September 30, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Psalm 49 is a reminder to us of both God’s work in our lives and our responsibility to tell others about His work.  This Old Testament passage really describes the work of Jesus rescuing us from sin and death.  Let’s look at it together today.

Hear this, all you peoples;
    listen, all who live in this world,

both low and high,
    rich and poor alike:

My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.

I will turn my ear to a proverb;
    with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
    when wicked deceivers surround me—

those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of their great riches?

No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—

the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—

so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.

For all can see that the wise die,
    that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
    leaving their wealth to others.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
    their dwellings for endless generations,
    though they had named lands after themselves.

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
    they are like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

They are like sheep and are destined to die;
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself.

The Psalmist reminds us that God does for us what we can not do for ourselves.  He also points out that no one else can rescue us it is something that God alone can do.  The last verse is the key, God will redeem me and take me to Himself.  That is exactly what God does through the work of Jesus’ death burial and resurrection.  Be encouraged today by the great love that God has for you that He would go to such lengths to rescue you.  embrace that act of lover and share that message of love with the world. 

In His Grip,

Pastor Dave

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September 29, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

When we speak of the attributes of God often words fail us.  We can say that God is loving, or righteous, or gracious, or faithful but that seems to simply fall short.  When we are describing something so far beyond us we often struggle with how to even describe it.  David attempts to address this in Psalm 36.  Let’s take a look at it together today

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

Continue your love to those who know you,
    your righteousness to the upright in heart.

David highlights some of God’s attributes and then ascribes to them the largest things he can think of.  The thing is that while we are created in God’s image and can be loving, or faithful, or righteous, or gracious, our ability to be these things is extremely limited.  God’s attributes are infinite.  He never runs out of love.  He never runs out of grace.  His righteousness is perfect.  Take some time today to reflect on some of God’s attributes and how blessed we truly are that our God is infinite in those attributes.
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 28, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Today we offer prayers for those in the path of the storm.  Pray for protection, safety and that their fears may be comforted.  I was speaking to some first time hurricane folks the other day and they were experiencing lots of fear.  Fear can be a crippling thing.  It can overwhelm us at times.  David often experienced this and turned to God to help calm his fears let’s look together at his words from Psalm 34.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.

I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

In the “storms” of life we are taught to take refuge in God.  He will deliver us from our fears when we trust in Him.  It is comforting to know that the one who can calm storms by simply saying, “peace be still” loves us and is with us through the storms that life throws out us.  He may not quiet the storm like He did for the disciples but He is with us throughout the storm.  When we embrace this truth the storms life throws at us are a little bit easier to navigate. 
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 27, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

One of my favorite older worship songs is My Hope is You by Third Day.  It comes from Psalm 25.  Let’s look at it together today.

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.

I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.

All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

For the sake of your name, Lord,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Both the song and the Psalm emphasize putting our trust and hope in God.  He will guide us in the way to live and keep us from trouble.  The more we rely upon Him and not our own strength the more we will follow the path that He has for us.  I remember early in my faith journey having a conversation with a spiritual mentor of mine.  I do not remember the exact context but we were talking about a difficult situation that I was going to have to walk through.  I said, “I can handle it.” He immediately stopped me and said that those were the most dangerous words a follower of Jesus could say.  He explained to me our need to totally depend upon Jesus especially in difficult situations.  When we think that we can handle it and rely on our own strength that is when we fall.  Today and each day put your trust and hope in God and He will lead guide and protect you. 
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 26, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Most of you know that I am a big Miami Dolphins fan.  Some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around going to games or watching them on TV with my Dad and my Pop Pop.  Yesterday I talked about the Dolphins a bit in my sermon and when they ended up beating the Bills yesterday the celebratory texts started coming in from other fans.  I began contemplating, amidst my celebration, the things we truly celebrate in life.  One thing that we learn from the Psalms is how frequently David celebrates God.  Who He is, what He has done, just His general awesomeness.  Let’s look together today at Psalm 24.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.

I imagine David singing songs like this as he walks through his royal palace.  I know yesterday I was singing, “Miami has the Dolphins, the greatest football team.  They take the ball from goal to goal like no one has ever seen.  They’re in the air they’re on the ground, they’re always in control and when you say Miami, you’re talking Super Bowl.”  While it’s fun to celebrate your team doing well (let’s be honest it’s been awhile) how much more does our God deserve to be celebrated.  Today and every day reflect on the great things God has done and just how great He truly is and take some time to celebrate Him!
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 23, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Today we take another look at Psalm 23.  Psalm 23 is almost always remembered and thought of for it’s imagery of God as our Good Shepherd but it also portrays God as our Great Host.  Let’s take a look at that together today.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

God preparers a table for us anoints us with oil and we are invited to dwell in His house forever.  Our cup overflows as we bask in God’s love and our enemies are powerless to stop us as they witness God pouring His love out upon us.  Hosting people in your home is a way of honoring them and making them feel special.  The imagery of this Psalm is exactly that.  God is welcoming us and making us feel special.  Dwelling in God’s house would have been a particularly powerful image as only Levites were permitted into the place where God’s presence dwelt.  May we today and everyday be reminded that God is both our Good Shepherd and our Great Host.

In His Grip,

Pastor Dave

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September 22, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the most well known Psalms.  It is written by David, who knows a thing or two about what a shepherd does having been one himself.  Let’s look together at this passage for the next couple of days.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.    
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

One of the things that is significant about the sheep/shepherd relationships that sheep are totally dependent upon the shepherd.  The shepherd guides them, protects them, feeds them, and brings them to shelter or pastures to rest.  The shepherd leads them where they need to go.  Sheep have a tendency to think that they are more independent than they actually are and wander off.  Sound familiar?  Perhaps you find yourself today in a place where you particularly need guidance from the shepherd.  Maybe you have wandered on your own path and feel far off.  The good news is that the Shepherd is always with you.  Even when we feel as though we have gone astray our Good Shepherd never leaves us.  Allow Him to lead you back to those green pastures and still waters because He longs to restore your soul. 

In His Grip (or shepherds crook),
Pastor Dave

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September 21, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to call someone and not being able to reach them? The other day I needed to ask someone a quick question about something we were working on together.  I couldn’t proceed until I had a simple answer but couldn’t get in touch with them.  It can be a frustrating thing.  Maybe it is a child away at school and you worry because you can’t reach them.  It could be a spouse or significant other that you want to make plans with and you can’t reach them.  A business colleague that you need to discuss something with that you cannot get a hold of can also lead to frustration.  Isn’t it such a blessing that God is always available to hear our prayers?  Let’s look together at David’s words from Psalm 17.

Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
    listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer—
    it does not rise from deceitful lips.

Let my vindication come from you;
    may your eyes see what is right.

Though you probe my heart,
    though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
    my mouth has not transgressed.

Though people tried to bribe me,
    I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
    through what your lips have commanded.

My steps have held to your paths;
    my feet have not stumbled.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.

Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings

from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
    from my mortal enemies who surround me.

David’s words are, “I call on you Lord for you will answer me.”  We can all have that confidence when we call out to God.  He may not always answer the way we want Him to but He always answers and His answers are always in our best interests.  Call out to God with boldness He is always there!

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave 

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September 20, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

A few years back I was in Seattle at a conference.  We were out to eat after the evening session and I had the opportunity to catch up with an old spiritual mentor of mine.  One of the people in the group was talking about a recent wave of awful crimes in the city and said something to the effect of the world was really evil.  My mentor piped up, “Isn’t God awesome!”  We all were a little taken back and he followed up with saying, “but for the grace of God go I.”  One of the folks in the group asked him to elaborate and he began expounding on how God’s grace is such an amazing thing and that absent of the grace of God that same crime spree might be our own fate.  It reminded me of Psalm 14.  Let’s look at it together today.

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
    they never call on the Lord.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
    for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
    but the Lord is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When the Lord restores his people,
    let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Left to our own devices we all are children of wrath.  We go our own way, do our own thing, and think we have no need for God.  Our sin problem is much bigger than we think but so is God’s grace in our lives.  God’s grace in our lives turns our hearts toward Him.  It reconciles us to Him but it also protects us from ourselves.  The next time you find yourself thinking about some of the evils and bad things you see in life take a moment and thank God for His amazing grace in your life!

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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September 19, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

This morning I had my annual physical at my doctor’s office.  I went last week for the typical bloodwork and tests and today was the follow up.  The Doctor came in and we started catching up.  He went to the computer to pull up my results and his face went white and he said please excuse me for a moment.  Trust me, I had some moments of trepidation and calling out to God really quickly.  It was probably only a minute or two but it felt like a long time and I was thinking, God where are you?  I told myself that no matter how bad the news was God had my back. I had a moment of peace then when I sensed God’s calming presence.  The Doctor came back in and apologized and said that they had pulled up the wrong records.  Phew!  That was a relief.  He told me I was healthy as a horse and sent me on my way.  Life doesn’t always have happy endings like that though and sometimes it can even feel like God is far away.  King David experienced this.  Let’s look at his words in Psalm 13.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

In the midst of a troubling time, David recalls God’s faithfulness to him and experiences peace.  My troubling time this morning only lasted a few moments but often we can go through seasons like that.  Either way David’s example is crucial.  Where we remember the love and faithfulness of God, His peace is not far behind.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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