Key Scripture: Isaiah 1 NKJV
19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Motivation is an interesting element in life. What motivates you?
If you are like most people, according to a 30 year old study by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist at
This classic study showed that getting people to focus on avoiding losses when they make decisions is more motivational than getting them to focus on securing gains.
“Appeals for women to do breast self-exams that emphasize the benefits or early cancer detection (gains) are less effective than those that emphasize the costs of late detection (losses).”
“Pleas to homeowners to conserve energy that focus on savings (gains) in utility bills are less powerful than efforts that focus on the added costs of using energy wastefully (losses).”
This same principle drives the stock market. People don’t necessarily buy emotionally as much as they are motivated to sell emotionally in efforts to protect against losses.
I was in the military during the Vietnam War, during the draft, when young men were involuntarily and often forcibly conscripted to serve in the Army of the
I went through my basic military training with a squadron comprised of 42 young men. It so happened that I was chosen to be a Squad Leader and later Dorm Chief. It seems that I am in that minority of people naturally motivated by potential gains and burdened with very few risks aversions. Anyway, I chose to be there and excelled but was surrounded by a number of people whose only thought was find a way to leave.
During the six week initial training period different tactics are employed in efforts to shape thought and behavior and bring about conformity. If people don’t or won’t conform to the military way of doing things for the promise of promotion they are often faced with the reality that it costs not to follow orders.
One of the most feared results of not complying with my drill sergeant’s request in those days was the threat of being transferred to a special training squadron called ‘Motivation’. These were the recruit trainees we would see marching double time everywhere they went, continually standing out in the rain or heat with mops and mop buckets stretched at arm’s length, being screamed at constantly, awakened at all hours of the night and forced to do menial tasks for no reason other than their superior wanted to make them do it.
If one failed motivation, as we were told, he was not just let go from the military in those days, no way … he was sent to
Let me tell you, motivation, as it was called, was more motivating than anything else I had ever seen … and it worked for most.
For many people, Avoiding pain is more motivating than the promise of pleasure.
Perhaps this is why God’s word gives us both sides of the coin as well.
For those who are motivated to obey God and conform to His will out of the benefits of a right relationship, we are given the promises of Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
But for those who aren’t motivated by potential gain but rather by potential loss, there is the rest of that chapter, vss. 15-68.
Here at Golden Triangle Church On The Rock, we provide weekly incentives based on the hope that both earthly promises and heavenly rewards would inspire people to give their lives over to the Lordship of Christ, deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. Perhaps this is working for near 20% of those listening.
(This would support the 80/20 rule in Church statistics: 80% of contributions and physical support is given by 20% of the people)
Like I said, perhaps 20% of those listening are motivated to live a holy and devoted life just because of God’s goodness to us …
However, it is possible that some, maybe a majority and perhaps even you, are better motivated by other, more threatening prospects. It may be what some people need is to connect with the reality of the loss we face if and when we do not obey God!
So, with this in mind may I take this morning and provide some element of motivation from the solid truth of God’s word which paints a picture of what is at risk when we do not pay attention to the Word, the Way and the Will of God for our lives. Hey … it certainly won’t hurt any of us to read a little from God’s Word this morning.
Deuteronomy 30:19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live
11 If you obey and serve Him, You shall spend your days in prosperity, And your years in pleasures.
12 But if you do not obey, You shall perish by the sword, And you shall die without knowledge.
335 times in the NKJV the phrase, ‘if you’, appears, the majority of these scriptures reference God speaking with man. This gives us the realization that many of God’s interactions with man are conditional and subject to our attitudes and actions.
So, lets look at Deuteronomy 28 and see if we can find sufficient motivating factors which will encourage us to conform to God’s will and live under the Lordship of Jesus, whether we want to or not.
Deuteronomy 28 NLT
1 ¶ "If you fully obey the LORD your God by keeping all the commands I am giving you today, the LORD your God will exalt you above all the nations of the world.
2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God:
3 You will be blessed in your towns and in the country.
4 You will be blessed with many children and productive fields. You will be blessed with fertile herds and flocks.
5 You will be blessed with baskets overflowing with fruit, and with kneading bowls filled with bread.
6 You will be blessed wherever you go, both in coming and in going.
7 "The LORD will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!
8 "The LORD will bless everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 "If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways, the LORD will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do.
10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the LORD, and they will stand in awe of you.
11 "The LORD will give you an abundance of good things in the land he swore to give your ancestors—many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops.
12 The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens to bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.
13 If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God and carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always have the upper hand.
14 You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today to follow after other gods and worship them.
15 ¶ "But if you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and do not obey all the commands and laws I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you:
16 You will be cursed in your towns and in the country.
17 You will be cursed with baskets empty of fruit, and with kneading bowls empty of bread.
18 You will be cursed with few children and barren fields. You will be cursed with infertile herds and flocks.
19 You will be cursed wherever you go, both in coming and in going.
20 "The LORD himself will send against you curses, confusion, and disillusionment in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and forsaking me.
21 The LORD will send diseases among you until none of you are left in the land you are about to enter and occupy.
22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, fever, and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, and with blight and mildew. These devastations will pursue you until you die.
23 The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron.
24 The LORD will turn your rain into sand and dust, and it will pour down from the sky until you are destroyed.
25 "The LORD will cause you to be defeated by your enemies. You will attack your enemies from one direction, but you will scatter from them in seven! You will be an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 Your dead bodies will be food for the birds and wild animals, and no one will be there to chase them away.
27 "The LORD will afflict you with the boils of
28 The LORD will strike you with madness, blindness, and panic.
29 You will grope around in broad daylight, just like a blind person groping in the darkness, and you will not succeed at anything you do. You will be oppressed and robbed continually, and no one will come to save you.
30 "You will be engaged to a woman, but another man will ravish her. You will build a house, but someone else will live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will never enjoy its fruit.
31 Your ox will be butchered before your eyes, but you won’t get a single bite of the meat. Your donkey will be driven away, never to be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will be there to help you.
32 You will watch as your sons and daughters are taken away as slaves. Your heart will break as you long for them, but nothing you do will help.
33 A foreign nation you have never heard about will eat the crops you worked so hard to grow. You will suffer under constant oppression and harsh treatment.
34 You will go mad because of all the tragedy around you.
35 The LORD will cover you from head to foot with incurable boils.
36 "The LORD will exile you and the king you crowned to a nation unknown to you and your ancestors. Then in exile you will worship gods of wood and stone!
37 You will become an object of horror, a proverb and a mockery among all the nations to which the LORD sends you.
38 "You will plant much but harvest little, for locusts will eat your crops.
39 You will plant vineyards and care for them, but you will not drink the wine or eat the grapes, for worms will destroy the vines.
40 You will grow olive trees throughout your land, but you will never use the olive oil, for the trees will drop the fruit before it is ripe.
41 You will have sons and daughters, but you will not keep them, for they will be led away into captivity.
42 Swarms of insects will destroy your trees and crops.
43 The foreigners living among you will become stronger and stronger, while you become weaker and weaker.
44 They will lend money to you, not you to them. They will be the head, and you will be the tail!
45 ¶ "If you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and to obey the commands and laws he has given you, all these curses will pursue and overtake you until you are destroyed.
46 These horrors will serve as a sign and warning among you and your descendants forever.
47 Because you have not served the LORD your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received,
48 you will serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. They will oppress you harshly until you are destroyed.
49 "The LORD will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like an eagle. It is a nation whose language you do not understand,
50 a fierce and heartless nation that shows no respect for the old and no pity for the young.
51 Its armies will devour your livestock and crops, and you will starve to death. They will leave you no grain, new wine, olive oil, calves, or lambs, bringing about your destruction.
52 They will lay siege to your cities until all the fortified walls in your land—the walls you trusted to protect you—are knocked down. They will attack all the towns in the land the LORD your God has given you.
53 The siege will be so severe that you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you.
54 The most tenderhearted man among you will have no compassion for his own brother, his beloved wife, and his surviving children.
55 He will refuse to give them a share of the flesh he is devouring—the flesh of one of his own children—because he has nothing else to eat during the siege that your enemy will inflict on all your towns.
56 The most tender and delicate woman among you—so delicate she would not so much as touch her feet to the ground—will be cruel to the husband she loves and to her own son or daughter.
57 She will hide from them the afterbirth and the new baby she has borne, so that she herself can secretly eat them. She will have nothing else to eat during the siege and terrible distress that your enemy will inflict on all your towns.
58 "If you refuse to obey all the terms of this law that are written in this book, and if you do not fear the glorious and awesome name of the LORD your God,
59 then the LORD will overwhelm both you and your children with indescribable plagues. These plagues will be intense and without relief, making you miserable and unbearably sick.
60 He will bring against you all the diseases of
61 The LORD will bring against you every sickness and plague there is, even those not mentioned in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed.
62 Though you are as numerous as the stars in the sky, few of you will be left because you would not listen to the LORD your God.
63 "Just as the LORD has found great pleasure in helping you to prosper and multiply, the LORD will find pleasure in destroying you, until you disappear from the land you are about to enter and occupy.
64 For the LORD will scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship foreign gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods made of wood and stone!
65 There among those nations you will find no place of security and rest. And the LORD will cause your heart to tremble, your eyesight to fail, and your soul to despair.
66 Your lives will hang in doubt. You will live night and day in fear, with no reason to believe that you will see the morning light.
67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were night!’ And in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’ You will say this because of your terror at the awesome horrors you see around you.
68 Then the LORD will send you back to
Deuteronomy 29 NLT
1 ¶ These are the terms of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites while they were in the
Why aren’t people living a more holy and Godly life … perhaps it is because there if no fear of God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom is proven of her children.
It pays to serve the Lord and it costs to not serve Him.
God cannot bless those who will not obey Him for reason of fear or out of devoted love and respect. Unfortunately, the people who refuse, lose. They lose what could have been in life and in eternity.
So, what motivates you … the promise of blessings or the fear of loss? Either way … God’s Word provides motivation for you to live right and serve Him all the days of your life.
You know, the world’s research says that close to 80% of us are motivated when faced with the real fear of loss.
Interestingly when we survey Deuteronomy 28’s 68 verses, 14 of them, or effectively 20% of them are positive motivation to serve the Lord, while that same 80% are negative motivations to serve Him, pointing us to our personal loss if we do not.
So, in conclusion may I ask the question again: What motivates you? Pain or Gain? Both can be found in God’s word … you choose!