a word of encouragement


in pursuit of Him

{a monthly devotional}

This Day | By Tricia Milligan | November 2018

Give us this day our daily bread. As I read this phrase the two words “this day” have really stood out. I recently received a new picture with the verse, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” So again I was drawn to the words “this day”. On the one hand we are supposed to have a future focus. We are supposed to be seeing beyond this life and having an eternal perspective. But I think we are also supposed to be presently focused. What is it that I need right now? Am I present in the events that are happening right now, or am I preoccupied by things that are happening tomorrow? Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” We are not meant to solve everything at once. We are only expected to take things as they come. I think we add pressure to ourselves by borrowing tomorrow’s trouble today. When I was in NC recently, I was sharing with a young mom who was feeling very overwhelmed by her little ones at home, you just take one day at a time. Enjoy each day. Be present in the moments. Cherish them.

I also thought about the word bread in the phrase. Bread is the most basic of needs. To me this shows God’s care over the smallest thing in our lives. God is in the details of each day. When we say, Give us this day our daily bread, we are extending an invitation to our heavenly Father to be present and to be involved in our lives even to the smallest detail. A few months ago, Brent and I got to go see Celtic Women. The one song they did was From a Distance. The whole song is haunting and repeats God is watching us from a distance. If there is distance there, it is because we have placed the distance there. God is a personal God. He sent Jesus to be Immanuel, God with us. God has said, if we seek Him, we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole hearts. He delights in walking with us and being with us. A friend was sharing the other day about shopping with her daughter for an outfit for a special event. They were having trouble finding the right thing, so she suggested they pray about it. But her daughter said, “About an outfit?” God cares about all aspects of our lives, even an outfit for a special event. God wants to be involved in the details of our lives.

So, how does this change how I pray? As I was walking this morning, I started thinking about what do I want or need of God today? To guide and direct my steps. To allow the time Brent and I have with our children today to deepen our relationship and connection with them. That I would be present in the moments and remember that God desires to be present there with me. For my children to know their purpose, to be at peace, and to seek after God.

I think it also encourages us also to pray continually as we are commanded to. We are to give all the details of our lives to Him, sharing in the joys and sorrows, big and small with our Heavenly Father. He delights in His children and wants us to know He is present with us this day.


Thy Will be Done | By Tricia Milligan | October 2018

One of the hardest phrases for me in the Lord’s prayer is “Thy will be done.” It is hard to set aside our own wants and desires and ask God to do as He will and completely trust. As I thought about these words I was reminded of James 4:13-15. It says:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”

To pray asking, Thy will be done, we are acknowledging first and foremost that our life is not our own. We have been bought with a price. But to pray this way, goes against our very nature at times. We desire to feel like we are in control and that we are the one in charge. I know I often balk at a situation when I feel like I am being forced into something and that I don’t have a choice. I want to have that semblance of control and to make my own choice and decision as I see fit. But like Paul we are the bondservants of God. Our life is a gift from Him. Our salvation is a gift from Him. We are nothing apart from Him. We were created to honor Him, serve Him, worship Him, and to love Him. It is not about what I want. It is not about the outcome that is best in my mind and fulfilling my wishes and desires. It is about submitting to His will. It is choosing to let go of control and allowing Him to lead and guide us. It is about trusting Him even in those difficult times when we do not understand.

I can think of no more difficult situation than what lay in front of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here Jesus calls out to the Father, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He knew that everything is possible with God, even that He could send His angels to deliver Him and He would not need to suffer. He knew what lay ahead for him on the cross, but He still chose to follow and to obey. He chose to submit Himself to the will of God the Father. It was not the easy way. It was not the comfortable way. But it was the best way. It was the will of God. He was that perfect example for us.

To pray, Thy will be done, involves complete trust and dependence on the Father. It is letting go of our control and allowing Him to direct us. It means that we pray and pour our hearts out to Him, and express what we would like to see happen, but then we submit to His will when the situation doesn’t change, or the mountain isn’t moved, or the obstacle is not removed, or the illness isn’t healed, or the family member continues to walk away from God…. We say, God I don’t understand, but I will trust You. I will trust Your timing. I will trust that You are in control and that even though I cannot see Your hand at work, I know You are there.

When we submit to His will and His plan, then God is glorified, not us. We bear witness to His faithful care and His marvelous deeds. David went through many difficult situations he probably would have preferred to have been handled in a different way, but he saw and testified to the faithfulness and marvelous way God intervened in his life. In Psalm 40 David declares, I waited patiently for the Lord, He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

 


Hallowed Be Your Name | By Tricia Milligan | September 2018

I always had the idea that when it said “Hallowed be Your Name” in the Lord’s prayer, it was a reminder that God is Holy and we are not. That it was there to be a check and a reminder that we are approaching God Almighty and that we are to approach Him in humility and the fear of the Lord recognizing and acknowledging who He is. That is good and puts us in the right perspective, but I learned a few things as I took the time to study these words and the meaning behind them.

The literal translation is “May or Let Your name be Holy.” It does imply the idea of adoration and praising God for who He is, but if we are looking at it to find out how we are to pray, Jesus gives us this example saying, “May or Let Your name be glorified.” Jesus uses this as a direct contrast to the prayers of the Pharisees according to the commentary of Matthew Henry. The Pharisees were praying to make a name for themselves, to draw attention to themselves. The motivation was for them to be recognized and Jesus is showing us that our goal in all things should be bringing glory to God and not to ourselves.
Matthew Henry expresses it this way, “Father, let thy name be glorified as a Father and a Father in Heaven, glorify thy goodness and thy highness, thy majesty and mercy. Let thy name be sanctified for it is a holy name; no matter what becomes of our polluted names, but Lord, what wilt thou do to thy great name?”

This idea of praying for God’s name to be glorified brought to mind John the Baptist when He spoke of Jesus that he knew would come after him. He said, “He must become greater and I must become less.” John’s desire was to point the people to the Messiah. Jesus’ desire was to point all men to the Father. We are to follow His example. We must become less. It is not about our wants and desires, but about what will bring glory to the Father. It makes me pause and ask, “Are my prayers focused on bringing ease and comfort to my life or do they focus on bringing glory to the Father?”
We are called by God to be His light and salt in the world. We are Jesus to those who have not heard and do not know Him by the lives we live. So the prayer, Hallowed be your name, becomes a call also for our own sanctification, that we might be a reflection of Him to the world around us. We are asking Him to make us holy so that we can bring glory to His name. We are asking Him to grow is in holiness that we may reflect His holiness to the world.

And that is the whole purpose of prayer. We are spending time with the Heavenly Father. We become like the ones we are with, the more time we spend fellowshipping with the Father in prayer and seeking to know Him and follow His ways, the more we will be like Him. Our desires come in line with Him. David says in the Psalm, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps 37:4) As we spend time with the Father, as we dwell and delight in His presence, we desire to honor Him and the desire of our heart is to bring glory to His name.


Praying to Our Father | By Tricia Milligan | August 2018

Have you ever stopped to consider the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer? It begins with the words, “Our Father.” When you pause and consider a word or two from a verse, it is amazing how the Holy Spirit can speak to you through simple words and teach you more than you could ever have imagined. So what meaning is held for us behind these two small words “Our Father?”

I came across a website that teaches on the Lord’s Prayer. There I found a sermon by a Pastor Warren that focuses on “Our Father.” One of the things that Pastor Warren shared that I found fascinating is that in the Old Testament, God is only referred to as Father 15 times. When Jesus came and began His ministry. He refers to God as Father over 170 times. There is a shift in our relationship with God through the work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are adopted and given the right to be called children of God. We are now His daughters. We have a father who takes a great interest in us. He hears us every time we call. He is never too busy for us. He is our protector, our helper, and our support. He is our caring, generous, faithful, faultless, perfect, thoughtful, loving Heavenly Father. We have been given the awesome privilege of calling Him our Father, just like Jesus called Him Father, because we are now co-heirs with Christ.
So how does knowing this impact the way we pray? Martin Luther said, “God invites us to believe that He is our real Father and we are his real children, so that we will pray with trust and complete confidence.”

God has said, if we seek Him, we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart. A Daddy loves to spend time with his children. He wants us to share what is going on in our lives. He wants to comfort us when we hurt. He wants to provide shelter in the storms of life, but He also wants us to come to Him and does not force His way in.
Pastor Warren concluded his sermon by asking the question, “What is the basic motivation for prayer?” He shared that included in the Heidelberg Catechism it says, “Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.” As I thought about this I remembered a story Max Lucado shares in his book on grace. There was a strike in major league baseball. As a result, many players from the minor leagues had an opportunity to play for major league teams that year. It is said that that year, some of the best baseball was played and some of the most exciting games. Those players knew they were getting an opportunity that was beyond their abilities. They made the most of the opportunity presented to them and shared their love of the game of baseball with the world.

We do not deserve to call God Father, but He chose us to be His daughters. He chose us in our hopeless state and He declares, “That one is mine.” We have been given mercy and grace. How can we do any less than respond with gratitude and love by sharing our hearts and our lives with Him through our prayers? It should not be a burdensome thing, but a delight and joy to spend time with our Father in prayer.