September 16, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Wednesday night was truly one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen.  I could not even see the setting sun from where I was but the sky was remarkable.  Deep reds and oranges and purples set against the fading blue sky I was in awe with the beauty of God’s creation.  Often we simply walk through life without stopping and taking in the amazing beauty of creation and more importantly praising God for it.  Throughout the Psalms David thanks God for His work in creation and also for how He allows humankind to play a role in that.  Let’s look at Psalm 8 together today.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.

Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.

You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:

all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,

the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

David is thanking and praising God for His care of humankind and also for allowing us to be stewards of God’s amazing creation.  Today take the time to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and thank Him for that incredible gift. 
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 15, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

When the going gets tough what is your natural reaction?  For some it’s the saying the tough get going.  Others may avoid tough times like the plague and avoid the tough situation as much as possible.  Some white knuckle it and just grind their way through.  I like King David’s approach.  He cries out to God.  The Psalms are filled with David crying out to God.  Let’s look at David talking about this in Psalm 4 together today.

Answer me when I call to you,
    my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.

Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
    and trust in the Lord.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us.

Fill my heart with joy
    when their grain and new wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.

I love the last line in particular, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  The one thing that often comes hard during times of challenge is sleep.  Your mind races, you worry about what may or may not happen.  You think about how you should respond.  Not David.  He knew that God had his back so he shut his eyes and rested, knowing that God would help him to dwell in safety.  I pray that our first instinct in times of trouble would be to turn to God and that we would have the faith in Him to shut our eyes and sleep.  God is with you and He loves you!
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 14, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Does life ever feel overwhelming?  I saw a cute reel the other day of a three year old little girl trying to wake up and saying, “this is just too hard Mom, I need my bed to hold me a little longer” Perhaps you have experienced a similar sentiment before.  If you have ever felt that way you are in good company, Elijah, Moses, David and even Jesus felt overwhelmed in the Bible and didn’t want to stay the course.  The common thing for them and for all of us is that in the midst of the overwhelming seasons of life God is right there with us.  David writes about this in Psalm 3.  Let’s look at it together today.

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!

Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked. 

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

We will all face times in life that feel beyond the strength we have to offer.  These are often times of person and spiritual growth as we are almost forced to lean in to God’s strength.  In the words of the old Steven Curtis Chapman song, “His strength is perfect when my strength is gone.  He carries us when we can’t carry on.”  What a great truth to lean in to.  We may truly be overwhelmed but God never is.  If you are in the midst of such a season today, lean into the strength of God.  He will never let you down.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 13, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Perhaps the aspect of God’s nature that I tend to focus on in these daily devotionals is God’s great love for us.  God’s love is amazing and incredible.  I think one aspect that we sometimes don’t spend enough time thinking about is the sovereignty and power of God.  Psalm 2 focuses our thoughts in this way.  Let’s look at it together today.

Why do the nations conspire
    and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
    against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

“Let us break their chains
    and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.

He rebukes them in his anger
    and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

“I have installed my king
    on Zion, my holy mountain.”

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have become your father.

Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession. 

You will break them with a rod of iron;
    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

Therefore, you kings, be wise;
    be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Serve the Lord with fear
    and celebrate his rule with trembling.

Kiss his son, or he will be angry
    and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

This is often referred to as a Messianic Psalm not only speaking to the power of God the Father but also Jesus the Messiah.  God’s awesome power can lead to fear and reverence for Him In this case the Psalmist is calling us to obedience because of God’s power.  When you combine the idea of God’s great love for us with His incredible power to me that is a very comforting idea.  The strongest, being in existence, with limitless power loves me desperately.   That truly is something that can bring comfort.  I hope it does for you today.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 12, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever noticed the influence that different groups of people have on you over time?  The more time you spend with certain people you begin to pick up their habits and characteristics.  Jim Rohn the financial and personal development guru says that you are the average of your five closest friends.  This is one of the reasons that it is important to surround yourself with others who have similar goals and direction in life as you.  This is not a new idea the Bible talks about it as well.  Let’s look at Psalm 1 together today.

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

If you are spending time with people heading in a different direction from you eventually your own path will change.  Psalm 1 reminds us not to stand or walk with or sit with those who are heading in the wrong direction in life.  That doesn’t mean avoiding them in fact we are called to minister to others and share the love of Christ with them.  It simply means who you are linked to.  Who are those whose lives are intertwined with yours?  Instead it reminds us to meditate on the law of the Lord and then we will find that our lives are more productive and fruitful.  Surrounding ourselves with others who are seeking God is a good way to keep our paths straight.  May we all have strong partners who join us on this incredible journey of faith and life.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 9, 2022

Hello Advent Family

III John is a one chapter book that is very interesting.  John writes his friend Gaius who he has discipled in Christ.  He encourages and commends him and Demetrius while he criticizes Diotrephes.  Early church history teaches us that all three of these men were leaders of churches.  John’s words show us the effect that both good leadership and poor leadership can have on not simply the local church but how it can effect other followers of Christ who are far away.  Let’s look at his words together today.

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

John encourages Gaius to imitate other leaders who are “doing it right” The reality is this message is not simply for Pastors but for all who wear the title of follower of Jesus or Christian.  We are Christ’s ambassadors and representatives for the world.  The way they perceive us is the very way they will perceive Jesus.  There are times in my life where I have done this well and others where I have not.  I remember losing my temper once and realizing what others were probably thinking.  I recently had a more positive experience where I stopped to help someone who was broken down they noticed my shirt and said that if your church is filled with people like you I want to go.  That is why Paul calls us the aroma of Christ, or why Jesus calls us to be salt and light.  When we show others love well we represent Jesus well.  May we all be good representatives of the One who has given us all, our Lord, Jesus.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 8, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

One of the great joys I have experienced as a Pastor is when you see the next generation carrying on and becoming leaders of the faith.  You long to see them hold the course and continue to be faithful in ministry and help grow the future church.  That is exactly John’s heart as he writes the book of II John.  He writes to the “dear lady” which refers not to an individual but rather a church congregation.  Let’s look at his words together today.

To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:  Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.  It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.

John writes this as both an encouragement and a challenge.  He is excited that some of the next generation have picked up the mantle of faith and are carrying on the love of Jesus to future generations.  John also warns the church about deceivers and deceptive ideas coming along and leading them astray.  This book is a good reminder to all of us of the importance of investing in the next generation.  The future of the faith literally depends upon it.  May we as a church and as individuals look for ways to invest in the future generations of followers of Jesus.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 7. 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever hurt someone that you really love and care about? It is truly an awful feeling. You leave the situation vowing to yourself that you won’t let it happen again. Of course we will all fail sometimes, that is part of our sinfulness, part of the human condition. The point is that when you really love someone you don’t ever want to hurt them. John talks about this same concept when it comes to our relationship with God. Let’s look at his words together today from I John 5.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

John says that love for God means that we strive to obey His commands. Our sin hurts God. We will fail at times but his reminder is that when we truly love God we will seek to obey Him so as not to hurt Him. Our motivation toward obedience should not come from guilt, Jesus has taken that away. It should not come from trying to earn God’s favor. Nothing we do positive or negative can change God’s love for us one iota. Our motivation to obey God should come simply because of our love for Him. May He give us all the strength to love Him more and live lives of obedience toward Him.
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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September 6, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

If someone was to describe you with a single word what would it be? When I was in high school my nickname was Bull. It was because of a motion I made with my foot before every pitch I threw but if I’m honest it probably described my personality a bit. I was driven and stubborn a little bit bull headed. I would hope that others would describe me with different words today. The Bible is clear about how it would describe God with one word – Love. It says it several times throughout scripture but in particular this passage in I John 4. Let’s look at it together today.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

God is love. So simple and yet so profound. If we are called as followers of Jesus to represent Him here on earth perhaps the one word we should be known by is also love. The way we love each other. The way we love our neighbors. Even the way we love our enemies or the “other”. I can still sometimes act like high school Bull. I hope and pray that more often I am a person of love and that we all are people known for our love.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 2, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever received an extravagant gift?  Something that you knew was extremely costly for the person who gave it to you.  Not necessarily even in money terms but in time or sacrifice.  I remember once when a friend gave me his favorite baseball card for my birthday.  I’m not sure what the card was worth in money but, to my friend, it was his prized possession.  I told him that I couldn’t take the card and he said that he wanted me to have it because I was special to him just like the card was.  For an eight year old boy that was about as extravagant as it gets.  God’s love for us is an extravagant love the Bible even describes it as lavish.  Let’s look together today at I John 3.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

For God, the extravagant love He shows for us comes across in many ways but none as great as literally giving His life for us.  The thing about extravagant gifts is that they can be overwhelming.  I remember thinking how in the world can I repay my friend for the gift of his baseball card.  I started hanging out with him more and we would often argue about what sports we would play.  I found myself agreeing with him more instead of arguing.  The same thing happens with God.  When we understand His extravagant love for us it changes us.  We want to spend more and more time with Him and we want to live lives that please Him.  We want to share His love with others.  May we all be overwhelmed today and each day with a fresh sense of the lavish love of God for us and may we share that love with the world.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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