Summary: The good news is that no matter how guilty we are, when we repent, we find mercy in the Lord. He forgives us our sin and He receives us in grace.
A Covenant’s Renewed ~ The Essential Ingredient of Repentance
Scripture Text: Hosea 14.1-9
Years ago, we were traveling to spend Christmas with family. On-this-particular-occasion, …we decided to do the book-on-tape-thing. We got a murder-mystery-novel.
It’s amazing how engrossing those things are! Driving-along the old-familiar-highway, ...we were able to ‘check-out’ and get-lost in the story... And it was great!... Suspense and plot-twists… and just-when you thought-you-figured-out who-dunnit, …your theory was exploded!
Well, about-the-time that the detective finally-figured-it-out, …we realized that we were 30 miles south of where we needed to get-off the interstate! We’d missed our turn …and it’s not-just that we’d missed our turn, …but we didn’t even-know-it for a half-hour!
Andy Stanley ~ the son of the famous pastor, Charles Stanley ~ …Andy-Stanley calls-himself “directionally-challenged”. Now, I don’t know if I fall into that category, …but there are times when I definitely get turned-around.
Anyway… Andy Stanley says there are three things that we should know about people-who-get-lost: First: we don’t get lost on purpose! It just happens. There may be contributing factors: …the kids arguing in the back seat, …the GPS malfunctioning, …our own, internal compass out-of-kilter, …whatever! …but we don’t get lost on purpose!
The second thing we should know about people-who-get-lost is that we never know exactly when it happens… As-though, at one-instant you know exactly where-you-are, …and the next instant, you’re-clueless! One minute, you’re driving home – …and the next moment – or thirty-minutes-later – you’re on some-gravel-road in the middle of a cow-pasture! If you could know the exact minute that you transition from knowing to lost-ness, …don’t you think we’d immediately stop and re-evaluate?... look at a map?... ask for help?
But, because we don’t immediately-recognize when we’re lost, …we end-up getting more-lost, …more-turned-around, …more-confused. The state of ‘being-lost’ usually dawns-on us ~ …like-when it dawns on us that we can’t button our pants anymore ~ …and we wonder, “When did I put on those extra pounds!?!” “Was it last night, when I had that late-night bowl-of-ice-cream? “Or-was-it, over the last three weeks when I developed the habit of having a late-night bowl-of-ice-cream!?!”
We usually-don’t-realize the precise-moment that we’ve crossed the line from knowing-exactly-where-we-are, …to the point of having-no-idea how we ended up in this-strange place!
The third thing that we should know about the experience of being lost is this… (and it may be the most profound of the three): The road I’m on always determines where I end up. In Andy Stanley’s words, “The path I take determines my ultimate destination… I always end up where the road I’ve chosen takes me.”
Maybe Andy just-states-the-obvious. But I think he’s on-to-something. We’ve all been lost, before. Even those of us who stubbornly insist that we know exactly where-we’re-at!
But, it’s a state-and-a-condition that we don’t necessarily want; …it usually just-happens ~ …and then we’ve gotta deal-with-it.
Although there’s a difference between being geographically-lost, …versus being spiritually-lost, …there’s enough-similarities that it explains why the Bible uses word-pictures of traveling to describe life. In-fact, the Hebrew word that gets translated-into English as, “repentance” ~ …it literally means, “turn around”. Change directions. Stop going in the direction you’re headed!... Doesn’t it sound geographical; …but it is a fundamentally spiritual experience.
And this is exactly what Hosea communicated to his friends and neighbors: …”You’ve gotta repent; …”You’re headed in the wrong direction; …”Don’t you see that the road you’re on leads to nothing but heart-ache and destruction!?!” So, he says, “Return… to the Lord your God… Bring your confessions and return to the Lord.”
For those of us who’ve been around the church for any-length-of-time, …we’ve heard the words “repent” and “repentance” tossed-around quite-a-bit. But, what’s it all about, …and why is it so-important?
Well… that’s what I wanna explore this morning. Repentance may be a lost art. It may be a forgotten ingredient. But, you cannot read the Scripture without hearing it emphasized over-and-over again, as an essential ingredient to a healthy-and-right relationship with the Lord.
And-so, let’s-start with the “Head”…
“Return… to the Lord your God… Bring your confessions and return to the Lord.”
What’s involved in repentance?... Well… from the point-of-view of the head, Confession is a vital-part of turning to the Lord. Confession is an essential ingredient to repentance.
Of all the different-parts-of-repentance, …this-is-the-one that may make you most-uncomfortable! Confession means that we come to terms with how we’ve messed up. It means that we come clean. It means that we speak honestly about who we are, …what we’ve done, …how we’ve gone wrong. And-frankly… we don’t like to do that. For-some-reason, we’ve got the idea that our pride and self-esteem have to be guarded at-all-costs! And so, lots-of-people will defend themselves, …and excuse their behavior, …and deflect blame to-others, with all vigor.