The Greatest Gift

by Sylvia Bambola April 9, 2012 10:22 AM

Did you ever want something so much you could taste it? Did you ever pray for it, hope for it, even beg and weep for it? And when things didn’t turn out the way you wanted, you were so disappointed, perhaps even angry with God?  I have. A few times. And when that moment came when I realized my prayers were not going to be answered, at least not in the way I wanted, there also came the grace to deal with it.

But it brought to the forefront something else, too: my sense of entitlement. I think sometimes we Christians can fall into an “entitlement” mentality. Just because we are God’s, we sometimes believe He is obliged to answer our prayers in just the manner we want. It’s coming to us. Right? After all, we’ve been walking in faith these many years, doing things His way. Surely we can expect our prayers to be answered now and then.  But what we forget, what I forget, is that God is not obligated to do anything more for us. He already did it all by sending his son, Jesus, to the cross to pay for your sins and mine. And this act has given us the greatest gift of all, peace with God and a hope and a future.

During this Easter season, as I thought about the magnitude of what He did for me, everything in my life, all of its problems, its hurts, its disappointments, paled in comparison.  If God never does another thing for me, I’d have no right to complain. When I reflect on this great gift of peace with God, forgiveness of my sins, and the hope of eternal life, I’m amazed all over again by God’s great love. It’s this kind of loving God that I can trust with my future, to know what is best, even when I don’t understand what He is doing. And He is the kind of loving God you can trust as well.

Until next week,

Sylvia

Valley of Siddim

by Sylvia Bambola May 9, 2011 11:22 AM

We have left the valley of rebellion (Shinar) only to find ourselves in the valley of strife. And as I mentioned last week, it is reasonable to assume that if we are not at peace with God, we will not be at peace with our fellowman, either.  So, is it any wonder that in the very next valley named in the Bible, the Valley of Siddim, the first recorded war in scripture takes place?  Many years have passed since the Tower of Babel and people have spread out in all directions. In this particular area there are now nine kings with the head honcho being King Chedorlaomer.  For twelve years the other kings have been serving Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14). Finally, in the thirteenth year five of the kings rebelled, including the King of Sodom and the King of Gomorrah, and within a year, Chedorlaomer marched against them with his army and the army of his three allies. So it was four kings against five. 

 

The four kings were able to vanquish the others and took them as spoils of war along with their goods, livestock, children, and wives. Among those taken was Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who had, some time before, left Abraham to live in Sodom.

 

And where was Abraham all this time?  Safely by the mountain of Mamre.  Abraham, called by God to separate himself from the world, is the fountainhead of the twelve tribes of Israel, but he’s also a wonderful picture of the believer.  We too are called by God to be separated; to refrain from the world’s sin and strife. 1 John 5:19 says “the whole world lieth in wickedness”. Romans 12:2a cautions us to “be not conformed to this world”.  And 1 John 2:15 admonishes us to “love not the world neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” But James 4:4 goes even further and tells us that to be friends with the world is to be an enemy of God. But like Abraham, who, when he heard about Lot’s capture, was forced to take up arms and rescue him, sometimes we too are pulled into the war and conflict around us. There will always be someone who causes strife in our world, someone who wants to rule, to control, to subjugate. In the larger sense we can think of people like Hitler or Bin Laden, but on a smaller scale it could be that difficult boss or abusive spouse or impossible neighbor or co-worker.

 

So there will be times when we will leave our mountain of peace for the valley of strife, pulled there by war or discord not of our making. But in the end, Abraham and his men prevailed and rescued Lot and the other captives.  And in the end, if we faithfully follow God’s leading, we will prevail too.

 

Until next week,

Sylvia

 

Category: Spirituality

Amazing Grace

by Sylvia Bambola March 7, 2011 10:03 AM

Even after years of hearing the Gospel which tells us that salvation is a free gift from God, (Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” KJV) it’s still easy for Christians to fall into the temptation of co-mingling grace with works. Why is that?  I think because it’s difficult to completely weed out worldly thinking with regard to spiritual things.

 

The world system says we must prove our worth.  Thus we are judged by who we know, how well we perform, what we do, and how successful we are. But the trouble occurs when we transfer this same standard of measurement to our spiritual life by trying to prove our worth to God.

 

The truth is we are valuable to God not because of anything we’ve done, but because He has bought us with a great price—the very blood of Jesus.  And nothing we ever do, no matter how great, will make us more valuable to God, or more loved by Him. The world will never understand this truth, because it is alien, heavenly, and spiritually discerned.

 

So does that mean we just sit around and eat chocolate covered raisins all day? No, we do good works to please God, because we love Him, and they are the works He has ordained for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). And we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And His love for us can’t be earned and it’s certainly not deserved.  On the cross, Jesus said “it is finished”. He paid the price so that we could have peace with God. We don’t need to prove anything to Him. All we need do is rest in what Jesus has already done. It’s that simple.

 

Oh, how amazing His grace is!

 

Until next week,

Sylvia

Category: Spirituality