Taking Spiritual Inventory

TAKING SPIRITUAL INVENTORY

(Pastor Lee Jackson – FFWC)

I)     INTRODUCTION – THIS IS THE TIME OF THE YEAR THAT COMPANIES AND BUSINESS ENTITIES, LARGE AND SMALL, ALL OVER THE WORLD TAKE INVENTORY OF THEIR BUSINESS.   THE PURPOSE OF TAKING INVENTORY IS THREE FOLD:

A)   FIRST, TO DETERMINE HOW, WHAT THEY THINK ARE DOING, COMPARES TO HOW THEY ARE ACTUALLY DOING.  HOW THE INVENTORY OF MATERIALS AND PRODUCTS ON HAND ACCORDING TO THE COMPUTERS COMPARES TO WHAT THEY ACTUALLY HAVE ON THE SHELF, AND TO ACCOUNT FOR RECONCILE THE  DIFFERENCES.

B)   SECOND, TO PERFORM A VALUATION OF BUSINESS ASSETS TO COMPARE HOW WHAT THINK THEY ARE WORTH WITH WHAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY WORTH BASED UPON CHANGING MARKET CONDITIONS.

C)   THIRD, TO DETERMINE WHAT ITEMS NEEDS TO BE INCREASED AND WHAT ITEMS NEED TO BE DISPOSED OF ACCORDING TO THE BUSINESS FORECAST AND THE BUSINESS STRATEGY.

TAKING INVENTORY IS A LABORIOUS AND TEDIOUS TASK BUT ONE THAT BUSINESSES PERFORM ONCE A YEAR TO REALIGN PERCEPTION WITH PHYSICAL AND MARKET REALITIES. CHRISTIANS SHOULD GO THROUGH A SIMILAR PROCESS PERIODICALLY TO INSURE THAT WE ARE WHO WE THINK WE ARE AND WHO WE SAY WE ARE; THAT WE ARE GOD PLEASERS AND NOT JUST MEN PLEASERS. WHEN WE STAND BEFORE GOD IT WILL NOT BE OUR OPINION OF OURSELVES THAT MATTERS, IT WILL NOT BE WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF US THAT MATTERS IT WILL BE WHAT GOD KNOWS THAT MATTERS AND HE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT US, NOTHING IS HIDDEN FROM HIM.   YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CANNOT HIDE!

HE GAVE US HIS WORD AS A SPIRITUAL YARDSTICK TO ACCESS OUR OVERALL SPIRITUAL CONDITION, TO MEASURE OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND TO ASSIST US IN COMPLETING A VALUATION OF OUR WORK AND OUR MINISTRY.  WE DO THIS BY: 1) LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR OF GOD’S WORD.  2) RECOGNIZING THE DISCREPANCIES THAT EXIST.  3) ASKING GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND HIS HELP IN CORRECTING THESE DISCREPANCIES (GOD CALLS THESE SIN.)

II)    WHAT DOES GOD’S WORD SAY THAT HELPS US TO TAKE INVENTORY OR ACCESS OUR OVERALL SPIRITUAL CONDITION?

A)   DO WE REALLY LOVE GOD AND LOVE OTHERS (OR DO WE JUST SAY WE DO)?

1)    Matt 22:37-40: Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’  40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” NIV

2)    1 Cor 13:1-3: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. NIV

3)    Rev 2:1-5: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance… 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. NIV

B)   ARE WE KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS? (IS THIS STILL IMPORTANT UNDER THE NEW COVENANT?)

1)    Matt 5:17-20:”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. NIV

2)     John 14:21: Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” NIV

3)    James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.

C)   ARE WE PRACTICING TRUE RELIGION OR JUST BEING RELIGIOUS? JESUS HAD TO BE UP AND ABOUT HIS FATHER’S BUSINESS.  WE SHOULD FEEL THAT URGENCY ALSO. James 1:26-27: If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. NIV

III)   WHAT DOES GOD’S WORD SAY THAT HELPS US TO ACCESS THE SPIRITUAL VALUE OF OUR MINISTRY, OUR GIFTS AND WHAT WE ARE DOING FOR HIM

  1. WE SHOULD BE MOTIVATED TO GOOD WORKS BECAUSE GOD’S WORD TELLS US THAT BELIEVERS WILL STAND BEFORE THE CHRIST AND OUR WORKS WILL BE JUDGED AS TO THEIR VALUE: “For we must all of us appear before Christ’s judgement-seat in our true characters, in order that each may then receive an award for his actions in this life, in accordance with what he has done, whether it be good or whether it be worthless.” 1 Cor 5:10 (Weymouth’s NT)
  2. OUR WORKS WILL BE TESTED TO SEE IF THEY RETAIN THEIR VALUE: 1Cor 3:10-15:  “And no one can ever lay any other real foundation than that one we already have-Jesus Christ. But there are various kinds of materials that can be used to build on that foundation. Some use gold and silver and jewels; and some build with sticks and hay or even straw!  There is going to come a time of testing at Christ’s Judgment Day to see what kind of material each builder has used. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire so that all can see whether or not it keeps its value, and what was really accomplished.  Then every workman who has built on the foundation with the right materials, and whose work still stands, will get his pay.  (Living Bible)GOD IS NOT JUST INTERESTED IN THE RESULTS BUT HOW THESE RESULTS WERE ACHIEVED AND WHAT MOTIVATES US:

    Matt 6:1: “Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. NIV

    Eph 6:6-8: Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. NIV

    Col 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. NIV

HOW DOES GOD’S WORD SHOW US WHAT THINGS ARE IMPORTANT AND SHOULD INCREASE AND WHAT THINGS SHOULD BE MINIMIZED OR DISPOSED OF?

THE VALUE OF THINGS ARE DEPENDENT UPON OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, E.G.  WE PAY MORE FOR A TELEVISION SET OR A COMPUTER THAN A QUART OF WATER HERE AND NOW BUT IF YOU WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN WITH NO WATER YOU WOULD GIVE A LOT MORE FOR A QUART OF WATER THAN YOU WOULD FOR A NEW TELEVISION SET.  (STORY OF LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN).

IF YOU WERE TOLD THAT YOU ONLY HAD A MONTH TO LIVE YOU WOULD QUICKLY REASSESS THE VALUE OF THINGS AND ACTIVITIES IN TERMS OF THE TIME REMAINING IN THIS LIFE. WE IN FACT SHOULD LIVE OUR LIVES IN VIEW OF ETERNITY.

HOW SHOULD WE VIEW THE “THINGS” OF THIS WORLD?

Matt 6:24-26;31-33: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? …31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. NIV

1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or anything in the world. if <Parameter:1>anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. anointing 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. NIV

Phil 3:7-14: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. NIV

CONCLUSION – WHEN THE TITANIC MADE ITS MAIDEN VOYAGE THE SHIP WAS ADORNED WITH BEAUTIFUL FURNITURE, AND THE FINEST OF CHINA. THERE WERE MANY WEALTHY PASSENGERS ABOARD WHO BROUGHT WITH THEM WARDROBES OF BEAUTIFUL CLOTHES AND EXPENSIVE JEWELRY OF DIAMONDS, PEARLS AND GOLD.  WHEN THAT “UNSINKABLE VESSEL” BEGAN TO SINK (AND IT WAS GONE WITHIN A FEW HOURS OF HITTING THE ICEBERG) THE PASSENGERS ONLY THOUGHT WAS TO SAVE THEIR LIVES AND THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT THEY LOVED.   THIS WORLD IS LIKE THE TITANIC. THE PROPHET DANIEL SAW A ROCK CARVED OUT OF THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD, WHICH SPEAKS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD SMASHING THE STATUE REPRESENTING HUMAN GOVERNMENTS AND KINGDOMS SO THAT NOTHING REMAINED EXCEPT AS CHAFF ON THE THRESHING FLOOR.  LOOK AROUND YOU.  WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT REAL; IT WILL NOT LAST; JESUS IS COMING AND EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN SEE AND TOUCH WILL BE INSTANTLY LOSE ITS VALUE.  YOUR ONLY CONCERN THEN WILL BE AM IT READY TO FACE THE SCRUTINY OF THE SON OF GOD AND TO STAND BEFORE HIM TO GIVE ACCOUNT OF MY LIFE AND MY DEED.  TODAY IS THE DAY TO PREPARE – TO TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION.

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