Are You Loaded With Past Baggage
As believers we must be careful of the dangers that lurk within us when we have empty spaces in our lives. When our hearts are allowed to be shaken by this world. Many times, when we respond to God's call, we come loaded with baggage and troubles from the past. We're laden with anxieties, broken dreams, bad habits and lousy attitudes.
Christians try to clean up their lives by attending church on a regular basis, cutting ties with the past and giving up bad things we once considered fun. But it's not enough to simply get rid of our negative stuff and the things of the past. We must fill the void in us with God's desires for our lives. If we don’t we will end up worse off than when we started.
In case you haven't noticed, the devil loves a spiritual vacuum. He and his demons are looking for those spiritual vacuums that we may have in our lives. He loves it when we leave him just enough space to bring in spirits of doubt, heaviness and fear.
When something bad or negative happens to us, we discover that our faith is either very strong or made of empty things and weak. So how do you respond in times of stress or when you're devastated by the loss of a job or by the death of a loved one? Does anger or pride set up shop in your empty space? What about arrogance? Do you struggle with that as well?
Jesus warned us (Luke 11:24-26; Matthew 12:43-45) about leaving voids in our Christian walk. He detailed the story of an unclean spirit that had returned to a clean home (person), deciding to have a wild party with his unclean friends.
Jesus describes the following situation for us.
He that is not with me (Jesus) is against me: and he that gathereth (working with me) not with me scattereth (works against me).
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house (person) whence I came out.
And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished (in order).
Then goeth he (unclean spirit), and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in (to the person), and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
The line has been drawn. There are two kingdoms. God and Satan’s. Satan is active and powerful in the world, but God’s Kingdom is far stronger and will eventually triumph. People cannot be neutral in this matter. Either they choose to side with God, or they do not. That is the meaning of Jesus’ ominous words, “Anyone who isn’t helping me opposes me.” In this battle, if a person is not on God’s side, he or she is on Satan’s.
To further illustrate the danger of attempting to be neutral about him, Jesus explained what could happen to such people. Unfilled and complacent people are easy targets for Satan. The evil spirit was not “cast out,” but for some reason had left the person. The desert (dry place) was believed to be the habitation of demons. Because demons need a resting place (that is, someone or something living that they can enter and torment), this demon returned to the person it came from. Jesus was making a serious point about people’s spiritual destiny. They must make a decision about him.
In the demon’s absence, the home (the person’s life) had been swept and made clean, but it is still empty. In fact, the accommodations are now so inviting that the demon finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. The “owner” (person) of the “house” is now filled with eight demons instead of one. That person is worse off than before.
Jesus was illustrating an unfortunate human tendency. A personal desire to reform often does not last long, and attempts to take care of ones life end in disaster. It is not enough to be emptied of evil. The person must then be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s new purpose in his or her life.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Getting right with God is only the first step to filling empty spaces in our lives. But as with any good relationship, the one we have with God must be nurtured.
God is not just some casual observer sitting high and unconcerned as we struggle. He feels our hurts, our anguish, our frustration and our righteous anger. He knows who caused us to be afraid, who made us feel unloved and who instilled in us a spirit of rejection.
But none of this stops Him from calling each of us to a closer and more intimate relationship with Him. He not only longs for us to return to Him, but when we get there, He also wants us to stay. He wants to fill our lives with Himself, with His goodness.
God is not concerned with the untidiness of our past, but He is concerned with our passion for His presence and the miracle of our future. God is looking at our hearts, and He is saying that we must tend to our houses and our gardens because there is no middle road. We are either filled with the things of God, or we are empty.
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Past Scripture Insights
2015 – 2016