1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
It was the Rose Bowl Game on New Year's Day in 1929. Georgia Tech was playing the University of California at Berkeley. A California defender, named Roy Riegels, recovered a Georgia Tech fumble, and then he turned and ran for 65 yards in the wrong direction. One of Riegels' own teammates tackled him just before he reached the wrong goal line. On the next play, Georgia Tech scored and went on to win.
From that day on, Riegels was saddled with the nickname "Wrong-way Riegels." For years afterward, whenever he was introduced, people would exclaim, "I know who you are! You are the guy who ran the wrong way in the Rose Bowl!"
Our failures may not be as conspicuous, but we have all gone the wrong way, and we all have memories that haunt us. Recollections of our sins and failures have a way of rising up and taunting us in those quiet moments or when we can't sleep at three o'clock in the morning.
I am sure that Riegels thought many times, if only I had another chance. If only I could have that play to do over, I would do it entirely different. It was the excitement of the moment, the pressure to be noticed and to be the star, rather than keeping my head on the game and focusing on the right way to run. Sound familiar? How often aren't we tempted by the excitement of the moment or thinking only of our self rather than what is right. It is so easy to find ourselves running the wrong way. Then later we look back and say, "If I only had another chance, I would never do that again. If only I could forget."
The exciting message for us today is we can forget it! We can have another chance. John reminds us in our Scripture today, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
As Jesus was breathing His last breath on the cross, He spoke the words, "Father forgive them" (see Luke 23:34). He wasn't speaking only for those who were crucifying Him. He spoke those words for all sinners: for you and me. Every sin, every failure, every time we're running the wrong way, Jesus waits for us to confess our sins. He is there to forgive. The apostle Paul reminds us that "there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:22b-24).
Just as Riegels' teammates stopped him from going the wrong way, all the way, so Jesus stops us when we go the wrong way. He picks us up, turns us around, wipes us clean with His forgiveness, and puts us back in the game. Our mistakes and failures are gone and forgotten. Jesus has paid the price by His death on the cross. Each day we are given another chance. We can begin again free of past mistakes. The amazing thing is unlike Riegels' team we will win the game in Him. As we reach the final goal line, we can shout, "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 15:57).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, by faith, my life is in Your victorious hands. For that I give You thanks and praise today and forever. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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