Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 046 Maturing Character Like Christ
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #046 – Maturing Character Like Christ
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed to be back with you to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
Guess what I did last week? I went sledding!
No, it didn’t snow where I live. I slid right down the basement stairs on my back, hitting each step with my back and tailbone first, then my head following the example set before it, banging down every. single. step. I thought I might stop after each bump, but my outstretched body did a very good job of making sure I touched each stair all the way down to the bottom, where I landed dazed and unable to move for several minutes as I fought nausea and sat shaking with adrenaline.
As I work on this podcast I am sitting with an ice bag on my backside and laughing at myself inside. Thankfully, I will be okay. Although I’m still unable to go anywhere and I’ve had a few difficult days of barely being able to move, especially without pain.
Why do I bring this up? I feel so blessed.
When we choose to view life through an eternal viewpoint, we have to accept the blessings that come hidden in ugly packages.
As much as I know my family loves me, I am still surprised and humbled by the gentle care each of them has given me. I cannot express the blessings and gratitude I feel with words that feel so inadequate. I am so thankful. The gentle, loving spirits that have attended to me come straight from God.
Our Heavenly Father knows our needs. Sometimes He fills us with an overflowing cup. Other times He gives us just what we truly need and we must be satisfied. This week my cup has been flowing with gratitude beyond my needs to a bountiful supply that I pray extends to those around me.
I’m still hobbling around and it is difficult to sit or lie down, but my nursing staff is ready to assist with anything I need. Why? Because their hearts are attuned to Jesus. They are following His lead and loving with His nature.
1 Chronicles 22:19a says, “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.”
Our heart is revealed when our days are troubled and difficult.
My injury could make them angry or frustrated because it impacts them, too. I haven’t seen that attitude in any of them. I’ve only seen love and concern.
How do we handle hardships when they occur? What character is squeezed out of me when bad or hard things happen? Because they will happen. This fallen world is full of disease, misunderstandings, anger, hurt, betrayal, jealousy, accidents, and so much more. Look at the climate of our nation today as just one example. I’ve never seen us so divided. If we all viewed the world as Jesus and loved like Him daily, how different everything would be.
I want a heart that constantly offers gratitude, even when my desires are not met and my spirit is disappointed.
Even when my plans crumble and my wants are not filled.
I cannot offer this type of thanks on my own. Only through Jesus in me can I begin to seek God through disappointment and heartache, pain and fear.
Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Living under pressure with our heart and mind fixed on Him produces character like Christ.
As followers of Christ, we have the hope and trust that we are being transformed moment by moment.
Can you feel the changes in your desires? In your heart and mindset as you seek Him? Do you recognize Him changing you, crafting your responses and attitude to mirror His?
God will shift our life from the tribulation we are currently enduring when we persevere with reliance on Him, which moves us to a character mirroring His, and through His character, to a hope that endures.
His grace and power are sufficient.
Our afflictions are but for a moment in the scheme of eternity. God’s timetables are not understood because we do not have the whole picture. We must follow His leads by faith that matures through a close walk with Him.
1 John 5:1-5 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Let’s look at the basics. Christianity is very simple. Once we have established a personal relationship with Jesus, He lives within us in the form of the Holy Spirit. Despite anything this world offers or throws at us, we can be sure that Jesus is with us. Nothing can touch us without being sifted through the hands of the Father first. However, our human form is weak and we must ensure that we work daily to allow God to transform us, to help us see momentary troubles through the eyes and mindset of Jesus. The passage I read from 1 John 5 exposes where our heart lies.
Is loving Jesus and keeping His commandments a problem? A burden?
Or is it pure joy to see our beliefs altered in supernatural ways that prove the existence of the Holy Spirit living in us?
Our desires, actions, and words identify where we place Jesus in our life.
1. What do I believe? How is that belief shown in my life? Are my desires and actions in alignment with what God calls? With His word?
2. What does my life look like? Am I living in ways that prove I follow Jesus? Am I striving to keep the commandments God set for me?
3. How do I love? Do I show it in my walk with Jesus and to those around me? To the strangers I meet?
4. Am I transforming daily? Is my life proof that I am changing daily? Am I living with my heart and mind focused on eternity? Do I understand that every word I speak, every choice I make affects my eternity, as well as the eternal heart set of those I live and interact with? Do I live with a peace that surpasses understanding?
5. Do I continue living in old ways that were set before I knew Jesus? Or am I being made new each day? Does conviction sting if I stray or make choices by my flesh? Am I living in ways that honor the commitment I made to God through following Jesus?
Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
I always say that the difficulties in this world stem from the condition of our hearts. When our heart is right with Jesus, He builds the character of our hearts.
Why is there such discord now? Why are friends turning their backs on others? I believe it comes from the residue in our hearts. What do we truly believe? Who do we truly follow? Are we reacting from emotions and feelings or kneeling in prayer before God and waiting for Him to lead and direct our lives? Are we looking for ways to be hurt? Or are we lifting all of it to Him to rectify? Are we seeking Him to purpose our reactions and emotions to reflect His?
We should examine the motives of our heart by asking the following questions.
1. Am I following a religion? Do I just go through the motions of Christianity?
2. Am I following myself before Christ, with no compass to guide me except feelings and emotions?
3. Do I welcome the “hard” areas and painful areas of life by inviting Him to carry me and control my reactions? Do I allow Him to transform me daily?
4. Am I truly following Jesus?
Whatever we allow to dictate our life will direct our relationships and actions, our words and beliefs. What we pattern our life after now is establishing our eternity.
When we do not allow God full reign in our life, morals and relationships crumble. We are unable to react with character or compassion like Christ.
When I fell down the stairs, I was disappointed because I was supposed to meet a friend I have not seen all year. I had to cancel.
When we want to be saturated with the character of Christ, we must mature our mind to view disappointments as He would.
We must be cautious in establishing plans. What does God desire for us? Are we moving toward what He has purposed for us? Or are we moving away from the dreams set by our Creator, because we are selfishly choosing to follow what we think will satisfy us?
Am I saying God didn’t want me to meet with my friend? Not necessarily. I am reminding us that we must hold plans loosely. The way we respond when we are frustrated or let down sets our heart tone and can either move us closer to, or away from Jesus.
The world tells us to set goals and follow our dreams. That’s a wonderful sentiment, but I want to follow God’s desires for my life.
I want to be so connected to God and His whisperings to my soul that I recognize the desires He crafted in my heart.
What do we do when our dreams fall apart?
What if our ways are not God’s ways?
In the following prayer from David, we see a king with a desire to build a beautiful temple for God. His heart seemed to be set with the right motives, yet God had other plans and did not want David to move forward with this goal. David was not meant to be the man to build this temple.
God’s ways are incredibly higher than ours. While we think we are honoring God with something we offer, it may not be what God desires or what He needs to happen at that time.
While David may have held had a seemingly worthy dream of building a temple for God, the Lord did not want David to be the one to fulfill that act. Our Heavenly Father desired for David to take other actions in order to accomplish the role that was tailor-made for His life. God purposed Him for battle at that time, not building.
David had to step back from what he believed was a worthy action to take and listen to what God held as important and ordained for Him. David’s response set a tone for obedience, which not only affected him, but his son, and kingdom as well. God, through His goodness and authority did not want David to build Him a house, but promised David that He would continue His line on the throne. He planned to allow David’s descendants a house that would last forever and achieve an everlasting reign with Jesus.
After David realized his dream would not come to fruition, yet trusted that God was still with him, he offered this prayer to his Heavenly Father. David desired that the reputation of God would be lifted and praised for generations.
2 Samuel 7:18-29 says, “Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O LORD, became their God. And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord GOD, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
What do we do when we believe the dreams we hold would be God-honoring, yet they are not coming to fruition?
David sets the right examples for us to follow in the following steps.
!. David remembered the blessings God had already given him.
2. David rejoiced over what he already held.
3. David resigned himself to obedience.
4. David relied on God’s future plans for him and trusted that they were good.
5. David redirected his spirit and attention to making many plans to prepare his son, Solomon for his important role in establishing the temple.
It was not God’s will that David build the actual temple, because He had ordained a different role for David that only he could fulfill. Yet, our Heavenly Father did allow David to plan and prepare for the job Solomon would later complete.
The Bible holds many examples of what humans planned and prepared for and what God held for them. Sometimes people waited and relied on the Lord, other times they took matters into their hands and walked ahead of God, later suffering the consequences.
If we strive to learn and grow character like Christ, our reactions will mirror His no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.
John 5:19 says, “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
Jesus is our perfect mentor and role model. He walked in sync with God because He looked for His Heavenly Father to direct His every step. Jesus placed God in His rightful place above all else.
Psalm 16:8 says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
What are the best methods to mature our life so that we seek and follow God’s will, develop character like Christ, and live in the fulness of joy He desires?
Here are ten simple tips.
1. Personal relationship with Jesus. John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. We must establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. John 14:6-7 says, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know Me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” Study the life of Jesus. Love Him, recognize Him, and follow His ways.
2. Read the Bible. God truly does give us the instruction and wisdom we need in His Holy word.
3. Establish a prayerful life and relationship with God. We must converse with and listen to Him to know Him more intimately.
4. Humble yourself. We may have an intimate walk with our Heavenly Father through Jesus, but we are not on the same level as Him.
5. Seek His truth. The Bible, the Holy Spirit living inside us, and a prayerful life will transform us if we let it.
6. Surrender your will. Listen to the Holy Spirit inside and seek God above all else.
7. Obey God’s commands. Study His word so that you recognize Him and can discern between His good and perfect will and that of the world, your fleshly desires, and false believers.
8. Listen for His still and small voice. God is a gentleman. He will not force you to accept or follow Him. Steer your heart north to remain moving forward in the right direction as you mature in Him.
9. Surround yourself with others who love, listen to, and obey God. Life is sweeter when we have Christian friends who understand and encourage us.
10. Pay attention to the interests and talents He has given you. When we understand ourselves through God’s eyes and heart, we are better able to discern the callings He has and we receive the joy meant for us.
Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Our lives will carry hardship and pain. The glory of knowing and living for Jesus to develop and mature a heart and mindset like His brings the deepest peace, hope, love, and joy available this side of heaven.
Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
May each day push us to be more like Him. I desire to attain and shine the radiance and character of Christ in my life more each day. I want others to see and know that He is everything His word says. I invite Him to be alive and at work within me.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the numerous ways You are at work in our lives, whether seen or unseen. Thank you for the privilege of approaching You. Thank you for leaving the Holy Spirit as a deposit within Your followers to guide and grow us. You have indeed, thought of everything we need. Help us to strive to know and please You more and more daily. We need and desire You in our lives. Lift our heart and minds and fix our eyes on You as our only Source of strength and guidance. Expand our desire to follow You and help us allow Your character to shine brightly through us, despite obstacles, failures, and disappointments. In Your precious name I pray.
I deeply desire to allow God to cultivate a strong community of women through the work He has given me. I pray you will be inspired and equipped to live with an eternal perspective and encouraged to raise children for Jesus. Future episodes and resources will also be geared toward the important duty we have as parents and grandparents to influence children for Jesus.
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