If you are like me, you love this time of year! Perhaps you have been…
What should you pack into your suitcase for your journey through 2021?
This blog was first posted in 2019, but a Hacker pulled it down, and with all the other “issues” we had to deal with in 2020, we waited until now to repost and the truth and tools included are just as helpful NOW as then. We pray as you ponder, what to pack INTO, or take OUT of your life’s suitcase, you will be prepared for a year of HOPE, Healing, Health and HELP for the journey ahead in 2021.
Most of the last decade, Bill and I travel between 200-250 days a year, so we know something about packing a suitcase! With a weight limit of 50 pounds for a check on, or a size limit of a 22 inch carry on, there is NO ROOM for anything that is superfluous or would weigh you down.
At the end of a long 6 week back to back set of trips last fall, I went through my suitcase to try to take out 15 extra pounds. I took a bag and went item by item through my baggage eliminated the things I knew I didn’t need: multiple half empty bottles of toiletries, twice as many socks, unmentionables, and wardrobe pieces not suited to the climate I would be traveling to.
In the same way, the Bible, in Gal. 5:16- calls us to rid ourselves of the things that hold us back, and fill our lives of things that will bless and build us:
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
While most of us would easily say, “I am ok, no orgies this week”. What about the others on the list? Do you need to dump out of your life things like:
Porn or sex outside the context of marriage?
Impure, lewd, unclean, excessive violence in thoughts, actions or words?
Worship of false gods (is anything a higher priority than your walk with God?)
Are you playing around the edges of drug use, (allowing drinking or drugs to cloud your thinking); playing with things of darkness and witchcraft like scary movies, palm reading, zodiac, taroo cards, palm reading etc?
Are you carousing with people you know are not good for you, who have their own selfish interests—not your best interests in mind?
Are you holding on to hostilities, hatred, contention, strife, wrangling, quarrels, jealousies, outburst of anger ,rivarlies, selfish ambition, divisions and dessentions?
Do you elevate your personal choices above the truths of scripture making your opinion equal to God’s? Struggling with pride?
We are to rid ourselves of these things that hold us back and add more brokenness, bitterness and bad conscequences to our lives.
See the three sentences that are colored and boldface? Each one holds the same answer: to rid ourselves of the bad, we should focus on the good through the power of the Holy Spirit!
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Ask yourself: How can I add more of these into my life?
Love: unconditional goodwill
Joy: delight and gladness
Peace: peace of mind, health, welfare and wholeness
Forbearance: patience, long-suffering, waiting before lashing out or dumping
Kindness: goodness, excellence, uprightness, moral character
Goodness: deriving your thoughts and actions from God, and allowing God to empower you to live these out
Faithfulness: belief, trust and confidence in God giving you ability to express belief, trust and confidence in God’s plan for you and aid in expressing confidence and trust in others
Gentleness: meekness- great strength under control; divinely balanced virtue
Self-Control: self-mastery, self-restraint
What is the secret of success in living this new life?
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Crucify my flesh by placing Christ’s desires for me and my life above my own. It is the act of surrendering our passions (our emotions) and our desires (our impulses) and asking Christ to lead, guide and empower us to listen, hear and obey His calling.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
A simple way to think about keeping in step with the Spirit is picture God and yourself walking together, side by side on your life path. You happen upon a fork in the road, Jesus points out that one path is not good for you (sin) and the other will build and bless you (sanctification). You have a choice, stay in step and walk with Christ, or rebel and take the sinful and self-centered path.
If you take the selfish, sinful path, soon life will get more difficult and you will feel far from God—because YOU walked away. To get back on the right path, your sanctified and surrendered to Jesus path for your good, you must simply exhale (agree with God you took the wrong path) and inhale – thank the Spirit for His indwelling power to help you obey God.
So do a self- inventory. What negative thoughts, habits, actions do you need to unpack from your life journey suitcase? Even good things that are no longer God’s best for you may need set aside, perhaps for a season.
Bill teaches a principle based on Eccl. 3:10-11
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time…
Meaning when something that was once beautiful has become burdensome, it might be time for a change.
Your Turn to Pack
What do you need to pack into your suitcase? Look at the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-23, what people, what activities, what resources, what choices help you gain more of what the Spirit would want expressed in your life?
Use this simple downloadable worksheet and make a list of what to unpack and what to pack before your begin making plans, commitments, and before setting up your calendar and schedule for the next 12 months.
At anytime, if you feel unsure, simply pray, “Spirit, please lead me on your path, the one that brings the abundant life, the future and hope you promise” (John 10:10, Jer 29:11)
Begin with this prayer from Psalms 25:4-5:
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.