The Ultimate Joy » A Journey in Intimacy with God

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That Dog

Deuce, silly pic

Allow me to introduce you to That Dog (seen above). He’s that dog I didn’t want, that dog who didn’t behave like I wanted, that dog that wasn’t this dog:

 

Wrigley, cropped

 

This dog isn’t our dog. We simply get to enjoy her company when her family travels. This dog is the most perfect dog I’ve ever known. This was the kind of dog I wanted, but didn’t get. Yet, That Dog is rapidly becoming our dog, not just his (the husband’s) dog. And that dog is winning his way into my heart.

For me, That Dog has come to represent the people who challenge us, who rub against and frustrate us. I’m sure I fall into this category for some people. It’s these people I’d like you to think about as your read this post, for God has two specific things to say to us about them.

Concerning all people, God says: I don’t see things the way you see them. You look at and judge by outside appearances, but I look at the heart (from 1 Samuel 16:7).

For the person with whom you struggle, ask God to give you His eyes to see the beauty inside them. Ask Him to give you a glimpse at the needs He sees within their heart. I did this recently and was blessed by what God showed me. He showed me how to pray. He enabled me to love. And the fact that God enables us to supernaturally love someone absolutely blows me away.

Concerning other believers, God says: From now on, no longer regard anyone according to the flesh (from 2 Corinthians 5:16). 

The flesh refers to our sinful nature. It’s the nature that in the eyes of God “has gone” — it simply no longer exists in the lives of His children:

“If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come”  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God calls us to believe that truth about ourselves — no matter the sin with which we still struggle. He calls us to believe it about other people as well. He wants us to see people according to their new nature, to see them as already complete in Christ.

How we see people is so important:

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness”  (Matthew 6:22-23).

Our “eye sight” determines whether our words or attitudes toward people are God-glorifying. It determines whether they see an accurate reflection of God in our lives.

Imagine if you only saw people as God sees them. Talk about freedom — freedom for them and freedom for you. Imagine the love that would flow through you. Think of the compassion and mercy that would pour out of you. Imagine the difference you’d make in their life. Practice Way #22 of 52 Ways to Glorify God and you won’t have to imagine this anymore. You’ll be living it. You’ll bring great glory to God as you:

See others with the eyes of Jesus

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And because I cringe when people post unflattering pictures of me, here’s a more flattering picture of That Dog, our dog, Deuce:

Deuce 2

July 16, 2015 - 2:43 pm

judybyrnmillsgmailcom - Barbara, I will be praying for you!!! You radiate the love of Jesus. He will shine in you and be all you need for you! Blessed to walk this journey with you!!!

July 16, 2015 - 1:50 pm

Barbara Adair - Oh Judy!! Right now I’m struggling with a ” that dog” in my life. Your words are what I need today! Thank you and bless you for directing me to have God’s eyes as I try to be what He want in this situation.

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Let God Speak

Way #21, Woman Reading Bible

One week from today I leave for Nairobi, Kenya. This will be my sixth mission trip to this beautiful country, a country whose people I’ve come to love. I’m excited about the trip, but this wasn’t the case in the beginning. When first approached, I didn’t want to go. The two-and-a-half week length of the trip felt too long –  too long to be away from home, too long to be away from the person I share this home with.

As I wrestled through the decision, I sensed that my resistance went deeper. I asked God to reveal the root of my struggle. He did. When it got down to the ugly truth, I was resisting because I wanted to know: What’s in it for me? It’s embarrassing to write that. But it’s true.

As I admitted my struggle, I heard God ask a simple question: Can you do this for Me? Could I do this for God? For a thousand reasons – yes! The question was so clear and so poignant. It humbled me. It refocused me. The question was the answer I needed to hear.

I share this experience with you because it presents a question many Christ-followers struggle with: Does Almighty God really speak specific words to our hearts? I can say wholeheartedly: I believe He does. On that day last March, I believe He did. God has been speaking with His people since the beginning. Isaiah 30:21 says,

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying: This is My way, walk in it.”

God speaks to further a relationship with us. Sometimes our relationship with Him grows as we respond to His leading. Psalm 23:3 says He leads us on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. That path may give us a deeper revelation of who He is, or it might be a specific directive for something we are either to do or to avoid. But the path, and God’s speaking, is intended to lead us into greater righteousness: greater conformity to God in our thoughts and in our deeds. In the example I shared, God was continuing to crucify the lie that life is “all about me.”

God leads us so He can glorify Himself in us. To live a God glorifying life, we must follow Him. We can’t follow Him if we don’t know His voice. Jesus said,

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

Hearing God speak begins with believing that He will. Hearing God speak is precious to me because I once believed He’d never speak specifically to me.

Hearing God speak also begins with learning the myriad of ways in which He does it. As I sought God, I also asked two friends to pray. God confirmed through them what I sensed He was saying to me. I also found myself drawn to Scriptures about being a servant. Through His people and His Word, God kept speaking.

Hearing God speak requires us to practice the art of listening. Many of us are better at talking than listening, or we half-listen, letting our minds wander or be distracted by other things. The truth is, we’re inundated with distractions – especially the one that is pretty much attached to our hand (or ear). To hear God speak we must create quiet space in which we can listen.

The question is not: Does God speak to us specifically? The question is: Are we listening? Let’s practice Way #21 of 52 Ways to Glorify God:

Let God speak.

Listen and be blessed!

Listen and obey, and you’ll live a life that glorifies God!

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Enjoy God

MC and Libby for Blog Post

She captured our hearts the moment she was born. I was taken aback by the emotions that welled up inside of me. Friends said it would be that way. I sort of feared it wouldn’t. I never imagined the extent to which we would love her.

Two-and-a-half years and another precious granddaughter later, we are smitten with these two little girls. My husband and I spend hours talking about them. We look at pictures and videos of them over and over and over again. We receive incredible joy and take great delight in everything about them.

The truth hit me like a ton of bricks one day: This is how God wants us to feel and react about Him. Have you thought that God longs to be delighted in and enjoyed by you? Have you thought of God as fun? Have you pictured God laughing? Can you see Him as playful? I’m not sure why this feels odd or why we don’t do it more. We love to laugh and have fun. We love these things because we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26). I believe He wants to laugh and have fun with us. He longs for us to delight in Him for who He is, as well as the things He does.

When I ponder how to do this, I think of how I find joy in my granddaughters. I spend hours simply beholding them. I watch to see their actions and facial expressions. I listen to what they have to say and how they say it. God has revealed Himself in so many ways, especially in nature and people. Consider the variety of species found in nature. Consider the diversity of people. Each and every one is an expression of God. They are the work of His hand, and expression of His creativity. I think some animals are even an expression of His sense of humor.  It took males and females, mountain peaks and sea shores, starry nights and sunny days to express Him. Our God is unfathomable.

Delight in His power.

Delight in His tenderness.

Delight in His love.

Delight in knowing He is beyond searching out.

Delight in knowing He is closer than you can imagine.

Delight in Him as He delights in you:

“The Lord will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”  (Zephaniah 3:17).

The more we know Him, the more potential we have to enjoy Him. The more we know and enjoy Him, the more our lives will glorify Him. Practice Way #20 of 52 Ways to Glorify God:

Enjoy and delight in God

As you delight yourself in the Lord, He does something for you:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

The desires of our hearts will come to match the desires of His heart. And His desires are always for our good and His glory!  But it doesn’t stop there. As we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desire of our hearts. I’ve watched Him do it.

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