What's Your Lion?

Everyone one of us has a lion in our lives.

Everyone of us has a lion. Something that causes fear in our heart. Something that challenges us far beyond anything we think we could accomplish or take on. Something that's overwhelming and the odds just are stacked against us.

What's your lion?

What causes you just when you think of it: fear, anxiety, stress, your heartbeat picks up, your breath gets a little more shallow?

What is it? Because we all have one.

"No, Pastor Jeff, I'm a great man of faith and power. I fear nothing." 

I use to train with this guy. When I was in college, I was an athlete. You can tell. Yes, thank you. Thank you very much. You can sign my bicep later. It'd be awesome.

There was a guy, my trainer. He was a big Nigerian guy and he was a massive dude. He was a discus thrower for the Nigerian national track team. Just a big sucker. He would get me in the gym and we would train. I was pumping iron, I was making it happen.

A little 175 pounds of me was doing everything I could. I remember I was having a conversation with him, and his name was Ade.

I said, "Ade, what makes you scared? What do you fear?" This was his response. He says, "Jeff, I fear nothing that walks on two legs." I went, "Yes, sir." He says, "Now, you give me something on four legs, I'm running the other direction."

One of those things that I need us to understand is for each and every one of us, we have a lion. We have something that we fear. We have something that causes us anxiety and stress and causes us to pause in the moment. There's some lessons that we want to take from Benaiah.

 You and I have been called to embrace life's challenges as opportunities. 

The first one is this, you and I have been called to embrace life's challenges as opportunities. You and I have been called to embrace life's challenges as opportunities. Now, sometimes the challenges that come your way, you don't automatically respond like that.

You get a doctor giving you bad news, it's like, "This is an opportunity, praise God." If you do that, we got other doctors you can talk to.

The goal is that you and I would not lose faith, but our faith would be grown in times of struggle. For some of us, we think that our faith grows when God finally gets us out of stuff. I'm going to say God may not always get you out of stuff, but your faith needs to continue to grow no matter what's taking place because we are called to embrace life's challenges as opportunities.

 This is what Peter said in 1 Peter 4:12-13. It says, "Dear friends, don't be surprise at the fiery trials you're going through, as if something strange were happening to you." No, life's hard.

He says, "Instead, be very glad for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it's revealed to all the world." What's he saying? I want you to remember that Jesus died on the cross. God did not come down and remove him. He raised him from the dead. For you and I, we imagine that faith is the idea that I'm in this trial, "God, if you'll just get me out of this one."

What if he doesn't? If he let his own son die on the cross, why do I expect that I have to be bailed out for some things that are even my fault? "God, why would a good God let bad things happen?"

I don't know. He let his own son die. He had a greater plan. He had a greater purpose. When I see that, I notice that I have to embrace the challenges as opportunities. Here's what Paul said to the Corinthians. He said this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12, he said, we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not given to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandon by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. We live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. This was Paul declaring to the church, me and the people bringing you this message are always chased. They're trying to track us down, they imprison us, they've stoned us, they've done all kinds of things to us and they're always trying to kill us, but guess what?

When I take my dying breath, it's going to be one more testimony to you that God is true, He is real, and that you can trust Him. If I have to die in order for you to find Christ, then so be it.

Do I truly trust God and His strength for my life? 

You've heard it from Peter, you've heard it from Paul, you've heard it in this story facing challenges. To those who have faith, it's an opportunity, and you and I have to seize God-given opportunities despite our fear.

Here's the thing that I want to challenge you for as you go into this fall, and I know it doesn't feel like it's fall yet, but as you head into this August, September, October, November, December, I want you as a family and individual to take on God-size challenges that you know under your own strength and under your own power you could not accomplish it, but you say, "By the strength of the Heavenly Father who sent His son so that I could live and gave Him to die so that I could know true life, I will take on whatever God has for me. I will not be afraid."

Here's my question, do I truly trust God and His strength for my life? See, God equips us for every challenge that we're going to encounter. God doesn't give you anything He isn't providing for. You've heard this before, God doesn't give you any challenges that you don't have the strength to live in.

I'm going to tell you God gives you tons of challenges you don't have the strength to live in. He says this, "I'm going to give you stuff that there's no way you could make it through on your own because I want my glory to be revealed in and through your life." That's how.

He's always going to let you stumble into things that you can't handle. Now the question is, where will you turn and what will you do? See, here's the other thing, though, when God gives you a vision and a direction and a calling, when God says, "I want this from you," you can't say, "I would do that if I only had this. I would do that if I was able to do this. If I had a little more money, if I had a little more time, if I had a little bit bigger house, if I had a little bit more opportunity. No, no, no, no, no, because if God's told you something, He's already provided exactly what you need.

Are you prepared for life's challenges?

Are you prepared for life's challenges? Where's your heart? Where's your mind? Where's your soul?

I'm going to give you this final thought. As you head into the fall, there's three things I want you to be dedicated to. One, be people of prayer. If you want your emotions and your thinking to be right, become people of prayer. Have more conversations with your heavenly father than you have with the gossip crew around you.

If you want your mind to be right, your heart to be right, you want your mentals to be taken care of, you spend time in prayer submitting and surrendering your life to the power of Jesus Christ. S

Second thing, what are you eating? What are you taking in? See, the problem, if you want to get a hold of your weight, you got to change your diet. If you want to get a hold of things, you got to monitor what you're taking in. Here's what we're going to be taking in. Not only are we going to be people of prayer, we're going to be people of the pages. Are you ingesting the Word of God? What does He say about you? Not what they say about you.

What does the Word say about the one who has power and authority and strength to give us everything that we need in every moment? Prayer and pages.

Then thirdly, who are you trusting with your life? Who are your people? Some of us, we got best friends who don't know the Lord Jesus Christ at all. Guess what? You're playing a different game. You wonder like, "I don't know why it seems so draggy. I don't know why I can't get it down." Here's what I'm going to tell you, you got to surround yourself with people who can lift you up and encourage you and strengthen you even in the middle of the trials and the struggles. You and I have been called to be people of prayer, of pages, people.

In this, we can have the ability, we can have the fortitude, we can have the confidence of the one who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day and came out victorious. Why? Because greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.
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