Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 047 Preparing for Christ - Part 1
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #047 – Preparing for Christ – Part 1
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.
Can you believe it is almost the end of 2020? No matter what your thoughts are about this year, and you may have many, God has been in control. He was, is, and will remain in control. Nothing has touched us as individuals, as a nation, or in this world that was not already sifted through His capable and trustworthy hands. His eye is on the sparrow. We know He watches over us.
As it is the end of the year, many worthy organizations are looking for end of year support, and I want to take a moment today to mention one of my favorite local charities in Kansas City, the “Who Is Carter Foundation.” They have established a worldwide project to provide support, treatment options, and resources to those supporting exceptional children with neurological conditions. That project can be found at thebrainpossible.com, and you can learn more about the foundation at whoiscarter.org. We have personally worked with this organization and truly appreciate their mission and the support they offer. I encourage you to visit their websites and learn more and pass the info on to a friend or family member who might benefit from their various services.
Talking about the end of 2020 reminds me that the holiday season is already here! Each year, it seems that Christmas has a way of sneaking up on me. Is it like that for you, too? Life moves so quickly. One moment it’s summer and I’m savoring the heat most other people despise. Suddenly, I’m thrust into leaves falling and winds blowing, bringing cold weather that chills me before temperatures even drop below 50 degrees.
I never feel fully ready to jump into the rush of a holiday season because it seems so sneaky. Yet, as I consistently and intentionally purpose to live with my heart and mind focused on Jesus daily through an eternal lens, it enables my preparations for Christmas to be more authentic, although not in the way the world teaches. My attitude and desires are gratefully aware of His presence in my life. To have the honor of creating additional praise in our routine becomes a pleasure, not a chore. Once I release timetables and what our culture pushes on me faster and sooner each calendar turn, I believe I am better equipped to transition into seasons such as Christmas with a full heart and ready spirit. I’ve learned that if my heart is already practicing worship and praise for Jesus through a daily personal and deepening relationship, I won’t feel the stress or pressure to complete preparations by a certain time or rise to expectations I don’t want placed on myself. This is where I want to abide.
Social media has shown me photos of the beautiful homes of friends and acquaintances as they prepare for the season, many earlier than usual this year. I love seeing what they do and feel joyous that they are decorating and celebrating in ways that give them pleasure. Yet, it is not for me. There was a time when my middle daughter was younger that we regularly set up five trees in the house, wrapped the stairway railing in holly and bows, placed several nativity scenes in the house, decorated fireplace mantles, and baked many Christmas goodies. In love with the lights and excitement of the holiday season, my daughter excitedly anticipated the preparations and decorating process. I remember when she was a toddler, one of her favorite activities was riding in the cart at Target and Wal-Mart, spending a great amount of time visiting the holiday décor section and exclaiming over the brightly lit trees and blow-ups lawn décor.
Nowadays, we are so busy that the thought of decking the house out like that exhausts me and the rest of the family. We still hold tightly, however, to traditions we enjoy and that have become staples in our family, but we strive to keep the meaning of the celebrations high and clear and the emphasis on gifting low.
Continually resting in Jesus is the only way to receive the peace and joy we desire. The spirit of Christmas is more than trees, ornaments, holiday baking, and gathering with family to exchange and open gifts. Not that any of those are bad, but remembering and cherishing, celebrating Christ coming to us in human form is meant to linger in our spirit throughout the year. Why does society divide the time? Because Christmas has become so commercial and many are lost, without knowing Christ or celebrating the true purpose.
As followers of Christ, we can keep the true spirit of Christmas within our heart and mind if we focus on becoming more like Him daily. The older I get, the less excited I get about the commercialism surrounding such a sacred holiday. Of course, I love to give and receive gifts. Especially when the perfect one is found and I get to experience the delight of giving something personal and special to someone I love dearly. Yet, the assignment of shopping just because it is a certain time of year is a chore I don’t enjoy.
I want to sit quietly with Jesus, reflecting on Who He is and wants He is calling me to do for Him. Quiet time with the Lord, in His word, with no sounds or schedule. Just the two of us together as I focus on what He has done and is doing within me. Although I attempt to speak to and listen for Him daily, I know there is nothing as sacred as true, undivided time with nothing to do but hear from Him. No prayers that unintentionally get interrupted with children or spouse calling. No distracted thoughts flitting through my mind as I am speaking my heart. What if Christmas was just each one of us seeking Him with whole hearts? No presents except the ones we offer Him in return? What if we sat in solitude, allowing Jesus to probe our spirit and reveal new mysteries to each of us? What would He say that we are not hearing now?
I urge each one of us to carve special time, whether long or short, to rest in the Lord in this time before Christmas arrives, simply and intentionally preparing our hearts for Him.
The podcast this week is not in my normal format. I’ve purposely selected several verses to read that are not typically used at Christmas, to slow us down and prepare us to remember the mercy of the Lord, and to seek and be grateful for His good and perfect will for us, to remember Who He is and the enormous gift we have in Jesus. The podcast will be divided into two parts to help us prepare for the arrival of Noel, where we more clearly remember Immanuel. Christ with us.
I hope you will rest with me in the beauty and promise of these simple, yet sovereign words as I read verses and speak on each one. I hope it helps you to carve out special time to listen to His words, ponder your relationship, and reflect on Jesus and His immense love for you. For each of us. For God so loved the world! There is absolutely nothing more powerful than words, promises, and wisdom from God found in the Bible and the gift of eternal life we receive through Jesus.
Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” God reveals himself to us through creation. Psalm 19:1 declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.” No one should be able to miss the clear evidence from God of His majesty and sovereignty.
John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” How blessed we are to receive these words, and from Jesus Himself! This verse carries some of the most basic and forthright words in the Bible. They are also the most important. Jesus clearly tells us that He is the way to God. Christians do not have to argue with unbelievers or question our relationship through Jesus. For those who believe the way to God is too narrow, in reality, it is the opposite. Jesus came for everyone and clearly states the way with His words. Instead of thinking it is “limited” to say there is only one way, we can be thankful that God makes it very clear. Jesus assures us that He is the way and that no one will come to God, except through Him. Christ is our way to God, and He is also the living reality of each of God’s predictions and promises. Through the Holy Spirit within us, Jesus links Himself to us in this life, and for eternity.
Philippians 1:11 says, “May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” What beautiful and powerful words! They are a promise of all the character traits we will receive when we build a solid and mature personal relationship with God through Jesus.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Through the merciful and unmerited grace of our Heavenly Father, we are created as His masterpiece. It is our honor to serve Him and others with the gifts and interests He individually crafted for each of us.
2 Corinthians 4:10 says, “Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” Another beautiful promise. Suffering never seems like a gift, but through and because of Jesus, we experience the Lord shining through us when we hurt or suffer in any way. When we are broken, and expectantly reliant on Him, He will work within us and shine His glory from us. How this work prepares us and gifts us with an even clearer view of eternity! My greatest hardships have elevated my view of life to see with eternal perspective every moment.
1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Oh, how God transforms us when we truly follow Him! Even as we are changed moment by moment to resemble Him, our love will never reach the heights of His. Jesus is true love. God is the author of love. He is love. Love is rooted in His nature and character. God exhibited true love through Jesus and required absolutely nothing of us, yet He loves us with an everlasting love beyond our comprehension. This world warps love with our selfish and ungodly desires. How much different we would be if we all chose to follow Him and allow His transforming love to radiate through us.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Again we see how merciful God is! He patiently waits, while allowing the sin He cannot bear, knowing some will still some to repentance. During this time of grace, those who already know Jesus should use the time we are granted to do His work and make Him known to others.
Isaiah 40:28 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” God understands our every thought and desire. He is ahead of our every need. For those who believe that God no longer cares, we see that He is indeed always with us and never grows tired or weary of caring for us.
1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” God is infinitely holy, completely righteous, and pure in absolutely every way. Hallelujah! He is our Father, Provider, and Protector. He is our Guiding Light. We must remain close to Him and allow His light and righteousness to pour into us.
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” We are blessed to have as our holy Heavenly Father the very same God who created the heavens and the earth, who aligned the stars and moon, and who lovingly created each of us personally. He intentionally loves and cares for us in ways only He can and He yearns to do it. He is dependable and will not change, shift, or leave us.
Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.” Although those who do not follow the Lord may believe those of us who do are weak, we understand that all of us are weak and we glory in that weakness! Hallelujah! He is strong where I am weak! God is infinitely stronger than any of us and we desire His power to work in and through us. He lovingly cares for us as we rely on Him to protect and save us. God certainly shields us with His word and His mighty, loving power. Make me weak, Lord!
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” The very same character traits found in Jesus are available to us through the Holy Spirit as we mature our walk with Christ. They come as a by-product of following Him and are nothing we can gain by our own works or attempts. As we join our lives to Him, we begin to be transformed into new creations that imitate the glorious qualities He embodies. Since God is the author of the law and He sent the Spirit, both align perfectly with the fruits that we begin to possess and exhibit through Him.
Micah 7:18-19 says, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” How God delights in showing us mercy! Our God of love does not hold grudges, is joyful when we repent, and heartily extends forgiveness to us as we return to Him.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God’s word is living and active, not just a compilation of meaningless words. It is holy, life-affirming, and life-changing. God’s word cuts through to our moral and spiritual core, revealing who we are and exposing our intentions. Accept, believe, and live God’s word so that it will transform and shape your life.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” What we allow access to our mind will determine and shape our present – and our eternity. What we think on forms our attitude, words, and actions. If we have difficulty shaping thoughts that are as God calls: noble, right, pure, lovely, etc., we must assess what we are exposing ourselves to and whether we are in His word to cleanse and support our mind and actions. When we ask God to purify our mind and desires and help us focus on the thoughts He calls us to have, He will enable us to crave and keep wholesome material going in so that holiness will flow out.
1 Peter 1:15 says. “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.” Our Heavenly Father is a God of mercy and justice who expects His followers to imitate Him, and desire to be holy, just as He is.
Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Once we are reconciled to God through Jesus, there is no sin blocking our relationship with Him. This peace with God is only available because of the price Jesus paid for our sins when He died on the cross. We are now complete with Jesus, yet still growing in and through Him. Because we are human, we still struggle with the temptations and sins this life offers, yet we have the privilege of heeding the Holy Spirit within us and taking our battles to the Lord to fight on our behalf. As we mature through Him, we recognize that with each release we grow more intertwined with God and do not grow discouraged by the weights and pressures of this world. We know every trial will carry us closer to Him and should bring Him glory as He works in and through us.
Praise God! We are renewed through Him daily!
Rest and abide in God’s holy words of scripture as you prepare your heart to worship Jesus in a deeper way this holiday season. No greater gift is available to us in this life than to accept fellowship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus and live with Him for eternity. Place Him before preparations and shopping, wrapping, and movies. May His word be stored in your mind and reflected on as you shape your life after His.
Gracious Heavenly Father, we rejoice in the love You have for us and thank you for the gracious gift of eternal life with You through your Son, Jesus. Calm our spirit, our heart, and mind as we reflect on all You are this Christmas season. Help us to seek You in new ways. Open us to seeing this world with Your eyes and desires. Thank you for Your eternal love for us. Help us to move and respond to this world with eternal perspective that mirrors You. In Your precious name we 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 better equipped to live with an eternal perspective and encouraged to influence children for Jesus. Future episodes and resources will be geared toward the important duty we have as parents and grandparents to guide and guard children for Jesus.
The Live With Eternal Perspective podcast is currently linked to my new website at terrihitt.com, where you can access all the podcasts housed in one convenient location, as well as receive access to blog posts, transcripts, and additional free resources that are added to regularly.
Thank you for listening. I pray this podcast draws you nearer to Jesus and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up and find for new ways to Live With Eternal Perspective.