Robert Jeffress - Take Inventory
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to pathway to victory. Survivalists know that whenever you find yourself in a threatening situation, it's imperative to take inventory of your available resources. Even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant item, could end up being crucial to your survival. In the same way, Christians need to assess the divine resources God has provided to face the supernatural struggles we encounter each day. As we continue our new series, "Courageous", we're going to look at survival tip number three, take inventory, on today's edition of pathway to victory.
By 1970, public interest in crude spaceflight was declining rapidly. The exciting days of the space race to determine who would dominate the cosmos, the United States or the Soviet Union, were over. When American astronauts Neil Armstrong put the first human footprint on the moon on July 21, 1969, the United States claimed victory over space. So when NASA launched its third moon mission, nine months later, it was met with a collective yawn by the American public. But an explosion on Apollo 13, two days into their flight, changed all of that.
Jack Swigert, the command module pilot flipped a switch to turn on the fans as a part of a routine cryo-stir in the hydrogen tanks. 16 seconds later, he was startled by a large boom, warning lights flashed, the alarm sounded in the command module as the ship began to shutter, oxygen pressure and power levels plummeted. Swigert radioed, "Houston, we've had a problem". Within a matter of minutes, the Odyssey, the lifeboat for the three American astronauts, was dying. Mission control in Houston determined the astronauts had to shut down the Odyssey and moved into the undamaged lunar lander, the Aquarius. Once there, the crew would perform a number of maneuvers to slingshot themselves around the moon using the moon's gravitational pull as additional energy and head back to earth.
To save precious power, several systems in the Aquarius had to be shut down. The lunar lander was designed to carry only two people for no more than 36 hours. However, with the command module blacked out, all three astronauts would have to survive the trip back to earth in the cramped confines of the Aquarius. It would take the spacecraft 96 hours to make the return trip home. It didn't take long for the astronauts to notice that the lunar lander was filling with dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide, since its scrubber was unable to filter out the poisonous gas expelled by the three men.
On their trip to and around the moon, the astronauts had replaced the filter at least twice. As they emerged from the dark side of the moon, they had one filter left, but it came from the command module and it wouldn't fit the lunar lander's compartment. Built by two different contractors, the command module co2 filter was square while the lunar lander's filter was round. To keep three men from dying of asphyxiation, a team in Houston gathered an inventory of equipment that the astronauts had on board and begin piercing together a contraption to fit the proverbial square peg into the round hole. The inventory consisted of the square lithium hydroxide canister, a roll of duct tape, two plastic bags, two hoses from moon suits, two socks, the cover of the flight plan, and a bungee cord used to secure the modified filtration system to Aquarius' bulkhead.
As the 1995 movie, "Apollo 13", dramatically depicted, the mailbox, as this contraction was called, worked. The astronauts safely splashed down in the pacific ocean and were welcomed home by the American public. They were heroes of NASA's most successful failure. The survival of Apollo 13 depended upon the ingenuity of those engineers at NASA, to design a system that would be based on the available inventory to the astronauts. It would have been no good for the engineers to suggest building a contraption, where the plastic bag rubber-banded around the hose if there had been no bungee cord available with which to build that contraption. They were limited to using the available inventory for their survival. And the same is true for anybody who finds himself in a survival situation.
And that's what we're actually talking about in this series, "Courageous". The Bible says whether you know it or not, you're in a survival situation. And today we're going to look at survival tip number three, one that those astronauts demonstrated, and that is take inventory of your available resources, taking inventory of your available resources. Now, when it comes to taking inventory of our present situation, I've got some good news and bad news for you today. The bad news is, you have a supernatural enemy who will not rest until he has completely destroyed you and everything important to you. That's the bad news. The good news is God has given you the supernatural inventory resources you need to defeat that opponent. And that's what we're going to look at today.
In Ephesians 6:13, Paul said it this way, "Therefore, take up the full armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm". Take inventory and then take up the armor, the protection, that God has given you. Why is that so important? Well, he says in the verse ahead, verse 12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places". Paul says you and I are in a struggle. Our fight is not against the visible but against the invisible forces of darkness, of the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.
Our adversary is Satan himself. The apostle Peter said it this way, in 1 Peter 5:8, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert, for your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". Satan is on the loose, he's looking for anyone that he can take out. Paul uses that same imagery of a predatory animal, in Ephesians 6:10-11, he says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might, put on the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil". If you haven't already, turn to Ephesians 6, as we take a spiritual inventory of the resources God has provided to us to fight this very real enemy.
I want you to notice, of the six pieces of armor for a Roman soldier, five of them are defensive pieces of armor, one is offensive. First of all, he says, "Gird up your loins with the belt of truth". Look at verse 14, "Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth". Same terminology that Peter used in 1 Peter 1, about gird up your minds for action. Paul says in the same way, we need to gird our loins, literally, gird our minds with truth. That is, we cannot afford the luxury folks of having loose thoughts that just pop into our mind and dwelling on those thoughts. Those thoughts can be very dangerous if the enemy uses them against us. Whenever those wrong thoughts come into mind, Paul says we need to tuck them in, confront them with the truth of God's word.
Secondly, he talks about the breastplate of righteousness. One of the resources God asked us to utilize in times of spiritual warfare, is the breastplate of righteousness. Now, a soldier's breastplate was really a form-fitting metal shell that covered the soldiers torso and protected his vital organs, his heart, his lungs, you can understand why that was a central piece of armor, the breastplate. Well, what is the breastplate for the Christian? Paul says it is righteousness. Verse 14 again, "Put on the breastplate of righteousness," and what does he mean by righteousness? This is so important to understand.
In the Bible, the term righteousness is used in three different ways. Sometimes, the Bible uses the word righteousness to refer to self-righteousness. Have you ever heard somebody described as being self-righteous, means he's righteous in his own eyes. Self-righteousness is not a good thing. There's a second term for righteousness in the Bible, imputed righteousness. Imputed righteousness, this is the righteousness that God puts on us, he imputes, he credits to our account, literally, when we trust in Christ to Savior. Is that the kind of righteousness he's talking about, our right standing before God? I don't think so, and here's why. Being a Christian, having the assurance of heaven, does not exempt you from Satan's attack in your life.
The third kind of righteousness is practiced righteousness. Another word for that would be obedience. Good works are worthless to save you before you're a Christian, but after you're a Christian, your good works, your obedience, means a great deal. And one way you and I deflect Satan's attacks in our lives is by obeying God. Not having any chinks in our armor, no vulnerable places, where we are disobeying God and giving the enemy a way to take us down.
The third piece of armor, the boots of the Gospel. Foundational to a Roman soldier were his shoes, not sandals, but really more like boots. At the bottom of a soldier's boot were metal studs, just like the cleats in an athlete's shoe. These studs would give him traction so that he could stand firm and withstand the onslaught of the enemy. Paul is saying as Christians, if we want to withstand Satan's attack in our life, we've gotta have the right foundation in our life, having the boots of the Gospel, making the sharing of the Gospel foundational in your life.
Forth, he talks about taking up the shield of faith. Look at verse 16, "Take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one". The shield of faith means holding up the promises of God and trusting in them when those attacks come. That's what it means to erect the shield of faith, it means to trust that God is going to do what he has promised to do.
The fifth piece of armor, here the helmet of salvation. Verse 17, "And take the helmet of salvation". When you became a Christian and trusted in Christ as your Savior, he not only saved you from the penalty of sin, a future in hell, he saved you from the power of sin. With the power of the Holy Spirit that now resides in you, sin has no more power over your life than you choose to allow her to have every day. And Paul is saying, "Walk in that knowledge, have that assurance, you don't have to give in to Satan's temptation". That's why he says in Romans 6:6-7, "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin". You don't have to be a slave to Satan any longer, you serve a new master.
Now, there's one more piece of armor Paul mentions, it's the offensive piece of armor in the soldier's armor. Look at it, verse 17, "And take up the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God". This word sword here is the word makhaira. It doesn't refer to the long broadsword, the Roman soldier would flail around and maybe hit something with, it was a dagger about 18 inches long. It was used for close-up hand-to-hand combat, and the soldier had to know precisely how to use it, where to strike, if it were to be effective. That's the same way with us, we need to know scripture well enough, not just to recite any verse, but a verse that would give us the strength at the precise moment to say no to the attacks of the evil one.
Well, he told us about the armor of God, but Paul didn't just rely on the armor of God, there was another resource to take inventory of, and that is the people of God. Not just the armor of God, what Paul could do for himself, but for the people of God. Have you ever noticed in how many of Paul's letters, he mentions to other people who encouraged him, philemon, and barnabas, Timothy, and so many others who ministered to him. That's why in Ephesians 6:18- 19 he says, "With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the spirit," and verse 19, "And pray on my behalf as well".
Paul coveted the prayers of other Christians for him. The armor of God is important, but the people of God are equally important to help us in times when we're under attack. Whether you like it or not, the moment you trusted Christ as your Savior, Satan put you on his hit list. He's determined to take you out, he's poisoning the culture around you, he's trying to incite your children to rebel against God, convincing them that life apart from God is the only way to freedom, he's custom-making temptations that are suited just to appeal to you. He will not rest until he has destroyed everything important to you. And that's why we need to take inventory. Are we utilizing the resources that God has provided us?
I can close this message with a poem, or some heart-rending story, perhaps a song, but I wanna do it in a very practical way, I want you to look at the back page of your outline. And let's, in these closing moments, take an inventory of whether or not we're utilizing the spiritual resources that are essential to our survival. Just ask yourself, as we read through each of these questions, can you check this off, yes, I'm doing this? Are you regularly reading, memorizing and meditating on God's word, the belt of truth, so that you can confront destructive thoughts with God's truth? How obedient are you to God's commands? Are there any chinks in your life, areas of disobedience that Satan could use to destroy your faith, your family and your future? How committed are you to God's mission to reach people with the Gospel? What specific plan do you have to share your faith with those in your circle of influence?
Do you possess a strong faith, the kind that can deflect Satanic attacks? What specific promises of God are you relying on right now, in spite of the attacks Satan has launched against you? Are you acting consistently with the truth that you've been saved not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin? Is there any habit or addiction in your life that you've surrendered to? Can you immediately recall specific passages of scripture to use when you're tempted with lust, greed, anger, doubt, or fear? Are you actively involved in a local church in which you can experience the spiritual strength, accountability and prayers of other members of the body of Christ? The spiritual battle you're in is real. The enemy you face is formidable, but the resources God has provided are more than enough to give you victory.