Kia Ora Cambridge Baptist and friends,
If you have walked into your garage lately and stared longingly at your car and started to dream about hitting the open road and driving further than your local supermarket, then are not alone. Most men in New Zealand and a lot of women, are sharing your pain. But hang in there the garage doors will soon be opening for the more than the supermarket run.
Like most guys I love cars and driving. But I have to confess I have this tendency when I get into a car to go onto autopilot and if I am on a familiar route I will just drive and go straight past an exit or road I wanted to turn into because my subconscious is telling me that I am driving to work or home, when in fact I doing something completely different like visiting a friend. And so, I will suddenly have this message flashing up on my Apple Map which links with my appointments in my phone telling me to turn around or that it’s rerouting because I have missed the suggested turn-off. Now what’s interesting about the passage we have been looking at for the last couple of days in 2 Chronicles 7 is God is flashing up a message to Israel saying turn around you’re going in the wrong direction, you have taken the wrong turn. You are going to place you don’t rally want to be.
Let’s read the passage again and we will unpack it a bit further.
2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
This morning I want to zero into God’s command to Israel to “turn from their wicked ways”. When we turn away from something it suggests we have been going in the wrong direction. In this case God’s saying the direction is people are walking is away from him - and consequently they are doing “wicked things”. And so, he urges his people to turn around and walk towards Him again.
Interestingly, the theological word for turning from wickedness and walking toward God is repentance. Repentance means to turn around. Repentance isn’t simply an acknowledgement that we are going in the wrong direction. Nor does it mean to feel sorry, or to cry over, or to blame someone else for our failings and wrong doings. Repentance is the act of changing the direction in which the heart is inclined. It is a spiritual "about-face." It is a change of mind that calls for a change of way. Repentance is an act of the will. It’s a commitment on our part to turn around and head back to God and stopping doing the things he has said are wicked.
When I am driving in the wrong direction and I am alerted to the fact that I have taken a wrong turn, it’s easy to ignore the warning and keep driving. The worst thing that can happen is that I will end up in the wrong place or have to back track. But if we continually ignore God’s warning that we are heading in the wrong direction we risk being isolated from him, or God having to get our attention by putting some rather unpleasant roadblocks in our way. None of us want to experience this.
During this lock down why don’t we make sure that our compass is squarely set on God, and that we are following his directions and not the ways of this world, and then we can be confident we are walking in the right direction - towards Him.
Gracious Lord thank you that you do not leave us to become lost in our sin, but through your Word and the Holy Spirit you urge us to turn back to you. Thank you that if we confess our sin you are faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Help us to reset our compass towards you.