Monday, June 10, 2024

Jesus Even Loved Barabbas

 But the whole crowd shouted, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’
– Luke 23:10

Governor Pontius Pilate must have been baffled as the Jewish leaders called for the release of the biggest thug on Death Row.

When Pilate interrogated Jesus – twice – Pilate didn’t find Him to be guilty of any capital crime. But the religious leaders refused to accept Pilate’s verdict. So, Pilate thought he had a foolproof way to get them to agree to release Jesus. In John 18:39, he asked them, “It is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews [or Barabbas]?”

Pilate strategically chose one of the most notorious criminals who was scheduled to be crucified that day: Barabbas, a convicted murderer who had taken part in an uprising. No one with an ounce of decency would EVER vote for a terrorist to be released into the streets. But to Pilate’s astonishment, the crowd shouted back in unison: “Don’t release Jesus! Give us Barabbas!”

Given the choice, they chose the convicted terrorist over Jesus. There was no excuse for what they did. But, ultimately, it was God’s will. 

All four of the gospels tell about the crowd calling for Barabbas’s release. Interestingly, not a single gospel writer mentions Jesus objecting — because Jesus didn’t protest. He actually wanted them to choose Barabbas instead of Him – because Jesus loved Barabbas. How do I know that? Because of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Think about it: “For God so loved [Barabbas] that He gave His one and only Son.”

When Barabbas allowed Jesus to take his place on Death Row, that was unimaginably unjust and unfair. But, strangely, Jesus chose to die so that Barabbas could live. And I believe that if you had been in Barabbas’s shoes that day, Jesus would have taken your place on Death Row. Because of His great love for you, He would die so that you might live. 

As Barabbas walked free, Jesus showed Himself to be our substitute on Death Row. Over the course of our lives, every one of us has lied, cheated and stolen. Like Barabbas, we have sinned thousands of times and earned our place on Death Row. Hell is the just punishment for our sin. But Jesus took our place. He went through Hell so you and I wouldn’t have to. He died so that we could live. How, then, can we help but live for Him?

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church, meeting Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Was Peter a Chicken?

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?” – John 18:11

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter tried to be a hero by cutting off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. But in John 18:11, Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given Me?”

Jesus was doing exactly what God the Father wanted Him to do—beginning the work of redemption that you and I desperately needed Him to do. In John 18, Jesus was ready to drink the cup of God’s wrath on human sin so that you and I wouldn’t have to. He was ready to go through hell on earth, so that you and I wouldn’t have to go through hell in eternity.

God the Father's plan was for both Jesus and Peter to drink from their designated cups of suffering. Sadly, while Jesus began gulping His cup down, Peter put his cup back on the shelf. Should we give Peter a hard time for denying Jesus three times while Jesus was on trial for His life? Perhaps. But there's more to Peter than meets the eye.

When Jesus was arrested, all 11 of the remaining apostles were scattered. But Peter followed Jesus at a distance. He and another disciple entered the high priest’s courtyard and warmed themselves by the fire. And there in the high priest’s courtyard – while Jesus was interrogated by His accusers – Peter lived out what Jesus had predicted at the Last Supper. Three times, people asked Peter if he’d been with Jesus. Three times, Peter denied even knowing Him.

The third time Peter denied Jesus, according to Luke 22:60, the cock crow began even before Peter had finished his sentence. “Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown Me three times.’ And [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). While Jesus was drinking His super-sized cup of suffering, Peter refused to drink his little Dixie cup of suffering.

Did Peter screw up in the high priest’s courtyard? Yes, he did! However, it could be helpful to look at Peter’s screw-ups from a different angle. At least he loved Jesus enough to stick close to Him when Jesus didn’t have a friend in the world. Many of us don’t fail Jesus as much as Peter failed Jesus … because we don’t take any risks for Jesus. Which begs the question: Is it better to attempt something great for Jesus and fail, OR attempt nothing for Jesus and succeed? 

It’s been said: “Aim for nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.” At least Peter aimed for something. He aimed to stand up for Jesus. He aimed to stick close to Jesus. His intentions were good. It’s just that his execution was lousy. But in the weeks to come, Peter repented and never made the same mistakes again. He went on to become one of the boldest followers of Jesus in Christian history.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter chickened out. Which makes me wonder, in similar circumstances … would you and I do the same? As followers of Christ, we have our own cups of suffering to drink. But regardless of whether your cup is small or large, you should willingly drink your designated cup of suffering for Jesus. As the great missionary William Carey said so well, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Thoughts About the Holy Spirit

“When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” – John 16:13

Over the centuries, the Holy Spirit has been the most misunderstood and unappreciated member of God’s holy Trinity. He is hardly mentioned in some churches, while being overemphasized in others.

But in John 16:5-15, just a few short hours before being arrested and nailed to a cross, Jesus places the perfect amount of emphasis on the Holy Spirit – teaching His disciples (and us) about the Spirit's life-changing work in and through Christ's followers for the glory of the Father. As He leads His followers to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus shares timeless truths about His Spirit that you and I need to understand. 

Here are four practical truths Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit:

Truth #1 (v. 7): It’s better for you to have uninterrupted fellowship with the Holy Spirit than to have part-time fellowship with Jesus. Jesus tells His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Even as amazing as it would have been to have walked and talked with Jesus 2,000 years ago, what we have today is even better. We have the Spirit of Jesus living on the inside: teaching us, protecting us and empowering us for life-changing ministry, 24/7.

Truth #2 (vs. 7-8): Jesus sent the Holy Spirit TO you in order to bring conviction to unbelievers THROUGH you. In Jesus’ words, “When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” But we have to allow Him. So ask yourself: Do I see evidence of the Holy Spirit working through me to bring conviction to others around me? Continue to prayerfully speak God’s Truth and live God’s Truth in plain view of others around you. And as you do, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction to those who are ready to be saved.

Truth #3 (vs. 12-13): Jesus knows your limits. So, thank Him for the Holy Spirit, who patiently corrects you, teaches you, and guides you little by little. He tells His disciples: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” Aren’t you thankful that God is patient with you? Aren’t you grateful that He didn’t dump all of His theology and biblical insight on your lap on the day you got saved? It would have fried your brain.

Truth #4 (v. 14): It brings glory to Jesus when you allow the Holy Spirit to give TO you and to move THROUGH you. Jesus tells His followers, “[The Holy Spirit] will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you.” If you love Jesus, then allow the Holy Spirit to fill you—not from the outside in, but from the inside out. If you are a baptized believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is already inside you. But have you let Him fill you?

Remember, to be full of the Holy Spirit is to be full of Jesus. So, I urge you to ask God: “Father, please fill me from my head to my feet with Your Spirit. Holy Spirit, give me whatever You want to give me, and use me however You want to use me for God’s glory.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Four Promises You Can Count On

 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Knowing full well what awaited Him over the next 24 hours, Jesus spent the evening before His betrayal teaching His apostles some of the most important things He wanted them to know before their worlds would be turned upside down.

 As John 16 draws to a close, Jesus makes four amazing promises that will change their lives forever. These four promises are summed up in four words: Resurrection, Joy, Love and Peace. Do these sound like four promises you’d like to hear a little bit more about? Well, read on.

Jesus’ 1st Promise: I am going to die, but you will see me again (vs.16-18). Promise #1 is a bad-news-good-news promise. In verse 16, Jesus tells his disciples, ““In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” As was often the case, Jesus’ disciples were confused. So, what DOES Jesus mean? He means this: “I promise you, something lousy is going to happen to Me. (That’s the bad news.) But I also promise you that it will only be temporary. (That’s the good news.)”

Jesus’ 2nd Promise: You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy (vs. 19-24). Jesus’ second promise is another bad-news-good-news promise: “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (v. 20). In other words, “I promise you, something lousy is going to happen to you, and you WILL be heartbroken. (That’s the bad news.) But I also promise you that your grief will be miraculously transformed into joy. (That’s the good news.)” Jesus illustrates His point using the example of childbirth. When a woman is in labor, she experiences intense pain. But “when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (v. 21). Jesus Christ specializes in transforming failures into opportunities, hardships into blessings and grief into joy.

Jesus’ 3rd Promise: God the Father loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God (vs. 25-28). No matter how rotten a sinner you are ... no matter how undeserving of forgiveness and heaven you are … if you love Jesus Christ and trust Him as your Savior and Lord, God the Father will forgive you. And He will love you like you’ve never been loved before.

Jesus’ 4th Promise: Regardless of how much trouble you experience in this world, you can have peace in Me (vs. 29-33). In verses 29-30, Jesus’ disciples declare that there’s no longer any doubt in their minds that “You came from God.” But Jesus warns them that soon, “you will be scattered [and] you will leave Me all alone” (v. 32). The disciples probably wondered why Jesus had spent so much time telling them He would leave them, about their upcoming bout with grief, and that they’re going to be scattered. Jesus answers with His fourth promise: “Regardless of how much trouble you experience in this world, you can have peace in Me. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33).

Some people's promises don't mean much. But aren't you thankful that Jesus keeps EVERY ONE of His good promises to you and me? 

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

How to Be Fruitful as a Christian

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”
– John 15:5

Even as Jesus led His followers to the Garden of Gethsemane, with precious little time left in His earthly life, He was still teaching them. And as He so often did, He used their surroundings to illustrate a point: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1). And then, in verse 5: “I am the vine; you are the branches.”

As branches on Christ’s vine, we’re called to bear fruit. Jesus says in verse 8, “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” Jesus highlights three of those fruit in John 14 and 15: love, joy and peace. By abiding in Jesus and producing the fruit of love, joy and peace, we can show the watching world what God is like. We show love to people to show how much God loves them. We display an authentic joy that all the depressed people around us are missing—to point them to the Creator of joy. And when things get stressful, we reflect a peace that our stressed-out friends are hungry for … to draw them to the Prince of Peace. When we bear much fruit, God is glorified through us. People are drawn to Christ through us. And as they accept Christ and begin growing fruit of their own, God is even MORE glorified.

Jesus goes on to make a powerful connection to His illustration about the vine and the branches: “Now remain in My love.” And how do we remain, or abide, in Christ’s love? By obeying Christ’s commands. In chapter 14, Jesus taught that to KNOW Christ is to LOVE Christ. And to love Christ is to OBEY Christ. Here in chapter 15, Jesus makes it clear that knowing Christ and abiding in Christ are one and the same. So, we can say: To ABIDE in Christ is to LOVE Christ. And to love Christ is to OBEY Christ.

Now, how can you tell if you’re abiding in Christ? Look for these five signs in your life:

#1: Daily consistent obedience – you are obeying Christ’s commands (v. 10). 

#2: You experience God the Father’s pruning (v. 2). Useless things and even some “good” things are removed from your life in order to make you more fruitful. Never forget that what is good is often the enemy of what is best. God doesn’t want your “good” fruit or even your “better” fruit. He wants your very “best” fruit. 

#3: You produce much fruit (vs. 2 and 4), especially the fruit of love, joy and peace. 

#4: Others around you are drawn to Jesus (v. 8).

#5: Your life brings much glory to God (v. 8).

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us every Sunday (including Easter Sunday) at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, and for our Good Friday service at 7 p.m. March 29. You can also livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

How to Have God’s Peace

 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

As Jesus prepared to lead His followers to the Garden of Gethsemane, He wanted to prepare them for the days that lay ahead.

The disciples knew they were completely incapable of obeying Jesus’ commands on their own. That’s one of the reasons they were petrified at the thought of Jesus leaving them. Following Jesus was hard enough when He was right there to guide them, protect them and teach them. But it would be impossible without Him. Of course, Jesus already knew this. That’s why He reassured them in John 14:16-17: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.”

I love the fact that before Jesus was arrested, He took the time to teach His disciples about the Holy Spirit—a counselor, comforter and advocate to walk alongside them every step of the way. Jesus was God in human form … but the Holy Spirit would come to them as God in spirit form. Incredibly, that’s even better. In His physical form, Jesus couldn’t be with them all the time. Sometimes He was off praying or doing ministry by Himself. At other times, He needed to sleep. But soon, instead of being with His followers part-time, through the Holy Spirit He would be with them full-time—guiding, protecting and teaching them 24/7.

Just before they left for the garden, in verse 27, Jesus promised His disciples something that they desperately needed. It’s something that you and I need as well: true and lasting peace.

Here are three reasons Christ’s followers should be at peace.

Reason #1: We have the Savior above us. In verse 28, Jesus said, “If you loved Me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” Remember that when Jesus took on flesh, He emptied Himself of much of His eternal power in order to experience life as we experience it. So, in the scope of eternity, Jesus was at His weakest when He was here on earth in the flesh.But now that Jesus is back in heaven at the right hand of the Father, He is infinitely stronger than when He was here on earth..

Reason #2: We have the Spirit within us. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He didn’t leave us as orphans. He sent His Spirit to be with us and in us every step of the way. The Holy Spirit is one of the greatest gifts that Jesus Christ could have ever given us, because when He gave us the Holy Spirit, He gave us the gift of Himself. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is with you 24/7—permanently.

 Reason #3: We have God’s Word filling and refreshing us. How can we have peace when it feels like our world is falling apart? Because God’s peace transcends our circumstances. It has nothing to do with where we live, how much we make or who’s in the White House. You could be at your best friend’s funeral and still have peace, because the Word of God gives you strength when you are weak and fills you with hope when things look hopeless.

If you follow Jesus, you CAN find peace in the promises of God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And your present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that shall be revealed in you. Find peace in the promises of God! 

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

How to Pray In Jesus’ Name

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.”
- John 14:1

Jesus’ disciples had left everything to follow Him. They’d left their jobs and their families and had risked their lives repeatedly over the last three years to stick by Jesus’ side.

Now, at the Last Supper, they had learned that one of their own was going to betray Jesus, and that their lead apostle, Peter, was going to deny Jesus three times. But what worried them the most was Jesus’ plan to leave them—to go who knows where to do who knows what. How on earth could the disciples NOT have troubled hearts? 

Well, according to Jesus, the remedy for their troubled hearts was … trust. One the very night He was arrested, Jesus told them, “Trust in God; trust also in Me” (John 14:1). In this verse, Jesus revealed a beautiful, simple truth: The secret to having a heart at peace is just to trust God. That was true 2,000 years ago, and it’s just as true today. Whatever appearances might suggest, Jesus Christ will never let you down. You can trust Him. You should trust Him.

In verses 12-14, Jesus tells his apostles that after He returns to heaven, they will do “even greater things” than what He Himself had done. And secondly, He tells them that He “will do whatever [they] ask in His name.” Now, don’t misunderstand or twist what Jesus is saying here. Sadly, many people believe in a “prosperity” Gospel, which portrays Jesus as a kind of genie in the lamp. You rub the lamp by using the magic phrase “in Jesus’ name”; you tell Jesus what you want, and if you have enough faith, He will give it to you.

But notice what Jesus gives as the reason why He answers our prayers: “to bring glory to the Father” (v. 13). So, let’s tackle this important question: How can we pray in Jesus’ name?

Guideline #1: Begin your prayers with Jesus’ interests in the forefront of your mind. Chuck Swindoll says it this way: “More often than not, we do not pray in the interests of Jesus’ plans…. In our immaturity, we seek our own interests and for what will improve our situations…. Jesus promised that as we discover the will of God & align our prayers to fulfill His purposes, our prayers will become as powerful as His own.”

Guideline #2: End your prayers with “Your will be done.” Just as we should begin our prayers with Jesus’ will in mind, we should end our prayers with Jesus’ will in mind. In fact, the prayer for God’s will to be done is ALWAYS answered. So, go ahead and ask God to take away your cancer and to bless you with a better job and to protect your kids at school and work. But end your prayers with “Your will be done.” In other words, “God, if I’ve prayed for anything that’s outside Your will, please just scratch that request. Ultimately, I just want Your will to be done.”

Guideline #3: Pray what Jesus Himself would pray—for God the Father to be glorified in your life and in the lives of those around you. You are a servant of Jesus Christ and a soldier for Jesus Christ. So, as you live your life, say what He would say. Do what He would do. And pray what He would pray. Ultimately, that’s what it means to pray in Jesus’ name—to pray exactly what Jesus would pray to the Father if He were in your shoes. 

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s new daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is now available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Monday, February 26, 2024

How to Love Like Jesus

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
– John 13:25

Before the end of the Last Supper, Jesus dropped two bombshells to the 12 men sitting at the table with Him. In John 13, He told them that one of His trusted apostles would betray Him, and that another of them would deny even knowing Him.

Jesus made it clear that the disciple who would betray Him was Judas – even though many Bible scholars have concluded that Judas was sitting in the seat of honor, on Jesus’ left-hand side. Try to wrap your head around that: Jesus not only washed the feet of his friend who would betray Him, He likely gave Him the best seat at His final meal. And in verse 38, Peter’s heart must have dropped when he heard Jesus say, “I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times!”

Yet Jesus showed His love to both men, despite what He knew was coming. And in verses 34 and 35, Jesus gave His disciples one of the most important commands He had ever given them: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

How in the world can we love like that? Let’s look at three ways to love each other like Jesus:

#1: Love other Christians selflessly and sacrificially. The Greek word used for “love” in these verses is “agape”—the highest form of love. Agape love is always others-centered, never self-centered. Jesus didn’t think of Himself. He was always thinking of others. So much good takes place in the Church when we love each other selflessly and sacrificially. You’ve heard the old expression: “Give until it hurts.” We could just as easily say, “Love until it hurts.”

#2: Love other Christians understandingly. Jesus knew every flaw in every one of his disciples, yet He loved them anyway. Sadly, many Christians only practice conditional love. “I will love you only as long as you make good choices, only as long as you don’t screw up, and only as long as you don’t get on my nerves.” That’s NOT agape love. Agape love sees the stupidity in others and knows that some people are really hard to love. But agape love loves them anyway … just like Jesus.

#3: Love other Christians forgivingly. Jesus taught us, “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” (Matthew 6:14-15). Is Jesus actually saying that God’s forgiveness is conditional? Yes! If you expect God to forgive you, He expects you to forgive others. So, if you refuse to forgive others, God will refuse to forgive you. The first thing Jesus said as He hung on the cross was, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing.” That’s agape love in action.

The Church should be the easiest place in the world to find forgiveness. And this should be obvious not only to Christians, but to our not-yet-saved friends and family members as well. As the old chorus goes: “And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s new daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is now available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.


Friday, February 9, 2024

How Humble Are You?

 “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master.” – John 13:12

Jesus had less than 24 hours to live, and He knew it. He had precious little time left with His disciples—so, whatever He did, He was going to make it count. And what did He choose to do? In John 13, at the Passover meal, He washed His disciples’ dirty feet.

The disciples were stunned—and uncomfortable—as their leader and Savior knelt before them to wash 12 pairs of feet that walked on dirt roads, in sandals, everywhere they went. Peter even tried to stop Him until Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (v. 8). Jesus even washed the feet of Judas, although He knew Judas was about to betray Him into the hands of murderers.

Clearly, Jesus was sharing a spiritual truth here. But what IS that truth?

Jesus told them in verse 12: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master.” To follow Jesus Christ’s example, we must be humble. But how?

Let’s take a look at four principles of true humility. (Most of these principles are highlighted by Chuck Swindoll in his John commentary.)

Principle #1: Humility doesn’t discriminate but is expressed equally to all. Jesus knew that His disciples would all desert Him in a few hours. He knew Peter would deny Him three times. He knew Judas Iscariot would betray Him. Yet Jesus washed their feet anyway. Friends, there is no room for petty discrimination in your Christianity. Whether you like a person or can’t stand a person, whether they love you or hate you, humbly serve them anyway … just like Jesus.

Principle #2: Humility is an action and a behavior, not a thought or an attitude. Many people describe themselves as humble. But thinking you’re humble has nothing to do with humility. As soon as you announce, “I’m humble!” – you’re proving you’re not. Just as love is an action, not a thought or a feeling, so is humility.

Principle #3: Humility receives service without embarrassment. Sometimes the most prideful thing you can do is to NOT allow someone to serve you. Jesus was the most humble servant of all. But just five days before He washed His disciples’ feet, He allowed Mary to get down on her hands and knees and wipe His feet with her hair. Everyone in the room was embarrassed, except for Jesus—because He was gentle and humble in heart. Don’t just humbly serve others. Check your ego at the door and allow others to humbly serve you.

Principle #4: Humility leads to true and lasting joy. Did you know that the nearer you are to suffering people, the nearer you are to Jesus? Jesus identifies with the poor, the sick, the abused, and the outcast. So, the more we humbly serve them, the closer we are to Christ. Most people think that happiness comes from earning more money or taking more vacations. But the truth is, if we chase after happiness, we tend to miss out on it. Why? Because God had linked happiness to humble service.

Warren Wiersbe says it so well: “Be sure to keep these lessons in their proper sequence: humbleness, holiness, happiness. Submit to the Father, keep your life clean, and serve others. This is God’s formula for true spiritual joy.”

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s new daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is now available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Who’s Ready to Give Up?

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” – John 12:25

Jesus had just made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding a donkey colt through a cheering crowd who laid palm branches before Him. They were sure their Messiah had arrived to save Israel from its oppressors. Until Jesus spoke.

In John 12:23, Jesus told the crowd before Him, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Many of His followers were thrilled: “YES! It’s about time! Gather your army and drive out the Romans and set up your throne in Jerusalem! We’re behind you all the way!”

But in verse 24, Jesus lowered the boom. His idea of “being glorified” was much different than theirs: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” He went on to say: “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (v. 25).

What on earth was He talking about? Jesus’ fans were ready to follow their Messiah to the death … if he went charging full-speed into a Roman garrison. But they refused to throw their lives away for a Messiah who wasn’t even going to put up a fight. It sounded like He was just planning to roll over and die.

In this passage, Jesus shares three powerful truths at the heart of our Christian faith. The decisions we make each day should be grounded in the following three truths. (Statements in quotation marks are from Scottish theologian William Barclay.)

Truth #1 (v. 24): “Only by death comes life.” As Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” What is true in agriculture is equally true in the spiritual realm. The great 2nd Century church leader Tertullian famously said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” All but one of Jesus’ 12 apostles were martyred for their faith. Now, you will probably never face death or imprisonment because of your beliefs. But Christ has still called you to die. Your old selfish way of living, your old negativity, your old unforgiveness … all need to die. It’s when our old nature dies that we can really live for God.

Truth #2 (v. 25): Only by giving up our lives do we retain life. People who live for me, myself and I are usually motivated by two things: their own selfish cravings and security. Selfish  people chase after pleasure and security. But Jesus calls His followers to sacrifice—even “hate”—both pleasure & security. I urge you to hate your own selfishness; hate your own laziness; hate sitting on the sidelines. Instead, LOVE giving your life away in service to Christ and others.

Truth #3 (v. 26): “Only by service comes greatness.” So many people live their lives serving one person: themselves. And at the end of their lives, there’s not much to show for it. I’m so thankful that so many Christians I know are the exact opposite of that. They live to serve Christ and others.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of officiating the Celebration of Life for Mele Bond, a sweet lady who served at my church for more than 30 years. Mele embodied this third truth: She lived a “great” life, because she was such a “great” servant.

For many years, Mele stood at the front door of our church shaking hands and handing out bulletins to our attenders. She greeted everyone with her great big, loving smile. No one would have guessed that Mele had Multiple Sclerosis. She didn’t talk about how it affected her health. She just kept serving. About six years ago, when her legs got too weak, Mele could no longer stand and hand out bulletins. So … she sat on her walker and handed out bulletins with the same big, loving smile.

In the last three years, Mele’s MS reached a point where she was too weak to get out of bed. So, did she finally stop serving? Nope! From her bed, she crocheted beanies for family members, friends and the homeless. Whenever I visited, she had a bag of hats for me to give away. She refused to stop serving. Anyone who knew Mele would agree: She lived a GREAT life. You see, only by service comes greatness.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Pastor Dane’s new daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is now available on Amazon.com. Join us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

An Eye-Opening Experience

 "Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." – John 9:32-33

A man who was blind from birth had been healed, but no one seemed too happy about it.

In John 9, Jesus took mercy on a blind beggar … in sort of an unusual way. On a certain Sabbath day, Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud pies out of the wet dirt, placed them on the blind man’s eyes and told him to go and wash his eyes. According to verse 7, the man “went and washed, and came home seeing.” The formerly-blind beggar was beyond excited! And you would think that everyone who knew him would be beyond excited. But instead, he was met with skepticism and unbelief.

First, the healed man was interrogated by the Pharisees to find out what had happened. In verse 16, some of them objected, “This man [Jesus] is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.” According to Jewish tradition, all kinds of everyday activities were forbidden on the Sabbath—including kneading wet dirt into mud pies and using spit to heal.

Next, the Pharisees spoke to the man’s parents, but Mom and Dad were too afraid of these powerful religious leaders to take any chances. They simply admitted he was their son, he had been born blind, and now he could see. But as for anything else, they said, “Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself” (v. 21).

So the Pharisees returned to the man and tried to trick him into admitting that Jesus was a sinner. But he stuck to the facts: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see” (v. 25). In frustration, the Pharisees finally snapped: “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where He comes from!” (vs. 28-29). But the healed man pointed out, “We know that God does not listen to sinners…. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (vs. 31-33). Well, the Pharisees didn’t want to hear any more from HIM, so they tossed him out of the synagogue.

But for the healed man, the story has a happy ending. He met Jesus again, who told him that He was the Son of Man—the promised Savior of the World. Immediately, the formerly-blind beggar believed that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. He was saved.

And here are two Life Lessons that we can draw from this inspiring account. First, because Jesus is your light and your salvation, be courageous when you’re under attack. And second, when man kicks you out, Jesus will take you in. And once Jesus takes you in, you will see the goodness of the Lord.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for the Christmas season, on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Who Wants to Be a Shepherd?

“I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me … and I lay down my life for the sheep." – John 10:14-15

Who in his right mind would ever want to be a shepherd? Well, it turns out that Jesus does. And you know what? He’s REALLY good at it.

In John 10, as Jesus was speaking to His critics, He drew their attention to the shepherds and their flocks scattered across the Judean countryside and declared, “I am the good shepherd.” You see, everyone in Judea was very familiar with the sight of shepherds leading their flocks along the hillsides. So, Jesus latched on to that imagery to reveal some powerful insights.

In these verses, Jesus reveals four vital ministries that He carries out that prove He is a REALLY Good Shepherd.

Ministry #1: Jesus dies for His sheep (vs. 11-13). Think about how truly radical Jesus’ statement is. Jesus is God in human flesh, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. If anyone should be laying down his life for someone else, one of us should be laying down our life for Him. That’s how things work in the real world. Privates lay down their lives for their lieutenants. Lieutenants lay down their lives for their colonels. Colonels lay down their lives for their generals. And EVERYONE lays down their lives for their Commander-in-Chief. But Jesus says that He, just like a good shepherd, lays down His life for His followers. Warren Wiersbe says it so well: “[Jesus] did not die as a martyr, killed by men; He died as a substitute, willingly laying down His life for us.”

Ministry #2: Jesus knows His sheep (vs. 14-15). Heaven, in a nutshell, is knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ personally—not just knowing about them, but really KNOWING them. And Jesus tells us He knows each of His followers personally. So, if you’re a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, Jesus knows your name. He knows your character (the good, the bad and the ugly). And He knows your needs better than anyone else in the world.

Ministry #3: Jesus brings other sheep into His flock (v. 16). If you aren’t Jewish, you should be REALLY glad that the Good Shepherd carries out this third ministry. The New Testament makes it clear that the “other sheep” are Gentiles … non-Jews. Jesus’ first ministry priority was to be the gate of salvation and the Good Shepherd for Jews. Once that priority was being carried out, He turned His focus to reaching Gentiles so that all men, women and children on earth could have the opportunity to be saved & be shepherded by Christ.

Ministry #4: Jesus takes up His life again (vs. 17-21). Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t stay dead? Jesus’ voluntary death was followed by His victorious resurrection. Jesus is alive and well … and is such a Good Shepherd! 

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for the Christmas season, on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at 16209 Kamana Road in Apple Valley, or livestream us on Facebook or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.