Have you ever wished you could start over. Here is a picture I began months ago. This was to be a drawing of my son Dennis, who is serving in the navy. As I began the drawing I was pleased with how it started, but then I began to see all the problems with it. I noticed there was a problem with chin, and then with the mouth, and finally with the eyes.
The more I worked on it the less I liked it. I began to try to make small chances, but it seemed the more I worked on it, the more I disliked it. I have now come to the point where I realize the only answer it to start over.
The great thing about a drawing is you can start over. But what about other areas of my life. In art, I can get a “do over.”
You know what a “do over” is? I was talking to a friend of mine Lou Witney and we were discussing golf. He said when he going golfing, he never keeps score, and if you hit a bad ball, you get a “do over.” Would it not be great to get do overs in life?
I have made mistakes as husband, would it not be great to just say do over.
The mistakes I made as a father: do over.
The mistakes I make as a friend: do over.
The mistakes as a pastor: do over.
Are there things in your life you would do differently? Would you like a “do over?”
May you would like a do over with your kids, or your spouse, your marriage, or maybe your job?
It should would be nice to just take a “do over.”
Did you know that God offers us a do over? I am not kidding, God wants to give each of us a do over. You don’t believe look at Mark 1:4.
4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Lets just stop right there and look at what this repentance thing is all about. The word here was originally in Greek. In Greek words were often created by putting two words to together to form a new word. We do the same in English. The two Greek words in the word for repentance are meta which means change and nous meaning mind. Put them together and you get metanoia (μετανοια), which simply means to change your mind.
When you wanted a do over, you changed your mind. Let me illustrate, back to my drawing. I did several things well, but there are some things I would chance. I have changed my mind about how to draw the mouth for example. I have repented if you will, about the way I drew the mouth. Now I want a do over.
This is the message of John. He was telling the people they could have a do over. He said if they would repent, to change the direction of their lives, God would forgive their sins.
God was less concerned about their past, as he was excited about their future.
Now we need to understand.
We have a very different understanding of forgiveness then God does. We understand forgiveness as excusing someone for a fault or an offense against us. Or we see it as renouncing our anger or resentment against them.
For God forgiveness is all of this, but so much more. For God forgiveness is the casting away of your sins. God removes your sins completely. We are able to renounce our anger and resentment, but God is able to forget it ever happened. We may forgive someone, but we can never forget the pain their caused, the tears you shed, the hopes that were crushed. But God forgives and forgets. God gives us a real “do over.”
Now John came saying you can have a do over in life, but it begins with a change of your mind. You have to see the path you have followed has not led you to where you want to go. Now here is the promise of John. In fact it is the promise of Christmas, it we repent, or change our mind about the direction we are heading, God will give us a do over. God forgets out past as if it never happened. When God forgives, he forgives completely. There is no lingering resentment with God. He is not going to come back to you years from now and point out your past mistakes.
God is less concerned about your past, as he is excited about your future.
In fact if you want to know if the voice you are hearing is from God or not here is a simple test. Satan will always point to your past and say, “look what you have done.” Where God will always look to the future and say, “forget the past, what will you do now.”
Can you see how a message like this would draw people to John. The bibles says in verse 5.
5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
It says they came confessing their sins. I guess I always thought of confession as listing all my sins. I am not sure why. God already knows all the mistakes I made in life. It is not like I going to say something and he is going go, “wah, I did know that you did that.” I was relieved to find out that confess in the Bible means something completely different.
The Greek word used here is for “confess” is homologeō (ὁμολογεω), made up of legō (λεγω) which means “to speak,” and homos (ὁμος), which means “the same,” the compound word meaning “to speak the same thing that another speaks,” thus, “to agree with someone else.”
So confession is less about listing all the things you done, and more about agreeing with God that the path you have taken was not right.
Remember God is less concerned with your past, as he is excited about your future.
So this Christmas season, the message of Christmas is that you can have a “do over.” The road you have followed does not have to be the your destiny.
You may not be able to begin your again, but you can begin now are create a new end.
You can change your mind and have your sins, your mistakes, your missteps forgiveness. Completely forgiven and forgotten by God. Others may not let you forget, But the good news of Christmas is even though others never forget, God will never remember.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas what a different Christmas it would be if each us were to agree with God that the things we have done in the past have not created the loving caring people we want to be. What a Christmas it would be if everyone turned their lives around.
Where might that begin? How about with you and me?
This Christmas let us be the first to agree with God that we have not been as loving and caring as we should have been. Let us set the example by turning our lives around. So God can forever forgive and forget our past.
What a Christmas present that would be, a new start, a fresh page, and do over for Christmas.