Monday, August 1, 2016
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Not long ago we met some wonderful radio listeners from the Sault St. Marie area of Michigan. That's 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, so she had made a good northward trek, 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 you started!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A 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 there's the word for it - repent.
In fact, He makes an encouraging promise in our word for today from the Word of God on what's on the other side of repentance. 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." God has all kinds of things He's wanting 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; the same three steps really 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 finally she was willing to face the fact that the road she was on was the wrong road. 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 was 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. See, repenting is setting up your life as if you're not going to be doing that sin anymore. You destroy any sin-props that 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 for being the new you. That's why the Bible says, "Two are better than one. If one falls down, the other can help him up."
Now there's a third step: repenting also means starting to go the right direction. Until that lady turned around and started driving the right way, she was going to stay lost.
So, to make a spiritual change, you need to actively start doing the things that actually will take you as quickly as possible in the opposite direction of that old sin. Like making things right with those who were 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 just 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! And the beautiful thing is, He says, "Then I can begin to send you all the things I've wanted to send you, but your sin has blocked it." Times of refreshing will come from the Lord.
Look, you've driven far enough on a road that goes nowhere haven't you? Turn it around! What you're looking for is in the other direction. It's in God's direction!