Chase the Lion (part four) **part 3 was done by a guest speaker so no sermon notes from me
Chasing Lions (part four)
“Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.”
· Benaiah didn’t wake up on that morning and have it all planned out.
· He was confident in whatever the day held that God was in control but there was still uncertainty.
· It is so easy to read about an incident that occurred three thousand years ago and fail to appreciate the element of surprise because we know how the story ends. What you need to see is that killing the lion was not a foregone conclusion.
· Hand-to-hand combat with another human is one thing. Humans have tendencies. You can predict punches and counter punches with a higher level of certainty. But savage beasts tend to be volatile and unpredictable. Their actions and reactions are less certain.
· How heavy was it snowing? Was it packing snow or slippery snow? What was the footing like in the pit? How about visibility? What time of day was it? How hungry was the lion? How well did Benaiah sleep the night before?
· There are a thousand variables and they all add up to one thing: a high level of uncertainty!
· Think of your favorite book or movie. What do they all have in common? The element of uncertainty.
· It is the uncertainty that makes those movies worth watching. And I would suggest that it is uncertainty that makes like worth living!
· High levels of uncertainty don’t just make the best movies. High levels of uncertainty make the best lives! And that is what faith enters the equation.
· We can know that we know that our sins are forgiven; our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life; we have been adopted as God’s children; all the promises of God are yes in Christ; every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ; and when we cross the space-time continuum we’ll spend eternity in a place called Heaven.
· But here’s the trick. I think it is those spiritual certainties that enable us to embrace circumstantial uncertainties.
· Faith results in a reduction of spiritual uncertainty, but it often results in an increase in circumstantial uncertainty because God is going to call us to go places and do things that require total reliance upon God. And in many instances, the more faith the more uncertainty.
· I think some of us are bored to tears with our faith. And I’ll tell you why. We’ve settled for certainty. But if we actually stepped out in faith relationally or financially or spiritually we’d be anything but bored. Go on a mission trip. Share your faith. Start tithing on your income. Quit walking the path of certainty!
· Do you remember what Jesus said to those who wanted to follow him? He gave them a warning in Matthew 8:20.
· “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
· Here is my translation: when you follow Christ you never know where you’re going to end up. Anything can happen. All bets are off! That is scary, but it is also exciting. Jesus was promising high levels of uncertainty—the element of surprise.
· Matthew 4:18-22 records the calling of the first disciples. All of them were fishing at the time. And I’m guessing they enjoyed fishing. It was all they had ever known. It was their family business. But when Jesus called them it says they left their boats and left their father to follow Him. In a sense, Jesus was calling them to sacrifice certainty. He was telling them to leave everything they knew behind. They were leaving family behind. They were leaving their business behind.
· I wonder if their families ever tried to pressure them into coming back. So when are you going to come back and take over the family business? I wonder if they ever used the guilt card. Dad really needs your help.
· What we fail to appreciate is that following in the footsteps of your father was a cultural expectation. They were expected to carry on the family business. The fishing business had probably been in the family for generations! And there was a degree of security and certainty in that. But following Jesus required sacrificing certainty!
· When we look back on our lives, the defining moments are going to be those forks in the road where we could have stayed on the path of certainty, but we made a decision to walk down the path of uncertainty. Peter, Andrew, James, and John could have spent the rest of their lives fishing on the Sea of Galilee! But they made a decision to walk the path of uncertainty!
· In a day and age when the average person never traveled outside a thirty-mile radius of their home, Jesus told these fishermen to “go into all the world.” This was fifteen hundred years before the age of exploration!
· These fishermen who grew up and lived their whole lives within a stones throw of the Sea of Galilee traveled all over the ancient world and turned the world upside down!
· According to historians, Peter went to Italy. John ended up in Asia. James traveled as far as Spain. And even doubting Thomas ventured to India.
· They could have walked the path of certainty and spent the rest of their lives on the Sea of Galilee. But Jesus turned them into World travelers and history makers.
· Not only that, think about all that they experienced during their internship. They had box seats to every sermon Jesus preached and every miracle Jesus performed.
· So here is the question: what certainties do you need to sacrifice?
· Maybe it’s a relationship, maybe financial, maybe occupational.
· I’m not sure what certainty you need to sacrifice, but I have one last word of advice. Don’t wait for perfect conditions
· Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap."
· In other words, if you’re waiting for perfect conditions you’ll never do anything. There is a time to be cautious and a time to throw caution to the wind. There is a time to be prudent and a time to be valiant.
· And it takes an awful lot of discernment to know when to do which.
· But here’s what I know for sure, if you wait for certainty you’ll never do anything.
· In the words of Andy Stanley: “There will always be an element of uncertainty. Generally speaking, you are probably never going to be more than eighty percent certain. Waiting for greater certainty may cause you to miss an opportunity.”
· "Uncertainty actually increases with increased leadership responsibility. The more responsibility you assume as a leader, the more uncertainty you will be expected to manage. The cost of success as a leader is greater uncertainty, not less."
· If Benaiah had waited for perfect conditions he would have never chased the lion! After all, it was a snowy day!
Walk the path of uncertainty!
· In his book, The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus writes about different animal groups. If you’ve studied animals at all, you know that different groups of creatures have different names.
· A group of fish is called a school. Ants are called colonies and bees are called a swarm. Cattle are herds, birds are flocks, and a tribe of lions is a pride.
· For what it’s worth, a group of buzzards is called a committee!
· A group of rhinos is called a crash.
· That name seems so fitting! Believe it or not, a rhino can run about thirty miles per hour which is pretty amazing considering how much weight they are carrying!
· Here’s the funny thing. Rhinos have terrible eyesight. They can only see about thirty feet in front of themselves. So they are running thirty miles an hour with no idea what’s at thirty-one feet! You would think they’d be timid creatures because they can’t see very far in front of themselves. But God, in his amazingly creative foresight, gave rhinos a big horn on the front of their head.
· Erwin McManus piggy-backs off the crash analogy: “The future is uncertain, but we need to move toward it with confidence. There’s a future to be created, a humanity to be liberated. We need to stop wasting our time and stop being afraid of what we cannot see and do not know. We need to move forward full of force because of what we do know.”
· Chase the lion!