Monday, July 22, 2019

Looking For a Sign?

“This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” – Luke 11:29

About 10 years ago I was driving to the church office one morning, and something happened that I’ll never forget. I was going through a dry spell in my spiritual life. I didn’t sense a closeness to the Lord. I was feeling discouraged and rather hopeless about my work as a pastor. As I was driving up the street I cried out to God in prayer and asked Him, “God, would you show me a sign that I’m where I’m supposed to be? Give me some hope.” As I finished that prayer, my car came to a stop at an intersection. And as I looked across the street, I saw a road sign from my own church that read, “There Is Hope!”

Isn’t God amazing? Months earlier I had asked one of our church members to put the sign at that intersection because I wanted people to know there was hope at First Christian Church, because Jesus is in this church, and there’s ALWAYS hope in Jesus. When I asked that Christian brother to place the sign at that intersection, I had no idea that one day it would be God’s sign of hope for me when I needed it the most.

Sometimes God gives us a sign to make our faith in Him even stronger. And in Luke 11, Jesus Christ shines a light on the greatest sign you’ll ever see. In fact, it’s the greatest sign that God has ever shown the world. In verses 29-36, Jesus was addressing a large crowd and spoke about those who demanded a sign from heaven: “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (v. 29). Now, Luke doesn’t tell us what the sign of Jonah is, but Matthew does: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

So, what is the sign of Jonah? It’s the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Or to say it more simply: The sign of Jonah is Jesus himself. Luke 11:30 makes this clear when Jesus says, “For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.” Almost 800 years earlier, Jonah was sent by God to the wicked city of Nineveh to preach to them. And in Jonah 3, the Ninevites believed Jonah’s message and repented from their sin.
Now, what sign did God give the Ninevites that Jonah’s message was true and should be taken seriously? The sign God gave them was Jonah himself.

Think about it. When the fierce storm was tearing apart the ship that Jonah was riding on, the sailors threw Jonah overboard. And with their own eyes they saw Jonah disappear under the waves. He did not resurface 30 seconds later, five minutes later or even one day later. Medically, what would we call a man who remained underwater for several days? We’d call him “dead.” And when this “dead” man came walking into town a week or two later, surely many of the Ninevites saw it as an act of God. In the same way, after three days in the grave, Jesus conquered death and, like Jonah, he was a dead man walking. And even though he had a resurrected, heavenly body, his glorified body still bore the scars in his hands and feet and side. So, the sign of Jonah that Jesus refers to is his own resurrected body.

Even before Jesus died and rose again, he walked among us as God’s sign from heaven. William Barclay hits the nail on the head as he writes, “[The crowd] could not see that the greatest sign that God could ever send was Jesus himself.” That’s why Jesus rebuked their generation and called it “wicked.” The greatest sign from heaven of God’s love, His perfect plan and wisdom, was right in front of them, and they were blind to it. And as our generation in 2019 ignores Jesus Christ and turns its back on him, Jesus turns to us and says the same thing: “This is a wicked generation!”

The crowds surrounding Jesus needed to wake up and see that the greatest sign from heaven was standing right in front of them. And our generation needs to do the same. The sign that we’ve been looking for all this time that proves God is real, that proves God is good, that proves God loves me and has a plan for my life has been right in front of us all along.

So, if you’re asking God to give you a sign, listen to His still, small reply: “I already have.”

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Man Who Loved His Neighbor

“And who is my neighbor?” – Luke 10:29

Back in the 1950s and ’60s, there was a popular comic strip called Pogo. Even though Pogo was an opossum, he offered some wonderful insights about life. In one strip, Pogo was sitting beside a swamp fishing. Before long, a duck swam to the shore, waddled up and sat down beside him. The duck asked, “Has you see’d my cousin? He’s migrating north by kiddy car.” Pogo responded, “By kiddy car? Why don’t he fly?” The duck said, “Oh, he’s afraid of flying. He’s afraid he’s gonna fall.” A bit perplexed, Pogo asked, “Then why don’t he swim?” The duck responded, “Oh, he never swims. When he swims he gets seasick.” In complete frustration, Pogo looked at the duck and says, “When your cousin decided to be a duck, he entered the wrong business!”

I’m curious. If Pogo looked at the life of the average Christian, what would he see, and what would he say? Would he see Christians who refuse to do the basic things that Jesus has called every Christian to do? I’m afraid he might say, “When you decided to be a Christian, you entered the wrong business!” Theologian Haddon Robinson summarized Pogo’s insights this way: “Blessed is the duck who, when he decides to be a duck, does what ducks are supposed to do!” We could say much the same thing about Christians: Blessed is the follower of Christ, who when he decides to be a follower of Christ, does what followers of Christ are supposed to do.

In Luke 10, Jesus gave one of his most memorable illustrations of what followers of Christ are supposed to do in the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan. An “expert” in the law had asked Jesus to interpret the Old Testament law, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). In Luke 10: 29, the man asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Evidently this legal eagle thought Jesus would say that his neighbor was the guy next door in his upper-middle-class neighborhood, or his fellow Jewish leader at the temple. Never in a million years would he have imagined that Jesus would single out a half-dead mugging victim as his neighbor.

You probably know the story well. A certain man was traveling alone on a dangerous road. Some robbers pounced on him, beat him up, stole his clothes and belongings, and left him for dead at the side of the road. Afterward two separate men, a priest and a Levite, came down the road and saw him lying there. But instead of helping him, each man scooted to the other side of the road and kept walking. After all, according to Jewish law, they would be deemed ceremonially unclean for a full week if they touched a man who ended up dying. Obviously, both of these religious leaders valued ceremonial cleanliness more the fate of a dying stranger. But when a lowly Samaritan came by, he had compassion on the injured man—and his actions proved it. He knelt beside the man and treated his wounds. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to the nearest inn and paid the innkeeper to take care of him for as long as needed.

After telling the story, Jesus turned to the Jewish legal expert and asked him the simple question: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The man responded, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus, in a nutshell, told him, “That’s what God means when he tells you to love your neighbor. Go and do the same thing that the Samaritan did.”

A marvelous insight can be gleaned from this parable. In the words of Chuck Swindoll: “What you ARE determines what you SEE, and what you SEE determines what you DO.” In the parable, all three men saw the half-dead man on the side of the road. But why didn’t the first two men do anything to help him? Because what we do is determined by what we see. And when they saw the man on the side of the road, they saw an inconvenience, a waste of their precious time, a blemish on their ceremonial purity.

And why did they see the man that way? Because of what they were. They were religious snobs. Their religion was all head and no heart. When their religion really could make a difference in someone’s life, they took a pass. The priest and Levite didn’t DO the right thing, because they didn’t SEE the hurting man through the eyes of Jesus. And they didn’t SEE the hurting man through the eyes of Jesus because they were not followers of Jesus. What you are determines what you see, and what you see determines what you do.

So, let me ask you: What are you? Are you a new creation in Christ? If so, you will see people as Jesus sees them. You will see them as his favorite creation, in need of his love—no matter who they are, no matter what they look like, no matter how undeserving they might seem. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you will see every man, woman and child as your neighbor, someone who is fair game for Christ’s mercy and compassion and love to be extended through you. Like the Good Samaritan, you and I must see people the way Jesus sees people, because of what we are: faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Invisible War

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”
– Luke 11:23

Back in the mid-1980s, Christian author Frank Peretti published a novel that rattled a lot of Christians—including me. The novel, “This Present Darkness,” is set in the small college town of Ashton. In the story, the chief editor of the local newspaper and the pastor of the town’s struggling church discover something very unnerving: Ashton is a ground zero for a flood of demonic activity. Thousands of demons are flying overhead and lurking in shadows, steering the course of events in their little town. Like puppeteers, these demons are pulling nonChristians’ strings to get them to do exactly what Satan wants them to do.

In one scene I don’t think I’ll ever forget, a demon hovers over someone’s head, sticks his bony little finger through his skull, and stirs his thoughts. As a teenager, that image just about gave me nightmares. In his book, Frank Peretti shared vivid and imaginative ideas of what demonic activity might look like in the invisible realm. And even though it was a fictional story, it opened a lot of Christians’ minds to the reality of spiritual warfare. 

Jesus understood spiritual warfare better than anyone. At the very beginning of his ministry, freshly baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus went mano-a-mano with Satan himself. He spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert battling Satan’s temptations, overcoming every one of them with the Word of God lifted up in prayer. Over the next three years of his earthly ministry, Jesus encountered demons time and time again. And in Luke 11:23, Jesus makes it clear that it is impossible to be on the fence in spiritual warfare: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

In verses 24-26, Jesus tells of a demon who, for whatever reason, vacates a man’s soul. The demon wanders the desert looking for rest and doesn’t find it. So, he decides to return to the man he left. “When [the demon] arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order” (v. 25). In other words, the man had cleaned up his act since the demon left him. Perhaps he got off drugs, stopped cheating on his wife, and got himself a steady job. But his soul was empty because he still hadn’t invited the Spirit of Jesus Christ into his life.

In the parable, Jesus continues: “Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first” (vs. 25-26). In other words, the demon said to himself, “Easy smeezy! I’ll grab seven of my buddies, and the eight of us will have no problem storming the gates to this man’s soul and moving right back in.” The demons did just that, and as time passed, the man’s condition was worse than ever. What happened? Well, let me share three lessons that William Barclay draws from Jesus’ illustration:

#1: You can’t leave a man’s soul EMPTY. In our pride we think we have so much willpower against Satan’s attacks. We think we can sit on the sidelines of the great spiritual war and not take sides. We think we can leave our souls empty. But we can’t. If we don’t freely choose to join Jesus’ team and ask him to fill our hearts, whether we like it or not, Satan will drag us onto his team, and he will fill our hearts. If God is not in the driver’s seat of your life, one way or another, Satan will be in the driver’s seat.

#2: It’s not real religion if it’s nothing but NEGATIVES. The man in Jesus’ illustration thought that getting rid of the demon was all it took to be in a good place. The evil was gone. So, life must be good … right? No. It doesn’t work that way. Good isn’t simply the absence of bad. True religion does include the negative—NOT doing certain things. But it can’t be boiled down to a list of “Thou shalt nots.” Far too many nonChristians in our community have been given the impression that Christianity is just an oppressive list of “don’ts.” But Christianity is so much more. It’s not just about expelling the evil. It’s about being filled with our good Savior and penetrating this world with his mercy and grace and love and goodness.

#3: The best way to avoid evil is to do good. I don’t know about you, but I find that I’m not nearly as mean to people when I’m being nice to people. My actions tend to steer clear of evil when I’m busy doing what is good. My thoughts don’t wander off in depressed or bitter or lustful directions when I’m keeping myself busy doing God’s work. In James 1:27, God’s word tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

You and I must choose a side: Either Jesus Christ’s side or Satan’s side. And the word of the Lord is this: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” In other words, “Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will come inside you and fill your heart and your soul. And when he does, you will be full of God, and there will be no room for the enemy.” So, choose Jesus. Be filled with Jesus. Obey his word, and you will be blessed.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, July 1, 2019

God of the Midnight Emergencies?

“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Luke 11:10

A woman who lived in a remote area of Wales made a big request: She asked the electric company to connect her home to the grid. It required a lot of hard work and a whole lot of money, but she finally convinced them to run power to her house. However, a few months after her power was turned on, the utility company noticed that she had barely used any electricity. They thought there must be something wrong with the hookup, so they sent a meter reader out to investigate. The serviceman came to the door and said to the woman, “We’ve just checked your meter and it doesn’t seem that you’re using much electricity. Is there a problem?” She answered, “Oh no. We’re quite satisfied. We turn the electric lights on every night so we can see to light our gas lamps, and then we switch them off again.”

What an odd thing to do! This woman missed out on many modern conveniences that could have been a big blessing to her and to her family. She had cheap, convenient light at her fingertips, but she only tapped into the power source for a few seconds every day. The same could be said about many Christians when it comes to prayer.

Every Christian believes in prayer. We’ve heard plenty of stories about answered prayer. But we use prayer’s power so sparingly. Perhaps some of us don’t pray very much because we believe God’s going to pretty much do what He’s going to do with or without our prayers. Others of us may not pray much because we view prayer as a last resort—a “Hail Mary” pass—when all else fails.  Still others of us don’t pray very much because we’re too busy or too lazy. We can come up with plenty of reasons for not flipping the prayer switch and tapping into God’s power grid, but none of the reasons are very good.

In Luke 11, Jesus tells his followers a parable to illustrate the importance of prayer. He tells about a man who has an unexpected midnight visitor—a friend who arrives tired and hungry from a long journey. The man has no food to offer his visitor, so he knocks on his neighbor’s door and asks for three loaves of bread. But the neighbor responds: “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything” (v. 7).  However, in the end, Jesus says, “Though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (v. 8).

Now, some readers of this parable might assume that since the man who pounds on his friend’s door represents you and me, the sleeping friend must represent God.  But Jesus makes it clear that God is nothing like the sleeping, reluctant friend. You see, unlike the sleeping friend, our heavenly Father is not a reluctant giver. The reluctant friend feels inconvenienced by his friend’s request. But God never feels inconvenienced by His sons’ and daughters’ requests. The reluctant friend basically says to his friend at the door, “You screwed up by being unprepared for your friend’s midnight visit. It’s not MY problem!”  But God delights in sharing our problems, even when it’s our fault. Finally, the reluctant friend eventually does the right thing for selfish reasons—he wants to get back to sleep. But God does the right thing because He loves us.

Jesus simply says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (vs. 9-10). I’d like you to ask yourself: Do these verses work both ways in my relationship with God? In all honesty, most of us would answer, “No.”  God ASKS us to speak for Him and do certain things for Him, but so often we don’t do it.  God SEEKS followers who will stand in the gap between our godless culture and the gates of Heaven and lead others back to Christ. God seeks followers like these, but quite often He doesn’t find them.  God KNOCKS on our hearts’ doors, asking us to let Him come in and spend quality time with us, but like the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:20), so often we refuse to answer the door.

God comes our way asking, seeking and knocking, and so often—just like the sleeping friend—we turn Him away.  But thankfully, God is not like us. If we go to our Father and ask, we will receive. If we go to our Father and seek, we will find. And if we go our Father and knock, the door will be opened.

Friends, God is NOT a reluctant Giver. He is a loving, gracious, generous Giver. He delights in hearing and answering our prayers. He delights in meeting our needs when we bring our needs to Him. Don’t just go to God for the midnight emergencies. Go to your Father in Heaven every day, throughout the day with your needs and your requests. He will hear you and He will answer you. Now, will you do the same for Him?

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.