Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion states, “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.” If something is moving, then it will keep its path unless an outside force changes the path. And matter at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force (which lends a whole new perspective to Sunday football watching!). The whole idea is this: it takes a force to make matter move or change paths. Without it, nothing changes.
What causes us to move or change paths, which leads me to the title of this article, “What’s Your Motivation?” People are motivated by different things- money, recognition, achievement, etc., but people are not motivated equally by the same thing.
Take for example money. Money can have both an intrinsic and an extrinsic motivational factor. In other words, some want to acquire money simply for the large bank account, while others want to acquire money for what it can buy, or a means to something else. Motivation is complicated because of the diversity in the equation – the human factor.
Can motivation come from outside of us? It certainly can. Take for example the apostles preaching the risen Christ. While they were largely uneducated, after the Holy Spirit had come upon them, they spoke with complete knowledge of the law and the prophets which amazed everyone who heard them. This was the outside force.
Many people were converted, first in Jerusalem and then outward from the city. This conversion continued to threaten the ruling class in the Jewish faith. The Sadducees were becoming increasing jealous of the message the Apostles were teaching, and had them arrested and thrown in jail. After escaping, they were found preaching in the temple courts. When they were brought before the high council, they spoke boldly, greatly angering the court who wanted to put them to death. But it was one who stood up and spoke.
This man was Gamaliel. He was a teacher of the law, probably heard the 12-year-old Jesus teaching in the temple courts, and was a close friend to Nicodemus. He reminded them if their motivation were of themselves, this movement would fade. But if their motivation were from God, to fight against them would mean the High Council would be fighting against God himself!
What’s your motivation? From where does it originate? If you have selfish desires, they may give temporary satisfaction yet fade with time. But if your motivation is of God, He will give you the words and strength to stand and speak the truth boldly, with compassion, and with grace. In reality, God will use you as He did the apostles to bless others and build up His kingdom.
Consider being motivated by an outside force this week that goes way beyond our human comprehension. If it is from God, no one will be able to stop it!
Lately we have all seen commercials on the television and heard them on the radio about debt forgiveness. I’m not exactly sure how it works, as thankfully I haven’t been in need of such services. What sticks in my mind are the testimonials. Those using the program speak of “great weights being lifted from their shoulders” and a “new lease on life” as their financial worries have been reduced or eliminated.
We all have been through pains and hurts in our lives. Face it, people just don’t treat other people like they should. As a result, we carry hurts we shouldn’t, and in some cases we carry anger with us as well. Those are enormously heavy things to carry around and can weigh our daily lives down. Much like putting a heavy weight belt on an elite runner, our abilities to perform and have a greater positive attitude is inhibited – all from the anger and hurts we’ve wrapped our hearts in.
In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave some very clear instructions to make our daily lives “lighter.” In Luke 6: 37, 38 Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you.” Jesus was telling those gathered around Him that day how to live lighter lives, in very simple terms. But notice one thing: the actions required by Jesus originates with the ones who have control – us, not with the ones who have hurt us!
We can’t carry hurts and pains around, waiting on those who caused them to come ask for forgiveness. If that was the prescription, imagine the weight we would be adding to our lives daily waiting for them to come to us!! No, Jesus said it is up to us to lighten our loads by throwing off all of this by not judging, not condemning, giving, and certainly forgiving.
Lighten your load this week by removing the weight belts we’ve placed around our hearts and give yourself a new lease on life. Easier said than done? Absolutely. We can’t do it by ourselves. Absolutely not! Turn to the One who gave us the prescription. He stands ready to help us to forgive others, in the way He has forgiven us!! Christ is in the debt forgiveness business for those willing to accept Him.
It was this time of year when I was a young boy when hope flowed more so than the rest of the year. The Christmas catalogs began to populate the mailbox, and the hardware store began to put up decorations in the store windows. Even the little town where I spent much of my childhood began to put decorations on the lamp poles lining main street. It was a sign of the fast-approaching holidays and all the celebrations and parades to come.
I remember one Christmas season vividly. Christmas day had come and gone, and the family was standing in the airport. The mood of the family matched the cold, rainy, and dreary weather outside. My father was about to board a plane for his first deployment to Viet Nam. As the oldest son, he pulled me aside away from my siblings and charged me with taking care of my mother , my brother and sister. It was a heavy responsibility for a ten-year-old boy. But my father whispered words to me that I’ll never forget; he said, “I’ll be back son.” They rang in my ears day after day, week after week, and month after month until his return a year later. His words gave a young man hope.
It seems there are very few sources of hope these days, with all the turmoil in our nation and even around the world. We recently celebrated Veterans Day, a day in which pride and admiration abound to those who are and have served. But we need a sense of hope daily in our lives.
Pets sit patiently in windows, waiting on the return of their owners. And when they see the car pull into the driveway or hear their voice, excitement fills their entire bodies! They even have hope in an event; one over which they have no control. We can take a big lesson from our pets.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, scripture says two men in white appeared beside the apostles. The apostles stood and watched as Jesus rose from the earth and disappeared into the clouds, no doubt with the mouths wide open! These two men asked them a very pointed question – “”Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.'”
After all they had been through in recent weeks and months, their hearts had to filled with hope. They had been on a roller coaster of emotions, but they stood there witnessing a physical act of their Savior ascending into the clouds. The words of these two angels gave them hope.
Jesus is coming soon. His words should give us all hope, a hope in glory. Revelation 22:20 Jesus said, “Yes, I am coming soon.” We need to prepare daily for this promise to be fulfilled!
All of us must admit, it’s nice to be recognized for doing a good job. We feel good about ourselves as well as the accomplishment of a task well done. There are other types of recognition that can be difficult, while another can be invaluable.
In the work environment, scrutiny abounds. This scrutiny can come from the “higher-ups”, from those we serve, from our co-workers as well as those we supervise. Positive recognition can be the most effective and cost the company virtually nothing. A simple “thank you” or “job well done” from the boss can go a long way. But let rumors get started, and people begin to draw conclusions about what they believe to be true. Suddenly, we are recognized for some things that were either misleading or totally contrived. We could all use less of this type of recognition, as it tears down reputations, our sense of self-worth, and harms the company or corporation in the end.
Another type of recognition can be fun. Remember the last time you attended a high school reunion? Pictures from the Year Book are flashing across the big screen as you walk into the room, and your task is to try to match the youthful classmate with the, let’s say, more age experienced! Look at them in the eyes and their smile, and you still see friends from long ago. Even their laughs give them away. They’ve changed, but haven’t we all?
We all change as we go through this life, both in a good way and some not so good ways. We are a product of the environments we live in, work in, and play in. Our actions or behaviors are shaped by the experiences we have. If those are pleasant experiences, we develop a good attitude as a result. If those experiences are not as pleasant, our developed attitude is exactly opposite. Both positive and negative attitudes then produce an emotion, which then drives our behavior.
It can be easy to recognize people’s behavior from their experiences, e.g. a combat veteran. Wonderful bonds are formed through controversy, but they can also leave indelible marks on our spirits. To fully understand these and other marks, one must have experienced the same or closely related situations.
Another type of recognition which can be invaluable comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. Does Jesus recognize the trials and temptations we go through daily? Yes, He does. Does Jesus understand what it’s like to go through them? Again, yes He does. Jesus felt pain, He felt sorrow, He felt joy, and He felt temptation directly from the father of lies – Satan. We might think we are in this world alone. However, Jesus not only recognizes all these things, He recognizes with us. As a result, we should be recognized along with those who have trusted Him to save us from this world as well as from ourselves.
Jesus told a group of religious elites who claimed to do His work, but did the works to puff themselves up, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evil doers.”
None of us want to hear Jesus say those words to us when we one day stand before Him. Regardless of the recognition we receive here on this earth, we should act, talk and walk daily in a way so we can hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant!” That is the type of recognition which should drive our daily talk, walk, and especially how we treat others. Amen!
Messages and opinions seem to abound these days. Or it might be more accurate to say they take up most of the news cycle and talk shows. Everyone has an opinion about issue “du jour” and are all too ready to give it to the listening public. As a listening public, we need to be keenly aware of several aspects of the issue, such as the message, the messenger, and sadly the motive in the delivery. Suffice it to say we need to be an educated listening public, taking in as much data as possible before forming our own opinion.
In the scientific and research community, a research design must first be established that will discover new theories, test or validate old ones, or the findings used to set new policies. There are many other uses of research, too many to go over here. The reason for setting the paradigm in the beginning and then gathering data is to test your theory with the interpreted findings, not determine your findings and write out a theory that validates your paradigm! There are many ways to ensure research is done in a proper way by setting a good paradigm, but such is not the case with the issue “du jour.”
So many times on our news programs, a subject matter expert is brought on the broadcast show to give their opinion of a past event and speculate as to its impact in the future. The credentials of the expert are usually seen on a banner below them to add reliability and validity to their message. But it sometimes seems opinions are given by these experts that are neither valid nor reliable, because the news program wanted to be the first to break the news story or push what they think matters. As a result, very few actual details are given and the majority of their opinion is speculation. I would call this “data blindness” or “knowledge malpractice.”
This phenomenon is not new in our day and time. During Jesus’ day, there were several groups who refused to see prophetic writings of the prophets being fulfilled before their eyes. They believed their knowledge to be perfect and complete, and anything to the contrary was just plain wrong. This led to the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees experiencing spiritual blindness. They just didn’t believe what was going on in Jesus’ ministry, nor did they want to because it threatened their power and authority.
In the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus has returned to his hometown of Nazareth in the region called Galilee. As was his custom, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. On this day, he stood to read and was handed the scroll which contained the writings of the prophet Isaiah. The words he read very vividly described the reason and ministry for which he was sent by the Father. Once completed, he told those gathered the words he had just read were fulfilled that day before their very eyes. But all they could do was ask “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” The leader’s failed to see the outcome of all the data they had been studying for years! They wanted a different outcome regardless of all the evidence; one where they stayed in power and control!
It’s easy for us to form opinions about a great many matters, even using other’s opinions as our own to serve our own means. When in question, we should go to God’s Word to see what He says about matters, because in the end off all things, it’s only His opinion that really matters!!!