different person.
I love that the new testament experience and promise of a new heart and a new spirit, is so accurately described early in the old testament, including the adverse reaction to the external manifestations (see vv 11-13) when what is important is that the Spirit is doing heart surgery, what the Spirit is dong on the inside
I know that what I most need, personally and in ministry is the gift of a new heart, God’s heart in me. Theologically, I know I was given this at the moment of turning to Christ, but experientially I feel in need of further surgery. So I have begun praying a new prayer, or invocation of the Holy Spirit, ahead of Pentecost and Thy Kingdom Come: ‘Come Holy Spirit, give me a new heart, your new heart in me… and grant me fresh heart for all I am called to do’. Then I wait.
We at ReSource believe deeply that this inner transformation is both much needed and available. It is so easy for those in little local and ordinary churches to lose heart, maybe lose their heart. We want to come alongside them, alongside you.
This is why we are running an event for little, local and ordinary churches, and their leaders, this Saturday 21st May, in Telford. If all of this describes your situation, it is not too late to register and join us [find details on our website - insert link].
This is also why I oversee an Alongside Scheme, offering prayerful and prophetic companions for Church leaders, lay or ordained. Most of us benefit from having someone with us on the road, praying and holding open the door for the Spirit of Jesus to come in and renew our hearts. Again, find out more or apply for your own companion on our website.
But maybe, for now, simply join me in praying this prayer (and maybe make it, or something like it, your new daily prayer):
‘Come Holy Spirit, give me a new heart, your new heart in me… and grant me fresh heart for all I am called to do’