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.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Four Promises You Can Count On

 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Knowing full well what awaited Him over the next 24 hours, Jesus spent the evening before His betrayal teaching His apostles some of the most important things He wanted them to know before their worlds would be turned upside down.

 As John 16 draws to a close, Jesus makes four amazing promises that will change their lives forever. These four promises are summed up in four words: Resurrection, Joy, Love and Peace. Do these sound like four promises you’d like to hear a little bit more about? Well, read on.

Jesus’ 1st Promise: I am going to die, but you will see me again (vs.16-18). Promise #1 is a bad-news-good-news promise. In verse 16, Jesus tells his disciples, ““In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” As was often the case, Jesus’ disciples were confused. So, what DOES Jesus mean? He means this: “I promise you, something lousy is going to happen to Me. (That’s the bad news.) But I also promise you that it will only be temporary. (That’s the good news.)”

Jesus’ 2nd Promise: You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy (vs. 19-24). Jesus’ second promise is another bad-news-good-news promise: “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (v. 20). In other words, “I promise you, something lousy is going to happen to you, and you WILL be heartbroken. (That’s the bad news.) But I also promise you that your grief will be miraculously transformed into joy. (That’s the good news.)” Jesus illustrates His point using the example of childbirth. When a woman is in labor, she experiences intense pain. But “when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (v. 21). Jesus Christ specializes in transforming failures into opportunities, hardships into blessings and grief into joy.

Jesus’ 3rd Promise: God the Father loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God (vs. 25-28). No matter how rotten a sinner you are ... no matter how undeserving of forgiveness and heaven you are … if you love Jesus Christ and trust Him as your Savior and Lord, God the Father will forgive you. And He will love you like you’ve never been loved before.

Jesus’ 4th Promise: Regardless of how much trouble you experience in this world, you can have peace in Me (vs. 29-33). In verses 29-30, Jesus’ disciples declare that there’s no longer any doubt in their minds that “You came from God.” But Jesus warns them that soon, “you will be scattered [and] you will leave Me all alone” (v. 32). The disciples probably wondered why Jesus had spent so much time telling them He would leave them, about their upcoming bout with grief, and that they’re going to be scattered. Jesus answers with His fourth promise: “Regardless of how much trouble you experience in this world, you can have peace in Me. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33).

Some people's promises don't mean much. But aren't you thankful that Jesus keeps EVERY ONE of His good promises to you and me? 

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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

How to Be Fruitful as a Christian

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”
– John 15:5

Even as Jesus led His followers to the Garden of Gethsemane, with precious little time left in His earthly life, He was still teaching them. And as He so often did, He used their surroundings to illustrate a point: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1). And then, in verse 5: “I am the vine; you are the branches.”

As branches on Christ’s vine, we’re called to bear fruit. Jesus says in verse 8, “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” Jesus highlights three of those fruit in John 14 and 15: love, joy and peace. By abiding in Jesus and producing the fruit of love, joy and peace, we can show the watching world what God is like. We show love to people to show how much God loves them. We display an authentic joy that all the depressed people around us are missing—to point them to the Creator of joy. And when things get stressful, we reflect a peace that our stressed-out friends are hungry for … to draw them to the Prince of Peace. When we bear much fruit, God is glorified through us. People are drawn to Christ through us. And as they accept Christ and begin growing fruit of their own, God is even MORE glorified.

Jesus goes on to make a powerful connection to His illustration about the vine and the branches: “Now remain in My love.” And how do we remain, or abide, in Christ’s love? By obeying Christ’s commands. In chapter 14, Jesus taught that to KNOW Christ is to LOVE Christ. And to love Christ is to OBEY Christ. Here in chapter 15, Jesus makes it clear that knowing Christ and abiding in Christ are one and the same. So, we can say: To ABIDE in Christ is to LOVE Christ. And to love Christ is to OBEY Christ.

Now, how can you tell if you’re abiding in Christ? Look for these five signs in your life:

#1: Daily consistent obedience – you are obeying Christ’s commands (v. 10). 

#2: You experience God the Father’s pruning (v. 2). Useless things and even some “good” things are removed from your life in order to make you more fruitful. Never forget that what is good is often the enemy of what is best. God doesn’t want your “good” fruit or even your “better” fruit. He wants your very “best” fruit. 

#3: You produce much fruit (vs. 2 and 4), especially the fruit of love, joy and peace. 

#4: Others around you are drawn to Jesus (v. 8).

#5: Your life brings much glory to God (v. 8).

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us every Sunday (including Easter Sunday) at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, and for our Good Friday service at 7 p.m. March 29. You can also livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

How to Have God’s Peace

 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

As Jesus prepared to lead His followers to the Garden of Gethsemane, He wanted to prepare them for the days that lay ahead.

The disciples knew they were completely incapable of obeying Jesus’ commands on their own. That’s one of the reasons they were petrified at the thought of Jesus leaving them. Following Jesus was hard enough when He was right there to guide them, protect them and teach them. But it would be impossible without Him. Of course, Jesus already knew this. That’s why He reassured them in John 14:16-17: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.”

I love the fact that before Jesus was arrested, He took the time to teach His disciples about the Holy Spirit—a counselor, comforter and advocate to walk alongside them every step of the way. Jesus was God in human form … but the Holy Spirit would come to them as God in spirit form. Incredibly, that’s even better. In His physical form, Jesus couldn’t be with them all the time. Sometimes He was off praying or doing ministry by Himself. At other times, He needed to sleep. But soon, instead of being with His followers part-time, through the Holy Spirit He would be with them full-time—guiding, protecting and teaching them 24/7.

Just before they left for the garden, in verse 27, Jesus promised His disciples something that they desperately needed. It’s something that you and I need as well: true and lasting peace.

Here are three reasons Christ’s followers should be at peace.

Reason #1: We have the Savior above us. In verse 28, Jesus said, “If you loved Me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” Remember that when Jesus took on flesh, He emptied Himself of much of His eternal power in order to experience life as we experience it. So, in the scope of eternity, Jesus was at His weakest when He was here on earth in the flesh.But now that Jesus is back in heaven at the right hand of the Father, He is infinitely stronger than when He was here on earth..

Reason #2: We have the Spirit within us. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He didn’t leave us as orphans. He sent His Spirit to be with us and in us every step of the way. The Holy Spirit is one of the greatest gifts that Jesus Christ could have ever given us, because when He gave us the Holy Spirit, He gave us the gift of Himself. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is with you 24/7—permanently.

 Reason #3: We have God’s Word filling and refreshing us. How can we have peace when it feels like our world is falling apart? Because God’s peace transcends our circumstances. It has nothing to do with where we live, how much we make or who’s in the White House. You could be at your best friend’s funeral and still have peace, because the Word of God gives you strength when you are weak and fills you with hope when things look hopeless.

If you follow Jesus, you CAN find peace in the promises of God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And your present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that shall be revealed in you. Find peace in the promises of God! 

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.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

How to Pray In Jesus’ Name

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.”
- John 14:1

Jesus’ disciples had left everything to follow Him. They’d left their jobs and their families and had risked their lives repeatedly over the last three years to stick by Jesus’ side.

Now, at the Last Supper, they had learned that one of their own was going to betray Jesus, and that their lead apostle, Peter, was going to deny Jesus three times. But what worried them the most was Jesus’ plan to leave them—to go who knows where to do who knows what. How on earth could the disciples NOT have troubled hearts? 

Well, according to Jesus, the remedy for their troubled hearts was … trust. One the very night He was arrested, Jesus told them, “Trust in God; trust also in Me” (John 14:1). In this verse, Jesus revealed a beautiful, simple truth: The secret to having a heart at peace is just to trust God. That was true 2,000 years ago, and it’s just as true today. Whatever appearances might suggest, Jesus Christ will never let you down. You can trust Him. You should trust Him.

In verses 12-14, Jesus tells his apostles that after He returns to heaven, they will do “even greater things” than what He Himself had done. And secondly, He tells them that He “will do whatever [they] ask in His name.” Now, don’t misunderstand or twist what Jesus is saying here. Sadly, many people believe in a “prosperity” Gospel, which portrays Jesus as a kind of genie in the lamp. You rub the lamp by using the magic phrase “in Jesus’ name”; you tell Jesus what you want, and if you have enough faith, He will give it to you.

But notice what Jesus gives as the reason why He answers our prayers: “to bring glory to the Father” (v. 13). So, let’s tackle this important question: How can we pray in Jesus’ name?

Guideline #1: Begin your prayers with Jesus’ interests in the forefront of your mind. Chuck Swindoll says it this way: “More often than not, we do not pray in the interests of Jesus’ plans…. In our immaturity, we seek our own interests and for what will improve our situations…. Jesus promised that as we discover the will of God & align our prayers to fulfill His purposes, our prayers will become as powerful as His own.”

Guideline #2: End your prayers with “Your will be done.” Just as we should begin our prayers with Jesus’ will in mind, we should end our prayers with Jesus’ will in mind. In fact, the prayer for God’s will to be done is ALWAYS answered. So, go ahead and ask God to take away your cancer and to bless you with a better job and to protect your kids at school and work. But end your prayers with “Your will be done.” In other words, “God, if I’ve prayed for anything that’s outside Your will, please just scratch that request. Ultimately, I just want Your will to be done.”

Guideline #3: Pray what Jesus Himself would pray—for God the Father to be glorified in your life and in the lives of those around you. You are a servant of Jesus Christ and a soldier for Jesus Christ. So, as you live your life, say what He would say. Do what He would do. And pray what He would pray. Ultimately, that’s what it means to pray in Jesus’ name—to pray exactly what Jesus would pray to the Father if He were in your shoes. 

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s new daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is now 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.