Taking a Spiritual Inventory

Yesterday at LifeSpring we continued our study in Nehemiah by looking at chapter 2. I asked our congregation a question that is good for all of us to think about. When is the last time you put effort into determining what needs to be done in your spiritual life? When was the last time you honestly did any kind of spiritual inventory?

Taking Inventory

I’m not just talking about saying, “I need to grow.” I’m talking about taking a spiritual inventory of your life — of your walk with God so that you know exactly what needs to be done.

When is the last time you went around and surveyed the walls and gates of your spiritual life so that you knew what work was needed?

I have a feeling that if we did an honest evaluation — an honest inventory of our spiritual life — many of us would come back and honestly have to say like Nehemiah does in verse 17- “You see the trouble we are in.”

Maybe you are afraid of taking an honest spiritual evaluation of your walk with God because you are afraid of how bad things really are. Perhaps you really do not care about your spiritual condition.

The truth is that we all need to take a spiritual inventory of our lives. We need to know the condition of our spiritual walls. We need to analyze our hearts.

But let me caution you. There is a right and a wrong way to do this.

Taking inventory of what needs to be done apart from trusting in God demonstrates the prideful sin of self-reliance.

It is possible to look around and say “I can fix this on my own.” You can try to fix your walk with God in your own strength and power, in your own wisdom and understanding, apart of the leading God the Holy Spirit, and apart from the grace of God.

This is not helpful; in fact it is sinful. Why? Because it flows from the prideful sin of self-reliance. It is the sin that says I can do it by myself without God’s help and guidance.

How to Demonstrate Trust in and Reliance Upon God

Trust in God leads to reliance upon God. You will never be willing to demonstrate reliance upon God until you first truly trust God. This must begin in your heart. If you do not trust God privately, you will never rely on him publicly. If you don’t really believe that God can help you to gain victory over your spiritual weaknesses, you will never depend on him in your process of growth.

How do we demonstrate this trust and reliance? Through prayer. We do not pray to inform God of our situation but to acknowledge that we are dependent upon him. Prayer to God signifies a trust in a reliance upon God.

Closing Challenge

Invest the time to take a spiritual inventory. Determine what it is that God wants to do in your spiritual walk. Demonstrate a trust in and reliance upon God by daily asking Him to clearly show you what He wants to change in your life — and then trust in him and rely on him to do it.

Before Action: Prayer

This past Sunday we began a new sermon series on the book of Nehemiah at LifeSpring. While many people are familiar with the events in the book of Nehemiah, the main point of the book is often missed. The events found in the book of Nehemiah are about more than simply building a wall. And while there are plenty of leadership lessons that can be learned from Nehemiah, there is a greater meaning to why this book is in the Bible.

the painting palace

The book of Nehemiah is ultimately about how God used a godly leader to lead in the restoration and renewal of his people. But for that to take place there had to be repentance. There had to be a returning of the people of God to obeying the commandments of God.

Before Action: Prayer

Early in chapter one Nehemiah receives the horrible news that the people he loves have been displaced and the city he loves lies in ruins. Here is where we see the importance of prayer.

Before Nehemiah went to the King to seek permission to go to Jerusalem, before he went to examine the ruins, before he ever attempted to develop a plan, and before he ever started his work, there was a focus on prayer.

We would do well to remember that while our tendency is to jump into action when we see that something needs to be done, the best thing we can do is stop, and before we jump into action, spend time in prayer.

Before Restoration: Repentance

Why did Nehemiah do this? From the details in Nehemiah’s prayer it is clear that he knew what the real problem was. It wasn’t primarily that his people had been displaced or that his city was in ruins. The primary problem was spiritual. His people needed to return to God.

He understood that before there could be restoration, renewal, or revival there first had to be repentance. This is a truth for us all to grasp. We cannot expect to experience spiritual renewal in our lives while holding on to the sin that we know God hates — there must first be repentance.

Closing Thought

We would do well to follow the example of Nehemiah and remember that before action is prayer and before restoration is repentance. Keeping these truths in mind will allow us to keep our focus on God and grow in our relationship with God.

CE

Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues & Options (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010)

I have used this book over the past several weeks in a class I taught at my church on Christian ethics. This book does not address every issue or provide answers to every question pertaining to ethics, nor does it claim to. It does, however, present the basics of Christian ethics. The second part of the book discusses the varying sides of a number of social issues and explains how Christians should think about these issues in light of Scripture.

There are certainly a number of books that have been written on this topic, but I have found this introductory work to be quite helpful.