Monday, April 23, 2018

Defining Moments: Esther

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
- Esther 4:14b

Let’s play some quick word association. Say the first word that comes to your mind when I say “Noah and the ____?” How about “Daniel in the ____?” “Jonah and the ____?” We remember Noah and the ark, Daniel in the lions’ den and Jonah and the whale not only because they’re great stories—they’re also defining moments. As we look at the great heroes of our faith in the pages of God’s Word, all of them had defining moments that made them into the heroes we know and love.

What about you? In your Christian journey, what have been your defining moments? Of the millions of moments that you have experienced, which ones have most defined your relationship with Jesus Christ? Which moments have most powerfully shaped your priorities? Which moments have most profoundly impacted the lives of those around you? And what will be your defining moments in days to come?

When it comes to defining moments in the lives of God’s people, there are hundreds recorded in Scripture. But I’d like to take you to one that you probably haven’t explored in quite a while: the defining moment in the life of a young Jewish woman named Esther. In her day, the reigning ruler was Xerxes, the king of Persia. He was in the market for a new queen, and a search was made throughout the kingdom for the most beautiful unmarried women.

The woman he finally chose was Esther, a Jewish maiden who had been raised by her cousin Mordecai. But King Xerxes’ second in command was a man named Haman, who hated Esther’s cousin Mordecai, and since Mordecai was Jewish, Haman figured that he might as well hate all Jews everywhere. So he tricked King Xerxes into signing an edict that on the 13th day of the 12th month of that year, all of the Jewish people in Persia would be exterminated.

Mordecai urged Esther to “go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people” (Esther 4:8). But Esther knew that even as queen, if she came barging into the king’s presence without being summoned, she would most likely be killed. From where she stood, it wasn’t worth the risk. When he received her response, Mordecai offered his cousin Esther this timeless advice: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish” (v. 14a).

And the final sentence of verse 14 contains, in my opinion, the most gripping words in the entire book of Esther: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

All of it, Mordecai suggested, was orchestrated by the hand of God. Esther was chosen by Xerxes to be Queen of Persia because God saw to it that she was chosen to be Queen of Persia. And, when Esther took Mordecai’s advice, the king listened to her, put Haman to death, and issued a new decree allowing the Jews to take up arms and defeat the army of Haman’s henchmen.

Thousands of Jewish lives were spared because when Esther’s defining moment came, she was prayed up. She boldly stood up. And she boldly spoke up for her people who didn’t have a voice. God had placed her in her royal position for such a time as this. And when that time came, she rose to the occasion and handled her defining moment with grace and courage.

When your defining moments come, remember God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11-13a: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.” When you find yourself at a crossroads, don’t take the easy way. Instead, take God’s way. It’s always the best way.

And when a defining moment arrives, it may scare you half to death. But if you trust in Christ and follow his lead, there is nothing to fear. Maybe it will be tomorrow or next month. But all of us will face some defining moments in days to come. And when those moments come, remember that your entire life has led up to this point. God has watched over you and loved you and prepared you “for such a time as this.” 

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

Is It Too Late for America?

 "I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people … because they have forsaken Me…. [But] because you humbled yourself before Me … I have heard you, declares the LORD…. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.  - 2 Chronicles 34:24-28

It was circa 625 B.C. The setting was Judah, and the recipient of God’s message was King Josiah. The northern ten tribes of Israel had been conquered 100 years earlier by the kingdom of Assyria because God’s patience had reached its limit. He could only stomach so much idol worship, murder, sexual perversion, blasphemy and injustice.  So, God’s judgment had come in the form of the invading Assyrian army.

And now, Judah—which contained the two remaining tribes of Israel in the south—was headed for similar destruction. Like her Israelite family members in the north, Judah had experienced a moral tailspin. During his lifetime, King Josiah was able to turn the tide and lead his people back to solid moral ground. Unfortunately, his efforts were too little too late. During the reign of Josiah’s son, the army of Babylon captured the city of Jerusalem. It was the first of three Babylonian invasions that would strike Judah over a 20-year period. 

The fact is, prior to Josiah’s ascension to the throne, Judah had already crossed a spiritual line in the sand that had sealed her fate. The people’s sin had mushroomed to such an extent that God’s judgment had to fall upon the nation. Even the godly Josiah could not alter this divine imperative.

In recent years, I’ve wondered if the United States of America has crossed a similar line in the sand. While it is encouraging to know that a growing number of Americans are “pro life,” that doesn’t cleanse our hands of the blood from over 58 million abortions in America since 1973. American churches spend millions of dollars sending missionaries around the world, but American businessmen spend billions peddling pornography around the world. Although many U.S. churches are teaching God’s word and standing firm in the faith, far too many others are caving to societal pressure to be soft on sin and firm on political correctness.

I believe that a major spiritual revival is on the horizon, one that will sweep through churches like wildfire, setting the faith of Christians ablaze and resulting in the conversion of millions across the country. I have been praying for revival for over fifteen years, and I am convinced it’s coming in the near future. Yet I wonder … even if such a revival turns our nation back to God, will it be too little too late? Have we, like Judah, already crossed a spiritual threshold? Will God’s judgment fall upon our country anyway?

If we have not yet passed the point of no return, it’s clear that we are moving in that direction and have no time to lose. Christians must do here in America what God instructed King Solomon to do in ancient Israel. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God laid out a four-step process for ushering in a national spiritual revival.

#1: We must humble ourselves. We have to honestly confess: We have become an arrogant nation. We have banned the Bible from our public schools. We have removed the Ten Commandments from our courthouses, and we have created our own self-serving morality. The first step to usher in revival is to get off our high horse and down on our knees before God.

#2: We must pray. Christians, we need to spend more time praying for our political leaders than we do criticizing them. Pray for them to be humble. Pray for them to bravely stand on the timeless truths of God’s word. Pray for them to be forgiven for their sin and follow Christ as they lead us.

#3: We must seek God’s face. We need to make sure that our prayers are not all about “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” Seeking God’s face involves hungering and thirsting for His presence, not just hungering and thirsting for the stuff His hands can give us.

#4: We must turn from our wicked ways. Without true repentance, there is no forgiveness of sin. And without forgiveness of sin, revival will never come. Repentance is not just a matter of feeling sorry for our sin. Repentance means acting upon our sorrow. It’s not enough to just be sorry Roe vs. Wade was passed; we must work to overturn it. It’s not enough to just be sorry that marriage has been cheapened in our country; we must work to strengthen it. It’s not enough to lament over how godless our public schools have become; we must strive to turn the tide by standing up for our kids’ God-given rights to pray, read Scripture and share their faith at school.

I hold out hope that there are enough Christians in this country who will cry out to God for a revival that will turn the tide. I hold out hope that there are enough people who will boldly proclaim God’s word, humbly repent of our sins, and prayerfully restore a solid moral foundation in our homes, churches, schools and government. If there are, there is great hope for our nation. Won’t you be one of the many who helps pave the way for revival in America?

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

With a Little Help From My Friends

One of my favorite television shows of the ‘80s was “The Wonder Years.” It tells the story of a teenager Kevin Arnold, who grows up in the late 1960s and early ’70s. To make it through the social minefield of junior high, the show’s theme song reminds us that Kevin needs “a little help from his friends”—especially his best friend Paul Pfeiffer and his heart throb, the girl next door, Winnie Cooper.

Similarly, in order for followers of Christ to successfully make it through this minefield we call “life,” we need “a little help from our friends.” The same was true even for the great Apostle Paul. His ministry never would have been as impactful as it was had it not been for the faithful Christian co-workers and friends at his side. And at the end of the book of Colossians, Paul identifies several co-workers and friends who’ve helped him in his ministry.

As you read through these passages, it’s easy to breeze through them without much thought. But if you take a closer look, I encourage you to ask yourself two questions. 1) Which of these Christian friends has God placed in my life? 2) Which of these Christian friends am I?

In verse 7, Paul first mentions Tychicus, whom he describes as a “dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” Clearly, he was a Christian brother whom Paul could count on to do what needed to be done. And like Paul, Tychicus wasn’t building his own kingdom. He was humbly serving Christ and building his kingdom. I think of Tychicus as the friend Paul could always count on.

Next, we have Onesimus, one of the most interesting behind-the-scenes guys in the New Testament. We learn in Philemon that Onesimus was a runaway slave who had apparently stolen something from his master. By the time Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians, it was clear that it was time for Onesimus to return to his old master and face the music. When he was a slave to Philemon and a slave to sin, he was useless to Paul’s ministry. But God set Onesimus free and transformed him into a very faithful and dearly loved brother in Christ. So, let’s think of Onesimus as Paul’s friend who was the rebel wth a cause.

Paul calls his friend Aristarchus “my fellow prisoner,” although as best we can tell, he wasn’t under house arrest like Paul. But he lived as if he was. He was one of Paul’s most trustworthy traveling companions and friends, accompanying Paul on his trip to Jerusalem and his voyage to Rome. In Acts 19:29 a mob grabbed Aristarchus in Ephesus, hoping to rough him up a little bit since they couldn’t find Paul. So we can call Aristarchus Paul’s friend who’d take a bullet for him.

Mark was a young man who joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey to West Asia. But for some reason, he left Paul and Barnabas part way through the trip and went home. So, the next time Paul set out on a mission trip, he refused to take Mark with them. But several years later, Mark is obviously back on good terms with Paul, assisting him in his ministry. We could call Mark Paul’s friend who almost got away.

The first Gentile Christian Paul highlights in these passages is Epaphrus. And it’s clear that Epaphrus had the heart of a pastor. Paul writes in verse 12, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Epaphrus was Paul’s prayer warrior friend.

The second Gentile Christian Paul highlights is Luke, who almost needs no introduction. Paul simply calls him a “dear friend” and “doctor,” but Luke is really one of the most important behind-the-scenes Christians in the New Testament. He was a trained doctor, an author and a historian. He wrote the third gospel in the New Testament, as well as the Book of Acts. Luke traveled with Paul on several of his missionary journeys, and he was probably Paul’s personal physician. So, let’s call him Paul’s brilliant, live-saving friend.

In verse 15, Paul sends greetings to one woman. Her name was Nympha, and she was the owner of the home where the church held services. We all need Nymphas in our lives—Christians with the gift of hospitality who open up their homes for ministry. You might call Nympha Paul’s gifted hostess friend.

Paul needed ministry partners, and so do we. Remember, no Christian is an island. We need each other in order to stay committed to our all-sufficient Savior. We need each other in order to avoid the pull of religious snake oil salesmen and the pull of our old sinful natures. And we need each other in order to grow in our Christlike character and serve Christ well. You and I can’t do it alone!

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