Motivation - Part 2
Don’t Search For Fun
Matthew 16:24-25 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25"For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it". We tend to make the mistake of associating "fun" with some sort of special event, a holiday, day-off, the weekend, or recreational activity. The ability to be happy isn’t found in some event, rather, the ability is always inside us, "Rejoice always" (1 Thessalonians 5:16). If I am a Christian, then every day is a wonderful event, for I am bound for heaven and eternal life (Matthew 5:12). In addition, don’t make the mistake of thinking that "fun" isn’t found in such things as self-sacrifice, helping others, work, and good works. If you are looking for "good feelings" you will find them in denying yourself and helping others.
- Don’t link happiness with what you don’t have, for if you do this you will never be happy, because someone will always have something that you don’t have. Instead realize what you have right now! (Ephesians 1:3)
- Don’t link happiness with achieving some goal, for some goals never are reached. Instead of being happy only at the end of the race, why not enjoy the entire race?
Get On Your Death Bed
On the one hand, we know that all men eventually die (Hebrews 9:27), and yet at times we act like the game of life has no end. Are we always planning to do great things "one day"? Confronting your own death doesn’t have to happen when we finally run out of life. Practical suggestions: 1. Look at the years following this year and pick the year that you probably will not see. 2. Start adding up how many summers, winters, Thanksgivings, vacations, opportunities to camp, travel, anniversaries, birthdays, and so on that you have left if you live to a ripe old age. 3. Vividly imagine your last moments of life, what thoughts will race through your mind, and what will be the most important things to you when you are dying? 4. Remember, something could happen to you at any moment, therefore, what do you want to be your last words to your mate, brethren, and children? How would you want to live the last day of your life—if today was that day?(James 4:13-17; Ecclesiastes 9:5-10). 5. Before you yield to a temptation, imagine if today was the last day of your life, is that particular sin something that you would want to do with the last hours of this life? 6. If you think you have problems, what would happen to all your present problems if tomorrow you were told that you have only six months to live?
Select Good Friends
1 Corinthians 15:33 "Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals". The wrong friends can also destroy an optimistic faith. Avoid people who have a negative view of the Lord’s Church, or a cynical view of Christians. Attach yourself to people who are positive about God and His commands, who believe that the world can be reached with the gospel, and that the church can perform the mission that was given to her.
Stop Worrying About What Could Go Wrong
Unfortunately, adults often use their imagination for one thing---worry. We spent hours imagining worse case circumstances. No wonder we are paralyzed into inaction at times. Why not rather imagine what could go right? "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). Someone noted, "Worry is a misuse of the imagination". God created the human mind and imagination for a higher purpose than worrying about the future (Philippians 4:8).
Run Towards Your Fear
General George Patton said, "Fear kills more people than death". In addition, giving into our fears creates not only worry, but guilt, and both of these will drain away our motivation. Paul said, "If God is for us, who is against us?" (Romans 8:31). In the Parable of the Talents, we can easily see the harmful effects of fear. The one talent man didn’t do anything with what as given to him, because "He was afraid"(Matthew 25:25). The fear of failure will only lead to failure. On the other hand, it is amazing the motivation and confidence that you will gain when you run towards your fear. Tremendous confidence is just on the other side of what has been intimidating you. In addition, the only way to overcome fear is to tackle it. The fear of talking to people about the gospel cannot be overcome in a class, or by listening to a sermon, rather you must simply start doing what terrifies you. For the Christian, the greatest fear has been neutralized, that is, eternal torment. I have been saved from eternity apart from God, God is on my side, in view of that, the Hebrew writer says, "so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’" (Hebrews 13:6).
Be Where You Are
How many of us are either living in the past or living in the future? Are we always thinking that we would rather be somewhere else, no matter where we may be. Do we go on vacation only to plan next year’s travels? So many wonderful things are happening in the present that often we miss them, because we tend to be in such a hurry. Are we in a hurry to grow up? Have children? See the children grown? Retire? Jesus said, "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:33). Paul said, "Making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). Remember living and life happens in the present! Someone noted, "Practice being awake in the present".
We Have A Real Hero
People in the world have their heroes, but such heroes always have feet of clay. By contrast, Christians have the perfect hero, Jesus Christ, "Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth" (1 Peter 2:22). This hero won’t disappoint us and neither do we need to be worried about the dangers of idolizing the wrong person, or the pitfalls of hero worship. We need to worship our hero, for He is God (John 1:1). In addition, this is a hero or role model that we never will out grow, He is the role model for children as well as aged adults (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Accept Your Will Power
Many people will say, "I have no will power". Actually, such isn’t true. Everyone has will power and everyone exercises that will power. Sinners are exercising their will power against the truth and against the gospel. If you are not a Christian, then look at the will power you have in resisting the gospel! Just think how that same will power could be channeled in resisting sin! When you cave into temptation, don’t blame this moral failure on a lack of will power, rather, in yielding to sin you are manifesting will power against what God has been teaching you, "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51). The good news is that if you can be stubborn in relation to God, you can be just as stubborn in relation to the devil! To be here for this sermon, that’s will power.
Say No To Yourself
Don’t be afraid to say "no" to yourself. Don’t be afraid of the word "discipline", for the root idea of "discipline" is to be a "disciple". Self-discipline then is all about learning, growing and improving yourself. When you say "no" to a particular temptation, the best about you isn’t being lost, rather, you are going to learn a new and valuable lesson. Self-discipline is the road to discovery—not frustration, (Luke 9:23-24). In addition, when you say no to yourself, you will begin to see yourself in a different light. Self-respect and dignity are the fruits of self-control. Temptation will be easier to overcome when you realize that you are a stronger person. We need to make new word connections, that is, don’t link "self-control" with frustration, rather, link it with self-respect and dignity. Don’t link "discipline" with pain, rather, link it with personal strength. Don’t link "doctrine" with boredom, rather, link it with guidance.
- Someone has suggested that we do at least two things every day (things that we need to be doing) that we really don’t want to do. Remember, a godly will power must be exercised just like any muscle in order to remain strong (Hebrews 5:14).
When watching or listening to the media, we need to realize that we are being influenced by a very powerful and persuasive machine. Too often we allow the media to determine how we feel. Stop looking at things through the eyes of unbelievers and start looking at everything from God’s perspective (Philippians 4:8). Maybe one of the most powerful thoughts to consider is that God is still in control of this world, and our citizenship is in heaven, not here.
Progress Is Never In A Straight Line
Even Jesus suffered "set-backs" (John 6:60). The apostles converted people and started congregations, and yet they also faced churches going into apostasy (Galatians 3:1). Understand the natural rhythm of progress. Schedule your comebacks. Someone noted that each morning ask yourself two questions, "What is good in my life", and "what still needs work?"
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017