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How To Tame A Lion


"15 You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me— 18 the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
Welcome to all of our beloved brothers and sisters, from around the world, who have been prompted to join us today. We are so glad to have you here with us today!

I'd like to start by reminding that we need to establish in our minds, then, that the Gospel we have received and by which we stand, is to be seen as a deposit entrusted to us by God Himself. This Gospel, the totality of truth we have received as believers, is not entrusted to elders only, nor even to the church”; each Christian must accept that he is responsible both to receive and to guard this precious message of life. We are to live out the precepts of this Gospel each and every day.

In I Peter 5:8, Peter warns us, and especially would he warn elders of the congregations, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." This is not mere hyperbole! The evil, wicked one destroys. He destroys churches, he destroys ministries, he destroys testimonies, he destroys families, he destroys lives and he destroys Christians. Multitudes of believers in every era have fallen prey to the serpent. Although Scripture teaches us that Christ saves the souls of those who believe in Him, the life and the influence of far too many saints have been destroyed when they were caught off guard, becoming frightened by the lion’s attack. 

Charles Spurgeon said, "Scripture is like a lion. Who ever heard of defending a lion? Just turn it loose; it will defend itself." 
By nature, Satan seeks to destroy those who are opposed to his exaltation. Jesus warned of his character in John 8:44, when he said to religious leaders, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Though a liar, the roar of the wicked one is nevertheless ferocious, intimidating the most fearless saint and deceiving others, so that they will flee in panic.
I believe that, sooner or later, every preacher of the Gospel, will arrive at a time, when he will stand alone, because he sought to be faithful and truthful in declaring the message of Jesus Christ. As we examine our text today, and the Apostle Paul, in what would prove to be his final days, I want to think for a moment, why some saints are compelled to stand alone as they face attack. My primary purpose, however, is to encourage you, and remind you, that in truth, we are never alone. No Christian will ever face lion attack alone. Ever and always the believer is sustained by the unseen strength of Almighty God. Nevertheless, there will come a day when each believer will imagine themselves alone as the lion attacks.
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for reminding us, that as we live unashamedly for the cause of Christ, we have a tremendous impact on the world. Help us to boldly stand for Christ, as if to say to the world, "I don't care what you say!" Remind us, that You have not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
Lord, I pray that each and every man, woman and youth, would renew their commitment in our hearts to You, that they might be flooded with gratitude an devotion. Father, we  worship and praise You, for You alone are worthy of our praise. May our lives bring You glory as we seek Your face.
In Jesus' name
Today's Message: How To Tame A Lion

Can anything be more discouraging, more distressing to those who have invested themselves in service to the saints than to be abandoned and alone? The Apostle Paul ’s statement, in verse 15, is not some lamentation based on his feelings and emotions. He was deserted by all. It is almost difficult to believe that the great Apostle to the Gentiles, would write such a dismal statement. As we look at his life, we see him as heroic, almost a superhuman, man who literally could not be stopped for the cause of Christ. Surely, all Christians loved him, appreciating his courage, admired his boldness. Paul, the man who led missionary teams as they penetrated the darkness of the Roman night , to ensure that light would spill across the landscape was at last deserted, left alone in a Roman dungeon, awaiting his execution. The man who had suffered so much to ensure that all would hear of the gift of eternal life offered in the Beloved Son of God and that believers would have opportunity to grow unmolested in faith, was now shunned in his time of greatest need.
It's quite likely they were a myriad of reasons why Paul was deserted. He was too demanding. Or perhaps, he was not demanding enough. He wouldn’t compromise. He made too many concessions. He was unreasonable. He was dogmatic. The accusations against the man of God were as varied as those who were bringing the accusations against him, and quite likely, they contradictory. However, more to the point, were likely as many reasons for deserting him, as there were deserters. It is important to remember that no matter how hard we work and pray, there are always some who will turn against us. I
However, I believe the only real reason that could be given for deserting Paul, resided in the sinful nature of those were deserting him. Something like that is true of those who are deserting a preacher or a congregation in today. And yet, there is no doubt that the slanderer was behind many of these the desertions. Paul was experiencing a satanic attack. A lion seeking to devour him. As followers of Christ, we need to anticipate suffering. We need to anticipate opposition. We need to anticipate that the Word of God, thrown in to the midst of an ungodly society is going to receive a negative reaction, from those who love the darkness.

Open with me your Bibles to the Second Book of Timothy chapter 1, as come to the final four verses of this chapter. The Apostle Paul has a heavy heart, and a lot on his mind. He wants to strengthen Timothy before he exists this world. He wanted to encourage Timothy, reminding him to use the spiritual gift that God has given him to preach. Paul, now left alone,  knew that nothing can take him out of the hand of God.
I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read these last four verses to set the text in our minds, as we prepare our hearts for our message from the Word of God.  II Timothy 1:15-18.

 "You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me— the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus."
I do not believe that it would have been a surprise to Timothy that there had been a great turning away from the authority of the Apostle Paul in Asia. Timothy, who lived in Ephesus, the capital of the large Roman province of Asia, which was about the size of the State of California. Young Timothy, who was expected to teach and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ephesus, also faced the problems that Paul mentions here.
Timothy was running into increasing opposition to what Paul taught. I do not think that implies that there was a widespread turning away from Christianity, a denial of Christ. However, there was an attempt to separate Paul from Jesus. This is always the beginning of apostasy, to deny the authority of an apostle as opposed to that of the Lord Jesus Himself. This, was of course, something that Paul faced everywhere he went because he was not one of the original twelve. Jesus had not called him in the days of His earthly ministry. And, there were many who took advantage of that, to accuse Paul of making himself an apostle. They suggested that his were invented words, that his teachings went beyond what Jesus taught and added to it things that Jesus never intended.
In verse 15, the Apostle Paul mentions two names, Phygelus and Hermogenes. It seems very possible that some of the very people whom he had poured his life into were not there when he most needed them. Yet, even though some fall away, when times get tough others step up and respond in faith, as in the case of Onesiphorus. Who when he heard that Paul was in prison, came to Rome and searched for him until he found him. I believe it is significant to point your attention to the spiritual character of this man, he was not ashamed of Paul’s imprisonment. He was an encouragement to Paul, as we see in verse 16, "for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains." 
We do not know exactly who Phygelus and Hermogenes were. They evidently were prominent leaders whom Paul expected to support him. Many have wondered if they were not among those people, as described in Acts chapter 19, in that time of riot and uprising in Ephesus, whom Luke calls "some of the Asiarchs," of Roman authorities. Luke stated these were friends of Paul, who would be expected, perhaps in a day when Paul was under charge by the Roman government, even facing death, to come to his defense, yet apparently, they had refused to do so. It may be that these were people whom Paul had looked to to support him, which they had refused to do so, and he was left alone to defend himself. I believe, however, it was more likely that they withdrew from him in order to protect themselves from being arrested or harassed by the Roman authorities. One thing that I believe is clear, is that it was difficult for Paul to write that statement. You see, there was a time when the whole province seemed to be alive with the power of the Gospel, and thousands were turning to Christ. Here, just a few years later, Paul writes, "all who are in Asia turned away from me."
Proverbs 11:2 teaches us "When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom."

Not only would pride be your jailer, it would be your executioner!

When fights occur in the church, when saints become disgruntled and quit in disgust, I can assure you that almost always pride is at the root of the conflict. When couples fight and even come to the point that they require counseling, it is a virtual certainty that pride lies at the root of the conflict. I'd like to pose three simple questions, just to put the issue in proper perspective::

Whose sin are you most focused upon?
Who or what is the focus of your joy, security and contentment?
Who is the primary focus of your service?
Proverbs 16:18 tells us "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling."
Allow me to provide the answer to those three questions, using a godly perspective.
Q. Whose sin are you most focused upon?
A. According to the Word of God, I should be focused on my sins!  
Romans 8:13 says "for if you are living according to the flesh, you [f]must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Q. Who or what is the focus of your joy, security and contentment?
A.  If you are focused on the Word of God, the Word, Christ is going to be your focus.
In I Peter 1:8-9, the Apostle Peter tells us, "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls."

Let us remember the Apostle Paul's words in Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." 
Q. Who is the primary focus of your service?
A.  If I heed the teaching of God's Word, and the Apostles, our fellow saints, are to be the focus of my service. 
Now that you have been equipped with this insight, turn again to the interaction between the disciples and Jesus as He neared the Cross. When they had brought upon themselves a gentle, and loving rebuke because they were so consumed by the desire for power over others because they were filled with pride. Their aspirations were indistinguishable from the great men of the world, Jesus was compelled to expose them for who they were. In doing this, He revealed us to our own hearts.

If the damage resulting from such pride had been confined to each one individually, it would be serious enough. However, the wicked one takes advantage of our sinful pride to attack and destroy. When Satan attacks the children of God, others are wounded in the process. The work of Christ suffers and the advancement of the Gospel is halted. Jesus did continue by assuring the disciples that He would not forget their service to Him.

In Luke 22:28-30 Jesus said "You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Those of us who have been with Jesus will not be forgotten. In II Thessalonians 1:8-10, Paul comforted the Thessalonian saints who were suffering so greatly when he wrote, "those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed."

In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus appended this sobering warning to Peter. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

At the time, when Peter was tested severely, perhaps he thought that it was because he was cowardly, or because he was poorly equipped to stand alone, or because others did not support him. However, Peter's pride opened him to satanic attack. The lion roared and Peter fled. I suspect that any of us would have likely responded in the same way. Unless forced by events, few of us will actually stand firm in the day of testing. 

In Luke 22:54-62, we find the rest of Peter's story and the lion's roar, "Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too." But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know Him." A little later, another saw him and said, "You are one of them too!" But Peter said, "Man, I am not!" After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, "Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly."

When Peter warns about the Satan’s desire to frighten the righteous, we know that he is writing from experience. Peter could have just written from Scripture, but like most of us, he was able to speak from his own failures.
There is something in the account of Peter’s failure that is often overlooked. Something, that I believe is important for the purpose of the message. You see, the Apostle Peter had influence with the other disciples. We instinctively recognize that undefined quality that marks an individual as someone who will make a difference in the world.  We often heed what that individual says, almost unconsciously and watch how they respond. Consequently, when they fail, our own courage is shaken. So it is that when Peter quailed before his headlong dash from the threat shook the other disciples. Whatever courage they may have had was left behind as they sought to put distance between themselves and the danger of being counted with Jesus.  

In Matthew 26:56, Matthew wrote his observation after Jesus' capture, "Then all the disciples left Him and fled." After Jesus' resurrection, I believe Peter held the opinion that his life as a disciple was finished. Peter had failed. He found that he wasn’t nearly as strong as he had imagined. He still had his boat, and the nets were all mended and waiting for him. His old occupation was still available. He was always a "fisherman;" now hurt, lost, confused, disappointed in himself, he would return to fishing.
John 21:2-3 gives us the account, "Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter *said to them, "I am going fishing." They *said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing."
Peter, had considerable influence over these other men, decided there was nothing left but to go back to what he knew. The others followed Peter in this old familiar, new, endeavor. However, Peter was forgetting the remainder of Jesus’ words when He had foretold Peter’s failure. Luke 22:32 tells us " but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Peter would indeed be turned around, and, he was to use his influence to strengthen his brothers. Peter’s strength of character would become the means by which the other disciples would be steadied after they had been scattered.  
In Closing...
Beloved, if your life has not yet been disrupted by lion attack, hang in there, it’s coming. One day the lion will appear, you will hear the mighty, frightening roar. Though he may not be targeting you; he may be targeting someone close to you. However, when you hear that fierce roar or see you others turn and flee you will feel the fear, you will be tempted to flee in panic. Your action may well be influenced by  someone else, or it may influence others who are also frightened and intimidated.
No man knows for certain how he will respond until he has been in battle. When the lion does rare his head and roars, anticipate that you will be left alone, in a lurch, I pray that you will be compelled to stand firm, alone.
May it be so... 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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