Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 016 Gratitude
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #016 – Gratitude
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed to be back with you today to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
Living with eternal perspective drives us to develop qualities that mold us into the person we were designed to be when God created us from nothing but His longing for us. One of the things I am so thankful for is the gift of time with my youngest child, who adores playing with me. We make it a point to devote a portion of each day to dedicated play time. She chooses what we do, and guess what it is 99% of the time. Legos.
Knowing we will share these moments together daily allows my girl to rest in the truth that she is treasured. She is worth my attention. As we spend these moments together, I watch for areas she may be struggling with. Play time is especially important because it allows the creativity of our children to flow while also supporting their ability to process life, emotions, fears, and joys.
When we play, I look for questions that are presented through conversation, as well as shown through her actions. I enjoy this simple method of forming thought processes and habits within my girl through a fun and unchallenging environment. My favorite times are when she allows her Lego figures to speak the truths she has learned, and that prove she has absorbed and is digesting, the messages she was taught.
Yesterday, she devised a new plot in our ongoing storyline. Several baby dragons matured into full-grown creatures who were supposed to help save Lego city. Three of the four dragons grew beautiful wings, except the one I was supposed to play with. She built mine with tiny wings made of bricks instead of flowing, colorful wings. I looked at the other dragons and wondered why I didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy a pretty one.
Before I began pouting, because who really wants to play with a whiny mother, I probed her with questions about when my dragon was going to grow a better set of wings.
“She already has wings,” my daughter told me.
“Why are they little ones?” I asked.
“They aren’t little. They’re special,” she insisted with conviction.
I looked at the dragon I held in my hands, then glanced at hers. Mine had bricked wings almost two inches long. The winged creatures she played with wore colorful, delicate attachments spanning eight to ten inches.
“These wings look little compared to the other dragons,” I protested.
“She is special. Trust me,” she replied with assurance.
Her words struck me. Trust me. That is when I heard God whisper to my spirit. “Be grateful for this time with my beautiful child,” He spoke to me. “Look at these creations she has made with her eyes, as I look at you with my eyes of love.”
I thought of God’s words, then replayed in my mind the words my daughter spoke so confidently. I remembered the love she shows me every day and how she gives of herself so unselfishly.
Mentally, I began processing the past days we had played, those that built up the foundation of this storyline. All of a sudden, moments clicked into place. I understood the plot line she was creating with this tiny-winged dragon. “Special” is what she called this creation made for me. I believed this one was made to be a water dragon.
“Did you make this one with tiny wings so that it can fly and swim,” I asked her.
“Yes,” she answered with excitement.
“I love it,” I assured her, seeing the unique abilities this animal possessed. “It’s the only one who can do both.”
“Yes,” she said.
Such special qualities this dragon held, and she entrusted it to me. In fact, it was designed for me.
How often do we not understand what God crafts especially for us? How quickly do we when or complain that we don’t receive what we want or think we should?
As we played out her story, I purposely made my dragon comment that she was the last one to develop into a larger dragon and that she was the only one with little wings. Finally, I made the creature realize that her wings were special and could switch to fins that carried her into an underwater land, where none of the other beasts could travel. Understanding that they were each uniquely created with special gifts given as God appoints according to His purposes was the main theme of playtime that day.
Sharing time together in this way has helped my child understand and accept so much of life. It has undoubtedly deepened our relationship. Playing with my girl daily challenges my creativity and my compassion. It helps erase selfishness and desires that threaten to move me away from what is ultimately important in life. Entertaining my child with Legos may seem trivial, but devoting time together shows her how important she is and drives home the truth that God created her with an incredibly special set of skills and qualities that no one else has.
As we played her creative storyline underscoring God’s truths and the importance of not comparing gifts and abilities, or complaining about what we receive, she was reminded without being told, that each person is conceived in the mind of our Heavenly Father for a specific purpose, just as each dragon was. Just as she was. Although she has heard this many times, as we built the truth into our story, she acted it out with a new sense of confidence that I had never seen. Her imagination had built a complete tale from core beliefs we helped shape, and I seized the opportunity to applaud and confirm what she was living and releasing.
Gratitude filled my heart and spirit for the abundance of lessons my daughter had learned and now applied, and for the lessons God was still crafting in both of us.
Gratitude is built on a foundation of trust. Our Heavenly Father knows what He is doing. When we trust Him, we can be thankful no matter our circumstances.
Have you noticed that life brings so many unexpected events and turns? In fact, days rarely run smoothly.
As I prepare to air this podcast, many of my friends are struggling or living through hardships and I am lifting many prayers for them. My family is personally enduring months of zero salary and no medical insurance, due to the COVID-19 work restrictions.
Heartache touches each of us in different ways and at various times. None of us are immune to trouble or pain. How do we keep gratitude constant in our hearts and on our lips?
The key is to maintain gratefulness. There is a definite difference between living with gratitude and without. I view living without gratefulness as falling from a ship in the middle of a raging ocean without a life vest. Maintaining an attitude of praise and appreciativeness, despite hardships, sustains and increases our faith.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us, ”Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
What does this verse mean?
Those of us who know and follow Jesus should reflect a prayerful life. We don’t walk around in a trance praying every moment, but live with a prayerful attitude and mindset. We converse with Jesus as easily as we breathe and unconsciously think of and speak to Him.
Our life reflects an attitude of prayer which easily raises acknowledgement not only for the good gifts we receive, but also in times of hardship, because we understand and acknowledge that God is in control and He does work all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose, just as we are taught in Romans 8:28.
Everything is an opportunity for us to choose to accept a blessing, even when it is disguised.
My prayers often include pleas to God, asking Him to allow me to always live with a heart that carries thanksgiving and that worships and relies on God no matter my circumstances. Does that mean praise always flows from my heart and lips? Not on its own. For me, it is similar to training to be an athlete. I have to work my gratitude muscles, intentionally strengthening them so that if I don’t feel like being thankful when hurtful or difficult trials come, I’m equipped to rely on the training that automatically reverts my thoughts and heart to praising God during that particular load.
The truth is that nothing should separate us from praising and worshipping God.
When I want to complain that I have sacks of grocery items to disinfect before putting them away, my spirit immediately erases the burden mindset and writes thankfulness in its place. By constantly looking for areas in which I may praise God, my mind and heart begin to subconsciously search for all the blessings I have.
Even in the worst of times, God bolsters my faith to enhance my relationship with Him and change the way I view this life. When my oldest daughter died, I focused on the way God carried and equipped me to maintain joy despite tremendous heartache.
We must realize we have been given this moment to allow God to shift our attitude and perception into a Holy alignment with His.
My youngest child is releasing more of her history to me. The moments come in broken spurts of memories. Each time she confides in me, I recognize the bravery and trust she is releasing as she allows herself to relive a time she rarely remembers with happiness.
My job as her mother, her mentor in Christ, is to direct her pain and heartache to Him.
As I watch and listen to her, as I rely on Him to lead me to help her purge the old trauma and disappointment from her soul, I am thankful that He has sent her to me to parent. What a gift I have been presented. Despite a difficult and disappointing past, she is being taught to voice her emotions, walk through the hurt, and find hope and trust in Him. I am teaching her to live with praise and gratefulness, even when she does not understand.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Peace and joy come to us, despite difficulties and hurts, rejections and failures, when we exercise gratitude.
At first, we may not be able to thank God.
As we draw nearer to Him, we recognize God’s sovereignty in our life and allow Him to shift our mindset to peaceful expectation of His provision.
He will never fail us when we take the steps that lead us to be thankful despite suffering or pain, disappointments and failures.
The answers are not always what we desire, but they are always what He needs to accomplish His purposes and that will eventually, if we allow it, bring us to our knees before Him in humble thanksgiving and praise. Not always for the tragedy or hardship, but for the closeness we find with Him through it.
The hardest times in my life have been soothed by Him. Although I never want to live the circumstances again, especially those carved by deep loss, I am overwhelmed by the measures the Creator of the Universe went to in order to move me exactly where I am the most effective for Him and where I unite in deeper communion with Jesus.
Although I will never be exactly where I should be this side of Heaven, I see the changes He makes in me daily. I know He is real. I know He is for me and never against me.
2 Corinthians 4:15 says, “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”
The ways the Lord has impacted my life, carrying me each moment and replacing a shattered heart with joy that surpasses earthly understanding, the way He has performed miracles as I step out in obedience to Him, forces my heart to desire pleasing Him above all else.
Hebrews 12:28 reminds us, “ Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and to worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe.”
What would be the greatest blessings God could bestow on each of us? The ability to see each other and the world through His eyes, to love one another as He does, to acknowledge the new mercies we receive from Him every morning, to purposely renew our spirit through Him each moment, to keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him, and to react in situations as He would, even through persecution and sacrifice.
If we ask Him and seek to build these qualities daily through Him, He will honor our prayer because it is in alignment with how He would desire us to live.
Romans 6:13 instructs, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.”
How do we shift from our selfish, fleshly, self-absorbed mindset to one that desires a Christ-like perspective in all ways?
Only through a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.
What are ways we can strengthen our walk with Jesus through abundant praise and thanksgiving?
1. We must release fear. When we are anxious or worrisome, or hold onto fear, we are placing our trust in self, not our Heavenly Father.
2. We must realize how we worship the clock. Time has become another master in our lives. In order to savor moments with God and our loved ones, we simply need to slow down. As we relax, we begin to hear our Father and can acknowledge the gifts we have received with praise and thanksgiving. Once we allow gratitude to enter our mindset, we build the capacity to see adversity with a new measure of appreciativeness, for we believe the work God will do through us if we allow Him to.
3. We must desire abundance. If we allow thoughts and emotions to rule our attitudes and actions, we may never receive the blessings of living with a grateful heart and spirit.
Do you know people who never seem appreciative of anything? Do you want to be around them? What about those who complain constantly? Do you want to live like that? Neither do I.
In order to desire abundance, we must release our selfish expectations at the foot of the cross. What does Jesus desire for me? How can I please Him? What do I need to shift in my life to acquire the skills to follow where He calls? Those are steps to walking with abundance. Only through allowing Him to carve the life we were created to live, will we truly live with abundance.
4. We must be obedient. When we trust the Lord to execute the plans He has for us, we step out in faith, knowing that beyond the fear lives joy. With joy, we freely offer thankfulness and gratitude.
How do we train ourselves to live with abundant gratefulness that ignores circumstances or disappointment and focuses on God’s abundant love and mercy?
1. Ask God to fill us with the recognition of His blessings and a grateful heart and spirit.
2. Cling nearer to Jesus through a prayerful life that includes Him in all we are and do.
3. Develop a deeper relationship with Him because we desire sweet fellowship.
4. Listen to praise music that helps us to recognize the attributes and actions of our Heavenly Father.
5. Wear our Bible out through study and reflection in God’s word. Use this gift as a tool to strengthen all areas of our life and as the manual it was presented to be. The life of Jesus should be our mentor and God’s promises, our hope.
6. Memorize God’s word. If memorization is difficult, write His word or read and reflect on it, so that it is easy to recognize anything counter to His truths.
7. Journal prayer requests and God’s answers to them. This is a practice I stopped making time for, although I used to write in journals quite a bit. I sometimes miss the wonder I once felt when I read old entries and remember long-forgotten recorded prayers and the ways God answered them.
8. Add service to your routine. When we forsake our needs or desires and serve others with genuine joy, we receive so much more than we give. Find an organization you believe in or simply offer kindness in ways unique to the individuals you want to bless. God will show you who He wants to touch through you if you ask Him to.
9. Monitor the words and tone you extend to others. When we live with an awareness of how we are perceived by others and how what we show them of Jesus through our words and actions can affect their eternity, we begin to care much more about how we spend our time and treat our loved ones, as well as strangers.
10. Forgive. Living with gratitude is not possible when we harbor a bitter spirit or hold unforgiveness closer than we hold onto Jesus. When we live contrary to what God calls for us, we cannot step into freedom through what He has done for us. When we cannot forgive, we live counter to the sacrifice Jesus made for each one of us. If He can love enough to offer complete forgiveness through His death for you and for me, how can we justify neglecting absolution to others?
Gratitude is an emotion and an action. The closer we live to Him, the more thankfulness resides in and seeps from us, just as every quality He desires for us continues to grow through our eternal relationship with Him.
When our days are hard and no relief seems to be in sight, we cling to the words penned in the diary of our soul, the Bible. Meditating on the verses God offers for every need brings us closer to true worship and abundant living, leading to extravagant recognition of all we have been given.
Psalm 7:17 says, “I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness; I will sing the praises of the Lord Most High.”
Psalm 9:1 says, “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”
James 1:2-4 calls us to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Offering praise in the most difficult times, when the pain life in this world exceeds joy, we discover the higher purpose and benefits of a grateful heart. Living as though we already carry a heart of gladness, forces it to sprout.
As Jesus hung on the cross, separated for a time from His Heavenly Father, bearing the sin of each one of us, He no doubt still carried gratitude in His heart. As he had dined with his disciples at the Last Supper, He knew what faced Him, yet offered divine gratitude as He broke bread and drank from the cup He had been assigned.
Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song, I praise Him.”
When we realize and deeply understand that all we have and are comes from God for a divine purpose, and recognize the love He carries despite anything we do, we are able to lift pure praise as David did in 1 Chronicles 29:12-13, “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” or offer praise as Paul did in Ephesians 5:19b-20, “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Is it your desire to live your life with a bitter, selfish spirit and angry demeanor? Then live without with gratitude.
Or do you desire to cultivate and plant contentment and gratitude that grows God’s joyful spirit in your soul, that exhibits your joy and thankfulness for the sacrifice Jesus made for you?
Offer gratitude to God and others daily and watch your spirit attract more joy and contentment with each praise you lift and share.
Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. Have you found value in our weekly topics? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you want to hear more from 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 hear about Jesus through Live With Eternal Perspective, I need the support of listeners who will invest a few minutes in subscribing and reviewing to lift this podcast higher on the charts so that the platform shows it to everyone. Right now, because the podcast is new and the following is small, listeners won’t find it unless they specifically know the name to search for. Please share this podcast with a friend. I want everyone to hear encouragement in Jesus and find new ways to Live With Eternal Perspective.