Love Found In Bethlehem

This is the Second Sunday of Advent. On this day the second purple candle called the “Bethlehem Candle,” is lit. This candle represents love and symbolizes Christ’s manger. Bethlehem is a place of beginnings, nurturing, and nourishment which all depend on love.

 The Love that we celebrate over this Advent season has much deeper connotations than any other type of love. Jacob and Rachel were in the area that would be known as Bethlehem Ephrathah because that is where Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, the 12th tribe of Israel. Benjamin means, “Son of my right hand”. Through Jacob’s favored son was Joseph, Benjamin held a deeper love in his heart because he was the last son of Rachel, his true love.

Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, a man after God’s own heart, and the one who was chosen to lead Israel. Finally, it is the place God spoke though Micah which would be the birth place of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the greatest outpouring of the Father’s Love for His creation.   

It is because of His Love for us that He gave Malachi this message:

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight–indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;
he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.
Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in thedays of old and as in former years.
Malachi 3:1-4

 God provides a chance for us to find Him before He arrives on the scene. Malachi gives a glimpse in both the near and far future times when Jesus will first enter the world then upon His Glorious Appearing at the end of the age. God gives the Levites a chance to correct their mistreatment and perversions of the Word of God. When that does not work, God will step in and teach them so that they will speak the truth to the world.

For God So Loves The World

Despite the current social commentary, God does still love us and wants us to love Him back so He can have His inheritance which is a reconnection and personal relationship between us and Him. The world may think they have gotten past the need for God but He is needed now more than ever before.

When we look at the New Testament Book of Luke, we see a very loving Father:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us
that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Luke 1:68-79

Luke also speaks of the humbleness of Jesus by telling the story of His birth. It is God’s Love for all creation that He did not come in majestically with all the revelry that would be expected of a God King. He came to us as a child of a poor carpenter and his young bride from outside the main area of Judah, born in Bethlehem, the City of David.

God showed us that He is so mighty in power that He could be born in an area that was well hidden. The only ones who visited at first were the least respected but most important group known as shepherds.They were all family men who loved their flocks as if they were their own children. These shepherds knew exactly what to do because the final lamb sacrifice had just been born. In respect for the family they stayed quiet, only revealing the birth to the meek and lowly.

Love Changes Everything

God’s Great Love for us knows no bounds and He proved it by giving us Jesus. It was by His Love that He sent us the Word made flesh to return us to Him. It is this same Love that caused Him to make the greatest sacrifice any father could make. Jesus willingly gave His life so that we may live and love. We need His Love now more than ever. Will you join me in renewing the importance of His Love, His Life, and His Life? It is time to change back to His Love.

This week, reflect on God’s Love for us as we celebrate the approaching birth of the child who would be the great sacrifice so we may have life. Live for Him as we approach the new year. Love each other as He loves us.

Rob, Servant of God

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2nd Sunday in Advent: Prepare For The Prince Of Peace

Advent Peace

THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF PREPARATION

John 14:27

What I am leaving with you is shalom — I am giving you my shalom. I don’t give the way the world gives. Don’t let yourselves be upset or frightened. (CJB)

This week we prepare the way to Bethlehem. It was a time of peace but there was not a peaceful attitude between the Jews and the Romans who occupied the Holy Land. The Emperor demanded a census be taken of his whole empire. Now we al know what happens when a census is demanded, Just ask King David when he did that against God’s will. This one however, would be used to fulfill prophesy and God’s Will.

Micah 5:2

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
(ESV)

Our Ancestors prepared for the birth with anticipation but yet misunderstood what the purpose of the Messiah would truly be. They were looking for an earthly king who would save them from Roman occupation even though God gave Isaiah to prophesy of the Suffering Servant who saves souls. He also gave the prophesy of preparation that would begin with John the Baptist.  

Isaiah 40:3-5

A voice cries out: “Clear a road through the desert for Adonai! Level a highway in the ‘Aravah (willow branch/wilderness) for our God! Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill lowered, the bumpy places made level and the crags become a plain. Then the glory of Adonai will be revealed; all humankind together will see it, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken.” (CJB)

They saw but did not understand still. So John would continue crying in the desert wilderness of the Jordan and gave them fulfilled Isaiah again which says:

Isaiah 40:9-11

You who bring good news to Tziyon, get yourself up on a high mountain; you who bring good news to Yerushalayim, cry out at the top of your voice!
Don’t be afraid to shout out loud! Say to the cities of Y’hudah, “Here is your God!
10 Here comes Adonai Elohim with power, and his arm will rule for him.
Look! His reward is with him, and his recompense is before him.
11 He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering his lambs with his arm, carrying them against his chest, gently leading the mother sheep.”
(CJB)

John was constantly preparing the way for Jesus knowing that his flesh and blood cousin was more than that, He is the Son of God.

Jesus came to John so that His mission could begin. The Suffering Servant has arrived. Jesus was anointed with the water but then the miracle of God came with a thunderous voice and a gentle dove. “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. With that, the flesh became anointed and His ministry began.

Jesus prepared and became the way for our salvation. He fulfills the prophesy of Isaiah and the Will of God. His Mission, spread the Word of God, save mankind from eternal damnation, prepare a place for us in heaven, return and rule God’s Kingdom in the new creation.

So this Advent Sunday let us reflect on the peace that surpasses human understanding. This peace which is inherently within us but clouded by sin will be released once again when Jesus returns. There is an indescribable peace that comes over us when we accept Jesus as Savior but that is only a taste of what the peace of God will provide in us. We pray, “Come Lord Jesus” almost daily but He is already here. He is within each of us through the power of the Holy Spirit and is preparing our hearts for the Glorious Appearing where He will reveal His Kingdom to us.

Prepare for the Prince of Peace, born of God in a lowly manger, murdered by man, raised by God, who dwells within us, and rules us eternal.