Tuesday, July 9, 2024

The Peace that Drives Out Fear

“Peace be with you.” – John 20:19

As ten of Jesus’ 12 disciples gathered in a locked room on Easter evening, they were filled with fear. Only one of them, Peter, had seen the resurrected Jesus, and only John believed Peter’s story. The other eight still didn’t believe Jesus was really alive.

But ALL of the disciples were scared. They were huddled behind a locked door because they were afraid that the Jewish leaders who tortured and killed Jesus would come after them next. And, of course, Jesus knew they were afraid. So, when He appeared to them in the room, His first words to them were: “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

 And how did the disciples react to seeing Jesus in the room—which he apparently entered without using the door? John doesn’t record their initial reaction, but Luke tells us that “they were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost” (Luke 24:37). Even after Jesus showed His disciples the wounds in His hands and feet, they still had doubts. Finally, Jesus convinced them, by eating a piece of broiled fish, that He was truly there in the flesh. And at last, John tells us, “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).

 In a few short minutes, the disciples’ fear was replaced by peace, and their doubts were dispelled by evidence-based faith. In verse 21, Jesus reiterated His offer of peace. Then He added: “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” That night, more than ever before, the disciples were transformed into apostles. Jesus’ followers become leaders; His evangelized become evangelists; and His students become teachers. The ones who left their small corner of the world to come TO Jesus would now be sent into a bigger corner of the world to be missionaries FOR Jesus.

From this exciting passage, we can draw these life lessons:

Lesson #1: Jesus is ready to replace your fear with His peace and joy. In 1 John 4:8, John tells us that “God is love.” And 10 verses later he tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). Put those two truths together: Jesus Christ is love, and He drives out our fear. So, if you and I are living in fear, we are not as full of Jesus as we should be. I encourage you to lay your fears at the feet of Jesus.

Lesson #2: Jesus is in the sending business, and He has sent you to be His missionary in your corner of the world. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you are a Christian. But you may not realize that you are a “sent” Christian. You have been chosen by Christ, and you have been sent by Christ. So, start talking like you’ve been sent by Jesus. Start behaving like you’ve been sent by Jesus. And start loving the people around you and sharing the Gospel with them like you’ve been sent by Jesus. Christ has called you to live sent.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church, meeting Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Is Seeing Believing?

“Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.”
– John 20:8

It was a Sunday morning unlike any other in history.

When Mary Magdalene told Peter and John that Jesus’ grave was empty, they wasted no time strapping on their sandals and bolting down the street toward the garden tomb.

Once John got there, he bent over and peeked inside the small entrance to the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying on the shelf where Jesus’ body had been placed. Then Peter caught up and rushed right into the tomb to examine the bandages and burial clothing that had covered Jesus. At last, in John 20:8, “the other disciple [John] … also went inside. He saw and believed.” John appears to have been the first follower of Jesus to see the evidence of His resurrection and believe that He was and is alive.

The rest, as they say, is history. Here are three important insights we can glean from these important moments:

Insight #1: “The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s ‘receipts’ telling us that the debt has been paid” (Warren Wiersbe). Why is the empty cross one of the greatest symbols of Christianity? Because Jesus isn’t hanging there anymore! He’s completed the work of redemption. The debt of sin is paid … once and for all. The empty tomb proves that Jesus not only conquered sin; He also conquered death.

Insight #2: “The whole point of the description is that the grave clothes did not look as if they had been put off or taken off; they were lying there in their regular folds as if the body of Jesus had simply evaporated out of them” (William Barclay). Have you ever heard of a burglar breaking into a house, stealing some jewelry … then washing the dishes before he leaves? No! Then why would anyone in their right mind think that a grave robber would take the time to make Jesus’ grave clothes nice and tidy in the tomb before disappearing into the dark with His body? There’s no doubt: Jesus’ resurrected body passed right through the grave clothes.

Insight #3: “John entered the tomb, at which point he perceived with understanding and believed” (Chuck Swindoll). In verse 5, John looked through the open door of the tomb and was able to “see” the strips of linen. In verse 6, after Peter went into the tomb, he was able to “see” the grave clothes in the sense of investigating them. But then in verse 8, after John entered the tomb, he was able to “see” with the eyes of understanding … and “believe” that Jesus was and IS alive!

So, let me ask you: How is your eyesight today? It’s not enough to just see Jesus. You must believe in Jesus. As we read in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church, meeting Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Learn to Love Like Mary

“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying.” – John 20:11

Despite her sordid past, Mary Magdalene was the first witness to Jesus' resurrection.  

Early in His ministry, Jesus delivered Mary Magdalene from seven demons, and she was forever grateful. She had been forgiven much, so she loved much—sticking by Jesus' side through thick and thin. As Jesus hung on the cross, she was there on Golgotha. When Jesus was buried, she followed Joseph and Nicodemus to the graveside. On Easter morning, Mary Magdalene was there at the tomb. And for her love ... she was richly rewarded.  

When she first saw Jesus – possibly because she was blinded by her tears – Mary didn’t recognize Him. But everything changed when Jesus spoke one simple word: “Mary.” Hearing Jesus say her name, she immediately recognized the voice of her Shepherd. As Jesus taught in John 10: “I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me” (v. 14).

Then, when Mary went to embrace Him, Jesus surprised her by saying, “Do not hold on to me” (John 20:17). Instead, He asked her to let go of Him, go and share the news of His resurrection with the disciples. And how did Mary Magdalene respond to Jesus’ commands? With obedience. As difficult as it was to leave her Shepherd, Mary hurried to the disciples with the good news: “I have seen the Lord!” (v. 18).

Here are three lessons we can learn from Mary Magdalene: 

Lesson #1: If you have been forgiven much … love much. As Jesus said in Luke 7:47, after a sinful woman bathed his feet with her tears, “Her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” We don’t know much about Mary Magdalene’s past. We do know she had been possessed by seven demons, and Jesus had set her free and forgiven her sins. She had been forgiven much, so she loved much. Now, it took a LOT of Jesus’ blood to cover all of your sin, right? You have been forgiven much—so love much.

Lesson #2: Learn to recognize the voice of your shepherd. Christians often ask, “How can I recognize God’s voice?” Here’s how: Learn to tune your spiritual ears to Jesus’ unique frequency. You can do that by filling your heart and mind with the Word of God. The better you know God’s Word, the more you will hear and recognize the unique voice of your Shepherd. As Jesus declared in John 10: “[The Good Shepherd] calls his own sheep by name … and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (vs. 3-4).

Lesson #3: It’s tempting to cling to Jesus and keep Him to yourself, but He has an important job for you to do. So, let go. Then go, and tell. Because Mary Magdalene loved Jesus so much, she was quick to do exactly what He asked her to do. She did it out of her deep love for Christ. And out of our deep love for Christ, you and I must do it too. Rejoice over your living Savior. And go tell the world!

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church, meeting Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley

 

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Like a Sacrificial Lamb

 “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.” – Isaiah 53:7

Before Jesus was sent to the cross, the gospels tell us that over a period of about six hours, Jesus was subjected to six different hearings and trials —three religious and three criminal. During the three religious hearings and trials, Jesus wasn't given a fair shake. Not even close! The religious leaders violated some eighteen different legal guidelines in order to unjustly convict Jesus of blasphemy.

Some of these trials were held at night, in secret. Trials were not to occur on the eve of a Sabbath or during any festival, but His hearings and trials occurred during Passover celebration. An accused person could not testify against himself; but the Sanhedrin convicted Jesus on His own words, not seeing a need for witnesses. And sentencing in a capital case was not to occur until the following day, but the Sanhedrin convicted Jesus and condemned Him right away.

How did Jesus handle these inexcusable violations? Like a meek, sacrificial lamb.

Jesus showed Himself to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.”

And when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, Jesus turned the tables on him and put him on the defensive. Jesus didn’t really defend Himself against the false accusations. Instead, He took the opportunity to share a revelation with Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world…. And everyone on the side of truth listens to Me” (v. 36). It seems that more than anything else, Jesus wanted Pilate to be saved. That’s remarkable! But a baffled Pilate didn’t want to hear it.

From the injustice of these proceedings, we find these revelations about Jesus:

Revelation #1: As Jesus listened to His accusers’ lies, through His silence He showed Himself to be the willing sacrificial lamb. Jesus was an expert debater. He could have shot down every one of His accusers’ false accusations in seconds. But He chose not to, because it was the Father’s will for Him to suffer and die, so that you and I could be forgiven and live.

Revelation #2: As Jesus was questioned by Pilate, He was not a defendant who avoided the truth; Jesus showed Himself to be the truth who put unbelievers on the defensive. Throughout the gospels, arrogant unbelievers tried to put Jesus on the defensive by asking Him tough questions. But time and again, Jesus answered their tough questions with a few zingers of His own, which set them back on his heels.

Jesus used the last hours before His death not to save himself, but to save others. And praise God, that salvation is still available to you and me today.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church, meeting Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Jesus Even Loved Barabbas

 But the whole crowd shouted, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’
– Luke 23:10

Governor Pontius Pilate must have been baffled as the Jewish leaders called for the release of the biggest thug on Death Row.

When Pilate interrogated Jesus – twice – Pilate didn’t find Him to be guilty of any capital crime. But the religious leaders refused to accept Pilate’s verdict. So, Pilate thought he had a foolproof way to get them to agree to release Jesus. In John 18:39, he asked them, “It is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews [or Barabbas]?”

Pilate strategically chose one of the most notorious criminals who was scheduled to be crucified that day: Barabbas, a convicted murderer who had taken part in an uprising. No one with an ounce of decency would EVER vote for a terrorist to be released into the streets. But to Pilate’s astonishment, the crowd shouted back in unison: “Don’t release Jesus! Give us Barabbas!”

Given the choice, they chose the convicted terrorist over Jesus. There was no excuse for what they did. But, ultimately, it was God’s will. 

All four of the gospels tell about the crowd calling for Barabbas’s release. Interestingly, not a single gospel writer mentions Jesus objecting — because Jesus didn’t protest. He actually wanted them to choose Barabbas instead of Him – because Jesus loved Barabbas. How do I know that? Because of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Think about it: “For God so loved [Barabbas] that He gave His one and only Son.”

When Barabbas allowed Jesus to take his place on Death Row, that was unimaginably unjust and unfair. But, strangely, Jesus chose to die so that Barabbas could live. And I believe that if you had been in Barabbas’s shoes that day, Jesus would have taken your place on Death Row. Because of His great love for you, He would die so that you might live. 

As Barabbas walked free, Jesus showed Himself to be our substitute on Death Row. Over the course of our lives, every one of us has lied, cheated and stolen. Like Barabbas, we have sinned thousands of times and earned our place on Death Row. Hell is the just punishment for our sin. But Jesus took our place. He went through Hell so you and I wouldn’t have to. He died so that we could live. How, then, can we help but live for Him?

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church, meeting Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Was Peter a Chicken?

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?” – John 18:11

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter tried to be a hero by cutting off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. But in John 18:11, Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?”

Jesus was doing exactly what God the Father wanted Him to do—beginning the work of redemption that you and I desperately needed Him to do. In John 18, Jesus was ready to drink the cup of God’s wrath on human sin so that you and I wouldn’t have to. He was ready to go through hell on earth, so that you and I wouldn’t have to go through hell in eternity.

God the Father's plan was for both Jesus and Peter to drink from their designated cups of suffering. Sadly, while Jesus began gulping His cup down, Peter put his cup back on the shelf. Should we give Peter a hard time for denying Jesus three times while Jesus was on trial for His life? Perhaps. But there's more to Peter than meets the eye.

When Jesus was arrested, all 11 of the remaining apostles were scattered. But Peter followed Jesus at a distance. He and another disciple entered the high priest’s courtyard and warmed themselves by the fire. And there in the high priest’s courtyard – while Jesus was interrogated by His accusers – Peter lived out what Jesus had predicted at the Last Supper. Three times, people asked Peter if he’d been with Jesus. Three times, Peter denied even knowing Him.

The third time Peter denied Jesus, according to Luke 22:60, the cock crow began even before Peter had finished his sentence. “Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown Me three times.’ And [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). While Jesus was drinking His super-sized cup of suffering, Peter refused to drink his little Dixie cup of suffering.

Did Peter screw up in the high priest’s courtyard? Yes, he did! However, it could be helpful to look at Peter’s screw-ups from a different angle. At least he loved Jesus enough to stick close to Him when Jesus didn’t have a friend in the world. Many of us don’t fail Jesus as much as Peter failed Jesus … because we don’t take any risks for Jesus. Which begs the question: Is it better to attempt something great for Jesus and fail, OR attempt nothing for Jesus and succeed? 

It’s been said: “Aim for nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.” At least Peter aimed for something. He aimed to stand up for Jesus. He aimed to stick close to Jesus. His intentions were good. It’s just that his execution was lousy. But in the weeks to come, Peter repented and never made the same mistakes again. He went on to become one of the boldest followers of Jesus in Christian history.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter chickened out. Which makes me wonder, in similar circumstances … would you and I do the same? As followers of Christ, we have our own cups of suffering to drink. But regardless of whether your cup is small or large, you should willingly drink your designated cup of suffering for Jesus. As the great missionary William Carey said so well, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Thoughts About the Holy Spirit

“When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” – John 16:13

Over the centuries, the Holy Spirit has been the most misunderstood and unappreciated member of God’s holy Trinity. He is hardly mentioned in some churches, while being overemphasized in others.

But in John 16:5-15, just a few short hours before being arrested and nailed to a cross, Jesus places the perfect amount of emphasis on the Holy Spirit – teaching His disciples (and us) about the Spirit's life-changing work in and through Christ's followers for the glory of the Father. As He leads His followers to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus shares timeless truths about His Spirit that you and I need to understand. 

Here are four practical truths Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit:

Truth #1 (v. 7): It’s better for you to have uninterrupted fellowship with the Holy Spirit than to have part-time fellowship with Jesus. Jesus tells His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Even as amazing as it would have been to have walked and talked with Jesus 2,000 years ago, what we have today is even better. We have the Spirit of Jesus living on the inside: teaching us, protecting us and empowering us for life-changing ministry, 24/7.

Truth #2 (vs. 7-8): Jesus sent the Holy Spirit TO you in order to bring conviction to unbelievers THROUGH you. In Jesus’ words, “When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” But we have to allow Him. So ask yourself: Do I see evidence of the Holy Spirit working through me to bring conviction to others around me? Continue to prayerfully speak God’s Truth and live God’s Truth in plain view of others around you. And as you do, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction to those who are ready to be saved.

Truth #3 (vs. 12-13): Jesus knows your limits. So, thank Him for the Holy Spirit, who patiently corrects you, teaches you, and guides you little by little. He tells His disciples: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” Aren’t you thankful that God is patient with you? Aren’t you grateful that He didn’t dump all of His theology and biblical insight on your lap on the day you got saved? It would have fried your brain.

Truth #4 (v. 14): It brings glory to Jesus when you allow the Holy Spirit to give TO you and to move THROUGH you. Jesus tells His followers, “[The Holy Spirit] will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you.” If you love Jesus, then allow the Holy Spirit to fill you—not from the outside in, but from the inside out. If you are a baptized believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is already inside you. But have you let Him fill you?

Remember, to be full of the Holy Spirit is to be full of Jesus. So, I urge you to ask God: “Father, please fill me from my head to my feet with Your Spirit. Holy Spirit, give me whatever You want to give me, and use me however You want to use me for God’s glory.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.