Tuesday, September 4, 2001
Not long ago we met some wonderful radio listeners from the Sault St. Marie area of Michigan - way up north, you know, near the Canadian border. They told me this amusing, and slightly amazing, true story about a woman they met recently. She was driving from Detroit, which is about six hours south of them, and she was lost. So she stopped in at our friend's workplace, looking for directions. Now that's not anything unusual. But she walked in the door blurting one frustrated question, "Which way's Texas?" Texas! Well, for starters, ma'am, you need to turn that car around and go six hours back to the place where you started!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "One Hundred And Eighty Degrees."
Now for that lady to end up where she wanted to end up, she had to make a 180-degree turn. So do you - if you're heading in a direction that isn't God's direction for you. If you're doing things you know God doesn't want you to do. Well, God has a 180-degree turn for you - and here's the word for it: "Repent."
In fact, He makes this encouraging promise in our word for today from the Word of God, Acts 3:19. "Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Now God has all kinds of things He wants to give you, but He can't until you repent.
Repenting of a sin and getting headed in the right direction really involves three steps. It's the same three steps that lady who was trying to find Texas at the Canada border had to take.
First, you have to admit you're going the wrong way. It took that lady a little while to do that, but she finally was willing to face the fact that the road she was on was wrong. You do that with God when you accept His invitation in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins" - now that means saying the same thing as God says about what you've been doing. Then it says, "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." No more excuses, no more blaming, no more rationalizing, no more cover-ups. "God, this stuff is sin and it's sin that killed your Son."
But it wasn't enough for that lady just to admit she going the wrong way. She had to stop going the wrong way. Until she pulled over and quit going the wrong direction, she was getting "loster and loster." And so will you. Repenting is setting up your life as if you won't be doing that sin anymore. You destroy any sin-props you have ... you avoid the influences and the people that feed that sin...you change what you watch and read and listen to. And you ask a believer that you trust to keep checking on you, to hold you accountable to being the new you.
Now there's a third step: repenting also means starting to go in the right direction. Until that lady turned around and started driving in the right direction, she was going to stay lost.
So, to make a spiritual change, you need to actively start doing the things that will take you in the opposite direction of that old sin - like making things right with those who have been affected by you doing that sin...telling the key people in your life that you are going to be different ... feeding yourself the influences and relationships that will strengthen the new you ... and then going out of your way to do the right thing where you've been doing the wrong thing. Like over-correcting a car when you know you're swerving in the wrong direction.
We're not talking about just feeling guilty or asking God to forgive you. That's not complete repentance. We're talking a 180-degree turn! And with God's unlimited power, you can change! If you've driven far enough on a road that goes nowhere, turn it around. What you're looking for is the other direction. It's in God'S direction!