Its always a “bad ending” to a holiday if your bags go astray on the flight home. Sometime you’ll will arrive back in London, Belfast or Dublin, and your baggage went on to Paris or New York? I’ve often wondered why some airlines will take my bags free around the world, but wont take me free? Today in this sermon which I’ve entitled “Lost Baggage” I want to talk about the kind of baggage you really want to be LOST, the things that hold you back and weigh your down on life’s journey? The Bible says:
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…“ Hebrews 12:1
If we remain weighted down with the heavy Baggage of life, we cannot expect to run as we should, and certainly we will not finish well, or “win” the prize! So let us ponder today those things that can so easily prevent us from winning the race and finishing well.
First of all, consider what I’m calling the Baggage of Sin.
We were all Born with this Baggage, born with the very nature of sin. No one ever had to teach us how to do the wrong thing, how to tell lies, how to take what did not belong to us, it all came to us naturally. There is, the Bible says, a bias, a tendency toward evil built into us, which we cannot conquer alone. Only in Jesus Christ is there a cure and an ability to conquer. Once we have discovered, embraced and accepted Jesus as our Sin Bearer and Saviour, then we are enabled to walk free from this baggage and burden. At the same time, even though we are free
from the Penalty or our sins, and being freed from the Power of sin, we must still live with the Presence of sin all around us – and in this environment we can become conscious that there may remain a residue, a scar from our past – lingering in our present? You must understand that while we are forgiven our past, there may be consequences from our past to carry into our present and into our future. This is all Baggage which we need to lose! For example, if you have over indulged on alcohol all your adult life and turned your liver to chalk, becoming a Christian and allowing God to change your life and life-style, does not automatically fix your liver. You may have to carry that sclerosis of the liver into your present and into your future, unless and until Gods healing mercy touch you. Thank God HE can take that Baggage too.
Next let us ponder the Baggage of Fear.
I am convinced that FEAR is the greatest DEVIL fighting the Soul today. I call fear a “devil” because it comes from the very pit of Hell itself. Not only is fear crippling our world, but it is
attempting to destroy the Church and the believer every day.
The Bible reminds us that;
“God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
So if God has not given you that fearful spirit, that dread of tomorrow, that anxiety for today, where else but from the Devil could it come? Most of my fears came into my life when I had forgotten or doubted my identity, my position in Jesus Christ.
Once we can come to realize just how much we are loved by our Father in Heaven, and just how safe and securely we are held in His Hands, then doubts fly, fears dissolve and devils run.
Remember that God loves YOU just as much as he loves Jesus.
John 17:23 and that concept is sometimes difficult to get your head around! So Lose that Baggage of Fear, let it go and do it now!
Then closely allied to fear is the baggage of Guilt.
Many of you will know that I am a Twin, when my Mother gave birth she gave birth to two of us. And before you say “Oh no, not two like him“ the other one is my Sister. Yet as I’ve said before in these sermons, there is a sense in which we are all “twins”? There is if you like – Two of us all? There is the YOU that I see, and the YOU that I don’t see. There is the YOU unconverted, and the YOU converted. There is the YOU in the natural, and the YOU in the Spiritual. There is the YOU in the fellowship of other believers in Church, and there is the YOU at home alone? In other words, there’s more to You than others see? And it is often your TWIN that carries this GUILT Baggage. This baggage is connected more to the “old” you than the “new” you and includes the mistakes and failing of your past. Of course the Devils job is to remind you of your past and to make you feel guilty about it, if he can?
In most travel bags or suit-cases, there are a variety of little compartments, even hidden compartments into which you may pack your toiletries, extra cash or jewellery and so on. If your bags have to be opened at “Security” most of us hope that they won’t need to open those compartments? In the past, most of us have known some Secret or Hidden sins, and most of us now wish that neither God nor others look there? But many will still carry the Baggage of Guilt even though they have truly confessed those sins and abandoned them. The residue of those things may remain in the mind, and in the memory. But just because you have fought, or are fighting with a thing, does not
mean that you OWN the thing. Some of you are fighting with past habits, but this does not mean that you call those things yours, in fact you are eager to get shot of them, eager to lose those bags! Don’t allow the Devil to condemn you for fighting him. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit“. Romans 8:1
Next I want to look at the Baggage of Pride
God hates to even look at this bag! The Pride of life, keeping up appearances, what others think of me … even lying to win favour with others … we all know about it, and we’ve all done it, and many still walk in those ways. God hates Pride, and promises only to walk with, to fellowship with the humble,
and the pure in heart. Matthew 5:8
It was pride that lost Satan his place of honour in the Heavens, and pride will lose you the favour and blessing of God on your life too.
The Late American President Ronald Reagan, told of an occasion when he was governor of California and made a speech in Mexico City: After He had finished speaking, He sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed him spoke in Spanish – which Regan didn’t understand – and he was being applauded about every paragraph. To hide his embarrassment, the President started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until one of the ambassadors leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.’
Make sure you are not singing your own praises …he who applauds himself cannot expect heavens applause!
We must let go of that kind of Baggage!
Next let us think about the Baggage of Hopes, Dreams and Disappointments. I regularly speak of Gods design and destiny for you, for I am persuaded that God truly does have “great expectations” for all of his Children and he wants us to realize those ambitions, dreams and destinies. But while God has a plan for you, it is more than likely that as I speak, …
you have a plan for you? Which is why I am linking Disappointment with these bags. Corrie ten Boom used to say that “Man proposes and God disposes” and that disappointments can often be Gods appointments. The problem with disappointment is that it usually results with Blame! When we don’t get what we want, or what we had wished for, we usually look for someone else to blame, other than ourselves.
Thus the disappointment becomes a “baggage” we carry around with us. Allow me to show you that Delays, Denials and Disappointments can all feature in Gods way of taking you to your destiny. Many agree with me that there is a destiny that shapes our lives, yet some mistakenly hold that we are masters of our own destiny? While we should find, follow and finish the purpose on the heart of God for us, we can easily, so easily lose his way and end up on our own track. Every train has a destination, but every train can only follow the track in front of it. The failure of the points, (or pointers) on the line, may take the train off track to a different destiny? If we fail to follow Gods pointers, we may well end up in places which He has not planned for us. One Hymn writer puts it this way: “Let me lose my life, and find it Lord in Thee.”
We need to lose the Baggage of self will, self seeking, selfish plans, selfish ambition, selfish goals, and selfish motivation and surrender all to the Lordship of Christ – we need to ensure that
Jesus is always in the driving seat! Each and every day we are faced with the choice of surrendering to the Holy Spirit, or giving in to the Flesh – the old man in us!
Then there can be the Baggage of Responsibilities.
In the Gospels we have the classic story of two sisters Mary & Martha. (These were sisters of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead) Martha, we read was “troubled about many things” while Mary sat comfortably at the Saviours feet and listened and learned from him. (Luke Chapter 10) It was Martha’s home and she felt responsible for the hospitality, and responsible for the well-being and comfort of every house guest. Maybe she was busily preparing the guest room, or fixing the meal, or cleaning the kitchen, but whatever her responsibilities were, she clearly felt that she was doing all, while Mary was sitting there doing nothing.
Have you ever felt that others are not pulling their weight and leaving it all to you? Have you ever felt that there is no-one doing anything but you? People are counting on you, they need you, you have responsibilities to all kinds of folks; You can’t quit, you can’t change course, you can‘t let them down – but you’ve got your own problems? Some of us in Gods family feel that we’ve just got to be doing something, while more often that not, God wants us to rest in Him (like Mary did) and allow Him to do the work through us. Service for Jesus is not about “over-work” but about “over-flow”. Christianity is not about running here and there, to this meeting or that meeting, this church or that chapel, it is much more about sitting quietly and confidently at the feet of the Saviour, and resting in Him. There may be some things you would be better to let go. Set some of those bags of responsibility down!
Next let us consider what I am calling, the Baggage of Defeat?
Most of us know how fiercely the battles with evil often rage in our lives, how hard it is to fight with the lusts of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. How difficult it is to battle with those evil, demonic forces that wage war with our souls every single hour of the day, and how exhausted we often feel in the fight? We know too the feelings of regret when Satan has won the battles and we have known defeat. So it is to this matter of our DEFEAT that I wish to speak. As long as we are in the body of flesh, we will war with the flesh, …the new nature given us in Christ, will fight with the old nature, given us from Adam.
Not until we are free from this life, will we be completely and utterly victorious. As true “blood bought” believers, we are all “winners” in Gods eyes, yet, we are often “losers” in our own eyes . While we know with certainty, as does the Devil, that we will win the WAR, the Devil may win many battles along the way. If we permit or allow ourselves these feelings of defeat, then we undermine and undercut the victory that has already been purchased for us on the Cross. Jesus is Victor, and he has made us Victorious. Let me share with you what helps me. Remember that our “Flesh” has not yet been saved. Our Souls have been saved, our Spirits have been saved, but the Flesh will only be saved when it is resurrected to its new life.
Here is what Paul says about it in Romans 7: 18-20
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that
which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me“.
In other words, Paul is reminding us that although the “flesh” may be defeated, the “spirit” had no part in that defeat.
This means that when we walk in the new Spirit life we were born again into, by the enabling and indwelling Holy Spirit,
we are no longer slavishly bound to the flesh, no longer defeated and no longer weighted down by DEFEAT, we are Victors, always. So let the deceit of defeat go, put that bag down.
Finally, we must consider the Baggage of Religion?
Some will be asking, “how can religion become baggage?”
Let me teach you the difference between Religion and Christianity – and it is a very simple but a sure definition.
Religion is all about what we can do for God. Christianity, is all about what God has done for us!
Let me repeat that…
Religion is all about what we can do for God. Christianity, is all about what God has done for us!
Religion, asks “what can I do” to earn heaven, to earn favour with God, to earn forgiveness, to earn peace and power with God. Sadly too many Christians are still working their religion, when they should be working the word of God. Many of our Religious Traditions and Theologies do not give life, instead they give us sets of rules that bind and burden us instead of blessing and benefiting us.
It was from the Religious of his day that JESUS himself suffered most. Jesus condemned them saying: “… woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Matthew 23:13 By their own legalistic tradition they were not entering into all the good and glories of Gods Kingdom themselves – and were hindering others from entering into such things. My dear friends, Religion is still doing the self same thing in Ireland today. We need to lay down the Baggage of our Religion, and take up the Blessings of faith in Jesus. Add anything you can do to what he has done, and you have immediately taken away from his finished work. The Hymn writer could say “Nothing in my hand
I bring, simply to His cross I cling”
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
A while ago, I preached this sermon to a gathering of believers near Banbridge, and on that occasion, I filled Ten Plastic Carrier bags with Ten Cushions from the various rooms in my house. As I dealt with each Bag, (each burden) I lifted them one by one from the pulpit and walked through the congregation, so that at the end of the sermon, (carrying ten bags) one could see how encumbered I was, how restricted, and how weighted down I had become with all this baggage.
I was in no fit state to walk let alone run in any race.
Is it any wonder that the Bible says: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…“ Hebrews 12:1 (The scripture I quoted at the beginning) It would be ridiculous to attempt to run any sort of race, carrying all this baggage,
and impossible to run well or finish well.
So I urge you, as with the writer to the Hebrews, “lay it down, lose it, drop it, get rid of it, throw it off, let it all go”
and whatever it takes for you and I to win, let us press on without it, free to run and free to race across that finish line.
God Bless You … Amen