Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Surprising Messenger

 “Jesus … has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
- Acts 9:17

On the Road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was given a huge wake-up call from Jesus Christ. For months Saul had been running around Jerusalem, barging into synagogues and homes, arresting, beating, and petitioning for the execution of Christian men and women. But on the Road to Damascus, Saul came face-to-face with Jesus Christ. Jesus knocked Saul off his high horse as He appeared to him in a blinding light and asked him a point-blank question in Acts 9:4: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

And as Saul lay on the ground, overcome by fear, guilt and regret, he asked Jesus the best question he could have asked: “What shall I do, Lord? What shall I do?” Jesus told Saul he had been chosen to open the eyes of Jews and Gentiles alike so that their sins could be forgiven through faith in Christ. But before Saul could do that, Jesus instructed him merely to “get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6).

To deliver Saul’s next instructions, God chose an unlikely messenger: a man named Ananias. Ananias is first mentioned in Acts 9:10—and he disappears just 10 verses later. I find it very interesting AND inspiring that God used this obscure Christian to play a pivotal role in Saul’s conversion to Christianity. Paul went on to become the most influential Christian leader in church history. Yet God didn’t choose Peter or any of the other apostles to lead him to Christ. God chose a simple, little-known Christian named Ananias. I love it!

Three days after Jesus Christ appeared to Saul on the Damascus Road, Jesus appeared to Ananias in a vision. Jesus told him: “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight” (vs. 10-12). Ananias was floored. He probably thought, “Saul of Tarsus? Every Christian in Damascus knows about that guy. If he's blind right now, it’s probably best just to keep him that way so he can’t find us.” Ananias can’t keep quiet about his concerns. So, he said in vs. 13-14: “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name.” 

The Lord patiently listened to Ananias, but then simply responded: “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (v. 15). Jesus Christ, in essence, is saying, “Ananias, you don’t have to UNDERSTAND My perfect plan, but you do need to OBEY it.”

So, Ananias obeyed the word of the Lord. He went to Judas’ house on Straight Street, and he was surprised by the man he saw praying in front of him. Saul didn’t look at all like the bloodthirsty wolf of a man everyone talked about. He looked like a humble, desperate man praying to God for mercy and grace that he knew he didn’t deserve. Saul hadn’t eaten or tasted a drop of water in three days. He was a broken man. And Ananias began to see what God saw. He walked over to Saul, placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (v.17). Instantly, Saul’s sight was restored.

Then Ananias told Saul the amazing news: “The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from His mouth. You will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name” (Acts 22:14-16). Saul wasted no time doing exactly that. No quick snack or cup of water to tide him over till dinner. He got up, confessed Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord and was baptized in water. And Ananias was most likely the man who had the privilege of baptizing Saul.

The vast majority of us are called to be Ananiases, not Sauls. Without fame or fortune, God calls us in our obscurity to do precisely WHAT He asks us to do WHEN He asks us to do it. You and I need to accept and live out our calling. Chuck Swindoll says it this way: “A rare few in God’s family enjoy fame and renown, position and influence. The great majority, however, are the Ananiases of the world—the errand runners, if you will, doing precisely what God has asked them to do, in precisely the place He’s called them to go. They keep the Body functioning in good health. None will ever know, until eternity dawns, the enormity of their investment in the cause of Christ.”

Remember: Jesus Christ is full of surprises. So don’t get too comfortable where you are—physically, emotionally, spiritually or geographically. God has a way of shaking up your plans to stretch you and move you into deeper levels of trust and obedience. He is ready to use you today … as long as you listen to His word and obey His leading. Be the best Ananias you can possibly be.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Monday, March 21, 2022

Taming a Rabid Wolf

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” -- Acts 9:4

Back in the early 1970s, Chuck Colson was Richard Nixon’s White House counsel and hatchet man—one of the most ruthless political operatives of the past 50 years. During Nixon’s first term as President, Colson was behind the scenes carrying out Nixon’s dirty work—no matter how dishonest or unethical it was. Someone who knew Colson well described him as “the kind of guy who would run over his grandmother if necessary to get the job done.”

But early in President Nixon’s second term in office, Chuck Colson gave his life to Jesus Christ. Once he was a Christian, he was determined to become an honest man. And he didn’t just talk the talk. He walked the walk. In 1974, over a year after leaving the White House, Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, and he served a seven-month sentence in Alabama’s Maxwell Prison.

In his book, “Born Again,” Colson reflected on his time behind bars: “I found myself increasingly drawn to the idea that God had put me in prison for a purpose and that I should do something for those I had left behind.” And Chuck Colson did do something. In 1976, a year after being released from prison, he founded Prison Fellowship, which is now the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners and their families.

You see, as I mentioned in my last column, God doesn’t just save hell-bent sinners. He recruits them to change the world. That was true of Nixon’s hatchet man, and it was also true of a young Jewish thug named Saul.

Saul was a Pharisee—a well-educated, legalistic member of the Jewish establishment. He was, as he wrote later, “convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). In those days, Saul was like a rabid wolf mangling his prey. He often went from house-to-house and synagogue-to-synagogue arresting Christians. Some he whipped. Others he imprisoned. Still others he recommended for execution. That all changed suddenly one day when Saul was on the road to Damascus, on his way to take more Christians as prisoners.

A blinding light from heaven blazed around him, and Saul fell to the ground. A voice asked him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). When a terrified Saul asked who was speaking to him, he learned it was Jesus of Nazareth. And God didn’t just appear to Saul in order to save him. He appeared to Saul in order to appoint him as a servant and witness to both Jews and Gentiles to “open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). In other words, Jesus wasn’t just interested in saving hell-bent Saul. He was recruiting him to change the world. And Saul responded with obedience. He stood up—blind as a bat—and walked the rest of the way into the city of Damascus to await his instructions from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In that moment, Saul’s world turned upside down. Here are a few quick lessons we can learn from his conversion.

Lesson #1: More often than not, those who most aggressively attack Christians and claim that God is dead are in an unseen spiritual battle, wrestling with faith in God. So, hold out hope and pray for them. What we see on the surface in just a glimpse of what’s going on inside a man or woman. Oftentimes, under the surface there’s a spiritual battle raging that we don’t know about. So, despite what you see or hear on the surface, pray for God to keep working on that person’s heart and overcome his/her resistance.

Lesson #2: Like Saul, we’re no match for God. Because He loves us, He will relentlessly pursue us until we willingly submit to Him. As the great British author C.S. Lewis put it, God was like a Divine chess player—systematically, patiently maneuvering his opponent into a corner until finally Saul conceded. “Checkmate.” So, if you’re resisting God, I encourage you to knock it off. You’re hurting yourself. And in all likelihood, you’re hurting others around you. So, stop being so stubborn. Saul learned the hard way, but you don’t have to.

Lesson #3: On the road to Damascus, Jesus Christ didn’t just turn a wolf into a sheep. He began turning a wolf into a shepherd. Think about it: God didn’t waste any of Saul’s wolf-like past. Instead, He used it for advancing Christ’s Kingdom. And the same could be said about Chuck Colson and you. God won’t waste any of your past. If you’ll let Him, He will use your stubbornness, your orneriness, your broken relationships, your addictions, your failures and even your greatest sins for His glory. Remarkable, isn’t He?

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Most Unlikely Christian

“Paul was like a wild man, going everywhere to devastate believers.” – Acts 8:3

Every few years, historians around the country are asked: Who was the greatest President in American history? And the one who almost always comes in first place is Abraham Lincoln. As much as the Civil War tore our country apart, it could have been much worse if we hadn’t had such a strong, godly leader in the White House.

You might think that his success as President was the culmination of a successful career.

But surprisingly, it wasn’t. Lincoln had almost no formal schooling. He started two businesses that failed. When he applied to law school, he was rejected because of his miserable qualifications. He ran for the Illinois General Assembly, Congress, the U.S. Senate and for Vice President—and lost every time. In 1858 he ran for the Senate and lost again. By then, no one in their right mind would have predicted that two years later, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln not only would be elected as the 16th President of the United States—but that he would become the greatest President in our history. If you’d made that prediction in 1858, people would have thought you were clinically insane.

And in the year following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, people would have said the same thing about Paul. If you had told the people of Jerusalem that the young, hot-headed Pharisee known as “Saul” was going to become a Christian, they would have called you delusional. If you had told them he would go on to write half the books of the New Testament and become the most influential Christian leader in the history of the faith, they would have thought you were a lunatic!

The first time we meet Paul in the Bible, he’s standing by, guarding the coats of the executioners who threw stones at Stephen, the first Christian martyr. These murderers were the same false witnesses who had condemned Stephen on phony charges of blasphemy. And in case there’s any doubt in our minds about whether or not Paul approved of this lynch mob, we’re told plainly in Acts 8:1, “And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.”

As Stephen’s blood splattered on the ground at Saul’s feet, he developed a thirst for Christian blood. Because we read in verse 3, “Saul began to destroy the church.” This word “destroy” is a translation of a Greek word that described a wild animal mangling its prey. Saul was like a blood-thirsty wolf who wanted to mangle Christians. The Living Bible says it this way: “Paul was like a wild man, going everywhere to devastate believers.” And verse 3 continues, “Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”

The Jewish leaders hated Christians. But Saul hated them even more. Saul hated Christians with a passion. Because, from the bottom of his heart, Saul hated Jesus Christ. He hated Jesus so much that he set out on a mission to eradicate the name of Jesus not only from the lips of Christians in Jerusalem, but from the lips of Christians around the world. Yet this is the man God chose to write half the books of the New Testament. This is the man God chose to be the most influential Christian who ever lived. No one in his right mind would have ever seen that coming!

I’d like to share three life lessons from the example of Paul.

#1: Even the greatest Christians have a dark side. We all have checkered pasts. Think about it. David, the man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and a murderer. Jacob, father of the 12 tribes of Israel, was a conniving liar. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. And Paul arrested and killed Christians, because the bottom line was: He HATED Jesus. Even the most loving, caring, world-changing Christians have checkered pasts. We all have a dark side to our testimony.

#2: No matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you’ve strayed from God, there is hope for you in Christ. If you’ll let Him, God will save you. I tell people often: God’s grace is greater than my disgrace. The most loved, most sung Christian song of the past 200 years is “Amazing Grace.” Its writer, John Newton, was once a disgraceful slave ship captain. But after he became a Christian, he was so convicted by what he had been doing, he quit the slave trade. And years later he penned the words, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found. ... Was blind but now I see.” If God could forgive and save a man like John Newton, then he can save you and me, too.

#3: God doesn’t just SAVE hell-bent sinners—He recruits them to change the world. This lesson applies to everyone around you—especially to those who are the furthest from God right now. It applies to your brother or sister who hasn’t gone to church in 10 years. It applies to your son or daughter who told you a few months back, “I don’t believe in God anymore.” It applies to your niece or nephew, strung out on drugs. It applies to your uncle in prison. It applies to everyone.

Christians, don’t stop praying for those around you who are the least likely people on the planet to be saved and chosen by God to change the world. In His amazing grace, God loves choosing the worst of sinners to do some of His greatest work. He loves to pull wicked sinners out of the grip of hell and raise them up to bring heaven to earth. God did it 2,000 years ago with a Jesus-hating murderer named Saul, and He still does it today.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit