Saturday, December 25, 2021

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. In the words of Linus: “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit

Monday, December 6, 2021

Beware of Pollution in the Church

“Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”  – Revelation 2:23

When I was in eighth grade, I attended a small Christian school in Camarillo. During the spring semester, our school had a science fair, and I did my science fair project on water pollution. My parents bought me a few cheap goldfish, and I put them in separate bowls. The goldfish in one bowl had nice fresh water. And the goldfish in the other bowl didn’t. Every day I added salt to their water. As you probably know, salt water isn’t good for fresh-water goldfish. For them, it’s polluted water.

After a week or two, guess what happened to the goldfish in the polluted water. No, they didn’t die! I’m not a fish murderer! But the salt water did stunt their growth. They were noticeably smaller than the goldfish in the fresh water.

Pollution has a way of doing that. It stunts our growth. It makes us sick. Eventually, it will kill us. And what is true in the natural world is also true in the spiritual world. You see, nothing infects and weakens a church faster than moral pollution. And one of the most polluted churches in the New Testament was the Church at Thyatira in Revelation 2.

Before wading into the church’s moral mess, Jesus praises the Thyatira Christians for their deeds, love, faith and persevering service. But there is something glaringly absent from Jesus’ praise: He doesn’t praise them for their doctrine. Jesus doesn’t praise them for teaching God’s true word while expelling all false teaching. There’s no indication that they stand firm against people who pollute God’s word. And that’s a big deal … because Jesus spends six verses to rebuke their conduct.

Jesus begins His rebuke in Revelation 2:20: “Nevertheless, I have this against you. You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads My servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.” Let’s take a closer look at the three sins Jezebel was polluting the Thyatira Christians with:

Sin #1: She called herself a prophetess. She was assuming a position of authority and a title that God hadn’t given her. As the Apostle Paul teaches, “in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing….” (1 Cor. 12:28). The list goes on, but we can see that Jezebel was proclaiming herself to be in the second-highest tier of leadership in her church. Jesus teaches us to pursue humility, not arrogance. Any time someone comes to a church and immediately asks to be a pastor or elder in the church, the leadership team should see that as a red flag.

Sin #2: Jezebel’s teaching misled Christians into adultery. In the Old Testament, God refers to idol worship as “adultery.” That makes sense, because just as a husband has promised himself to his one wife, Israel promised herself to her one God: Yahweh. So, to worship any other god is to cheat on God. Some Bible scholars believe Jezebel was just leading her followers into spiritual adultery—idol worship, not into physical adultery. But bearing in mind how worship at the pagan temples worked in those days, I think it’s much more likely that Thyatira’s Jezebel was doing both.

Sin #3: Jezebel’s teaching misled Christians into the eating of food sacrificed to idols. It also seems likely that Jezebel was convincing Christians to give in to the pressure from the trade guilds to conform. In Thyatira, there were several well-organized trade guilds for at least a dozen different industries. Every year, each guild threw lavish parties in Apollo’s temple, which every trade guild member was required to attend. Jezebel’s teaching probably went something like this: “Jesus taught us to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. So, our city leaders and trade guild leaders are asking us to go to Apollo’s temple and offer him some incense. And they expect us to eat food sacrificed to idols. Who cares? And God created sex, so if there’s a little sex involved in the Apollo worship, it’s no big deal … especially if you’re having sex with a brother or sister in Christ who you love. This is no time to get on your moral high horse. It’s not worth losing your job over.”

The bottom line was: Jezebel BELIEVED in God, but she didn’t TRUST in God. And without trust, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 1:6). She didn’t trust God to take care of her and her family if she got fired for obeying His first two commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” and “Thou shalt not make for yourselves an idol to worship.” Jezebel didn’t trust God to take care of her and her family if she got fired for obeying His seventh commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Jesus makes it clear that, in mercy, He has given Jezebel time to repent, but she has refused (v. 21). So, she is about to suffer His judgment, and her spiritual children—those who follow her false teaching—will suffer His judgment next if they refuse to repent (v. 22). “Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds” (v.23).

Jezebel polluted sound teaching in the Thyatira church by teaching Christians that moral compromise is okay if it helps you keep your job. But in Christ’s church, moral compromise is never okay—no matter what it helps you keep. Therefore, it should never be tolerated in the church. God’s message to the Christians in Thyatira is loud and clear: It’s not okay to turn a blind eye to polluted teaching or polluted behavior in your church. You must get rid of it. Jesus’ church must be a holy church. And if it’s not, judgment is coming. 

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit

Friday, November 19, 2021

The Danger of Moral Compromise

“There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin.”  – Revelation 2:14

When we hear of a church being "under attack," we tend to think of it being assaulted by an outside force. Critics are slandering. Atheists are picketing. Or the landlord is threatening to evict the church from its building. But more times than not, churches die from the inside out. And one of the culprits is a silent killer: moral compromise.

A pastor gets caught in an act of indiscretion. The treasurer helps himself to the church's donations. The small groups become gossip groups. The members become cold and self-absorbed. And little by little, the church becomes indistinguishable from the world.

But moral compromise in the church is far from new. It was just as much of a danger to the Christians in the church at Pergamum, and in Revelation 2, Jesus calls them out for it. After praising the Pergamum Christians for their loyalty and courage in verse 13, Jesus rebukes them for two things. The first rebuke is in verse 14: “You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.”

In the Old Testament, Balaam was a pagan prophet and sorcerer who believed in God and, to some extent, worshiped and obeyed God. In Numbers 22-24, he blessed the Israelites four times when he was hired by the evil King Balak to curse them. But a few chapters later, we learn that Balaam cooked up a plan to send Moabite women into the Israelite camp to seduce them into sexual sin and idolatry (Numbers 31:16).

Basically, Balaam told King Balak: “I can’t curse the Israelites. God won’t let me. But there’s another way that you can get God to curse them. It’s a back-door approach. If you send your hottest, most alluring women into the Israelite camp to seduce their men into having sex with them and joining their pagan worship, God will HAVE to curse them, because He can’t turn a blind eye to that kind of sin.” From that point on in Scripture, Balaam’s name becomes synonymous with moral compromise.

So, when Jesus tells the Pergamum Christians that some of their people “hold to the teaching of Balaam,” in essence, He’s telling them this: “Christians in Pergamum, although you’ve stood strong against threats and attacks coming from outside the church, you’ve started to give in to moral compromise inside the church. And it’s not okay! I have called you to a higher standard, so I expect you to raise your moral standards … not lower them.”

In verse 15, Jesus rebukes the Pergamum Christians for allowing some of their church members to “hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” Since the Nicolaitans aren’t mentioned outside the Book of Revelation, we don’t know exactly what they taught. But the word “Nicolaitans” literally means “conquerors of the people.” So, in one way or another, the Nicolaitans were infiltrating the church, convincing young, impressionable Christians to be soft in their convictions, and to be soft on sin.

Together, the Balaam followers and the Nicolaitans in the Pergamum church were corrupting their congregation. The church was supposed to be holy, separate and distinct from the sinful culture surrounding them. But as the weeks passed, they were becoming more and more indistinguishable from their culture.

Jesus’ message is loud and clear: It’s not enough to just stand strong against the soldiers from OUTSIDE the church who come to arrest you for your faith. You have to stand just as strong against compromising Christians INSIDE the church. You have to stand strong against carnal Christians who are trying to get you into bed with them. You have to stand strong against lukewarm Christians who are trying to get you to drink this or smoke that. You have to stand strong against Christians who live like the devil outside the church building and are trying to get you to live the same way. They want you to be like them—to live lives that are indistinguishable from the world around you. Jesus tells the Pergamum Christians in verse 16: “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

However, in verse 17, Jesus makes a wonderful promise to those who resist the allure of moral compromise: “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.” In other words: “If you overcome the temptation to eat the bread of sin, I will bless you with the bread of life.”

So, don’t jump on the bandwagon of moral compromise, even when your fellow Christians are going for a joyride. Your refusal to compromise your morals and your integrity will pay off in the end, when you successfully cross the finish line of your Christian race and receive your heavenly reward. What a mighty God we serve!

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Model Church

“I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! – Revelation 2:9

 Afflicted, dirt poor and slandered. It was just another day for the Christians in Smyrna.

 Although the ancient city of Smyrna was the most beautiful city in the Roman Empire, it had some really ugly stuff going on inside city limits. You see, Christianity was outlawed. So, it was open season on followers of Christ. But in Revelation 2:8-11, Jesus sends a little message to the Smyrna Christians, and He praises them for patiently enduring three things:

1. The Smyrna Christians endured afflictions. Christians were persecuted in every one of the seven cities in Asia Minor, but the persecution against the Christians in Smyrna was particularly cruel. In the city of Smyrna, everyone was expected to worship the Roman Emperor. Refusal to do so was treason. So, if a resident of Smyrna neglected their patriotic duty to worship the emperor, they were discriminated against. They were kicked out of the local trade guilds—leaving them unemployed. And many vendors in the marketplace wouldn’t sell them food. So, starvation was a real possibility. Many of them endured torture. It was stifling, even crushing, and Jesus knew it.

Remember, Jesus is not oblivious to our pain and suffering. He KNOWS what we’re going through, and He knows what it feels like: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…. He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and … afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3-4). In Revelation 2:9, Jesus says to the Smyrna Christians, “I know your afflictions.” And He means it. He’s been in their shoes. He’s felt the crushing weight of persecution for the sake of the Gospel.

2. The Smyrna Christians endured poverty. The Christians in Smyrna were dirt poor. They had nothing. Under the persecution of the emperor, these Christians had their homes and property confiscated. They lost their jobs when they were kicked out of the local trade guilds. And many Bible scholars believe that since Christianity was illegal in Smyrna, the Christians had their smaller possessions looted by both Jews and the Romans. So it’s remarkable that Jesus tells them in verse 9: “You are rich.”

But Jesus isn’t as shallow as we are. In 2 Cor. 6:10, the Apostle Paul says, “[We are] sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, poor, yet making many rich, having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” How was it possible for Paul and his fellow missionaries to have nothing, yet possess everything? The short, sweet answer is: Because they had Jesus. Anyone who has Jesus is rich. Forgiveness, grace, love, eternal salvation, adoption into God’s family, peace, purpose and joy: All of these riches and so many others are ours in Christ. As far as material possessions go, the Smyrna Christians had nothing. But they actually had the greatest Mother Lode of treasure that money can’t buy. So, Jesus tells them in verse 9, “You … are … rich.”

3. The Smyrna Christians endured slander. Sadly, much of this slander came from people who called themselves “Jews.” The Jews in Smyrna seem to have practiced their religion only to the extent that it made their lives easier, while ignoring God’s commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The Jews jumped on the bandwagon and slandered Christians’ good names. They accused Christians of having orgies at their church services, and of eating human flesh and drinking human blood when they took the Lord’s Supper. They called the Christians “cannibals.” Was any of it true? Of course not! But that’s one more reason why the Smyrna Christians’ endurance was so remarkable.

If you’ve been a follower of Christ for any length of time, you have probably faced discrimination and persecution for your faith at one level or another. And when it comes to endurance, the church at Smyrna is a model church. Like the Christians in Smyrna, we need to remain faithful to Christ and endure, no matter what the world throws at us. When we are afflicted, we must faithfully endure. When our Christianity costs us our jobs, we must faithfully endure. And when we are slandered for the name of Christ, we must faithfully endure. And with Christ’s help, when the heat is turned up in the kitchen, we will do just that: We will faithfully endure. And as Jesus promises at the end of His message to the Smyrna Christians, every bit of endurance for Christ will result in a heavenly reward. 

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit

Monday, November 1, 2021

The Right Motive for Doing Good

 “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” – Revelation 2:4

Years ago I visited a local church for a special evening service. During the worship time I noticed the sound mix in the room was terrible. Some microphones were turned up too high. Others were turned down too low. So, I did what many of us do when we don’t like the sound quality—I turned around to glare at the sound man.

As I glanced at the sound booth, I immediately diagnosed the problem. The sound technician was standing in the booth with her eyes closed and her hands lifted high in praise. So, I thought to myself, “Well, she’s busy worshiping and loving Jesus, so I guess I’d better leave her alone.” You see, sometimes we’re so focused on doing good ministry, we forget why we’re doing it in the first place. That woman hadn’t forgotten.

In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus writes seven short letters to seven different churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Since He is the Son of God, Jesus Christ has both the power and the insight to do what you and I can’t do—to perform a spiritual X ray of every church in order to diagnose its true condition. Within each letter to the seven churches, Jesus tends to follow this basic three-point outline. First, He praises the church for at least one thing its members are doing RIGHT. Next, He rebukes the church for at least one thing they’re doing WRONG. Finally, He makes a promise to the church.  

Jesus follows this outline to a “T” as He addresses the first of the seven churches in Revelation 2:1-7: the Church at Ephesus. First, Jesus praises them in verses 2, 3 and 6. When you take a closer look at these three verses, you’ll discover that the Ephesian Christians were doing a lot of things right. In fact, Jesus offers them nine compliments that can be summarized this way: They didn’t put up with bad teaching or bad behavior; they stood firm in their faith during times of persecution, and they protected younger Christians from exploitation.

Sounds like a great church, doesn’t it? And—considering how wicked the City of Ephesus was—it’s remarkable that the Ephesian church was so morally strong and faithful to Christ. The Ephesian church didn’t cave to the pressure to conform to popular culture.

But as Jesus inspected the hearts of the Ephesian Christians, He found something inexcusable—something that, if not addressed, would bring about the church’s downfall. Jesus addresses it in verse 4: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” The New Living Translation says it this way: “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first.”

So, what was the Ephesian Christians’ inexcusable sin? Somewhere along the way they had stopped loving God and people. So, Jesus basically tells them, “Christians, do you remember how you used to love Me? And do you remember how you used to love each other? Something has changed, and I’m not sure you even realize it. Your love has grown cold. You do so many things right, but you do them for the wrong reasons. You work hard, but there’s no love in it. You don’t put up with bad teaching or bad behavior, but there’s no love in it. You patiently endure persecution, but you don’t do it out of love. You’re not doing your good deeds as an act of love for Me or for the people around you.”

Do you remember what Paul wrote in the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13—the “love chapter”? “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Wow! Don’t miss what God’s word is telling us. It doesn’t matter how hard you’re working or how many good deeds you’re doing or how much persecution you’re enduring for Jesus; if there’s no love in it, it’s MEANINGLESS. And in Revelation 2:5, Jesus tells the Ephesian Christians (and us): “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Friends, what we do for the Lord is important, but so is why we do it. There could be a hundred different reasons why we do the good deeds we do. So, Revelation 2:4-5 serves as a clarion wakeup call for you and me. Jesus calls us to turn away from cold, loveless Christianity. It there’s no love in it, our ministry is meaningless. So, it’s imperative that you and I get back to loving Jesus Christ as we once did—with our whole hearts. So, if doing good ministry ever gets in the way of loving Jesus, I believe God’s word is clear. We need to follow the example of the Jesus-praising sound technician: Take a short break from your ministry in order to get your priorities and motives back in check. Love God first. Do good ministry second. And once we put the love first, we can once again do both together.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is now available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit

If I Was God …

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

In 2015, country artist Jimmy Fortune released the hit single, “If I Was God.” The lyrics include: “If I was God... I'd never let that cancer take away my Dad. I’d add at least 40 to the 60 years he had. He could know my kids … If I was God.” Two years later, Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd fame) came out with a similar song called “Déjà Vu” that ended the first verse this way: “If I had been God, with my staff and my rod … if I had been given the nod, I believe I could have done a better job.”

Both Jimmy Fortune and Roger Waters touch on a question that most of us have thought at one time or another: Why doesn’t God do things … differently?

How could a loving God allow my best friend to get killed by a drunk driver? How could a loving God let a child get cancer? If God knows the future, why does He allow rapists, human traffickers and mass murderers to be born? Truthfully, at times we echo the lyrics of Roger Waters: “If had been given the nod, I believe I could have done a better job.”

During his lifetime, I’m sure the Prophet Jonah had many shining moments when he trusted and quickly obeyed God. But we don’t read about them in the Book of Jonah. Instead, we read about a time when Jonah was at his worst—a time when He didn’t trust or obey God. When he was sent to preach to the wicked people of Ninevah, Jonah believed that God was wrong … dead wrong. Therefore, His marching orders to Jonah were wrong. And when God ultimately had mercy on the Ninevites—to Jonah, it seemed as if God had LOST HIS MIND!

We’ll never know all the answers to God’s workings this side of heaven, but I’d like to share a few insights about God that we can take from the Book of Jonah:

Insight #1: Throughout human history, when a nation doesn’t repent, God judges it. But when a nation truly repents, God has mercy on it. In Exodus 34:6-7, God told Moses, “[I Am] the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” God told the people of Israel plainly how He works. He judges and punishes unrepentant sinners. But He mercifully forgives sinners who repent. God never said that this rule applies only to Israel. It applies to ALL nations in ALL times and places … because “God so loved the world.”

Insight #2: God can’t be trusted to hate the people we hate or be prejudiced against the people we’re prejudiced against. We talk a lot about God being faithful and trustworthy. But you can’t trust God to be angry at the people you’re angry at. And you can’t trust God to send people to hell who you think should go to hell. We like the people around us to think like us: to be upset when we’re upset, to be angry when we’re angry, and to hate when we hate. But if that’s what you’re expecting from God, you’re going to be very disappointed. God doesn’t think the way you think. And God doesn’t act the way you act. He tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” If you’re looking for a god to think like you and hold petty grudges like you, the God of heaven and earth is not for you.

Insight #3: God will always care more about people’s souls than He cares about your comfort and happiness. God isn’t as shallow as we are. We tell people we care about, “I just want you to be happy.” God tells people HE cares about, “Right now I’m not interested in your happiness. I’m interested in your obedience. There will be plenty of time for you to be happy in heaven. But for now, I want you to help Me seek and save the lost. And ultimately, nothing will make you happier in heaven than seeing people there who you invited.”

Insight #4: Unlike Jonah, God was willing to lose face and be misunderstood for the good and salvation of others. In all likelihood, Jonah was concerned about his reputation. When his fellow Jews found out that he had a part in bringing about the deliverance of their greatest enemy, Assyria, Jonah’s life was likely to become very uncomfortable. Back home, he would lose face. And, to Jonah, losing face back home was worse than 120,000 Ninevites going to hell. But not Jesus. Jesus willingly submitted to being humiliated and completely disfigured for those who spat in his face, socked him in the head and nailed him to a cross. Jesus lost face and was completely misunderstood and slandered. But he was okay with that, because it was for the ultimate good and salvation of others.

In the first verse of Jimmy Fortune’s song, “If I Was God,” he wrestles with questions of why God would allow his best friend to be killed by a drunk driver and why God would allow his dad to die of cancer at the age of 60. He seems to think: “If I was God … I believe I could have done a better job.” But then he gets to the chorus: “But who am I to question what is best? I can’t make a heart beat in a chest. I could never let my Son die upon a cross. The whole world would be lost … if I was God. So, thank God I’m not. Thank God I’m not!”

God has generously shared ALL good things with us … including His own Son. So, let’s all follow in His footsteps and do the same, especially when it comes to sharing Jesus with the people around you.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is now available on Amazon in print, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services,in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Running Against God

“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” – Jonah 4:2 

“Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo is one of the best loved novels of all time. You’ve probably seen one of the many adaptations in a movie or musical. It tells the bittersweet story of Jean Valjean, a poor wood-chopper’s son who grew up as an orphan. When he was just 17, after his brother-in-law died, the responsibility fell on Valjean to provide for his sister’s seven young children. But he didn’t earn enough money to even feed them. So, one winter night, he went out, broke a baker’s window and stole a loaf of bread. The next morning he was arrested for stealing. His bleeding hand convicted him.

Valjean was sentenced to five years of hard labor in prison. But because of numerous escape attempts that added to his sentence, Valjean ended up serving 19 years in prison—for stealing a loaf of bread for his family. By the time he was released, he was bitter, mean and mad at the world. As he traveled from town to town, nobody wanted anything to do with him. Finally, Valjean went to the house of a Catholic bishop, who took him in, fed him and gave him a bed for the night. But after the bishop fell asleep, Valjean stole all of his silver knives and forks and fled. Early the next morning, five soldiers brought Valjean back to the bishop’s house, explaining that they were arresting him for stealing the silver. But the bishop turned to Valjean and said, “I gave you the candlesticks, too. Why didn’t you take them?” And then he turned to the soldiers and said, “It was a mistake to arrest him. Let him go. The silver is his. I gave it to him.”

As the soldiers left, Valjean whispered to the bishop, “Is it true that I am free? I may go?” And the bishop responded with some of the most wonderful words ever penned in a novel: “Yes. But before you go, take your candlesticks. Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of hate, and I give it to God!” From that moment on, Jean Valjean was a changed man. His heart belonged to God, and he spent the rest of his life loving and serving others. Years later, as Valjean lay on his deathbed, there was something familiar in the room just a few feet from his head:  those two silver candlesticks that for years had reminded him of God’s great mercy and grace.

If only the prophet Jonah had had as much compassion for the people of Nineveh as the good bishop had for Jean Valjean! But in chapter 4 of the Book of Jonah, we see that isn’t the case. After running from God’s will, then doing an about-face after being spat up by a whale, Jonah walked into the city of Ninevah and preached ONE sermon—and over 100,000 people repented from their wickedness. Jonah should have been thrilled. Instead, we read that “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (v. 1). And he prayed this angry prayer: “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (vs. 2-3).  

You see, Jonah—like most Israelites of his time—hated the Ninevites, because it was prophesied that Assyria was going to wipe out Northern Israel, and Nineveh was one of the biggest cities in Assyria. The Jews considered Assyrians their mortal enemies. So Jonah would have preferred that the Assyrians NOT repent … for them to die a horrible death rather than be spared by God … to burn in hell for all eternity rather than go to heaven. At least at that moment, Jonah despised the compassion of God.

Jonah didn’t want to see this basic truth: If Jonah was saved, his salvation was for others. As Bible commentator Michael Griffiths puts it:  “If Jonah receives the call, if he is truly saved, it is for others. We must be permeated by the conviction that if grace is being conferred on us, it is primarily for others. The Christian is not just the man who is saved by Christ, he is the man whom God uses for the salvation of others by Christ.” The same holds true for you and me. Jesus Christ has given salvation and grace TO us so that He can give salvation and grace THROUGH us. We must never hoard them.

Honestly, we’re more like Jonah than we like to admit. We’re more than happy to receive Christ’s salvation. But we want to keep it to ourselves, especially when we’re around people we can’t stand. We’ve somehow missed or ignored the reality that every blessing from God in our lives was given to us to be shared. Your salvation is supposed to be shared. Your spiritual gifts, talents and abilities are supposed to be shared. Your house, your car and your food, your time and your money, are all supposed to be shared.

Every good and perfect gift that has ever come across your path is from God, and it was given to you to share. So, let’s be more like the good bishop (selfless, generous and compassionate) and not like Jonah (selfish, stingy and judgmental). As Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received. So, freely give.”

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Running With God

The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” – Jonah 3:5 

Back in 1954, Governor Christian Herter of Massachusetts was working hard on the campaign trail as he ran for a second term. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes, he arrived at a mid-afternoon church barbecue. He hadn’t eaten a thing since breakfast, so he was really hungry. As Governor Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving the chicken. She put one piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line. Using his best manners, Governor Herter asked, "Excuse me. Do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?" She responded, "Sorry. I'm supposed to give only one piece of chicken to each person." 

Normally the governor wasn’t one to throw his weight around, but he was starving. So, he looked the woman in the eye and said, “Do you know who I am? I am the governor of this state.” Without missing a beat, she responded, “Do you know who I am? I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.”

Wouldn’t it have been nice if the prophet Jonah had been as good at following orders as the lady serving the chicken? The job of an Old Testament prophet was NOT complicated. Simply say WHAT God wants you to say, WHEN God wants you to say it, to WHOMEVER God tells you to say it to. For the Old Testament prophet, Job #1 was OBEDIENCE. The job wasn’t complicated, but it WAS really hard. Quite often God told His prophets to say things they didn’t want to say at times they didn’t want to say them to people they didn’t want to say them to.

That’s the way it was with Jonah. When he got God’s marching orders to preach God’s message to the people of Ninevah, he ran the other way. And you remember what happened next. Jonah boarded a ship. Fierce storm. Jonah confessed that the storm was his fault. The sailors tossed Jonah overboard. As Jonah was about to drown, he cried out to God in prayer. God saved his life by providing a great big fish to swallow him and give Jonah a free ride back to shore. And as soon as Jonah turned to the LORD and confessed his willingness to do what God called him to do, “The LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10).

At last Jonah began running WITH God and doing the work he’d been called to do. He was ready and willing to obey the LORD, but it’s pretty clear that he wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. When he got to Ninevah, he started preaching on Day One: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned’” (Jonah 3:4). Now, this is probably just a small sample of his message, but it seems safe to say that Jonah didn’t preach a lengthy sermon. He didn’t tell them to repent. He didn’t teach them how to repent. He didn’t seem to give them any hope that they could do anything to stop God’s judgment from coming if they DID repent.

Yet, amazingly, “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth” (v. 5). It’s hard to imagine how Jonah’s short-and-not-too-sweet message got through to them. But whatever the reason may be, GOD … WAS … BEHIND IT. God was at work. Just as God provided a fish for Jonah in chapter 2, God provided all that was needed for the people of Nineveh to repent and turn to Him. It certainly wasn’t Jonah’s preaching that won them over. It was ALL God.

And “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened” (v. 10). On the heels of showering Jonah with undeserved compassion, God showered the wicked people of Nineveh with undeserved compassion as well. You see, neither Jonah nor the people of Nineveh were too far gone to be reached by God’s mercy and grace. And neither are you.

I’d like to share two insights from Jonah’s latest adventures:

Insight #1: It’s not enough to just run TO God. You need to start running WITH God. Some of us are running from God, like Jonah in chapter 1, and we’re going nowhere fast. We need to come to our senses, make a spiritual U-turn and run TO God. But running TO God is only the starting point. Once we get to God, we need to start running WITH God. A surfer is not a surfer if he just paddles out TO the waves. He has to mount his board and start riding the waves. It’s the same way when you’re a Christian. Once you run TO God, you’ve got to start running WITH Him. Join Him in His work. Find out where He is moving, and move with Him. Find out where He is working, and work with Him.

Insight #2: In the Kingdom of God, the shortest distance between two points is obedience. It would have spared Jonah and the sailors on that ship a whole lot of pain and suffering if he had obeyed God’s word way back in chapter 1. If God is bound and determined to have you do something for Him, you’ll do it for Him eventually … one way or another. But it will save you and those around you a whole lot of pain and suffering if you obey quickly. The shortest distance between where you are right now and where God is calling you to go is obedience. So, don’t wait until the final chapter or two of your life to obey. Obey God’s word today. If you can’t beat Him, join Him!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit

Friday, September 24, 2021

Running To God

“In my distress I called to the LORD and He answered me.”  
– Jonah 2:2

Back in the late 1800s, a story started circulating in coastal taverns around Great Britain. English whalers began sharing the biggest “fish story” anyone had ever heard. According to these whalers, in 1891, one of their shipmates—a 21-year-old apprentice named James Bartley—fell off the boat and disappeared underneath the water. They searched for him for hours, but there was no sign of him anywhere.

But the next day, the sperm whale they were hunting was floating dead on the surface of the ocean. And someone noticed the whale’s abdomen was moving in a strange way—as if something alive was inside it. So, the whalers cut open the large whale, and to everyone’s surprise… out came James Bartley, who had been inside the whale’s stomach for 18 long hours. His skin was bleached white, he was nearly blind, and he was temporarily insane. Newspapers called him a “modern-day Jonah.”

However … in the early 1900s, a historian did some investigating into that whopper of a fish story. He discovered many conflicting reports, and even received a letter from James Bartley’s wife who claimed the whole story was made up. So, was James Bartley actually swallowed by a whale or large fish? Probably not. But the Bible makes it clear that Jonah … WAS.

Now, Bible skeptics read the Book of Jonah and say, “Impossible! It couldn’t happen! It didn’t happen!” But followers of Christ look at Jonah 1:17 and say, “No problem! My Bible tells me in Luke 1:37: “Nothing is impossible with God.” Our God is a great and powerful God. He specializes in the impossible.

In chapter 1 of the Book of Jonah, God gave Jonah clear-cut marching orders to preach a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah. Instead, Jonah boarded a ship headed the other way. But after the boat set sail, God sent a “great wind” and a “violent storm” that engulfed the ship (v. 4). Finally, Jonah admitted to the panicking sailors that he was responsible for the storm because he had angered his Lord. He told the crew the storm would stop if they threw him off the ship. With a little persuading—and a lot more big waves—the crew tossed Jonah overboard.

After spending chapter 1 running FROM God, Jonah finally came to his senses and ran TO God at the beginning of chapter 2: “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God” (v. 1). It’s clear that Jonah didn’t wait until he was being digested to start praying. He started crying out to God before the fish ever swallowed him. As we read Jonah’s prayer in vs. 2-9, we see that it’s more of a testimony. Jonah prayed to God from inside the stomach of the great fish, recounting what had taken place over the past day or two. “In my distress I called to the LORD and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and You listened to my cry” (v. 2). According to verse 3, the currents swirled around him and the waves and breakers engulfed him.  According to verse 5, the deep waters surrounded him, and seaweed wrapped around his head as he sank down.

And what did God do? Did God say, “Forget you, Jonah! You’re getting what’s coming to you! Good riddance, you worthless piece of fish food!” No, thankfully, that’s not at all what God said.

According to verse 6, “[God] brought [Jonah’s] life up from the pit.” Did you catch that little word “up”? For a whole chapter Jonah had been going down, down, down in his rebellion. But as he humbly cried out to God in desperation, God “brought [his] life up from the pit.”

Isn’t that just like our great and awesome God? Even when we rebel against Him, ignore His commands and do the exact opposite of what He’s commanded us to do … when we in humble repentance cry out to Him for deliverance, His compassion, mercy and love break through.

For a whole chapter, Jonah rebelled against God’s marching orders. He was going nowhere but down until—in desperation—he looked up and cried out to God. So God provided a great fish and instructed the fish to swallow Jonah. And unlike Jonah, the fish OBEYED God’s instructions.

The Book of Jonah reminds us that running from God is pointless. It only brings hardship and disappointment. The 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon said it this way: “God never allows His children to sin successfully.” If you want to run from God, ignore God’s commands and pursue other priorities, God gives you that choice. But it’ll cost you. Life is hard enough when you’re running TO God. It’s a whole lot harder when you’re running FROM God. Jonah quickly discovered when he was running from God, His life just kept getting worse and worse. But when he repented and reached out to God in faith and obedience, God immediately began to bring him back up. God will do the same for you.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Running From God

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” -Jonah 1:2

This September 11th marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in 2001. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since four planes were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Those attacks claimed 2,977 lives—and 412 of them were emergency workers in New York City who ran into the Twin Towers to help save others. Included in that number were 60 police officers and 343 firefighters. When those brave men and women received the call that the twin towers were on fire and people were trapped on the upper floors, they rushed into the building and sacrificed their own lives to save others.

They were heroes. When they received the call of duty, without hesitation, they went. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. And it certainly wasn’t safe. But they went anyway, because it was their duty and their calling.

Jonah was one of God’s prophets in the Old Testament. He, too had a calling on his life: to speak God’s word whenever and wherever God told Him to. But unlike the heroes on 9/11, he turned his back on his call of duty. Jonah was the Reluctant Prophet.

It all started when God came to Jonah one day and said, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). Now, Nineveh was part of Assyria, which was notorious for its violence and cruelty to its enemies. The Assyrians weren’t satisfied with simply killing their enemies. They took great pleasure in torturing and dismembering them. So, this command made Jonah sick to his stomach. And he hated God’s marching orders for another reason: Jonah had NO interest in aiding and abetting an enemy of Israel. Yet God was commanding Jonah to travel 500 miles into enemy territory to preach a message of repentance. Jonah said, “Count me out!” Instead traveling 500 miles northeast in obedience to God’s command, he jumped on a ship to head 2,500 miles in the opposite direction—to Tarshish in modern-day Spain.

Why was Jonah doing everything in his power to NOT go to Nineveh and preach to the Assyrians? It wasn’t because Jonah didn’t know God. It’s because he DID know God. Jonah knew that if he preached to the people of Nineveh and they repented, God would forgive them and spare them. And that’s the last thing Jonah wanted. In his heart, he wanted the Assyrians to die in their sins and go to hell. Jonah was a real sweetheart, wasn’t he?

Now, I’d like to think that Christians today are much different than Jonah. But let’s be honest: We’re not! Truth be told, there are some people who we don’t want with us in heaven. Not too long ago I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a political post about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. A Christian I know had posted this comment below it: “Go to Hell, Nancy!” Friends, God has a big problem with us telling people we like “God bless you!” on Sunday morning and turning around and telling people we don’t like “Go to Hell” on Monday morning. Followers of Christ, THAT … IS … SIN! Wishing hell on anyone is a sin. Jesus came to earth to seek and save the lost, and if you are a follower of Jesus, He calls you to do the same.

Jonah was consumed by hatred, resentment and vengeance. But you and I must NOT be. We are on mission from God to share the good news of Jesus Christ with EVERYONE, not just with those we like … not just with those who like us … not just with those who are in our comfort zone. In the Book of Jonah, God shows Himself to be consumed with compassion and love for hopeless sinners. So too must we be consumed with compassion and love for hopeless sinners.

Come what may, God wants you to obey His marching orders: to go and share God’s word with lost and dying people. We need to have a heart like Christ’s: a heart filled with mercy and love for lost and dying people. Like Jesus, God wants you and me to seek and save the lost.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us Sundays for our in-person service at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Better … Stronger … Faster!

 “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.Hebrews 10:30

 Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve had a fascination with superheroes. As a preschooler, my favorite was the flying cartoon rodent, Mighty Mouse. In grade school I outgrew Mighty Mouse and discovered another superhero: He-Man. Then, at some point in the early ’80s, my favorite superhero was Steve Austin—aka, The Six Million Dollar Man. The TV show opens with one of the greatest title sequences of all time. We see astronaut Steve Austin in his space suit, flying an experimental aircraft. But something goes terribly wrong. His plane crashes, and it’s engulfed in flames. The next thing we see is an operating room … and the narration begins:

"Steve Austin—astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will BE that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster!” After he came out of that six-million dollar surgery, Steve Austin had bionic legs that allowed him to run up to 60 miles per hour. He had a bionic left eye that gave him telescopic vision. And he had a bionic right arm that made him the strongest man on earth. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? Now, I admit, The Six Million Dollar Man was a pretty corny show. But honestly, those words from the title sequence have still inspired me over the years: “Better than he was before: Better, Stronger, Faster.”

As you probably know, Jesus loves us. But He loves us too much to leave us the way we are. Jesus refuses to leave us spiritually fat and lazy. So, He is patiently and powerfully working in our lives to make us better than we were before. Better. Stronger. Faster! And here are three things we need to get there:

#1: We need BETTER vision. In Hebrews 11, God’s word highlights many Old Testament superheroes of faith. And verse 13 tells us, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” These Old Testament heroes all died before some of God’s promises to them were fulfilled. But to their dying day, they had faith in God’s promises anyway. How was this possible? It was possible because they had much better vision than most of us have. These men and women of God could see things in the distance that can only be seen through the eyes of faith— hope, deliverance, fulfilled promises—things that nobody else around them could see. Since they could see what was coming down the pike, they walked by faith even when what was down the road didn’t arrive during their lifetime. Warren Wiersbe says it this way: “Faith enables us to SEE what others cannot see. As a result, faith enables us to DO what others cannot do!”

#2: We need STRONGER endurance. Hebrews 11 is filled with example after example of heroes from whom we can draw inspiration. Take a look at Hebrews 11:32-40, and consider the endurance of these men and women of faith. Some had to encounter hungry lions (v. 32). This is most likely a nod to Daniel, who was thrown into a lion’s den. Some faith heroes, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3, endured being thrown into the fire—literally (v. 34). Those are heroes who God miraculously delivered from death. But don’t overlook the faith heroes God didn’t deliver: the faith heroes that God allowed to suffer and die. “Others were tortured and refused to be released. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword” (vs. 35-37). Thankfully, none of us have had to deal with THAT kind of torture. But many Old Testament heroes of our faith did. They were able to endure what most people on this planet could never endure—because they endured it by faith. It’s easy to persevere in faith for a few minutes when God answers our prayers quickly. But when God’s answers come slowly, and the pain and suffering intensifies—that’s when our faith is REALLY tested.

#3: We need FASTER obedience. If we really trust Christ, we will obey Him. And we’ll obey Him quickly. Do you know what we call delayed obedience? Disobedience. So, let’s NOT drag our feet. We need to obey God quickly. If He says “Give!”—we need to give without hesitation. If He says, “Go!”—we need to go. If He says, “Do this!”—we need to do this. If He says, “Do that!” —we need to do that. We don’t have time for disobedience and sin. Our time is short and the stakes are too high. So, we must fix our eyes on Jesus and obey Him on time, every time.

Christ has called us as Christians to have BETTER vision—STRONGER endurance—and FASTER obedience. And if there’s any doubt in your mind that this is what God’s word is calling you to do, consider these amazing words in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles [that’s faster obedience], and let us run with endurance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith [that’s better vision] who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame [that’s stronger endurance] and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

There you have it: the greatest superhero of all time … Jesus Christ. Better. Stronger. Faster. And together we are running in His footsteps!

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service tomorrow at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit

Friday, August 27, 2021

Don't Let Sin Slow You Down!

“We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.Hebrews 10:30

When I think of running a race with perseverance, Cliff Young comes to mind. Who is Cliff Young? An Australian sheepherder and potato farmer, of course! In 1983, Australia began hosting what was, at the time, the most grueling foot race on earth: a seven-day, 543-mile ultra-marathon stretching from Sydney to Melbourne. That’s like running from Victorville to Sacramento, hanging a left and running 85 miles to San Francisco, then topping it all off by running back-to-back marathons around the city. 

The day the Sydney ultra-marathon started, 150 world-class runners showed up. And guess who showed up to run with them: Cliff Young. At the age of 61, Cliff approached the registration table, wearing overalls and rain boots, and declared his intention to run. You see, Cliff had grown up on a farm without the luxury of a horse or a four-wheel drive. So, when the storms rolled in, Cliff had to put on his rain boots and run for two or three straight days to round up 2,000 sheep over a 2,000-acre farm. To Cliff, running an ultra-marathon sounded like another day on the farm.

When Cliff started running, spectators thought, “This must be a joke!” Because he didn’t really run. It was more of a leisurely old-man shuffle. Australians were glued to their TVs, saying things like: “Someone should stop that crazy old man before he kills himself!” But five days, 15 hours, and four minutes later, after shuffling for 543 miles, Cliff Young shuffled across the finish line in Melbourne—in first place. And he didn’t win by a few seconds, or even by a few minutes. Catch this: The second-place runner was nine hours and 56 minutes behind him. You see, during the race, Cliff shuffled along day and night with almost no sleep, until he crossed the finish line. And the 61-year-old sheepherder who defied all odds became a national hero.

If Cliff Young can persevere through a 543-mile ultra-marathon, you and I can certainly persevere in our lives as Christians. One of the keys to running a gold-medal race for Jesus is, “Don’t sin.” Sin slows you down. Sin makes you weak. With that in mind, I’d like to point out three sins that slow you down and cause collateral damage in the church:

Sin #1: Unbelief. God’s word tells us in Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” God is deeply concerned about unbelief in His followers. No sin will stop a church dead in its tracks as quickly as the sin of unbelief. Unbelief is a spiritual cancer within a congregation. And Hebrews 10:39 tells us: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” We are believers—not quitters. No matter what tragedies happen in your life … no matter how many people around you think you’re nuts … no matter how hard it is to hold on to your faith … don’t stop believing.

Sin #2: Unforgiveness. To me, this is one of the most troubling sins in the church today. It grieves my heart to see how many Christians hold on to bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. And Christianity is nothing without forgiveness. Do you remember what Jesus taught us to pray in The Lord’s Prayer? “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” And in case we missed it, he elaborates in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” If you refuse to forgive someone who has sinned against you, God will refuse to forgive you who have sinned against Him.

Sin #3: Undernourishment. Even if you’ve never participated in a team sport, you know that a nutritious diet is very important for an athlete. If you don’t train well or eat well, it affects you on the playing field. The same holds true in the spiritual realm. Our number-one source of nourishment is the Bible. It is our spiritual meat. It is our living water. Yet sadly, one recent study found that only one in eight Christians read their Bible daily. Last week, how many days did you go without eating any food? I would guess—zero. But how many days did you go without eating any spiritual food? Our second source of nourishment is prayer. Every follower of Christ needs to spend time with God in prayer every day. If we don’t, we’ll be undernourished. Finally, our third source of spiritual nourishment is the church. More than ever before, Christians are not making church attendance a priority. And the results have been devastating. Hundreds of churches across America have closed their doors for good. Needs in the community are going unmet. And most tragic of all: Millions of people are NOT getting saved … because the church is AWOL.

So, please make sure that you do your part to stay well-nourished as we run this Jesus Race together. Be in God’s Word every day. Spend quality time in prayer with God every day. And if you’re physically able to attend, be in church every week. We’ve got a lot of race left to run and not much time left to run it. So, let’s each do our part to finish our Jesus Race strong … together.

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Racing by the Rules

“If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.2 Timothy 2:5 

Tatjana Schoenmaker is a record-holding swimmer from South Africa. Her specialty is the 200-meter breaststroke. Three weeks ago, heading into the 200-meter final, she was the favorite to win gold. There was even talk of her breaking the world record that had remained unbroken since 2013. Everyone watching that 200-meter women’s final knew that Tatjana Shoenmaker was a great swimmer. What many didn’t know is that she’s also a follower of Christ. As she swam at the Olympics, underneath her outer green swim cap that identified her home country of South Africa, she wore another white swim cap. It has a blue Jesus fish on it along with the words, “Soli Deo Gloria,” which translates as “Glory to God Alone.”

Before heading to Tokyo last month, Tatjana posted this tweet: “Father God may Your will be done, may Your peace fill us up, may we praise You no matter what the outcome, may we be empowered by Your strength to give it our all and may we forever be in the awe of Your goodness.” And as it turned out, Tatjana Shoenmaker not only won Olympic gold, she became the first woman in history to swim the 200-meter breaststroke in under 2 minutes and 19 seconds.

Tatjana traveled to the Olympic Games and fought the good fight. She kept the faith and finished her race on top. Tatjana Shoenmaker did it in an Olympic swimming pool, and you and I can do it right here where God has placed us. He has called us to run the race of our lives: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Life is short, and we have a lot of work to do for Jesus before we croak. So, by faith, we’ve got to hustle! We’ve got to run this Jesus race with some heart. We’ve got to run this Jesus race as if lives depend on it—because they do.

In 2 Timothy 2:5 we read, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” As I mentioned last week, there are three rules in this Jesus race. #1: Trust God. #2: Love God. #3: Obey God’s commands. Let’s take a closer look at these three life-changing rules for running a gold-medal race.

Rule #1: Trust Him—ONLY Him. (Heb. 11:6) “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Don’t trust in Jesus AND the Pope. Don’t trust in Jesus AND Donald Trump. Don’t trust in Jesus AND your own righteousness and good works. Trust in JESUS ALONE. Jesus can not and will not share your soul’s trust with anyone. Your soul is either His completely, or it’s not His at all. You either surrender complete control of your life to Christ, or you don’t surrender it at all. Trust Him and Him alone. That’s Rule #1.

Rule #2: Love Him—ONLY Him. (Matt. 22:37-40) “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” These verses confuse a lot of people. They wonder: “If I love God with all my heart, there won’t be any part of my heart left to love anyone else.” Exactly! That’s exactly the way God wants it to be. You may ask, “What about my spouse? What about my family?” Here’s the thing: If your heart is completely God’s, you won’t have ANY part of your heart left to love people around you in your inferior, half-hearted way. God will just have to love them perfectly through you. And whose love is better—yours or God’s? Jesus can not and will not share your heart’s love with anyone else. You either love Christ completely, or you don’t love Him at all. So, love God with everything you’ve got. That’s Rule #2.

Rule #3: Obey Him—ONLY Him. (John 14:15) Jesus says it so simply in John 14:15: “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” If you don’t obey Christ, you don’t really love Christ or trust Christ—which means you’re not IN Christ. If you don’t obey Christ, you’re on the wide road to Hell. There’s no way around it: If you want to be forgiven of your sin, if you want to be on the narrow road, if you want to go to heaven some day, you have to be ready and willing to obey … right now. Not one of these days. Not when things get less busy. Not when obeying becomes more convenient. NOW! Obeying Jesus’ commands isn’t convenient. It’s rarely popular. And it’s almost never easy. But if you’re serious about running a gold-medal race for Jesus, you will obey His commands anyway. That’s Rule #3.

You may never be an Olympian. But like Tatjana, you can finish your race strong by trusting Christ, loving Christ and obeying Christ’s commands every day of your life. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, and finish strong. Then, when you get to the end of your life here on earth, you’ll be able to join the Apostle Paul in saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at 17746 George Blvd. in Victorville. Or, join us online at 10 a.m. on the Impact Christian Church YouTube channel or Facebook page. For more information, visit