August 5, 2022

Hello Advent Family,
 
Have you ever made a deal and then struggled to live up to your part of the bargain? Maybe as a child you were going to get a reward based on cleaning your room or making your bed and you didn’t get it done. Maybe you had a deadline at work and you didn’t quite make it. God made several covenants with His people, the Israelites, over the years and time and again they didn’t live up to their side of the bargain. When God issues in the new covenant through Jesus He does it with this in mind. The beauty of this covenant is that God fulfills both sides of the deal. He provides the sacrifice, Jesus, and He provides the reward the elimination of sin for all time and the promise of eternal life. Our end of the deal is simply receiving the covenant by faith. Let’s look together at Hebrews 9 where the new covenant is talked about.
 
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. 16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
 
Talk about your good deals! God’s great love for us meant that He knew we couldn’t hold up our end of the bargain so He did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He conquered our twin enemies of sin and death by Jesus’ own death on the cross. When you come across a great deal you tell others and share that deal with them. Let’s share the best deal ever, the gift of God’s amazing love with a world that could use a good deal. 
 
In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

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August 4, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

When I was a teen I had a good friend that was often getting into trouble.  Nothing to serious but given a number of choices he often chose the wrong ones.  His parents, and in particular his mom, really loved me and encouraged him to hang out with me all the time.  I often found myself interceding on his behalf to his mother to get him out of trouble.  It typically worked because at that point in my life I was a pretty good kid who loved Jesus and tried to get him to do the right thing (most of my bad choices as a teen happened earlier).  Typically he would do something to get in trouble and I would come over because he was grounded and I was the only person allowed over.  I would sit down with his mom and strike a deal where I’d keep him out of trouble if we could go do something.  It usually worked.  The author of Hebrews reminds us in chapter 7 that Jesus fulfills this very same role for us.  He is constantly interceding on our behalf to God.  Let’s look at the passage together today.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Jesus’ death on the cross means that our sins are forever taken care of but the Bible paints a picture of Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding to God on our behalf.  Praying for us, talking about us and helping us to be more like Him. How good to know that Jesus loves us and is at work to see the very best happen in our lives. 

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave

 


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August 3, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever had someone break a promise to you?  Sometimes we almost expect that from those who are not close to us like a salesperson, or a driver with the promise of a turn signal blinking.  Those are insignificant but when someone we love and trust breaks a promise it can hurt.  There was a movie called Liar Liar with Jim Carey where something happened to him where he became incapable of breaking a promise.  It was a funny look at the importance of being a person of your word.  What if someone was truly incapable of lying or breaking a promise?  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 6 that is the case with God.  Let’s look at it together today. 

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

God’s promises are perfect.  Think about that for a moment, perfect.  That means when He says He will never leave us of forsake us it means that He will ALWAYS be with us not simply try to unless something comes up at work.  When He says He casts our sins as far as the East is from the West they are gone.  When He says nothing in all of life can separate us from His love it means nothing can.  God’s promises are absolute.  Take some time in prayer today thanking God for His great promises and rest in the fact that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can be trusted.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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August 2, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

In our continued walk through the book of Hebrews we come to chapter 5.  Jesus is our great high priest and the author compares Him to other priests who offer sacrifices and prayers for their sins and then for ours.  Jesus did not need to do that because He was without sin.  He took our sins upon Himself to conquer sin once for all time.  Let’s look at the passage together today.

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

The beauty of Jesus as our great high priest is that He essentially made that role no longer necessary.  Before Jesus the job of the Priest was to be an intermediary between humans and God.  When Jesus conquered sin with His death on the cross the veil tore between God and man.  We now can, by the blood of Jesus, go directly to God 24/7/365. Jesus made it possible for everyone to have a connection to God directly.  He ended the need for sacrifices because He became our sacrifice once for all time.  He took our sin upon Himself and paid the penalty that we deserved to pay.  Thank Him today for that incredible gift!

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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August 1, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Today we continue our journey through the book of Hebrews in chapter 4.  Perhaps one of the best known verses in the book of Hebrews is Hebrews 4:12.  It speaks of the word of God being living and active sharper than a double edged sword.  To me it is very interesting how the author follows that up immediately with a reference to Jesus, our great high priest.  Let’s look at the passage together today. 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

For many of us today we may not grasp the significance of these two things coming together.  The word or law exists to show us how to live and the author emphasizes its ability to expose our hearts and sin.  Jesus came to be our great high priest and reconcile us to God in the midst of our sin.  This in turn leads us to verse 16 where we approach God’s throne of grace with confidence to receive the grace and mercy that we need.  This is the story of the Bible told in a few brief verses.  God provides us with His word, we fall short, Jesus intervenes, and we can boldly come to God reconciled by the blood of Jesus.  Approach God boldly today and thank Him for both His word which guides us and Jesus’ work which rescues us. 

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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July 29, 2022

Hello Advent Family,
 
For the follower of Judaism it doesn’t get much better than Moses.  He freed his people from slavery in Israel.  He led the people right up to the cusp of the Promised Land.  He gave the people of Israel the law and the Ark of the Covenant.  He helped establish the priestly system and the original tabernacles.  The author of Hebrews knows all of this and as the book of Hebrews is being written they are teaching us that as significant as Moses was and is Jesus is all the more.  Let’s look together at what Hebrews 3 says about this together today.   

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

The common themes of Hebrews are that Jesus is better than … everything and that we need to fix our thoughts, our gaze, and our presence on Him.  It is a similar concept to Jesus’ own words to His disciples in the vine and branches passage in John 15 when He tells us all to abide or remain in Him.  Moses certainly was extremely foundational in building of the Jewish and Christian faith.  That faith however is all about Jesus.  Jesus is our Messiah, our Savior, our conqueror of sin and death and our friend.  The more we abide in Him the greater God uses us to produce fruit in our lives and the more our lives represent the love He calls us to share.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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July 28, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever been somewhere and a message was given with a sense of urgency that you can’t miss this.  K Mart used to do their blue light special so that everyone would see the great deal.  Businesses often will rent a spotlight to shine in the sky to make sure people see what is going on.  Now we have people spinning g signs outside of businesses and of course the wavy inflatable man to attract attention (we actually have one of those here at Advent that we have used for special events).  We get an announcement at the beginning of Hebrews 2 about how important it is to listen to the message of Jesus.  Let’s look at the passage together today. 

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. …But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

We are told to pay special attention because of the importance of the message and so that we will not drift away.  Drifting is our natural course.  We have to work and be intentional to not drift.  In a boat you must anchor or use your motors to hold a position.  If not the current and waves will move you away from where you want to be.  The very same is true in our faith journey.  Unless we are anchored to Jesus and His message we will drift.  Unless we are actively fighting against the waves and currents of life we will just float along.  The author of Hebrews reminds us of just how important the message of Jesus is to help us hold our position.  Hold fast to the message of Jesus and you will stand firm.

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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July 27, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever seen a child who was the spitting image of their parent?  Or maybe even a child who acted or talked exactly like their parent.  It is always interesting to see.  The Bible talks about Jesus as being the exact representation of God the Father.  He doesn’t simply look like God or speak like Him.  He is God.  A child looks like their parent because of biology or maybe acts like them because they truly want to be like them.  Not Jesus, He simply is like God because He is God.  Let’s look together at what the author of Hebrews says about this. 

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience with the primary purpose being to show them how awesome Jesus is.  He is better than Moses, better than any priest, better than angels.  He is in fact God in a bod.  An exact representation of the Father.  The creator of the universe and the sustainer of all things.  Let’s spend the next few weeks looking at Jesus through the book of Hebrews and hopefully we will all walk away with a fresh sense of just how amazing He is. 

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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July 26, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

Here at Advent we use the motto, Love is why we are here. We will often fall short in this quest but it is certainly our goal to live by.  This idea is not unique to us at all.  The old Christian hymn, they will know we are Christians by our Love, utilizes this idea and I John 4:7-16 talks about the same thing.  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. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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.

A Christian is quite simply a follower of Christ.  As followers of Christ we are called to love like He demonstrates love.  God is the source of love.  Jesus gave us the example of love and now we are called to bring that love to the world.  Today and every day make it a point to reach out and show love to someone in an intentional way.  A quick text, a note, an act of service to help someone, maybe even a tiny gift.  You never know how God may use your small act of love to encourage another person. 

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave


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July 25, 2022

Hello Advent Family,

It seems like there are a lot of people and ideologies out there that think they have the corner on truth.  Everywhere you turn someone is saying that they are right and everyone else is wrong.  Just the other day I watched a news story about an event going on and three news stations reported that they had the exclusive truth about the incident.  Each story was completely different and as it turns out it appears now after the fact that they were all wrong.  So how do we get at truth?  I John 4 talks about this very thing in regards to faith at least (I can’t help with the news) lets look at it together today. 

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Throughout history many ideologies have emerged to explain or define our existence.  I John is reminding us that we evaluate those by what they have to say about Jesus.  Jesus is the central figure in all of history.  Immanuel, God in the flesh, our redeemer and reconciler, Jesus came and changed the world forever.  Any other ideology falls short.  Jesus is the way the truth and the life.  When we hold on to Him and His teachings the world makes a little more sense. 

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave 


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