Tag Archives: motivation

September 10; Marvelous

Zechariah 7-8; Ezra 5-6

Many times in Scripture God challenges our motivation. Why is it we do what we do for Him? Why do we worship?

“Is it really for me,” God asks, “or for you?”

Zechariah shares that God is going to return to Jerusalem, His people will enjoy prosperity once again. Then He says, “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” (Zechariah 6:6)

We can’t deny that God has blessed His Church in America for centuries. We sit comfortably in our cushioned chairs with air-conditioning and state of the art technology, coffee in hand. We feel pretty blessed to be living in a land where we can go to church without fear. Many Christians in other parts of the world don’t share that reality. We are truly blessed.

It seems marvelous to us. But what is God’s take on it?

God makes it clear He’s not interested in the show. He is only interested in our hearts. Do we get out of bed every Sunday to worship God in Truth? Or do we go to church because it makes us feel good? Is our motivation for giving, or volunteering, or visiting shut-ins, our own self-esteem, or have we emptied ourselves and allowed God to use us for His glory?

I’m reminded there are some who are doing things in Jesus’ name, who don’t really know Him. In the end, those people will join the unrepentant sinners in an ugly eternity separated from God.

Let’s not take our blessings for granted. But let’s also not forget why and Who we worship. I pray that our motivation for life, and worship will be to please God out of grateful hearts for what Jesus did for us. Period. I pray that what seems marvelous to us, will be truly and gloriously marvelous to God.

Why we do what we do.

God asked the Jews an important question:

During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and early autumn, was it really for me that you were fasting? And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourself? (Zechariah 7:5&6)

It’s an honest question I think each of us need to consider for ourselves.

If I attend church services for a “worship experience”, who is the focus? Does God need the experience? Or do I? If I read my Bible, is it so I can feel good about my faithfulness?

I knew a woman who felt she had to take part in a communion service every Sunday because if she didn’t, she would have a terrible week.

If I blog, is it to be complimented on my post? I have to confess I like to see icons of people who “like” what I say. Is that what motivates me to hit “publish” each time?

If you listen to people like Joel Osteen you will likely begin to believe worship is about you, that following God is about you, that life is about you. Is it? Is it really?

Or is it about God?

Zechariah has a lot to say to us today. And he says something in 8:23 that I believe sums up why we worship, why we live lives set apart from the world, why we are kinder, more loving and forgiving, more honest than our unsaved neighbor. He talks about people from every nation going to Jerusalem to worship God. He says ten people will cling to the sleeve of one Jew and say:

Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.

That’s our commission as Christians. All that we do, all that we say and are, is surrendered to God for one reason. Not so that we are blessed. But so that others are lead to the Savior.

That should be why we do what we do.

Heavenly Father, I want my worship to be pleasing to you, whether sitting in a pew on Sunday, or reading my Bible in my home, whether singing hymns in my car, or praying while talking to my neighbor over coffee. Forgive me for the tendency to make it about me. May the result of my worship of you in spirit and in truth cause people to want to get to know my Savior. I want my motivation to be you. I want my focus to be you. I want my life to be pleasing to you alone. 

October 19

Luke 10:21-24, 38-11:13, 27-12:21; Matthew 11:25-30

Something Luke wrote made me laugh out loud this morning. He tells us Jesus was invited to dinner at the home of a Pharisee. It must have been quite a home because it seems there were many people attending this dinner. Jesus began eating without washing his hands first (a huge no-no according to the Law of Moses). Seeing that the Pharisee was appalled at his actions, Jesus began to point out the hypocrisy in the Pharisees. He called them foolish, and told them their good deeds were worthless because of their hearts’ condition. Not exactly the dinner conversation I am sure the Pharisee expected when he invited his friends to dine with Jesus that day.

While Jesus was saying, “Woe to you, Pharisees” for one thing and another, a teacher of the law leaned over and whispered to him. Probably with a wink he said something like, “Um, Jesus? When you say those things about the Pharisees, you’re kinda insulting us, too.”

So Jesus turned from the Pharisees and said to the faculty sitting there, “And you experts of the law, (now here’s where I laughed because the professor is no doubt expecting an apology and absolution) WOE TO YOU!!!” And Jesus goes on to list the grievances against the intellectuals at the dinner. Jesus is NOT making friends here!

Why do you serve God? Why do I? Is it so that people will pat us on the back? Are we active in the church, do we go the extra mile thinking it will cover up a sin we are holding on to? Do we pray those flowery prayers, sit on those boards or teach those Sunday School lessons while we harbor hate toward someone?

Jesus doesn’t want us to neglect the work of the church. He wants us to tithe, to teach those classes, to sit with a grieving friend or take soup to a struggling family. But he wants us doing those things for the right reasons.

It can’t be about us. It has to be about being God’s voice, his arms and feet. It has to be about allowing God to reveal himself through us to someone who needs him. If we do it hoping someone will notice and give us an atta-boy, we are just like the Pharisees and teachers of the law Jesus talked to that day.

And Jesus says, Woe to you! 

I’d much rather hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from the only one who really matters.

Father God, I pray that you will convict each of us when our motives begin to shift away from serving you to drawing attention to ourselves. May you find us willing to work hard quietly, unnoticeably, even anonymously so that you get all the glory. May we be your voice to encourage someone today, your arms to hold a hurting friend, your feet to go where someone needs you. And may we be obedient for Jesus sake.