Genesis 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
On New Year’s Day 1929 at the Rose Bowl Game, Roy Riegels played for Univ of CA and upon getting a fumbled ball, in his confusion, ran toward the wrong goal. A teammate tackled him to keep him from getting points for GA Tech. This earned him the nickname “wrong way Riegels”. In the locker room at half time the coach said nothing about it and told the team the second half would begin with the same slate of players. They all left but Roy. He told the coach he was too embarrassed to go back out. He couldn’t face anyone. The coach reminded him the game was only half over. During that second half Roy played better than he ever had. In a spiritual sense, we sometimes run the wrong direction. We stumble and fumble. We are ashamed of ourselves and feel like we can’t try again. I can almost hear the Lord say “get up; this thing’s not over!” While we’re here, we will make mistakes and blunders. God says we’re not over the finish line. Keep on keeping on for the Lord!
All Christians periodically need to make a fresh start. No one does all he or she intends to do, but those who try do more than those who don’t. In 2021, start over. Be what you can be for God. Many in the Bible were given the opportunity to start again. In Genesis 28-35 the story of Jacob’s worst and best is shown. At his worst he cheated his brother of his birthright. That was low. At his best he wrestled with the angel of God pleading for a blessing. At Bethel he made a vow to God. He became a rich man and forgot God. Going home he was afraid to meet his brother. He knew Esua would try to kill him. God had visited Esau; he forgave Jacob. Jacob was still not filled with peace. God told him to go back to Bethel and start again. He needed rededication. You may be cold, away from God. There’s still fire. You don’t have to be cold. When you drift, that’s what happens. Submitting yourself to God will warm the fire. We draw near to God and he draws near to us. We can be as close to God as we want to be. Revival has to begin at the house of God. You may need to go back to Bethel. Is it calling your name? You do not have to stay where you are.
God called Jonah to preach a message of judgment to the people of Nineveh. This was a large city and enemies of Israel. Jonah wouldn’t go. He allowed personal prejudice to cloud his thinking. I’m afraid we all do that from time to time. When Jesus died on the cross he died for me, but he also died for every color of person ever born. He died for the best and the vilest. He loved all of us enough to die. But Jonah refused and headed toward Tarshish, the opposite direction of Nineveh. Through the ordeal of being in a whale’s belly, Jonah got right with God. There is no genuine repentance without a change in direction. The results of Jonah’s repentance show when his feet hit the ground. He went to Nineveh. He preached. I’m still not sure it was what he wanted to do, but because it’s what God said do, he went. The people repented and God spared them. Jonah had his “I told you so” party. We’d better all be glad God did spare them. He spared us when he didn’t have to. I’m convinced that without repentance Jonah would have died in the belly of the whale.
Samson had a lot going on for him. He was handsome and strong. He came from a good home and a supernatural birth. He was a Nazarite and God had a plan for him. God has a plan for your life too. In Samson’s case, and in spite of all he had going for him, he was taken captive and blinded, left to grind at the mill. In his final act he prayed for strength to pull down the pillars of the colosseum on all his enemies and himself. The Bible says that Samson killed more people in his death than in his life, but in the 11th hour God heard his prayer. I’ve seen people get saved at the 11th hour, but I caution anyone who plans to do that. You don’t know when the 11th hour might be. You may be there now.
Peter was the most prominent disciple. He was always listed first in the writings of the Bible. He was the one to make the profession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Yet he denied ever knowing the Lord. Every year preachers give in to immorality. We all hate to see it. When Peter fell, it was big. He thought the sin was too great. He had made a royal mess. We’ve all been there. Be careful; it can happen to any of us. Never boast of what you won’t do. Take heed. Beware lest you be the one to fall. When you say these things, you are setting yourself up for a fall. Peter declared he would never deny the Lord, yet he had done it three times by the time of the rooster’s crowing. Then he remembered what the Lord had said. God dealt with Peter and he got a fresh start. He preached on the Day of Pentecost and 3,000 were saved.
In Luke 15, the prodigal son had a good home and plenty of money. He didn’t realize how good he had it until it was all gone and he found himself in the hogpen. That’s the way with young people today. They don’t realize how well they have it. This boy left home. He lost it all but never lost his father’s love. You may lose everything, but you’ll never lose the love of the heavenly Father. The boy decided to go home and his father was watching and waiting for him.
How can a sinning Christian make a fresh start? First John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It still takes the blood to cleanse sin. Psalms 92:10 says But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil. Fresh start to a new year? How about a fresh anointing of the Lord?