Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered April 5, 2008 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Be Lion Alert, Not Lion Dessert

1 Peter 5:8,9

(RealAudio Version available)

Last Summer my wife and I went to Africa. How many of you went to Africa last year? I see some hands. There were several with us. We had about 20 or 25 from the McDonald Road church. And each of us conducted an evangelistic campaign. And God blessed us because we had many, many baptisms. And it was awesome. Afterwards we took a few days, since we were in Africa, and we went on a safari. A real African safari. And we were there in the wilds of Tanzania. It was neat. Now we knew that the journey would possibly be dangerous. I read a sentence in the guide that made me think very seriously. And it said the tour company would do their best to keep us safe, but it was NOT responsible if any of us were killed or eaten. Well I thought, ďuh oh!Ē I thought a little bit more seriously.

Well the day finally came when we were all loaded into our safari vehicle, and we went out looking for wildlife. Especially, we were looking for what animal, do you think? The lions! And at one point we were miles from nowhere. We were surrounded by the African wilds and somebody had to go. Now you just donít walk off into the weeds, because thatís where the lions are. But our guide had a very unique answer to solve this quandary and soon we were on our way again.

Eventually we found our first Lion. It wasnít at all where we had been looking. We were driving along, and there was a lion up in the tree! Sleeping. And so our driver immediately pulled up and went underneath the tree. There we were, looking up at the lion. Now you need to understand that the top of the van is open all the way around. And so I was sitting there thinking, ďYou know, this is not a very intelligent driver.Ē But the driver said, ďYouíre safe as long as you stay inside of this van. If you step outside of this safari vehicle, you would immediately be lion food. You would be consumed by the king of beasts.Ē And sure enough, we took all the pictures we wanted and the lion never even started drooling.

Now I question which animal is the real king of beasts. I personally think that if a single lion fought it out with a single grizzly bear that the grizzly bear would win. Grizzly bear weighs 15 hundred pounds, and a big lion is about 500 pounds. Three times bigger, the grizzly bear is. I think the grizzly bear would win.

So why is the lion the king of beasts? Well, the reason is because they hunt in prides. They hunt in groups. And very soon, if the grizzly bear and the lion were matched up, there would be a whole bunch of other lions, and that would be the end of the grizzly bear.

Now look at First Peter in your Bible. First Peter, chapter 5 and verse 8. It says this. Be self-controlled. Be alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like; what type of a lion? A roaring lion, and what is he looking for? Heís seeking someone to devour. Lions are always hungry, it seems like.

So be aware that all Christians today have a predator, and the predator is stalking 24 hours a day. The Christian life is like a jungle safari. The lions are there, and your flesh is no match for their claws. You understand that? No match. Matthew 26, and verse 41 says that the flesh is weak. Itís not strong. I find this out when I get a splinter in my hand. My flesh is not very strong. The flesh is weak, and our only safetyÖ What is the safety of the Christian? What is the safety of a person thatís on a jungle safari? To stay in the vehicle. Right? Thatís your only safety. Your only safety from the ultimate predator is to stay IN Christ! Donít forget that point. Only Jesus will safely escort you on your dangerous journey to Heaven. He is your vehicle. He said, ďI am the way.Ē The way to life. And so stay in Jesus, young people. Stay in Jesus. He is your safety.

And let me tell you something. The lion is not the king of beasts. And neither is the grizzly bear. The Christian who is in Jesus Christ is the king of beasts! Youíre the king of everything, if you have Jesus Christ in your heart. Donít forget that. Youíre the king. Christians have far more power than our great adversary, the devil.

Look at Luke, chapter 10. Luke chapter 10 if you have your Bible with you, and I want us to notice verse 18, and 19. It makes this statement. It says, "He replied, ĎI saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing," it says, "will harm you.í" Nothing will harm you. You have power. You have been given power. Power from on high. God has given you this power. Itís awesome power. Itís power to overcome anything. It doesnít matter what the devil throws at you, you can overcome it. Nothing will harm you.

Now the King James says that our lion-like enemy, this enemy of ours is Seeking whom he ďMAYĒ devour. He has to get permission. It doesnít say heís seeking who he CAN devour, but heís seeking whom he MAY devour. He has to have permission, a permit. The devil has to have a permit to victimize you. To victimize a child of God. He has to have permission. Now God will not turn the devil loose upon you. So who gives this evil lion the right to hunt down and attack us? We do. We do it. When do we do it? We do it when we step outside the safari vehicle. When you get out of that vehicle, and you step outside of there, when you leave Jesus, you go off on your own, and you instantly become vulnerable to lion attack. Donít leave the vehicle. Donít leave Jesus. Stay in Jesus. Every day this year I read my Bible. I pray. I try to live the Christian life, the best I can, because I want to stay in the vehicle. Thatís how you stay in the vehicle. By staying with Jesus. Donít go off on your own.

You may have wondered, ďWell, why are so many homes collapsing? Why, even in Collegedale, or Cleveland, why in Ooltewah, are so many people having so many problems?Ē Itís because we step outside of the vehicle. We leave Jesus. We go off on our own, and then we wonder why we are being attacked. Ok?

You cringe when you hear these 9 third-gradersÖ Did you read about that? Did you hear about that in the news, down here at Waycross, GA. These 9 little third-graders. I mean, these kids are like what, 8 or 9 years old? They brought weapons to school. To attack their teacher. They had all these plans. And it may have worked. And we cringe when we hear stories like that. These are terrible things. Where would these little kids get such ideas? The teacher had told one of them not to stand on the chair, and they got that angry. And not just 1, but 9 of them. Iíll tell you, there are some video games that teach violence. When a parent gives a child a violent electronic game, where you move these controls, and you kill people, the blood flows, you are unleashing the devil upon your child. You are. The lion is loose, and you did it.

Followers of Jesus need to know the devilís tactics. Look a Second Corinthians in your Bible. Second Corinthians, chapter 2, and verse 11. Here Paul says I have written in order that Satan might not outwit us. That he might not outsmart us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. We know the devilís schemes. Youíd better know the devilís schemes. Thatís why Paul wrote what he did in the Bible. Followers of Jesus Christ must know the devilís tactics. Thatís what Paul says. Youíve got to do that. Now how can a Christian be aware of how to combat this old dangerous lion? Well, allow me to give you several insights on how you can avoid being lion food. I donít even want to be dog food. But I certainly donít want to be lion food.

Number 1. First Peter 5, verse 8, our scripture reading, says Be sober. Be sober. When youíre un-sober, or drunk, or whatever, you are jeopardizing your life. Youíre like a zombie. Zombies go around drunk. Be sober. Living the Christian life in the presence of the old cunning enemy is very serious business. So be earnest, be sincere, be sober. Keep yourself under control.

Number 2. STAY IN THE LIGHT. Did you know that lions are nocturnal? I think some people think they are nocturnal. You canít get them up before 10 in the morning, or almost noon. Canít get them to bed before midnight or 1 oíclock. The lions are nocturnal. After a long day on our safari, we took several days, I thought, ďYou know, Iíve been in this van all day long. I would like to go for a walk.Ē I like to walk. I walk down Edgmon road, and over on Tucker road, and up through Homewood, and up to the top of White Oak mountain, to the cell tower. And then I go along to the other cell towers, and down Spaulding drive. You know where all that is. So I, after supper, it was getting dark, and I thought, ďIíll take my flashlight and Iíll go for a walk.Ē So I took the flash light and I left the lodge and I began walking down a dirt road. Jungle on either side. And I came to a sign. And the sign said this. It said: Danger! Guests must not leave the lodge, especially at night. I stood there thinking about that sign. Who would stop me from taking a walk? What sign is going to stop me? And I heard a low sound off nearby in the jungle. And the hair on the back of my neck stood up. And I thought, ďYou know, whoever put that sign up there knows more than I know. Iím turning around,Ē and I walked fairly fast back to the lodge. The lodge was well-lit. The lions are the king of the beasts, and let me tell you, the lions are the king of the night. Theyíre the king of the darkness. And you, as Christians, need to avoid the dark places of life.

The darkness belongs to the predators. Bad things lurk in the shadows. And how often on the morning newsÖ We donít subscribe to the newspaper, and so you know what our newspaper is? We turn on the news about 7:25 in the morning, and we listen to channel 12, or channel 9, and we get the local news. And almost every morning they will say at a certain place, down here in Chattanooga, there was a stabbing last night, there was a shooting, and theyíll show pictures of this yellow tape. And the police lights flashing. And theyíll say somebody else was stabbed last night, or somebody was killed last night. Do you see that? Every morning, the same. Itís almost a replay of the one that they did the morning before. And I get to thinking about this, and I think, ďYou know, a lot of this happens in the darkness.Ē Almost all these stabbings and almost all these killings are taking place in the darkness, at night. Very few happen in the day time. And most sexual violence happens in the darkness. Gangs control the night in many cities. In many of the large cities in America, there are curfews now for certain age brackets of people. Authorities impose these curfews because darkness is a dangerous time. Darkness is the devilís turf. Thatís where the devil is king.

And look at John. John, chapter 3 in your Bible. And verse 19. Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. Verse 21. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.

We are people of the light, headed to the kingdom of Heaven. Justified by His grace. Saved by His love and His perfect life. So stay in the light. Jesus said, I am the light. Thatís just like saying, ďStay in the safari vehicle.Ē Stay in the light. Walk in the light. You cannot associate with people of darkness for very long and still come away as a stronger Christian. It doesnít often work that way. And so, when the fire goes out, the darkness intensifies, and the lions come close. If you were camped in the jungle, you donít want the fire to go out. The lions come near in the darkness. So keep the fire burning in your heart. Be on fire for Jesus Christ. Romans, chapter 13, verse 12. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of the darkness and put on the armor of what? Put on the armor of what? Of the light. Light is an armor. Be in Jesus Christ.

Point number 3. STICK TOGETHER AS CHRISTIANS. A unique attribute of lions is that they are peri-visual. Did you know that? You are not peri-visual. Lions are peri-visual. They donít see like we see. Now let me describe this. Lions see the perimeter of an object. They see, like if there was a crowd of 80 band players all together, they would see you as one large thing. They would not see the individual components. And so when they see you in a safari vehicle and thereís maybe 9 or 8 or 9 people in there, taking pictures and everything, and walking around inside the van, they donít see you as individuals. They see that as one thing. Too big to attack. And so, they bypass it. They donít bother it. They see it as a single big object. And we actually drove right into the middle of lions. We drove right into the middle of wild beasts. We took pictures of them, we observed them and they were not afraid, because they didnít see us as individuals. They didnít run away in fear. When the lion saw us he thought, ďWell, this is a big object. Itís making strange noises. Itís too big for me to attack.Ē But our guide said, ďYou get out of the vehicle, and the lion will instantly focus on you, and you will be dead meat.Ē Donít get out when youíre around animals. Well I will tell you, you need to stay in the vehicle. If we were to walk away we instantly placed ourselves in great danger. Nobody got out of the van, by the way. I didnít even see anybodyís hand on the door knob. When the devil sees you in Christ, when the devil sees you surrounded with fellow Christians heís like a lion. He has peri-vision. He sees you as an object too big to attack. Jesus makes you more powerful than Satan. More powerful than the devil could ever be. Without Jesus you are toast, but with Jesus, youíre invincible.

So stick with Jesus. And stick with the group. Thereís a text in Hebrews, chapter 10 and verse 25 which says, Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, and so much the more, as you do what? As you see the day approaching. The day of Jesusí coming. Stick together. Because your adversary the devil, goes about like a roaring lion, and when you stick together, he sees you as a group, and he wonít attack.

Youíre safer when you attend church, in other words. Youíre safer when you attend prayer meeting, when you attend small groups, when you attend Bible studies, or you go to church socials, you go to outreach, youíre surrounded with other Christians, youíre safer. So fellowship with fellow believers. And when church gets out, donít linger and go off like a fire siren were blowing. Just stay and make friends. Stay with Christians. One of the devil's favorite tricks is to separate us from others that are going to heaven, and get us alone, get us off by ourselves. When you step out and you leave the body of Christ, you become vulnerable. You become a target.

I saw an amazing You-Tube video. Do you get on You-Tube? Amazing. Look this up. Do a google on the Battle at Kruger. How many have seen the Battle at Kruger? Only 2 or 3 of you? Thatís all? 4 or 5? Aww, you need to see this. The Battle at Kruger. Kruger National Park. K-R-U-G-E-R. In September of 2004 a baby cape buffalo got separated from the group, and lions instantly came and attacked the baby cape buffalo. The baby ran toward the water. And about the time the baby got to the water, the lions attacked and the baby buffalo slid into the water. So here were the lions on the shore pulling, each of them, there were probably, I donít know, 4 or 5 lions, 6, each of them had a hold on this little baby cape buffalo. The buffalo was struggling, but in vain. The lions were tugging, and all of a sudden two huge crocodiles came up from the water and grabbed the cape buffalo on that side. And so here where the crocodiles pulling this direction, the lions pulling this direction, the little baby buffalo was facing certain death in either direction. Well the lions won, and I know Iím spoiling the story, but you need to see this. They pulled the baby buffalo onto the shore and settled down to eat it. Well about this time, the reorganized adult cape buffaloes came up close. And with their horns they gored one of the lions and threw him high into the air, and he took off running, and they chased the other lions away, and amazingly, the little baby gets up and walks back to the safety of his rescuers. Praise the Lord. That is just awesome. You need to see that. The group saved him. You get away from the group, this is my point. Donít lose this point. You go out there, by yourself, into the evils of life, and you will soon go down. Stay with the group. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. Attend church. Itís dangerous to be out there alone. And you know that. So donít do that. Stay connected.

You know, we live among modern hungry lions. TV lions. Immoral lions. Computer internet lions. Spiritual predators in our modern world. They stalk our children. They lurk around our marriage. Weíre not safe alone. Join with Jesus and youíll be safe. Put on the armor of light. The armor of Jesus, and youíll be safe.

Point number 4. RESIST. James, chapter 4. You may want to look this up. James, chapter 4, verse 7 says, Resist the devil, and he will do what? He will flee from you. You resist him. The word resist means to stand firm, to strive against him. Never give in to him. If you give him one step, heíll take two.

Itís been my experience in life the devil climbs over the fence where the fence is the lowest. Where the fence is the weakest. Thatís where the devil goes over the fence. At the point where you are most vulnerable. Thatís where heíll get you. So donít lower the fence. Work on those low places. And donít climb over the fence yourself. Stay out of the lionís den. If you have a weakness of pornography then put controls on the internet line. Establish rules. Follow the rules. Donít get in there alone. Donít get in there in the darkness. Get an accountability partner. Let people pray for you. Do something. Fight it. Now suppose that drugs or alcohol is a weakness for you. You fiddle with the door to the lionís den, youíre fiddling with it when you drive onto the parking lot where they sell these things. Youíre playing with the door. Youíre going to do it. Stay away.

Number 5. Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 10, all the way through verse 17 says, You need to arm yourself. Ephesians, chapter 6. Arm yourself with, for instance, the Word. Every day youíre in a spiritual war zone. And you need to be armed. There was a group of Army recruits, and they were in taking an examination. And I know that many of you are in the seventh or eighth grade. Your teachers love to give examinations. Letís suppose you take an examination and you have no pencil and you have no paper. Well this is what the army recruits were doing. He noticed, the teacher noticed one man was not working, and he says, ďWhy arenít you working?Ē He said, "Well I donít have a paper and I donít have a pencil." "Well!" the instructor said. "What would you think of a soldier who went into battle and he didnít have a rifle and he didnít have ammunition?" And the young recruit thought and he said, "Well, I would think he was an officer." Now let me tell you, that as Christians, weíre not officers, we are soldiers. God never said that weíre officers. Weíre soldiers. Unfortunately, too many Christians today think theyíre officers. In God's army thereís no need for anybody to be a loser. You need spiritual weapons.

Number 6. BE ALERT. First Peter 5, verse 8. Be alert. Every morning in Africa, a Thompson gazelle, and theyíre the prettiest, in my opinion, wakes up. And that Thompson gazelle knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. And every day in Africa, a lion wakes up. And it knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. And so, it doesn't matter whether youíre a lion or if youíre a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you'd better be running. (Columnist Herb Caen Ė San Francisco Chronicle) Youíd better be on the move. Youíd better be on your guard. If you are not seeking the Lord, then the devil is seeking you, Spurgeon said.

Four times in the New Testament it says to be alert. And most of the lions that we saw in the African wilds were sleeping, or walking slowly along. They were tired from a long night of hunting and running. So if you donít stay alert, you will soon become lion dessert! You donít want to do that. Our adversary is awake 24 hours a day. But fortunately for us, Jesus is awake 24 hours a day. He is your 24 hour companion, and if you are in Jesus, you are safe. Letís be in Jesus Christ. I will tell you the victory comes by faith. Faith is the victory.

Letís sing our closing hymn, number 608 in your hymnal. Faith Is The Victory.

Hymn of Praise:  #20 O Praise Ye The Lord
Scripture: 1 Peter 5:8,9
Hymn of Response: #608, Faith is the Victory

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 4/25/08