Friday, September 24, 2021

Running To God

“In my distress I called to the LORD and He answered me.”  
– Jonah 2:2

Back in the late 1800s, a story started circulating in coastal taverns around Great Britain. English whalers began sharing the biggest “fish story” anyone had ever heard. According to these whalers, in 1891, one of their shipmates—a 21-year-old apprentice named James Bartley—fell off the boat and disappeared underneath the water. They searched for him for hours, but there was no sign of him anywhere.

But the next day, the sperm whale they were hunting was floating dead on the surface of the ocean. And someone noticed the whale’s abdomen was moving in a strange way—as if something alive was inside it. So, the whalers cut open the large whale, and to everyone’s surprise… out came James Bartley, who had been inside the whale’s stomach for 18 long hours. His skin was bleached white, he was nearly blind, and he was temporarily insane. Newspapers called him a “modern-day Jonah.”

However … in the early 1900s, a historian did some investigating into that whopper of a fish story. He discovered many conflicting reports, and even received a letter from James Bartley’s wife who claimed the whole story was made up. So, was James Bartley actually swallowed by a whale or large fish? Probably not. But the Bible makes it clear that Jonah … WAS.

Now, Bible skeptics read the Book of Jonah and say, “Impossible! It couldn’t happen! It didn’t happen!” But followers of Christ look at Jonah 1:17 and say, “No problem! My Bible tells me in Luke 1:37: “Nothing is impossible with God.” Our God is a great and powerful God. He specializes in the impossible.

In chapter 1 of the Book of Jonah, God gave Jonah clear-cut marching orders to preach a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah. Instead, Jonah boarded a ship headed the other way. But after the boat set sail, God sent a “great wind” and a “violent storm” that engulfed the ship (v. 4). Finally, Jonah admitted to the panicking sailors that he was responsible for the storm because he had angered his Lord. He told the crew the storm would stop if they threw him off the ship. With a little persuading—and a lot more big waves—the crew tossed Jonah overboard.

After spending chapter 1 running FROM God, Jonah finally came to his senses and ran TO God at the beginning of chapter 2: “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God” (v. 1). It’s clear that Jonah didn’t wait until he was being digested to start praying. He started crying out to God before the fish ever swallowed him. As we read Jonah’s prayer in vs. 2-9, we see that it’s more of a testimony. Jonah prayed to God from inside the stomach of the great fish, recounting what had taken place over the past day or two. “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” (v. 2). According to verse 3, the currents swirled around him and the waves and breakers engulfed him.  According to verse 5, the deep waters surrounded him, and seaweed wrapped around his head as he sank down.

And what did God do? Did God say, “Forget you, Jonah! You’re getting what’s coming to you! Good riddance, you worthless piece of fish food!” No, thankfully, that’s not at all what God said.

According to verse 6, “[God] brought [Jonah’s] life up from the pit.” Did you catch that little word “up”? For a whole chapter Jonah had been going down, down, down in his rebellion. But as he humbly cried out to God in desperation, God “brought [his] life up from the pit.”

Isn’t that just like our great and awesome God? Even when we rebel against Him, ignore His commands and do the exact opposite of what He’s commanded us to do … when we in humble repentance cry out to Him for deliverance, His compassion, mercy and love break through.

For a whole chapter, Jonah rebelled against God’s marching orders. He was going nowhere but down until—in desperation—he looked up and cried out to God. So God provided a great fish and instructed the fish to swallow Jonah. And unlike Jonah, the fish OBEYED God’s instructions.

The Book of Jonah reminds us that running from God is pointless. It only brings hardship and disappointment. The 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon said it this way: “God never allows His children to sin successfully.” If you want to run from God, ignore God’s commands and pursue other priorities, God gives you that choice. But it’ll cost you. Life is hard enough when you’re running TO God. It’s a whole lot harder when you’re running FROM God. Jonah quickly discovered when he was running from God, His life just kept getting worse and worse. But when he repented and reached out to God in faith and obedience, God immediately began to bring him back up. God will do the same for you.

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Running From God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Better … Stronger … Faster!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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