Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Child of God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1

There’s a story about a little boy who was wakened during the night by a thunderstorm. He called down the hall to his mother because he was scared. Well, now and then we all have less-than-perfect parenting moments, and in the wee hours, Mom was hoping to avoid getting out of bed. So she called back, “Don't worry, sweetheart. God loves you, and He’ll take care of you.” But after a moment the little boy answered, “Mom, I know God loves me. But right now, I need someone with skin on."

In the last few weeks I’ve been looking at the Christmas story through the eyes of the gospel writers. In the final gospel, the apostle John gives us his take on the birth of Jesus, and here’s what he tells us: Jesus Christ came to earth as God with skin on.

The book of John opens, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” From that opening verse, John wants us to wrestle with the earth-shattering truth that Jesus is God. And so, when Jesus was born on that first Christmas, God had come down. Jesus was God in the flesh, and this world would never be the same.

Warren Wiersbe says it well: “Much as our words reveal to others our hearts and minds, so Jesus Christ is God’s ‘Word’ to reveal His heart and mind to us. Jesus said, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9). Isn’t that awesome? For centuries people wondered what God would look like and talk like and act like in the real world. Well, Jesus showed us once and for all, didn’t he? Jesus is God’s heart and mind with skin on.

John 1 makes it clear that Jesus created the world. So creation—including humankind—was rightfully his. But when Jesus came into the world, most people did not recognize him as the Word of God (John 1:10-11). Most people didn’t recognize him as the Creator. So, when given the choice of whether to receive him or reject him, most people opted for rejecting him. But for the few who did receive him, for the few who did place their trust in him, “he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12b).

This is an important distinction. You see, many people say, “After all, we’re all children of God.” No, we’re not. Biblically, that’s just not true. We are all CREATIONS of God. But unless we become believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we will never become CHILDREN of God. Spiritual adoption into God’s eternal family can only come through Jesus Christ: the eternal Word of God.

And in verses 14 and 17, John gives us two words that seem to hop off the pages of our Bibles: grace and truth. Let’s look at that first word, one of the most wonderful words in the English language: Grace. It means “undeserved favor.” It’s one thing for God to show us mercy—withholding the punishment from us that we rightly deserve for our sins. But it’s quite another thing for God to show us grace—blessing and favor that are completely unmerited. It’s one thing for Jesus to rescue us from Hell. But to give us the gift of heaven, after all we’ve done to rebel against God—that’s grace!

And Jesus is not only our grace. He is also our truth. If you want to know the truth about why you’re here on earth, the answers you seek are in the Word of God. They are found in Jesus. If you want to know the truth about where you stand with God right now, the truth is found in the Word of God. It is found in Jesus. If you want to know the truth about how your broken relationship with God can be patched up, the truth is found in Jesus. And if you want to know how you can be sure that when you die you will go to heaven, the certainty that you seek is found in Jesus.

Once you know who Jesus is and why he came, what are you going to do with him? You can choose to reject him. That’s an option. Or, you can choose to receive him. That’s a much better option. As we look at Christmas of 2017 in our rear-view mirror, it’s my prayer that you’ll recognize Jesus for who he is, and receive the great blessing of becoming a child of God.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas for the Nobodies

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11

For many of us, the Book of Luke gives our favorite account of Jesus’ birth. And if you’ve ever watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” you probably remember that it’s Linus’s favorite too.

One of the reasons that we love Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth is because he documents many extraordinary details that no other gospel writer includes. Only Luke mentions the Angel Gabriel announcing Jesus’ birth to Mary; the decree from Caesar Augustus; and all of those classic images of the manger and the shepherds and the angels in the fields. And no matter how many times we hear it, it never gets old.

Now, there are many reasons why I love Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. But one of the best is that it reveals that Jesus didn’t come for the wealthy or the famous or the most talented people of the world. He came first and foremost for the forgotten, for the helpless and for the nobodies. And that brings me hope that Jesus came for me too.

1. Jesus came for the old and washed-up. Unlike Matthew, Mark and John, Luke records the details of John the Baptist’s birth (Luke 1:5-25). And since God sent John to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming, these details are an important part of Luke’s Christmas story. But when you get down to it, John was basically born to a pair of old fogeys: Zechariah and Elizabeth. The Bible tells us in verse 7, “They had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.”

In first century Israel, being childless was frowned upon. Most Jews in those days believed that barrenness was the result of sin. But God sent an angel to Zechariah to announce that Elizabeth, despite her old age, would soon be pregnant. What’s more, she would give birth to a very special baby boy—chosen by God to bring many Israelites back to God and to prepare the way for the Messiah. How’s that for old and washed-up?

2. Jesus came for the young and unimportant. Now, let’s look at Mary: a young girl who was single, had no kids—and worse still, she lived in the podunk little town of Nazareth. The truth is, Mary had almost no social status. So imagine how shocked she must have been when the Angel Gabriel appeared and spoke to her in verse 28: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was floored. She must have started looking over her shoulder to see who the angel was really talking to. She may have even wondered if she was the butt of a cruel joke, because nobody—absolutely nobody—viewed her as “highly favored.” Nobody, that is, except for God.

Jesus came for the young and for the unimportant. That’s just as true today as it was back then. If you are a teenager or a young adult, Jesus came for you. You’re never too young or unimportant for Jesus to care about. And you’re never too young or unimportant for God to use in wonderful ways for His glory. Now don’t you forget it, you young whipper snappers!    

3. Jesus came for the dirty and despised.
Think about it: Of all the people on Planet Earth that God could have announced Jesus’ birth to, he announced it first to shepherds. What a weird thing for God to do! Sheep are very dirty animals, so shepherds were considered ceremonially unclean. They weren’t allowed to be a part of any Jewish synagogue. They weren’t even counted in the census. It’s as if they weren’t even viewed as fully human. Yet God sent his angels to announce Jesus’ birth to a group of these smelly, dirty, despised shepherds. Why would God do that?

Well, the messenger angel answers that question in verses 10 and 11: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Isn’t that something? Jesus is good news for every person. Jesus is a Savior for every man and woman, even the ones the world thinks stink to high heaven. Even the ones the world considers “not worth counting.”

Luke wanted the message of Christmas to be loud and clear: Jesus Christ came for those who are at the bottom of the social pecking order. Jesus came for the nobodies. He didn’t come for those who are on mountaintops but instead for those who are in the valleys, those who are ignored, those who are overlooked, those who are broken, those who are dirty, and those who are despised. And that includes you and me. Jesus came for you and me.

THAT’S why we celebrate his birth. THAT’S simply Christmas.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  Join us for our message series, “Simply Christmas,” Sunday at 10 a.m., and for our Christmas Eve Service Sunday night at 7 pm.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas in the Wilderness

I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your waya voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’– Mark 1:2-3

As the Christmas countdown clock winds down, and as you make your way through the checkout lines at WalMart or Winco, chances are you’ve been hearing the question: “Are you ready for Christmas?” And most of us will answer: “NO!!!” After all, you’ve still got shopping to finish and Christmas cards to write and Christmas programs to attend. But in the first chapter of his gospel, Mark reminds us that there is a much more important question to ask: Are you ready for Jesus?

Most of us have never heard a Christmas sermon preached out of the Book of Mark. And there’s a good reason for that: Mark doesn’t write anything about the nativity. Nothing about a baby crying, angels singing or wise men traveling. He doesn’t say a single word about Bethlehem, a virgin birth or a manger. But hidden in the opening verses of Mark 1, there are some powerful, hidden insights about the first Christmas. He starts it right off in verse 1: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

When Jesus was born, the title Son of God was more or less interchangeable with the title of Messiah or Christ. But as Jesus’ ministry progressed, he demonstrated through his teaching and miracles that the title meant much more than just the Christ: he himself was divine. He himself was God in the flesh. Jesus came to earth as the Christ and the very Son of God. He was 100 percent man, but he was also 100% God. Now, that’s a miracle to celebrate!

But are you ready? As we prepare for Christmas, Mark wants us to know that before Jesus began his ministry, God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way. Mark writes in verses 2 and 3, I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your waya voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Notice that he uses the word “prepare” twice in those two verses. And those who hoped to be in God’s will were called to join him in preparing.

So, this Christmas, what do you think the chances are that God is much more concerned with you preparing your heart for Jesus than He is with you preparing your table for the Christmas ham? What do you suppose the chances are that God is more concerned with you preparing your schedule to worship Christ than He is with you preparing your best white elephant gift?

Don’t get me wrong. The ham and the gifts and the lights and the music are all wonderful parts of the Christmas season. But they’re all meaningless if we don’t prepare ourselves for the heart of Christmas: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born to save the world. God wants us to prepare ourselves and our families to celebrate his coming, to worship his majesty, and to recommit our lives to him.

And for one more marvelous insight … according to verses 3 and 4, where did John do his preaching? Well, some translations use the word “wilderness.” Others translate the Greek word as … “desert.” Doesn’t that sound a lot like the Victor Valley? “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).

Time and time again in Scripture, we find that God speaks to us in the wilderness, reaches out to us in the wilderness, calls us to repent and change our evil ways in the wilderness, God forgives us and ushers us into the Promised Land from the wilderness. Mark wants us to understand that the story of Christmas—the story of Jesus—begins in the wilderness … or, if you like, the desert.

Let’s be honest: For many of us, this is NOT the most wonderful time of the year. Some of us have lost family members this year. Others have lost jobs, while still others have seen our health take a nosedive. Perhaps you are flat broke and can’t even think about buying presents or taking a trip to see family this Christmas. The truth is—as this year draws to a close, many of us are in the wilderness.

But guess what happens in the wilderness? God speaks. God reaches out. God calls. And what’s His message? “Jesus is coming. In fact, Jesus is already here. Prepare the way for him in your heart, because he is the heart of Christmas. Take hold of him, and don’t let go.”

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  Join us for our message series, “Simply Christmas,” Sunday at 10 a.m., and for our Christmas Eve Service Sunday night at 7 pm.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Strange Beginning to the Christmas Story

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.– Matthew 1:21

The Christmas season is one of the most wonderful times of the year, but it’s also one of the most hectic times. With all the shopping, decorating, school programs and parties—for many of us, this season has become too much of a rat race. So this year, I hope you’ll take the time to stop and smell the poinsettias. (Do poinsettias even smell? It doesn’t matter.) If you slow down and push aside the commercialism and hecticness of the season, underneath it all you’ll find the simple heart of Christmas: Jesus Christ—born to save the world.

As with anything simple, it’s best to begin at the beginning: the opening chapters of Matthew. Usually, when we read the Christmas story from Matthew, we skip the first 17 verses. Because, after all, 15 of the first 17 verses are a genealogy—just a list of names. And that’s not very important, right? Yet for some reason, it’s the first scripture to appear in the Bible after the book of Malachi, some 400 years before. Why on earth would the Holy Spirit lead Matthew to break the silence with a genealogy?

Great question. He did it, in large part, because Matthew’s original audience was Jewish. And the Jewish people in Matthew’s day were very concerned about pedigree. For example, a priest was required to give an unbroken record of his genealogy all the way back to Moses’ brother Aaron. So, to the Jews of that time, it would be impressive that Jesus’ ancestry could be traced all the way back to Abraham, and that his lineage also included King David. As Matthew set out to prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the King of the Jews, proving that Jesus was both a descendent of Abraham and a descendent of King David was critical. Otherwise Jewish readers would have ignored the rest of Matthew’s gospel account.

After establishing that sterling pedigree, here’s a surprise: Four women are listed in Jesus’ genealogy. Back then, this would have shocked every Jewish reader. The nation of Israel was a very patriarchal society, and most Jewish men would never list any women in their genealogy—especially women with mixed blood lines and sordid pasts. Yet Matthew lists Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. The first two women practiced prostitution. Ruth was from the wicked nation of Moab. And we all know the story of Bathsheba’s affair with King David.

So, what was Matthew thinking? What’s the deal with these four not-so-upstanding women being included in Jesus’ genealogy?

As theologian William Barclay puts it, “If Matthew had ransacked the pages of the Old Testament for improbable candidates he could not have discovered four more incredible ancestors for Jesus Christ [than these four women]. But surely, there is something very lovely in this.” Barclay points out that by including these names at the very beginning of his gospel, Matthew was showing the essence of the good news to come. The story of Jesus Christ is all about barriers going down: the barrier between Jew and Gentile; the barrier between male and female; and most of all, the barrier between saint and sinner. As Jesus says in Matthew 9:13b, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

You see, the Good News of Jesus Christ is contained right here—in this genealogy that you’ve always thought was boring and unimportant. Jesus didn’t come to be the Savior of those who have their act together, those who have a squeaky clean past, those who have no skeletons in the closet. Jesus came to be the Savior of the whole world. That includes prostitutes, addicts, liars, cheaters, thieves and murderers. So, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you’ve strayed, no matter how many skeletons you have in your closet, Jesus came for you, too. He came for you.

And here’s one more dollop of heartwarming icing on the Christmas cake. In Matthew 1:17, Matthew strategically lists Jesus’ genealogy in three groups of fourteen generations each. If you take a closer look at the beginning and ending names in each group of 14, you’ll discover a beautiful snapshot of human history and the reason for Christmas.

The first group begins with Abraham (the “friend of God”) and ends with David (the “man after God’s own heart”). The second group begins with David and ends with the Babylonian exile—a punishment by God for Israel’s rejection of God. And the third group begins with the exile and ends with the birth of Christ.

Herein lies the unfolding of human history: We were created as friends of God to become men and women after His own heart. But we squandered that wonderful gift by turning our backs on Him. As a result, we suffered defeat and death. But Jesus came to give us grace and hope and life. That’s the story of human history. And that’s simply Christmas!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us this Christmas season for our message series, “Simply Christmas,” Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, December 4, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life!

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” - Matthew 1:24

In the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey is a young dreamer who lives in the sleepy little town of Bedford Falls. He oversees a small building and loan that his father founded. George hates the building and loan business, but after his father dies and his younger brother moves out of the area, he feels obligated to put his personal dreams on hold to keep the family business running. He eventually marries a beautiful girl named Mary, and they have four cute kids: two boys and two girls. Despite his unexpected change of course, George is on top of the world. But suddenly his world comes crashing down one day when his coworker misplaces $8,000, and a warrant is issued for George’s arrest.

All seems hopeless for George—just as it must have seemed hopeless for Joseph of Nazareth in the first chapter of Matthew. We read in Matthew 1:18 that Mary and Joseph were pledged to be married. More specifically, they were betrothed. That means they were legally “husband and wife,” but Mary still lived with her parents and hadn’t consummated her marriage with Joseph. Although Nazareth was a podunk town located in the dull region of Galilee, Joseph must have been on top of the world. The wedding ceremony was at hand, and he would soon walk into his own home hand-in-hand with the prettiest girl in town.

But suddenly his world came crashing down when he discovered that his beautiful Mary was pregnant. God’s word doesn’t tell us how Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy. Perhaps she told him right away, or perhaps her bulging waistline revealed her secret. But regardless of how he learned of Mary’s pregnancy, it’s clear from Matthew 1:19 that Joseph had made up his mind: He was going to divorce Mary. The only logical explanation for her pregnancy was that she had committed adultery. Although Joseph was devastated, he had decided that divorcing her quietly was the most loving and honorable thing for him to do.

But a visit from an angel turned Joseph’s world upside down, just as it did for George Bailey. According to Matthew 1:20-21, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

Can you imagine how thunderstruck Joseph must have been by the angel’s words? What the angel said was crazy. It defied all logic. Virgins don’t get pregnant. Teenage girls don’t give birth to “God with us.” And it made no sense that he—a blue collar, living paycheck-to-paycheck carpenter—would be the earthly father of the promised Messiah.

But Joseph believed the word of the Lord and obeyed God anyway. After the dream ended, he got up and did what the angel had commanded him to do. He “took Mary home as his wife,” but he didn’t consummate the marriage until after Jesus was born. Righteous man that he was, Joseph put God’s needs, Mary’s needs and his miraculously-conceived son’s needs above his own personal needs. Despite the hardships to come and the stigma that he would certainly bear for having married a pregnant woman, Joseph obeyed the word of the Lord.

As I consider the wonderful example of Joseph, three life lessons come to mind. For starters, Lesson #1: Good things can come out of Victorville. In Jesus’ day, Nazarethhad a bad reputation. Even one of Jesus’ apostles asked the question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Similarly, many people ask, “Can anything good come out of Victorville? Can anything good come out of Adelanto? Can anything good come out of Apple Valley?” And God answers, “Absolutely!” Just as good things came out of Nazareth when God was involved, good things can come out of the Victor Valley when we, like Joseph, walk in humble obedience to the Lord’s commands.

Lesson #2: Maintaining a good reputation with God takes precedence over maintaining a good reputation with man. God has called us to live lives of integrity and, as much as possible, to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. But there are times when choosing to obey God will tarnish our reputation with people. So be it! Just like Joseph, we must always choose to do what is right in God’s eyes. We must obey God, not man. Ultimately, our highest aim as Christians is to be God-pleasers, not man-pleasers.

Lesson #3: Live and celebrate the wonderful life that God created you to live—a life of loving, trusting and obeying Him. The bridge is a pivotal place in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The first time George stands on the bridge, he is at the end of his rope, feeling completely hopeless. At the end of the movie, he’s back on the bridge but has a new lease on life. What changed? He is still $8,000 in the hole. He still has a warrant out for his arrest. His car is still smashed against a tree. So what changed? His perspective changed. God opened George’s eyes to see the glorious truth that—despite his hardships and difficulties--God had blessed him with a wonderful life. The same was true of Joseph, and the same is true of you. My friends, despite your problems, ask God to open your eyes so that you can see what He sees: Your God-given life is, in a word, “wonderful.”

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit, and join us this Christmas season Sundays at 10 a.m. for our special series: "Simply Christmas."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Jonah and the God of the Second Chance

“When God saw … how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.”  – Jonah 3:10

The early 20th century British pastor George H. Morrison used to say, “The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.” Isn’t that true? When we fall down, Satan tries to convince us that we can’t get back up. He tries to convince us that once we’ve failed God, God won’t take us back, God won’t forgive us, and God certainly won’t everunder any circumstances—allow us to serve Him again in any useful way.

The first time God gave Jonah an opportunity to serve Him, Jonah disobeyed and ran away. But God is the God of the second chance. After rescuing Jonah from the storm and helping him survive his stay in the belly of a big fish, God gave Jonah another chance as He lovingly said, “Go to the great city of Ninevah and proclaim to it the message I give you” (Jonah 3:2).

God had already chosen not to put Jonah to death for his sins--that’s mercy. But here, God chooses to wipe the slate clean and give him a second chance to do what He had asked Jonah to do a week earlier—that’s grace. That’s undeserved favor. Isn’t God awesome? Not only does He offer to spare us the punishment that we deserve; He also offers us a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning to live for Him and do His great work. And this time, after being showered by God’s mercy and grace, Jonah “obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh” (Jonah 3:3).

Then, in verse 4, the Bible gives us the gist of Jonah’s message when he gets to town: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” Surprisingly, that’s it. In the original Hebrew language Jonah’s message is only five words. That’s a pretty short sermon, don’t you think? Now, it’s likely that this is just a small sample of his message. Certainly, he pointed out their wickedness and violence. In all likelihood, he proclaimed God as holy and righteous. But I think it’s safe to say that Jonah’s message was short and sweet.

Yet, amazingly, verses 5-10 make it clear that the people of Nineveh did repent. They fasted. They put on sackcloth. Their king took off his robes, donned some sackcloth of his own, and sat in ashes.

Now, if the people of Nineveh had simply fasted and sat in ashes, would God have forgiven them? The most likely answer is—no. Because in Isaiah 58, God tells us He’s not impressed with fasting that does not include a sincere change in behavior. The Bible says that fasting is a wonderful spiritual discipline—when it is accompanied by sincere prayer and a sincere change in our behavior. And from what we read in Jonah 3, it’s clear that the Ninevites’ prayers and repentance were sincere. Notice what the king commands the people to do in verse 8b: “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.”

The king knew there weren’t any guarantees that God would spare Nineveh the destruction He had threatened. He told his subjects in verse 9, “Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from His fierce anger so that we will not perish.” And that’s exactly what the God of the second chance did: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened” (verse 10).

Twice at the end of the chapter we find this wonderful word, “compassion.” As Jonah says to God in the next chapter, “You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2). On the heels of showering Jonah with undeserved mercy and grace, God showered the wicked people of Nineveh with grace as well.

You see, neither Jonah nor the people of Nineveh were too far gone to be reached by God’s mercy and grace. And neither are you. We need to pay attention to Jonah’s example. When God gives you a second chance, take it. So, you blew it the first time. There’s nothing you can do about that now. But don’t blow it this time. Despite how much you disobeyed Him yesterday, receive His mercy and grace and obey Him today. Like Jonah, you can do it by God’s grace.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Running TO God

“In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and You listened to my cry.” – Jonah 2:2

Have you ever been in a place in your life where you feel helpless? It’s like you’ve been swept away in a strong, swirling current, with no control over what happens to you. You don’t know which way to turn. Then, when you feel like you’re going down for the last time, you realize there’s nowhere for you to look but … up. And that’s when you find God has been there waiting for you the whole time.

That’s pretty much the situation the prophet Jonah found himself in. He’d been rebelling against God’s marching orders for the whole first chapter of the Book of Jonah. Finally, in chapter 2—after he was thrown off the ship he’d hitched a ride on to escape God’s will—Jonah came to his senses and cried out to God in prayer. And it’s clear that Jonah didn’t wait until he was being digested by some big fish to start praying. He started crying out to God before the fish ever swallowed him. When he was thrown overboard, the waters engulfed him and seaweed wrapped around his head as he sank. He was going down, down, down until, in desperation, he looked up and cried out to God for deliverance.

And what did God do? Did He say, “Forget you, Jonah! You’re getting what’s coming to you! Good riddance, you worthless piece of fish food!” Thankfully, no. As Jonah sank down into his watery tomb, God broke through. God prepared a great fish and instructed the fish to swallow Jonah. And we all know what happened next. Unlike Jonah, the fish obeyed God’s instructions.

Now, we could talk about what kind of fish or whale might have swallowed Jonah—a whale shark? A sperm whale? A blue whale?—or how Jonah got by for three days in that creature’s digestive tract. But we’ve got bigger fish to fry. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Because as Jonah turned back to God in prayer, there are two very powerful words in verses 8 and 9 that I don’t want us to miss: grace and salvation.

Let’s start with grace. As Jonah prays to God from inside the belly of the great fish, he says in verse 8: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” This is such a great verse. As a prophet of God, Jonah had a pretty solid understanding of God’s judgment and God’s grace. He didn’t always agree with how God chose to apportion that judgment and grace, but Jonah understood it pretty well. He knew that if anyone stubbornly refused to give up all the stuff in his life that he considered to be more important than God, that person—to His own peril—was forfeiting the grace of God that could have been his.

Chances are, a lot of people reading this are running from God in some way or another. If you are, believe what Jonah is saying here: You are forfeiting the grace, mercy and faithful love of God that could be yours. Or if you’re putting Him on the back burner—you’ve got all sorts of people and things in your life that are higher priorities to you than God—once again, you are forfeiting the grace, mercy and faithful love that could be yours.

It’s time to stop running from God. It’s time to stop putting other things and people ahead of God. It’s time to take hold of the grace, mercy and faithful love that He offers to you when you humbly call out to Him and start obeying His commands.

As Jonah ran to God, he ran to God’s grace. But it’s clear that he also ran to God’s salvation. As Jonah is praying to God from inside the belly of the great fish, he says in verse 9, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”

This is so cool. Guess what the Hebrew word is that is translated “salvation” in this verse. It’s … wait for it …“yeshua”—Jesus’ name in Hebrew. Jesus (yeshua) means “salvation, deliverance, aid, victory.” Salvation comes form the LORD, Yahweh. Or if we do a quick substitution, Jesus comes from the Yahweh. Isn’t that the truth!

Some of us have made promises to God that we aren’t fulfilling. Like Jonah, we’ve made promises to God that we haven’t kept, and we’ve run from God’s marching orders. I believe God is telling you today to make good on your promises. Some of us still desperately need God’s salvation from our hopeless circumstances. I believe God is telling you today to turn to the only one who can throw you a life preserver--Jesus Christ. Jesus is salvation.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Running from God

“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” – Jonah 4:2b

You’ve heard the story—probably since you were a kid. After all, it’s one of the Old Testament’s greatest hits, right up there with Noah and the Ark and David and Goliath. Yes, the story of Jonah is one of the best-known stories in the Bible, but a closer look reveals that it’s much more than a kids’ story. It’s an eye-opening book that urges those of us who follow Christ to take a long look in the mirror.

How do we get that from a story about a guy who was swallowed by a big fish? You see, familiar as the story is, it’s easy to miss the heart of the book. As the book opens, Jonah had been prophesying in Northern Israel. He had heard, loud and clear, God’s prophetic word that judgment was coming on Israel—and that judgment would come through the swords of the Assyrians, a cruel and bloody nation that took pride in their ability not just to kill their enemies, but to creatively torture and dismember them. So God ordered Jonah into the heart of Assyria, the capital city of Ninevah, “because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2).

Jonah’s reaction? He high-tailed it in the other direction. Instead of heading 500 miles northeast of Israel to Ninevah, he took a boat headed 2,000 miles west, toward the city of Tarshish in Spain. We’re plainly told in verses 3 and 4 that he was fleeing from the Lord. Why? Well, there’s no kind way to put it: Jonah was afraid that if he preached to the people of Ninevah, they would repent, and God would spare them His judgment. And Jonah didn’t want that. He wanted Assyria to continue sinning so that God would judge them. He wanted them to be slaughtered. Given the choice, he much preferred a dead and condemned Assyrian to a live and forgiven Assyrian. Jonah was consumed by hatred, resentment and revenge. By contrast, throughout the story, God shows Himself to be consumed by compassion and love.

When Jonah runs from God in verses 2 and 3, we get the impression in verse 4 that he didn’t make it very far. After his boat set sail, God sent a “great wind” and a “violent storm” that engulfed the ship. The captain and crew were convinced that if there wasn’t some miraculous improvement in their situation, they would all die. But as all the sailors were crying out to their pagan gods, Jonah was snoozing below decks, oblivious. So, the captain slapped Jonah upside the head and said, “Get up and call on your God! Maybe He will take notice of us, and we will not perish.”

Isn’t it sad that the pagan captain was more concerned about the life of one of God’s followers than God’s follower was about the lives of all the lost and dying sailors aboard that ship? It’s a sad indictment on Christ’s followers when nonChristians show more compassion, patience and love than we do.

The sailors were convinced that the storm was somebody’s fault—that someone on the ship had ticked off one of the gods. And in this case, they were right. So when they cast lots to find out who was responsible for the calamity, it’s not surprising that Jonah drew the oddball lot. But even when he admitted that he was the one who’d angered his Lord, and told his shipmates that if they threw him overboard, the sea would calm, they didn’t want to do it. They tried instead to row back to land. Only when that failed did they do what Jonah suggested and throw threw him overboard. Instantly the waters grew calm, and the sailors were blown away. In verse 16, we’re told that “The men greatly feared the Lord and made vows to Him. “

If only Jonah had feared and respected God as much! Even though he believed in God, his correct theology didn’t keep him in the center of God’s will. And unlike the pagan sailors who hesitated to throw him overboard, he didn’t want to show compassion and mercy to the wicked Ninevites who waited for him. Simply put, even though he believed right, he didn’t obey right.

How different are we from Jonah? Think of your least favorite politician. How often do you pray for him or her? Think about a family member you’ve written off, or an ex-friend who’s stabbed you in the back. How often do you think about them with compassion and love? Not very often, right?

You see, the book of Jonah matters today because YOU are Jonah. I am Jonah. All of us have, at one time or another, run from God’s marching orders. And our friends and family who don’t know Christ are citizens of Ninevah, who need to be warned about God’s coming judgment. And God desires for us—unlike Jonah—to have a heart like His, a heart of compassion and mercy. Like our Lord, we need to be “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Have a Better Marriage than Your Parents

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.– Ephesians 5:33

Last week, I read a blog written by a woman who had nothing but bad memories of her parents’ marriage. She wrote, “My parents hated each other, and I mean that as in plates flying, cops turning up and thousands of memories as a child of their fighting.” She shared memories of punches, drunkenness, and a repeated cycle of breakups and failed reunions.

Even more sadly, she went on to say, “I can not help [but] feel that some of their bad habits [in] their marriage not only are still with me but will affect my marriage.” And her concern is valid. Experts tell us that most couples, without even realizing it, model their own marriage after their parents’ marriage—for better or for worse.

You may not have grown up in a household with flying plates, but if you’re like me, you had parents whose marriage wasn’t bad … but it wasn’t great either. We don’t want to make the same mistakes they made. And God’s word has the answers. It offers a major tune-up for any broken-down marriage.

In Ephesians 5:22-24, Paul offers an implied command to husbands to “lead” their wives under the authority of Jesus Christ. And wives are commanded to submit to that God-given leadership. Now, in this fallen world of ours, there is no shortage of selfish, arrogant husbands. We’ve heard husbands get onto a high horse and demand that their wives submit to them. And these husbands were—for the most part—lousy husbands.

But in the context of a godly marriage, both husband and wife are following Ephesians 5:21, which says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And just a few verses later, Paul gives this instruction: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). In that context, a wife’s submission comes much easier.

Now, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the commands given to husbands and wives in verse 33: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” For years I’ve found this verse to be so interesting. Notice that wives are not commanded here to “love” their husbands. And husbands are not commanded to “respect” their wives. Why not?

First, I believe it’s because it’s easy for most wives to love their husbands, and it’s easy for most husbands to respect their wives. Now, there are exceptions to the rule. But as a rule of thumb, even when a marriage is falling apart, a wife still loves her husband. And similarly, as a rule of thumb, even when a marriage is falling apart, a husband still respects his wife. But when a marriage is falling apart, more times than not the wife does not respect her husband, and the husband does not love his wife.

Second, by the same token, wives have a deeper need to be loved, and husbands have a deeper need to be respected. Even though so-called “experts” in gender studies keep on trying to deny it, the fact is, God has wired men and women differently. When conflict happens in a marriage, it’s common for husbands and wives to say things in anger that they later regret having said. When those harsh words are being spoken, a wife usually interprets her husband’s harsh words as unloving. And a husband usually interprets his wife’s harsh words as disrespectful.

And what can easily happen is this: If a wife feels unloved, she will withhold respect from her husband. And if a husband feels disrespected, he will withhold love from his wife. His unloving words feed off of her disrespect. And her disrespect feeds off of his unloving words. And thus begins a vicious cycle of withholding love and respect within the marriage. Now, here’s some good news: It takes two spouses to START this crazy cycle, but it only takes one spouse to STOP it. And the healing begins with one spouse drawing a line in the sand and refusing to pretend that God’s unconditional command is conditional.

Remember, we don’t follow the wisdom of this world. We follow Jesus Christ. Men, aren’t your grateful that Jesus loved you when you were completely unlovable? Women, aren’t you grateful that Jesus showed you enough respect to die on the cross for you even when you said and did plenty of things that were completely disrespectful?

We need to follow in his footsteps. Husbands are commanded to love their wives even their wives are disrespectful. And wives are commanded to respect their husbands even when their husbands are unloving. You and I are commanded to love and respect our spouses UNCONDITIONALLY. And when we do, living out Ephesians 5:33, your marriage could be the very best marriage your family has ever seen.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Joy in Suffering

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds.” – James 1:2a

Let’s be honest. Have you ever read one of God’s commands in Scripture and found yourself saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me! God, what were you thinking?”

Here’s an example. In James 1:2-4, the Bible tells us: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

There’s no way around it. That sounds like crazy talk. Are you kidding me, God? When I get a pink slip from my boss, I’m supposed to consider it pure joy? When my doctor says, “The cancer is back,” I’m supposed to consider it pure joy? When my car breaks down on the side of the road, or my marriage is on the rocks or my dog bites me in the leg, I’m supposed to consider it pure joy?

Yes, you are. But how is that possible? I’m so glad you asked. Today I’d like to share with you two ways that you and I can experience joy in the midst of the trials and suffering of this life.

The first thing you and I must do if we are going to experience lasting joy in this life is this: Remain in Christ’s presence. In John 15, Christ told his disciples,“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love…. I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

I don’t know about you, but complete joy sounds really good to me. I don’t want just a sliver of joy. I don’t want a polluted mixture of joy and something else. After all, who wants a mixture of joy and lousiness? But the fact is, one of the reasons so many Christians struggle with sadness and depression is because they live their daily lives apart from Christ. Sure, we believe in him. Yes, we worship him on Sunday mornings. But we don’t remain in his love throughout the week. We can’t just open our Bibles for 30 to 40 minutes on a Sunday morning and call it quits till next week.

To remain in Christ’s love, we need to remain in his teaching and remain in prayer. But interestingly, Jesus doesn’t mention either of these two depression-busters in this John 15 passage. He simply says that if we desire to remain in his love, we must obey his commands—especially his command to love each other. So if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, ask yourself: "Have I disconnected myself from Christ’s joy by failing to obey his command to love others?” You see, when we get depressed, too often it’s because we’re too caught up in our own little world. Are you bummed out because you’re living paycheck to paycheck? Well, join the club. Take the little bit you do have and be a blessing to someone who has even less. Your health isn’t great? Well, I guarantee there are plenty of others whose health is even worse. Be a blessing to them—show them Christ’s love. There is great joy in the presence of the Lord. Remain in his love, and you’ll discover that peace and joy aren’t nearly as elusive as they used to be.

God’s second piece of advice for bringing more joy into your life may surprise you: Spend more time in heaven. What does that mean? No, I’m not trying to send you off to push up daisies before your time. Instead, live out Colossians 3:1-4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Isn’t that good? You’ve probably heard people say, “Get your head out of the clouds!” But God’s word says, “No! Put your head in the clouds! What you need is to get your head out of the dirt! You’re not an ostrich! You’re not a prairie dog! You’re not a gopher! Your heart needs to rise above the dirt of this world and beat for heavenly things. And your mind needs to rise above the dirt of this world and think about heavenly things.”

Paul says it there in Colossians 3:1: “You have been raised with Christ.” On that first Easter morning, the stone was rolled away and the light of dawn came rushing into that tomb. And when you became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, his light came rushing into your sorry tomb as well. If you’re a Christian, you’re not hopelessly surrounded by dirt anymore. You’re not a prisoner of complete darkness anymore. Your body has already been set free from the grave. Your heart and your mind have already been released from the prison of this world.

So, get up out of the dirt and soar into the clouds. Set your heart and mind on things above. If you do, no matter what trials this dirty old world sends your way, you’ll be able to count it all joy.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Unlike Solomon, Finish Well!

 “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.”  
1 Kings 11:4

There was a certain military leader in the Revolutionary War who impressed General Washington so much that he nicknamed him the “fighting general.” George Washington’s fighting general successfully attacked and captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British in 1775. In 1776, this general led a successful campaign to keep the British from invading the colonies through the Lake Champlain region. And his greatest victory was at Saratoga in 1777, which led to the French coming into the war as America’s most important allies.

What was this hero’s name? Benedict Arnold. Yes, Benedict Arnold was a brilliant general during the early years of the Revolutionary War, but on September 25, 1780, he defected to the British side. And ever since that day Benedict Arnold’s name has been synonymous with being a traitor. Although Benedict Arnold did some marvelous things for our country, they will always be overshadowed by his treachery. Sadly, Benedict Arnold ended his military career very, very poorly. Simply put: He didn’t finish well.

The same could be said of King Solomon. The first ten chapters of 1 Kings are, for the most part, very encouraging. Solomon was a man blessed by God with incredible wisdom and wealth. He was a gifted leader, an impressive orator, andmost  importantly—a faithful follower of God. But as he came down the homestretch of his life, he failed miserably. Although he had the IQ of two Einsteins, the riches of four Donald Trumps and the wisdom of ten Zig Ziglars, 1 Kings 11 reveals that Solomon finished his life very poorly. In the words of Bible commentator Dale Ralph Davis: “Chapter 11 is the dull thud after the high hopes of chapters 1-10.”

Instead of ending on a high note, Solomon’s life ended with a “dull thud.” And the biggest reason for this was his divided loyalty. You see, Solomon’s forty-year reign began and ended with love. Unfortunately, during those forty years his love shifted. At the start of his reign we read these encouraging words: “Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David” (1 Kings 3:3).

Yet by the time we get to the end of Solomon’s reign, we read that Solomon “loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods’” (1 Kings 11:1-2). We are then told in verse 3 that Solomon had 700 foreign wives in addition to his 300 concubines, and they pulled his heart away from the Lord and toward their pagan gods.

Solomon still loved God with part of his heart. But tragically, he divvied up the rest of his heart into 700 pieces that he distributed among his idol-worshiping wives. According to Jesus, the greatest command in the Old Testament is: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Without a doubt, as time passed Solomon drifted from his first love. He no longer loved God with “all” his heart, “all” his soul, “all” his mind or “all” his strength.

In our melting pot culture, some might ask, “What’s the big deal?” Well, consider this. We read in 1 Kings 11 that on a hill east of Jerusalem (most likely the Mount of Olives) Solomon set up worship centers to Ashtoreth, Molech and Chemosh. Ashtoreth worship traditionally involved orgies with male and female prostitutes. Molech worship involved child sacrifice, and Chemosh worship also involved forms of human sacrifice. Although Solomon probably didn’t participate in these more heinous “worship” activities, they were an integral part of the religion back in his wives’ homeland. And regardless of what labels we affix to ritual prostitution and child sacrifice, they are, at their heart, demonic.

On the very same hill east of Jerusalem where Jesus would one day sweat drops of blood and pray, “Not my will but yours be done,” Solomon was building shrines to bloodthirsty demons. On the same hill where Jesus would receive a kiss of betrayal from one of his friends, King Solomon himself was betraying his first love. On the same hill where Jesus would be bound and led away to sacrifice his own life for you and me, Solomon was worshiping murderous demons who required parents to sacrifice their own innocent children in a sacrificial fire. Was Solomon’s idol worship a big deal? You better believe it was!

And even though God rebuked Solomon and warned him that judgment was coming, Solomon didn’t respond with humility, sorrow or repentance. There is no indication that Solomon ever repented from his idol worship or tore down the pagan altars. He finished his life surrounded by hundreds of beautiful women, untold riches and every type of pleasure that a person could ever desire. But he died a shell of man—empty, hopeless and full of regret. Like Benedict Arnold, although he was a man of great potential who started his adult years so well, Solomon finished his life so poorly. When our loved ones look back on our final years here on earth, will they say the same of you and me? I hope not. Let’s finish well!

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for our worship service Sundays at 10 a.m.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why Didn't God Stop It?

“He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Matthew 5:45

Nearly two weeks after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, our nation is still reeling. We are still in shock, still dumbfounded by the massacre, and still grasping for answers. Why did this happen? Where was God, and why didn’t He stop it? And what can we do?

Why did it happen? The answer to the first question lies in the first book of the Bible. Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world, free from crime, adultery, lust, fear, guilt and shame. Their world in the Garden of Eden was a literal paradise. And in Genesis 2, God gave Adam and Eve only one “Thou Shalt Not”: Do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But one chapter later, they did just that. When that first sin entered the world, it brought a curse to this world. It took only one sin to make it a paradise no longer.

Sin ushered in all of the things that make this world miserable, from hurricanes to massacres to cancer. The tragedy in Las Vegas happened because we live in a fallen, sin-cursed world. Adam and Eve’s sin started the process of turning God’s perfect paradise into a moral sewer—but you and I would have done the same thing. God’s word tells us in Romans 3:23 that every single one of us has sinned and has fallen short of the glory of God. Suffering is one of the sad consequences of life in this sin-cursed world.

But where was God, and why didn’t He stop it? The truth is, He was right there in Las Vegas that night even though—honestly—one second before the first shot rang out, most people on the Strip didn’t want Him there. God has given us the gift of free choice. It’s a gift that allows us to love, but it’s also a gift that allows us to hate. It’s a gift that allows us to save lives, but it’s also a gift that allows us to take lives. And usually God allows us to suffer the consequences of our choices. In this sin-cursed world, bad choices affect both the righteous and the unrighteous. Accidents and tragedies happen to good and evil people alike.

In this fallen, sin-cursed world we live in, bad things happen to all of us. And good things happen to all of us. Now, I do believe that the Bible teaches that, in general, more good things come our way if we follow Christ and obey His commands. But God doesn’t guarantee us iron-clad protection against the pain and tragedy that may come our way—just as He did not spare His own son the agony of the cross.

The truth is, we will drive ourselves crazy if we don’t move past the “why” questions. We’ll likely never know why certain tragedies happen. When we’re feeling powerless in the aftermath of such events, we need to ask ourselves: “Do you believe your God is big enough and strong enough and merciful enough to redeem the tragedy—and somehow work all things together for good—even the violent things, the heart-wrenching things, the most tragic things?” Then, as soon as humanly possible, we need to move on to the final question: What should we do next?

First, we need to focus not on WHY this tragic event happened, but instead on HOW God can be glorified in the aftermath. In the days following the shooting, we’ve seen instances of God working in people and through people to redeem this horrible tragedy. We’ve heard stories of heroism at ground zero of the massacre: men lying on top of women to shield them from the gunfire; off-duty police officers leading people to safety, then turning around and heading back into the fire zone to help others; hundreds of people standing in line for hours to donate blood; thousands of people gathering for a prayer service the following Wednesday night at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas—and 185,000 more people watching that service online.

Next, we need to remember that life is fragile. We have no time to waste. Therefore, we must repent and get right with God. I hope and pray that no one reading this dies because of gunshot wounds from a madman. But the hard truth of living in this fallen, sin-cursed world is that people die tragically every single day—because of cancer, because of drunk drivers, because of heart attacks, because of natural disasters, because of stray bullets. You and I are not guaranteed tomorrow, so it’s important to get right with God today. Believe in Him. Turn away from your sin. And start following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Finally, we need to faithfully pray for the victims’ families, for our military and first responders, and for revival in America. When we’re flooded with emotions like disgust, anger, anxiety and fear, I believe these emotions should help fuel our prayers. Romans 12:12 tells us, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” And that chapter concludes with these words in verse 21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Not-So-Great Social Experiment

Those who practice these things "will not inherit the kingdom of God."
– 1 Corinthians 6:10

Maybe you’ve already noticed, but we are living in the day of the great social experiment. For several thousand years marriage was defined as a lifelong union between a man and a woman. But in recent decades, we’ve been trying to redefine marriage. Maybe we could replace it with cohabitation. Or maybe we could regard it as something temporary. Or it could even be a legal long-term relationship between “two people” regardless of gender.

Last week we looked at one of the alternatives to replace traditional marriage, cohabitation. Today I’m going to talk about two other alternatives: serial monogamy and gay marriage.

Serial monogamy is the practice of engaging in a series of monogamous sexual relationships. Most people probably wouldn’t refer to it by its formal name, but here’s how it goes: date, have sex, break up, repeat. Date, have sex, break up, repeat … you get the idea. Serial monogamy is the alternative to marriage that is most glamorized by Hollywood. But while Hollywood is obsessed with serial monogamy, it’s safe to say that God isn’t crazy about it, since the Bible makes it clear that sex is meant to come only after marriage.

So, let’s focus on one specific kind of serial monogamy: serial monogamy in marriage. The pattern is pretty much the same, with minor modifications: fall in love, get married, get divorced, repeat. Fall in love, get married, get divorced, repeat. But in Matthew 19:3-9, Jesus makes his views on marital serial monogamy clear: divorce and remarriage was never part of God’s plan either. He explains that the law of Moses allowed for divorce only because of the hardness of our hearts. But if you’re divorcing your spouse for any reason other than adultery, when you marry someone else, you’re committing adultery with that person!

That drives a nail in serial monogamy’s coffin. Because the New Testament makes it clear that adultery—if it continues without repentance—will keep us out of heaven: “Do not be deceived: Neither the fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9b-10). So, these verses state that both premarital sex and adultery are sins that will keep us out of God’s kingdom.

And, you will note, homosexuality is another sin that will keep us out of God’s kingdom. That’s a point to remember as we turn to one more alternative to traditional marriage: gay marriage. This is an alternative that’s gained in popularity and acceptance in recent years. Less than nine years ago, here in one of the most socially liberal states in America, Californians voted to approve Prop 8, which defined marriage in our state as being “between one man and one woman.” But it was shot down in the courts. Then, just over 2 years ago came the Supreme Court ruling that state bans on homosexual marriage were unconstitutional, which—in effect—legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2001, 35 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage. In the 16 years since then, the level of support has almost doubled: 62 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. So, what does God say? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. God created marriage in Genesis 2:18-25, forming the first human relationship—between one man and one woman, Adam and Eve. And if we take that great passage together with Paul’s description of marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33, here is a biblical definition of marriage: a lifelong covenant relationship between one man and one woman for the purpose of companionship, bearing children and learning to love as Christ loves.

So, regardless of what an American court calls it when two men or two women enter a contractual relationship with each other, to God … it’s not marriage. Period! And as we read in 1 Corinthians 6:9, God considers homosexual sex of any kind to be in the category of sexual sin along with heterosexual premarital sex and adultery. Just as with premarital sex and adultery, homosexuality, if it is not followed with repentance, will keep someone out of God’s kingdom. Whether or not someone in a homosexual relationship has a marriage license, to God it’s sin. Sex is only to be practiced in a married relationship between one man and one woman.

Regardless of whom you are attracted to, every one of us has to overcome sexual temptation. God urges us to resist temptation and pursue holy relationships that are set apart from the world and in line with His word. So, God’s answer to sexual temptation is biblical marriage. God’s answer to our deep longing for companionship and acceptance and love is—you guessed it—biblical marriage.

It bears repeating: Marriage is a lifelong covenant relationship between one man and one woman for the purpose of companionship, bearing children and learning to love as Christ loves. And what could be better than that?

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Don’t Kick the Tires!

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.– Matthew 19:4b

Marriage has never been easy. But explaining it used to be pretty simple. Not anymore! I think we all know what marriage “used to” be: the lifelong legal union between one man and one woman. But in recent years our culture has wrestled with the questions: Can we broaden the definition of marriage? Are there alternatives to traditional marriage that could be just as fulfilling, or even more so? Should we give marriage a 21st century update?

There are a number of alternatives to traditional marriage that have begun to grow in popularity. And since God is the creator of marriage, I think it’s only right that we look at the way these alternatives stack up against God’s word. For the sake of time and column space, this week I’m going to focus on just one of them: cohabitation.

First, to make sure we’re on the same page, here’s a quick definition of cohabitation: two unmarried people of the opposite sex living together with long-term or permanent intentions. These days, even within the church, you’ll find a lot of folks who think cohabitation is a good idea. Here are three of the most common reasons people give:

#1: The financial reason. “It’s cheaper!” Most couples who make this argument haven’t really crunched the numbers. Research demonstrates that while couples may move in together with the theory of sharing the bills 50-50, it tends to be more like 60-40—usually with the ladies picking up the heavier end of the tab.

#2: The “kick the tires” reason. People say it all the time: “You’d never buy a used car without kicking the tires first. So, you should never marry someone you haven’t lived with first to see if you’re compatible.” Surprise! Couples who live together before marriage have a 33 percent higher divorce rate. Not only that, but infidelity is twice as common in couples living together. There is also a greater likelihood of alcohol abuse, depression and physical abuse among couples living together compared to couples who are married.

#3: The “stronger marriage” reason. Today most adults believe that living together before getting married improves your chances of a successful marriage. Uh, no. See the higher divorce rate mentioned above. Besides that, most cohabiting couples don’t even get there. University of Michigan sociologist Pamela Smock writes, “Only about one-sixth of live-ins last at least three years, and only one-tenth lasts five years or more.”

So if you’re hoping for a marriage that’s strong and healthy and doesn’t end in divorce, the research is pretty clear: living together before your wedding is a terrible idea. Marriage is hard enough when we do it God’s way. You don’t need to increase your likelihood of unhappiness and failure by doing it the world’s way.

Now, let’s look at God’s way. In Genesis 2, God created marriage—the very first human relationship, between the first man and the first woman. This relationship serves as the prototype for every other marriage from that point forward. In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” That word “helper,” by the way, is translated from a Hebrew word that is used many times to refer to God Himself in the Old Testament. It doesn’t refer to someone who is underneath another. It speaks of being face-to-face and perfectly complimenting each other so that the two together are stronger than the one by himself. God created Eve as a partner to Adam—not a slave.

And Genesis 2:24 makes it clear that the leaving of our pre-marriage home and starting a new home together is not to take place until a man and woman are husband and wife: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The Bible does not condone cohabitation. It’s a sin. Period.

So, cohabitation may be wildly popular in America, but both the scientific research and God’s word agree: It’s a lousy alternative to marriage. And it’s even a terrible warm-up to marriage. Simply put, God’s answer to cohabitation is, “Stop it!” Save yourself sexually for your wedding night. And wait to live together until you both have rings on your fingers and a marriage certificate signed in the sight of God and human witnesses. God’s order is this: Get married. Move in together and have sex. Have children.

As in so many things, society hasn’t improved on God’s word. The old ways are the right ways when it comes to marriage. And when two people enter their life together according to God’s plan, their union is blessed in a way it never could be otherwise.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
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