Monday, August 27, 2018

Two Impossible Messages

“For nothing is impossible with God.”
- Luke 1:17

About a year after our first daughter was born, my wife took a pregnancy test and shared the good news: Our second baby was on the way. We were pretty excited. She set up an appointment with her ob-gyn, and he scheduled her for an ultrasound. It was incredible seeing the images of the tiny little baby inside my wife’s womb.

Several weeks passed and when we went in for a follow-up ultrasound, something looked a bit odd. It looked like the baby hadn’t grown since the last ultrasound. The doctor called us into his office and broke the news: The baby wasn’t alive. We were devastated, and we prayed for a miracle. But over the next week as further tests were run, the results were the same: The baby hadn’t made it. And I remember thinking: I wonder if we’ll ever be able to have another baby. At the time, I sure thought the answer was “No!”

Within the next six years, three more beautiful daughters came along, one by one, to prove me wrong. But at the time it sure felt like our baby bearing days were over. We were experiencing a small taste of what Zechariah and Elizabeth had been experiencing for many years … until Zechariah received some startling news in Luke 1.

Elizabeth, you may recall, was cousin to Mary, who would give birth to Jesus. But that comes later. At the beginning of Luke, all Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah knew was that they had prayed year after year to have a child, and year after year Elizabeth remained barren. We’re not told how old they were in Luke 1, but it’s likely that Zechariah and Elizabeth were in their 60s. Perhaps it had been 10 years since they had stopped praying for a child.

So, imagine Zechariah’s response when the angel Gabriel appeared to him in the temple and said, “Your prayer has been heard.” Gabriel told Zechariah that he would have a son who would be a source of joy for his family and for many people in Israel. He would lead many people back to God and pave the way for the Lord’s coming, turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the disobedient to righteousness. What an amazing message to receive from one of God’s most famous angels!

But how did Zechariah respond? In verse 18, he said, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Or, to translate: “Gabriel, I’m not so sure I believe you. You’ll need to prove it to me. Otherwise, I’m not buying it.” Um … not such a great response. It was the most amazing day in Zechariah’s life: He was in the temple serving the Lord, he was having a conversation with one of God’s greatest angels, he was being told that the prayer he had prayed for decades was finally being answered—and he didn’t believe it. He doubted the goodness and power of God. And since Zechariah responded with unbelief, God chose to discipline him by temporarily taking away his ability to speak. 

Compare that to Mary’s reaction when she had a face-to-face meeting a few months later with that very same angel. In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God dispatched Gabriel to deliver another very important message, this time to a teenage girl in the hills of Nazareth: “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:31-32a).

Understandably, young Mary was blown away. And at first glance, her response to the angel seems very similar to Zechariah’s. She asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (v. 34). But although Mary’s reply sounds similar, it was actually very different. Zechariah said, “How can I be sure of this?” In other words: “I don’t really believe you.”  But Mary said, “How will this be?” In other words, “I believe you. But could you explain to me how God is going to pull this off with me being a virgin and all?” Zechariah’s response was a response of unbelief. Mary’s response was a response of faith.

Remember: Faith is a DECISION, not a FEELING. I imagine that when Gabriel delivered his messages to Zechariah and Mary, they both FELT confused; they both FELT overwhelmed; they both FELT unprepared to handle what God had in store for them. But there was a big difference in how these two handled these feelings. Zechariah allowed his uncomfortable feelings to overrule his faith in God’s goodness and power. But inside Mary’s mind and heart, faith ruled. Mary clung to her faith in God’s goodness and power despite her swirling, confused feelings.

Two very different responses to God’s good news from two different servants of God. One allowed his feelings to rule his faith. The other made a decision that her faith would rule her feelings. When God brings you some good news, which will rule your response: your feelings or your faith? I hope that, like Mary, you will make a decision to trust in the Lord’s power and goodness.

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

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Savior for All People

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” 
- Luke 19:1-10

We hear the verse every year at Christmastime. It’s so familiar, sometimes the words might just slip by us. So now, in the middle of August, let’s take a moment to listen a little closer as an angel appears to the shepherds on that first Christmas night: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).  

Today I want to point out a tiny little three-letter word: “ALL the people.” Because that tiny little word makes ALL the difference. It’s at the heart of Luke’s gospel account.

You see, the Bible gives us four different gospels for a reason. Each of the four gospel historians presents a slightly different perspective. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience and highlights Jesus as the King of the Jews. Mark wrote to a Gentile audience and presents Jesus as a powerful miracle-worker. John wrote his gospel account some 50 years after Jesus ascended into heaven, so he was writing to a generation that hadn’t personally walked or talked with Jesus. And he presents Jesus as the Son of God.

Luke intended for his gospel account to be read by both Jews and Gentiles, and he presents Jesus as the loving savior of the world—not just the savior of Jews, not just the savior of men, not just the savior of the rich or famous. Luke documents example after example of Jesus being a savior available for every man, woman and child.

Consider this: The word “salvation” isn’t used at all in Matthew or Mark, and it’s only used once in John. But it’s used six times in Luke. Luke also uses the word “savior” twice and uses the verb form “to save” more than any other gospel writer. So, Luke puts a big emphasis on Jesus as the world’s savior. Here are a few specifics:

#1: Jesus is the loving savior of NON-JEWS. There are a number of examples of this in Luke’s gospel account. For instance: the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3. When Matthew recorded Jesus’ genealogy in his gospel account, since he was writing to a Jewish audience, he only went as far back as Abraham. But when Luke records Jesus’ genealogy, since he’s writing to all people everywhere, he takes Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam. It’s also worth mentioning that Luke is the only non-Jewish author in the entire New Testament.

#2: Jesus is the loving savior of WOMEN AND CHILDREN. Both Jewish and Gentile societies in Luke’s day were male-dominated. But Luke’s gospel proves that Jesus is an equal opportunity savior for men, women and children. From the very first chapter, women play a prominent role. Of the four gospel writers, Luke alone records the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Only Luke records Mary’s visit to Elizabeth after she received the angel’s message. In chapter 10, only Luke records the well-known account of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha ran around like a chicken with her head cut off.

And Luke spends more time on babies and children than any other gospel writer. Luke records more details of Jesus’ birth than any other gospel writer. Only Luke records the dedication of Jesus at the temple when he was eight days old and the account of him staying behind at the temple without his parents’ knowledge when he was 12 years old. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record for us the account of Jesus blessing the children who were brought to him despite his disciples’ protests. But only Luke points out that people weren’t only bringing children but babies to Jesus.

#3) Jesus is the loving savior of the POOR and the NOBODIES in society.
At Christmas time we often talk about how shepherds in Jesus’ day were nobodies. They weren’t counted in the census. They weren’t allowed in a synagogue. They were basically considered to be half-human. So, aren’t you thankful that Luke took the time to document that visit by the angel to the shepherds in the hills of Bethlehem? The angel told them, in Luke 2:11-12: “Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord.” Isn’t that awesome!? “A savior has been born to YOU.”

In Luke 7:22, Jesus makes it clear that he didn’t come to earth to preach the good news merely to “the poor in spirit” as Matthew states. Jesus says he came to preach the good news to “the poor”—period. In Luke 14:13, as Jesus is teaching his followers how to throw a party that will please God, he tells them to invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” to the party.

Jesus is the savior of all mankind: not just the savior of Jews, but the savior of non-Jews as well. Not just the savior of men, but also the savior of women and children. And not just the savior of the rich and famous, but the savior of the poor and the nobodies as well. So if you ever find yourself feeling like a nobody, this gospel is good news indeed!

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

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Dangers of Greed

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
- 1 Timothy 6:7

Jesus had gotten pretty popular, to say the least. In verse 1 of Luke 12, we’re told that there were so many thousands of people listening to Jesus that they “were trampling one another.” And the crowd has been packed in like sardines for a while when a man spoke to Jesus in verse 13: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Notice that he didn’t ask Jesus a question – he simply blurted out an order. Jesus’ answer was simple and curt: “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” (v. 14). And with that, Jesus was all done addressing their dispute. Why? Chances are Jesus didn’t get involved with these two brothers, at least in part, because there was no point. As Bible scholar Warren Wiersbe explains, “He knew that no answer he gave would solve the real problem, which was covetousness in the hearts of the two brothers…. As long as both men were greedy, no settlement would be satisfactory. Their greatest need was to have their hearts changed.”

So, Jesus followed his rebuke with a warning, which appears to have been meant both for the two brothers and for the rest of the crowd: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (v. 15). Jesus looked at these two greedy brothers, and he could perceive what most of the crowd could not. Their greed was consuming them and placing them on the slippery slope to Hell—an eternity separated from God.

Here’s a quick definition of greed: an unquenchable thirst for getting more and more of something we think we need in order to be truly satisfied. May people are greedy for money. Many others are greedy for things that money can buy. Still others are greedy for position or power. Regardless of what someone’s greed is targeting, greed is toxic. It can destroy our life here on earth and can even send negative ripples into eternity. I’d like to share with you four dangers of greed that God’s Word reveals.

1) Greed subtly replaces God on the throne of our lives with something else. Sadly, without even realizing it, when we become consumed by greed for money and material possessions, we gradually replace God on the throne of our hearts. Our hearts no longer beat for God; they beat for stuff. Our hearts no longer stay focused on God; they stay focused on stuff. Our hearts’ number-one goal is no longer to bring glory and honor to God, but to bring more money into our bank accounts and more stuff into our homes.

2) Greed is a root of all kinds of evil. As Paul warns us in 1Timothy 9-10, “
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The road to wealth is paved with many traps. There are many temptations that, if we give in, will lead us to do foolish and harmful things. Money, and even wealth, can be a wonderful tool when we submit it to the lordship of Christ and place it in God’s hands to do God’s work. But money makes a terrible God.

3) Greed takes our focus off others and puts it on ourselves. We are called to humbly consider others better than ourselves. We are called to love our neighbors. But in the rat race of trying to get richer and richer, our greed takes our focus off others and puts it on ourselves. When money stops being a godly tool and starts becoming the object of our affections, it’s gotta go.

4) Greed here on earth will leave you flat broke in heaven. According to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, one day every believer and follower of Jesus Christ will stand before God, and our entire lives will be passed through a fire. That fire will test the quality of everything we did here on earth. The only things in our lives that will pass through the flames and come out on the other side are the things we did for Jesus Christ. If you trust in Christ, you will make it to heaven. But will you have something to show for your life here on earth? If we allow greed to take root in our lives, not only will we not be able to take our earthly riches with us, we won’t have any riches awaiting us in heaven.

As Christians, we should view our money and earthly possessions as a gift from God intended to meet our basic needs. We should use them as a tool to love God and people. If we use what we’ve been given wisely, we can look forward to our ultimate reward in eternity, when we hear those six most beautiful words in the universe: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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

Monday, August 6, 2018

God’s Foolishness

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
- 1 Corinthians 1:18

Within this unimaginably huge universe of ours, we are tiny dots on a tiny planet. Think about it: The Milky Way galaxy contains around 100 billion stars. And as huge as the Milky Way galaxy is, it’s only one of about 100 billion galaxies in the known universe. Looking up into the heavens, it’s no wonder the psalmist asked God in Psalm 8:4, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

But He does. Isn’t that mind-blowing? The notion that the Creator of this vast universe cares about you and me, and loves you and me, sounds ridiculous. It sounds foolish. But as we see in 1 Corinthians 1, God has a funny habit of doing things that sound foolish to us. And God has a funny habit of choosing weak and lowly people like you and me to carry out His purposes. Sounds unbelievable. But it’s true.

If you spend some time with nonChristians, you’ll be reminded that the message of the cross sounds really crazy to unbelievers. As Paul summarized his own culture in 1 Corinthians 22:23, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”

You see, in Paul’s day the Jews were really big on miracles. During Jesus’ ministry, the Jewish crowds and their rabbis kept asking Jesus to show them a miraculous sign to prove he was the Messiah – even after he performed numerous healings. So, the cross of Jesus Christ was a stumbling block to Jews, because in their minds, his crucifixion was anything but a miracle. In their minds it was the exact opposite. Now, they might have seen it as a miracle if Jesus had survived the crucifixion. If he had stepped down from the cross and walked away with nails still sticking out of his wrists and a spear still dangling from his side, THAT, in their minds, would be a miracle worthy of standing up and taking notice. So, the message of the cross sounded foolish to Jews who rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Meanwhile, the Greeks and Romans of Paul’s day took pride in their ability to understand the complexities of life through science and philosophy. They prided themselves on their ability to save themselves and humanity through intellectual reasoning. But the message of the cross sounded to them like utter foolishness. Think about it: receiving LIFE from one who received DEATH. Being BLESSED by one who was made a CURSE. Being CLEANSED by one who was made DIRTY. It sounded so foolish then. And to many it still sounds so foolish today.

Therefore, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Believers and followers of Jesus Christ can see what unbelievers can’t see. We can understand what unbelievers can’t understand. We can see and understand that the message of the cross isn’t foolish. Quite the opposite: It’s brilliant. No matter how intelligent the Greek philosophers seemed to be, they still didn’t know God. And no matter how eloquent the Greek thinkers were, they couldn’t talk themselves out of a single sin. Regardless of how many universities they attended or how high their IQs soared, they were powerless to transform hard hearts or turn sinners into saints.

Let’s face it. In the eyes of many people, we as Christians are complete morons for believing in Jesus Christ crucified and risen again. And that’s okay with God. As Paul wrote, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him” (vs. 27-29).

Chances are, when God found you, you weren’t an intellectual giant or an influential billionaire. If you know in your heart of hearts that God saved you, erase in your mind any notion that He saved you because He was impressed by you. He wasn’t impressed by your towering intellect. He wasn’t impressed by your amazing talent. And He certainly wasn’t impressed by your rugged good looks. I’m sure many, many angels are better looking than you. God offered to save you … not because of you, but in spite of you. You and I were foolish. We were weak. We were lowly, and we were despised. But in His wisdom and power and grace, Jesus Christ saved us despite ourselves.

If we follow Jesus Christ, he will use those of us the world calls “fools” to put the world’s wisdom to shame. And as the secular world around us calls us intellectually and emotionally weak, God will use us as examples of strength and courage in the midst of life’s battles. And as the secular world around us calls us lowly and despised, God will lift us up as His greatest treasure.

Let me ask you: Are you one of the foolish things of the world that God chose? I hope so!

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.