Summary: It is tough to stay motivated to serve the Lord. We all gravitate toward room temperature – being lukewarm. How can we stay motivated?
What Puts the Tiger in Our Tanks?
1. Let me talk to you about Ants. Not the kind that marry uncles, but the kind that live outside. According to a CNN article,
2."Like humans, fungus-growing ants are true farmers and the survival of the colony depends on the food they grow. Anywhere from a few hundred to over five million ants can inhabit any given colony at one time, and every single one has a job to do.
"The gardens consist of a special fungus the ants eat. Certain ants within the colony weed the garden, some dispose of waste, some excavate new underground chambers, and still others forage outside the nest for new compost on which their gardens grow.
Just as humans protect their homes and families, the largest and strongest "soldier" ants attack intruders, including army ants, anteaters, and even human scientists…
"Some ants care for aphids, a kind of insect that feeds on plants. Ants tend to these slow-moving creatures by protecting them from parasites and predators.
"Then, the ants "milk" these so-called pets for honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by the aphids just for the ants.
"Both creatures need something from the other, and the exchange of services works out well. The ants provide protection; the aphids return the favor with nutrition for the ants.
"…It’s fascinating to watch the efficiency with which the ants work. Each ant has a particular job that helps the whole colony survive. Cooperation is key to the ants’ survival." (source: cnnstudentnews.cnn.com/2002/fyi/news/03/04/bugs.ecology/)
Main Idea: It is tough to stay motivated to serve the Lord. We all gravitate toward room temperature – being lukewarm. How can we stay motivated? Last week, I mentioned there were four motivations we can find in Philippians 1. The first was the "motivation of example." Today, we will contemplate three more motivations.
I. Motivation by FOCUS (20-23)
A. Our focus: glorifying God. (remember this; this is the answer to the "what’s it all about" questions)
1. Paul had a UNIQUE calling: a spiritual CRUSADER.
• His calling as a Christian is like ours; his calling as an APOSTLE is unlike ours.
• His MOTTO can be found in verse 21.
2. We are likewise to FOCUS upon glorifying God, but our focus is not as pin-pointed.
We are not apostles, we are not Pauls and we are not supposed to be…
• Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1 gives direction for YOUTH.
"Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment…. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…"
The reason I need to say this is because I have known children, raised in Christian homes, where the parents reared their children to be Too responsible and not allowed to enjoy their youth (in the name of effectiveness for the Lord); but then, in their 20’s or even 30’s, they try to be teenagers…We do not want our kids to go from a child immediately to an old man or old woman…responsible? yes! Dedicated to God? yes! But still enjoying the legitimate pleasures of youth!!! Over-correction is the wrong route…
• 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 mentions the DIVIDED attention of marriage.
"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided."
If you do not want to divide your attention between the Lord and your spouse, then don’t get married. If you don’t want to argue, don’t get married. If you are not willing to work at a marriage, don’t get married.
• Church LEADERS are to be chosen from this second category (1 Timothy 3).
"Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife… He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect…"
• Why? Probably many reasons. One of them, in my opinion, is that having a family breaks a man of that stubborn idealism that many of us guys pick up during our teen & young adult years, and so we become more realistic in dealing with fellow Christians.
• Some PHASES of life are more conducive toward ministry or growth.
3. Christians should not be AFRAID to die, but we are generally in no hurry. Paul was in a hurry, probably because of his life stage and all the TRIALS he suffered.
B. Focus often creates MOTIVATION.
People get motivated about anything by sure concentration of effort: stamp collecting, yodeling, cemeteries, or newts. What you concentrate on gets your attention and interest. We can get motivated about serving God by concentrating on the things of God.