The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Is My Motivation?


By: Nathan Fox


Disclaimer: I have never experienced severe persecution for my faith and cannot rely on personal experience to assist me with this blog. Any persecution I have experienced in my life for Jesus has been minor, especially in comparison to the persecution of the early church and those around the world today.

My Topic
Right now I am working through the book of Acts as a part of my devotional, and I have found it very enlightening and encouraging. I am working right now through the latter chapters in the book, which highlights the difficulties that the Apostle Paul faced while in ministry. I was truly flustered as to what I should write about for this week as many topics seemed to cross my mind. Should I write on thankfulness (it was just Thanksgiving after all), the Christian’s response to politics (after the recent election this is also a hot topic), or living a pure life while engaged (my current situation). I decided to go with none of these topics, as I was amazed at something I have missed on a large scale from the entire book of Acts. This blog post will focus solely on our motivation as believers in the face of hard circumstances, or in the early apostle’s case, persecution.
Background of Persecution in Acts
There is not one particular verse I am going to point us too today. Typically that is how I like to teach any lesson, but I found it hard to focus on only one verse for this topic. I mean, take a look at the entire book of Acts. Every chapter seems to have some story of the apostles facing pretty intense persecution. Remember that at the time, they were living in a society (the Roman Empire) that is far different than ours. Unlike us, they lived under a ruler who counted it treasonous to worship someone else as a king. For a “treasonous” act such as claiming Christ as King, the apostles faced some of the most intense persecution known at the time. The majority of the chapters in the book of Acts involve some sort of persecution, ranging from verbal persecution (Acts 4) to death (James in Acts 12). In a time where crucifixions were common, the apostles faced the most intense of persecution. The amount of hate harbored not only towards the apostles but also to Jesus’ name really boggles my mind.
The Apostles’ Dynamic Response
However, what boggles my mind even more is not the intense persecution that the apostles faced. I know from my own life that the name of Jesus is hated among certain people who want nothing to do with Him. No, what boggles my mind is the apostle’s response to every single situation of persecution. They had every excuse to stop talking about Jesus, but never did. They had every excuse to recant at the time of death, but many proclaimed Jesus to the point of death. These apostles were steadfast in their faith, and their steadfastness truly is a characteristic that blows my mind away!
Let’s take a quick look at one example of this in the book of Acts. In Chapter 16 of the book, we see the Apostle Paul beaten and imprisoned for his faith. Note that just two chapters before this, he was stoned and nearly killed for his love for Jesus. In Chapter 16, he is publicly embarrassed and sentenced to a time in chains, where it is the hope of his persecutors that he would remain quiet about Jesus. If you think about it, Paul had every reason to throw in the towel. He had been beaten, stoned, humiliated, and imprisoned (not to mention all that he would go on to face later on in his missionary trips). He could have had the mindset of defeat, and it would have been perfectly logical for him to doubt God’s sovereignty in his life.

But Paul never felt sorry for himself, and never thought about giving up his ministry (so far as Scripture tells us). Instead, he sang in the prison about Jesus, ensuring that not only did the other prisoners hear the name of Christ, but also the jailor. The story goes on to show us that during the midst of an earthquake the jailor’s eyes were opened, and he and his family ended up receiving Jesus! Why do you think that is? I would venture to guess it was because Paul and Silas never stopped praising Jesus (both internally and verbally). The jailor, after hearing their songs and seeing the earthquake, wanted what they had. And it was all because of this: Paul and the rest of the apostles were motivated by something (rather someone) that this world cannot touch. They were motivated by their Savior, even in the midst of the most trying days of their life.

Personal Application

So what do we take from this? What can we learn from Paul’s account along with many other early church fathers? I would like to leave this one thought in your head: make it all about Jesus. In the good days of victory and in the hard days of pain, make it all about Jesus. In the days where everything is easy and in the days where you wonder how in the world is God still in control, be driven by Jesus. His role in the Christian’s life has not changed. He is as much in control today as He has ever been, and He is looking for you to sing songs of praise in the times of imprisonment. You might not face the actual bars of prison, the actual rocks of the stoning, or even the verbal insults of the Pharisees, but you do face the tough days. You do face days where it is easy to feel sorry for yourself, and wonder whether God is really who He says He is. I encourage you in that day to do this: be motivated by Jesus. Make it all about Him, and watch as the world around you sees Him because you praised Him all the day long.



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