New Hope Notes
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Wherever we travel, we take along baggage containing personal items. And we’ll need to stay within the allowed baggage weight because most air carriers charge an excess baggage fee.
Do you remember being in college when you used to pack dirty laundry because you knew you could launder them back at home? Well, times have changed but old habits die hard. Well, the lesson of my dirty laundry baggage was embarrassing. You see, my luggage was overweight and I didn’t want to pay fifty dollars for being five pounds over the allowed baggage weight, so I opened my luggage and removed some of the dirty laundry, with people standing in line watching me!
Isn’t it true that we all carry emotional baggage? In other words, we walk around with excess baggage – issues in our hearts. What we may not realize is the baggage we carry around comes with a price.
So what’s in your baggage? More importantly, let’s see how we can let go of our excess baggage in order to live an abundant life.
Interestingly, the writer of Hebrews knew we would experience this two thousand years later. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Heb. 12:1 NLT). This tells us to strip off all the excess baggage we carry around in life – those that keep us from running the race God has set before us, which includes sin.
If you’re wondering what sin is, it is anything that keeps you from God’s best in your life. So how do we obtain God’s best in our lives? Well, first we’ll need to take an affirmative forward action called…
1. FULL CONFESSION.
Not a half but full confession. It is acknowledging to God that you’ve been carrying excess baggage in your life. You see, God is not a puppeteer and He will not manipulate you. Nor will He control you. It is your free will. It is a choice.
Therefore, it is our responsibility to choose to confess fully because no one can free you. In other words, people can pray for you fervently but nothing is going to happen until you take that step forward towards the cross. Remember, no one can stand for you before the cross. You will need to do this for yourself. It’s a personal choice to confess in order to be free.
Please understand that when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will still have issues. Nonetheless, the good news is once we confess, it’s no longer in the closet. But more importantly, out in the open.
To illustrate this, let’s use a diagram of the cross (on page 4). First, we’ll need to confess vertically. And this brings us to our first bullet.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn. 1:8-9). This tells us to confess to God. This is our first vertical relationship. It is the relationship between God and ourselves.
And the second is to confess horizontally.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Jam. 5:16). This tells us to confess to one another. In other words, confess to our brothers and sisters in Christ. They will intercede and pray for us. We encourage you to join a life group or a ministry. Only after we confess can healing take place and your prayers be effective.
Eventually, we will get tired of carrying our emotional baggage. And no amount of hiding, burying or ignoring will make them go away. Guess what? Hurt people hurt people. What? Yes, we’ll end up dumping it on those who are closest to us without realizing it. It could well be a spouse, child, parent, friend or co-worker. Therefore be mindful, for carrying emotional baggage has a price to pay.
So what do we confess? Well, although we may think we can hide things from others, eventually it will spill over into our relationships. So what kinds of emotional baggage are we talking about here? Well, it could be a hurt or pain which affected us deeply. Where someone said or did something to hurt you. Or a torn, stained past that we regret. Or maybe some kind of security blanket you’ve been holding on to because it brings you peace and security. Or just maybe you have weights of unforgiveness that you’ve been carrying around.
Another would be our insecurities and doubts. Or the frustrations of not being able to accomplish things as we use to. And a failure is another. Harboring feelings against others or feeling inadequate for others are also baggage.
Did you know some of the baggage we keep in our hearts have been since childhood? What? Yes, where a parent may have said something hurtful. Or even an abuse of some kind. However, we must understand that parents did the best they could. And just like us, they too carry emotional baggage.
The sad thing about carrying excess baggage is we only exist, when we should be living. So how do we get rid of emotional baggage? Well, the only way we will be rid of them is at the foot of the cross. And this brings us to our second point.
2. FORGIVE AND FORSAKE.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mat. 11:28-29). Therefore, we’ll need to abandon all to Christ. Another definition of yoke is when someone is being discipled by someone else.
Israel. You see, the Pharisees took the Law of Moses and added more of their own. After that there were so many restrictions, requirements and commandments that it became difficult for anyone to follow the laws of Moses (much less for anyone to be yoked to the laws of Moses). Therefore, the Lord says His ways are simple, and He invites us to become a disciple yoked to Him.
I encourage you to become a disciple, yoked to Jesus. Just take all that we’ve lived through, who we are, and simply submit it to Jesus. By doing so, we will find peace. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1Pet. 5:7). Remember, rest is not found in forgiving and forgetting. Instead, it is when we release full control of everything into the hands of our Father.
By doing so, we will begin to see our baggage being washed by the blood of Christ. All in all, this is what Christ died for. It was to cover all our sins with His blood. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ…cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9”14)
Please understand this, when our sins have been washed by the blood of Christ, we should not touch it. I remember taking Pastor Wayne for lunch one day. It was a time when I just got involved in ministry awhile back. And if you don’t know my “before Christ days,” I had two divorces and was carrying a baggage of unworthiness.
So I asked Pastor Wayne if he received calls or emails from people about my past. And he replied, “Yes, I got those messages… and I’ve asked your wife Joy to quit calling me!” Although I was serious, we laughed about it but then he said, “You are doing fine.”
Then he said this to me, “When Christ died on the cross, he already died for your sins. His blood covered all your experiences, all your mistakes, your decisions and the people you hurt in the midst of your divorces.” I remember him looking me straight in the eye as he said, “Now don’t touch the blood.” Wow! What Pastor Wayne said to me exploded in my heart. And now I counsel others with those same words. Listen, Jesus’ blood is pure, so let it sit and be free! There is such a power when you come to understand the cross.
Remember, the baggage we carry always has a price to pay. Therefore, leave them at the cross. And when we do this, we will find that we never walk away empty. In other words, if you bring anger to Him, He’ll give you peace. If you bring your hurts before Him, He’ll give you healing. If you bring Him your broken dreams, He’ll give you a future and a hope. If you bring to Him unforgiveness, He’ll give you grace. If you bring to Him your fears, He’ll give you faith. If you bring to Him your failures, He’ll give you a second chance.
Isn’t it about time we bring our baggage to the cross? Please nail your baggage to the cross today. Here is a diagram of a cross. Please take some time to write the baggage the Lord has revealed in your heart at the foot of the cross. Be it a name, unforgiveness or a hurt.
And, whenever you feel the excess weight on your shoulders again, pull out this note sheet and take a look at what you’ve already nailed to the cross. Remember, Christ already shed His blood for those things so now go out and live an abundant life!
Prayer – Thank you Heavenly Father for Your grace that flows so freely. When You died on the cross, we were already on Your mind. You already knew the things we would go through, live through and mistakes we would make. You also knew the burdens we would carry.
You said to come to the cross and lay them all down before You. So as we lay our baggage and burdens before You, the blood that was shed will cover them. Thank You Father for allowing Your Body to be broken. And for Your blood to be shed for the forgiveness of our sins!
We renew our hearts and commitment before You Lord. Thank You for who You are! We wash everything under Your blood, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
Q1) Has the Lord revealed an excess baggage in your heart?
Q2) Please do a full vertical confession. This is between you and the Lord.
Q3) Please do a horizontal confession. This is between you and your care/ministry group.
Q4) Will you be able to abandon your excess baggage at the foot of the cross? If not, what
prevents you from doing so?
Q5) What impacted you most today? And how will you be different because of what you’ve