Christ Our Only Hope

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Isaiah 15:55

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Is Death The Victory

What is it that comes trespassing on my threshold,

Trying to seize me as its prey?

It has come unexpectedly; a peculiar unwanted guest.

It seems to be a shadow, robbing self of its rest.

Countless times it comes to scores with me

In sickness, peril, or accidents unavoidable.

It is there, this dreaded enemy;

It seems to be allowing time, yet it has no timetable.

Is there no way to escape that my spirit might be free

From this visitor who at my appointed time will join ranks with me?

To think I could escape would be pretending a farce.

I’d be robbed all joys of living; left hopeless without faith.

Ah! There is another victor stronger than death itself.

By the eye of faith, I vision everlasting life.

My faith soars upward as on an eagle’s wing

Christ’s is the final victory; O death where is thy sting!

 

Written By Letha Bernice Tackett

Fall 1975

“I do believe Christ is the only hope.” Those words were written by my Mom at the end of the above poem.  She was right.  Christ is our only hope.  If we are in Christ, death has no victory over us. She is now enjoying everlasting life. Even in my grief, I recognize that the victory is now hers and I am happy that she is soaring on Eagles wings.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

We must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2

Last year I decided to give up some things for Lent.  I even came up with a graphic to post on my refrigerator based on a suggestion from an online post I had read.  This was my formula: water instead of cola, gratitude instead of complaining, prayer instead of worry, 1 x 6 = encourage, which meant I should encourage at least one person each week of Lent.

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They were worthy goals. However. . . .

You already know what the however means, don’t you?  Of course, I didn’t last through Lent.  When a friend suggested that I could probably take weekends off, I gave myself permission to have a cola on weekends which led to a cola at other times.  I am still struggling to give cola up completely.  I still struggle with the whole gratitude thing, but I think I’m getting better.  Worry? Me? The answer to that is for another reflection.  I don’t know if I was encouraging to anyone during that time or not.  I hope so, but I didn’t keep track.

I failed to succeed because I failed to prepare my heart for the true purpose of Lent, which is “to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.”  I got on the bandwagon on a whim; so, I was doomed to failure from the beginning. As with most things in life, there was a lesson to be gleaned from my failure.

I learned that sacrifice is nothing without obedience.  Obedience is a daily submission to God’s will for my life.  Godly obedience is not the kind of obedience that sounds like a bunch of rules.  Rather, it is a willingness to give Him complete control; it is an acknowledgment of His sovereignty.  Obedience sometimes requires sacrificing and changing plans.  It is 365 days a year, including the forty days of Lent.

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If I need to stretch and grow in my walk with the Lord (and I do), Lent is a good place to start because it puts the focus on Christ and His ultimate sacrifice.  He was obedient to the will of the Father because He knew it would be our salvation.

During this Lenten season, whether you have a list of things you are sacrificing or not, I hope you will “turn your eyes upon Jesus [and] look full in His wonderful face, and [allow] the things of earth [to] grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  My prayer is that you will surrender your life to Him in total submission during Lent and beyond.

Looking to Grace,

Teresa

This Lenton reflection was originally shared with my congregation at First Baptist in Morehead, KY as part of their Lenten Season Reflections on Sunday March 22, 2015.

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Prompted By A Sunday Song

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Today’s post is Part of a 31 Day writing series where I choose moments from my life and let them be my writing prompt for the day. Today this song was threading through my mind.  I chose the third verse as it seems to speak to our weary spirits as we live in a world riddled with strife.  It is comforting to remember that ‘God is the ruler yet’ and ‘Jesus Christ will be satisfied.’

The window in the background of the image is from the church that my family began attending when I was a teenager.  My grandfather was the pastor for some of those years.  A few years ago when they did replacement windows they offered the old windows to the members of the congregation.  My parents brought this one to me. It is a treasure and brings back happy memories of a great time in my life. A time that was full of singing.

Singing in Grace,

Teresa

Advent II – Love

I am linking up With All Manner of Inspiration for Sacro Speco (sacred space).

Today is the second Sunday of Advent.  Churches and Homes around the world will light the candle of Love.  This is the season of anticipation of the arrival of the Christ child.  Of course this is symbolic as we know he came long ago.  For believers this also represents the anticipation of his second coming.

Love takes us to Bethlehem where we find the Christ child in a manger.  Today, I share an advent devotional with you that I wrote for the Fern Creek Baptist Church Advent Devotional Booklet a few years ago.  It has been edited with some additions.

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Love Him, Love Others

There is a song that I remember singing in high school choir.

 Love Came Down at Christmas, Love all love divine,  Love came down at Christmas and I know, I know that love is mine.

It is a beautiful song, but it is more than just words.  It is truth.  Truth about unconditional love.  The love God gave us in the gift of his son.  He came to us via a manger.  He was new life that offered new life to us via the cross.  

He was fully God and fully man.  He knew no sin.  Yet, he lived among us, walked among us and showed us how to love.  His life started humbly encased by pieces of wood.  His life on earth ended in humiliation nailed to two pieces of wood.

The story doesn’t end with his death.  He rose again on the third day and now he is at the right hand of the father.  Part of the celebration of Advent is anticipating his return to redeem his children. It will be victorious and he will be crowned the King of Kings! We will reign with him forever and ever.

How can we respond to the gift of the Christ child?  The answer is found in the gospel of John Chapter 13.  Jesus says, as I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Sounds simple and easy. On a good day.  The reality is not always that simple.  Think about it.  He died on a cross for us; He gave the ultimate sacrifice – His life.  If we’re honest, that’s not really how we want to love others; not with our life.

We want love to be flowers and candy and nicely written sentiments; we want to give hugs and have good times, but we don’t want to be bothered to stretch beyond the niceties.   Deep abiding love is so much more.  It is unconditional, self-sacrificing, forgiving.  It puts others first.  It means loving with our life.  Maybe not literally with our life, like Jesus did, but sacrificially, with our time and resources.

How do we live a life that honors God by loving others?  We can’t on our own. The first step in loving others as he has commanded is to love Him. We love Him because He first loved us.  He pursued us and lavished his love on us in the gift of the blood of Christ shed for our salvation.  When we accept His love and cherish it we are so full that love spills over into the lives of others.  We are not capable of unconditional, sacrificial love on our own.  But with Christ all things are possible.  

As you are Celebrating the Christ of the manger, during this Christmas Season, remember the love on the cross. Ask Jesus to help you show his love to others.  The best gift you can give someone, is to love them unconditionally, to love them with your life. As Christ has loved you.

Loving because of grace,

Teresa