We’re coming up on one of the busiest times for retailers across the country–inventory time. The big sales during the holidays and the after-Christmas rush will clear much of it beforehand, but it is always an important function to check inventory levels for fiscal year-end financial reporting purposes. Businesses also need to measure the effectiveness of product movement over the course of the year, and how to plan the amount of inventory necessary to remain profitable for the coming year.
Taking inventory of a business is certainly important, but it also has application pertaining to our own spiritual growth. As this year comes to a close, and a new year awaits, we can look back over this past year and make an analysis of our growth as a believer in Jesus Christ. If we were to take inventory of our spiritual growth, what would be the results? Was there growth? Has this year been a year where you lived according to God’s will? No one else can examine you or say where your heart is, but God’s Word declares that you will know where a person is by his or her fruit.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
From the time you were saved, has it occurred to you that you are to carry out God’s will for the remainder of your life? There are blessings that result from being obedient to God and carrying out His will. It is far from adequate to simply live according to your own will or way with the reasoning that the covering of the blood of Christ in your life is sufficient. There’s more to life as a believer in Jesus Christ than that. There should be a desire to live for Christ and seek Him in all things that goes far beyond the sacrifice of His blood for your sins. You were bought for a price, and with that comes responsibility in how you live your life for Christ.
So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, [enabling you] both to will and to act for His good purpose. Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Hold firmly the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run in vain or labor for nothing. But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.
One of the challenges that Christians face at times is the willingness to slow down long enough to be still enough to hear what God is saying to you, and how He wants to work through you. This approach will help you as you take inventory of your spiritual growth. We may not have all of the answers or understand about everything that is going on in our lives, but we are to live in confidence that He is always with us as we remain obedient to Him and His Word. This, of course, is contingent upon your ongoing reverence for Him and how you live effectively for Christ.
And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Sometime in this coming year, we should be declaring to God that you want to be used as His witness. In doing this, however, He demands that we seek and live lives of holiness. Our focus is to be taught and prepared to serve God according to His will and His pleasure.
Is your love for Jesus Christ truly growing and developing each year? If it is not, your challenge is to find out why this is the case. Just as a marriage relationship grows over the course of time (Proverbs 10:12), your love for Christ should also grow. That growth in loving God is inherent upon keeping His commandments–even more importantly, knowing what God’s Word is.
John 14:15, 23-24
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.
Too often, even though we may profess that we love God, our failure to know God’s Word and keep His commands result in the fact that our lives and our actions actually say that we hate Him. God still loves those that do not love Him, but He wants those that are disobedient to turn away from their ways that prevent fellowship with Him in order for them to grow personally, as well as spiritually. There must be a distinction of those who serve Christ and those who live in the world.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.
Making a difference in living for Christ means being different from the ways and thinking that the world presents itself. It is an important distinction to live in holiness and live as children of God. In your salvation, God has transformed you to live a life of holiness through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are to trust God in every area of our lives and make a difference. As we take our personal inventory, we need to seek God and trust in Him throughout this process. God wants us to give everything to Him and trust in Him as we live for Him.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
But test all things. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil.
As God has asked us to test all things, He wants us to see how God is working in our lives. We need to be cautious that we are not trusting in our own abilities as we live for Christ. To live a life for Him that is blameless comes from Him, and as you take an inventory of your spiritual life for Christ, you may find that there is still room for improvement. What are you doing to help yourself to grow in Christ? Where is your prayer life in this area? You should be looking at how to continue to develop your relationship with Him.
You have tested my heart; You have visited by night; You have tried me and found nothing [evil]; I have determined that my mouth will not sin.
The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out.
To grow in Christ is to declare a desire to live for Christ, not just in words. but in deeds and actions. God can work in and through your life even when your circumstances are not always the best. He wants us to examine our own behavior and put aside the things that keep us out of fellowship with God.
Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High? Why should [any] living person complain, [any] man, because of the punishment for his sins? Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.
At times, we fail to take God seriously, or even discount His Word. What God declares in His Word is truth, and He means it. We may not like what He states in His Word, and how it may convict us. It’s not about one’s feelings. It is about taking Him seriously and being obedient to Him and to His Word. This means living for Him on a daily basis and not just declare your allegiance to Him when it is convenient to do so. We can’t expect God’s promises if we do not desire to live for Christ. He already knows what you need.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Are you rich in your life with the person of Christ? Is He overflowing in your life? The power of Christ is in your ability to trust and obey in Him.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
When you are unable to identify with your weaknesses, you cannot truly see the power of God. In your weaknesses, as you acknowledge them, comes the desire to see God working in your life.
I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
In all of these things, we need to be content with what we have, for often it is what we think that what we do not have that takes our focus off of Jesus Christ. No matter where you are, God is right there with you.
Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Now we just need to believe it. If we are serious about what God’s Word declares to us, we would see and understand that He is always present and wants to be a presence in our lives. He has made the commitment to be with us. Our response is to live for Him by loving Him through obedience to Him through His Word. Pray to Him that you will see more of His presence and to be more conscious of Him now and in the coming year. As you evaluate your life over the past year, pray for recognition of where you are now and where you want to grow in your development and relationship with Christ. Seek Him and the desire to live for Jesus Christ in everything that you do.