Friday, April 26, 2013
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I hate to be late for a wedding, but I was. I had a carload of teenagers going with me to this wedding, and we were racing to get there by 11:00 A.M. Finally, after I came to a juncture I said, "Wait a minute! Which church is it at?" I'd left my invitation at home. I said, "Oh, I know where it is."
And I took a left and pulled up at 10:55 to an empty lot five minutes before the wedding. Well, the home where the reception was being held was a few doors away. So I drove down there and somebody said, "You're at the wrong church." They didn't say, "dummy" but they could have. I said, "Well, how do I get back to the main highway? I've got to get there quick! I was hoping for some shortcut." They said, "There isn't one. You've got to go back to the point where you shouldn't have turned and start there." Well, we did get to see the bride go up the aisle, because I went back to where I went wrong and then I went right.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Going Back to Where You Went Wrong."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Luke chapter 19. I'll begin reading at verse 7. Jesus has come to the town of Jericho and to a man named Zacchaeus, who was not very well liked in his community. He was a crooked tax collector, but he wanted to see Jesus very badly. Zacchaeus was kind of my patron saint in one way; he was too short to see over the crowd. I can relate to that. And so he climbs a tree, maybe he's going to open a branch office. I don't know, but as he's waiting to see Jesus, Jesus surprises him by stopping and addressing him by name and saying He wants to go to his house.
We'll pick up the story, "All the people saw this and began to mutter, 'He's going to be the guest of a sinner.' But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I'll pay back four times the amount.' Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house.'"
Well, Zacchaeus wanted to shape up his life. Maybe you do too. He had sinned by ripping off the poor, by overcharging people. Then he has this encounter with Jesus, and as you get closer to Jesus, you spend time close to Him, you say, "Man, I'm not happy with the way my life is. I want to get some of the garbage out. I want to change my direction."
Did you notice what Zacchaeus did? He did what I did on that wedding day when I was trying to get to the church and made the wrong turn. Zacchaeus went back to the point where he went wrong, and then he makes things right. You know, that's often the missing ingredient in our confession. Oh, we feel the convicting of the Holy Spirit; we feel bad about our sin. We confess it, we ask forgiveness, we determine to do better, but we neglect to go back to our first detour and make things right there. Where did you start to go wrong? Because we don't do that, our spiritual comeback is compromised by unfinished business.
If a boy breaks a vase, he has to do more than say, "I'm sorry. I won't do it again." He needs to go clean up the mess. Biblical repentance always goes hand in hand with restitution; making things right at the point where you went wrong. To restore the money you stole, to rebuild the reputation you tore down, to ask forgiveness of the person you hurt, to go back to that person you sinned with sexually and ask their forgiveness. If you want to avoid falling again, retrace your steps. What was your first step off the main road? Then fortify that area. That's your weak spot. Fix what may have been broken.
Take it from someone whose sense of direction, or lack thereof, has often gotten him on the wrong road. If you want to get on the right road, you have to go back to the point where you went wrong.