Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Child of God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1

There’s a story about a little boy who was wakened during the night by a thunderstorm. He called down the hall to his mother because he was scared. Well, now and then we all have less-than-perfect parenting moments, and in the wee hours, Mom was hoping to avoid getting out of bed. So she called back, “Don't worry, sweetheart. God loves you, and He’ll take care of you.” But after a moment the little boy answered, “Mom, I know God loves me. But right now, I need someone with skin on."

In the last few weeks I’ve been looking at the Christmas story through the eyes of the gospel writers. In the final gospel, the apostle John gives us his take on the birth of Jesus, and here’s what he tells us: Jesus Christ came to earth as God with skin on.

The book of John opens, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” From that opening verse, John wants us to wrestle with the earth-shattering truth that Jesus is God. And so, when Jesus was born on that first Christmas, God had come down. Jesus was God in the flesh, and this world would never be the same.

Warren Wiersbe says it well: “Much as our words reveal to others our hearts and minds, so Jesus Christ is God’s ‘Word’ to reveal His heart and mind to us. Jesus said, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9). Isn’t that awesome? For centuries people wondered what God would look like and talk like and act like in the real world. Well, Jesus showed us once and for all, didn’t he? Jesus is God’s heart and mind with skin on.

John 1 makes it clear that Jesus created the world. So creation—including humankind—was rightfully his. But when Jesus came into the world, most people did not recognize him as the Word of God (John 1:10-11). Most people didn’t recognize him as the Creator. So, when given the choice of whether to receive him or reject him, most people opted for rejecting him. But for the few who did receive him, for the few who did place their trust in him, “he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12b).

This is an important distinction. You see, many people say, “After all, we’re all children of God.” No, we’re not. Biblically, that’s just not true. We are all CREATIONS of God. But unless we become believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we will never become CHILDREN of God. Spiritual adoption into God’s eternal family can only come through Jesus Christ: the eternal Word of God.

And in verses 14 and 17, John gives us two words that seem to hop off the pages of our Bibles: grace and truth. Let’s look at that first word, one of the most wonderful words in the English language: Grace. It means “undeserved favor.” It’s one thing for God to show us mercy—withholding the punishment from us that we rightly deserve for our sins. But it’s quite another thing for God to show us grace—blessing and favor that are completely unmerited. It’s one thing for Jesus to rescue us from Hell. But to give us the gift of heaven, after all we’ve done to rebel against God—that’s grace!

And Jesus is not only our grace. He is also our truth. If you want to know the truth about why you’re here on earth, the answers you seek are in the Word of God. They are found in Jesus. If you want to know the truth about where you stand with God right now, the truth is found in the Word of God. It is found in Jesus. If you want to know the truth about how your broken relationship with God can be patched up, the truth is found in Jesus. And if you want to know how you can be sure that when you die you will go to heaven, the certainty that you seek is found in Jesus.

Once you know who Jesus is and why he came, what are you going to do with him? You can choose to reject him. That’s an option. Or, you can choose to receive him. That’s a much better option. As we look at Christmas of 2017 in our rear-view mirror, it’s my prayer that you’ll recognize Jesus for who he is, and receive the great blessing of becoming a child of God.

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas for the Nobodies

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11

For many of us, the Book of Luke gives our favorite account of Jesus’ birth. And if you’ve ever watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” you probably remember that it’s Linus’s favorite too.

One of the reasons that we love Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth is because he documents many extraordinary details that no other gospel writer includes. Only Luke mentions the Angel Gabriel announcing Jesus’ birth to Mary; the decree from Caesar Augustus; and all of those classic images of the manger and the shepherds and the angels in the fields. And no matter how many times we hear it, it never gets old.

Now, there are many reasons why I love Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. But one of the best is that it reveals that Jesus didn’t come for the wealthy or the famous or the most talented people of the world. He came first and foremost for the forgotten, for the helpless and for the nobodies. And that brings me hope that Jesus came for me too.

1. Jesus came for the old and washed-up. Unlike Matthew, Mark and John, Luke records the details of John the Baptist’s birth (Luke 1:5-25). And since God sent John to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming, these details are an important part of Luke’s Christmas story. But when you get down to it, John was basically born to a pair of old fogeys: Zechariah and Elizabeth. The Bible tells us in verse 7, “They had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.”

In first century Israel, being childless was frowned upon. Most Jews in those days believed that barrenness was the result of sin. But God sent an angel to Zechariah to announce that Elizabeth, despite her old age, would soon be pregnant. What’s more, she would give birth to a very special baby boy—chosen by God to bring many Israelites back to God and to prepare the way for the Messiah. How’s that for old and washed-up?

2. Jesus came for the young and unimportant. Now, let’s look at Mary: a young girl who was single, had no kids—and worse still, she lived in the podunk little town of Nazareth. The truth is, Mary had almost no social status. So imagine how shocked she must have been when the Angel Gabriel appeared and spoke to her in verse 28: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was floored. She must have started looking over her shoulder to see who the angel was really talking to. She may have even wondered if she was the butt of a cruel joke, because nobody—absolutely nobody—viewed her as “highly favored.” Nobody, that is, except for God.

Jesus came for the young and for the unimportant. That’s just as true today as it was back then. If you are a teenager or a young adult, Jesus came for you. You’re never too young or unimportant for Jesus to care about. And you’re never too young or unimportant for God to use in wonderful ways for His glory. Now don’t you forget it, you young whipper snappers!    

3. Jesus came for the dirty and despised.
Think about it: Of all the people on Planet Earth that God could have announced Jesus’ birth to, he announced it first to shepherds. What a weird thing for God to do! Sheep are very dirty animals, so shepherds were considered ceremonially unclean. They weren’t allowed to be a part of any Jewish synagogue. They weren’t even counted in the census. It’s as if they weren’t even viewed as fully human. Yet God sent his angels to announce Jesus’ birth to a group of these smelly, dirty, despised shepherds. Why would God do that?

Well, the messenger angel answers that question in verses 10 and 11: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Isn’t that something? Jesus is good news for every person. Jesus is a Savior for every man and woman, even the ones the world thinks stink to high heaven. Even the ones the world considers “not worth counting.”

Luke wanted the message of Christmas to be loud and clear: Jesus Christ came for those who are at the bottom of the social pecking order. Jesus came for the nobodies. He didn’t come for those who are on mountaintops but instead for those who are in the valleys, those who are ignored, those who are overlooked, those who are broken, those who are dirty, and those who are despised. And that includes you and me. Jesus came for you and me.

THAT’S why we celebrate his birth. THAT’S simply Christmas.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  Join us for our message series, “Simply Christmas,” Sunday at 10 a.m., and for our Christmas Eve Service Sunday night at 7 pm.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas in the Wilderness

I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your waya voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’– Mark 1:2-3

As the Christmas countdown clock winds down, and as you make your way through the checkout lines at WalMart or Winco, chances are you’ve been hearing the question: “Are you ready for Christmas?” And most of us will answer: “NO!!!” After all, you’ve still got shopping to finish and Christmas cards to write and Christmas programs to attend. But in the first chapter of his gospel, Mark reminds us that there is a much more important question to ask: Are you ready for Jesus?

Most of us have never heard a Christmas sermon preached out of the Book of Mark. And there’s a good reason for that: Mark doesn’t write anything about the nativity. Nothing about a baby crying, angels singing or wise men traveling. He doesn’t say a single word about Bethlehem, a virgin birth or a manger. But hidden in the opening verses of Mark 1, there are some powerful, hidden insights about the first Christmas. He starts it right off in verse 1: “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

When Jesus was born, the title Son of God was more or less interchangeable with the title of Messiah or Christ. But as Jesus’ ministry progressed, he demonstrated through his teaching and miracles that the title meant much more than just the Christ: he himself was divine. He himself was God in the flesh. Jesus came to earth as the Christ and the very Son of God. He was 100 percent man, but he was also 100% God. Now, that’s a miracle to celebrate!

But are you ready? As we prepare for Christmas, Mark wants us to know that before Jesus began his ministry, God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way. Mark writes in verses 2 and 3, I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your waya voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Notice that he uses the word “prepare” twice in those two verses. And those who hoped to be in God’s will were called to join him in preparing.

So, this Christmas, what do you think the chances are that God is much more concerned with you preparing your heart for Jesus than He is with you preparing your table for the Christmas ham? What do you suppose the chances are that God is more concerned with you preparing your schedule to worship Christ than He is with you preparing your best white elephant gift?

Don’t get me wrong. The ham and the gifts and the lights and the music are all wonderful parts of the Christmas season. But they’re all meaningless if we don’t prepare ourselves for the heart of Christmas: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born to save the world. God wants us to prepare ourselves and our families to celebrate his coming, to worship his majesty, and to recommit our lives to him.

And for one more marvelous insight … according to verses 3 and 4, where did John do his preaching? Well, some translations use the word “wilderness.” Others translate the Greek word as … “desert.” Doesn’t that sound a lot like the Victor Valley? “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).

Time and time again in Scripture, we find that God speaks to us in the wilderness, reaches out to us in the wilderness, calls us to repent and change our evil ways in the wilderness, God forgives us and ushers us into the Promised Land from the wilderness. Mark wants us to understand that the story of Christmas—the story of Jesus—begins in the wilderness … or, if you like, the desert.

Let’s be honest: For many of us, this is NOT the most wonderful time of the year. Some of us have lost family members this year. Others have lost jobs, while still others have seen our health take a nosedive. Perhaps you are flat broke and can’t even think about buying presents or taking a trip to see family this Christmas. The truth is—as this year draws to a close, many of us are in the wilderness.

But guess what happens in the wilderness? God speaks. God reaches out. God calls. And what’s His message? “Jesus is coming. In fact, Jesus is already here. Prepare the way for him in your heart, because he is the heart of Christmas. Take hold of him, and don’t let go.”

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  Join us for our message series, “Simply Christmas,” Sunday at 10 a.m., and for our Christmas Eve Service Sunday night at 7 pm.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Strange Beginning to the Christmas Story

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.– Matthew 1:21

The Christmas season is one of the most wonderful times of the year, but it’s also one of the most hectic times. With all the shopping, decorating, school programs and parties—for many of us, this season has become too much of a rat race. So this year, I hope you’ll take the time to stop and smell the poinsettias. (Do poinsettias even smell? It doesn’t matter.) If you slow down and push aside the commercialism and hecticness of the season, underneath it all you’ll find the simple heart of Christmas: Jesus Christ—born to save the world.

As with anything simple, it’s best to begin at the beginning: the opening chapters of Matthew. Usually, when we read the Christmas story from Matthew, we skip the first 17 verses. Because, after all, 15 of the first 17 verses are a genealogy—just a list of names. And that’s not very important, right? Yet for some reason, it’s the first scripture to appear in the Bible after the book of Malachi, some 400 years before. Why on earth would the Holy Spirit lead Matthew to break the silence with a genealogy?

Great question. He did it, in large part, because Matthew’s original audience was Jewish. And the Jewish people in Matthew’s day were very concerned about pedigree. For example, a priest was required to give an unbroken record of his genealogy all the way back to Moses’ brother Aaron. So, to the Jews of that time, it would be impressive that Jesus’ ancestry could be traced all the way back to Abraham, and that his lineage also included King David. As Matthew set out to prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the King of the Jews, proving that Jesus was both a descendent of Abraham and a descendent of King David was critical. Otherwise Jewish readers would have ignored the rest of Matthew’s gospel account.

After establishing that sterling pedigree, here’s a surprise: Four women are listed in Jesus’ genealogy. Back then, this would have shocked every Jewish reader. The nation of Israel was a very patriarchal society, and most Jewish men would never list any women in their genealogy—especially women with mixed blood lines and sordid pasts. Yet Matthew lists Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. The first two women practiced prostitution. Ruth was from the wicked nation of Moab. And we all know the story of Bathsheba’s affair with King David.

So, what was Matthew thinking? What’s the deal with these four not-so-upstanding women being included in Jesus’ genealogy?

As theologian William Barclay puts it, “If Matthew had ransacked the pages of the Old Testament for improbable candidates he could not have discovered four more incredible ancestors for Jesus Christ [than these four women]. But surely, there is something very lovely in this.” Barclay points out that by including these names at the very beginning of his gospel, Matthew was showing the essence of the good news to come. The story of Jesus Christ is all about barriers going down: the barrier between Jew and Gentile; the barrier between male and female; and most of all, the barrier between saint and sinner. As Jesus says in Matthew 9:13b, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

You see, the Good News of Jesus Christ is contained right here—in this genealogy that you’ve always thought was boring and unimportant. Jesus didn’t come to be the Savior of those who have their act together, those who have a squeaky clean past, those who have no skeletons in the closet. Jesus came to be the Savior of the whole world. That includes prostitutes, addicts, liars, cheaters, thieves and murderers. So, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you’ve strayed, no matter how many skeletons you have in your closet, Jesus came for you, too. He came for you.

And here’s one more dollop of heartwarming icing on the Christmas cake. In Matthew 1:17, Matthew strategically lists Jesus’ genealogy in three groups of fourteen generations each. If you take a closer look at the beginning and ending names in each group of 14, you’ll discover a beautiful snapshot of human history and the reason for Christmas.

The first group begins with Abraham (the “friend of God”) and ends with David (the “man after God’s own heart”). The second group begins with David and ends with the Babylonian exile—a punishment by God for Israel’s rejection of God. And the third group begins with the exile and ends with the birth of Christ.

Herein lies the unfolding of human history: We were created as friends of God to become men and women after His own heart. But we squandered that wonderful gift by turning our backs on Him. As a result, we suffered defeat and death. But Jesus came to give us grace and hope and life. That’s the story of human history. And that’s simply Christmas!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us this Christmas season for our message series, “Simply Christmas,” Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, December 4, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life!

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” - Matthew 1:24

In the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey is a young dreamer who lives in the sleepy little town of Bedford Falls. He oversees a small building and loan that his father founded. George hates the building and loan business, but after his father dies and his younger brother moves out of the area, he feels obligated to put his personal dreams on hold to keep the family business running. He eventually marries a beautiful girl named Mary, and they have four cute kids: two boys and two girls. Despite his unexpected change of course, George is on top of the world. But suddenly his world comes crashing down one day when his coworker misplaces $8,000, and a warrant is issued for George’s arrest.

All seems hopeless for George—just as it must have seemed hopeless for Joseph of Nazareth in the first chapter of Matthew. We read in Matthew 1:18 that Mary and Joseph were pledged to be married. More specifically, they were betrothed. That means they were legally “husband and wife,” but Mary still lived with her parents and hadn’t consummated her marriage with Joseph. Although Nazareth was a podunk town located in the dull region of Galilee, Joseph must have been on top of the world. The wedding ceremony was at hand, and he would soon walk into his own home hand-in-hand with the prettiest girl in town.

But suddenly his world came crashing down when he discovered that his beautiful Mary was pregnant. God’s word doesn’t tell us how Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy. Perhaps she told him right away, or perhaps her bulging waistline revealed her secret. But regardless of how he learned of Mary’s pregnancy, it’s clear from Matthew 1:19 that Joseph had made up his mind: He was going to divorce Mary. The only logical explanation for her pregnancy was that she had committed adultery. Although Joseph was devastated, he had decided that divorcing her quietly was the most loving and honorable thing for him to do.

But a visit from an angel turned Joseph’s world upside down, just as it did for George Bailey. According to Matthew 1:20-21, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

Can you imagine how thunderstruck Joseph must have been by the angel’s words? What the angel said was crazy. It defied all logic. Virgins don’t get pregnant. Teenage girls don’t give birth to “God with us.” And it made no sense that he—a blue collar, living paycheck-to-paycheck carpenter—would be the earthly father of the promised Messiah.

But Joseph believed the word of the Lord and obeyed God anyway. After the dream ended, he got up and did what the angel had commanded him to do. He “took Mary home as his wife,” but he didn’t consummate the marriage until after Jesus was born. Righteous man that he was, Joseph put God’s needs, Mary’s needs and his miraculously-conceived son’s needs above his own personal needs. Despite the hardships to come and the stigma that he would certainly bear for having married a pregnant woman, Joseph obeyed the word of the Lord.

As I consider the wonderful example of Joseph, three life lessons come to mind. For starters, Lesson #1: Good things can come out of Victorville. In Jesus’ day, Nazarethhad a bad reputation. Even one of Jesus’ apostles asked the question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Similarly, many people ask, “Can anything good come out of Victorville? Can anything good come out of Adelanto? Can anything good come out of Apple Valley?” And God answers, “Absolutely!” Just as good things came out of Nazareth when God was involved, good things can come out of the Victor Valley when we, like Joseph, walk in humble obedience to the Lord’s commands.

Lesson #2: Maintaining a good reputation with God takes precedence over maintaining a good reputation with man. God has called us to live lives of integrity and, as much as possible, to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. But there are times when choosing to obey God will tarnish our reputation with people. So be it! Just like Joseph, we must always choose to do what is right in God’s eyes. We must obey God, not man. Ultimately, our highest aim as Christians is to be God-pleasers, not man-pleasers.

Lesson #3: Live and celebrate the wonderful life that God created you to live—a life of loving, trusting and obeying Him. The bridge is a pivotal place in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The first time George stands on the bridge, he is at the end of his rope, feeling completely hopeless. At the end of the movie, he’s back on the bridge but has a new lease on life. What changed? He is still $8,000 in the hole. He still has a warrant out for his arrest. His car is still smashed against a tree. So what changed? His perspective changed. God opened George’s eyes to see the glorious truth that—despite his hardships and difficulties--God had blessed him with a wonderful life. The same was true of Joseph, and the same is true of you. My friends, despite your problems, ask God to open your eyes so that you can see what He sees: Your God-given life is, in a word, “wonderful.”

Dane Davis is the Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit, and join us this Christmas season Sundays at 10 a.m. for our special series: "Simply Christmas."