Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Running From God

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” -Jonah 1:2

This September 11th marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in 2001. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since four planes were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Those attacks claimed 2,977 lives—and 412 of them were emergency workers in New York City who ran into the Twin Towers to help save others. Included in that number were 60 police officers and 343 firefighters. When those brave men and women received the call that the twin towers were on fire and people were trapped on the upper floors, they rushed into the building and sacrificed their own lives to save others.

They were heroes. When they received the call of duty, without hesitation, they went. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. And it certainly wasn’t safe. But they went anyway, because it was their duty and their calling.

Jonah was one of God’s prophets in the Old Testament. He, too had a calling on his life: to speak God’s word whenever and wherever God told Him to. But unlike the heroes on 9/11, he turned his back on his call of duty. Jonah was the Reluctant Prophet.

It all started when God came to Jonah one day and said, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). Now, Nineveh was part of Assyria, which was notorious for its violence and cruelty to its enemies. The Assyrians weren’t satisfied with simply killing their enemies. They took great pleasure in torturing and dismembering them. So, this command made Jonah sick to his stomach. And he hated God’s marching orders for another reason: Jonah had NO interest in aiding and abetting an enemy of Israel. Yet God was commanding Jonah to travel 500 miles into enemy territory to preach a message of repentance. Jonah said, “Count me out!” Instead traveling 500 miles northeast in obedience to God’s command, he jumped on a ship to head 2,500 miles in the opposite direction—to Tarshish in modern-day Spain.

Why was Jonah doing everything in his power to NOT go to Nineveh and preach to the Assyrians? It wasn’t because Jonah didn’t know God. It’s because he DID know God. Jonah knew that if he preached to the people of Nineveh and they repented, God would forgive them and spare them. And that’s the last thing Jonah wanted. In his heart, he wanted the Assyrians to die in their sins and go to hell. Jonah was a real sweetheart, wasn’t he?

Now, I’d like to think that Christians today are much different than Jonah. But let’s be honest: We’re not! Truth be told, there are some people who we don’t want with us in heaven. Not too long ago I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a political post about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. A Christian I know had posted this comment below it: “Go to Hell, Nancy!” Friends, God has a big problem with us telling people we like “God bless you!” on Sunday morning and turning around and telling people we don’t like “Go to Hell” on Monday morning. Followers of Christ, THAT … IS … SIN! Wishing hell on anyone is a sin. Jesus came to earth to seek and save the lost, and if you are a follower of Jesus, He calls you to do the same.

Jonah was consumed by hatred, resentment and vengeance. But you and I must NOT be. We are on mission from God to share the good news of Jesus Christ with EVERYONE, not just with those we like … not just with those who like us … not just with those who are in our comfort zone. In the Book of Jonah, God shows Himself to be consumed with compassion and love for hopeless sinners. So too must we be consumed with compassion and love for hopeless sinners.

Come what may, God wants you to obey His marching orders: to go and share God’s word with lost and dying people. We need to have a heart like Christ’s: a heart filled with mercy and love for lost and dying people. Like Jesus, God wants you and me to seek and save the lost.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us Sundays for our in-person service at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Better … Stronger … Faster!

 “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.Hebrews 10:30

 Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve had a fascination with superheroes. As a preschooler, my favorite was the flying cartoon rodent, Mighty Mouse. In grade school I outgrew Mighty Mouse and discovered another superhero: He-Man. Then, at some point in the early ’80s, my favorite superhero was Steve Austin—aka, The Six Million Dollar Man. The TV show opens with one of the greatest title sequences of all time. We see astronaut Steve Austin in his space suit, flying an experimental aircraft. But something goes terribly wrong. His plane crashes, and it’s engulfed in flames. The next thing we see is an operating room … and the narration begins:

"Steve Austin—astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will BE that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster!” After he came out of that six-million dollar surgery, Steve Austin had bionic legs that allowed him to run up to 60 miles per hour. He had a bionic left eye that gave him telescopic vision. And he had a bionic right arm that made him the strongest man on earth. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? Now, I admit, The Six Million Dollar Man was a pretty corny show. But honestly, those words from the title sequence have still inspired me over the years: “Better than he was before: Better, Stronger, Faster.”

As you probably know, Jesus loves us. But He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. Jesus refuses to leave us spiritually fat and lazy. So, He is patiently and powerfully working in our lives to make us better than we were before. Better. Stronger. Faster! And here are three things we need to get there:

#1: We need BETTER vision. In Hebrews 11, God’s word highlights many Old Testament superheroes of faith. And verse 13 tells us, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” These Old Testament heroes all died before some of God’s promises to them were fulfilled. But to their dying day, they had faith in God’s promises anyway. How was this possible? It was possible because they had much better vision than most of us have. These men and women of God could see things in the distance that can only be seen through the eyes of faith— hope, deliverance, fulfilled promises—things that nobody else around them could see. Since they could see what was coming down the pike, they walked by faith even when what was down the road didn’t arrive during their lifetime. Warren Wiersbe says it this way: “Faith enables us to SEE what others cannot see. As a result, faith enables us to DO what others cannot do!”

#2: We need STRONGER endurance. Hebrews 11 is filled with example after example of heroes from whom we can draw inspiration. Take a look at Hebrews 11:32-40, and consider the endurance of these men and women of faith. Some had to encounter hungry lions (v. 32). This is most likely a nod to Daniel, who was thrown into a lion’s den. Some faith heroes, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3, endured being thrown into the fire—literally (v. 34). Those are heroes who God miraculously delivered from death. But don’t overlook the faith heroes God didn’t deliver: the faith heroes that God allowed to suffer and die. “Others were tortured and refused to be released. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword” (vs. 35-37). Thankfully, none of us have had to deal with THAT kind of torture. But many Old Testament heroes of our faith did. They were able to endure what most people on this planet could never endure—because they endured it by faith. It’s easy to persevere in faith for a few minutes when God answers our prayers quickly. But when God’s answers come slowly, and the pain and suffering intensifies—that’s when our faith is REALLY tested.

#3: We need FASTER obedience. If we really trust Christ, we will obey Him. And we’ll obey Him quickly. Do you know what we call delayed obedience? Disobedience. So, let’s NOT drag our feet. We need to obey God quickly. If He says “Give!”—we need to give without hesitation. If He says, “Go!”—we need to go. If He says, “Do this!”—we need to do this. If He says, “Do that!” —we need to do that. We don’t have time for disobedience and sin. Our time is short and the stakes are too high. So, we must fix our eyes on Jesus and obey Him on time, every time.

Christ has called us as Christians to have BETTER vision—STRONGER endurance—and FASTER obedience. And if there’s any doubt in your mind that this is what God’s word is calling you to do, consider these amazing words in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles [that’s faster obedience], and let us run with endurance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith [that’s better vision] who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame [that’s stronger endurance] and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

There you have it: the greatest superhero of all time … Jesus Christ. Better. Stronger. Faster. And together we are running in His footsteps!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service tomorrow at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Don't Let Sin Slow You Down!

“We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.Hebrews 10:30

When I think of running a race with perseverance, Cliff Young comes to mind. Who is Cliff Young? An Australian sheepherder and potato farmer, of course! In 1983, Australia began hosting what was, at the time, the most grueling foot race on earth: a seven-day, 543-mile ultra-marathon stretching from Sydney to Melbourne. That’s like running from Victorville to Sacramento, hanging a left and running 85 miles to San Francisco, then topping it all off by running back-to-back marathons around the city. 

The day the Sydney ultra-marathon started, 150 world-class runners showed up. And guess who showed up to run with them: Cliff Young. At the age of 61, Cliff approached the registration table, wearing overalls and rain boots, and declared his intention to run. You see, Cliff had grown up on a farm without the luxury of a horse or a four-wheel drive. So, when the storms rolled in, Cliff had to put on his rain boots and run for two or three straight days to round up 2,000 sheep over a 2,000-acre farm. To Cliff, running an ultra-marathon sounded like another day on the farm.

When Cliff started running, spectators thought, “This must be a joke!” Because he didn’t really run. It was more of a leisurely old-man shuffle. Australians were glued to their TVs, saying things like: “Someone should stop that crazy old man before he kills himself!” But five days, 15 hours, and four minutes later, after shuffling for 543 miles, Cliff Young shuffled across the finish line in Melbourne—in first place. And he didn’t win by a few seconds, or even by a few minutes. Catch this: The second-place runner was nine hours and 56 minutes behind him. You see, during the race, Cliff shuffled along day and night with almost no sleep, until he crossed the finish line. And the 61-year-old sheepherder who defied all odds became a national hero.

If Cliff Young can persevere through a 543-mile ultra-marathon, you and I can certainly persevere in our lives as Christians. One of the keys to running a gold-medal race for Jesus is, “Don’t sin.” Sin slows you down. Sin makes you weak. With that in mind, I’d like to point out three sins that slow you down and cause collateral damage in the church:

Sin #1: Unbelief. God’s word tells us in Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” God is deeply concerned about unbelief in His followers. No sin will stop a church dead in its tracks as quickly as the sin of unbelief. Unbelief is a spiritual cancer within a congregation. And Hebrews 10:39 tells us: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” We are believers—not quitters. No matter what tragedies happen in your life … no matter how many people around you think you’re nuts … no matter how hard it is to hold on to your faith … don’t stop believing.

Sin #2: Unforgiveness. To me, this is one of the most troubling sins in the church today. It grieves my heart to see how many Christians hold on to bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. And Christianity is nothing without forgiveness. Do you remember what Jesus taught us to pray in The Lord’s Prayer? “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” And in case we missed it, he elaborates in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” If you refuse to forgive someone who has sinned against you, God will refuse to forgive you who have sinned against Him.

Sin #3: Undernourishment. Even if you’ve never participated in a team sport, you know that a nutritious diet is very important for an athlete. If you don’t train well or eat well, it affects you on the playing field. The same holds true in the spiritual realm. Our number-one source of nourishment is the Bible. It is our spiritual meat. It is our living water. Yet sadly, one recent study found that only one in eight Christians read their Bible daily. Last week, how many days did you go without eating any food? I would guess—zero. But how many days did you go without eating any spiritual food? Our second source of nourishment is prayer. Every follower of Christ needs to spend time with God in prayer every day. If we don’t, we’ll be undernourished. Finally, our third source of spiritual nourishment is the church. More than ever before, Christians are not making church attendance a priority. And the results have been devastating. Hundreds of churches across America have closed their doors for good. Needs in the community are going unmet. And most tragic of all: Millions of people are NOT getting saved … because the church is AWOL.

So, please make sure that you do your part to stay well-nourished as we run this Jesus Race together. Be in God’s Word every day. Spend quality time in prayer with God every day. And if you’re physically able to attend, be in church every week. We’ve got a lot of race left to run and not much time left to run it. So, let’s each do our part to finish our Jesus Race strong … together.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Racing by the Rules

“If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.2 Timothy 2:5 

Tatjana Schoenmaker is a record-holding swimmer from South Africa. Her specialty is the 200-meter breaststroke. Three weeks ago, heading into the 200-meter final, she was the favorite to win gold. There was even talk of her breaking the world record that had remained unbroken since 2013. Everyone watching that 200-meter women’s final knew that Tatjana Shoenmaker was a great swimmer. What many didn’t know is that she’s also a follower of Christ. As she swam at the Olympics, underneath her outer green swim cap that identified her home country of South Africa, she wore another white swim cap. It has a blue Jesus fish on it along with the words, “Soli Deo Gloria,” which translates as “Glory to God Alone.”

Before heading to Tokyo last month, Tatjana posted this tweet: “Father God may Your will be done, may Your peace fill us up, may we praise You no matter what the outcome, may we be empowered by Your strength to give it our all and may we forever be in the awe of Your goodness.” And as it turned out, Tatjana Shoenmaker not only won Olympic gold, she became the first woman in history to swim the 200-meter breaststroke in under 2 minutes and 19 seconds.

Tatjana traveled to the Olympic Games and fought the good fight. She kept the faith and finished her race on top. Tatjana Shoenmaker did it in an Olympic swimming pool, and you and I can do it right here where God has placed us. He has called us to run the race of our lives: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Life is short, and we have a lot of work to do for Jesus before we croak. So, by faith, we’ve got to hustle! We’ve got to run this Jesus race with some heart. We’ve got to run this Jesus race as if lives depend on it—because they do.

In 2 Timothy 2:5 we read, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” As I mentioned last week, there are three rules in this Jesus race. #1: Trust God. #2: Love God. #3: Obey God’s commands. Let’s take a closer look at these three life-changing rules for running a gold-medal race.

Rule #1: Trust Him—ONLY Him. (Heb. 11:6) “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Don’t trust in Jesus AND the Pope. Don’t trust in Jesus AND Donald Trump. Don’t trust in Jesus AND your own righteousness and good works. Trust in JESUS ALONE. Jesus can not and will not share your soul’s trust with anyone. Your soul is either His completely, or it’s not His at all. You either surrender complete control of your life to Christ, or you don’t surrender it at all. Trust Him and Him alone. That’s Rule #1.

Rule #2: Love Him—ONLY Him. (Matt. 22:37-40) “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” These verses confuse a lot of people. They wonder: “If I love God with all my heart, there won’t be any part of my heart left to love anyone else.” Exactly! That’s exactly the way God wants it to be. You may ask, “What about my spouse? What about my family?” Here’s the thing: If your heart is completely God’s, you won’t have ANY part of your heart left to love people around you in your inferior, half-hearted way. God will just have to love them perfectly through you. And whose love is better—yours or God’s? Jesus can not and will not share your heart’s love with anyone else. You either love Christ completely, or you don’t love Him at all. So, love God with everything you’ve got. That’s Rule #2.

Rule #3: Obey Him—ONLY Him. (John 14:15) Jesus says it so simply in John 14:15: “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” If you don’t obey Christ, you don’t really love Christ or trust Christ—which means you’re not IN Christ. If you don’t obey Christ, you’re on the wide road to Hell. There’s no way around it: If you want to be forgiven of your sin, if you want to be on the narrow road, if you want to go to heaven some day, you have to be ready and willing to obey … right now. Not one of these days. Not when things get less busy. Not when obeying becomes more convenient. NOW! Obeying Jesus’ commands isn’t convenient. It’s rarely popular. And it’s almost never easy. But if you’re serious about running a gold-medal race for Jesus, you will obey His commands anyway. That’s Rule #3.

You may never be an Olympian. But like Tatjana, you can finish your race strong by trusting Christ, loving Christ and obeying Christ’s commands every day of your life. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, and finish strong. Then, when you get to the end of your life here on earth, you’ll be able to join the Apostle Paul in saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Keep Running!

 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:3

Derek Redmond was a record-holding sprinter from Great Britain in the late ’80s and early ’90s. As he entered the ’92 Olympic games, he was one of the favorites to win gold. His specialty was the 400-meter sprint. In the quarter finals he finished first in his heat. Then came the semi-final race. At the start of that race, Derek ran like the wind. But 250 meters in—about halfway through the race—something went wrong. He grabbed the back of his leg, grimaced, and fell to his knees in pain. He had torn his hamstring.

But what happened next is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. Derek only stayed down for a few seconds. Then he stood back up and began limping, as fast as he could, toward the finish line. If you watch the clip, you can see his face, and it’s obvious that the pain was indescribable. But he kept pressing forward. And then, out of nowhere, some old guy ran out onto the track to help Derek run. It was Derek’s dad. And despite the embarrassment, the disappointment and the pain, Derek Redmond kept the faith—and finished the race.

Now, if Derek Redmond can finish his race for his country, how much more should you and I finish our race for Jesus Christ! We’ve got to run this race with some heart. We’ve got to run this race with some gusto. We’ve got to run this race like lives depend on it … because they do.

But how do we run this Jesus race day after day without tiring out, without getting discouraged, and without losing hope? In the New Testament, God reveals several keys to running a gold-medal race for Jesus.

Key #1: Draw inspiration from others. The ESV version of Hebrews 12:1 says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means.” When you read about the way the heroes of the Bible trusted and obeyed God even when it didn’t seem to make sense, that should inspire YOU to trust God, too. Warren Wiersbe says it really well: “If you are having problems with your family, read about Joseph. If you think your job is too big for you, study the life of Moses. If you are tempted to retaliate, see how David handled this problem.” In Hebrews 11, there are about 20 heroes of the faith mentioned by name. Flip back to the Old Testament and read some of their stories. I’ll bet it will inspire you to trust God a little deeper and run your Jesus race a little harder.

Key #2: Play by the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5 tells us, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” What happens if an Olympic wrestler tests positive for steroids? He’s disqualified. What happens if an Olympic gymnast bribes the judges? She’s disqualified. Bottom line: If you break the rules, you don’t get the gold medal. The same is true as we run this Jesus race. We have to follow the rules. And there are just three basic rules: Trust God. Love God. And obey God’s commands. Do these three things every day, and you you’ll be well on your way to running a great race.

Key #3: Exercise. It’s good for you. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” There is value in physical training to accomplish physical goals—especially when it leads to spiritual training to accomplish more important spiritual goals. There are all sorts of reasons why you and I should exercise regularly. It keeps our bodies healthier. It boosts our mood. It helps us keep up with our kids and grandkids. But one of the greatest benefits of exercising regularly is that it teaches us self-discipline, without which you and I will poop out long before this race is over. The self-control that you learn in pursuit of a PHYSICAL goal will be used by God to teach you self-control in pursuit of His SPIRITUAL goals for you.

Key #4: Don’t sin. Sin slows you down. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Sin makes you weak. Many Christians have bought into the lie that as long as we don’t do drugs, drink too much, overeat or have unprotected sex, our sin won’t make us sick. But that’s not true. Your body and your spirit are interconnected. ALL sin makes you weak and sick.

Key #5: Finish strong. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 reads, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also for all who have longed for His appearing.”

Some of us didn’t get off to a good start with our Christian race. Others of us came out of the starting blocks pretty well, but we’ve gotten a bit lazy since then. But regardless of how your Jesus race started, and regardless of how it’s been going recently, it’s not too late to start running and finish strong. Fight the good fight. Finish the race. And keep the faith.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Running the Race

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Does the name Kristian Blummenfelt ring a bell? In case you haven’t been following the summer Olympics, he’s an athlete from Bergen, Norway—where, for most of the year, it's windy, rainy and about 50 degrees. But somehow he found a way to train for the Olympic men’s triathlon in Tokyo. This daunting competition includes a one-mile swim, a 25-mile bike ride and a 6.2 mile run. The triathlon took place two weeks ago, and I watched the final minutes of the race. I've got to be honest with you: I didn't think this guy had a chance of winning. As he ran the final mile, he was covered in sweat and grimacing in pain. I was afraid he was going to collapse from exhaustion.

And he did—but not before crossing the finish line in first place, 11 seconds before his closest competitor.

Blummenfelt’s victory reminds me of these words in Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us(v. 1). Now, to understand what the “therefore” refers to, we need to look back one chapter at Hebrews 11. It's often called “The Faith Chapter” or “The Hall of Faith.” The writer of Hebrews highlights around 20 different men and women from Old Testament times, who walked by faith. These faith heroes include Noah, the three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David and about a dozen others.

Every one of these God-followers lived their lives by faith. And here's a really important point: When they reached the finish line of their lives, these men and women were STILL living by faith. As the Scripture reads: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance” (Hebrews 11:13). What a powerful statement about faith!

All of these faith-warriors were applauded by God because they epitomized that great definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: They were “sure of what [they] hoped for” and “certain of what [they] could not see.” And in case you had any doubt what’s waiting for the faithful at the finish line, God’s word reminds us: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you won't grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). 

Why do those of us who follow Christ keep following Him? Why do we keep trusting God when our lives fall apart? Why do we persevere through hardship for God? Why do we stay faithful to God when everyone around us couldn't care less about God? We do it all because of Christ. He trusted God when His life fell apart. He persevered through hardship for God. He stayed faithful to God even when everyone around Him jumped ship. Jesus fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. And so should you and I.

Jesus has made it clear to us that as His followers, we are part of a heavenly invasion—penetrating the spiritual darkness here on earth with His light, and bringing some of the best parts of heaven to our little corner of the world. That's an amazing, inspiring mission. But God's word makes it clear that we can't carry out our mission in cruise control. We've gotta hustle! The time is short, and the stakes are high. So, we need to fight the good fight and run this Jesus race with some gusto. And as Christians, we need to run this Jesus race together.

Lately God has been reminding me that there is no room for laziness on the narrow road to heaven. If I really want to be lazy, there's another road for that: the wide road that leads to eternal destruction in hell. The wide road is the lazy road. So, if you want to be lazy that's cool. You just need to switch roads. But if you and I aren't interested in being on the wide road to hell, we'd better get off our lazy butts and get to work. We've got to get up and WORK for Jesus. We've got to get up and FIGHT for Jesus. We've got to get up and RUN for Jesus. If we are followers of Jesus Christ on the narrow road to heaven, we don't have any time to lose. It's crunch time! It's game day!        

Look again at the last part of Hebrews 12:1. It doesn't say, “WALK with perseverance the race marked out for us.” It doesn't say, “JOG with perseverance the race marked out for us.” It says, “RUN with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Jesus is commanding us to run. Not sit around like a bunch of lazy bums—RUN! Not stroll down the narrow road like we've got all the time in the world---RUN! Not jog for a little while so we can brag about getting in some spiritual cardio. Jesus says, RUN, Christians! RUN!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Build Your Life on the Rock

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” - Matthew 7:21

It’s one of the most iconic buildings in the world: The Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was only supposed to take a few years to build, but five years into construction, when the builders reached the third story, the tower began to lean ever so slightly to the south. The builders tried to correct the lean by making the remaining stories shorter on the uphill side, but the extra weight of the upper stories just made the lean worse. In the 600 years after the tower was completed, it kept leaning more and more. It became clear to engineers that the tower wasn’t just leaning -- it was actually falling at a rate of one to two millimeters per year. By the late 1980s, the tower was leaning by more than 5 degrees.

Do you know why the leaning tower leans? It has a weak foundation. So, between 1990 and 2001, a team of 13 experts worked to save the tower by reinforcing its foundation with concrete.  And their best guess is that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is safe for at least another 200 years.

At the end of Jesus’ greatest sermon—the Sermon on the Mount—He asks us to inspect our spiritual foundation to determine whether or not we are fake Christians. To illustrate his point, He shares a short parable about two men who built houses on very different foundations: one on bedrock, and another on sand. As Jesus explains, everyone who hears His words and obeys them will be like the man who built on rock. When a storm came, “the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall” (v. 25). On the other hand, those who hear His words and don’t obey them are like the second, foolish man, whose house “fell with a great crash” (v. 27).

But what does it all mean? Well, remember the context. The entire Sermon on the Mount came on the heels of Jesus going from town to town and preaching this basic message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Within the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to turn from our sin and bring some of the best things of heaven into our corner of the world: truth, humility, peace, purity, forgiveness and love. And in the verses preceding this parable, Jesus makes it clear that many people who THINK they are on the narrow road to heaven ... aren't. Many people who THINK they are saved aren't really saved. Many people in the church are under the impression that they can call Jesus “Lord” without having to do what He says.

To break down the symbolism of this parable: You are the builder. The house is your life. The rock is obedience to Christ's teaching. The sand is anything else that you build your life upon. And the storm is the testing of your faith here on earth and also the Day of Judgment. So, to the best of my understanding, this is what Jesus is asking his listeners (and today’s readers) after they hear His teaching: “Are you going to live it out? Are you going to be a doer of My word, or are you just going to be a hearer?”

Think about it: You are building your life, and to many people, your life may look really good. You look like a follower of Christ. You talk like a follower of Christ. But sooner or later your faith in Christ is going to be tested. Following Jesus will get harder. You're going to be criticized by people around you, even by people you love and respect. Jesus will ask you to do some things you don't want to do. And He will ask you to stop doing some things that you really want to keep doing. Sooner or later, your devotion to Christ is going to be tested. And if your life isn't built on the firm foundation of obeying Jesus, your faith will crumble. Because if you are not obeying Christ as Lord, your faith has no foundation. It's not built to last. The truth is: If you're not obeying Christ, then you're a fake Christian. And sooner or later, fake Christians will jump ship when the ride gets too bumpy.

The storms of life have a way of separating real Christ followers from the fakes. And so does the Day of Judgment. One day every one of us will stand before Jesus and give an account of our life here on earth. And according to 1 Cor. 3:11-15, your life will be fed through the fire of testing. Only what you did in obedience to Christ will survive the flames. Sadly, on the Day of Judgment, many people who called themselves “Christians” will see their lives completely consumed by the flames of testing.

It doesn't matter how good your Christian life looks to those around you. God doesn't look at the outward appearance. He looks at the heart. So, on the Day of Judgment, the truth about your Christianity will be laid bare. If you built your life on anything other than the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, it will turn into a pile of rubble and ashes. But if your life is built firmly on the solid rock of obedience to Christ's teaching, you won’t just survive. You will also hear Jesus Christ speak to you those six amazing words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.