Community Group Discussion Guide

Sermon Summary: There are many things that motivate people spiritually. This message examines five different motivations. Some are motivated simply by their desire for pleasure. They want to be entertained in comfort. Others may be motivated by fear. Some are motivated by the potential for personal gain. The message ends with love being the supreme motivation for spirituality and Jesus is the prime example of this kind of motivation. The message uses two situations discussed in Acts 19:13-41 to develope the theme.

Discussion questions:

1. Have you ever spent time thinking about what motivates you spiritually? Why or why not?

2. How important do you think motivation is when it concerns our relationship with God? Why does it matter?
Psa 119:10  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
Psa 119:11  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Deu 6:5  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deu 6:6  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.

3. Fear may be an appropriate motivation at times, however, as a person matures in their walk with God, their motivation should change. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
1 John 4:16  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:17  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
1 John 4:18  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:19  We love because he first loved us.

4. What kind of difference do think a motivation of love makes in the way a person lives his or her life? Explain.
1 Cor 13:4  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1 Cor 13:5  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Cor 13:6  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
1 Cor 13:7  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Acts 19:13-41

 The writer of acts shared two instances of negative spiritual activity in the town of Ephesus. I'm going to use the details of these two stories to show you why motivation is so extremely important when it comes to spiritual activity.

It is my prayer that you will pay close attention to what motivates you spiritually.
We're going to look at 5 things that motivate people religiously or spiritually.
I was going to begin the new series today, but we weren't quite ready with our new stage design so the worship arts team asked me if I could wait one more week. Boy was that a God thing!!

 I prayed and sought The Lord to see what He wanted me to preach. It turns out it is a message that sets up the whole series on the life of Christ.
It's a message we must hear. It's not an easy message to preach or to hear, but it is such an important message.

 And before we start, let me say a big thanks to our worship arts team. They know our profound commitment to be good stewards of the resources God brings to us. So they pinched pennies so they could use their budget to buy some lighting equipment and materials for a stage enlargement.

 They know we can't do a major buildout at this time or buy the other side of the building, but we don't want to stop growing and dreaming and doing big things to reach people for Christ.

 What you will see next week will astound you and the fact that everything including equipment and materials will come in under $3,000.00 and all within their budget. They did not ask for any extra money. How could they do this. The last month, they've had an army of faithful volunteers working nights and weekends.

 When it is unveiled next week you will see what God's people can do on a budget when they work together, motivated to bring glory and honor to God with their talents. You might say, but I don't see anything different. Let me just say, "It's all behind the curtains, and no peeking, please!"

Speaking of motivation, we need to pray and ask The Lord to reveal to us this morning the truth about spiritual motivation!

Let's Pray!!!!

Ok! Five types of spiritual motivation from our text!


 Pleasure Motivation

Some folks are simply concerned with what they can get out of their religion! It's an all about me motivation.
Some are looking for something out of the ordinary.
Some are looking for something bizarre.
America today is fascinated by the supernatural, but it seems we don’t want normal Christianity, we want paranormal, weird, mystical, crazy, even demonic, thrilling in an unhealthy way.

This was the case during New Testament times.
There were those who were drawn to the dark side of spiritual things because it was thrilling for them.

Evidently there were some Jewish exorcist who were amazed at the power of Paul and his use of the name of Jesus.
Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, decided they would try their hand at using this powerful name. They were using the name as a magic potion. It did not work!
Let’s look at our text for today for an example.

13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”
Acts 19:13 (NIV)

14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
Acts 19:14 (NIV)

15└One day┘ the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
Acts 19:15 (NIV)

16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Acts 19:16 (NIV)

What went wrong? They were using the Name of The Lord in vain! There are many ways to use the Name of the Lord in vain without cursing.
When a person names the Name of Christ simply for their own personal gain, or for selfish reasons, they are vainly using the Name of the Lord.

The whole "Name it, claim it" movement that swept across the country a few years back. Such a mis-use of Scripture.
Using the name of Christ to simply get what you want is a vain use of that precious Name!

Let me give you an example. Let's say I get stopped for speeding and I start dropping the preacher card, or the God card. If I do this I'm using the name of The Lord in vain.
Years ago I got stopped on my way to the seminary. I was on a two lane road around 5:00am just outside of Magnolia Miss. I wasn't paying attention. I was doing about 55 in a 45.

I really didn't need a ticket. I just couldn't afford it. I wanted so bad to tell the officer I was a poor seminary student with a wife and baby at home, just trying to serve God. But I was speeding and to try to use God to get out of the ticket, would just be wrong. So I waited until he wrote the ticket, and then told him I was sorry for my infraction.

I told him I appreciated what he did to protect lives every day. He thanked me for the support and I then told him to have a blessed day!
The ticket was $45.00. A small price to pay to avoid using the Name of the Lord in vain!

Let me get back to this issue of the motive of pleasure or personal gain.

There are those today who will attend church only if it is thrilling to them and has high entertainment value. Not an excuse for church to be boring, one of our goals is for church not to be boring, but
ask some of people to get involved in the real work of changing lives and they might look at you like you’ve lost your mind.

And I can't count the times someone has complained because we weren't the Burger King of churches. You know,
"Have it your way!"

Ok, I'm fixing to say something that's going to hurt a little. I'm not trying to be mean, but I have a responsibility as your pastor to share correctives when God leads me to do so. And I don't take this responsibility lightly.
Ok, here it is...

I can't remember a time in my ministry when I had a lost person come to me and complain about anything in the church: the music, the colors of the wall, or that they had not gotten a visit from the senior pastor lately.
It's almost always a saint with a cocklebur in their saddle!   

 Now let me be quick to say this…
I don't mind people asking me questions or even giving advice, especially if you're standing beside me in the trenches of spiritual warfare. If you've got your sleeves rolled up and you're invested in the ministry with us, then by all means, bring it!

In fact, if you are ever around a leader who refuses to allow people to question him on anything, you need to run fast and furious away from that person. He is dangerous.

 You know, I welcome questions about what I preach, my theology, even my use of Scripture. I'll gladly talk with you about why I believe what I believe. That would be fun. Those things are important and if you have a concern you should ask questions. But I don't get many of those. It's almost always things that do not rise to that level.

Then there's those people who don't see enough big moves of God in our church. They are looking for the spectacular!

Did you know there are people who follow certain evangelist around the country looking for the next big move of God. They go from one miracle meeting to the next, but they never roll up their sleeves and get involved in the sometimes messy, and difficult work of helping people crawl out of the cesspool of sin in which they are drowning.

Maybe the next big move of God is your lost neighbor coming to know Jesus because you loved them with the love of Jesus when they were hurting.

We like to sing all the worship songs about loving our awesome and mighty God, but we conveniently forget that Jesus said to love our neighbor as ourself. We also forget that He let them know some day He would say to one group of people...

40“...‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

He also told another group...

45“... ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Matthew 25:45 (NIV)

So the question of motive. Are you here to serve God or to figure out how God can serve you? James has a word for those whose religious motive is simply to get what they want...

3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3 (NIV)


Fear Motivation

When we talk about fear of the Lord, we aren’t just talking about being afraid of God, although…
It seems that respect of the sacred is almost non-existent.

Back in our story, word of what had happened to the sons of Sceva spread.

17When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
Acts 19:17 (NIV)

18Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.
Acts 19:18 (NIV)

19A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
Acts 19:19 (NIV)

20In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Acts 19:20 (NIV)

Evidently there were believers in the church who had secretly continued their involvement in occult activity. They heard what happened and were convicted and fearful. They brought their secret formulas for demon exorcism, fortune telling, magic spells, charms, and burned them.

While fear is not the ultimate motive for following Christ, it has certainly at times been a starting point for some. The biggest problem is if a person does not move from a motivation of fear, when the fear wears off, so does the commitment. If your faith originated in fear, you must seek to mature and grow to a higher level of motivation!

There have been many when confronted with the reality of an eternity without Christ, made a decision at a concert, a crusade meeting, or church service, but quickly faded back into the world because there faith never moved beyond a motivation of fear to the deeper motivation of personal relationship with God.

I think Jesus' parable of the sower might shed some light on this subject...

3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.
Matthew 13:3 (NIV)

4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Matthew 13:4 (NIV)

5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
Matthew 13:5 (NIV)

6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Matthew 13:6 (NIV)

7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
Matthew 13:7 (NIV)

8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Matthew 13:8 (NIV)

9He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:9 (NIV)

18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:
Matthew 13:18 (NIV)

19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
Matthew 13:19 (NIV)

20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.
Matthew 13:20 (NIV)

21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
Matthew 13:21 (NIV)

22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
Matthew 13:22 (NIV)

23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Matthew 13:23 (NIV)

If fear has been your motive, ask God to remove the fear and take your motive to the deeper level of personal relationship with Him!

The Psalmist knew how important motives are. His prayer would be a good one for each of us to pray!!!

23Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23 (NIV)

24See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:24 (NIV)

There are other motives for religious activity that are actually sinister!


Profit Motive

I know your probably thinking, "are you kidding? Surely not?"

Yes. Listen...

21After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.”
Acts 19:21 (NIV)

22He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.
Acts 19:22 (NIV)

23About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.
Acts 19:23 (NIV)

24A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen.
Acts 19:24 (NIV)

25He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business.
Acts 19:25 (NIV)

26And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.
Acts 19:26 (NIV)

27There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”
Acts 19:27 (NIV)

Okay, do you really think Demetrius was concerned the so-called goddess Artemis would be discredited? I don’t think so.
He was concerned about the bottom line.
Of course this was a pagan religion, surely this doesn’t happen among Christians?

Did you know that some people join certain churches because it’s better for their business?
Did you know some people would not give if it were not for the promise of something in return? Sad but true.

 One guy sued a tv preacher because he “invested” in the guys ministry. In the law suit he claimed he didn’t get his promised “ten-fold return”.
That preacher probably deserved the law suit for misrepresenting God, but it's sad the other guy simply gave to get!

Did you know that one of the most oppressive leaders in history was turned away from a belief in God because of his fathers hypocrisy in this area?
Karl Marx's father was a Jewish business man.

 They moved into an area where there were more Christians than Jews, so his father promptly became baptized a Luthern in order to better the family business. His son Karl was so repulsed by the hypocrisy that he turned to atheism and became the founder of Marxist communism.

 Don't ever think motives don't matter. They matter more than you could ever imagine.
Parents, your kids are watching your every move and listening to your every word. Are you poisoning them with hypocrisy, negativity, gossip, hateful speech? For God's sake and the sake of your kids, please stop!!

 It's more obvious than you think if your motivation is
"What's in it for me!"

 I've got to tell you there's a group of people in this room that have blessed me by just being here and they may not even know it.
We got a pretty large group of senior adults here.

 Why does that inspire me? Because of their motivation. They're not here because Northshore designs it's services around seniors. We don't!
We don't sing the music they grew up listening to.
Geesums, we don't sing the music I grew up with!!

 You know why they are here? Because they know we're committed to preaching the whole gospel of the Bible and they know we're trying to reach this generation for Christ and they don't care that it's not their favorite style of worship, because they want to be a part of a church that is chasing lost sheep, not disgruntled saints!!

 I've got several who hug my neck every week and thank me for preaching the Word! I'm so honored to serve as your pastor! It's obvious you're not here because this is were the senior crowd is.
And that takes us to the next to last motivation we'll talk about today.


Crowd Motivation

 How many people do things because, "everyone else is doing it!"

Not a good motivation for spirituality or anything else for that matter!

We see a good example of crowd mentality in our text for today. When the pagan Demetrius finished his speech on the pagan goddess listen to what happened...

28When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
Acts 19:28 (NIV)

29Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.
Acts 19:29 (NIV)

32The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there.
Acts 19:32 (NIV)

This story is a wonderful case study on crowd mentality.

*Crowds don't know or forget their original motivation
*Crowds sometime rush to conclusions.
*Crowds are often confusing places to be.
*Crowds can be loud and even angry
*Crowd mentality many times overwhelms common sense thinking!

*Crowd mentality spreads like wildfire
*Crowds dictate to you your behavior
*Crowds do crazy things
*Crowd behavior is usually without justification

Crowd mentality should never be a part of our mentality as a church. Our motivation should never be just following a crowd.
Our motivation must go deeper. Much, much deeper!!

Let’s face it.
Some just do what is convenient. They follow the crowd. IF the crowd’s into God, their into God, IF not, they're not.
Here's the problem with the crowd mentality…It's just so shallow, so momentary, so unpredictable.

 Back when I was a teenager our church was exploding with growth. We were on the heels of what was called the Jesus movement and in some ways it was kind of cool to follow Jesus. A lot of kids were coming to church. But what happens when it's not cool anymore? What happens when there's no crowd?

 It makes me sad to know that many in my old church crowd slipped back into the world.
Your motivation to follow Christ must flow from within your heart and soul. If it's just crowd thing it won't last!!

So, if our spirituality should not be motivated by pleasure, fear, profit, or the crowd, what should our motivation be?

We find this in our text as well. It's in two verses I left out intentionally. I saved them for the very end.


Love Motivation

Remember, the angry crowd had seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.
Paul was scared for their very lives. He loved them, but he wanted so bad to try to reach the lost people in the crowd. Listen…

30Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.
Acts 19:30 (NIV)

31Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.
Acts 19:31 (NIV)

Paul was willing to risk his life because of his desire for people to know the One True God.
Paul knew what it was like to be in darkness, lost, trapped in religion without the benefit of a personal relationship with the Creator God. He remembered the things that used to motivate him before he met Jesus!

Paul’s friends were also motivated by love.
They knew that these people had heard the truth about Jesus and had rejected.
They knew that the crowd mentality had seized these people and that Paul would likely be killed. So they simply would not let him go.

What motivates your life as a Christian influences everything: your actions, your influence, your passion, your effectiveness, your walk with God.
Motivation is a critical and crucial ingredient to genuine Christianity.

When we first started our church we developed our Purpose statement, our Mission statement and our vision statement, but we also developed a motivation statement. Here it is...

Motivation Statement

“We are motivated by the supreme example of Jesus in His life and the extreme sacrifice of Jesus in His death on the Cross!”

Jesus was motivated by love…
Love for the Father and love for human kind!

Love for the Father
31but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now; let us leave.
John 14:31 (NIV)

Love for Humanity

9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
John 15:9 (NIV)

10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19:10 (NIV)

In His death He was motivated by love!

12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:12 (NIV)

13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 (NIV)

Max Lucado said it rather profoundly when he said this...

“When our deepest desire is not the things of God, or a favor from God, but God Himself, we cross a threshold.”

End Sermon