Robert Jeffress - Trust Your Training
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Do you remember fire drills in school? The alarm would sound and within a matter of minutes, the entire school would line up outside in an orderly fashion while the fire department cleared the building. Well, fire drills were more than one way to get out of class for a few moments. They ensured that if a real fire were to break out, students and faculty would be prepared to evacuate safely. And in the very same way, we need to train for spiritual emergencies before they arise. My message is titled "Survival Tip #5: Trust Your Training", as we continue our series Courageous, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
When thrown into survival situations, first responders, fireman, policeman, soldiers in the military, they often encourage one another with these three words: trust your training. Trust your training. Even athletes understand the importance of trusting their training. They practice, practice, practice. And when they get in the heat of the game, that's when their memory takes over, and their memory tell their muscles exactly how to respond. Trusting your training. When you face a crisis, it's important that you already be trained in what to do so that you're memory can take over. We don't live our lives in isolation.
We have a whole bunch of people who are riding with us, depending upon us. Our mate, our children, our grandchildren, the people we've influenced for Christ. If allow a crisis to take us out and send us crashing, we not only destroy our lives, but we destroy those of everyone around us. It is important that we learn to trust our training. If you don't hear anything else I say during this sermon, hear this. The only way to survive spiritually is to be adequately trained before the crisis hits and then trust our training when the crisis hits. Where do we go to find that training that we need in times of crisis in our life? We find it in God's word.
Turn back to 2 Timothy 3, the passage we read aloud just a few moments ago. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Paul said, "For all scripture is inspired by God". You don't get to pick and choose which part you think are inspired. We have a culture today that wants to do that. They wanna leave out the difficult parts or the parts that don't coincide with the culture today. No, the Bible says all scripture is inspired. You know that word inspired? Theospneustos in Greek. Literally God-breathed, all scripture is God-breathed. "And it's profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for," here it is, "Training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work".
If you wait until a crisis hits your life to decide to be trained for it, you've waited too long. You've waited too long if you've waited until your employer tells you that your services are no longer needed. You've waited too long if you wait until your husband or wife tells you they're leaving. You've waited too long if you've waited until the crisis comes to train in righteousness. Remember what happened when Joseph found himself being assaulted with temptation. Mrs. Potiphar grabbed him by the shoulder and said, "Lie with me"! Literally, in Hebrew, "Have sex with me"! Just imagine Joseph had said, "Mrs. Potiphar, would you wait just a moment, there is a verse somewhere"... I know, I remember it somewhere on what to do when the boss's wife makes a move on you, but I can't find it. If you'll hold on. No. He would have been spiritual roadkill if he had waited until that happened. He had committed God's word to memory ahead of time and knew exactly how to use it. We need to do that as well. The Bible is our training manual for how to act righteously.
Let me talk for just a moment about the benefits of the training that comes from God's word. What is it that God's word does for us? Psalm 1:19 is a beautiful chapter, the longest chapter in the Bible, and it details the benefits of God's word in our life. I want you to notice three of them. First of all, God's word provides wise counsel throughout life. In Psalm 119, verse 105, God says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". Interesting choice of words. It is a lamp. Have you ever been out in the woods before at night, no moon visible in the sky, no streetlights, and you're trying to find your way along a path? There's a difference between a flashlight and a floodlight. A floodlight illuminates a large area, perhaps hundreds of feet ahead of you, but most of us don't lug a floodlight around us, but we can have a flashlight. And a flashlight illuminates not every step we're going to take between here and our destination, but it shows us the next step we need to take. And that's what God does to his word. That is the beauty of the direction that comes from God's word.
Secondly, God's word is a faithful friend during difficult days. Look at Psalm 119:92-93, "If thy law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget thy precepts, for by them thou has revived me". When I think about those verses, I think about somebody who was literally revived by the power of God's word. Somebody who is saved from perishing in their affliction. Darlene Deibler rose was a Christian missionary who was captured by the Japanese in World War II. She was thrown into a Japanese prison. Her Bible was taken away from her. She was beaten and tortured for four years. But even though these Japanese soldiers could take away her Bible, they couldn't take away the Word of God she had memorized and placed in her heart.
Listen to her testimony. She said, "As a child and young person, I had had a driving compulsion to memorize the written word. In that cell I was grateful now for those days in vacation Bible school, when I had memorized many single verses". Parents, have your kids in vacation Bible school she said, "I'm grateful for those verses and vacation Bible school, complete chapters of the Bible, and Psalms, as well as whole books of the Bible I had memorized. In the years that followed I reviewed the scriptures often. The Lord fed me with the living bread that had been stored against the day when fresh supply was cut off by the loss of my Bible. He brought daily comfort and encouragement, yes, and joy to my heart through the knowledge of his word". No matter where you are or what situation you're facing, God's word is a faithful friend during times of affliction.
Thirdly, God's word serves as a sure defense against temptation. It's the best defense we have against temptation. Remember David's words in Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I treasured in my heart that I might not sin against God". You say, well, how is it that the Bible is a defense against temptation? Exactly how does that work? We can't control all the time what thoughts come into our mind, but we have a choice. We can either hold on to those thoughts, embellish those thoughts until they metastasize into full blown immorality or we can confront those wrong thoughts with the truth of God's word and dismiss them. And that's exactly what Paul had in mind in 2 Corinthians 10:5, when he said, "We are taking every thought captive to the be obedience of Jesus Christ".
You know, we have a great illustration of that in the Bible through the life of Jesus himself. We're talking about survival tips. Jesus was in the wilderness, going through his own survival experience of 40 days and nights after his baptism. How did he resist the temptation of Satan? Turn over to Luke chapter four for just a moment. Luke chapter four. He had just been baptized, had a spiritual high moment in his life in the Jordan river. The clouds parted and the Lord himself, God, Jehovah said, "This is my beloved Son, in who I am well pleased". And then, and then notice what happens. Luke 4 says, "And then the Spirit led him in the wilderness and he was tempted by Satan". Satan was hoping that these temptations would break Jesus and disqualify him as the Messiah.
Now we've been through these temptations before. Let me just remind you of them briefly without dwelling on them. The first temptation was an appeal to Jesus' physical appetites. After 40 days of not eating, he was hungry. Satan came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell the stone to become bread". There is nothing that was wrong with eating. That's part of God's plan. But the temptation was to act apart from God, and Jesus would have none of it. He said, according to Deuteronomy 8:3, "Man shall not live by bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God". So Satan came with a second temptation, an appeal to power. He said to him, "Come up here with me on this mountain top and let me show you the kingdoms of this world. They will all belong to you if you will simply bow down and worship me".
Interestingly, the kingdoms of the world already belong to Jesus. He had temporarily relinquished it while he was on earth, but he would one day be the King of kings to whom everyone would bow and confess that he is Lord overall. But this was a temptation to ignore God's timing for that, to have it now instead of later. Just worship me now and you can have it all. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13, "As it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and serve him only".
Finally, the third temptation: an appeal to glory. Remember in verse nine, he takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and says, "Just jump down from here, and the angels will take care of you". And he actually quotes scripture. Did you know Satan knows scripture? He quoted Psalm 91, "For he will give his angels charge concerning you to guard you, and on their hands they will bury you up, lest you strike your foot against the stone". What he was basically saying is, "Jesus, you don't have to go to the cross. If you want everybody to worship you as Lord right now, just prove that you are the Son of God, and you can escape the cross". And he quoted scripture to supposedly back up that claim. But Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16 that says, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test". And after that final unsuccessful try, Luke says that the devil left. He departed until a more opportune time arose.
Don't ever fall into the trap of thinking once you've successfully resisted temptation, you're home free. If you're in a low right now in your life and you say, "Well, I don't know what all this is about testing is. I've been through test before, but I'm over it now". Remember, if you're experiencing that lull, all Satan is doing is reloading. Getting ready to come at you again. How did Jesus repel the temptation of Satan? He did it, notice each of the three times. He did it by quoting scripture.
Now I'm going to confess to you, I was a preacher for a long time before I ever even picked up on this truth. Satan's not afraid of the Bible. He's not afraid of the Bible. He knows the Bible. He knows it better than you do or even I do. He can quote the scripture. The power of God's word is not what it does to Satan, it's what it does for us. That's why Jesus quoted scripture, not to make Satan run away, but to give Jesus the insight, the clarity, the strength he needed to say yes to God and no to Satan. That is the power of the Word of God. If knowing God's word, hiding it in his own heart was essential for Jesus' spiritual survival, the perfect Son of God, how much more important is it for you and for me? What is it that scripture does for us? It shows us what to do, how to behave in every situation. Remember this simple formula, memorize God's word, recall God's word, obey God's word. That's how you train in righteousness.
Let me just close today by giving you four practical tips for how to engage in your own training program in God's word. How do you develop your own training program. Number one, have a scheduled time and plan for memorizing the Bible. Set a time and a place where you're going to meet with God every day. Maybe it's five minutes. Maybe it's 10 minutes. Maybe in the morning and maybe at night. There's no better time. Some people are morning people, some people are night people. The key is commit to a time and place where you're gonna spend a few moments reading God's word. What you practice is what you become. What you practice is what you become. We all have to work to develop these grooves of righteousness in our life, so that when we are assaulted unexpectedly by anger, by lust, by greed, by worry, we default, we go into that groove of right acting.
Again, how do you do that? Memorize God's word, recall God's word, obey God's word. Secondly, to develop your own scripture training program, start small. Did you know most of the books of the New Testament, two-thirds of them could be read in less than 20 minutes. Start with a small book like Philippians or James. It's very, very practical. If you can't handle a whole book, just take a chapter. Here're some chapters you might wanna consider. If you're facing a crisis, read Psalm 46. If you're facing temptation in your life, read James one. If you're worried or concerned about finances, read Matthew chapter six. Start small. Third: read the verses out loud. There's something about, especially these verses you're trying to memorize, read them out loud. Read them out loud. As you do that, it will help hide God's word in your heart.
Finally, and so important, remember the value of God's word. Remember the value of God's word. Let me ask you a question. If I gave you an assignment today and I said, "I want you this week to memorize Philippians 1". And if you're able to do it by next Sunday, I'll give you $100.000. How many of you think you can memorize Philippians? Yeah. It's not a question of ability, it's a question of motivation, isn't it? And I want to tell you as God as my witness, some of those verses, I've memorized 20 and 30 years ago have come back at just the right time and saved me from disaster that would have cost me a lot more than $100.000. And it wouldn't have only affected me, it would have affected those closest to me as well. That's the value of God's word.
Remember it. Moses said it this way in Deuteronomy 32:46, "Take to your heart all the words with which I'm warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you: indeed it is your life". This word, it's not just words on a page, this word is life to us. And the goal is not to memorize verses so you can master a certain number of verses: the goal is to memorize verses so you can be mastered by those verses. So that when you come to that time in your life when you enter that unforeseen turbulence, you can trust your training, until you land safely. That is the value of the Word of God.