Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 006 What Defines Me
Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode #006 – What Defines Me
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed and thrilled to be back with you today to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
In a world where there is confusion about life, death, and eternity, knowing what and why we believe what we do is vitally and eternally important. Why?
Because I have to know my beliefs before I can live them.
I suspect that most people listening to this podcast are already following Christ and enjoy listening to words of praise, inspiration, and encouragement to deepen their walk with Jesus.
However, I can’t ignore the command in my spirit that leads me to clarify exactly what following Christ means. I don’t know for sure who may hear this podcast and I need to obediently follow what I believe the Holy Spirit is prompting me to share.
Are you like me? I love to learn. I instinctively ask so many questions that close friends and family members joke about me. I found digging a little deeper into the terms Christian and Christianity interesting.
Have you ever looked up the definition of the word, “Christian?” I never had before. I didn’t need to. As a believer, I know what the term means, but I decided to look.
As a noun, the dictionary definition states that a Christian is “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Christianity.” I will come back to this.
As an adjective, it means “relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings.” So of course, I looked up, “Christianity.”
The dictionary states that Christianity is “the religion founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
The Hebrew and Greek definitions of Christian mean, “Follower of Christ.”
The word “Christ” is the root word of “Christian” and is defined as “the Messiah or anointed One, referring to Jesus Christ.”
Next, I reflected on the difference between the dictionary definition and what the Bible shows that the word, “Christian” means.
Of course, there may be more entries, but I found the term Christian used in Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16. What caught my attention as the most telling is just one of those passages. Why? Because it reflects the way many people live today. Acts 26:28 says, “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
Although King Agrippa heard Paul relay his astonishing personal testimony of the truth of his conversion to following Jesus, he would not allow himself to be humbled enough to declare Christ as King.
Many of us live the same way.
Each of us needs to ask ourselves an important question. Have I let the truth of Jesus penetrate my heart? The gospel changes lives. It opens eyes and alters hearts and mindsets. It changes families and communities. It forces each of us to face behaviors and beliefs that are uncomfortable.
Almost everyone dislikes change. We don’t want to be told what to do. We think we have control or we think we have time. The power and truth of the gospel moves people from living in darkness under the power of Satan and places us in the powerful, loving light of Jesus. It provides hope and secures our future if we choose to let Jesus penetrate our hearts and lives. If we think we are walking with Jesus and our life has not changed, we need to reassess our relationship.
No one can face the truth of Christ, study His word and life, and remain unchanged.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
If we don’t know Jesus as our personal Savior, those words can be threatening and frightening.
Because I‘ve already submitted to Jesus as the Lord of my life, I find the words promising, as well as a beautiful safeguard that will continue to grow and mold me in the proper ways, ensuring that I become more pleasing to God the more that I pursue Him and allow Him to work in and through me.
The needed transformation took place in my life after I understood that I am a sinner who needed Jesus. I spoke a simple, yet very heartfelt prayer confessing to the Lord that I knew I had broken His laws and that sin separated me from Him. I repented and asked for forgiveness. I professed my knowledge and belief that Jesus, God’s Holy Son, died as my substitute. I thanked Jesus for forgiving me and cleansing me from unrighteousness. I invited Jesus to take control of my life and I asked Him to change me and enable me to live the way He desires. I accepted His promise of sending the Holy Spirit to reside in, and transform me, to be more and more like Him each day. I thanked Him for his sacrifice for me.
If you need to ask Jesus into your life, please feel free to use what I prayed as a template for your own prayer. It shows that all you need is a simple, yet heart-felt prayer. I am also listing a few key verses that you can read to reference for more insight before you pray.
Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, I John 1:9, Romans 10:9-10, Romans 10:13
A Christian is someone saved by the grace of Jesus and has accepted His gift as I stated in the example of my own prayer. Simply praying the prayer won’t get you into heaven, but it combined with the heart knowledge and desire to truly follow Jesus because you repent and confess your need for Him and acknowledge His merciful act of grace through dying as a substitute for your sin does.
At the beginning of this episode, I stated that the dictionary defines a Christian as “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Christianity.” The truth is that baptism is the way we publicly show we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. It is an act of obedience that should follow our heart change for Christ and should be done as soon as possible after salvation.
Although the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us immediately, it definitely takes intentional effort on our part daily to ensure that our walk with the Lord continues to deepen and grow. He is faithful, but we are not. Just as with any relationship, we have to want it to flourish. Spending time deepening our walk with God is the best investment we can make for not only ourselves, but for our family.
I know that as a follower of Jesus I can call myself a Christian only after I have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. Simply believing in and loving God or praying to Him did not make me a Christian. I lived until my early twenties under that mistaken assumption. Jesus tells us clearly in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
What I am stating is not my opinion; it is fact from God’s Holy word. Jesus makes the way to heaven very clear. Also, don’t be deceived into following religions that are act-based. Instead, build a relationship with the only One who can save you from unrighteousness.
1 John 4:15 states, “If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
God, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit all participate in the salvation experience.
God, the Father sent His Son as a substitute for us, allowing us a glimpse of His eternal love.
The Holy Spirit indwells the believer.
Jesus is the Truth, the Hope, and the Message for this world. He is the Savior each of us needs, whether we understand it yet or not.
Why do I believe this? The Bible tells us.
I yearn for all to know and experience His truth and loving care through salvation. What a different world we would reside in if only hearts would be softened to Him. Satan’s power to deceive and the pride of too many cause a blindness that kills and destroys.
Do you know Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him?
The second half of the dictionary definition of Christian states, “a believer in Christianity.” Just saying that you believe in Jesus does not make you a Christian.
We must commit to Him and release control of our life to Him, as I said earlier in the example of what I prayed. Make sure that your eternal future is securely in His hands.
God is so good to give us free will. I think that would be so difficult to do! God created each of us uniquely and intentionally. Instead of forcing us to acknowledge and love Him, He allows us to choose what we believe and what and who we will follow in this life. He allows us to choose whatever religion we desire.
I actually dislike the word, religion, but treasure knowing that I have a relationship. My walk with God through Jesus is entirely relationship-based. I believe what the Bible states and I acknowledge the remarkable difference in my life through my attitude, thoughts, desires, and actions since I have come to know Jesus as my Savior and continue to mature in Him.
I have learned through experience that what the Bible says is living and true.
Jesus is alive and active in my life.
Is He alive in yours?
Another very important point I must raise in this episode is life after salvation. So, we pray a prayer asking Jesus to lead our life. What happens next?
Unfortunately, this is where many people trip in their walk. I know I had wonderful intentions after choosing to follow Jesus. I made the mistake of following people, not Jesus. After they let me down, I faltered in knowing what to do next. I didn’t get the right discipleship needed to learn about Jesus and correctly grow my relationship. It took longer for me to understand and know Him deeply, and to release proper access to my life than it should have.
If you are a new Christian, please do not hesitate to reach out for support to know the next steps to fully develop your understanding of Jesus.
There is nothing magical or mysterious about following Jesus. It is actually incredibly simple. Jesus desires us to have the faith of a child. We just need to acknowledge our need for Him, accept His grace, and confess Him as the Lord of our life. The hardest part is afterwards. We have to work at the relationship like any other, and it is the most important one we will ever have.
The fact that the gospel, the way to salvation through Christ is so uncomplicated, sometimes allows people to question whether they actually belong to Jesus and will live for eternity in heaven with Him one day.
I will list a few Bible verses that I hope will reassure anyone who questions their future or might need to reevaluate whether they have entered into a relationship with Jesus.
Revelation 3:20, John 10:27-28, Romans 8:38-39, 1 John 5:10-13, Matthew 10:32, Luke 12:8, and Ephesians 2:8-9, which is my favorite. It states, “For by grace you have been saved by faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Beyond the reassurances of scripture, the most effective way of ensuring our eternal walk with Jesus is secure is through the works He produces through us.
A Christian lives and exhibits a changed life.
God creates a good work in believers. Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Are you changing daily, becoming more Christ-like?
Colossians 1:9b-11 says, “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.”
As believers, we are filled with knowledge and spiritual understanding by immersing ourselves in and studying God’s word and by keeping open communication with Him through prayer. Because of the Holy Spirit inside us, we are able to better discern God’s will.
Wisdom and understanding can only come from the Lord and by following Him through a deepening relationship. The more intimately we know and understand God and His word; we will produce fruit for Him as we gain knowledge and grow in Him.
We also gain fruits of the Spirit from Him. Instead of desiring and partaking in sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these, we possess and exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We persevere through trials as He carries us because we trust in Him.
We praise Him in deeper ways because we understand He has plans for good and not to harm us.
We believe the good He has for us is not strictly ours, but is the best for all as He intricately weaves lives and His glorious plans.
We walk in faith, share the gospel, and help others to live lives that reflect Christ. We look at our present and future through the lens of eternal perspective and live in ways that exemplify His truths and in doing so, it is not a burden, but a joy.
Here are several questions that are necessary to review if we have accepted Christ as our Savior and want to continue growing and shining for Him.
1. Do I intentionally and joyfully spend time in prayer throughout each day? Are my prayers living and breathing extensions of my thoughts and life as I raise my heart to God with gratitude before requests? God already knows us, but He desires intimacy, as well as honor in our lives.
2. Do I spend time in God’s word through reading my Bible each day? Podcasts, inspirational stories and blogs, etc. are wonderful ways to be encouraged and taught, but the most effective way to grow and deepen our walk is through consistent, personal time in His Holy word.
3. Do I place my spiritual growth behind more pressing duties in my life? God must be a priority. We know we make time for what we declare is important.
4. What are my first thoughts and desires when I awaken each morning? What about my last thoughts when I go to sleep? Make it a habit to talk to God as you go to sleep and to awaken with gratitude in your heart and on your lips as you start the day. Ask Him to guide and time your day. Ask Him to shine through you in every encounter. Ask for His patience, His love, whatever you know is lacking. Pray for the person who bad mouths you or the child bullying your son or daughter. Ask God to give you a heart for them, and to give them a heart for Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform you.
5. Do I feel true joy in my life? Two important fruits of the Spirit we receive from walking with Jesus is pure joy and peace despite circumstances. Psalm 94:19 says, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comfort delights my soul.”
6. Have I found a Bible-believing church to mentor and encourage me or to invest in others? Am I using the gifts God has given me for Him?
In order for my family and friends to know my beliefs, I have to live them. If they are not clear to me, they will be clear to no one else. We must take time to reflect on our life.
1. If I am in a relationship or have children they will not be positively influenced by me in eternal ways if I am not intentionally allowing the Lord to work through me.
2. Do my words reflect my beliefs and desire to grow in Jesus?
3. Do my actions reflect my beliefs and desire to grow in Jesus?
4. Am I allowing God to alter my thoughts? My thoughts reflect my words, attitude, and actions. Do I submit to them or to the Lord?
5. My emotions, attitude, words, and actions influence and affect my loved ones daily. Do I attract or repel them and others to the Lord?
How does the world see me?
Is my life authentic?
Do I project a false image?
Do I exude warmth?
Do I come across as stand-offish?
Am I kind or rude?
Would others be attracted to Christ because they see Him in me?
What I think about myself will affect how others see me and how they view Christ.
Where do I find my worth?
Jeremiah 1:5a says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
Psalm 27:10 says, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.”
What are my strengths?
Do I praise God for these qualities?
Do I acknowledge that they are from Him and use them for Him?
What are my weaknesses?
Am I thankful that I have weaknesses that force me to rely on God? Do I ask God to strengthen these areas so that I may honor Him?
Do I allow other people or circumstances to affect or influence my mindset and actions?
Two verses beautifully instruct us in this area. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The other verse is Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we inherit daily change.
Our relationship with Christ becomes experiential. He penetrates and alters our attitude, thoughts, and actions. He regulates our emotions and erases fears.
We are no longer “in the body of Christ."
We are living for Christ.
We don’t just “identify” with Christ; we abide in and fellowship with Him.
When we are tempted to become angry or hurt, or a variety of other emotions, we rely on Christ within us to enable our reaction to be what He desires, instead of allowing our fleshly responses to control us. Is this easy? Not always.
We are human. But God is not. We must rely on His strength.
God is able to do above and beyond what we can conceive. As we yield to Him, He modifies our instinctive responses and creates something new and beautiful within us. When we fail to respond in the ways that please Him, we repent and lean closer in reliance on Him.
Philippians 4:8 offers sound advice for yielding to the life God desires for us. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”
Finally, a last set of ways to evaluate and discern the way we live.
1. What would others say defines me: Jesus or the world? What would my family say?
2. Which exposes my life focus as shown through my daily habits (Jesus or the world)?
3. What am I willing to do in order to change this definition of my current lifestyle?
4. Do I submit to advertisements that show me what to desire and how to live?
5. Are my values dictated more by social media or friends, rather than God?
6. What are my last actions before bed and my first actions upon awakening?
7. Do I rely more on God or myself throughout each day?
8. How have I reflected Jesus to others?
9. Am I embarrassed for others to know I follow Him?
10. Have I stepped out in faith and obedience where God has asked me to?
11. Do I have the same peace, joy, and hope through both good and difficult times?
After a life conversion to follow Christ, we will not exhibit all of the above qualities immediately. It takes time to grow in our faith and dependence on God. The key is to immediately begin cultivating our trust through the ways already stated. As we pursue Him, He allows wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to flow into our lives. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.
Ephesians 5:8-10 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), and find out what pleases the Lord.”
Thank you so much for listening to the Live With Eternal Perspective podcast. God has impressed so much on my heart to share. Living with an eternal perspective affects absolutely everything in my life. I am thrilled to delve into different areas with you. Since everything affects our eternity, we will have a lot to discuss! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you found value in this podcast, please subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. I also encourage you to leave a review. In order for others to be able to find this podcast, I will need the support of listeners who will invest a few minutes in subscribing and reviewing to lift Live With Eternal Perspective higher on the charts so that the platform shows it to everyone.
Thank you again for sharing part of your day with me. Until next time, keep looking Upward and finding new ways to live with an Eternal Perspective.