Monday, April 25, 2022

Why Were You in Church on Easter?

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” – Matthew 28:6

 In the mid-1950s, a British pastor named W. E. Sangster began to lose his voice due to a rare disease that caused his muscles to deteriorate. For him, this was devastating, because he loved to teach God’s Word and sing praises to God. Sangster eventually lost the ability to speak at all. On the Easter morning just a few weeks before his death, he took out a pen and paper, and with a trembling hand he wrote these words to his daughter: “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’—but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”

On Easter Sunday, most Christian churches saw their biggest attendance day of the year. People who rarely if ever attend at any other time showed up to pack the place. And we might ask ourselves … why?

Before we look at that question, let’s take a look at that first Easter morning. We usually focus on the group of women who went to Jesus’ tomb, but they weren’t the first to arrive there. They were beaten to the tomb by about 36 hours … by Roman guards. Governor Pontius Pilate had ordered the tomb sealed and guarded by armed soldiers after the chief priests and Pharisees remembered that Jesus had predicted, “After three days I will rise again” (Matthew 27:63). They wanted to make sure Jesus’ disciples couldn’t steal the body and claim that he’d risen from the dead. So, when the women arrived, the guards were standing right outside.

As a sign of respect and love, the women had come to anoint Jesus’ grave cloths with spices and oils. But their plans were shaken up—literally. According to Matthew 28:2, there was a “violent earthquake” as an angel from heaven came down rolled back the stone and sat on it. “His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow” (v. 3), and the guards were so terrified that they “shook and became like dead men” (v. 4). They were frozen in place—so scared they couldn’t even run away. The angel announced: “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said” (v. 6). The angel sent them to share the good news with the disciples, and the women saw Jesus for themselves on their way back.

In verses 11-15, Matthew tells us some of the guards went into the city and told the Jewish leaders what had happened. The leaders hastily met and devised a quick plan. They gave the soldiers “a large sum of money”—likely a year’s wages, or about $30,000 in today’s currency. They ordered the soldiers that, if anyone asked them what happened to Jesus’ body, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep” (v. 14). The soldiers took the money and obeyed their orders (v. 15). That was their story, and they were paid well to stick to it. But deep down, the soldiers knew the truth. And so did the women. And later that day, so did Jesus’ apostles. Within a few short years, Christianity swept across three continents, because the fact of the resurrection was plain for all to see.

Now, I want to ask you two very important questions:

Question #1: Did you go to an Easter service to worship Jesus because you were somehow PAID to be there … or because you WANTED to be there? The soldiers at the tomb were there on Easter morning because they were PAID to be there. The women at the tomb were there because they WANTED to be there. Across our nation, millions of Americans attended Easter services last week who haven’t set foot inside a church building in a long time. Many of them came because a family member pretty much made them come. Others might have come to church because they were serving lunch afterward. Still others came for an Easter Egg Hunt, prize giveaways or free entertainment. All that to say, many people come to Easter services because they are—in some way or another—paid to be there.

Question #2: Are you walking past a goldmine of eternal treasure for a few quick bucks? As the Roman guards left the temple courts with a bag full of cash, they thought they’d struck it rich. They were fools! They ran past a goldmine to pick up a few pennies. That’s how it is when we choose money over Jesus, when we choose goods over God, when we choose the temporary things of earth over the eternal things of heaven. And many of us do it every day. We live for the moment. We live for pleasure. So, many of us don’t read God’s Word every day, because we don’t feel like reading God’s Word every day. We don’t go to church with our families each week, because we don’t feel like it. We’ve got more important things to do. You can do that. God has given you free choice. But when it comes to your time, your priorities and your money, if you and your family are the center of your universe, you and your family ARE your god.

Are you more like a paid soldier who was at the tomb for the money, or are you more like one of Jesus’ followers, who came to the tomb because they truly loved Jesus Christ and wanted to be close to Jesus, worship Jesus and live for Jesus? If you’re just in it for the money, your church will still be glad to see you. But you and I both know—that’s not going to fly with God. I hope and pray that when you come to church, it’s because you WANT to be there. I hope and pray that instead of toying with Jesus Christ, you trust in Him … love Him … and serve Him.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Preparing for Change

“Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” – Acts 13:2

A certain man went to see his cardiologist, and the report wasn’t good. His cholesterol was high. Several of his arteries were 40 percent clogged. So, the doctor told him, “You need to make some changes to your diet. You should start by cutting out red meat.” The man thought that was a good idea … so he promptly stopped putting ketchup on his hamburgers.

We don’t like change very much, do we? But here’s what Albert Einstein said about change: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” And the journalist Sydney J. Harris put it this way: “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”

I imagine the Christians in Antioch would have said much the same thing. The Church in that city was firing on all cylinders. Under the leadership of Barnabas and Saul, the Holy Spirit was drawing hundreds, possibly thousands, of people to salvation. They were baptizing those new Christians and teaching them all that Jesus wanted them to know, so they could grow in their faith, lead many others to salvation and bring glory to God. I can just imagine a group of Antioch Christians coming out of a worship service and saying, “This feels like heaven on earth. I hope this never ends!” But a big change was coming to their church.

For a whole year in Antioch, Barnabas and Saul were used by God in an amazing way. People were drawn to that church, including a few Christian prophets from Jerusalem. One of them, a man named Agabus, prophesied that “a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world” (Acts 11:28). The church’s response was immediate: “The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea” (v. 29). As far as we know, this is the first time in church history that a special offering was taken to help Christians hundreds of miles away. And amazingly, the offering was collected before the Judean Christians even had the need that would have prompted them to ask for help. That’s Christian charity at its best: meeting needs even before a brother or sister in Christ shares the need … at times, even before the person knows he or she has a need.

The Antioch Church entrusted Barnabas and Saul to deliver this special offering to the church in Judea, which would have taken at least a couple of months. That required the church to make some adjustments, because Barnabas and Saul were a critical part of their leadership team. But soon after Barnabas and Saul returned, they received a set of marching orders for a much larger and more important mission: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Acts 13:2). God made it clear that their ministry in Antioch was temporary. It wasn’t a final destination for them—it was a launching pad.

After fasting and praying, the Church family in Antioch did what must have been one of the most exciting yet heart-wrenching things they’d ever done: “They placed their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:3). It probably didn’t make complete sense to the Antioch Christians. But they were obedient to the leading of God’s Spirit.

Here are a few life lessons we can take from these world-changing events:

Life Lesson #1: Christ calls us to be cheerful givers who give freely and generously to God’s work. And the most generous givers don’t wait to be asked to give. I find what the Antioch Church did in Acts 11 to be SO inspiring. Perhaps Paul had the Antioch Christians in mind when he wrote in Philippians 2:3-5, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Life Lesson #2: As Chuck Swindoll once said, “Let’s be willing to release gifted men and women without reluctance. And when you are called by God to go to a place you would never have expected to go, there’s no need to be afraid of change…. Faith and risk go hand in hand.” Sometimes God calls Christians to leave one church and go somewhere else. We need to be okay with that. And at whatever point God calls you or me to go, we need not be afraid. God knows what He’s doing.

Life Lesson #3: In the words of missionary Henry Martyn, “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we must become.” Regardless of whether God calls you to go or to stay, He is calling you to be a missionary.

So, if you are growing in your faith and deepening in your relationship with Christ, but you are not impacting more people around you for Christ, there’s something wrong. Wherever you are, make sure you are sharing Christ with others.

As Barnabas and Saul left Antioch, they had probably talked about where they were going. But I think it’s safe to say the Holy Spirit doesn’t give them a detailed road map. Much as He did with Abraham, He simply said, “Go.” And they obediently went. A big change had come to the Church at Antioch, and I am so thankful that they were smart enough and—more importantly—obedient enough to accept it from the hand of God.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The First Christians

“The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”   Acts 11:26

Beginning on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Jerusalem was the original launchpad of Christianity. It’s easy to see why. Jesus had been crucified in Jerusalem. Jesus had risen from the dead in Jerusalem. And all 12 of the apostles lived in and led the church in Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem was the launchpad of Judaism, it made sense for Jerusalem to be the launchpad of Christianity as well. But in Acts 11, Jesus Christ created a strategic shift.

In Acts 8:1, we read that on the heels of Stephen’s martyrdom, “a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem.” As a result, “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (v.4). It’s remarkable to realize that the great persecution against the Christian Church in Jerusalem was led by Saul. But his plan to wipe out Christianity backfired. His persecution actually helped Christianity spread—just as Jesus had planned all along.

Driven out of Jerusalem, some followers of Christ began to spread the gospel 300 miles away in Antioch. And just as Jerusalem had been the launchpad for the Christian church to reach ISRAEL for Christ, Antioch would become the launchpad to reach the WORLD for Christ. It was in Antioch that some Christian men began to do something revolutionary: They “began speaking to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus” (v.20). This may not sound like a big deal today, but it was a HUGE deal! Up until that point, Christians had only been leading Jews and Samaritans (who were half-Jews) to Christ. But these Christ-following men in Antioch didn’t hold back from sharing the gospel with ANYONE; they even shared the gospel with Greeks.

And the Greeks referred to here were complete pagans. Not only were they not Jewish, many of them couldn’t care less about God. They probably worshiped gods like Zeus, Apollo and Daphne, and many of them likely spent their weekends getting drunk and having sex with Daphne’s temple prostitutes. These were not God-fearing or moral men. They were heathens—heathens who desperately needed to hear and be transformed by the power of the gospel. And some Christian men in Antioch were willing to stick their necks out and try what had never been done before—lead complete pagans to salvation. And look what happened: “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord” (v. 21).

What was happening in Antioch was so revolutionary that word of it spread 300 miles south, all the way back to Jerusalem. So the church leaders found just the man to go up north and check it out: Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement.” When Barnabas went to the church at Antioch, he liked what he saw: “He was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (v. 23). But something must have been missing, because he tracked Saul down—150 miles away—and brought him back to Antioch. Verse 25 tells us, “For a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.” And don’t miss this last sentence in verse 26: “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

Non-Christians most likely were the ones who coined this term for Christ’s followers. Outsiders who observed the Christians in Antioch noticed that their lives were all about Jesus Christ. Christ was first on their lips. Christ was first in their actions. Christ was first in their worship. It reminds me of a wonderful morning prayer written by St. Patrick, whose holiday just came around in March: “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. I arise today.”

Here are three life lessons to consider:

Life Lesson #1: If you are a Christian, you have to think, act and share Christ outside the box. Jesus’ followers in Antioch were the first to freely share the Gospel with ALL people regardless of their socio-economic, ethnic or moral differences. Regardless of how unchurched they were. Regardless of how godless they were. Regardless of how immoral they were. To live up to the name “Christian,” you and I need to do the same. We need to reach beyond social, ethnic and religious barriers and introduce people to Jesus Christ. And once they accept him, we have to disciple them—helping them to build a brand-new life centered on Jesus Christ.

Life Lesson #2: You need a Barnabas in your life—a faithful, spirit-filled Christian who will encourage you to love and serve Christ with all your heart and will stand with you as you do. That’s one of the reasons Jesus gave us … the CHURCH. Chances are, your home church has many Barneys and Barnitas who can come alongside you and encourage you to grow in your faith and obedience to Christ.

Life Lesson #3: Just like Barnabas and Saul, we are much better and stronger together. So, don’t be a lone-ranger Christian. When God calls you to do something for Him, enlist at least one other Christian to do it with you. Evangelist D.L. Moody hit the nail on the head: “It is better to put 10 men to work than to do the work of 10 men.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Saturday, April 2, 2022

World Changer Boot Camp

The gospel I preached is not something that man made up…. I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.   Galatians 1:11-12

The other day, I found myself imagining what I’d say to the Apostle Paul if I had a time machine. If I could go back to A.D. 33 and speak to Paul right after his baptism, what would I say to him? I’d probably start out like this: “God has a GREAT plan for your life! You have no idea how big an impact you’re going to make in this world!” So far, so good, right?

But since the Bible gives us a written account of Paul’s life and ministry, we know that he was martyred for his Christian faith just over 30 years after his conversion. Think about that. Paul had just over 30 years to plant dozens of churches on two continents … to write half the books of the New Testament … and to become the most influential Christian leader of the past 2,000 years. So, knowing that he only had about 30 years to accomplish all that, I’d be tempted to add: “Hurry! The clock is ticking! You don’t have any time to lose! Start preaching! Start writing Scripture! Go! Go! Go!!”

Well, that’s one of the many reasons God hasn’t given me a time machine. My plan for Paul stinks! MY plan for Paul wasn’t GOD’S plan for Paul. Get this: Paul didn’t set out on his three missionary journeys through northwest Asia and southeast Europe for at least 10 years after his conversion to Christianity. He didn’t change the world in 30 years. He did it in less than 20. And for those of us who are always busy, busy, busy ... going here, going there … squeezing in one more errand, one more class, one more thing on our “to-do” list … this first 10 years of Paul’s Christian life seems puzzling. To us, it seems like a waste of time!

Paul had so much potential, and he had so little time. So, why didn’t God send him to Jerusalem right away? Why didn’t God send him to Corinth, Ephesus or Rome right away? Why didn’t God have him start writing Scripture right away? And the simple answer is: Paul wasn’t ready.

God had something much more important for Paul to do first. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But God shows us once again that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways are higher that our ways, and His methods for shaping world-changing Christians are different than our methods. For example, let’s take a close look at Paul’s first three years as a Christian. What was he doing, and why?

During his first three years as a Christian, Paul definitely spent some time preaching the word of God. But it seems clear that, more than anything else, he was living alone in the Arabian desert. Paul’s time in the desert was God’s World Changer Boot Camp, preparing him to change the world.

When Jesus met Paul on the Road to Damascus, He introduced himself and gave Paul a brief snapshot of what his mission would be. But Jesus had SO MUCH MORE to teach him. In Galatians 1:11-12, Paul tells us that “the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

Paul was in the Arabian desert for the better part of three years, one-on-one with Jesus: meeting with Him, asking Him questions, listening intently to Him, and receiving the greatest revelation in the history of the world: The revelation of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, Paul writes, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time.” Where did Paul learn that? He learned it from Jesus Christ.

You and I tend to look at Paul’s three years in the desert as a waste of precious time. But the truth is: It was the BEST use of Paul’s time. Paul could not have planted dozens of churches on two continents, had he not first spent so much one-on-one time with Jesus. Paul could not have written Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians or his other 10 books of the Bible, had he not first spent so much time at Jesus’ feet. Paul could not have become the most influential Christian leader of the past 2,000 years had he not spent so much time doing the most strategic thing ANY Christian could EVER do who hopes to make a lasting impact in this world: Get alone with Jesus and let Him prepare you for battle.

More times than not, eternal impact isn’t attained by speeding up, but by slowing down. Not by talking to people more, but by listening to Jesus more. So, if we desire to reach further for Jesus, we must first go deeper with Jesus. And when we do that—making church a weekly priority AND making time with Jesus a daily priority, listening to Him and going deeper with Him—you will be in a much better place to make a greater impact in this world for Jesus Christ.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit