What is our motivation?
The theme of our conference is “Press On”
I hope that yesterday you received fresh vision.
You know where you are going.
Most of all you know who is leading you.
We are not all there yet, but what does our text say?
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
What are the three questions:
What is the goal that Paul is talking about? What am I pressing toward?
What is my motivation? If I am to press on like Paul, why would I do this? What is compelling me?
What does it mean to press on? It reminds me of where Paul speaks about running a race. So how do I run that race well?
Lets see ourselves in this text and answer the questions together.
What is the goal? - fresh vision
What is my motivation? - fresh courage.
How do we run? - fresh ideas.
Today we are going to talk about motivation
Motivation is like gas to a car. It like fuel to airplane. Its like food to your body. You can have a goal but you need a means to get there. Whether you walk, drive or fly, something is propelling you forward, giving you the energy to reach your goal.
What motivates you?
Why do you do what you do?
What makes you get up every morning?
What thoughts inspire you?
What is your desire?
What do you hope for?
What makes you want to do more?
What can I say that will give you fresh courage in serving the Lord?
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
I see in this passage, three causes for motivation: the fear of the Lord, the love of Christ and the calling of God.
The fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.
What des it mean to fear the Lord?
Is it the fear of punishment?
Is it a holy reverence?
Is it the appropriate response to His love and mercy?
Is it all of these things and more?
Notice that when Paul talks about the fear of the Lord, He is also talking about his transparency toward them.
They should have a good conscience about receiving from him because he has been completely transparent with them.
This should tells us something about how Paul understands the fear of the Lord.
If what we are is plain to you because we are transparent and you can know us, then what does this look like from God’s perspective.
What do we look like to God who sees and knows everything?
Are you beginning to have the fear of the Lord?
When I began as a pastor, I also worked in construction. For about six years I was both a pastor and a construction worker. I don’t know how construction workers are in India, but in America they can be some rough characters.
So as I am working as a construction worker, I am getting insight into the way the common man thinks and I am praying to understand how to reach them. If I tell them I am a pastor, I know they will act differently because they think I’m a “holy man.” But I want to know what they are like so I keep that a secret.
One day I am working with a man who is using foul language. I mentioned to him that I will not be there the next day because I also have another job. “What is your other job?” he asks.
“I am a pastor” I tell him.
Then he lets out a burst of foul language and immediately apologizes for doing so. “I wouldn’t say these things if I knew you were a pastor.”
So I say to him, “Why would you act any different because you know I am a pastor? Don’t you know that God sees you all the time? Why should you care more for what I think than what God thinks?”
You see, I just introduced him to the fear of the Lord!
But what about you? Are you aware of the Lord’s presence at any and every moment?
Are you aware of his presence when no one else is watching?
Are you aware that he knows your thoughts and your intentions?
Are you aware that he knows your secrets?
Are you aware that he knows things about you that are deep and hidden and which you do not even allow yourself to know?
…and He loves you!
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
Do you want to have wisdom and understanding? It begins with the fear of the Lord?
Because when you fear the Lord you are done with hiding and pretending.
You will not pretend to be someone that you are not, because while you may fool other people or even yourself, you will never fool God and he is the one you want to please.
You will not hide your sin, your anger, your pride or your insecurity because God knows everything about you and since He accepts you you can admit it to yourself.
You do not have to work to prove yourself to someone who already knows you.
You work to become the person that God tells you that you are.
Real transformation happens because people are confronted with the truth of who God made them to be.
It is from this revelation of truth and transparency that we persuade others to put aside the mask that they are wearing and and face the reality of who they are in light of who God is.
The fear of the Lord should not make us hide; it should make us realize that hiding is of no use.
And when we come out of hiding and into the light, we are transformed into what we behold.
There are two different ways that we can respond to the fear of the Lord.
We can respond with guilt or we can respond with love.
Knowing that God sees us can make us feel ashamed so that we try to hide.
We should know that hiding doesn’t prevent God from seeing, but it may prevent us from facing what we don’t want to see.
And we convince ourselves that the less people know about us, the more they will like us.
Guilt presumes that God is angry and that his intention is to punish us.
But what if God’s anger is really an expression of His love?
What if God’s disapproval is because he sees how sin has twisted our thinking away from his goodness and truth.
What if God is not out to punish us, but really wants to restore us?
Don’t you want to know who is behind all of this?
Our motivation is that we are seekers of truth.
We are driven to know the truth about God, about the world and about ourselves.
We want to know and to be known.
When we fear the Lord; that is when we realize that God already knows and we come out into the open - then we begin to understand the truth.
When you fear God, you don’t need to be afraid.
The love of Christ
The love of Christ
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
If you are not sure if God is love, then just look at Jesus.
Jesus is God.
Jesus came into the world, suffered and died so that we could live.
How can that be anything but love?
What happens inside when you consider the love of Christ?
You have to respond!
What happens when someone gives you something or does something nice for you?
You feel obligated to do something in return?
What about when what is done for you is more than you can repay?
The weight of obligation will compel you to find a way to pay the debt.
In the case of what Jesus Christ has done for us, there is nothing that we could give to him that would equal what he has done for us.
What would that require?
A life for a life?
If I were to give my life in return, would that be too much?
15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
This is how we respond to the love of Christ, by reflecting his love to the world around us.
It is as if I have died and my life is no longer mine.
My life and all that I have or all that I do is a gift of gratitude to God for saving my life.
Gratitude is great motivation
Sometimes in counseling, if a person is discouraged or depressed Karie or I will assign a thankfulness journal. A thankfulness journal is simply a journal where you write down everything that you are thankful for.
Take an ordinary journal and number down the pages. Each day list 3-4 things that you are thankful for. Write different things each day and keep adding to the list. After a month you will have a list of over a hundred reasons to be thankful!
A thankfulness journal can help to remind you and give you perspective when you are tired or weary.
But it might also be good to ask, why do you do what you do?
Are you working to earn Gods love and favor or are you working from God’s love and because of His favor?
There is a big difference.
One is the response of guilt; the other is of love.
One assumes that God is angry and wants to punish you; the other assumes that God already knows you and is transforming you into His image.
Working for God’s favor is very tiresome - you will never feel that you have achieved it because, in fact, you already have it.
Working from God’s love and knowing you have his favor is much easier if you keep reminding yourself that it is God that is working through you.
I don’t know what to say - “God, you love these people, what do you want to say to them?”
If I encounter opposition, “God, it is not me that these people are opposing, it is you. They don’t know you like I know you.”
If I lack anything that I need - “God, this is your work. I can only do what you give me to do, so if you want me to do this I know you will provide.”
Even the ability to love others comes from God, “Help me to see these people that way that you see them. Help me to love with your love.”
When you are secure in love you can risk loving others because already know you are loved.
When you know you are loved you can’t lose.
The calling of God
The calling of God
The motivation of love is that we are not just living for ourselves, but that we are walking out a higher calling.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We learned yesterday that God’s plan is to redeem and that the purpose of the church is to help in that restoration.
“New creation” is redeemed and restored creation.
It is creation the way God intended it to be.
In Christ, new creation is made possible.
But even new creation has a purpose - reconciliation.
The garden of Eden was to be a place where God and mankind would dwell together in harmony.
The purpose of redeemed humanity and a restored earth is reconciled relationship with God.
The fear of the Lord and the love of Christ are both rooted in relationship with God.
What this means for us is that we have a role, a job or a calling.
We are not just knowing God and being know.
We are not just loving and being loved.
We are active participants with God in bringing the world back into relationship with him.
We are ambassadors - representatives working for God - Christ working through us.
An ambassador facilitates connections across countries.
Pastor Allan and I are representatives for the Hopewell Network. Pastor Allan oversees all of the International Networks so he has appointed me specifically to represent Pastor Mark and India.
When Pastor Mark is in the US. I see to his needs. But I am also making sure that he has the time and the opportunity to spend with Pastor Allan and to visit the Hopewell Network Churches.
My goal is to facilitate relational connections for Pastor Mark. Sure, I enjoy spending time with Pastor Mark, but my assignment is to help him connect with other people.
So in regards to Pastor Mark and the Hopewell Network I am serving as a type of ambassador.
We are ambassadors for Christ helping to connect people to God.
Our connection to God helps other people connect to God.
Our knowing and being known helps other people to know Him.
Our loving and being loved helps other people to know his love.
When it comes to motivation for ministry, I would also say that maintaining that connection with God is one of the strongest motivations that there can be.
The best fellowship is working together.
To be participating with God in His plan for the world is a great honor and a privilege.
But also, it can be easy to get caught up in the work and neglect the relationship.
We can be working for God instead of working with God.
You ministry flows out of your relationship with God.
If you lose that connection, you have nothing to give.
Your prayer time lays the foundation for your preaching.
Your time spent in God’s presence is what enables you to be present to other people.
Hearing God’s voice gives you what you need to speak.
When I speak of calling as motivation - I mean calling and connection.
All of the resources - the fuel for ministry - flow through our individual relationship with God.
What will enable you to keep pressing on?
You need fresh courage, boldness and confidence.
If you fear God, you will not be afraid of anything else.
If you know that you are loved, then you have nothing to lose.
If God has called you, then He will also give you what you need.