Valley of Shaveh

by Sylvia Bambola May 16, 2011 10:04 AM

I was surprised to find Abraham in another valley, the Valley of Shaveh (Genesis 14:17-20) right after his victory over King Chedorlaomer.  Why was he there and not back up in the mountains since valleys are taken as low points in our lives?  Only after giving it some thought did it seem reasonable. God had given Abraham a great victory, but the victory came with a price. The Bible calls what happened in the last valley, the Valley of Siddim, a “slaughter”.  Abraham had been at war. He had blood on his hands.  He had killed many. And he had made enemies.  Would the sons or relatives of those enemies seek revenge?  These things had to weigh heavily on his mind. No wonder he had no peace.

 

But here’s the good part, while he’s lingering in this low point, Melchizedek, priest of the most high God and King of Salem, the very King of Peace—for Salem means peace—comes to Abraham bearing bread and wine, and blesses Abraham.  And by this blessing he assures Abraham that God was still with him, thus restoring his peace.  And who is this Melchizedek?  The pre-incarnate Jesus, the ever-existing One, who appears many times in the Old Testament.  In Hebrews 5:6, speaking of Jesus, it says, “Thou are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec”, and Hebrews chapter 7 goes into more detail.

 

Oh, there is so much in these passages of Genesis! It would take a proper Bible study to lay it all out.  But suffice it to say, that after we have been in a valley of conflict, and the conflict is now over, it still may be difficult to regain our peace.  So many unpleasant things happen during a conflict.  People are wounded, relationships may be destroyed, and this could leave us still trapped in a valley of remorse, despondency, or fear of the unknown.  But praise God! Jesus is willing and able to meet us there like He did Abraham.   And if we commune with Him (symbolized by the bread and wine brought by Melchizedek); if we spend time in fellowship with Jesus, He will restore us back to a place of peace, and bless us going forward.  What a gracious God we serve!

 

Until next week,

Sylvia

Category: Spirituality

God is . . . Comforter

by Sylvia Bambola February 8, 2010 9:15 AM

Who has not needed comforting sometime in his life?  Certainly everyone I know well. And though the comfort of family and friends is a true blessing, there’s no comfort like the comfort God gives.  Unlike the staying power of God’s comfort, the comforting power of the words of a brother or sister, a mother, father, friend often fades as soon as that person leaves and we are alone again. 

 

But if God’s comfort is so precious, where is it to be found? Well, for me it’s found in His Word, especially the Psalms.  They reach deep inside and can bring a peace that passes all understanding. Why is that?  Because God’s Word is alive and sharper than a two-edged sword.  It divides soul and spirit, and “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” leaving only truth.  It goes to the crux of a matter, soothing anxieties, fears, distresses; healing deep hurts; putting things in perspective.

 

There have been several times in my life when my heart has been sorely troubled: the death of a child, a reversal of finances, a serious family illness, professional disappointments, and others. And while friends and family were kind and provided what comfort they could, it was only when I sought God’s comfort that I was truly satisfied.  I would read the Word or spend countless hours listening to praise and worship CDs (which is often just God’s word set to music). And before I knew it, I’d be lifted above my discomfort, lifted to a place of peace and joy in spite of my circumstances.

 

Too often we wait for our circumstances to change.  If only this would happen or that would happen, we say, then we would be happy, then we would feel better. Really?  Don’t count on it.  Life is full of unexpected twists and turns capable of robbing us of our peace, our joy.  The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength and that Jesus will give us peace. And isn’t that what we all want?  To be strong?  To be at peace in a troubled world?  And there is only one Comforter I know Who’s capable of doing that for us.

 

Until next week,

Sylvia

Category: Spirituality

God is . . . Love

by Sylvia Bambola January 4, 2010 8:53 AM

Volumes could be written about the nature of God and still not cover the whole of it. But for the next several weeks I’d like to touch on at least a few of the descriptions of God, and I’d like to start with the one most known. The Bible says that “God is love.”  But what does that mean, exactly? What does His love look like?

 

Growing up, I went to church on Sunday.  I even had “religious instruction”. But my faith was shallow and not well grounded.  I never read the Bible.  What I knew of God’s Word came from snippets of the Gospels or Epistles read from the pulpit, and from movies like The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Story Every Told.

 

When I began reading the Bible for myself, I came face to face with some pretty raw facts that didn’t line up with my preconceived ideas.  For one, the Bible says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22) Now there’s a shock! What did that do to my theory of just trying to be a “good person”? A theory that worked better for me especially since I thought I was pretty good.  After all, I went to church, hadn’t killed anyone or robbed a bank. 

 

The next shock came when I read that, in God’s opinion, no one on the face of the earth was good (Matthew 19:17/Psalm 53:3). Wow! Now I was really in trouble. How was I going to earn my way into God’s heart and into His heaven? Well . . . perhaps by doing “good deeds.” I thought it sounded reasonable enough until I read that all my good works were like “filthy rags” to God (Isaiah 64:6). Now this was getting depressing.

 

Finally, God took pity on me and helped me connect the dots.  Jesus already shed His blood and satisfied the blood criterion.  The only thing I needed to do was accept what He had already done and apply it to my life, my sins, my inadequacies. Oh, how simple!  And oh, what freedom!  God had done it all.  His love paid the price, satisfied His justice.  It was like a rich benefactor—someone I, a poverty-stricken debtor, had disappointed, abused, insulted with my acts, and many times discounted—had put a large deposit into my bank account and said, “Here, live life on me.  I have paid your debts, and will supply all your future needs. All you need do is draw on my deposit.”

 

What does God’s love look like?  It’s a love that has given everything without the promise of getting anything in return.  It’s a love that sees the vilest part of us and still wants us, still yearns for us, still pursues us, still wants to call us by name, still wants to make us His own. It’s a love that though we spurn it, spit on it, mock it, will never stop trying to win us while at the same time never violate our free will. It’s a love that my mind can barely comprehend.

 

Until next week,

Sylvia

Category: Spirituality