Friday, February 23, 2018

Are You a Stinkin’ Alien?

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight.” Colossians 1:21-22a

Over the years, there have been lots of movies about aliens coming to earth. We’ve had “Signs,” “Independence Day,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “E.T.” … the list goes on and on. Now, I’d like you to chew on this: In all of these movies, whether the aliens are good or evil, the basic premise is the same: Earth is humans’ home planet, and anyone who comes here from somewhere else is an alien.

Interestingly, the Bible disagrees. According to Scripture, WE are the aliens, and heaven is our true home. But on our own, we’re not the nice, cuddly, “E.T.”-type aliens. Nope—left to our own devices, we’re more like those mean, ugly dudes in “Independence Day.” That’s you and me … at least, until we reconcile to God through Jesus Christ.

In Colossians 1:21, Paul points out a stark reality, which many people don’t want to accept: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” That wasn’t a popular message in Paul’s day, and it’s not a very popular message today. Many people take pride in being very “spiritual” and feel very “connected” to God. So they are taken aback by Paul’s blunt words here. But without Jesus Christ, you’re alienated from God. In fact, you’re an enemy of God. Now, how do you like them apples?

The word “alienated,” as it’s used by Paul, is a translation of a Greek word that means “to be utterly estranged” and “to be utterly the property of another.” So, Paul is saying that before we become believers and followers of Jesus, we are utterly estranged from God; we are completely sold out to someone or something other than God. You see, ever since Adam and Eve first sinned, sin has corrupted everything on this planet: the land, the animal kingdom and human beings. Sin turned this perfect paradise into an alien planet, and sin turned us into aliens.

When Paul speaks about us being enemies of God “in our minds,” he is addressing something much more severe than just a pattern of sinful behavior. As Bible commentator N.T. Wright explains: “It is not simply that habitual wrongdoing has turned the mind away from God…. Thought and act are both tainted, each pushing the other into further corruption…. Wrong thinking leads to vice, vice to further mental corruption, so that the mind, still not totally ignorant of God’s standards, finds itself applauding evil.”

This doesn’t happen today, does it? Our culture doesn’t applaud evil, does it?  Unfortunately, it does … all the time. Millions of our fellow Americans not only support abortion but applaud “a woman’s right to choose.” Millions of Americans applauded sexual perversion a couple of weekends ago by plunking down $46 million on the opening weekend of the latest “50 Shades of Grey” movie. Whether we’re talking about premarital sex, homosexuality, greed, profanity or no-fault divorce, there are any number of lifestyle choices that the world celebrates, even though the Bible condemns them.

So, when we turn to Christ, he doesn’t simply have to transform our moral behavior. He also has to transform our thinking, because in this alien world we live in, both our morals and our thinking have been tainted by sin. This led Paul to write in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In this alien world we live in, both our actions and our thinking alienate us from God and make us enemies of God. That’s the bad news. But thankfully, there’s good news. Take a look at verses 22 and 23: “But now He [God] has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”

The bad news: You’re a stinkin’ alien. The good news: Jesus can wash you up and bring you home. In the movie “E.T.,” Elliot and his friends work together to send E.T. home. In real life, God the Father works together with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to bring us home. And what is home? From God’s perspective, home is His Kingdom. Home is a restored, unbroken relationship with Him. Home is forgiveness. Home is mercy and grace. Home is holiness. Home is faith in Him. Home is freedom from accusation. Home is love and peace and hope. And Jesus is the only One who can get us there.

Doesn’t home sound wonderful?

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Truth About Jesus

“For by him all things were created … all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17

It’s been called the most significant teaching about Jesus Christ in the whole Bible—and it’s only six verses long. If you really want to know who Jesus is and understand the Christian faith, read over Colossians 1:15-20. Its powerful message is, in seven simple words: Jesus Christ is supreme over heaven and earth.

We look around us and see a world that is incredibly complex and fine-tuned. Without a doubt, it bears the fingerprint of an intelligent designer. When we come to our senses, we understand that it would have been impossible for our world to have simply evolved by chance. Well, in these passages, we learn the identity of that creator: Jesus Christ. Now, is Paul actually saying that Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe? Yes. That’s exactly what he’s saying. Everything in the universe was created BY him and FOR him, and all of it holds together IN him.

Did you catch those three key prepositions? BY, FOR and IN. We ask the “who” question: Who made all of this? And God’s word answers back: All things were created BY Jesus Christ. Next we ask the “why” questions. Why was the universe created? Why was I created? What’s the point of it all? And God’s word answers back: All things were created FOR Jesus Christ. Then we wonder—with all of the upheaval in the universe with stars exploding and the galaxy expanding and the asteroids falling—how is it possible that this world doesn’t just fall apart? And God’s word answers back: IN Jesus Christ all things hold together.

And not only is Jesus supreme over all creation—Paul makes it clear that Jesus Christ is supreme over all eternity. Let’s face it; This life we live here on earth is just a drop in the bucket of eternity. If you live to be 100 years old here on earth, that’s barely even a warm-up lap in eternity. So, when the Bible tells us we are eternal beings, that our bodies will one day die but our souls and spirits will live on forever, I want to know who’s going to be calling the shots. Because honestly, eternity is a very long time, so I want to get in good with whoever is in charge of it.

In verse 18, Paul points out that Jesus is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead. In other words, he was the first person to have risen from the dead … permanently. Jesus has the privilege and authority to blaze a trail to heaven for his followers. He is the only one who can restore our broken relationship with God. He is the only one who could pay the death penalty for our sin that we deserve to pay; the only one who holds the key to heaven. That’s why Jesus said point blank in John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

When it comes to this physical world we live in—and in the new and improved eternal world that’s to come—it’s so important to understand that everything in the universe was created BY Him and FOR Him. And all of it holds together IN him.

Jesus is the one and only manifestation of the invisible God in our visible world. He was and is the only one who occupies the position of privilege and authority over all creation. He is eternal—with no beginning and no end. He is Lord of all creation. And He is Lord of all eternity. He is our only hope of forgiveness. He is our only hope of a relationship with God. He is our only hope of a life filled with purpose, grace and peace. He is our only hope of heaven, because heaven is all about him. And—miracle of miracles—this awe-inspiring Creator of Heaven and earth loves you. He loves you!

Whether you like it or not, you were created by Jesus Christ. You were created by him and for him, and he is the only reason you haven’t completely fallen apart—because in him, all things hold together. So, it is my hope and prayer that today you will humbly embrace him as the awesome Creator and Savior that he is and follow him as best you can every day of your life.

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

God Is Not the Golden Corral

“We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Colossians 1:9a

Nowadays, a lot of people treat their spirituals lives like dinner at the Golden Corral. We grab a plate and step up to the religious smorgasbord, then pick and choose what we like. We might say, “I’m going to take a big helping of Christianity. But I’m also going to get a side of Buddhism and a little bit of Wicca and dash of pop psychology and a big helping of me-centered mumbo jumbo on top.” It might be tasty, and it sure is colorful. But is it anywhere close to the truth?

That’s what we sometimes call religious syncretism, where we try to merge all religions together into one and pretend that the incompatible differences are actually compatible. In this post-Christian culture, more and more people are wondering: “Is Jesus really enough? Is He enough to give my life meaning? Is He enough to help me rise above my problems? Is He enough to make me happy? Is Jesus Christ enough?” And the Bible answers in a word: Yes. Jesus is enough.

Jesus Christ is all-sufficient. Jesus isn’t part of the answer to your deepest needs. Jesus isn’t part of the answer to our world’s greatest problems. Jesus Christ is the answer—He is the whole package. In other words … Jesus plus nothing equals EVERYTHING.

That’s what Paul had to teach the people of Colosse, where they had eagerly embraced the good news of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, a lot of other teachings had begun to seep in, resulting in a mixture of Judaism, Christianity and Eastern mysticism. It was a Golden Corral of religions that didn’t completely ignore Jesus Christ, but it pushed him to the back of the plate. Sound familiar? In this culture we live where most people treat religion like the Golden Corral, the message Paul gives them in the Book of Colossians may be more relevant that ever before.

So, how did Paul address the people who had slid into this religious hodgepodge? With faith, hope and love. In the first few verses of his letter to the church in Colosse, he praises and encourages them in their new-found belief: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus and of the LOVE you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the HOPE that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth the gospel that has come to you” (Col. 1:3-6a).

The Colossians needed to be set straight on a few things, but Paul opens by revealing his heart for the church—and the church’s faith, hope and love. Then, and only then, he goes on to pray for their spiritual wisdom and understanding: “We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (v. 9).

Isn’t that a glorious prayer? It’s perfect for someone who’s stumbled into a trumped-up, Golden-Corral-style version of God’s truth. The Colossians obviously were in need of spiritual wisdom and understanding. But never forget: It applies to you and me as well. Never underestimate how vitally important it is to keep growing in your knowledge of God and His will. If you aren’t spending time in the word, being filled with that knowledge, you will easily be duped by any smooth-talking preacher or celebrity who doesn’t proclaim the truth. It happens all the time. Every day across America, Christians who don’t know God’s word or understand God’s word get pulled into Mormonism, or into the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or into the health-and-wealth heresy that many churches preach.

I’d love for you to start praying a prayer like this, for yourself and any other Christian you’re praying for: “Oh, Father God, don’t just give us SOME knowledge of you. Won’t you fill us to the brim with the knowledge of You and Your will? Won’t You give us, not just SOME spiritual wisdom and understanding, but ALL spiritual wisdom and understanding?”

Paul prays for his Christian readers to be filled to overflowing with spiritual wisdom and understanding. And today I pray the same for you.

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

Friday, February 2, 2018

Remember These Two Words

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20

It’s without a doubt one of the strangest prayers I’ve ever read. The year was 1540, and Martin Luther was well underway leading the Protestant Reformation. One day Luther received a letter from his good friend Frederick Myconius, who was deathly ill. Frederick had written Luther a farewell letter, thanking him for his friendship and sharing his final goodbye.

Well, Luther read the letter and immediately wrote his reply, which included these shocking words: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church…The Lord will never let me hear that thou are dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”

Up until the final ten words, Luther’s prayer sounds arrogant and self-absorbed. It’s as if Luther believed prayer was for the purpose of bending God to his own selfish will instead of bending his own will to God’s. But the final ten words absolutely transform his prayer. Perhaps Luther understood something about prayer that we don’t.

Let me ask you: What is the point of prayer? What is its purpose? Some Christians might answer, “Well, prayer gives me a chance to talk to God and share my needs with Him.” Others might respond, “Prayer makes me feel better. It allows me to get things off my chest, and it calms me down.” These answers reveal some of the benefits of prayer, but they don’t reveal the purpose of prayer. According to God’s word, what is the point of prayer? 

Jesus’ prayer in John 17 gives us the answer. It’s the longest prayer of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus had just celebrated the Last Supper with his twelve disciples, and he was just a few hours away from being arrested, beaten and led to the cross. And he began his prayer in John 17:1 by saying, “Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son may glorify You.” No less than eight times in this great prayer, Jesus mentions God’s glory. So, what is the purpose of prayer? The main purpose of prayer is to bring GLORY to God.

Glory—When it comes to prayer, this
is a critically important word that you and I must understand and embrace. Otherwise, we will most likely misuse and abuse prayer. Far too many Christians hold on to the erroneous belief that prayer is about changing God. But prayer isn’t about me changing God. Prayer is about God changing me. Prayer isn’t about bringing myself glory. Prayer is about bringing God glory.

Now, that’s easier said than done. Let’s get really practical here. Sooner or later, we’re all going to get sick. So, when we are ill, how should we pray? How about like this: “Dear Lord, if it will glorify You, take away this illness. Heal me! But if it will glorify You more, then let me remain sick. And while I am sick, give me the power to glorify You through my illness.” Wow! Do you see how powerful prayer can be—on so many different levels—when we understand and embrace the true purpose of prayer: to bring glory to God?

But there’s a second vital word that you and I must also understand and embrace: ACCESS. You see, prayer is the means by which Jesus is given access to our lives. It has been said that God interferes in the affairs of men by invitation only. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

Usually when this verse is quoted, it’s used to urge nonChristians to accept Christ into their lives. But in Revelation 3, Jesus was speaking to Christians who had, in some way or another, shut Jesus out of their lives. So, there Jesus was, patiently knocking at their heart’s door asking them to let him come back in. Why? Because these messed-up Christians had issues, and Jesus wanted to help them with their issues. If only they would let him in!

So, prayer is about giving Jesus an open invitation to come into our lives and have full access to our issues. And—this is the hard part—we give him full permission to deal with them in whatever way he sees fit. And that’s ALL of them: our attitudes, our marriages, our children, our finances, our health, our church … even our President. We can’t hold anything back. We need to invite Christ to move in each and every one of our issues for his glory.

With weak, trembling hands Frederick Myconius read Martin Luther’s letter and prayer. And surprise, surprise! His health was restored. Once again he was able to join Luther in his work, and he even outlived him by two months. Luther’s strange prayer had been miraculously answered. Is it surprising? It shouldn’t be. Amazing answers to prayer become the norm when we give God full access to our lives, lifting up each prayer for His glory.

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