Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Church: Who Needs It?

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
– 1 Corinthians 12:27

Perhaps when you were a child, church attendance wasn’t optional in your family. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t dare ask my parents, “Could I just stay home today?” I was taught from a very young age that Sunday is “the Lord’s Day” (the Christian equivalent of the Jewish Sabbath Day). So, when we skip church, we are disobeying the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.”

Well, that perspective seems long gone. Gone are the days when the overwhelming majority of Americans were convinced that Christianity and weekly church attendance are inseparable; you can’t have one without the other. In today’s busy world, most Christians view church attendance as optional, and far too often other weekend options (i.e., sports, parties, overtime and rest) take precedence. We are now at a point when some atheists have much better church attendance than Christians. 

In recent years, thousands of atheists across America have discovered something that many Christians have forgotten: attending church is vitally important and even…fun. Over the past five years, atheist churches (usually called “gatherings”) have popped up all over Great Britain and the U.S. And these gatherings are filled with inspirational teaching, singing and loving fellowship.  Sound familiar? It’s quite a paradox: Atheist communities love the church but don’t like God or Jesus. Conversely, many Christians love God and Jesus but don’t like the church.

Could it be that atheists have discovered something that many Christians have long forgotten? I think so. They have discovered that their own stripped-down version of the church is far superior to isolation. Even without Christ, their gatherings meet a need for fellowship and give them a sense of belonging. How much more so is this the case when Christians meet? Without Christ, atheistic churches bring some value to their members. But with Christ, Christian churches bring infinite value to their members.

There are three key metaphors used for Christ’s Church in the New Testament—metaphors that help us grasp how very important the church is. First, the Church is the Body of Christ. In both Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul likens the church to a human body. Just as a body is made up of many parts that each serve a specific purpose, so too the Church has many members—each having an important role to fill. The truth is: The Church can exist without you, but it will be the less for it. And you can exist without the Church, but you will be the less for it. Just as an index finger or big toe is severely handicapped on its own, so too is a Christian spiritually handicapped when he isolates himself from the Body of Christ.

Second, the Church is the Family of God. In 1 Peter 2:17, we are instructed to “love the brotherhood of believers.” Christians call each other “brothers and sisters” because, at the point of conversion, each of us is adopted into God’s family. God becomes our true Father, and we become a cherished member of His household. But as in any family, there is occasional sibling rivalry in the Church. These times of quarreling may be uncomfortable and a bit unnerving, but they should never lead us to abandon our brothers and sisters. Many Christians turn on a dime to lock arms with their blood relatives in times of need. How much more should we be quick to lock arms with our Christian brothers and sisters whose adoptions have been secured by the precious blood of Christ?

Third, the Church is the Bride of Christ. In Revelation 21, the Church is called Christ’s bride. Although this statement is true: “Jesus died on the cross for my sins,” it is more accurate to say, “Jesus died on the cross for the Church’s sins.” He spilled his blood so that his bride (all Christians together) could be washed clean and become the pure, undefiled bride of Christ. This powerful metaphor emphasizes Christ’s great love for the Church. To put it simply: Jesus adores his Church…warts, scars, body odor and all. No one knows the Church’s hang-ups and shortcomings better than Jesus. If anyone ever had a legitimate reason for abandoning the Church it would be Jesus. But he never has and never will leave the Church. Why not? Because he loves it as his bride. He is committed to it for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. In the same way, he calls every Christian to love and stay committed to His Church till death do us part.

Time will tell how long atheistic assemblies will survive. Regardless, the Church of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, because the Church of Jesus Christ has the most important building block of any life-changing church: Christ himself. Every church has problems. No church is perfect. (If you find a perfect church, please don’t join it, because then it won’t be perfect anymore.) The Church is the glorious Body of Christ, the Family of God and the Bride of Christ. The Church needs you, and you need the Church. Even atheists are realizing this fact.  

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Why Christ’s Resurrection Matters

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:19

A young boy ran into his pastor at the grocery store. Since Easter had just recently passed, the pastor asked the preschooler, “Billy, do you know why we celebrate Easter each year?” The little boy’s face lit up as he said, “I sure do! Jesus went to Jerusalem, rode a donkey and they waved palm branches at him.” He continued, “But then he got in trouble. He was beat up, yelled at, and then they nailed him to a cross.” The pastor liked what he heard. “What else, Billy?” The little boy became more serious as he said, “They put Jesus in a tomb and put a big rock in front of it. But three days later he got raised and got out of there.” The pastor was delighted that his church’s Sunday School program had taught Billy so well. But he was taken aback when Billy added enthusiastically, “Jesus walked out of the tomb, looks around, and if he sees his shadow there’s six more weeks of winter.”

Sadly, Billy is not alone in his confusion. Our nation is filled with millions of men and women who attended an Easter church service a week ago but missed out on its meaning to their lives. The honest truth is: Many people believe that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, but they don’t understand its relevance. They recognize that the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is overwhelming; they don’t discount that it happened. Rather, they discount that it has any bearing on their day-to-day lives. But allow me share with you five convincing reasons why Jesus’ resurrection matters to you.

#1: Jesus’ resurrection proves that he is the Son of God. In John 10:18 Jesus told his followers, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” Consider this: Any martyr could claim to have the authority to lay down his/her life for a cause. But none of us—not even an angel in heaven—has the authority or power to raise ourselves from the dead. Only God can do that. Therefore, Jesus’ resurrection proves that He is—in fact—God in the flesh.

#2: Jesus’ resurrection confirms that the Bible is true. There are several Old Testament prophesies claiming that the promised Messiah (Christ) would rise from the dead. For example, King David wrote in Psalm 16:10, “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” The prophesies in the Bible are 100% accurate, 100% of the time. And Jesus’ resurrection offers further proof that even the prophesies in Scripture that seem impossible to fulfill are proven to be accurate time and again.

#3: Jesus’ resurrection paves the way for our own future resurrection, giving us great hope. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19-22, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Bottom line: Jesus’ resurrection from the dead blazed the trail for you and me to live forever. Because Christ conquered death on Easter morning, we have this unshakable hope: This life is not all there is. The best is yet to come.

#4: Jesus’ resurrection proves that Judgment Day is coming. While speaking to a group of Greek philosophers, Paul said in Acts 17:30-31, “God commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” Sadly, Jesus’ resurrection isn’t good news to everyone. You see, because Jesus is alive, he will hold us accountable for our sin. That’s the purpose of Judgment Day—to declare our innocence or guilt before our holy God. For those of us who are found guilty of rejecting Jesus Christ on earth, God will reject us in eternity. Sadly, there will be hell to pay.

#5: Jesus’ resurrection empowers us to live lives that please God. Let me ask you: What do you think the chances are of you, on your own, living a life that pleases God? Slim to none? How about just plain—None! The Bible proclaims that on our own, our good deeds are like filthy rags compared to God’s holiness. On our own you and I cannot live lives that are good and righteous. It can’t be done. It’s impossible. But with Christ, the impossible becomes possible. Only the risen Christ can help us live lives that truly please God.

Unlike the little boy in the grocery store, I don’t think you’ve ever confused Jesus with a groundhog. But perhaps you’ve unknowingly lumped the resurrection into the same category as a marshmallow Peep: fine for the holiday but irrelevant to your day-to-day life. Now that we've passed the one-week anniversary of Easter 2017, I hope that you are continuing to be impacted and transformed by the power of our risen Savior. He is the death-conquering Son of God. He is the culmination of Biblical prophecy. He is the hope-giving trail blazer for eternal life. He is the guarantor that Judgment Day is coming, and he is the only one who can help us be God-pleasers. So, does the resurrection of Jesus Christ matter? You bet it matters—much, much more than you may have ever realized. 

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Secret of Contentment

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
– Philippians 4:12

The story is told of a Quaker who offered a piece of property free of charge to anyone who considered himself content. When a man came to claim the parcel, the Quaker asked him, ‘If you’re content, why do you want my land?” Realizing that his actions betrayed his hidden discontent, the man turned and walked away.

To be “content” is to be satisfied with what you have and are—not needing more. Sadly, as we leave our homes and go into the world each day, we are surrounded by people drowning in discontent. Worse still, contentment is an elusive, rare jewel that many Christians never discover. Perhaps God had this sobering reality in mind when He inspired Paul to conclude his letter to the Philippians by highlighting four secrets to contentment. If you—like most Christians—want to be content with the life God has given you, take these four great secrets to heart. 

The 1st Secret: Be confident that God always provides for His own. Consider Joseph. Although he was rejected by his brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused of rape and thrown into a dungeon, God always provided for him. God saw to it that the circumstances and situations were put in place so that His purposes could be carried out in Joseph’s life. The same held true for Paul. Even when he was whipped, beaten, shipwrecked and hungry, God saw to it that Paul’s needs were met and Christ’s Kingdom was advanced. Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe says it so well: “Life is not a series of accidents; it is a series of appointments.” There is great peace and contentment that come when we take a deep breath and embrace this powerful secret: God always provides for His own.

The 2nd Secret: Understand that the amount of stuff we own has nothing to do with contentment. Paul writes in Philippians 4:12, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Over the course of several years, Jesus Christ taught Paul that contentment doesn’t stem from being nicely dressed, well fed or pampered. If anything, the stuff that normally surrounds a materially-blessed person is a distraction. You see, the amount of stuff we own is irrelevant. To be content is to be thankful and satisfied with what God has given you—be it little or much. We’d be wise to meditate on the words of Chuck Swindoll: “The good life exists only when we stop wanting a better one. The itch for things is a virus draining the soul of contentment.”

The 3rd Secret: Believe that God’s strength empowers you to be content in any situation. Philippians 4:13 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is a marvelous verse, but we dare not forget the context of the verse—contentment in all circumstances. Whether Paul was well fed and comfortable or hungry and sitting in a jail cell, Jesus Christ empowered him to be content. Whether Paul was liked and appreciated or hated and beaten, Jesus Christ still empowered him to be content. Paul learned to be content in all circumstances through Christ who gave him strength. And Christ gave him that strength from the inside out. Instead of turning to stuff around him to find contentment, Paul turned to Christ who was living inside him. Therefore, if you are a Christian, consider this: No matter what situation you find yourself in—be it good, bad or ugly—your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, God’s Spirit goes with you wherever you go. And He is ready and willing to empower you to be content in any and every situation you face.

The 4th Secret: Focus on meeting others’ needs, trusting that God will meet all your needs in Christ. In this world where most people are preoccupied with themselves, Paul was preoccupied with others. And that was one of the secrets to his contentment. He took his eyes off his own needs and focused on others’ needs. And having personally experienced the consistent provision of his great and awesome God, Paul confidently wrote in Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” When it comes to God’s need-meeting, here is an important insight to remember. If you are “in Christ,” God promises to meet your needs—not your greeds. As Warren Wiersbe says so eloquently, “When the child of God is in the will of God, serving for the glory of God, then he will have every need met.”

Christian, you may not live in a mansion, drive a 2017 BMW or take annual vacations to Hawaii, but consider how rich you are in Christ. You have been blessed with riches that money can’t buy: forgiveness, reconciliation with your Creator, deliverance, love, hope, peace, purpose and joy. And God has consistently met your basic needs for material possessions time and again. So, why on earth are you discontent? Stop looking for the “good life.” You already have it in Christ! You don’t need a brand new car, the latest gadget or a better-looking spouse to be content. The secret to contentment hasn’t been right under your nose all this time. In reality, it’s been even closer. The secret of contentment is living inside you, and His name is Jesus.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. Join us for Easter Sunday!
 Worship services are at 7 am and 10 am. Questions? Visit .

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

God’s Antidote to Worry

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
– Philippians 4:6

Have you ever lost sleep worrying about something? Of course you have! At some time or another all of us have lost sleep worrying about our health, our marriage, our job, our debt, or any of a hundred different things. And sadly, worry robs us of much more than just sleep. Worry robs us of our health, erodes our faith and, most tragically, strips us of our joy in the Lord. Thankfully, Philippians 4:4-9 reveals God’s antidote to worry.

In Philippians 4:4, the Apostle Paul unveils a bold command that seems impossible to follow: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Consider the implications of this command. When you’ve just left your spouse’s graveside, rejoice in the Lord. When you’ve just received an eviction notice, rejoice in the Lord. When you’ve just been laid off and have no other household income, rejoice in the Lord. This call to rejoice at all times and in all circumstances—be they good, bad or ugly—sounds impossible. But with God…all things are possible.

Yes, when our joy is solidly grounded in our great and awesome God, we truly can rejoice in all circumstances and at all times. You see, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is just as good in our valleys as He is on our mountaintops. He is just as faithful when we’re sick as when we’re healthy. He’s just as merciful, gracious, loving and strong when our circumstances stink as when they’re all rosy. So, if our joy is firmly grounded in God, we can rejoice no matter what comes our way.

The reason we worry so much is because our minds are consumed with thoughts of stuff instead of being consumed by thoughts of God. Simply put: If you have a small view of God, you will inevitably struggle with a big amount of anxiety and worry. But if you have a big view of God and flood your mind every day with the pure truth from His Word, you will inevitably deal with very little worry. It boils down to this: Big and frequent thoughts of God lead to little worry. But small and infrequent thoughts of God lead to much worry.

And with that in mind, the Apostle Paul reveals God’s three specific antidotes to worry in verses 6-9.

Antidote #1: Right praying. In verse 6, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” When our anxiety starts to rise, our first response should be to turn to God in prayer. And according to Paul, our prayers should contain three parts: prayer, petition and thanksgiving. “Prayer” refers to adoration and worship. When we pray, we should spend some time worshipping God for His holiness, His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His justice and His power. Next, we should “petition” Him for our specific needs. As a loving Father, God loves to meet our needs and answer our prayers. Finally, we should “thank” God for answering our prayers in the past and even for His future answers to our prayer. 

Antidote #2: Right thinking. One of the reasons you and I get so stressed out is because we don’t think right. We are very quick to view the glass as half empty but slow to see it as half full. In verse 8, Paul urges us to flood our thoughts with what is true—not with what is untrue or speculative. Paul asks us to think about what is noble and right, not what is disgraceful and sinful. He instructs us to fill our thoughts with the things of God that are pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Honestly, when we spend a few moments considering this marvelous list of anxiety-busting thoughts, we’re quickly reminded of how undisciplined and off track our thoughts tend to be.

Antidote #3: Right living. You and I can’t expect to be free of worry if we pray and think right but don’t live right. The pursuit of God’s peace is both inward and outward. Paul writes in verse 9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” As we worship God with our thoughts, we must worship Him with our deeds. As we thank Him in our prayers, we must also thank Him with our lives. As our thoughts are consumed with God-honoring thoughts that are noble, right, pure and admirable, our decisions must be noble, right, pure and admirable.

Because our great and awesome God loves us, He has graciously supplied us with these three antidotes to worry. The Lord never intended for us to carry the weight of the world’s problems on our shoulders. That’s Jesus’s job, not ours. So, when we realize that our thoughts are being flooded with many worries, it’s time to reach for God’s worry-busting remedies. We must pray right, think right and live right. And God’s peace that surpasses all understanding will come rushing in. 

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. Join us for Good Friday at 6 pm and for Easter Sunday at 7 am or 10 am. Questions? Visit .