Friday, July 27, 2018

Hearing God’s Whisper Over the Noise

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” – 1 Kings 19:12b

Recently I was on a trip with our church’s Youth Mission Team to Texas to help with Houston’s ongoing recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. When we arrived, we stopped for breakfast at a Texas favorite: The Waffle House. We walked in the front door of the restaurant, and the smell of fresh waffles was amazing. But the restaurant was very, very loud. The music was blasting, and there were no interior walls to buffer all the noise from the kitchen. And we ended up at a table right beside the kitchen.

Now, I have a certain amount of fluency in three languages: English, Spanish and Southern. But when our waitress was talking to us in her super-thick southern accent, with the dishes clanking and music blaring, I couldn’t understand half of what she was saying. Let me ask you: Do you ever feel that way about God? Would you agree that sometimes with all of the noise around us, it’s hard to hear the still small voice of God? You’re not alone. The same thing happened right before a life-changing moment in the life of the man who never died: the prophet Elijah.

At the beginning of 1 Kings 19, Elijah had just experienced a great triumph over the 450 prophets of Baal. He prayed to the LORD, and God sent down fire that consumed the water-drenched altar Elijah had set up. So he should have been riding high, right? But instead, he was down in the dumps. Why? Simply put, he was exhausted and depressed. Consider these three lessons:

Lesson #1: When we have a spiritual mountaintop experience, we must brace ourselves for the valley of testing on the other side of it. We all know that in nature mountaintops don’t connect to other mountaintops. Mountaintops are separated by valleys. This is also true when it comes to our emotions and our spiritual lives. No one can experience a permanent emotional high. I think deep down, we all know this. But for some reason we’re still caught off guard when our spiritual highs don’t last. We’re surprised when we get back from Christian camp and the next day we’re grumpy and everybody’s pushing our buttons and the dog gives us attitude. We wonder why, after a great Sunday morning worship service, we have some of the biggest arguments with our spouses on the drive home. It’s just a reality of life here on Earth: When we’re coming down off the mountain, we’re bound to enter a valley.

So, when Elijah got word that King Ahab’s wife Jezebel was threatening to kill him – again – we read that “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (I Kings 19:3). Now, this isn’t the first time Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life. But because he was exhausted, he wasn’t thinking straight. He ran off to the wilderness, sat down under a broom bush, and basically prayed to die. Thankfully, Elijah didn’t take matters into his own hands and end his life. Thankfully, he took a nap.

Which brings us to Lesson #2: Sometimes the best remedy for a pessimistic outlook is sleep. After he got some sleep, an angel of the Lord woke him up and gave him some food and water. Then he let Elijah sleep some more. Notice what happens next: “Strengthened by that food, he traveled 40 days and 40 nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (v. 8). After getting some much-needed sleep and nourishment, Elijah wasn’t out of the woods, but he was in a much better place to hear God’s voice. Sometimes when we’re depressed, it’s partly because we are not providing these basic things to care for our bodies: sleep, food and drink. And it’s worth mentioning that in some cases, if clinical depression continues to linger, medication may be needed in the short term.

After his 40-day journey, Elijah spent the night in a cave on Mt. Horeb (also known as Mt. Sinai). And that’s where, at last, Elijah heard from the LORD. But first God sent a little fanfare: “A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (vs. 11b-12).

Lesson #3: “The whispers from Calvary are infinitely more potent than the thunder of Sinai in bringing men to repentance.” Those words are from the Christian scholar, Oswald Sanders, and they are so true. I believe God sent the wind, earthquake and fire as a wake-up call to Elijah. But when it came time to speak to Elijah, God didn’t speak to him in a big, thunderous voice. He spoke to him in a gentle whisper. The same is true today. Sometimes we expect God to speak to us as the worship music is blaring or the preacher is screaming or the ground is shaking. But more times than not, God speaks to us in a still, small voice. And we need to be still to hear it.

One final takeaway: When our mourning drags on, it becomes a pity party – and God will not endorse our pity parties. He calls us to get up and do what he’s called us to do. You’ll notice that 1 Kings 19 ends with Elijah leaving the cave and heading back to Israel to carry out God’s marching orders. And when Elijah left the cave, he left his pity party behind. Some of us need to do the same today. If you’ve been walking in defeat for too long, get some sleep, give your body some nourishment and listen for the voice of your great and awesome God. Then get up, brush yourself off and start doing what God has called you to do.

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, July 17, 2018

But God Remembered

“But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock
that went with him in the ark.” – Genesis 8:1

“But God.” These are two of the most encouraging words in the Bible. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, BUT GOD intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And four verses later Joseph told them, “I am about to die. BUT GOD will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” In Luke 5:21 we read, “Who can forgive sins BUT GOD alone?” And in Acts 2:23-24 Peter tells the crowd in Jerusalem, “You, with the help of wicked men, put [Jesus] to death by nailing him to the cross. BUT GOD raised him from the dead.” 

Yes, there is great power in these two little words: BUT GOD. Just ask Noah. In Genesis 6:5-7 we read: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.’”

Because wickedness was so rampant, the LORD decided to wipe out mankind in one fell swoop. He would send a global flood that would scrub the land clean of all people, animals and birds. Only one man’s family would survive, and that man was Noah. As God looked down from heaven at our wicked world, Noah stood out in the crowd. According to Genesis 6:8-9, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD….Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”

Was Noah perfect? No. Far from it. But he is described as “righteous,” because more times than not, he did what was right in God’s eyes. And he is described as “blameless,” because as he lived among his peers, he lived a life that was above reproach. And most importantly, Noah walked with God. In other words, he had a close relationship with God, he knew God’s laws, and he strived to obey God’s laws every day.

Nowhere is that more clearly demonstrated than in the latter half of Genesis 6. God said, “Build an ark,” so Noah built an ark. God said, “Build it 450 feet long,” so Noah built it 450 feet long. God said, “Get into the ark with two of every kind of animal,” so Noah got into the ark with two of every kind of animal. Yes, Noah obeyed God’s commands daily and consistently did what was right in God’s eyes.

When Noah’s building project was completed, he entered the ark with his wife, three sons and their wives (eight in all), and God sealed the door behind them. And for forty days the earth was pummeled by a cataclysmic flood. It was, without a doubt, an extinction level event. Were it not for the fact that we all know how the story ends, we would wonder if Noah and his family were goners. After all, how could a wood ship survive the onslaught of wind and waves that accompanied a flood ferocious enough to flatten hills and raise mountains? Simply put…it couldn’t. It would be impossible. The flood waters would have ripped Noah’s ark to shreds.

BUT GOD. Yes, here are these two glorious words again. Chapter 8 begins as follows: “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and He sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” As Noah, his family and his smelly shipmates bobbed up and down on the floodwaters, his situation must have felt hopeless. At times it must have seemed like the roof would start leaking or the creaking walls would start buckling. Perhaps they even thought to themselves, “God has forgotten us!”

But He had not forgotten. God remembered them. And He remembers you too. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you need not worry yourself with the notion that God has forgotten you. His mind is like a steel trap. If you have placed Him in the driver’s seat of your life, He never falls asleep at the wheel. He never forgets you. He knows right where you are, and He knows exactly where He’s leading you.

So, you can take comfort in His promise to you: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2) May these God-breathed words flood through the corridors of your mind and heart until you are fully convinced that they are true. Remind yourself daily: My circumstances may seem dire, BUT GOD REMEMBERS me and will be with me every step of the way.   

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, July 10, 2018

God Builds Our Character in the Valleys

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  – Genesis 50:20

Joseph is one of my favorite heroes of the Old Testament. Unlike his dad—who was well-known for his self-centered, deceitful ways—Joseph was a model of selfless integrity. Whether he was being promoted above his peers or being unjustly accused and incarcerated, he maintained impeccable character and didn’t waiver in his faithful obedience to God's word.

Perhaps you remember the story in Genesis 37-45. Joseph was the eleventh of the twelve sons of Israel (aka, Jacob), and he was the favorite son of his father for at least two reasons. For starters, he was the firstborn son of Israel’s favorite wife Rachel. And secondly, because Rachel had been barren for many years, Joseph was born to Israel in his old age. It’s not uncommon for parents to play favorites with their kids, but unfortunately, Israel did it in plain view of his entire family. He made his favorite son Joseph a “coat of many colors” to flaunt his favored status. Every time Joseph wore his special coat it shouted this clear message: “You will never be better than second best, because the boy wearing this coat is his father’s absolute favorite.”

As you might guess, Joseph’s ten older brothers weren’t too fond of his new, flashy threads. They hated him with a passion and decided to sell him as a slave to some Midianite traders heading for Egypt. Before too long, Joseph found himself hundreds of miles from home in a strange country on a different continent. Yet despite Joseph’s crummy situation, he quickly went from zero to hero. How was this possible? Because “the LORD was with him.”

As Joseph made the most of his lousy situation—working hard and obeying his master’s orders—God saw to it that he was quickly promoted to the highest position in his master’s house. And even after Joseph was falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown in jail, God saw to it that he was promoted to the highest position in the slammer. As Joseph maintained his selfless integrity, God blessed him. And within a few short years, Joseph was promoted to the second highest position in Egypt. Since Joseph had shown himself faithful to God in his small assignments, God gave him a very big assignment. And this assignment ended up saving the lives of thousands, including the lives of his own parents and eleven brothers.

There are many life lessons that we can draw from Joseph’s life. I’ll point out four: LESSON #1: Regardless of how crummy your circumstances are, you will prosper if God is with you. Therefore, in your darkest hour cling to God. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, no matter who rejects you, no matter who walks out on you, no matter who abandons you, God never will. And if God is with you, He will prosper you. So, when everyone around you refuses to hold on to you, you must hold on to God.

LESSON #2: No matter what people take away from you, never surrender your integrity or faith in God. Seventeenth Century Bible commentator Matthew Henry made this great point: “Those that have wisdom and grace have that which cannot be taken from them…. Joseph’s brethren had stripped him of his coat of many colors, but they could not strip him of his virtue and [wisdom].” Well said! Thieves can steal our cars; banks can take our homes, and burglars can carry off all that we own. But nobody can strip us of our faith in God or our integrity. The only way we could lose these priceless possessions would be if we were to give them away. 

LESSON #3: What people have said and done in order to harm you, God can use for your good. Romans 8:28 teaches us that no matter what life throws at us, God will always be at work for our good if we love Him and are carrying out His purpose for our lives. And in Genesis 50:20, Joseph’s story ends with the Old Testament equivalent of Romans 8:28. After Joseph’s father died, his older brothers feared that Joseph would avenge their treacherous actions. But Joseph told them frankly, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Yes, God is so strong and so good that He can transform our enemies’ greatest acts of treachery into something good. Wow! What a mighty God we serve!

LESSON #4: If you’ll let Him, God will build your character while you are being overworked and underappreciated. Consider this: If Joseph had stayed at home with his pampering father, he might never have developed the kind of character that made him a hero of our faith. When Joseph was unfairly thrust into slavery and unjustly thrown into prison, he was forced to work hard and obey orders. And through it all, God was building His godly character. In fact, one of God’s preferred methods for building our character is to place us in menial positions where we must work hard and follow orders. He gives us unglamorous jobs to do and difficult people to obey. He teaches us to serve before He teaches us to lead.

Therefore, may we never deny ourselves or our children the priceless character building that takes place in the midst of hard work and humble obedience. God can and will transform our character to be like that of Joseph. But He won’t do it on the mountaintops while we’re being pampered. God does His best character building in the valleys while we are simply working hard and obeying orders.

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

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Nickname You’ll Never Forget

“Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”  – Genesis 32:28

I enjoy a good nickname. My first car was an emerald green 1973 Super Beetle. It went from 0 to 60 MPH…eventually. I nicknamed her La Maquina Verde, which translates: The Green Machine. In more recent years, my wife and I have used different nicknames for each other: Pookie, Sweetheart and Honey. We’ve nicknamed our four kids Kicker, Jet, Kid and Care Bear. And our dog has the strangest nicknames of all: Fuzzy Lips and Snout Head. Yes, I really enjoy a good nickname.

And in Genesis 32, God gives Abraham’s grandson Jacob a nickname for the ages. It’s actually much more than a nickname; it’s a brand new name that he and his descendents would bear for all time to come. After a long night of wrestling, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

It had been a nerve-racking few days for Jacob. He had learned that his older brother Esau was on his way to meet him, and that fact had Jacob worried. You see, years earlier Jacob had tricked his brother out of his birthright and stolen his brother’s firstborn blessing. In other words, he had cheated his brother out of what was rightfully his. And as a result, Esau had threatened to kill Jacob. So, Jacob ran for his life.

Fast forward about fifteen years, and these two estranged brothers were just hours away from a hair-raising rendezvous. The night before the anticipated meeting, Jacob was alone on the side of a stream. He cried out to God for protection, and in response, God sent an angel to wrestle with Jacob until sunrise. Scripture seems to indicate that it was no ordinary angel but was God Himself in the form of a man. As sunrise approached, the wrestling match ended in a draw. But as the Lord was about to leave Jacob, Jacob refused to let him go. He exclaimed, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

In response, God did just that: He blessed Jacob. But before blessing him, He gave Jacob a new name: Israel. It was a powerful name that would commemorate for all time the fact that Jacob has successfully wrestled with God. Consider this: Jacob’s given name means “he grasps the heel.” But Jacob’s name figuratively means “deceiver.” And it turns out that Jacob’s name was an apt description of his character later in life. At one time or another, he had deceived his brother, his father, his uncle and even his own wife. Jacob was not a very upstanding guy. He was a philanderer, a deceiver, a real snake in the grass.

Jacob had spent years living up to his name: Deceiver. But in one brief moment at the closing ceremonies of the strangest wrestling match of all time, God told Jacob bluntly, “Your name will no longer be Jacob.” God basically said, “You will no longer be known as a deceiver. From now on you will be known as a struggler with God.” That’s what the name Israel means—struggler or wrestler with God.

And as Jacob’s twelve sons gave rise to twelve tribes, they would not be known as the twelve tribes of Jacob. They would be called the twelve tribes of Israel. The nation comprised of Jacob’s descendents would not be a nation of deceivers; they would be a nation of God-strugglers. And the Jewish people still bear that illustrious name today. It’s amazing to realize that God transformed the life of a sneaky, conniving deceiver in just a few moments. Jacob began the night as a heel-grabbing deceiver but finished the night with a badge of honor. Jacob had wrestled with God and had walked away with God’s great blessing—a blessing that would be passed on from generation to generation for all time.

Recently, I shared Jacob’s story with our congregation. After doing so, I encouraged them to answer a couple questions based on this amazing chapter (Genesis 32). QUESTION #1: DO YOU FEEL ALONE? As Jacob sat on the side of a stream by himself, he felt scared, worried and helpless. Yet by the end of the night he had come to realize that he was never alone. God was with him and had blessed him. My friend, you are not alone either. If you are humbly following Jesus Christ and obeying His word, God is with you and will bless you too.

QUESTION #2: WHAT’S YOUR NEW GOD-GIVEN NAME THAT IS SHAPING YOUR LEGACY? Before I was born, my mom chose to name me Dane, which means “brook” or “from Denmark.” For years I’ve teased her, claiming that she got my name off of a semi truck’s mud flap: “Great Dane.” But honestly, she just liked the sound of my name.

And now I wonder: If God desired to give me a new name, what would my new name be? I would love for God to call me Faithful or Compassionate or Christlike. But honestly, I’m not sure what God’s name for me is. Perhaps you could join me in asking Him, “Lord, have you given me a new name? If so, what is it?” Like Israel, your new God-given name could help shape your destiny. It could reveal what God sees in you and what He has called you to become.

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