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Pondering this Moment

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  • Stephen J. Hall
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY January 20, 2008 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 18, 2008
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      NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
      January 20, 2008

      "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Pondering This Moment

      Christmas, or at least the trappings of Christmas, have finally been
      packed up in boxes and stored away for another year. We've taken our
      first few steps into the New Year and Monday we'll observe the
      holiday remembering Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday. A sequence of
      events celebrating diverse moments in human history. The emotional
      residue of those celebrations has a cumulative effect on us, on how
      we feel and think, as we stand at this moment in time and ponder
      where we've been, where we are going, and what awaits us on the road
      ahead.

      I am one of those people who believes nothing happens by accident.
      There is a reason and significance behind every sequence of events in
      human history. The events of the past "set the table" for the events
      of the future, all of them guided by God's divine will and purpose.
      What happened to me yesterday, what I learned from it, the way it
      changed me, has prepared me for today. What I learn today will
      prepare me for tomorrow. Because of that belief, I was pondering our
      celebrations of Christmas, New Years, and Dr. Martin Luther King's
      Birthday and wondering if there was some lesson to be learned from
      this specific moment in time; this position in the sequence of events
      God has ordained?

      In John, Chapter 15, Jesus says, "Live in me. Make your home in me
      just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes
      by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit
      unless you are joined with me. I am the vine, you are the branches.
      When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and
      organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't
      produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered
      up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home
      with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that
      whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon." (The Message)

      This "joining" with Christ is often referred to as our "walk" with
      Christ. This life is the journey we take. That journey begins at
      birth and is completed when we reach our eternal destination. The
      journey takes us through foreign and hostile territory, a physical
      world dominated by sin and death. The 23rd Psalm refers to it as a
      walk "through the valley of the shadow of death."

      At the instant of our creation, our Father, God, gave us a gift. The
      gift of "free will." That gift gave us a choice. The choice to walk
      with Him or walk separated from Him. To share in the "abundant
      harvest" or become "deadwood."

      Christmas. The birth of Christ. God's Son takes on flesh and
      becomes a defenseless child. His first step into the "valley" on a
      journey that would take Him to the cross and then His eternal
      destination, seated at the right hand of the Father. At no time in
      our journey through this "valley" are we more like Christ than at
      that moment of our birth. Our first step into the "valley" is placed
      exactly on top of His first step. But as the journey begins, our
      steps move away from His. We accept the "worldly" wisdom Christ
      refused to accept. We make choices Christ would never make. And
      with each step the separation between our steps grows. The Genesis
      account of man's beginning offers a direct parallel. Adam and Eve
      walk arm in arm with God, their Father, in the Garden of Eden. Satan
      (the Prince of this World) whispers his lie. They accept it and make
      the first wrong choice. They can no longer walk with their Father.
      They are separated from Him and the Garden. But deep within each of
      us is that void created by His absence, our separation from Him, and
      the longing to be reunited with Him again. To be one with Him as we
      were at birth. To walk with Him as our ancestors once did.
      Christmas - we remember where He and we began.

      The New Year. The birth of another year gives us the chance to
      reflect upon where we've been and where we want to go. A time, for
      most of us, to resolve to do better. A clean slate upon which to
      write our resolutions to make better choices. To be more like Him.
      To walk closer to Him. To respond to the longing deep within our
      spirits to be with Him. For some, those resolutions are written in
      chalk so they can be easily erased. For others, they are written in
      faith on the tablets of their hearts. Christ's journey took Him to
      the cross were He laid down His life for you and me so we could
      be "born again." So we could have the promise of a fresh start. A
      chance to wipe our slates clean and start over. New Years - we
      remember the promise.

      Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday. The birth of a man. A man
      uniquely created and gifted by God as you and I are unique and
      gifted. We celebrate his birthday so that we can remember his life.
      A life in which he attempted to use God's gifts to serve others and
      walk as closely to Christ as he was able. A life which illustrates
      what a struggle that attempt can be and the high price it may cost.
      A life that also illustrates just how much God can accomplish if just
      one of His children will try to "walk" with Him. Dr. King's
      Birthday - we remember the possibilities.

      Christmas, New Years, and Dr. King's Birthday. The birth of Christ,
      the birth of a New Year, and the birth of a man. Remembrances of the
      beginning, the promise and the possibilities of our journey through
      the "valley." Each one directs our focus to Jesus, the one who took
      the journey to show us the way The one who offers to join you in
      that journey now. All you have to do is take His hand.

      Sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,
      Steve FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
      (From "When God Whispers Your Name" by Max Lucado)

      It's quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The
      world is still asleep. The day is coming. In a few moments the day
      will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun.
      The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day.
      The calm of the solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the
      human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by
      decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

      For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It
      is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to
      choose. And so I choose.

      I choose love... No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants
      bitterness, I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

      I choose joy... I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I
      will refuse the temptation to be cynical...the tool of the lazy
      thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human
      beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything
      less than an opportunity to see God.

      I choose peace... I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may
      live.

      I choose patience... I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.
      Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do
      so. Rather than complaining that the wait is too long, I will thank
      God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new
      assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

      I choose kindness... I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone.
      Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for
      such is how God has treated me.

      I choose goodness... I will go without a dollar before I take a
      dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will
      confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

      I choose faithfulness... Today I will keep my promises. My debtors
      will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word.
      My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear
      that their father will not come home.

      I choose gentleness... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be
      gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my
      fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of
      myself.

      I choose self-control... I am a spiritual being. After this body is
      dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the
      eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will
      be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I
      will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
      Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
      gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed,
      I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then when
      this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest."

      © Copyright 1994, Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee. All Rights
      Reserved
      Max's Website: www.maxlucado.com



      DO IT ANYWAY !!!
      (Author - Mother Theresa)

      People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
      Forgive them anyway.
      If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
      Be kind anyway.
      If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true
      enemies;
      Succeed anyway.
      If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
      Be honest and frank anyway.
      What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
      Build anyway.
      If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
      Be happy anyway.
      The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
      Do good anyway.
      Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
      Give the world the best you've got anyway.
      You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
      It was never between you and them anyway.

      ______________________________________________________________________
      ______________
      Copyright © 1998 - 2008 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the Valley
      and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
      encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please feel
      free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you have
      something you'd like to contribute to a future edition, would like to
      ask a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
      steveh.rbis@...
      ______________________________________________________________________
      _______________

      Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
      everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
      your love . . . Psalm 89:1-3 The Message
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