a word of encouragement

{a monthly devotional}


In The Care Of Our Shepherd | By Tricia Milligan | June 2024

Jehovah Roi, the Lord is my Shepherd, is probably one of the most familiar names of God. Most know David’s description of God as his Shepherd in Psalm 23. The words of this Psalm have brought comfort to many in difficult times. They paint a peaceful picture of resting in our Shepherd’s tender care.

David was not the first to call God his Shepherd. Jacob, also known as Israel, was the first to use this name for God. In Genesis 48, Jacob has been reunited with his son Joseph whom he believed was dead. As Jacob neared the end of his life, Joseph brought his two sons to meet Israel. Israel offered a blessing for Joseph and his sons. “May the God before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been a shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm – may He bless these boys…” (Genesis 48:15-16)

Earlier in Jacob’s life, fleeing from his brother Esau, Jacob vowed, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God…” (Genesis 28:20-21) Jacob asked God to shepherd him, watch over him, provide for his needs, and see him safely home. God was faithful to do just that all of Jacob’s life. God faithfully does the same for us.

Both Jacob and David were shepherds, so this name for God, held a special meaning for them. They understood the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd. They knew the needs of the sheep and their dependency on the shepherd. We do not have the same advantage. Not many of us are shepherds or even know someone who is. For us to gain a deeper understanding, we need to dig deeper into the meaning of the word shepherd.

The word shepherd is both a noun and a verb. So, to say the Lord is my Shepherd, both describes who God is and what He does for us as His sheep.

A good shepherd is alert and attentive to his sheep. He is dependable and trustworthy. He is strong, able to defend his sheep, but gentle as he cares for them.  He is wise, knowing both the surroundings and his sheep. He is sacrificial, going above and beyond to care for his sheep. He values his sheep. Each one is precious to him. He is present, remaining close to his sheep.

A good shepherd tends to the needs of his sheep. He protects them, both from outward dangers and often from themselves. His presence makes the sheep feel secure. He leads them safely to green pastures. He prepares the way for the sheep. He scouts ahead, so he knows the best path. He anoints the sheep to protect them from infecting insects. He tends to the sheep when they are injured or ill, gently restoring them to health. The goal of the good shepherd is to have healthy, strong sheep that not only survive, but thrive.

God has the same goal for us. He does not want us to simply survive this life, but to thrive. He wants us to be healthy and strong, both in body and soul. He provides our daily physical needs, but He also nourishes our souls as we look to Him. God is not watching us from a distance, but is present with us, tending to our daily needs. As sheep were made with a need for a shepherd, we were created with a need for God. He stands ready to meet every need if we will look to Him.

Isaiah gives us a wonderful description of our Shepherd and His protection in Isaiah 43.


“But now, this is what the LORD says – He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…’” (Isaiah 43:1-3a)


The LORD, Jehovah, speaks these truths. He is Elohim, the One who created us, who formed us. He is also, Jehovah Roi, our Shepherd. As our Shepherd, He has redeemed us. He purchased us as His own through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We are His, the sheep of His pasture. He knows us by name, for we are His. No matter what we face in our life, He will be with us. He will not abandon us.

Let’s return for a moment to the idea of the word shepherd as both a noun and verb. A shepherd is who he is and what he does. As God often does, He revealed a little more insight in an unexpected place. I recently began a new study, Becoming a Woman Whose God is Enough. The second chapter was on God as Our Shepherd. As I began reading it, I thought, I know this. I got this. I understand this already. Oh, how foolish we can be. God used the lesson to show me an area I needed to release to Him, bringing me to tears.

Then as I came to the end I read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” (Psalm 23:1, NLT) In the context of God being enough, I read it differently. He does not just provide all I need; He is all I need!

He does these things for us because He is all these things. He loves us because He is love. He provides peace because He is peace. He shelters us because He is our refuge and our strong tower. He can lead us and direct our path because He is the way. He pours Himself into His own, so that they will overflow with all that He is.

Oh, that we will walk closely to Jehovah Roi, our shepherd. May we trust in His tender care for us. But may we also come to know and understand all that He is. May we turn to Him with every need, for He is all we need.


For further study: Psalm 41:1-3, Isaiah 40:10-11, Ezekiel 34:2-16, John 10:1-18, 1 Peter 2:21-25

I also recommend reading A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. A great source of insight written from the perspective of a shepherd.

The God Of Peace | By Tricia Milligan | May 2024

Ever feel anxious? Restless? Uncertain? Ever look around wondering how you got to this place in your life? Ever wonder what is going to happen next? Ever feel like everything is completely out of your control?

How comforting to know when we experience these feelings we can turn to Jehovah Shalom! Jehovah Shalom means the Lord is Peace. God has never felt anxious or restless. He has never been uncertain. God has never been unsure of what is happening in the world. He has never felt like things are out of control.

Jehovah is sovereign, which means He has unmitigated, unlimited power. He has ultimate authority over all things. Nothing is beyond Him or out of His control. With a wave of His hand, His commands are performed. He speaks and it is done.

Jehovah is omniscient, knowing the end from the beginning, so nothing takes Him by surprise. Nothing ever catches Him off guard. He is not ignorant of our circumstances. He is not apathetic toward our plight. He is fully aware of all things. He is orchestrating the events of our lives for our good and for His glory.

Jehovah also has unlimited resources. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10) “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from His storehouses.” (Psalm 135:7) This is Jehovah Shalom.

When Isaiah got a glimpse into the throne room of God, he did not see God wringing His hands or pacing before His throne. No, Isaiah saw “the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted and the train of His robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1) He saw Jehovah Shalom, completely at peace, for He is peace.

The name Jehovah Shalom is first used in Judges 6.  Here we find the people of Israel in a desperate situation. They have sinned against the Lord and He has brought judgment against them. For seven years they have been tormented by the Midianites. Even to the point they have been forced to live in caves. Every time they attempted to plant crops, the Midianites would swarm in and destroy it all. They have impoverished the people of Israel. Once again, they cried out to God for deliverance, and He heard their cries.

The angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon. Being fearful of the Midianites, Gideon was hidden in a winepress to thresh his wheat. Here the angel of the LORD spoke, “The LORD [Jehovah] is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12) Jehovah showed up in the chaos, the uncertainty of Gideon’s life with a message for Gideon and the people of Israel. Jehovah, the LORD, has not abandoned them. He is the same God who brought them out of Egypt. He is still on His throne. Jehovah chose Gideon to lead His people to victory over the Midianites.

How did Gideon respond to this declaration? “But Lord…how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:15) In other words, God, I think you have the wrong guy. The LORD answers him, “I will be with you.” (Judges 6:16)

Gideon then asked for a sign. Gideon asked for the angel of the LORD to remain so he could make a sacrifice to Him. Gideon prepared the sacrifice and watched as the angel of the LORD touched the sacrifice with the tip of His rod. The sacrifice was immediately consumed, bringing a new level of terror to poor Gideon as he realized he was speaking to Jehovah face to face. God reassured him with these words, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” (Judges 6:23) With God’s assurance Gideon built an altar and called that place, Jehovah Shalom, the LORD is peace.

Did everything change at that moment for Gideon? Did every problem immediately dissolve? Did Gideon no longer fear? As we continue in Judges 6, we find Gideon obeyed God in secret fearing his family and town. God protected Gideon and as the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, he rose up to lead the people of Israel. Even then, Gideon still sought reassurance of the presence of God.

What can we learn from Gideon about our relationship with Jehovah Shalom? God is patient with His people. He understands our fear. He reassures us of His presence when we ask. He wants us to find peace and confidence in Him, Jehovah Shalom.

Peace is defined as “a state of tranquility or quiet” or “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” (Webster’s Dictionary) How do we find peace as believers? God instructs us to “be still, and know that [He is] God; [He] will be exalted among the nations, [He] will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10) We must learn to be still before God, to quiet our hearts, to silence the world, and focus on Him, remembering who He is. Peace comes when we both recognize the presence of God and the reality of who He is.

We are also told to “turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14) Seeking peace comes with a promise, “…a future awaits those who seek peace.” (Psalm 37:37) To seek peace and pursue it, is to seek Jehovah Shalom. To pursue peace is to make it our goal, to not let anything stand in our way. We must structure our lives to include the pursuit of Jehovah Shalom. We must desire to know Him more, to understand He is Jehovah, the One exalted above all nations, above all the earth. We must remember He is seated on His throne.

Seeking peace is a lifelong pursuit. Seeking peace requires allowing His Spirit to transform our thought patterns to think of Him first. It is learning to not focus on our circumstances, but to focus on our God, Jehovah Shalom.

Knowing Jehovah Shalom changes our perspective and our reactions to the circumstances of our lives. We learn to follow Paul’s instructions to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) As we bring our anxious thoughts before Jehovah Shalom, He gives us His peace.

Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace, remains seated on His throne. May this truth fill your heart and remove any anxious thoughts. May you find confidence and peace in Him. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through…” (1 Thessalonians 5:23a), so you may have peace while you await the promised future for those who trust in Him.

For further study: Judges 6-7, Psalm 37, Isaiah 9:6-7, John 14:1-6; John 14:25-27, John 16:33, Hebrews 13:20-21

Jehovah Jireh | By Tricia Milligan | April 2024

Isn’t it comforting to know that Jehovah, the One who was and is and is to come, cares for you? God reaches out to each one of us. He desires for us to know Him and delights in showing us who He is. Again and again, He personally encounters individuals throughout Scriptures, stepping into their lives in a real and personal way. Job after all he endured declared, “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.” (Job 42:5) God does the same for us.

Many of us are familiar with the name Jehovah Jireh, God will provide. It is nice to think about someone providing for our every need. The problem comes when we begin to look to God as the provider of our wants, our desires, our every whim. God is not a vending machine, or a genie in a bottle at our beck and call. He is God, Elohim, our Creator. He is Adonai, our Sovereign. We must recognize His authority and sovereignty in our lives. We must see Him as He is and give Him the honor and glory He deserves as Jehovah.

Jehovah Jireh is omniscient, meaning He knows all things. As Jehovah Jireh, He knows what we need even better than we know ourselves. Often, we do not welcome His answers to our prayers because it is not what we prayed for or what we expected. However, if we look back at some of those events in our lives, we realize His answer was exactly what we needed. To know God as Jehovah Jireh requires us to trust and rest in His Sovereignty. We can be assured He will provide what is best for us, in His way, and in His time.

Abraham was the first person to use the name Jehovah Jireh. We find the recording of the circumstances in Genesis 22. God had blessed Abraham and Sarah with a child in their old age. He had provided them with an offspring, the promised offspring. God had promised all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s offspring. He promised him that his offspring would one day be as numerous as the stars. Now God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to Him as a burnt offering.

Why would God ask Abraham to do such a thing? Many times, the gift God has blessed us with becomes the object of our affection. We love the gift more than the giver of the gift. Abraham’s heart had become consumed with his son Isaac. God asked Abraham to give the son whom he loves. As Abraham, in obedience, responded to God’s directive, God intervened, “Do not lay a hand on the boy…Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12) Abraham showed his love for God through his obedience despite the agony in his heart. He trusted God, not his own understanding. He honored God with all his heart, even to the point Abraham was willing to give God the son he loved.

Abraham immediately found a ram caught in the thicket. God had provided a substitute for Isaac. The ram was sacrificed in his place. Abraham responded with a grateful heart. He called that place The Lord Will Provide, Jehovah Jireh.

These events were a test of Abraham’s love for God, but there is more to the story. What God asked of Abraham, He has done. When Jesus was baptized by John, heaven opened, the Holy Spirit descended on Him, and God the Father spoke, “You are My Son, whom I love, with You I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) God sent Jesus, the Son He loves, to walk on this earth for a purpose. Jesus shared His purpose with Nicodemus: “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.” (John 3:16) Jesus knew from the beginning He had come to be the sacrifice for our sin. The Father knew, and He gave His beloved son for us.

As the ram took the place of Isaac that day, Jesus took our place on the cross. Isaiah tells us, “…the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6b) Paul tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We were lost, dead in our trespasses and sin, completely helpless. God intervened. God provided. God gave the Son He loved to die in our place to provide mercy and grace for us. He died so we might be reconciled back to God. He conquered sin and death, so we might have life in Him! Hallelujah!

Jehovah Jireh provided for our greatest need. Is there anything He cannot provide for us? Jehovah is faithful and true. As Jehovah, the God who was, and is, and is to come, He does not change. He was able then, and He is able now.

God knows us better than we know ourselves. Where we often focus on physical needs, He focuses on our hearts. He does provide for our daily needs, but He also sees the big picture. He knows the end from the beginning, and He knows the best way to provide for us now, with our future in mind. God may not always give us what we want, but we can trust Him to always provide what we need.

He asks us to trust Him. He asks us to rest in Him. He asks us to depend on Him. He will Provide. He is Jehovah Jireh!

“…My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

For further study on Jehovah Jireh read: Genesis 22, Psalm 34:4-10, Psalm 145:13-20, Matthew 6:25-34, 2 Corinthians 9:8-11

Do You Know Jehovah | By Tricia Milligan | March 2024 (bonus devotional)

In our first look at Jehovah, we learned He is the existing one. We learned how God sent Moses with a reminder for the people of Israel that His name is Jehovah, reminding them He is real. Jehovah had been with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He would be with them also.

God did not just want them to know He existed. He also wanted them to know Him. He says Jehovah is the name they are to call Him. It is like a parent of a friend we have always referred to by Mr. or Mrs. inviting us to call them by their first name. We enter a different, more intimate relationship with them. They are still a respected authority in our life, but now they are also a friend.

Have you ever considered the message Moses gave to Pharoah? We find it in Exodus 7:16, “Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness…’” God was delivering them from slavery in Egypt, so that they may worship Him.

In studying worship over the last year, God has deepened my understanding. Normally we think of worship as what we do on Sunday morning as we gather to sing God’s praises. Worship is more about drawing near to God. It is about walking in obedience to God. It is about walking with Him. It is about inviting Him into our daily lives. It is about knowing Him.

After the exodus from Egypt, God, Jehovah, leads the people to Mount Sinai. God meets the people there in a very real and visible way. The people were told to consecrate themselves, to prepare to meet God. As He descended on the mountain with thunder, lightning, trumpet blasts, and a thick cloud, the people trembled. God spoke giving them His law and inviting them into relationship, a covenant between them and God. As the people saw the lightning and the mountain smoking, as they heard the thunder and trumpet blasts,

…they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:18b-21)

Jehovah brought them to this place so that they may know and worship Him. The people responded by remaining at a distance. They allowed their fear, distress at the display of God’s power, to keep them from drawing near to God.

We are told to fear Jehovah. This fear is a profound reverence and awe for God, not distress or anxiety as we recognize His power and might. As His children, by the grace offered us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we do not need to fear. Yet often we do. We allow fear to keep us from drawing near to God. We, like the Israelites, keep our distance from God. We are afraid of what He might ask us to do. We are afraid that He will reject us if we let Him see too much. We are afraid of what we might have to give up. We fit God into the Sunday morning box and leave Him there. We leave Him in the box and only take Him out when we need Him and then, only on our terms.

The good news is Jehovah is patient. Jehovah continues to reach out to us. As He desires relationship with the Israelites and continues to reach out to them, He does the same for us. He invites us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him and understand the depth of His love and care for us. We can take comfort and hope in these words Jehovah spoke through His prophet Jeremiah,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord… (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

Jehovah reminds us He is working for our good. He desires to give us a future and a hope. He has invited us to seek Him, to know Him, to be loved by Him.

Do not let fear keep you at a distance. Do not hold back, rather draw near to Him. Seek Him and He promises you will find Him.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews10:22

God Is | By Tricia Milligan | March 2024

I was about thirteen the first time I met my grandfather’s brother, Uncle Carl. I had heard stories about him for years. One day Uncle Carl showed up on our doorstep. After visiting for a while, my mom and I headed out to pick up my brother from work and gather some groceries for our unexpected guest. When we arrived at home, Uncle Carl was gone. Several months later, Uncle Carl made another short, unexpected visit when my brother was not around. It then became a family joke. My brother said we were just making up Uncle Carl. There was no Uncle Carl. My brother did not believe Uncle Carl was real, until about a year later when he personally met Uncle Carl.

The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. They had been calling out to God for years. They were waiting for God to deliver them from Egypt. Nothing changed despite their prayers. They began to wonder if God was real. Did God exist?  Or was God just a story told to them by their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Surely if God existed, He would have responded by now.

Then God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. He told Moses, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” (Exodus 3:7) God appeared to send Moses to deliver His people from Egypt. He would lead them back to the promised land. God had laid the foundation. The time was right to bring His people out of slavery.

When Moses began to question why the people would listen to him, he asked what name he should give the people. Inquiring, ‘How will they know You sent me?’ God responded, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14) But God does not stop there, God declared, “’The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, the name you shall call Me from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:15) Tell the people the Lord, Jehovah, has sent you.

Who is Jehovah? Jehovah is the existing one. He is the one who was, who is, and who is to come. Jehovah means God is real, He continues to be. He lives, He always has. Jehovah is eternal. There has never been a time when God was not. There will never be a time when He will not be.  He is Jehovah, the existing one.

God answered their questioning hearts. He gave the name they needed to hear. They needed to know God was there, He had always been, and He would always be. They needed to know Jehovah was real. They need to know He existed, and they could depend on Him.

Did you notice God’s instructions at the end of Exodus 3:15? God said, “This is My name forever, the name you shall call Me from generation to generation.” [emphasis added] Jehovah was the name God was to be known by. He wanted them to remember every time they spoke His name that He was real, He existed, He lived.

The ironic thing is Jehovah became the name they never spoke. They were so afraid of using God’s name in vain, they would not speak the name Jehovah. Whenever it appeared in a text they were reading, they spoke Adonai. Would it have made a difference if they had spoken the name Jehovah? Would they have remembered the God who brought them out of Egypt? Would they have not turned to the false gods of other nations?

God sent the prophets to remind the people who He was when they turned away. The prophets came with messages from God. What name did He give them to use as they declared God’s Word to the people? The Lord spoke…This is what the Lord said…Thus says the Lord. They brought the word of the Lord, Jehovah, the existing one.

The eternal, existent God needed the people to hear His words. He needed them to remember He was real. He was not like the gods of the other nations. He was not like the idols they worshipped. He was not a scarecrow that could not speak or needed to be carried. (Jeremiah 10:5) He was not formed by human hands, not a figment of someone’s imagination. He was Jehovah, the existing one, the living God.

David knew Jehovah. He had seen and experienced God’s presence again and again. He knew the reality of Jehovah. When David faced Goliath he said, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45) David came in Jehovah’s name. He came with confidence knowing Jehovah, the existing one, was with him.

The Psalms David wrote are filled with words of praise for Jehovah. David lived his life resting in the character of the one he knew would always be. He also knew Jehovah would always be there for him. He knew Jehovah was the only one he could depend upon completely. He knew Jehovah was faithful and true.

To know Jehovah is to find the most faithful friend. To know Jehovah is to find the only dependable support. To know Jehovah is to find the One and Only, true and living God.

Are you calling out to God? Are you waiting for Him to deliver you? Do you feel like nothing changes even though you pray? Are you beginning to wonder if God really exists? Take comfort in His name Jehovah. He is the existing one. He sees you and hears your cry. He is working, even if you cannot see it. He is there with you, even if you do not feel His presence. He is Jehovah! There is not one moment He has not been. There will never be a moment He is not. Jehovah lives! Hallelujah!

Want to know more about our Lord, Jehovah? Spend some time reading Psalm 33 and 34. See how David describes Jehovah, the God he knows and loves. Also, watch for Lord when you are reading Scripture, that is God’s name, Jehovah.

Seated On His Throne | By Tricia Milligan | February 2024

Where can one begin to describe Adonai? What does it mean? How does understanding Adonai change how we live our lives?

The first place we find Adonai used is Genesis 15. God is speaking to Abram, reminding him of His presence with him. Abram replies, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:2) Abram uses two names for God here. He calls Him Sovereign meaning Lord, Adonai. He also calls Him LORD meaning Jehovah, I AM. God, Jehovah, spoke to Abram ten years before. In obedience, Abram left his home in Ur and moved to the land of Canaan. In those ten years, Abram came to know God as his Sovereign, his Lord. He expresses his recognition of God’s authority over his life by using the name Adonai, but he has questions. It has been ten years. Nothing has changed. Abram remains without a son. God reiterates His promise to Abram, now making a covenant with him.

God’s reaction to Abram’s question reveals some things about Adonai. First, His timing is not our timing. He has made a promise, which He now makes a covenant with Abram. God demonstrates that He will be faithful to keep the promise made in His time. He has both the authority and the power to do as He has said.

Secondly, God demonstrates that when we approach Him in reverence, recognizing His authority in our lives, He will take our questions and our doubts. He does not berate Abram for his question. Rather, He lovingly reassures Abram that what He has said will come to pass. Taking it a step further, making it a covenant with him.

David also knows God as Adonai. David is described as a man after God’s own heart. He was a good king over Israel because David recognized God’s authority over him. He repeatedly calls God his Lord, Adonai, often referring to himself as a servant of the Lord.

Psalm 86 is a prayer of David to the Lord. He says, “Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.” (Psalm 86:2) David describes Adonai saying,

You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call on You…Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; no deeds can compare with Yours. All the nations You have made will come and worship before You, O Lord; they will bring glory to Your name. For You are great and do marvelous deeds; You alone are God…You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:5,8-10,15)

The prophets often used Adonai as they spoke the message of God. Two of the prophets use this term more than all the others: Isaiah and Ezekiel. Isaiah uses it 52 times and Ezekiel, 214 times. Both prophets have two things in common. Their message was to the rebellious people of Israel who no longer revere God as they should. They have traded the One True God for idols made by hand. They offer lip-service only to God and their hearts are far from Him. The prophets use the name Adonai to remind the people who God is and that He does have authority over their lives.

Both prophets have also had a vision of heaven itself. Isaiah saw heaven opened and “…saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1b) Ezekiel was by the Kebar River when “the heavens were opened and [he] saw visions of God.” (Ezekiel 1:1b) He describes the wonders he sees. He writes,

Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:25-26,28b)

What an impact these visions had on each of these men! To see heaven opened. To have the privilege of seeing a glimpse of the glory of God. To see Adonai seated on His throne. To see Him as He is, as King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords.

Ezekiel shows us a glimpse of the heart of Adonai in Ezekiel 18:30-32,

Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

As Adonai, He has every right to judge us. As Elohim, our Creator, He has authority in our lives. As Adonai, He is Sovereign over all that He has made. We are His. His heart desires that none would die separated from Him. Jesus put it this way, “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:14)

Isaiah prophesies of Adonai’s plan to give us a new heart and spirit. He foretells the Messiah. He speaks of all Jesus will endure for us, so we can be reconciled to God. He offers these words of hope for us, “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove disgrace of His people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)

According to the will of Adonai, these prophecies came to pass. Jesus came, lived a perfect life, died on the cross bearing our sin, and was raised again, conquering sin and death. Through Christ, we too are invited into the very throne room of God. When we come face to face with the Resurrected Christ, understanding who He is and what He has done, we will never be the same. When we accept Him, we accept His authority over our lives. We recognize that our life is no longer our own and that we are slaves to Christ, our Lord, Adonai. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 7:22, Ephesians 6:6)

So what? How does this knowledge impact our lives? First, we can rest in the Sovereignty of Adonai. He remains seated on His throne, even if the world seems to have gone mad. We can rest in His promises and know that Adonai will bring it all to pass in His time according to His plan. Remembering He has authority and power over all things. Finding rest in His compassion, faithfulness, goodness, grace, and abounding love.

We need to be mindful of how we approach God as Adonai. He is King of all Kings, Lord of all Lords. He deserves our awe and reverence when we approach His throne of grace. We must remember that He is God, and we are not. We come humbly before Him, not demanding our way, rather seeking to know and understand His will, His plan for our lives. Responding in obedience both to His Word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives.

Adonai was the spoken name of God by the people of Israel. They would not speak the name Yahweh, seen as the Most Holy Name of Almighty God. To say Adonai is to say more than Lord or Sovereign, but to speak of all that God is. May we pause and reflect in the days ahead of who our Sovereign LORD is, allowing it to impact our hearts and lives in a new way.

For more reflection:

Psalm 68, Psalm 86, Isaiah 6, Isaiah 50, Ezekiel 20

Note: Adonai in NASB is usually translated as Lord and used in conjunction with God (Jehovah). The NIV often translates the same names as Sovereign LORD. When you see Lord by itself, it is usually the name Adonai.

He Makes All Things New | By Tricia Milligan | January 2024

A new year is beginning. Many of us are thinking about our goals for the year and what we would like to accomplish in the year ahead. We usually focus on our present circumstances and how we want them to change. These goals usually relate to the physical, tangible part of our life, but do we set goals for ourselves spiritually? Do we consider what God wants to see in our lives in the new year? Do we consider what God desires for us or requires from us?

When we look to God’s word, we find in 1 Kings 2:3 that God desires for us to “walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His decrees and commands…” If we look at Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This should take priority over everything else in our lives. God desires for us to know Him better, to love Him more deeply, and to understand His love for us and then respond in obedience to that love, sharing His love with those around us. We grow in our love for God as we spend time with Him in prayer and in the Word, reading and meditating on it. As we spend time focused on Him, we learn more about His character and gain a deeper understanding of who He is. This is a lifelong pursuit, for our finite minds cannot comprehend our infinite God. We have a limited vison and understanding of Him. Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

This does not mean that we do not even try. We find this admonition in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” I discovered when looking at this verse in context a couple years ago, that the Psalmist speaks of battles and struggles. Especially amid our chaos, we need to be still and know that He is God. When we have spent time seeking to know Him, learning about Him, then in the middle of our mess, we can stop, breathe, and remember who He is and find peace and hope in the middle of it all.

To encourage each one of you in this pursuit, we will be focusing on one of the names of God found in scripture each month. We will begin at the very beginning. The same name used here in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God” is the same name that is used in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created.” The Hebrew name for God that is used here is Elohim. It is the name used for God most often throughout scripture. Among the meanings are ruler, divine, and the true God. As God, our Creator, He is the ruler, the sovereign who is in control of all that He has created. Everything was created for His purpose, and He has authority over it. The God who formed this world by His words, is the same God who invites us into a relationship with Him through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He is the true God. He was not created by man, formed by our hands, but instead, He is the one who formed man, made man in His image and breathed life into him. He knits each one of us together in our mother’s womb, created in love and with purpose in mind. (Psalm 139:13-16, Philippians 2:12-13)

I went through a Bible study on Isaiah many years ago. One of my favorite lessons of that study was on Isaiah 40. Isaiah speaks of Elohim and gives us a glimpse of who God is. God measured the waters of the Earth in the palm of His hand, just scooped them up. God measured the heavens by spreading out His hand. God put the mountains and hills on scales and balances and placed them as He saw fit. The islands He made are like fine dust to Him that can be easily moved or removed. God stretched out the stars like a curtain and gave each and every star a name. This is our Elohim.

I love to be marveled by God’s creation. I love to gaze at the beauty of what Elohim has made for us. I love to be overwhelmed as I try to take in the vastness of the ocean or the night sky or the view looking down from a mountain. It makes me feel small and yet I know that He sees me, He made me, and He loves me. One of my favorite things to do is to go to the zoo. I love to learn about the unique characteristics that God gave each one of the animals He made. Did you know that giraffes have blue tongues to help prevent them from getting sunburned when they are eating leaves from tall trees? Or did you know that an elephant can suck mud up in its trunk, swing it back and forth to separate the dirt from the water, then they can get rid of the dirt and drink the water? Our Elohim thought of everything and created each one perfectly suited for the life that it would live. He does the same thing for us. He made us, formed us, knowing what life would bring our way.

As we understand more of who He is and fully grasp what it means that God is Elohim, the Creator, we can trust that He has us in His hands no matter what life brings. We begin to understand that we do not have to control it all, understand it all, and carry it all. Isaiah put it this way in Isaiah 40:28, “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.” No matter what this life throws at you, no matter how big it is, it is not too big for God. The heavy load that is overwhelming us we can give to Him, He can handle it all. What we cannot grasp and understand, He knows. Nothing is beyond Him. He knows everything about it already and He’s got it handled if we would let go and let Him be God.

The word that Isaiah specifically uses for Creator in Isaiah 40:28 is the Hebrew word bara. Included in the definition of this word is creating something new, transformation, creating new conditions and circumstances. The God who spoke the world into being at the beginning, is still in the business of transformation and creating new conditions and circumstances. He gives us new life through His Son. He is able to restore what was lost through man’s decision to sin. He renews, restores, and transforms hearts and lives every day. He is Elohim.

Take heart my friend no matter where you are in life, or how crazy things may seem, God is there with you. He is still at work in you. He is able to make all things new. He has promised to finish the good work He began in you. (Philippians 1:6) He is faithful. He is true. He is able. He is Elohim.

For further study: Genesis 1-2, Psalm 89:1-18, Psalm 139, Isaiah 40, Romans 1:18-32, Colossians 1:15-20

The Hope Of Christmas | By Tricia Milligan | December 2023

What I have discovered in the last few weeks as I have wrestled with what to share with you, is that there is so much wrapped into the hope that Christmas brings to us. It isn’t just one thing, but it is everything, all our hopes, wrapped in swaddling cloth and laying in a manger.

First off, this babe is the long-awaited hope. In Genesis 3 when God is dealing with the sin of man, He gives a promise, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” One day there would come from the woman an offspring that would destroy sin. Many other prophecies are given throughout the Old Testament, like we find in Isaiah 9:6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Thousands of years pass, and then there is silence from God. For 400 years there are no prophets, no change, and seemingly no hope. But then, God moves again among man. He accomplishes just what He has promised all those years ago. He sends Jesus.

Many did not recognize His coming, because it was not what they were looking for. He was not what they were expecting. Some did. The shepherds heard the angels and rejoiced and spread the word that the Messiah had come. The wise man came from afar and brought gifts saying they had seen His star and had come to worship Him. They had been looking. They had been waiting. Someone else was looking, paying attention, and waiting, too. We don’t often here about him at Christmas time. We don’t have a figure to represent him in our manger scenes, but he knew, the Messiah, the long-awaited hope had come as soon as he saw Jesus. His name is Simeon. God had promised him that he would not die before seeing God’s salvation, the promised Messiah. Simeon was prompted by the Holy Spirit one day to go to the temple, Luke tells us. Simeon spots a young couple among the many at the temple that day. He approaches them and asks to hold their child. Then, “Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’” (Luke 2:28-32) He did not question God about why He hadn’t sent a warrior, a great king to save Israel. He praised God for the babe in his arms because the Spirit revealed to him that this babe was the promised salvation.

What can I learn about hope and my own expectations for God’s answers to my prayers? First, I need to be in tune with His Spirit. I need to be reading God’s Word, praying, confessing my sins, and listening and responding immediately, obediently to His prompting. I also need to be aware that it might not happen in my timing. When the time is right, God will do what He has promised. He will accomplish His purposes in His time and in His way. So, I need to be watching and waiting, with my eyes and my heart open. I need to expect the unexpected. God will work in ways that I might not understand, but I can trust Him because He has my best in mind because He loves me and cares for every part of my life.

Thankfulness and Hope | By Tricia Milligan | November 2023

As I write this, I have just gone through the Thanksgiving Holiday. It was not exactly the holiday I was expecting. I have been emersed in my study on hope and have been feeling very excited about what God was teaching me. Then I woke one morning to an unexpected text that shook me to the core. “God, how could you allow this to happen? I was trusting you. This was not supposed to happen.”  This was the cry of my heart in those moments.

My hope seemed to disappear before my eyes. I was confused and brokenhearted. The next two weeks were tough as I waded through emotions. Tears were shed, but I continued to call out to the Lord. He, being the faithful God He is, has been reminding me along the way that He is my hope. He is still with me and has not abandoned me or my child that is struggling. He is with me and loves me. He is with my child and loves them too. Instead of my joyous season of thanksgiving, there was a tinge of sorrow and grief in my heart.

From this place of grief, I wrote a completely different devotional. It was not very hopeful or thankful, but it did serve a purpose. It allowed me to sort out some of my thoughts and did help me to refocus on Him. In the days since then God has been calling me back to His word and reminding me of the truths that He has been teaching me about hope. Which brings me to today, sitting here, computer in front of me, rewriting.

Several weeks ago, I was led to this verse, “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7, NLT) As I read this verse, I was struck with how this is the essence of hope. Our lives are built on Him. He is our rock, our sure foundation. As our roots grow down into Him, He nourishes our soul, helps us to grow, and secures us so we stand firm when the storms of life come. As we place our hope in Him, our faith grows strong. As we look to Him and look for Him, we see Him at work, and we see the truth of His Word worked out in our own lives. Seeing God work causes an immediate response of thankfulness in our hearts, gratitude for His grace, His mercy, His goodness, and His love for us.

I have had a new journal sitting by the side of my bed. It has been there for months. My intention was to make it a thankful journal, but it has sat there, empty and forgotten, covered by other things and the busyness of life. In the last two weeks it has been uncovered with these words staring up at me, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1) Even when I do not like the circumstances of my life, God is still good and deserves my thanks. Even when I am hurting and feel forgotten and have a heart that is breaking, God is still there, loving me, holding me, for nothing can separate me from the love of God. His love is greater, bigger, and stronger than any disappointment that I can face in this life.

So, I have opened the journal and began using it as I had planned. I have begun to write about the things that I am thankful for. The amazing thing is when we begin looking for things to be thankful for, we get our eyes off the hard circumstances of our lives and put our focus on Him and what He has done and is doing in our hearts and our lives, which gives us hope to keep moving forward. It gives us hope to find our way out of our grief and our pain. It gives us hope to know that all is not lost, but that God is still on the throne, and He is still in control. We find this truth spelled out this way in Hebrews 12, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Fixing our eyes on Jesus, putting Him in the field of our vision, knowing that He is the one that we are running to, gives us hope so we do not grow weary or lose hope. He has done so much for us already on the cross and He shows up in our lives every day. Giving His grace, His strength, His mercy, doing for us that which we cannot do for ourselves.

There will be those days when the grief is great, and we can’t see the hope and we feel like we can’t handle one more thing. We are human. We have limited physical and emotional strength, but thanks be to God, He has not left us to manage this life on our own. Jesus is interceding for us, the Father is reaching down to us with His love and care, and the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts and lives to guide us through it all. He is faithful. He is true. He is good. Ask Him to give you eyes to see His fingerprints in the mess and chaos of life, find your hope in Him, and then offer Him thanks. Or ask Him to show you the things you do have to be thankful and find hope in His tender love and care for you. Both will lead you to a grateful heart that is filled with hope so you can carry on.

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Hope in His Word | By Tricia Milligan | October 2023

I have always loved to read the Psalms. As a young girl one of the first verses I memorized was, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11) I loved, even as a young girl, to read through this Psalm and was fascinated with it. I know that I did not grasp its significance of its lines fully and that God is calling us all to His Word.

As I have been studying hope and seeking to know and understand more about where we gain hope, I have been led back to this fascinating Psalm. It is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is believed to have been written over a period of time, possibly by David. It is as long as some of the epistles of Paul in the New Testament. It has one main theme, the significance of the Word of God. I think that there is an underlining theme of hope in this Psalm as well. The word hope is used in 7 different verses but is implied in many of the others throughout the Psalm.

As I began to reread this Psalm, I started to jot down the things we gain by spending time reading, meditating, and memorizing the Word of God. I am sure there are more, and some are repeated but this is what I noted:

God’s Word:

Keeps us on the right path (9)

Keeps us from sin (11)

Gives us counsel (24)

Strengthens us when we are weary (28)

Helps us gain understanding (32)

Helps us to know what is important (37)

Reminds us of God’s promises (41)

Gives hope (49)

Comforts us in suffering (50)

Gives knowledge, provides good judgment (66)

Lends courage when we face persecution (86)

Lights our path (105)

Leads us to praise (108)

Gives us joy (111)

Helps us see God in the right way (120)

Gives hope in times of distress (143)

Brings us peace, keeps us from stumbling (165)

Sustains us (175)

God’s word is a vital part of the life of the believer. Yet somehow it seems at times to be a struggle to maintain that time in the Word. We allow other things to demand our time and attention and keep us from it. We need to make His Word a priority in our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Our hope as believers is based on the revealed word of God. So, if we are lacking in hope, we need to return to its pages. We need to remind ourselves of who God is and what He has promised us. We need to remember what He has done for others and remember that that same power and strength is available to us. God’s word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we gain understanding, knowledge, wisdom, peace, joy, hope within its pages and so much more.

Feeling like everything is hopeless, go to the word. Revisit the stories of Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Ruth, David, just to name a few. They were overwhelmed by the circumstances of their lives. At times it seemed like there was no hope, but God showed up for them, and He will show up for you.

We need to be careful to not neglect the word of God, because when we do, we open ourselves to many pitfalls in this life. I remember one time when I was really struggling with my quiet times, I was asking God to help me and He led me to Romans 1:28 -31, “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have been filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” By neglecting to spend time in God’s word, I was telling Him that He was not worth my time. It is just as powerful as I type those words now as it was in that moment. It cuts to the heart. Who am I that I would tell, God, my Creator, the one who sent Christ to die for me that He is not worth my time? I am also, by neglecting God and His Word, opening myself up to strife, self-centeredness, greed, envy, and a multitude of other things that are not line with what God desires for me or what I want in my life.

This brings to mind a song I learned many years ago, “Read your Bible, pray every day, pray every day, pray every day. Read your Bible, pray every day and you will grow, grow, grow. Neglect your Bible, forget to pray, forget to pray, forget to pray. Neglect your Bible, forget to pray and you will shrink, shrink, shrink.” The choice is ours. We can watch our hope, our faith, our trust, our love, our peace grow as we spend time with God in His Word and prayer, or we can watch them shrink as we continue to struggle our own way through this life. What will you choose?


Victory In Jesus | By Tricia Milligan | September 2023

I know you have been there. I have been there today. Looking at your life and wondering how you are going to make it through one more day. I am a mom of four (seven years separate the oldest and the youngest), so my life was hectic and overwhelming at times. Getting the kids where they needed to be at certain times, getting food on the table, and stopping any disagreements and squabbles that happened along the way. I have also been through those seasons when I have dreaded to answer the phone because it seemed like every time I did it brought news of another terminal illness or serious concern for someone that I loved and cared about. Life can leave us feeling very defeated.

I looked up the word defeated. What I found interesting was that defeat means two different things depending on how you approach it. If you are the one defeated, you are frustrated, nullified, obsolete, destroyed. But if you are on the other side, the victorious side, we have defeated our opponent, we have won the victory. So, what does victory mean? Victory is achieving mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds and difficulties.

As I read that definition and wrote it in my journal what popped out to me that there is no victory without struggle. Paul agrees with this definition. We find his definition written in Romans 5:3-5, “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.” There will be struggles, disappointments, suffering in our lifetime, but if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through and to remind us that this is not our end, we can hold on to our hope and persevere and overcome victoriously.

Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” It is the Holy Spirit working in our hearts that renews us day by day allowing us to keep moving forward. He is the One who can open our eyes and our hearts to see that this is not all that there is and keeps us focused on living in a way that brings honor and glory to our Heavenly Father.

Paul had already spoken to the Corinthians about the victory that we have in Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15 we find his reminder that Jesus has won the ultimate victory for us on the cross, the victory over sin and death. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. In 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 we find this admonition from Paul, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” He clearly tells us here how we should live in response the victory that we have in Christ. First and foremost, thank God. Remember that He is the One who gives us the victory. Then stand firm, be strong, be immovable, cling to your hope and your faith that the victory is already ours. We know that God is working for us. We know that God is working in us. We know that God is working through us. Allow His Holy Spirit to guide you and direct you. The same power, the same Spirit, that raised Christ from the dead, dwells and works in the heart of every believer. Allow Him to work, transform and renew you day by day.

Then, work enthusiastically for the Lord. Be about the Lord’s business, every day. We should have a joyous attitude and a heart that abounds in hope no matter what the circumstances of our lives. Nothing that we do, nothing that we suffer, nothing that we face is ever in vain. God is working in ways we do not see or understand. Hold fast to His promises. Hold fast to the truth of His Word. We are not defeated; all is not lost – for He has already won the victory!

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

No More Condemnation | By Tricia Milligan | August 2023

“No more condemnation.”

Those are three very powerful words. They are words that bring hope to those who are broken and repentant over their sin. They help us to find hope in the grace and the love that Christ extended to us through the cross.

I think that they are the hardest words for us to truly believe. We often feel like it is not enough. That we need to somehow make up for the things we have done or that our past somehow makes us unworthy to be a follower of Jesus and to serve Him. We remain sitting in the cell of our guilt and self-condemnation when Jesus has thrown the door open wide. We fail to move forward and fail to thrive both as a believer and as an individual because we don’t fully embrace what Jesus has done for us.

One of the best-known verses in the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” You know the rest. However, we often fail to fully understand what that means for us because we don’t finish Jesus’ thought. We forget to include verse 17 and 18a. “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…” When we placed our faith in Jesus for salvation the words of Psalm 103:12 became our reality, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” When the Father looks upon those who have been saved by grace, it is through the mercy seat and the blood of Christ that has been placed upon it. We are washed whiter than snow. Jeremiah tells us that God will forgive our wickedness and remember our sins no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)

Paul tells us in Romans 8 that there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ. He goes on to say that we are set free in Christ and are to allow His Spirit, that He has given us, to lead and guide us in the life we now have in Him. We don’t have to live according to the flesh and be who we were, we are made new in Him. Our past does shape us, but it does not have to define who we are now. We can be transformed by the Holy Spirit working in us.

In Ephesians 2:12-13 Paul tells us, “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenant of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” As we look at the surrounding verses, we find who we were and who we are now.

Without Christ, we were:

without hope                                               aliens                                                    followed the ways of this world

dead in our sins                                          disobedient                                          objects of wrath

excluded                                                       without God                                        foreigners

separated                                                     far away

In Christ, we are:

Made alive                                                   Included                                               Given a purpose: good works prepared for us

A citizen of heaven                                    Have hope in Christ                           Peace with God

Brought near                                              Dearly loved children                        Reconciled to God

Which of these are we choosing to live in? Are we allowing shame and guilt of who we were to keep us from embracing the hope, the love, the joy, and the peace that Jesus died that we could have?

I think we sometimes forget that we are all in the same boat. There is no one righteous, no not one. We all have things that we regret, that we wish were not part of our story. But God reached down in love and grace and made us His own. You can let go of the past. Don’t let the enemy have a victory in your life by keeping you from living your life to the fullest like God intended. Grab on to the hope and the reality of those precious three words: No More Condemnation!

Anchored | By Tricia Milligan | July 2023

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19a

I am not a sailor. I could probably count on my hands the number of times that I have been on a boat, and none of them have been sailboats, and some of them never moved past the dock. I do know that the anchor is dropped to hold the boat secure, either at the port or if they are in the middle of the ocean when they don’t want to drift. I was curious and began looking up the definition of anchor to see if I could gain any more insight. I found that one of the definitions of anchor is mainstay. I learned as I kept digging that mainstay is another nautical term that relates to sailboats. The masts of the boat are secured by stays, ropes that run from the masts to the rest of the boat. There is a mainstay, the line that connects the mainmast to the boat, and it is critical for keeping the mast and the boat upright. The stays need to be maintained and checked to make sure they are secure before sailing or you could be in trouble.

I think God had both in mind when He prompted the writer of Hebrews to use the word anchor. This hope that we have as believers serves two functions. It keeps us secure and in one place. It keeps us from drifting from the Lord. It also works to keep us upright when the storms come and keeps us headed in the right direction. Like the mainstays need to be checked and maintained, our faith and trust in God also must be checked and maintained. We must keep short accounts with God, confessing our sins, and seeking forgiveness when we have disobeyed His Word. We also need to be in the Word, learning more of who He is and what He desires for us and then responding accordingly. We need to be praying, spending time with God and asking Him to be at work in our hearts and lives through His Holy Spirit. This helps us to secure our hearts and minds before we go out into the world each day. It keeps us upright and out of trouble. This hope keeps us secure even amid storms in our lives. Our hope in God is critical for living life in this world.

So, what is “this hope” that is being referred to in Hebrews 6:19? We gain some clues as we look at the context of this verse. Again, I see two parts that are intertwined and critical to our faith and our hope. Right before this verse, we are reminded of God’s promise to Abraham and of the covenant God made with him. God’s covenant was not just for Abraham, but for his descendants and those that would believe in Christ. We know that we can rest secure in God’s promises because God cannot lie, and He will and is able to fulfill His purpose. He is faithful and true. This is our hope.

What is God’s purpose? What is His plan in fulfilling His oath and His covenant with Abraham and with us? It is the work of Jesus Christ, both His work on the cross and His work as High Priest, interceding on our behalf right now. God’s purpose is to reconcile mankind to Himself. Jesus tells us that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father, but through Him. (John 14:6) He came to show us how to live for the Lord, but He also came to die for us for our sins. I know we know what the Gospel is, but I don’t know if we fully understand the impact of what Christ accomplished on the cross. When Jesus died, at that moment, the veil that divided the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). God through Christ opened the way to that we could have access to Him, that we could live in His Presence, both now and when this life is through. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. As our High Priest forever, Jesus goes into the Holy of Holies but doesn’t leave us on the outside but invites us to enter in with Him. He brings us to the Father and reconciles us to Him, once and for all. We can know that we are secure in this because Paul writes in Ephesians 1:13, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

This hope is critical. It is what keeps us going when the days are long. It is what keeps us moving forward when we have no more strength, pressing on because we know we are secure by grace in Christ, held fast in the loving hands of the Father, and sealed with His Spirit. Hold tight to this hope. Grasp it firmly and allow God to direct your path as you sail forward with Him.

To Know Hope | By Tricia Milligan | June 2023

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people.” (Ephesians 1:18)

Do we really know the hope to which God has called us? Most of the time, our definition of hope is not the same as God’s definition. Mark Jones, a presbyterian minister, in his article, “The Only Certain Hope on Earth,” writes, “The world has an idea of hope that sees it as an optimistic expectation that something good may happen in this life or, for the religious, the life to come.” Far too often, as believers, we share the world’s definition of hope. We look at a situation optimistically and hope that God will work things out in a positive way, like we want them to unfold. God’s goal for us is not for our happiness or comfort in this life, but for us to be reconciled to Him and then for us to be sanctified and made holy by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

God has called us to hope in the riches of His glorious inheritance. God has so much more for us than we can even imagine, but we limit Him by not seeking after Him. We often miss out on what God has for us, by trying to handle situations ourselves. We make our own plans and try to figure out how best to handle the situation ourselves. Then we place our hope in things that are not God, and really have no power or in resources that are limited. If we are placing our hope anywhere other than in God, we will find ourselves let down in the end. It may work for a while, but eventually we will find the end of that resource and be disappointed and dissatisfied in one way or another.

David was King of Israel. As king, he had many resources, legions of soldiers under his command, riches, horses, chariots, among many other things. David knew this to be true though, “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:16-19) David is called by God, a man after His own heart. David was not perfect by any means, but David got the most important thing right, he sought to know God. The more David understood who God was the more he put his hope in God, resting in the promises that God had given him in the scriptures and through the prophets.

There are times that we try to straddle the fence between God and the world. We put our hope in our efforts and our own resources, and then we pray about it and ask God to bless our efforts. In Jeremiah’s day, this is exactly the offense that God brought against the people of Israel. In Jeremiah 7 God calls them out for worshipping Baal and following other gods and then coming into His temple to sacrifice to Him so they would “be safe.” My thought is that they were covering all their bases, thinking, “Well, if we are wrong, we will worship these other gods too, but we won’t stop worshiping God in case He is the true God.” Moving forward to Jeremiah 14:22 we find, “Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is You, Lord our God, therefore our hope is in You, for You are the One who does all this.” Baal and these other gods the people were worshiping were useless, worthless, so are the idols we sometimes put our hope into, bank accounts, plans, relationships, jobs, they are nothing compared to God.

I was recently listening to a sermon by Mitchel Gregory, the pastor from the church I grew up in, and he was talking about the commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” He said that God is not on the top of the list of gods, He is the One and Only True God. We are not to look to other gods, because there are no other gods. The gods of this world are made and formed by man in our image and in our likeness to do what we cannot do ourselves, but they are powerless and useless to help us in any way. There is Only One true and living God. Jehovah, I AM, is His name. He is Creator, the one who formed us and gave us life. There is none like Him. No one or no thing can compare to Him. He is the God of Hope and without Him, apart from Him, we have no hope.

His hope is an eternal hope. There is no end to His resources, and He remains on His throne, Sovereign over all that was and is and is to come. He knows the end from the beginning. He has all that we need. He is all that we need. I pray along with Paul that the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened that we may know the hope to which He has called us. I pray that as we seek to know Him, the God of Hope, that we will truly know what hope is and live our lives in accordance with that true hope.

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13

You are Loved | By Tricia Milligan | May 2023

You are loved. Do you really know this to be true? It is what every heart longs for. To be seen. To be heard. To have someone who knows and cares about whether we live or die. To have someone who knows you completely and loves you anyway with a love that does not end and will never fail.

The wonderful news is we are loved like that. The reality is we are a forgetful people that are swayed by the circumstances of our life and when things become difficult, we question if God really does love us. We begin to listen to what the world has to say about God, and we wonder if they might be right. If God loved us, why would He let me go through this? This is a lie from our enemy that parades around like an angel of light whispering, “I would never make you go through that”, when he is the one orchestrating most of it because he is the father of lies and his goal is to destroy our faith and make us doubt God.

I think sometimes when we are in the busyness of life, we sometimes begin to feel overlooked because life is plowing along, and we feel like we are just along for the ride. We don’t know if we are coming and going, surrounded by thousands of others who are moving along with their own lives. We begin to feel unseen, unimportant, insignificant. This is not the truth of our reality.

I always love to see “pictures” of God in nature. One of the things I love to do is go out walking. We live close to lots of walking paths. One of them takes me past a huge open field of grass. Have you ever stood on the end of a field and looked out and taken a deep breath? It is beautiful, but are you seeing each individual blade of grass? As you look down at your feet, you can see the field is made up of individual blades. But you must look closely to see each one as an individual. In Isaiah 40:6-8, God compares people to grass. “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” We are here today and gone tomorrow, just like grass, seemingly insignificant.

As I stood there one day looking down at my feet and noticing those individual blades of grass, I was thinking about the verse about how God knows how many hairs are on my head. (Matthew 10:30). God looks at the field of grass and He knows how many blades of grass are in that field. He is not some distant God who created the world and set it into motion and left it to fend for itself. No, God looks down and says, “You see that one right there. That is Tricia. I formed her in her mother’s womb. She likes peanut butter, and she likes chocolate, but she doesn’t like them together. She loves to write and to read. She loves to spend time with her family. She loves a good cup of hot chai tea, with plenty of cinnamon flavor. She loves to take long walks and talk with me. She gets frustrated with herself a lot, but I like reminding her of how much I love her.” He sees me. He knows me even better than I know myself. And the best news is He loves me, on my good days and on my bad days. He loves me when I am praising Him and when I am grumbling to Him. He loved me before I could even speak a word. And there is nothing that can separate me from that love and nothing that will make Him stop loving me. His love is unfailing and everlasting.

My dear sister, He loves you in the same way. All the days ordained for you were written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). God thinks about you, you are on His mind. Psalm 40:5 says, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which you have done, and your thoughts toward us…” He acts on your behalf. He did it when He sent Jesus to die for you on the cross. You didn’t do anything to earn it. You were still in sin, rebelling against Him, rejecting Him, and He said, “You see that one right there, I am giving my life for her.” God loves you. You are important to Him. You are loved by Him with an unfailing love.

Max Lucado puts it this way in his book Unshakeable Hope: “Your name is not buried in some heavenly file. God needs no name tag to jog His memory about you. Your name is tattooed, engraved, on His hand. He has more thoughts about you than the Pacific coast has grains of sand. You are everything to God…You have never lived one unloved day.”

The demonstration of His love began at the cross but was planned before the foundation of the world. But His love does not end there. His love is there for you each morning when you wake up. David penned these words in Psalm 143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” When we trust in His unfailing love and put our hope in Him, it puts a smile on the face of God. “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11) You make God smile. You bring Him joy. You delight Him.

What would happen if we embraced the unfailing love of God? If we lived in a way that reflects that great love that God has for us, we would live with confidence knowing that God has our back. His love gives us worth, value, significance, and empowers us to live boldly for Him. Knowing His love is unfailing helps us face those hard days because we know He knew they were coming, and He has prepared and planned for it. It was not a surprise to Him, and He will see us through it all, never leaving us to fend for ourselves. He will hold us, strengthen us, and carry us through it all.

Accepting God’s love for us, takes the pressure off. We don’t have to perform. We don’t have to pretend to be someone we are not. We don’t have to strive for perfection. We can rest in Him and in His love for us and be the woman God has always intended us to be. We don’t have to compare ourselves to anyone else, because God loves us and made us exactly who we are.  He made us with a special purpose in mind, that no one else can fulfill.

Living in the love of God and fully embracing it, not only brings hope to our lives, but also to those around us. We are filled with His love and His love is so extravagant and abundant, that it overflows our lives and allows us to love and encourage those around us, sharing the love and hope that we have found in Him.

We have been given a priceless gift in the love of God. Don’t leave it wrapped up in the box and sitting in the corner. Take it out, admire the beauty of that love, wrap it around you, and then let it be part of your everyday life.

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7

Not in Vain | By Tricia Milligan | April 2023

Psalm 73 is one of the passages that has had a big impact on my life. Poor Asaph is brutally honest, and I must admit, I have been just where he was at the beginning of this Psalm. But like Asaph and I both found, there is hope. Asaph writes, “But as for me, my feet almost slipped, I had nearly lost my foothold.” (Psalm 73:2) He is losing hope and losing his way because he turned his eyes to the world. He is watching them prosper. They seem to have no struggles. They seem healthy and happy. Everything seems to be going their way. Asaph begins to feel like it has all been in vain, that he has followed God and put his hope in Him for no good reason. He is asking himself if he really needs God.

Then Asaph steps into the sanctuary of God. He puts his focus back where it should be. Here in the presence of God, he realizes that where the world is putting their hope, that is slippery ground. It is nothing but sand that will slip through their fingers. Nothing that will mean anything at the end of life. He remembers that God is forever faithful. “Yet I am always with you; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” (Psalm 73:23-26) He remembers the hope that he has in God and clings to that hope.

The writer of Hebrews admonishes us as believers with these words, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23) As I began to think about the faithfulness of God, He reminded me of Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Our Faithful Father began a work in our hearts and lives even before the point of salvation. He called us to be His own before even the creation of this world. He has been at work from the very beginning, and He will be faithful to see it through to the end.

My question then became, what is His goal? What is God working toward in our lives? These thoughts brought me to James 1:4, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The only one who can meet all our needs and has everything we could need is our Faithful Father in Heaven. So, the only way for us to be “mature and complete not lacking anything” is for us to learn to depend on Him for all we need.

Paul tells us that he learned this as well. In Philippians 4, Paul writes about learning the secret of being content, that he “can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Paul knew his only hope in any circumstances was God and leaned into Him for His strength. He knew that God’s grace was sufficient, and that God would be with him.

Solomon expressed it this way in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” When we lean on our understanding, we become like Asaph at the beginning of Psalm 73. We put our focus on the wrong thing. Things will happen in this world that we don’t understand the reason for or why we must walk through it.  As we trust in the Lord, as we put our hope in our Faithful Father, He will faithfully guide us through, even when we don’t understand. He can give us hope, peace, joy, and grace even in the midst of it all. We trust in His love and care for us. We trust that He is sovereign and in control. We trust that He is working in and through the circumstances of our lives for our good and for His glory.

Going back to Asaph and Psalm 73, I love how he ends the Psalm, “As for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge, I will tell of all your deeds.” Asaph found his hope once again in God. He relishes being in the presence of God and being assured of His presence with him. He has been reminded that God is in control, and he will not be silent. He will proclaim his hope to the world.

Have you found that it is good to be near God? Have you made the Sovereign Lord your refuge? Have you found that it is not all in vain, but that God is faithful? Have you found your hope, peace, and joy in Him? Then don’t be silent. Like Asaph, tell of all God’s deeds in your life. Your hope, your testimony might just be what someone else needs to hear to find their hope in God.

Abounding in Hope | By Tricia Milligan | March 2023

Hope is essential for life. Research has shown that we as humans need hope to survive and to thrive. It is easier to be hopeful when things are going well. But life is not always smooth sailing. The storms of life come in many different forms, and our immediate feelings are usually sadness and sorrow. Our minds fill with anxious thoughts of what will happen next, and we feel that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach that makes us wonder how we will make it through this. How can we find hope in those moments?

In an article on Psychology Today, Polly Campbell writes, “Hope implies that there is the possibility of a better future, according to the famed hope researcher C.R. Snyder. It shows up at the worst possible time when things are dire and difficult but can keep us going during those hard moments. If during the difficulty, we can see the faint glimmer of something better, then hope ‘opens us up,’ says Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher. And turn us toward something better…Hope is not a passive exercise in wishing, but an active approach to life…”

As believers we have a sure source of hope. We know that it is God who shows up for us in our most dire and difficult moments. In Romans 15:13, Paul writes this prayer, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in peace by the power of the Holy Spirit.” As I was reading and meditating on this verse, two different passages came to mind. The first is James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” The other, Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The God of hope, the true and living God, that we serve, that we have trusted in for our salvation, asks us to believe in Him in the storms. He wants us to come to Him with our sadness and sorrow and give our anxious thoughts to Him. Then, our Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, will work in our hearts and give us, fill us, with His joy and with His peace, so that we can abound with hope. It is not something we can find within ourselves, not something we can muster on our own, not something that magically appears when life is difficult. The joy, the peace, the hope is God showing up and are gifts from Him through His mercy and grace.

The only thing He asks of us is to believe. This begins with salvation, when we accept His gift of grace through the work of Christ on the cross. But Paul tells us here in Romans 15 that Jesus accomplished another purpose, salvation gives us hope for a future in Heaven with Him, but it also gives us hope as we live life day to day. If we look back at verse 8 it says, “For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised-on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” (NET) The fact that Jesus came and dwelt among us, we have seen Him and beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14), and we know what He did on the cross, all of this confirms the truth and reliability of God’s word and His promises.

Going a few verses back in verse 4 we find, “For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.” (NET) We have been given a precious gift in the Word of God. It has been given for our instruction and our reproof, but it has also been given to us so that we might know God and His promises, so we might live in abounding hope. As we read through its pages, we are reminded of who God is and what He has done both for others and for us. This gives us hope so that we might endure the hard days and be encouraged to keep moving forward.

Are you missing that hope? Feeling a little lost and that it is hard to see God working in your life because of the things you are facing? Go back to His promises. Read about Joseph and how God used things meant to do him harm to accomplish His good purposes not just for Joseph, but all of people of Israel. Read about Esther, and how she was forced into a place she did not want to be, so that God could save both her and His people from death. Our circumstances may seem dire, but we can have abounding hope that God is at work and He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Psalm 42:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.


Our Living Hope | By Tricia Milligan | February 2023

Hope is one of those words that we use a lot. Our meaning for the word is more of a wishful thinking. I hope you have a happy birthday. I hope I get that job. I hope we have pizza for dinner.

The word hope in the Bible is not wishful thinking. Our hope as believers is based on the promises of God in His Word and on His ability and willingness to follow through on those promises based on His character. Our hope is a certainty. It is our faith and trust that what He has said is true and that what He has promised will happen just as He has said.

In 1 Peter 1:3, the apostle Peter writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Peter packs a lot into this little verse.

Peter begins by praising God. Then he reminds us why God deserves that praise. He reminds us that as believers we have been given new life, a new birth. We have been born again as Jesus spoke of with Nicodemus in John 3. At one time we were “… separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12) But God intervened and demonstrated His great love for us in the while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We have been born again and born into a living hope. What is this living hope? What does that phrase mean? I think that it has a two-fold meaning for us.

The first part is answered in the phrase that follows, “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Jesus is not still buried in a tomb. The God we serve is not an idol carved by the hands of man (Habakkuk 2:18-20). He is not a scarecrow on a stick that needs to be carried from place to place (Jeremiah 10:5-6). No, Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 5:3-4). Our Hope is living, for Jesus is our hope.

As I was thinking on this, my thoughts went to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” This has been a favorite verse of mine for a while, but I have never really studied the words. In my mind, the word “compels” means that Jesus’ love for us on the cross and the hope we have through His resurrection should compel or motivate us to live our lives for Christ.

As I looked up the word compel, I found that the word used here is sunecho (soon-echo) and it means hold together in a way that none will fall away, to hold fast and completely, to grip tightly. As a believer we can know that we are held tightly by our Savior. He will not let one of us slip away. He holds us together and we know that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6). He is able to do this because He is God. No challenge we face in life is too big for Him. No problem is too difficult for Him. We are secure in the hands of our Savior and that gives us the hope we need to live our lives for Him, which is the second part of the living hope. Knowing who He is and what He has done for us, gives us the hope that we need to navigate through the difficulties and challenges of this life because He has already overcome the world. We have been given not just hope for the future in Heaven with Him, but we also have hope for the here and now as we walk through this life.

As I was looking into this idea of living hope, I came across a sermon by Ray Stedman on “A Living Hope”, where he expounds on this passage. He talks about the difference it made in the lives of the disciples when they encountered the resurrected Jesus. He reminds us that the resurrection was important, for if he was not raised, then we would still be in our sins. There is no hope apart from his death and his resurrection. Both were required because God showed that He has accepted the work of Christ on the cross by raising Him from the dead. For the disciples, seeing Christ after He was raised changed their lives. This small group of simple fishermen, tax collectors, and other uneducated men were changed in ways that no one would expect. They stood up against opposition and spoke eloquently before crowds of hundreds. They had seen the living hope and they had hope to live their lives boldly for Him, proclaiming the things He had taught them and spreading the Gospel as He told them to do.

Have we encountered the resurrected Christ in that way? Have we allowed the living hope to give us hope for this life? We have a living Savior who is seated at the right hand of God who is interceding on our behalf. (Romans 8:34) That promise, that hope, should compel us to live boldly, proclaiming all that He has done for us. He died for us, but He also lives for us. Let’s live in that hope for Him.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms | By Tricia Milligan | January 2023

Almost 150 years ago, a man by the name of Anthony J. Showalter received news from his friends about some loved ones that had passed away. He sent a reply and included the verse, Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms, He will thrust out the enemy before you, and will say, ‘Destroy.’” From these moments and words, with the help of hymn writer, Elisha Hoffman, comes these wonderful words:

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!

Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!

As I was thinking about this old hymn, a sweet memory popped into my head. This was one of my favorite hymns to sing when I was a teenager. I wish I could say it was because of the wonderful truths within its stanzas, but that wasn’t it. Usually if we were singing this in the Sunday evening service, I was usually sitting with my friends. Inevitably one of us would start leaning on someone else while we were singing the chorus and eventually someone would lose their balance. It is such a silly memory, but it is such a picture of the truth of reality. If we are leaning on anyone other than Jesus, eventually we will come crashing down. He is the only one strong enough to carry us through the tough times. He is the only one who can hold us up when we feel we can’t go on. He is our only refuge, our only hope.

When Brent and I first got married, I looked to him to meet my emotional needs. What I found as the years passed, was that sometimes life got hectic and he got distracted and sometimes he did not notice what I needed, and even if he did notice, sometimes he did not know what to do, or was even able to do anything about it. Eventually God began to show me that I was not being fair to Brent or anyone else I would look to so my needs would be met. That is not their role, it is God’s. He is the one who can give me the security and the peace that I need. He is the one who knows the end from the beginning and knows my heart better than I know myself. He is the one who knows what is best for me in every situation and knows exactly what I need and exactly when I need it. He also as God Almighty, has unlimited resources. He will never come up short but is always able to provide. His mercy, grace, and love will always be enough.

We are walking on the pilgrim way, passing through this world to our home in heaven. There will be many challenges along the way. There will be mountains to climb and obstacles to navigate around. There will be paths that we might not want to go down, but He is telling us, this is the way you must go, there is no other way. What a comfort, what hope to know that we do not have to do it alone and that the One who walks with us is our Everlasting Father who loves us with His unfailing love.

When I was younger, as I began a new year, I would look forward to what the year would bring. There were so many possibilities and things to look forward to. As I have gotten older, there creeps in a little dread, because I have learned that not all that the new year brings is pleasant or easy. There have been several years where we don’t even get very far into January, before news comes of a loved ones passing or a financial issue or something else unexpected pops up. It can be scary and can cause us to feel dread, but that is not what God wants for any of us. He wants us to live in His peace and in His living hope. He wants to be our refuge, our safe place in any storm the year may bring. He is always there with His strong arms to catch us when we stumble or when something unexpected knocks us over. His everlasting arms will not fail or falter, because He is God and there is nothing beyond His grasp or control.

As we begin this new year, may you find a sweet fellowship with your Savior as you seek to know Him more. May His joy, peace, and hope fill your hearts as He shows you what He has for you in the year ahead, as you lean on His everlasting arms.

Psalm 62:5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God, my hope comes from Him.

Isaiah 40:11 He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart…

Making Room For Jesus | By Tricia Milligan | December 2022

Making room for Jesus…I have had this idea floating around in my head for a while. As is usually the case, the more I meditate on it, the more God shows me and brings me to a place of a deeper understanding and insight.

I think one of the saddest phrases in the Christmas story is that “there was no room for them in the inn.” I think this is so true of the world we live in. There is no room for Christ. There is no room for God. But it isn’t just the world, even among many in the church there is a tendency to fill our lives with so much that we don’t have time to pray and to study His Word. We don’t spend time building our relationship with Him. We can even become too busy doing what He has called us to do, that we no longer have room for Him in our lives.

There are many different things that can fill our lives. With our focus on courage in mind, one thing that can fill our hearts, so we have no room for God, is fear. Fear can be an all-consuming emotion that can keep us distracted and stuck in our spiritual growth. This is not what God desires for us as His children. He does not want us to live controlled by fear. In 1 John 4:18 we read, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1), or fear of punishment. We have been redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-19). The reality is that we have been made perfect (Hebrews 10:14), whole by the work of Jesus on the cross. We will not fully experience this in this world, but He has overcome the world, so we should not be overcome by fear. We can find the courage to let go of the fear and allow Him to fill our hearts and minds instead.

When we allow the fear to control us, we sometimes respond by withdrawing or by isolating ourselves. When we withdraw, we often build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves. We don’t allow anyone to get too close, or they might see who we really are, or they might say something that wounds our heart again, or they might abandon us like someone else did in our past, or whatever is at the root of our fear. We are attempting to control our fear by attempting to protect ourselves and control the circumstances of our lives.

Many years ago on a youth beach trip, I got stung by a Portuguese Man of War. It was a pretty good sting and quite painful. The next day I realized that I had a choice. I could allow my fear of getting stung to keep me from returning to the water, but if I did, I would be missing out on being with my friends and having fun. God used this to show me that I had done a similar thing with my heart. I had been hurt, rejected by someone, and because of that, I was not going to allow anyone else to get that close again. I withdrew emotionally, but in some ways physically too. It changed my personality and my response to situations (to be honest, it is still something I struggle with). In doing that, I was missing out on friendships and relationships that would have been beneficial to me, both emotionally and spiritually. I was missing out on the many of the blessings God had for me because I was allowing my fear to control me and to change me.

When we withdraw into ourselves, fear becomes our constant companion. It is the one that continues to whisper the “what if’s” into our heart. It becomes what we are used to and what we are comfortable with. When we hold on to fear it will begin to consume us and fill us and becomes our focus in life, whether we realize it or not. When we do that, then we don’t have room for all the good things that God has for us, His love, His joy, His peace, and His hope. It stunts our spiritual growth and keeps us from walking in the faith and hope we were called to. God wants us to let go of the fear and allow Him to be our comfort zone, our safe place, our refuge.

Instead of withdrawing, there are some that react to fear by throwing themselves into the busyness of life, so they don’t have any time to think about it at all. When we try to fill our own lives, we are deceiving ourselves and just avoiding the fear, instead of dealing with it. There is a difference between a life full of things and activities and having life to the full that Jesus came for us to experience (John 10:10). It is not about a job. It is not about a family. It is not about how many friends you have. It is not about how many places you have traveled and all the things you have done. A life like this can be exhausting and it can also keep us from the most important thing, our relationship with Jesus. Knowing God, seeking Him, this is the beginning place for a full life. The full life God promises is filled with things that are beneficial to us and to other believers and brings glory and honor to Him. It is a balanced life. It will banish fear because we are focused on God and what He has for us right now, not worrying about the future because we know that it rests in His hands. We are focused on what is most important and what He has called us to, to know Him and to make Him known. We are focused on doing the good works He prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10) and not just filling our lives so we can avoid the fear or the hurt. We begin to see what He means by living life to the full. Full of joy, full of peace, full of contentment, full of hope, because we are resting in His hands. It is also a life full of courage enabling us to walk in obedience to Him, wherever He leads and whatever He calls us to.

As we close out this year and look to the new year, I hope we will take some time to look at our lives. Have we withdrawn from life? Have we so filled our lives that we don’t know if we are coming or going? What do we need to let go of? What do we need to say no to? What do we need to change so that we can make room for Jesus? Our relationship with Him should be our priority. He has all we need. He is all that we need. In Him we will find the courage to live life fully and abundantly by His grace and for His glory. Make room for Jesus, He will change your life.

Holding the Rope | By Tricia Milligan | November 2022

I had the amazing privilege of growing up in a church that had a strong mission focus. We had the privilege to host missionaries in our home and each year we had a missionary conference where missionaries within our denomination that were home on furlough would come and share about their ministries. Giving, praying, and supporting our missionaries was a huge part of our lives. I also had the privilege of going to a Bible College where many of my friends were preparing to serve the Lord one day on the mission field or in full time ministry.

A good friend from high school and then college went with his wife to the mission field. On their prayer card they put this phrase, “Holding the Rope.” Another mutual friend of ours would always say to them when they came home, “I am still holding the rope.” I recently asked my friend about where this phrase came from. In the 1700’s when William Carey was preparing to go to the mission field, he expressed the feeling that he was descending into a pit. He told the church that was sending him, “I will go down, but remember you must hold the rope.” He knew it was a dangerous journey he was on that God had called him to. He was willing to go, but he knew he could not do it without the prayers of those he left behind.

We do have an amazing privilege and responsibility to “hold the ropes” for those that are overseas or in ministry. We need to be praying for them, supporting them, sending them words of encouragement, and reminding them that we are “holding the ropes.” It is a way of reminding them that they are not in this journey alone but have many interceding on their behalf. We are their lifeline as we “hold the rope” for them, lifting them up before the Lord and asking for His guidance and protection for them.

I think we also have the responsibility to “hold the ropes” for all our fellow believers. The ones that we see in church each Sunday. The ones we worship with and fellowship with on a regular basis. There are times that even here, we face difficulties and challenges where we need to be reminded, we are not in this alone, but have our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us, encourage us and support us.

It has been amazing to watch this played out as many have reached out to support, both through acts of service, prayers, and words of encouragement for two families in our church that are facing major medical issues. It is what being part of the body of Christ is all about. We all face different times in our lives when we need to know that there is someone lifting us up before the Lord in prayer, because what we are facing is more than we feel we can bear alone. We need to be in the business of encouraging one another, both by our prayers, but also in word and deed.

Some of us have a special gift of encouragement, but we are all told to encourage one another. In Hebrews 10:24- 25 we read, “…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Again in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” One of my favorite passages is Isaiah 34:3-5 “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.’”

I know that I have been so thankful when a fellow believer has responded to the prompting of the Lord and has sent me a card or text or has made that phone call to let me know they are thinking about me and praying for me. We were not meant to do this life on our own. We are meant to support, encourage, and pray for one another.

I looked up the definition of the word encourage. To encourage is to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; to spur on; to give help. Sometimes our courage wains and our hope fades and we need our fellow believers to be there to point us back to the Lord, and to remind us of all we have in Him. I loved these synonyms that I found for encourage too: strengthen, enrich, boost, revitalize. Isn’t this exactly what it does when we are reminded that someone is praying for you? It strengthens your faith, enriches your life, boosts your courage, and revitalizes your hope.

We all need one another. We need one another’s prayers, and we need one another’s words of encouragement. We are all in need at some point and we help each other along, supporting and caring for one another, just as we are commanded to.

My dear sisters, know that I am “holding the rope” for you today.

Responding to Fear | By Tricia Milligan | October 2022

We are living in a very different time. We are living in a time that is marked by unrest and fear. We have experienced things in the last few years that we never would have dreamed of. So, how do we as believers live in this time? How do we honor God and respond to the fear that marks our lives currently?

I recently started reading Holly Gerth’s book Fear, I’m Over You.  Reading through this devotional has given me some new insight and understanding of fear. One of the things that she shares that stood out to me is that when God says, “Do not be afraid,” the ones He is speaking to are usually already afraid. He knows we will have times when we are afraid and that is okay. It is not wrong to experience fear. It is natural. He follows the “do not be afraid” with instructions on how we are to respond to that fear.

There are some ways that we naturally respond to fear. I am one who does not like conflict, so I am very good at avoiding uncomfortable situations. So, I would say my natural bent is to withdraw or step back when I face a fearful situation. There are some circumstances as a mom particularly, that control is my more normal response to fear. The thing about control is we are deceiving ourselves in thinking that we are in control of anything. We can’t control others and we can’t control circumstances; we can only control our response to others and situations. These are two examples of the typical natural responses to fear flight or fight. I have learned through some of the trainings I have been through for school, that some also respond with freeze. I have been there too, in that place where it is all just too much, and I feel so overwhelmed that I begin to shut down. None of these responses are very helpful or very God honoring.

So, if these are normal responses, but they are not God honoring, what do we do? How should we respond to fear? We do have other choices, other ways we can respond to the fear. We can rise to the challenge. Holly Gerth calls this the challenge response, seeing the challenge and preparing for what is ahead. She writes, “The difference in the challenge response is that we tell ourselves, ‘I’ve got this’ or, as believers, ‘I’ve got this because God’s got me.’” The challenge response helps you to perform under pressure and to be more focused.

This challenge response is what helps us to move forward despite our fear. When God says, “Do not be afraid,” He usually couples it with, “Be strong and courageous.” We referred to Moses in our last devotional. Moses was afraid, but he rose to the challenge. He returned to Egypt, and he led God’s people to the promised land. We see other examples listed in Hebrews 11, of many others that were afraid but stepped up in faith, resting on the promises and the truths of God and followed Him in obedience. We can do the same and are called to do the same, to live by faith, being confident in what we hope for and being assured of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1), resting in God’s power and strength and not our own.

When we are facing a challenge in life, we are often bombarded by fears. Some of those fears may be helpful, but some may be harmful. Holly Gerth defines helpful fear as “something specific that you can take action to correct.” For example, feeling unprepared for an important meeting, prompting you to spend more time in preparation. This fear gives us reason to pause and to remember what we need to do and to make sure we are prepared for whatever we are facing.

“Harmful fear is general, often about your character, and is usually not something you can control.” (Holly Gerth) These are those irrational thoughts that enter our hearts and minds that we aren’t good enough to do what God has called us to do. We respond to this by speaking God’s truth and reminding ourselves who we are in Him and press on despite our fear.

Another way we can respond to fear is called “tend and befriend.” This encompasses the responders that come to aid others when difficult circumstances happen in life. When we face a difficulty and ask, “Who can we help?” it helps shift our brains out of fight-or-flight mode. It gives us something to focus on and makes us feel like we are doing something useful and beneficial. It is helpful to be busy when there are difficult circumstances in our lives. We can set aside those anxious thoughts and focus on what we can do to help those who are in the messiness of life with us, and to show God’s love and care for them, to be His hands and feet. It keeps our minds occupied so we are not thinking about all the “what ifs” that really aren’t our concern. We can’t control the future and what comes next, but we know who does. We can rest in His promises of God, like Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” We do not need to fear what is going to come next, we need to focus on what is in front of us right now and do what that requires of us. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6 about how important we are to God and that we don’t need to worry about anything because He is the one caring for us. We can focus on today and leave the future to Him.

Fear is a tool we have been given. Fear is a warning system put in place to help protect us and help us survive in this world. The problem is we sometimes let the tool control us instead of us using the tool as God intended us to. It is up to us how we are going to respond to fear. Are we going to respond in the natural ways of fight, flight, or freeze? Or are we going to respond in a God honoring way by meeting the challenges of life, walking in obedience and faith, and in reaching out to help others, showing His love and acting our faith in Him? The choice is ours.

Fear Not, For I Am With You | By Tricia Milligan | September 2022

As I have been contemplating and praying about what to share with you about courage this month, my mind has gone in several directions. As I sat down for my quiet time this morning, I was reading in Isaiah 40, and as I got to the end, I read verse 29, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.” I had been thinking this week about how our courage is not dependent on us, but on God. This fit right in. Then I noticed the heading for the beginning of Isaiah 41, “Fear Not, for I am with you.” Isn’t God so amazing to direct us to just what we need to know and understand? As I began to read through the chapter and contemplate these words, I realized it is the crux of what He has been showing me throughout this past week. It is really the message He has given His people again and again throughout scriptures. Fear not, I am with you.

I had already been thinking some on Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” We often are tempted to focus on the first part of this verse, “I can do all things.” When we do that, the focus is on us, our resources and abilities. The real focus that Paul learned and was sharing with the Philippian church and with us is that it is not about us, not our strength, not our courage, not our determination, but rather that when we feel we can’t, Christ can do it through us. When it feels too hard or too much for us, He is the one who gives us strength, courage, hope, and works in and through us and will see us through.

We find this truth demonstrated and expressed in many ways throughout Scripture. Moses when God is sending him to Egypt to free God’s people responds with fear and doubt. God’s first response to Moses’ concerns is “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:12) Following Moses to lead God’s people is Joshua. As he steps up to fulfill this role, God reminds him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) In the Psalms we see reminders again and again from David that God is His refuge, His strength, His shield, His provider. David’s courage did not come from believing in himself, but from believing in God, knowing who God is, and fully trusting Him. As David faced Goliath, he proclaimed to Saul that the LORD would deliver him from Goliath. His trust, his faith was in the God he knew to be faithful, true, mighty, and strong. David knew there was no other god like his God and He would be with him.

Jesus Himself offers words of encouragement to His disciples, as well as to us, in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! (Have courage!) I have overcome the world.” He doesn’t say to take heart because you are stronger than you think you are. Or to take heart because you can handle whatever life throws at you. No, He says to take heart, to have courage because I have overcome the world. In these words, He conveys to us He will be our strength, our hope, our courage. To face our fears with courage and the challenges of this life with confidence and boldness, is not dependent on us and what we can do, it is dependent on Christ, on who He is and what He is able to do.

In her book, Strong, Brave, Loved, Holly Gerth writes, “It’s not about the size or the strength of my faith that matters. It’s who we’re placing it in that makes all the difference.” She goes on to say, “…we are human and we falter. But even ‘if we are faithless, He remains faithful. (2 Tim 2:13) It’s not about our faith but God’s faithfulness…when we don’t have the strength or will or wisdom to fight, we don’t have to; we only need to be still and let God cover us.”

As I began to read through Isaiah 41, these words stood out to me, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off, fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah41:9b-10) It reminded me of a phrase I heard a while ago, “Remember who you are and whose you are.” To be courageous and to face the challenges of this life, we need to remember who we are and whose we are. We are chosen by God. We are His children. We are loved and His beloved. We are called by God and sealed by His Spirit. We are more than conquerors, not because of who we are but because of whose we are. It says we are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens us. He has made us His own and He stands with us always. Not just that, He goes before us and walks beside us, and behind us, surrounding us with His care and His love. We are the apple of His eye. And He is God, Sovereign, Creator, Transcendent, Holy One of Israel, Provider, Friend, Almighty and there is none like Him. He goes on to say in Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the One who helps you.”

I don’t know what you may be facing in your life. If you are in a pleasant place, rejoice and thank the Lord for His provision and care for you. If you are in a difficult place, rejoice as well, for you are in the perfect place to see God move and work in your life. Take heart! Have courage! Remember who you are and whose you are. Your Heavenly Father has not left you to face anything on your own. You are a beloved daughter of the King of Kings, and He will be with you wherever you may go.

I will leave you with one more reminder, “’Don’t be afraid…for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” (Daniel 10:9)

What Is Your Foundation? | By Tricia Milligan | August 2022

We have spent the last several months talking about what it means to be courageous and why we can be courageous. I think we also need to answer the questions of how and where. How can we be courageous? Where does our courage come from? We have touched on these questions some when we talked about our trust in God and that we have a purpose as God’s ambassadors. I think another significant aspect of how we can be courageous and where our courage comes from has to do with having a firm foundation for our lives, built on our Rock and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

There is nothing like facing the difficulties in our lives to reveal how firm our foundation is. Jesus warns us to be careful of the foundation on which we build our lives. In Matthew 7:24 – 27, we find the example of the wise man and the foolish man. Jesus tells us that the one who hears His words and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on the rock, and then the storms came, and the house stood firm because his foundation was solid. But anyone who hears His words and rejects them is like the foolish man who built his house on the sand and when the storms came, his house crumbled and fell with a great crash.

I wish I could say that my life has always shown that I have a firm foundation, that my faith has never been shaken, and I have never been blown and tossed by the struggles this life brings. But if I am honest, there are times that I have found myself looking at a crumbled mess or laying flat on my face and asking God why.

When God started working on drawing me into a better understanding of who He is and the relationship He desires to have with me as His disciple, I was led to the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15,

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

As I read these verses, my heart was crushed and I shed many tears with the thought that I was attempting to build my own life, by my own efforts, for my own purposes, with my own good in mind. In doing that, I was building with hay and straw, and it would not last. I remember thinking, “What have I done?” I did not want my life to have no meaning in the end and to be just a pile of ashes. I realized that if I am living my life on my own strength and not depending on Him and allowing Him to direct me, I am accomplishing nothing and not fulfilling the purpose He has for me. His promises, His purpose, and His plan for my life are for my good, but they are also for His glory and that is what is most important. It is not about me, it is about Him.

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” It reminds me of the parable of the wise and foolish builder. If my foundation is on earthly things: my home, my bank account, my marriage, my family, my job, my reputation, these things are unstable. When trouble comes, I might weather some of the storms, but they will erode the foundation and eventually I will be left with no foundation at all. It is only when my foundation is built on a true understanding of who God is, His sovereignty, His love, His authority, and when I display the honor and respect that He deserves as the One True and Living God, that I can remain content in any circumstances in this life. I can remain untouched by the trouble or the storms of life.  I can stand firm in my faith and live my life courageously.

We have talked a lot about the word fear. It is used here in Proverbs 19:23, but it is not the same “fear” that we need courage for. The fear of the Lord is about having the proper reverence and respect for the Lord. It involves trusting Him, believing Him, glorifying Him, praising Him, worshipping Him and so much more. We have courage for this life when we give Him the fears that we face, and we stand in fear, honor and reverence, of Him, seeking His glory in all things. When we seek His honor and His glory, we have the courage to do things that we never thought that we could do, because He is our foundation, as well as our motivation. We want to please Him and honor Him, because we know who He is and what He has done for us.

There are two important questions that we must answer if we are going live our lives courageously. First, what is my foundation? Am I building on my Rock and my Redeemer, Jesus Christ? Is my faith in Him the foundation for my hope, my peace, my purpose in this life?

When we have this firmly established, then we must ask ourselves, Am I building with care on this foundation? Am I checking my motivations? Am I seeking to please myself or am I seeking to honor Him and bring glory to His name?

I think these are questions that we need to ask throughout our lifetime. We are on a journey of sanctification. There will be times that our answers to these questions will be positive. There are other times that they will not. Even when we find ourselves in a mess, flat on our faces, we can still have hope and find courage. He is there, over and over again, with forgiveness and grace and love and He can set our feet once again on His solid Rock and help us to stand, if we only ask. He will help us find our courage to live our lives for Him and for His glory.

Our Source of Courage | By Tricia Milligan | July 2022

We have spent the last several months examining the idea of courage and different aspects of courage as a believer. In all that time, I had not stopped to think much about the reason we need courage. Courage is our response to fear. So, why do we have to deal with fear? Where does fear come from? On our recent trip to the Creation Museum in Kentucky, I saw this quote, “Sin changed everything. Where there was fellowship, now there is fear.”

Fear was not present before the fall. Fear is a direct result of our broken relationship with God. Where man once experienced a sweet fellowship with God, there is now only fear. Fear of judgment. Fear of failure. Fear of disappointment. Fear that stems from the lack of trust that was planted with the seed of doubt that God was somehow holding out on them, that He didn’t want them to be like Him. That thought planted a seed of fear that there was something that they were missing out on, that unfortunately only led to more fears than they could have even imagined.

We were not created to live in fear. There was nothing in the world God made that would be a threat to mankind. But with sin, everything changed. Now fear is a reality in our lives. It is useful to protect us from dangers that this world now holds for us. But we are not meant to live in constant fear. Fear can weaken our immune system and cause multiple physical ailments, even accelerating aging. Fear can interrupt the proper functioning of the brain, and even damage it. It is exhausting to live in fear, leading to chronic anxiety and depression, which only makes one more fearful.

So how do we address this issue of fear? How do we live a courageous life, embracing the abundant life that Jesus proclaimed that He came for us to live? I know that there have been times that I allowed my fears to keep me from trying something new, or making a new friend, or building closer relationships with those God has placed in my life, or even following a prompting of the Spirit. We can allow fear to control us and limit us and keep us from being all God meant us to be. So, what is the answer? Let’s take a look at what Scripture has to say.

In Isaiah 41:10 it says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” In Lamentations 3:56-58 it says, “You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.” Again, in Deuteronomy 31:6 it says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

What is the reason given in these verses and others for being courageous, or having no fear? Does it say, “Don’t be afraid because if you follow your heart, everything will turn out fine,” or “You don’t need to be afraid because you are stronger than you think you are. You can handle whatever life throws at you?” No, we do not have to fear because God is with us. He hears our prayers. He answers. He is the One who has redeemed our lives. He is the One who has reconciled us to Himself and restored what was lost in the fall. He is the reason we do not need to fear because that fellowship with Him has been restored. What can man do to us? Can anything in this life separate us from the love of God? No, He has called us His children and adopted us. He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. We are His and because of that, we can be assured that no matter what, He is with us. He will not abandon the work of His hand, and that is what we are.

Another passage that came to mind as I was thinking about this was Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” As I looked up Philippians 4:6-7 to share with you, I started reading the verses before, and right before Paul gives instructions for dealing with fear and anxiety, he writes these four powerful words, “The Lord is near!” Isn’t God just amazing? Very clearly, He shows that it is His presence that can calm all those anxious thoughts. Our part is to remember that He is near and then, in every situation, by prayer and petition present our requests to Him. We need to tell Him. He knows already, but in telling Him, we are reminding ourselves that we are not alone and that He is Sovereign and in control, even when our world seems like it is a chaotic mess. His peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. That little phrase “in Christ Jesus” reminds us of all that is wrapped up in the work of Christ. We are reconciled to God, restored, redeemed, and rescued, so we can be assured of the truth that the Lord is near and He hears our every prayer. The fear is once again replaced with fellowship through the work of Christ on the cross.

Life is hard. There are challenges and things we would rather not have to face, but we do not need to live in fear because we face none of it alone. God is not out there somewhere waiting us to fail and prove that we are not worthy. No, God is with us, right here, helping us through everything until we are fully restored to that relationship with Him that is no longer tainted by the effects of sin in this world. He will never leave us or forsake us but will see us all the way home. Be strong. Be courageous. Do not fear. For He is with you.

Courage to Be Real | By Tricia Milligan | June 2022

There is a tendency that seems normal for us to want to put our best foot forward when we are with others. We don’t want to be caught at the store looking like we just rolled out of bed, but doesn’t it always turn out that when we look like a mess and just pop in the store for one thing, we are guaranteed to see someone we know. When we get that phone call from a friend that they are stopping by, we swoop around the house picking things up and straightening things up as best we can, so they will not see our “mess”.

We extend this expectation of looking like we have it all together to fellowship with our sisters in Christ. We don’t want anyone to know who we think the “true me” is and it keeps us from being open and real with our sisters in Christ. We go to church with our “mask” on. We want everyone to see or think the best of us. There really isn’t anything wrong with looking our best or being our best, but there is also a time that we need to let others in to see the messy things in our life, whether it is our past or a present struggle.

Maybe part of the problem is that who we think we are, isn’t who we really are. Maybe we are not being real with ourselves, and we have a distorted view of who we are. As I was began working my way through these thoughts, these questions came to mind: Am I defining who I am in the same way that God does? Do I see myself through the world’s eyes or through God’s eyes?

I get it. It is scary to be real and vulnerable. But we must see ourselves as God does, through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. When we understand the full scope of grace and forgiveness, we will begin to define ourselves in a new way. Paul tells us in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are forgiven in Christ. The guilt, the shame that we might feel for what we have done in the past, does not come from the Lord. Psalm 103:11-12 tells us, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Our past does not have to define us, even though it shapes who we are. We are not our mistakes, we are redeemed and made whole in Christ.

I have been reading Holly Gerth’s book Strong, Brave, Loved.  She includes a chapter called Vulnerable and she writes, “I can be vulnerable because my struggles are part of my circumstances, not my identity. I’m not my successes. I’m not my failures. I’m a beloved daughter of God.” This is a profound statement. The world says that we are defined by what we do, and our accomplishments are what give us value. But in God’s eyes, “we are never, ever defined by what we do. We are always and only defined by what Jesus has done for us.” (Holly Gerth, Strong, Brave, Loved) We have value because we are created by God, loved by God, redeemed by God, simply because we are. Our struggles, our trials, we can consider pure joy, James tells us, because they shape us, they build our character and make us stronger, they do not have to defeat us or hinder us for all our lives.

Going back to Paul’s message in Romans 8, he concludes his thoughts at the end of the chapter with these words, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future {nor our past}, nor any powers, neither height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Your life might be messy, but you are not. You are a beautiful, beloved daughter of God. Your circumstances may be chaotic, but you don’t have to be. There can be peace in it all if we are remembering who is in control.  It may feel like everything is falling apart, but if we are in Christ, our feet are on a firm foundation that cannot be moved.

And one of the sweetest things is that we are not on this journey to sanctification on our own. We know God is working in us through His Holy Spirit, but He has also given us an extra blessing. We have our sisters in Christ that can be there for us, can walk with us, encourage us, pray for us. Our enemy wants us to feel like we are only one who struggles and that we are alone. What I have discovered though is that when I find the courage to be real and vulnerable with my sisters in Christ, I am not the only one and I am not alone. I have found comfort and direction too from those that have walked the very same road before me.  I have found common ground that have built sweet friendships that allow us to do life together, the good, the bad, and the ugly, because we can lift one another up, encourage one another and pray for one another, always pointing one another back to the Lord and the truths of His Word.

So, the challenge I leave you with is this. Let’s put these verses we find in Hebrews 10:23-25 into practice, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spurn one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Christ’s Ambassadors | By Tricia Milligan | May 2022

In the past few weeks as I have been thinking about courage there has been one verse that keeps coming back to mind. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

My girls have both been told that they have social anxiety. Even though, I have never been through counseling myself, I would probably say that I have social anxiety as well. I am very much an introvert and I do not like conflict. With the combination of those two factors, talking to someone that I do not know is a highly stressful situation for me and not something that I do readily or easily. I am much more social in an environment where I already know the people I am with because I am much more at ease and relaxed.

For a couple of years, I served as the assistant director of a daycare in Arlington. One thing I found to be true was that I was much more courageous and outgoing when I was speaking on behalf of the school that I was working for. While I was out running errands one day, I happened to see a clown, all dressed in her attire. I approached her and asked her for her contact information so I could possibly have her come to our school. That was definitely out of my comfort zone, but as I representative of the school, I was able to do it.

In the same way that I represented my school, 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are representatives of Christ, we are His ambassadors. We are to be speaking on His behalf to those that we encounter daily. That should give us pause to consider our reactions in situations, both words and actions. It should also encourage us, as we were challenged this past Sunday, to share our faith, to plant seeds in the hearts and lives of those God brings into our paths.

I recently had another impactful reminder of the importance of speaking God’s truth and sharing my faith. We learned within the last couple of weeks that one of Brent’s aunts passed away suddenly. She was fine, went to bed, and did not wake up the next morning. She had a massive heart attack during the night. I would love to say that I knew for a fact that she was a believer. I know she attended church regularly, but I do not know if she knew Jesus as her personal savior. That bothers me and it should. None of us know the number of our days. We also do not know the number of days for the ones we love and care about. We cannot afford to delay sharing the Gospel message with those we love and care about.

We need to be bold in speaking of what God has done in our lives, because we never know what impact our words and our testimony can have in someone else’s life. On the way to work the other day, I was again challenged to share my faith while I was listening to the radio. They shared the testimony of a lady who had watched a You Tube video that one of the guys from Duck Dynasty had done where he shared the gospel and through that she became a Christian. She said that in her lifetime that was the very first time she had ever heard the gospel message. No one had ever told her. How many people do we encounter daily that have never heard the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done for them? We may not actually lead them to the Lord and that is okay. Maybe we will plant a seed and give them something to think about. God just asks us to be faithful to speak His truth and share the message of His gospel.

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 73. The very last verse Psalm 73:28, says, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” It was that last line, I will tell of all your deeds, that was part of the challenge the Lord gave me to begin working in Women’s Ministry. I felt Him impressing on me that if I was feeling a certain way or struggling with something, I was probably not the only one, so the answers I was finding in Him were meant to be shared with my sisters in Christ. This is still a stretching experience for me and takes a lot of courage for me each time I am asked to speak. But with three different reminders within a couple weeks, I believe He is challenging me to go beyond what I am doing now. I need to be willing to have those conversations that take me out of my comfort zone even more. I need to find ways to share what God is doing in my life, not just with those that I know are believers, but also with those that I am unsure about or who I know are not walking with Him. Time is short and I need to be about representing Him well and be a faithful witness and ambassador for Him.

We are living in an uncertain time with many challenges in our lives, but we have hope because we know that God is good and He is Sovereign and in control. We have a peace that can only come from being in that personal relationship with Him. We need to be faithful and courageous to be the ambassadors for Christ that He has called us to be and to share with all that we meet the reason for our hope and peace. May He find us faithful.

Courage to Wait | By Tricia Milligan | April 2022

The other week I ran across the verse Psalm 27:14. I am not sure where I saw it, but it says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” As I read it, the words “be strong and take heart” stood out to me. “Be strong and take heart” are often found in Scriptures that talk about courage. So, is it courageous to wait?

We usually equate courage with action. We strike out and do something we haven’t done before or accomplish something we did not think that we could do. Waiting is often thought of as the opposite of action. And sometimes it is the hardest thing that God asks me to do.

As I was thinking about waiting on God, my thoughts wandered to Sarah. Now, God had promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child. Instead of waiting on God’s timing and His fulfillment of that promise, Sarah took matters into her own hands and ended up making quite a mess of things. We can still see the ramifications of her actions as the descendants of both of Abraham’s sons continue to struggle against one another. How would things have been different if Sarah had the courage to wait for God to work?

Now, I really can’t fault Sarah much, because I might have been tempted to do the same thing. Most people think of me as being a very patient person because I work with little kids daily. But it is different when I am facing something big in my life. I want a quick resolution. I want to fix it. I want to put my world right. But that is not always the best option, and my feeble attempts to fix things on my own often leave me with quite a mess on my hands too.

Sometimes God asks us to wait. He knows what the best solution is, and even though we are not seeing any change in the circumstances does not mean that He is not working. We must have the courage to remember who He is and allow Him to be God. We need to wait and listen for His direction and watch for what He is going to do. I know I am often so focused on what I want to happen or what I think should happen that I miss signs of what He is doing in and through the situation, but I can see them as I look back later on.

While I was still mulling over these thoughts, this memory popped up on my Facebook feed. I think this quote came from the book Jesus Calling that I had been reading several years ago. It read, “Waiting on Me means directing your attention to Me in hopeful anticipation of what I will do. It entails trusting Me with every fiber of your being, instead of trying to figure things out yourself…Waiting on Me enables you to glorify Me by living in deep dependance on Me, ready to do My will.” It was followed by Lamentations 3:24-26 “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait on Him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

I freely admitted then, as I still do now, I am not very good at waiting quietly for the Lord to work and make the way and His direction clear. I do believe I am a bit better today, than I was when I wrote those words several years ago. I am still learning to seek Him above all else. I am still learning to place my trust fully in Him. I am still learning to look to Him for everything I need and to lean into Him, for He is my portion, He is my refuge, and He is my strength.

Because God is the King of all Kings, and the Lord of all Lords, Almighty God, Sovereign over all, then I can take heart, find courage and peace, and can wait quietly on the Lord, waiting in anticipation and expectancy and hope that He is going to do something amazing that I could never have even imagined. I do not need to be fretful, fearful, or anxious, because I am waiting on God with joy and confidence and He has got “this”, whatever my “this” at the time should be.

I was thinking too, that sometimes waiting expectantly doesn’t mean inactivity. Sometimes waiting expectantly is plowing the field knowing that God has promised to send the rain. I think that is part of waiting expectantly.

There are things we can be doing to prepare our hearts and our minds for what He will be doing. Of course, we need to be praying, asking Him for direction, and seeking Him above all else. Putting our focus on Him and reminding ourselves of who He is. We need to be keeping our hearts tuned to Him so we can hear His truth and see His hand at work. We also need to be in the Word so He can direct us through His Holy Spirit. We also should be praising Him for hearing us and for working out what is the very best in each circumstance of our lives. We use the tools that He has given us and are prepared to respond in obedience when He opens a door or points us in a certain direction.

Let me leave you with these words of encouragement from Elisabeth Elliot,

“My faith is to rest not in the outcome I think God should work out for me. My faith rests in who God is…the quietness of my heart is the fruit of absolute confidence in God.”

It is my prayer that each of us may have the quiet confidence to live each day in hopeful anticipation of what God will do in and through us as we courageously wait on Him.

What Makes You Brave? | By Tricia Milligan | March 2022

I was reading a devotional recently and a question came up, “What makes you brave?” The author’s take was re-defining brave, because sometimes we don’t feel brave, but we must move forward anyway. I liked what she had to say, but my thoughts kept going back to this question, “What makes you brave?”

As I turned in my planner to the month of March, I found a verse I had written there at the beginning of the year that I wanted to focus on for March. It is Psalm 27:8, “My heart says of You, ‘Seek Your face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Reading this verse with the thought of what makes me brave floating around in my head, my thoughts immediately went to my kids when they were little, standing on the edge of the pool, wanting to jump in. What made them brave enough to do it? They looked at my face or their daddy’s face and heard us say, “You can do it. I will catch you.” Similar things happened when there was a school play, a choir performance, or some other special event. When they stepped out on stage, they were scanning the crowd, looking for the faces of Mom and Dad. The faces where they knew they would find eyes sparkling with excitement and love wanting to see them succeed at whatever they were doing. And when there were those times when my children got hurt or were sick, who did they seek out for comfort and help? They came to the ones that they knew could help them feel better and would know what to do.

Psalm 27 reminds us that we are to be seeking the face of God. So, what does it mean to seek His face? In reflection of how God describes our relationship with Him, if He is our Heavenly Father, our Abba Father, then we can look to Him in the same way as a child looks to a parent. We are to be looking to Him for approval and encouragement, for reassurance that yes, we can make it through whatever challenge lies ahead of us. We are to be seeking out His help and comfort in times of need and when we are hurting. We are to be seeking for His face amid our scary circumstances, to find the support, encouragement, and direction we need, as well as the courage to face whatever our circumstances.

I wish I could say this was my automatic, go to response. I do it sometimes, but I know I often look to people or things to provide those things for me. When I do, I will usually find myself disappointed and finally I turn to the Lord, which I should have done to start out with. This reminds me of what John was talking about on Sunday when he was talking about David. David was trusting in the size of his army for his success and protection. John talked about how later David penned Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” David was rebuked and learned a lesson, or rather, I would propose, relearned a lesson. If we look back at David when he is facing Goliath, he knew where to place his trust. He knew where to look for strength and courage. David’s trust was certainly not in the Israelite army, his trust was in the Lord to give him the victory. David was walking by faith in God and not by what he saw around him.

We are called to do the same. This walking by faith though only comes when we have an active, growing relationship with God, when we are spending time with Him both in His Word and in prayer. These regular, daily practices, help us to stay on track and keep the right perspective on the circumstances we are facing in our day to day lives. They provide us daily reminders of who He is and who we are and that we can fully trust in Him. I was reminded as I read another devotional the other morning, that we also need our brothers and sisters in Christ. God has not left us alone, He is with us, but He has also brought us into His family where we are surrounded by those that are there to pray for us and comfort us and encourage us. We need one another.

As I continued to contemplate this question of what makes me brave? My thoughts went to how when I am reminded of how God has made me, this gives me confidence, hope and makes me feel brave. You may not know that one of my favorite places to be is the Zoo! I love the zoo animals and learning more things about the animals. So of course, I watch all the shows about the zoos. The other night I caught the end of a program that was talking about the giraffe and its tongue. Did you know that a giraffe has a blue tongue? Do you know why a giraffe has a blue tongue? (I already knew this…but it is still so cool!) The color comes from the extra pigment that is in the tongue that keeps it from getting sunburned while it is reaching out to grab leaves with its tongue all day in the hot, African sunlight. I don’t see how anyone can think that just happened…Our wonderful Creator, God, knew that the giraffe would be eating from the trees in the sun and would need that protection. He created it that way on purpose. He prepared it perfectly for the challenges that its environment would present.

This same God made me. He tells me in Psalm 139 that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He also tells me that all the days ordained for me were written in His book before one of them came to be. He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between. So, when He made me, when He knit me together in my mother’s womb, He knew exactly what I would need. He shaped me and is still shaping me and preparing me still for the tasks and the challenges that lay ahead. I am His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). He knows what my life holds, and He has crafted me to meet each challenge with His help. He has prepared for everything that I will face in this life. Nothing is a surprise to Him. Nothing catches Him off guard. So, I can face whatever comes, resting in His love and in His care for me. I might be trembling on the inside, but I can take a deep breath and remind myself that I am not alone and that I can bravely face whatever challenge life has brought my way because my God is with me and He is still in control.

Let me leave you with one more word of encouragement, straight from God’s Word. Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” (New Living Translation)

Don’t give up my sisters. Look into the face of Your loving Savior and be brave.

Do You Trust Me? | By Tricia Milligan | February 2022

We spent last year talking about God being worthy of our trust. Now, are we ready for where the rubber hits the road? If God is trustworthy, then we must trust Him. As I was thinking about this, I couldn’t help but think about the scene in Disney’s Aladdin where Aladdin holds his hand out to Jasmine and says, “Do you trust me?” and expects her to leap into nothingness with him.

Trusting the Lord can sometimes feel like that. It can feel that we are jumping off into nothingness because we can’t see what lies below or ahead. Other times we are thinking back to the times that we did take that jump in faith and prayed and trusted, only the result was not as pleasant as we were expecting. Usually because there is still more to the story to be written, but we dismiss that thought and use it as an excuse not to trust God now. Maybe we are thinking, what I am facing isn’t that bad? I can deal with it on my own. It is familiar and I have dealt with it all my life, so I will just stay here. It is more comfortable than jumping into the unknown and the unfamiliar.

The Israelites did this in broken down cisterns. Jeremiah 2:13 tells us, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” The Israelites were literally seeking refuge from their enemies in broken cisterns and not looking to the Lord and trusting Him to be their refuge. How foolish can our hearts be at times that we reject the life-giving water of the Lord, for buckets with a hole in it that gets us nowhere and constantly needs to be refilled.

Trusting the Lord is so scary because it often requires us to change. And really, we don’t get a say in the change. To trust in the Lord, is to let go of control, or our seeming control, and let Him take the lead, we are just asked to follow. Scripture tells us that He is the Potter and we are the clay. The clay has no say in what the Potter makes from it. He is also described as the Master Gardner. He chooses where we are to be planted and we have no say in how we are pruned and when or what is pruned from our lives.

My heart went back to Romans 12:1-2 this week when I was thinking about what I would share with you. We are called to be living sacrifices. We are to abandon all else and place ourselves on the alter saying, “God I am Yours. Do what You want with my life. Send me where you would have me to go. Give me your words to say.” I have heard it said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar. It is a scary proposition to sacrifice your all. These verses go on to say that we are to no longer to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the one doing the transforming. He knows what needs to be changed. We don’t get a say.

My personal focus for the year is on seeking the Lord. My verse for the month of February is Jeremiah 24:7, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” I had a friend and mentor share with me about this verse and some realizations that a friend of hers had. We are not the one who changes our hearts. We don’t have to do a thing. It is God who gives us a heart to know Him. He is the one who is transforming us into who He has always meant us to be. But we do have to trust Him. We have to allow Him access and not hold any area back. We can’t say, “You can have everything in my heart and life, except this. This is something I love and I can’t let you take it from me.”

This is a scary place to be. Full surrender. Complete openness before the Lord. Coming to Him with hands open and empty and saying, “Yes, Lord, I hear you and I will follow you completely, no holding back.” Oh, but what lies ahead is immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, because it is always for our good and for His glory. If it is for His glory, we can be assured that it will be beyond anything we could think of!

So, I encourage you my dear sisters, take the hand that the Father has extended to you and jump. You can trust Him, and it is going to be amazing!

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Wholehearted Devotion | By Tricia Milligan | January 2022

As we begin a new year, our thoughts often turn to questions like, “What will I do differently this year?” It is a time of reflection on the past year and a time to set goals for the new year. We often think of things that we want to change physically, eating healthier, exercising, or being more organized. I think our time would be better spent thinking of where we want to be spiritually first. Jesus tells us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.

God has impressed on my heart the need to seek Him this year. In Jeremiah 29:13 we are told, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I read a devotional a while back that talked about the difference in seeking half-heartedly and whole-heartedly. She was talking about searching for library books as a kid when it was time to go back to the library. She said that how hard she searched depended on whether the book was hers or one of her siblings.

I know that there have been times when things have been misplaced and the urgency to seek for it depends on the need for that item. If it is something that can easily be replaced, the searching is not all-consuming. But if a certain document is not where it is supposed to be and it is needed for something important and needed today, the searching and seeking is much more involved. There is a desperation and urgency in the seeking. No corner is left unsearched until the item is found.

It reminds me of the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15, “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’” Jesus says that our Father in Heaven rejoices in the same way when one sinner repents. We should seek Him with the same fervency that He has sought after us, which was to the point of sacrificing His own Son Jesus Christ on the cross.

Our relationship with God and the things that God can provide for us is not something that can easily be replaced. We sometimes think that it can be and seek the things He has for us in other places. But the truth is that what is found elsewhere is nothing in comparison to God and what He has for us. We should feel a desperation for God. I know there was a song many years ago that said, “I am desperate for you.” I know I struggled with that idea when I heard that song. Being raised in the church and having God such a part of my life and how I lived, it was more of something that I took for granted and not something that I was desperate for.  In an article, Seek God with All Your Heart, David Wilkerson writes, “Many people come to Christ with an initial burst of great faith, yet over time their zeal wanes and they begin to neglect Christ. They lightly esteem his commands and turn back to their old ways.” He goes on to share though is that our hope lies in the truth that “God never stops loving them.” When we fail to seek him with all of our heart, we settle for something that is far less than what the Father desires to provide for us. But when we seek after Him with all our heart, He delights in showing Himself to us and providing all that we need and abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.

This seeking after God with all our heart is not our natural bent, but something that God gives us as we yield to His Holy Spirit in our lives. It is something that we must consciously choose to do. It is that “spirit-driven manual override” that Pastor John talks about. It is choosing to make time for His Word. It is choosing to pray about a situation first and asking for God’s wisdom and direction. It is choosing to seek His will above our own and walking in obedience to Him, even when we don’t understand. It is resting in His truths and promises and not trying to figure things out for ourselves. It is being honest with God and with ourselves and giving Him all of who we are for His glory and for our good.

Going back to our verse, Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” David Wilkerson in his article, Seek God with All Your Heart, says that here the Hebrew word for find is “matsa” which means “his presence coming forth of enable, to bless.” He writes, “In short, this verse tells us, “Seek the Lord with all your heart and He will come to you with His presence. Indeed, His presence will be an almighty power that emanates from your life.” I really cannot think of a better way to start the year than to know that if I seek after Him, He will enable me to handle whatever the year brings, knowing that He is with me and is my strength, my joy, and my hope.

Wise Men Still Seek Him | By Tricia Milligan | December 2021

Wow! It has been a year and a journey through trust. It has been amazing to watch God work and to draw so many into a deeper understanding of trust as we have walked through this year together. It was amazing to watch things fall into place at the Retreat as well, as we trusted in Him and allowed Him to guide us and direct us through the challenges that got thrown our way. One of the things that has stuck with me from the retreat was when Holland Ham shared that when our focus is on the world, it changes our view of God, but when our focus is on God, it changes our view of our circumstances.

The idea of focus is huge part of our final letter in trustworthy. God is worthy of hearts that yearn after Him. If we have hearts that yearn for Him, then we long for Him, our goal is to be with Him, our focus is on Him. One of the verses that also came up at the retreat was Psalm 37: 3-5, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this.” I would say that the desires of our hearts is just another way of saying “the yearnings of our heart.” I used to think that if I spent time with God’s Word and did all the right things, then God would give me the desires of my heart, the things that I wanted. I remember reading somewhere that when we are delighting in the LORD, then He becomes the desire of our hearts. If we are truly delighting in Him, then to know Him more is the yearning and longing of our hearts. The more we know Him, the more we want to know Him. And the more that we know Him, the more we trust in Him because He has shown Himself to be trustworthy in all things. We know His character and that He is the God who never changes, and we can depend on Him.

I have been praying about what God has for me in the next year. What is the word, the phrase or the verse that is to be my focus? He keeps bringing me back to the word seek. I think seeking and yearning go hand in hand. As I started thinking about the upcoming Christmas season, I thought about the saying, “Wise men still seek Him.” What does that mean? How can that change my everyday life?

If we look back at the story of the wise men. we see a stark difference between the wise men and the scribes, pharisees, and religious leaders of that day. They were all aware that a Messiah was coming. The scribes, pharisees, and religious leaders were going about their lives and were not really concerned about the coming of the Messiah. It would happen someday, I suppose…kind of attitude. They didn’t even know that the Messiah had been born until the Wise Men arrived and they had to go back and search the Scriptures to find out where He was to be born. Their focus definitely wasn’t on God and His promised Messiah.

But how about the wise men? They were yearning, longing, looking with anticipation for the coming of the Messiah. The looked for the signs. They were paying attention. Their focus was on what was to come and preparing for it. They were waiting expectantly for God to move.

I would love to say that I am always like the wise men, but I know there are times that my focus becomes the tasks at hand and making it through the busy days. Those times find me wading through life and managing to keep my head above water. Surviving, not thriving. More like muddling through somehow.

But those times when my heart longs for His Word, when I wake up with a song in my heart and an anticipation for spending time in His Word, and when I have eyes open and looking for His hand moving in the circumstances of my life, there is an excitement to life. There is a hope and joy that permeates every area of my life. The more that I taste and see that God is good, the more that I want to know of Him. My hearts yearn after Him. I long to sit at His feet and to soak in His presence and to hear His voice.

So, as we enter this holiday season, may we remember to be like the wise men. May we have hearts that are looking with anticipation for what God is going to do. As the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus and came to worship Him, may we too bring a gift to offer to God. May we bring Him a heart that fully trusts in Him and walks in obedience to Him, and may we bring Him a heart that yearns after Him and desires to be with Him above all else. He deserves nothing less.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

Honor through Thanksgiving | By Tricia Milligan | November 2021

It is hard to believe that it is November and that our year is almost done. It has been quite a journey for me this year as I have studied and learned about what it means to trust in the Lord. It has been amazing to me as He has revealed again and again that He has been laying the foundation for this deeper understanding about trust for many years as He brings me back again and again to Scripture that has had a profound impact in my life at different times. He did it again this month.

We have come to the H in trustworthy. God is worthy of our Honor. I have spent the last couple of weeks mulling around what it means to honor someone. I was thinking of a guest of honor that we prepare for and treat in a very special way. I also looked up the definition of honor, which means to treat with admiration or respect, to give special recognition to.

Like He often does though, God showed me something this morning that I really wasn’t expecting to see about honor. I have been reading through Psalm 8 this week as my devotional time and reading it in different versions each morning. This morning I read it in the New Life Version. It puts verse 4 and 5 this way, “What is man, that You think of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little less than the angels and gave him a crown of greatness and honor.” Wow! God has given us honor and why would He? But He has.

I began to think about our response to this gift that He has given us, and I came to the conclusion that there are three ways that we can respond.

The first way is one of pride. We see that we are greater than the animals and the world around us and the focus is on us. How great we are. We honor ourselves instead of the one who has bestowed us with the honor we don’t really deserve.

The second way that we can respond it to deny the honor and greatness that God has given us by thinking less of ourselves. We put ourselves down and build walls of protection around ourselves to keep ourselves from being hurt instead of facing the world with confidence because of the honor and greatness that God has graciously bestowed upon us.

The third way is what I think is the right way. We should respond to this gift of honor that God has given us with gratitude and thankfulness for what He has done for us. That requires us to trust Him and believe that what He says about us in His word is true and that we approach the world with confidence because we bear His name and so bring honor and glory to His name.

He brought me back to one of my favorite verses, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” Jesus has honored us by giving His very life for us so that we may have a life that we did not deserve. We can honor Him in no better way than to live our lives for Him. We are to live our lives in such a way that it brings honor to His name. We do that by fully placing our trust in Him. Believing that we are loved and worthy by His grace to come boldly into the presence of God. We honor Him by inviting Him into our lives and asking Him to guide us and direct us through every aspect of our lives.

Our verse for this month is Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.” It was by His will that we were created. It was by His will that we were crowned with greatness and honor. It was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross.

So, what is our response? I hope that as we enter this month of thanksgiving, we will remember that as we live our lives with an attitude of gratitude, we bring honor to the One who is worthy to receive all glory and honor and power.

Attitude of Gratitude | By Tricia Milligan | October 2021

God is worthy of our Thanksgiving

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. 2 Corinthians 4:15

My dear sisters, what a journey it has been this year learning more and more about what it is to trust in the Lord. What I am finding as I continue in my study is that He really has been teaching me about trust for a very long time.

As a young person I was involved in Bible Quizzing where we memorized and studied a particular passage and then would answer questions over what we had studied and learned. The one year we did the book of John and my favorite verse from that year that I carried with me for a long time was John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” The Living Bible puts it this way, “Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me.” Trust is so foundational. It is the heart of our faith to trust in God. It is what keeps us steady in times of struggle.

In our journey through our Trustworthy acrostic, we have come to the word Thanksgiving. God is worthy of our thanks, our gratitude. Our hearts and minds begin to turn this direction each year in the Fall as the month of November approaches and the Thanksgiving holiday draws near. I have tried to focus more on thanksgiving at times by keeping a thankful journal. Some Novembers I have memorized passages about thanksgiving. Other times I have posted something I am thankful for each day on Facebook and tried to focus on the characteristics of God or the things He has done for me. What I have never done is to contemplate and consider what the opposite of thanksgiving is.

The other morning, I was reading a devotional that really didn’t have anything to do with thanksgiving, it was about God’s love for us and our security we can have in that love – which of course we are thankful for. But as I read the devotional there were three words that caught my attention and made me pause. “Greed over gratitude.” Had I ever thought about the fact that when I am not showing gratitude to the Lord for who He is and what He has done for me that I am displaying an attitude of selfishness and greed. Ouch! That one hurts. I don’t know that any of us would want to be described by those two words.

It made me pause and think about two different aspects of this. The first is my attitude when I come to the Lord in prayer. Yes, we are to bring our requests to the Lord. He says, we do not have because we do not ask. But do I come first recognizing who He is, that is the reverence we talked about last month, and do I come to Him with a heart of gratitude both for who He is and what He has already done for Him? Do I remember to pour out an offering of thanksgiving and gratitude when He does answer a prayer? I often throw out a quick, “Thank you Lord” without much thought, but more out of a habit of it is the thing to say and then move on with life. Maybe I need to pause more when I see those answers to prayer and show Him how grateful I am for what He has done for me. He has no reason to answer my request. I deserve nothing from Him, but in His great love and compassion, He hears and answers my prayers.

There are times though, when those answers are not the answer we would like them to be or what we would have done, which brings me to the second part of where my thoughts went. Most of you know that I lost my sweet Daddy after a long battle with cancer not very long ago. In the time since then, I have heard a couple different people share stories about how great God is and how He intervened and totally healed someone they loved and cared about from cancer. They were filled with great joy and thanksgiving. For someone that did not receive that answer to my prayer, let me tell you that is hard to hear. It is hard to rejoice with them when I know that was not the answer I received, but it was the answer that my heart longed for.

So, how do I still display an attitude of gratitude? Without thankfulness and gratitude, I am left with a heart full of anger, bitterness, unrest, and distrust. That is not what I want for my life and certainly not what my earthly father or Heavenly Father would desire for me either. So, I focus on the things that I can be thankful for. I had a loving father that loved God and desired to teach me the word of God and to raise me according to God’s principles and teachings. I had 73 precious years with my Daddy and we had 10 plus years after he was initially diagnosed with cancer, which is more than many others have been given. Because of this crazy covid stuff, I was able to go spend some time with my parents in March before he passed. I was also able to be with my Mom when Daddy passed. I was there in the hospital room earlier that day and was able to hold his hand one more time and the last words I said to him were, “I love you Daddy.” I am thankful that he is no longer struggling for breath and is in no more pain. Instead, he is whole and restored once again. Just yesterday I heard a song that said the only scars in heaven are on the hands of Jesus. I carry the hurt for now, but one day I will see my Daddy again when I go see Jesus. So, I am thankful for the hope that I have. I am also thankful for the comfort that He has given me and continues to give me as I continue through this journey of grief. I know He is with me and has not left me.

Our verse for the month is 2 Corinthians 4:15, “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.” We face troubles in this life. We all struggle. But as we struggle and face the things in this life, we can be assured that these things are for our good and for His glory, He tells us that again and again throughout Scripture. Sometimes we can’t see the good. Sometimes we may not understand how it is for His glory, but it is. As we look at those confusing and uncertain circumstances of life and say to the Lord, “I choose to trust in You,” His grace is poured out into our lives and is evident to those around us. This will cause not only thanksgiving to overflow in our own lives, but also in the lives of those around us as they watch God work in our lives. God is good, even when our circumstances are not. God is with us and will not leave us no matter what we do or what happens. And He loves us like no one else can. Those things should be enough to fill our hearts with gratitude and thanksgiving, no matter what life throws at us.

Worthy of Reverence | By Tricia Milligan | September 2021

It has been interesting to me as I have gone through this year studying about trust to see the different things that God has been teaching me in years past and how they are tied into trust. Our trust in the Lord is the foundation of our faith. We trust God for our salvation, but it must not stop there. We must trust Him with our daily life and in the process of sanctification.

We began two months ago, looking at some of the things that God is worthy of. We have already talked about how God is worthy of our worship and our obedience. Now we are going to look at reverence. This brings me back to the fear of the Lord, a topic that has fascinated and captivated me for a while now. It is to me the strong foundation of the faith. We must have a right view of God and thus a right view of ourselves. Our verse for this month is Psalm 130:4-5 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope. There is so much of what we have been learning about trust all tied together in these verses. We see the trusting God for salvation. We see obedience. We see taking God at His Word and resting in His promises. In the very center of all of this is reverence.

So, what does reverence mean? And what does it mean that God is worthy of our reverence?

Like trust, reverence is something that we have but also something that we do. To have reverence for someone means that we have deep respect for them, we hold them in high regard. We also regard or treat someone with deep respect, in other words, we honor and admire them. To me, it goes beyond that when it comes to reverence for God. The idea of fearing the Lord is to stand in awe of Him, recognizing the immensity of who God is, and recognizing that He is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise, simply because He is God. In Psalm 2 the Psalmist writes, “Now therefore, O Kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” Even those that are most esteemed and revered on this earth must stand in reverence to God. There is none like Him and He has no equal. They will answer to Him for what they have done and the choices they have made and nothing misses His notice.

In Psalm 4, David writes, “Tremble and do not sin, when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. Many, LORD, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’ Let the light of your face shine on us.” As I read these verses, I thought about those that see God as their own personal wish machine, Santa Claus, or fairy godmother, whatever you want to call it. They ask, “Who is going to bless me? Who is going to give me all I ever wanted? I deserve more.” This mentality puts us above God. It is about me and about what I want and not about Him. They do the “right” things not from a heart that seeks to honor God, but rather for what they will get out of it. They are not trusting in God, not honoring Him as God, and have no reverence or right regard for God.

God has already richly blessed us. He has redeemed us and by His grace He has made us His own. We have already received more than we deserve, because what we deserve is death and separation from Him. Instead, He has reconciled us to Himself through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has cleansed our hearts from sin. He had given us life and hope and His amazing love. He pours out His grace on us and His mercies are new every morning.

We must acknowledge what He has done for us with grateful and sincere hearts. In humility, recognizing it is not about me, we must also acknowledge who He is. He is the Sovereign, Almighty God who is seated on His throne. There is none like Him. He transcends all that we know. We don’t come before Him demanding anything, but with humble and sincere hearts asking for His hand, His touch, His will in whatever circumstances we face.

The amazing thing is, that our Awesome, Almighty God, delights to hear from His children. He wants to bless us. He is always faithful to provide His grace and mercy in our time of need if we call to Him and approach Him in the right way.

My husband gave me a wonderful picture to help understand the fear of the Lord many years ago. We were discussing what it means to fear the Lord. He said, it is kind of like electricity. I fear electricity in that I understand the power that is there. But I know that there is a right way to approach it. I use the proper precautions and I can still access its power. The same is true with God. When we approach Him in the right way, with humility and a sincere heart filled with gratitude for all He has already done for me, then I can access the power and resources that are available through my relationship with Him.

Let me leave you with this final thought from Charles Stanley’s book, Can You Still Trust God? He writes, “The truth…is that if you have made Jesus the LORD of your life, and He is the rightful King of all Kings and Lord of all lords {and He is}, then there isn’t a situation, circumstance, or period of time over which Jesus does not have absolute control and sovereignty. He will make certain that all things come together for your good, in His timing and according to His chosen methods, if you will only trust Him completely to be the LORD of your life.”

Trust Him. Honor Him. Stand in the Fear of the Lord. It is the only way to truly live.

“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” (Proverbs 19:23)

Walking in Obedience | By Tricia Milligan | August 2021

When I was creating the acrostic for worthy and thinking about the o, the obvious word was obedience. I kind of questioned putting it in because we had already addressed obedience when we talked about trust, stepping out in faith and obedience. But obedience does not happen without trust and obedience is a huge part of the Christian life. We are asked to take up our cross and follow Him and that is not always easy to do. 2 John 1:6, however, tells us that walking in obedience to the Lord is walking in love. It says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.” To walk in obedience is both a demonstration of our love for God, but also allows God to demonstrate His great love for us.

Trust involves letting go, surrendering something. It is taking something that is of great value and importance to you and saying, “I am giving it to you, to care for, and to do with as you chose.”

As I thought of this, I could not help but think back to many years ago when my son Evan was not quite two years old. He had chronic sinus infections and it was decided that he needed to have sinus surgery to correct an issue. The day of the surgery, we were taken back into a little room with a rocking chair. They gave him some medicine and I was allowed to sit in there and rock him to sleep. Then a nurse came in and took my sleeping little guy from my arms to take him back for surgery. You have got to know that is one of the hardest things that a mama has to do. But I had trust that the hospital, the nurses, the doctors, were there to care for my child and they would take care of my precious baby boy.

Sometimes there are things that we are holding tight, that we love and cherish, and God asks us to surrender it, to let it go. It could be what we want to happen in our life or the life of someone we love. It could be what we think should happen in a particular circumstance in our life, our own expectations. It could be a relationship that we value and cherish. It could be a dream or a desire that we have had for a long time. But God is asking us to walk in obedience and to give it, surrender it to Him. That requires trust in His character, knowing that He is good, merciful, gracious, compassionate. We must let go and say, “Not my will, but Yours be done. I will give it to You and trust in You.”

It may be the hardest thing we do. It may tear our heart apart and may leave us in tears. But the sacrifices that the Lord desires is a broken and contrite heart. We are expressing our love and trust through our obedience to Him. And we rest in the many promises of the Lord. Like the one found in Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Or Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” And there are so many more.

If God is asking us to surrender something to Him, it is for a reason and a purpose. For my little guy, it was necessary that I surrender him to the nurse, so he could have the surgery he needed to correct the issue in his sinuses. He was delivered back to me safe and sound, his little body was altered, but healthier in the long run. God does the same with some of the things that we surrender to Him. Sometimes He replaces it with something we had never even knew we needed, and sometimes He generously gives what we surrendered to Him back to us, altered, but better than we could have even imagined.

God is worthy of our trust. God is worthy of our obedience. God is worthy of our surrender. Whatever He is asking for, give it to Him and then rest in His love. Know that your act of obedience has been an expression of your love and trust for Him. When we seek Him and love Him, He delights to show Himself to us. He has something amazing in store if we will only walk in obedience to Him.

A Life of Worship | By Tricia Milligan | July 2021

Last month we finished going through our acrostic for Trust. We are going to further our study on trust to include worthy. When it was first suggested to me that I expand the word from trust to trustworthy, I struggled some. I kept trying to force words that had to do with trust and make them fit. Then on one of my morning walks I felt God impressing on me to think about the things that He is worthy of.

God is Worthy of our:

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.

1 Chronicles 16:25


And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6


But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:4-5


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. 2 Corinthians 4:15


“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11

Yearning hearts

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

For the last several weeks my focus has been on worship and why God is worthy of our worship. I have sought out different sermons, articles, and still had not found something that I felt prompted to share with you all. Then, Sunday morning, what does Pastor John talk about but worship. A coincidence some might say. God at work is more like it.

Now, I knew that we are all designed and made to worship. Everyone worships something whether they like to admit it or not. Where we find security and significance, that is what we will worship. For some, that will be a bank account. For others, it will be a job. For still others, it might be a person or their family. For the Christian, it should be the Lord. I guess I had never thought of the fact that only believers can worship God. We are the only ones who can voluntarily align ourselves with God recognizing who He is and confessing the truth of God.

As I reflected on some of these thoughts, I was struck with the idea that we worship that in which we find security and significance. Security requires us to put our trust in whatever that may be. If that is true, then there is a definite link between trust and worship. Our worship of the Lord is a direct response to our trust in Him. As we strive to know Him more and understand His character, we trust Him more. When we understand more of His transcendent characteristics that put Him above who we are and give Him authority above all things, what response do we have but to worship Him. The angels in His throne room worship continuously saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” in response to the majesty of who God is.

I love to be in the house of the Lord and to be caught up in the songs of worship and praise. I love to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and the joy that there is in that place from being with other believers lifting our voices in praise to our Almighty God. But our reality is, we cannot stay there day and night. We must leave that place and go about our daily lives. So, does the worship of the Lord stop there? Does it only happen at church on Sunday morning?

What the Lord has been impressing on me is that our lives that we live are to be lived in worship of Him. Worship is acknowledging who God is and declaring His praise. We can and must be doing that in our everyday lives. We are told in Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Some of my favorite verses are 2 Corinthians 5:14 -15, they say, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” We are called in response to God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, to live our lives for Him, for His glory, and for His honor. To me, that is what worship is all about. It is declaring, what I have I do not deserve and I did not gain any of it on my own, but it has been graciously given to me by my loving Heavenly Father and He alone deserves the credit and the honor and the glory.

My Aunt Tharon recently went home to be with the Lord. As I sat and watched her funeral on-line as it was live streamed, I was struck by the testimonies of her children and others that spoke of my Aunt Tharon. I think she understood living a life of worship. Her home was her domain. And she worked at it with her whole heart. Some would say that she was picky and could not stand for anything to be out of place, but I don’t think that came from a place of pride, but rather from a heart that loved her Lord. She wanted to give Him her best at the task He had given her to do. For my Aunt Tharon that was being a wife and mother. It was being a hospitable hostess throughout the years to whomever the Lord brought to her door. It was also the role of a prayer warrior. A faithful woman of prayer who would stop and pray whenever the phone rang with a new request. She worshiped the Lord by serving Him faithfully where He had placed her. She did not grumble and complain that He had not given her a different life or task. She instead did her best with a joyful heart that was evident to all who knew her.

So, my challenge to you my sisters, and for myself as well, is that we will seek to have a heart of worship in all that we do. We have a great and mighty God, who in His tender love and care has rescued us and made us His very own. May we live each day for His glory, declaring His greatness to all that we meet, sharing His love with those He brings into our paths. Come, worship the Lord with me.

Psalm 95:6-7 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Who Are You Going To Trust? | By Tricia Milligan | June 2021

Take time to know Him

Rest in His Sovereignty

Understand that He is Good

Step out in faith and obedience

Take Him at His Word

We have spent the last several months digging into the idea of trust. This month we come to the end of our acrostic for trust. We have talked about taking the time to know more of who God is and to learn to rest in His Sovereignty and His Goodness. Last month, we talked about the need to respond in obedience, even when we do not understand what God is doing or asking us to do. These ideas are all intertwined with our final point in trust, Taking Him at His Word. Ps 145:13 tells us that “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” We can be assured that if God has promised to do something, He will do it. His purposes and His plans will come to be, because He stands by His Word and He is the God who does not change. All power and authority belong to Him and none can stand against Him. Psalm 33:11 tells us, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” If we take Him at His Word, then we don’t question or doubt, but trust that He said what He meant and He meant what He said. We can trust that He will follow through with all that He has promised and that He will not let us down.

I think the problem of doubt comes about when we have our own expectations of what God should be doing or how He is going to handle a situation. We feel like God has let us down, when He doesn’t work things out the way we have in our own hearts and minds. That does not diminish God’s trustworthiness or His faithfulness to us, it is our own misinterpretation of events because we don’t have the whole picture. His ways are not ours. His timing is not ours. But He knows what is the very best for us in every situation and that is what we rest in and allows us to trust, even when we don’t understand.

We also have an enemy who likes to get us to question and doubt the things that God has said. If you go all the way back to the beginning, to Genesis and Adam and Eve, you will find Eve in the Garden and the serpent begins talking to Eve. The first thing he says to her is, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The first weapon the enemy used against man was doubt. He goes on to say, “You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He is implying that God is holding out on you, keeping you from something that is good. Planting that seed of doubt and distrust that led to Eve’s act of disobedience and the fall of mankind.

The enemy knows that doubt and distrust of the Lord is a powerful and effective weapon. He still uses it today. He whispers to a hurting heart, “If God really loved you, He would not have allowed this to happen to you.” He says to a heart struggling with temptation, “God is just trying to keep you from having fun and feeling good. Go ahead, it won’t hurt you.” He says to the one struggling with guilt, “God definitely will not forgive that. That is too big of a sin. Why would He love you and accept you after you did that?” His goal is for us to question what God has said. To stir up doubt and distrust and make us ineffective witnesses for the Lord and to pull us away from our faith. But he is not to be trusted, he is the father of lies and is not to be believed.

We have been given an amazing gift of the Word of God. John 20:31 says, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Believing requires trust. God’s Word, His Scriptures, so beautifully testify to His faithfulness, His character, His love, His grace, His mercy, and His trustworthiness. We see promises kept. We see prophecies fulfilled. God’s Word is live and active. It is eternal and flawless. It gives knowledge and wisdom and points us to the way of salvation and reconciliation with God. In an article “Why We Can Take God At His Word”, Dani Munoz writes, “What God says always has a purpose and will always come to pass.” She goes on to say, “When God speaks, it is like no one else. What God speaks is undoubtedly genuine and from love. Whatever God declares has undeniable power. When God speaks, hope arises from obscurity into complete reality.”

Yet, when the storms of life come we forget about His promises to be with us to the end of the age and we forget what power He has and that He can see us through. We focus on the storm – instead of focusing on the Sovereign God, the One who is the blessed Controller of all things. (1 Tim 6:15) Max Lucado puts it this way, “Storms are coming your way. Winds will howl, your boat will be tossed, and you will have a choice. Will you hear Christ or the crisis? Heed the promises of Scripture or the noise of the storm? Will you take God at His Word?”

We cannot depend on our own logic or thinking either. Because what we see and understand is not always the truth of the situation. I was recently reading an article by Pastor Colin Smith.  He references Elijah and the widow at Zarepath. The Lord has sent Elijah to Zarepath and Elijah asks the widow for water and to make him some bread. Now the widow knows that her pot of flour and jug of oil are almost empty. She was prepared to make her last meal, but Elijah tells her not to fear.  He tells her, “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” Now, if the widow depends only on what her senses and her logic tells her, she should not believe, should not trust the Word of God, but she does believe and God provides. God did not provide an overflowing jug and jar, but He did provide what they needed for each day.  Smith writes, “You can take Him at His Word, and you can trust His as you walk with Him in faith and obedience.” We are given the choice to look at our circumstances or to look at the Word of God. Which one will we believe? Which one is reliable and true? Our natural instinct is to believe what we can experience with our senses in the here and now, but God is beyond what we can see and touch, and He can do more than we can even ask or imagine. That is faith. That is trust. That is taking God at His Word.

Each day, each challenge, each storm that comes our way, we have a choice. Are we going to trust in ourselves? Are we going to listen to the lies our enemy whispers in our ear? Or are we going to trust in God? From my own experience, I can say with certainty, the times I have trusted in God, He has never let me down. He has always been there. He has been my peace and my safe place through the many storms that have come into my life (even when I foolishly try to work it out myself first)– He has always been faithful and true and worthy of my trust.

Trust & Obey | By Tricia Milligan | May 2021

We have spent the last couple of months talking about why we can trust the Lord. We have looked at our need to know God more and have been reminded that God is Sovereign and God is Good. The more that we know God, the more we trust Him. The more we know and understand His Sovereignty and His character, the more that we trust Him and rely on Him to guide and direct us through this life. We do have a responsibility to respond in trust through our obedience to God. Obedience is a natural response to trust.

Our verse for this month is Isaiah 50:10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.  There are dark times that we face in this life, I am sure that we all can agree. There are circumstances in our lives that leave us dazed and confused not knowing which way is up or which way to go or wondering how we are going to face one more day. If we know and understand who God is, if we have the proper awe and reverence and understanding of who He is and what He desires for each of us, then we have hope because we are not alone. We have His Word to guide and direct us. We can trust in Him to lead us through. We have someone to rely on and to put our hope in because we know that He will never leave us on our own. We have His many and abundant promises and we know we can take Him at His Word.

The other morning as I was reading a devotional on contentment, there was one phrase that the author used that stood out to me. She said we need to “choose His plan over ours or any other plan.” That so fits in with the idea of trust and obedience. God’s plan is not always in line with our plan, but we need to trust and obediently follow His direction and trust in His plan, not ours. This phrase made me think about the idea of two paths. One path is smooth and gently leads down and around the bend. The other path leads upward and is rocky and rough. God sometimes tells me that I need to take the upward, rocky, rough path, while I would much rather take the smooth gentle path. The thing is, I don’t really know where either of those paths will take me. I don’t know what dangers or challenges lie ahead on either path. But if the Lord is prompting me to go in one direction, then I can trust Him because He does know what lies ahead on both. I have the choice to rest and to trust in His Sovereignty and goodness and walk in obedience, or I can choose to follow my own path, which usually gets me into trouble. I do not have to understand everything about God in order to trust Him, I just need to understand that He desires what is for my good and for His glory. I can trust in who He is. I do not need to know what He will do or why or where He is leading me, but can rest and rely on His goodness and love and who I know He is and what He has shown me about Himself.

I remember hearing a story one time about a small girl who had a cheap dime store pearl bracelet that she absolutely loved. One night as her daddy tucked her in, he asked her for the bracelet. She offered him other things instead, but he said, “That is okay. Remember I love you.” This happened several nights. Finally one night, he walks in the room to tuck her in and finds her weeping on her bed. As he walks in, she holds out the bracelet to give to him. He takes the dime store bracelet, puts it in his pocket and pulls out a real pearl bracelet and gives it to her. She had to trust him and to let go of the thing she thought she loved and wanted to receive the real treasure that he had all along.

This story brought to mind my own sweet Daddy. My mom has always said that my Daddy could talk me into anything when I was little. My Daddy was the one who would come in at night if I had a bad dream to comfort me and get me settled once again. My Daddy would often tuck me into bed at night and sit beside me and rub the inside of my arm until I fell asleep. Now, when I was a little girl, I had a favorite blanket that I slept with every night. Now the problem was that the blanket was getting very worn and nasty. So my mom tasked my Dad to get that blanket from me. Now, I don’t remember what was said exactly, I was quite young, but I do know that I gave my Daddy that blanket that night with a promise from him that I would be able to get a special stuffed animal the next time we went to the store. I still have the Winnie the Pooh bear that he bought for me in exchange for that blanket. In thinking back on this moment, this is a picture of the kind of trust and obedience that God, our Abba Father, wants us to have with Him. That even if we have a “ratty, well-worn, well-loved blanket” that has given us comfort, we will hand it over to Him because He asks us to with His promise that He has something even better for us, even before we have it in hand. Some of His promises are for here and now. Some of His promises we will not see fulfilled this side of Heaven, but we trust Him and take Him at His Word. We follow Him in obedience and with complete trust that He will do what He said He will do.

So the question for you and for me is what is it that we are clinging to that our Abba Father is asking us to give to Him? Is He prompting us to go on a path that looks a little scary and much more difficult than we want? Are we asking Him to move a mountain, and He is saying instead, “My child, you need to climb it.”? We need to make our choice. Are we going to cling to that thing we think we want? Are we going to take an easier path? Are we going to grumble and complain about the mountain that is in our way? Or are we going to respond in trust and obedience? Are we going to decide to follow Jesus wherever He leads – no turning back? Have faith my sisters, take that first step. It will be exciting to see what God is going to do when we trust Him and obey.

The Author is Good | By Tricia Milligan | April 2021

The next phrase in our acrostic in the journey of trust is to understand that God is good. In order to understand that God is good, we first must define the word good. In today’s language we use the word good all the time. We use it to describe how something smells, feels, tastes, sounds, or looks. Anything that brings us pleasure and brings us happiness we deem as good. The problem is we are not all the same. What we might deem as good, someone else may not deem as good. Not all things that bring us pleasure or happiness are necessarily good or beneficial for us either. So, how can we use this definition to describe God? To say that God is good, we are instead saying that God possesses moral virtue. He is righteous, ethical, upright, upstanding. He possesses the qualities that are necessary for Him to be God and lacks nothing and is complete in Himself.

Did you know that the Israelites did not use the word good to describe anything but God? It was a word that was reserved for Him and for Him alone. Good in relation to God refers to what is excellent in His character. It refers to what is beneficial or useful in its effect, benevolent and kind. So, God is good both in the perfection and completion of His character and person, but He is also kind and benevolent in all that He does. Psalm 119:68 says, “You are good and what You do is good; teach me your decrees.”

How does knowing that God is good help us to trust Him more? Our verse for this month is Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” If we know and understand that God is good, and we know that God is sovereign and in control, like we talked about last month, then we know that we can find rest in Him during the times of trouble that will enter our lives. He cares for us as we trust and rest in Him. He sees us and hears us and does not abandon us, He cannot, because He is good. We can be assured that the things that are difficult, challenging, and sometimes painful, are somehow beneficial to us, even if we do not understand while in the midst of it.

During the last six months, I have been exercising regularly. Some of my workouts have been challenging and have pushed me into unpleasant feelings. I am often dripping in sweat and am pushing myself beyond what is completely comfortable. What has happened though as I have pushed myself through those challenges? Today I am stronger, have better balance, and am more flexible than I was six months ago. Not everything has been pleasant, but it has been beneficial.

As parents, we often have put our children through circumstances that are not pleasant for them, but that we as the parent know that they are beneficial for the child. As a child they do not always understand, even when we try to explain. All they know is that they are uncomfortable and not happy. As a parent, I know I have often doubted myself and questioned whether I was really doing the right and the good thing. Our Heavenly Father has no such doubt. James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.“ In Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Unlike you and I who only base our decisions and choices on what we have experienced and on limited knowledge, God being Omniscient knows the end from the beginning. There are no surprises for God. Nothing takes Him off guard or catches Him unaware. He never says, I didn’t see that coming. He knows the end of the story and it is beyond anything we can even ask or imagine.

I was out shopping the other day as saw a saying on a plaque. It said, “Trust the next chapter, because you know the Author.” Now, I love to read. What I hate and love at the same time is when you get to the end of a chapter and something horrible and traumatic happens and you have to keep reading to find out what happens in the next chapter. I have several authors that I really like, and I know their patterns, and I trust that it is all going to work out in the end.

Life throws those difficulties into our lives, but as long as we are breathing, our story is not done and the Author already knows how the story is going to end. He knows what will happen in the next chapter and the next. He knows how our character needs to be developed and what areas need to be strengthened and refined and He is good and kind and benevolent and loving and we can trust Him to finish it. Philippians 1:6 tells us that we “can be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion.” He will not leave us hanging or the story half done. He will see us through to the end and it will be glorious. Are you in a difficult place? Let me encourage you with these words, “Wait for the Lord; be strong. Take heart and wait for the Lord.”(Psalm 27:14) When I saw this verse the other day it really struck a cord with me. Waiting is so hard for me. I don’t want to have to wait, especially when I am in the midst of some difficult situation. I was thinking that one of the hardest parts of waiting is not knowing what God will do. Is He going to do what I want Him to do? Maybe, but maybe not, but that is okay, because I know that God is good and He will do what is beneficial and what is the very best for me. So, I can wait for Him to work. I looked up the phrase take heart to see what it means. To take heart is to take control of your mind, so you can be brave, courageous, and have hope when facing difficult times. To take heart is to not give in to doubt and anxious thoughts, but to fully trust in the Lord, to find encouragement, comfort, and confidence as we rest in His goodness and in His love for us. God is good my dear sisters. He has always been good and will always continue to be good. May knowing this give you confidence and peace as you wait on Him to write the next chapter of your life. Trust Him, the Author is Good.

Finding Rest | By Tricia Milligan | March 2021

Have you ever struggled with the “rejoice in the Lord always” and the “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds” verses in the Bible? This is not a new struggle, but rather one that has been faced down through the history of mankind. Our verse for the month of March is Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” God has offered the promise of salvation and peace to the people of Israel. He has promised to guide them, direct them, and bless them, but instead they chose to do things in their own strength and in their own way. If you look back at the original sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the promise of the serpent that tempted Eve is that she would be like god, knowing good and evil. That need and desire for control is very tempting for us all. The attempt to order our lives and to exert control over the circumstances of our lives is exhausting, especially after the year we have just walked through where so many things have been out of our control.

God offers a different choice to us all. He offers us rest in His salvation and quietness and peace as we trust in Him and allow Him to be our strength. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” It is laid out plainly here that when we have a right view of God, an understanding of His character and His Sovereign control over all things, then we can have a contented life, not one without trouble, but one that is not battered or destroyed by the troubles of this life. He will be that surety that will see us through all the storms that this life brings.

We often view storms as punishment or somehow indicating that we are not where God wants us to be, but that is not true. God often sends us through the storms to strengthen us in our faith and to remind us of our need of Him. He is working to build our character and to make us more like Christ, which is of course, the reason we can rejoice in the trials and storms we face in this life.

As followers of Christ we are to follow the example of Christ. Just this week I discovered an example of how Christ handled a difficult day, facing the weariness of ministry and life. In her devotional, Deep-Into-Your- Bones Rest, Suzanne Eller talks about the circumstances we find in Matthew 11. Jesus is surrounded by a huge crowd of people. There are those that are in the crowd that are hostile toward Christ. Jesus can see that there are those that are resisting the gift that God is extending to them by sending Jesus as the Messiah. Oh, how I can identify with the weariness and discouragement that one feels when you see those that you love and care about reject the gift that God is extending to them. My heart aches, knowing that they are pushing away the blessings and the hope that can only be found in Him, making life even more difficult and challenging. It can overwhelm the soul and make one weary. So, what does Jesus do when He is in the same situation? He stops right there in the middle of everything and has a conversation with His Father. He prays, “I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” He reminds Himself that the Father is Lord of Heaven and earth and that He has a plan and it will be completed in His way and in His time.

So, if we are to follow His example, we can stop wherever we are, even in the midst of any and all circumstances of our lives, and we can have a conversation with our Father, reminding ourselves that He is Sovereign, He is in control, and He is still seated on His throne. He has a plan and a will, and it will not be thwarted, but will take place in His time and in His way. We can find hope and trust and rest in that.

After His conversation with the Father, Jesus turns back to the crowd, and extends an invitation to them to receive from Him what He has received from the Father. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

The rest that Jesus offers is more than a nap, a break, and ceasing of labor, but a deeper rest. The word that is used here is anapausis. Suzanne Eller describes it this way:

This describes deep rest that goes into the heart, thought life, and well-being of the one who receives it.

It’s rest that gives an intermission from the hard work of worry, uncertainty, and frustration. It’s rest from old wounds and new struggles. It’s rest from labor we place on ourselves and burdens placed on our hearts by others.

This isn’t rest from something. It’s rest in something. This rest syncs us with the heart and being of God.

This type of rest can only be found in one place. This rest is found by trusting in the Sovereignty of God and His control over our lives.

The choice is ours. The rest that the world offers is temporary and fleeting. We might find refreshment for a moment, but life soon crowds back in. The Heavenly Father had extended blessings and peace and rest to the people of Israel through the prophet Isaiah, but they would have none of it. Our Heavenly Father extends the same invitation to us, to find hope, peace, and rest in Him through our reconciliation with Him through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He then invites us to know Him more and trust Him more and find the many blessings we have through that trust in Him. What is our choice going to be?

Just this morning I ran across another devotional, this one by Mary Southerland. I will leave you with this quote:

“Roll away the burdens you are carrying and learn the value of resting in God. Every opportunity to worry is also an opportunity to trust Him. The promises of God will not break under the weight of any problem or trial you will ever face. Let God be God in Your life and trust Him.”

It is our choice. Are we going to worry or are we going to pray? Are we going to continue to strive on our own or are we going to ask Him for His help and strength? Are we going to seek temporary rest or are we going to have hearts open to His peace and His rest that syncs our hearts to His as we trust in Him?

It All Begins with Trust | By Tricia Milligan | February 2021

Have you ever thought about how salvation begins with trust? Trust is the very cornerstone of our faith. We are asked to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again so that we might have life in Him. It all begins with trust. Trusting that we cannot save ourselves, but that God reached out in love to reconcile us to Himself. We must trust God for salvation, taking Him at His Word and believing that what He says is true and accepting it for ourselves. Once we are saved though, we seem to forget about the trusting part. We have trusted Him for salvation, but we’ve got it from here. We can go on with our lives, clean ourselves up and live a good life, right? That is not what God had in mind. He desires for us to trust Him with every aspect of our lives. That trust only comes from a strong, growing relationship with Him. We have difficulty trusting someone we don’t really know.

I have been doing a lot of study and reading on trust over the last couple of months. It has been amazing to me to see how God has been bringing me back to things that He has been teaching me through the last couple of years and to see how they are all rooted in or tied closely to trust. As I have studied trust, I have begun to see some basic truths about how we can grow in our trust with the Lord. Some of them have to do with our knowledge and understanding who God is. The rest have to do with our response to who He is. I have put it all together in an acrostic for TRUST:

Take time to know Him

Rest in His Sovereignty

Understand that He is Good

Step out in Faith and Obedience

Take Him at His Word

 Over the next couple of months we are going to take a closer look at each part and hopefully grow in our trust in the Lord and our understanding of what it means to fully trust in Him.

One of the resources I have found that has been teaching me much about trust is a book called Trust Without Borders by Arabah Joy. She shares very honest and down to earth experiences of her own struggles and what God has taught her about trust in her life. In the first two sections of her book, she talks about John the Baptist in jail sending some of his followers to ask Jesus if He is who John thinks He is. Jesus responds in Matthew 11:6 with “Blessed is the one who does not stumble on account of me.”  The word “stumble” that Jesus uses here is defined as, “to cause a person to distrust One who is worthy of complete trust and obedience.” There is only One that I know of that is worthy of our complete trust and obedience.

So why do we struggle so with fully trusting Him? I know for me that it has a lot to do with my lack of understanding of exactly who God is. We often try to define Him in ways that we can relate to and understand, but when we do that, we minimize our understanding of who God is. We lose sight of the holiness and awesomeness of God. He is God and there is no one like Him.

I remember when we were in college and Brent and I were dating, one of the things we liked to do was to go out to the small local airport and look up at the stars. I remember being in awe of who God is to spread out the stars in the sky and to know each one by name. There were other moments too, like standing at the beach and looking out at the ocean and being overwhelmed with how big God is or standing on the top of a mountain and seeing the breath-taking beauty of the world God has made. Isaiah 40:12 says, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” Oh, what a mighty God we serve and there is no one else like Him.

Going back to Arabah Joy and her description in the opening of her book on trust…She goes on to share a little more about that word “stumble”. The Greek word that was used here is “skandalizo.” As in scandal. She writes, “Distrust for God is what causes heavenly hosts to cover their eyes, to bring hands to mouths aghast. This is what causes those who stand in God’s presence and who know God’s holy nature to draw back in horror: when one of us on earth distrusts Him…Distrust really is the real scandal. Because the sufferings of this world don’t compare to the glory of Him. Oh, if we could just see.”

So, if I trust God and take Him at His word, then I know that His grace is sufficient for me and that His power is made perfect in my weakness. If I trust God, then I know that He will never leave me or forsake me. If I trust God, then I can rest in every one of His promises and know that He will finish the work that He has begun in my life when I trusted Him for salvation and that He will carry it to completion.

If you are struggling with trusting God in the circumstances of your life right now, the first step is to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Have you ever looked at the context of this verse? I did not too long ago, and what I found surprised me. It talks about not being afraid if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea. No matter what the chaos we are facing, the Lord Almighty is with us. He is our foundation and our refuge, but we must remember who He is and trust in Him. He is our peace and security in the midst of chaos and an ever- changing world.

God delights in His children and loves when we seek to know Him more. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:13 it says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God wants to be found by us, not just for salvation, but for life.  I was thinking of Psalm 27:8 the other day, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” As I was thinking about this verse, I was thinking about my children. When they were hurt, whose face did they seek? Mine. The one person they trusted and knew could help. When they did something on stage, whose face were they looking for in the crowd? Mine. The one that they knew loved and supported them and they could depend on to be there. Isn’t that what God desires from us? That we are seeking His face in the good times and the bad, inviting Him in and depending on Him to see us through the hard times and to rejoice with us in the good. Unlike this imperfect mama who messed up a time or ten for sure, we can rest and trust that God will never let us down. We might not understand what He is doing, but He is God and we are not and we can know and trust that what He is doing is for our good and for His glory to be displayed in our lives.

So, I hope in the days ahead, you will take some time to be still and know that He is God. That you will seek His face and seek to know Him through His word and begin to build your trust in Him, for it all begins with trust.

Special Note:

The ladies on the Women’s Committee would like to challenge you and encourage you in your journey to grow in your trust in the Lord. One of the best ways to get to know the Lord is to know His Word. So, we are challenging you to learn one verse a month. The first verse relates to the first point in our Trust Acrostic – Take time to know Him. Psalm 9:9-10 says, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Work on memorizing this verse during the month of February, then stop by the Women’s Ministry Table for a little treat.

Getting Unstuck | By Tricia Milligan | January 2021

Usually, this time of year is a time of reflection. We look back at the year that is ending and look forward to the year that is beginning and contemplate what this year might hold. 2020 definitely held some surprises that none of us were expecting. We all have had challenges to face, some collectively, and some personally. I have heard many say at different times that one of the things that has been positive is that we were forced to slow down. We were forced to cut back on some of our activities. We are hopeful for what lies ahead and that things might come to some semblance of normalcy for us in 2021, but have we learned anything from this year or will we just return to the way things were?

I recently started reading Max Lucado’s book, God Will Help You. Chapter 4 of this book is: God Will Help You When You Feel Stuck. I don’t know about you, but I definitely think “stuck” is a good word to describe 2020. We were stuck in our homes. We were stuck in the constraints of new recommendations that changed from day to day, so sometimes we were stuck just not knowing what to do or what would happen next. We were stuck away from family and friends. Some of us have not resumed any sort of normal life and may still be feeling very stuck. For those introverts, like me, being stuck at home for a while was a blessing, but even we began to feel the effects of being stuck. But, maybe our being stuck this year has helped us to see that we were stuck before. Stuck in the busyness of life when we thought we were accomplishing much, but we were really going nowhere.

We feel stuck when nothing seems to change or when we don’t see any progress being made. There are many things about our situation that we have no control over, but we do have a choice, we don’t have to stay stuck. We can make the most of the situation that we are in. We first must recognize that God has brought us to this place and that because He is sovereign and He is good, then there must be a purpose for what we are going through. So, are we asking Him what that purpose is? Are we looking to Him for the answers we need? Are we assuming the worst or are we assuming that something good is waiting for us ahead?

I know for me, it is easy when things are messed up and chaotic in my life, to be expecting the other shoe to drop. I am expecting and anticipating the next disaster that is going to come my way. But, I need to focus on the promises of God. He has promised me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). He is not out to shipwreck my life – that is the enemy who whispers lies like, “If God really loved you, He wouldn’t let this happen to you?” Jesus came that we might have life, and that life abundantly (John 10:10). He is working for our good, to complete the work that He began in us and to carry it to completion on that day we stand before Him (Philippians 1:6).  I have got to trust that He knows what He is doing and can see things that I cannot see and is working for my good and for His glory in my life.

If I want to get unstuck, I need to set my eyes on a new destination. Max Lucado ends his chapter with the question, “What can I do today that will take me in the direction of a better tomorrow?” That really hit me when I read it. I needed to stop and contemplate that for a bit. That is a big question that sometimes has little answers that can lead to big results.

Back in August I decided it was time to make some changes for my health. The little changes that I made in my eating habits and exercise have led step by step to bigger changes and have added up to me being able to do things that I could not have done in August. I am more physically fit and can handle more challenges and push myself even harder.

The same can be done in our spiritual lives. We can make little changes that will get us going in a different direction so that we are no longer stuck. Maybe it is reading a devotional daily. Maybe it is reading the same verse every morning for a week. Maybe it is memorizing one verse a month. Maybe it is picking a word for the year and looking up verses that deal with that word and then reading one verse a day asking God to show you what that means and how you can apply it to your life. Maybe it is finding a new book to read that will challenge you spiritually. Maybe it is meeting a friend for coffee and asking them to help us be accountable for having a daily quiet time. Maybe it is joining a Bible Study. We don’t have to do it all and we don’t have to do it all at once. It is making a choice today to do something that is going to get me going in a different direction that will put me in a better place when I reach the end of 2021. I want to be more spiritually fit, more obedient, more trusting, more caring and compassionate, and stronger in my faith. It begins today, with one step, with one question, ”Lord, what would you have me do today that is going to take me where you want me to go?” And then responding in obedience when He answers.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

Making Room for Christ at Christmas | By Tricia Milligan | December 2020

I always find it amazing when I have a thought or idea of where I think God is leading me as I begin each month to prepare to write what I will share with you, and then He takes me in a new direction and teaches me something unexpected along the way.

My first thoughts were of sweet Mary and how she pondered the events that were going on around her and treasured them in her heart. As I began to read through the Christmas story once again and deciding how to expand on the pondering and treasuring the precious moments God allows us to have in our lives, I was struck with the aspect that there was no room for Jesus. I then was thinking that I would write about how we need to make room for Jesus during the Christmas Season. That we need to slow down and spend some quiet moments remembering what Christmas is about. Both of these ideas had great merit, but God had different direction in mind, an area that I needed to be stretched in.

As I read some different articles about there being no room for Jesus, they spoke of the hospitality of the Jewish people. They were well known for being hospitality experts.  They often had an upper room built in their homes that was a guest room for those that might come from out of town. But when it came to Mary and Joseph, there was no room available. In the hustle and bustle of the census and all the people returning to Bethlehem, there was no room for the arrival of Jesus, God’s son.

In contrast, God always makes room for us and any who come to Him with a humble and sincere heart. He has said, whosoever comes. In John 1:11 – 13, John proclaims, “He came to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God.” God doesn’t just accept us and invite us in as guests, but He instead adopts us as His own and brings us into His family.

As I thought more about hospitality, I decided to look up the definition. It means the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, and strangers. The word hospitable means given to generous and cordial reception of guests, offering a pleasant environment, readily receptive. In 1 Peter 4:8-9 we are told to “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” That means we are to be hospitable to everyone, even those sandpaper people in our lives, and to do it without complaining… I have often thought that one of the most welcoming places where everyone should feel like they belong, is within the church, the House of God. We need to welcome all who walk through those doors with love and compassion, inviting them in and making them feel at home, but it goes even beyond that.

I woke up this morning thinking of Matthew 25:40, which says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” This twisted my whole thought of what it means to make room for Jesus at Christmas, and the whole year through. It is not just about studying the Word, quiet time, praying, all good things and very necessary and important, but as I go about my daily life, I need to have my eyes open and I need to be looking for ways that I can serve others and share the love of God with those I meet each day. I need to slow down and take a breath and not be so caught up in my to-do list and what I need to get and get done, that I miss appointments that God has for me to minister to those who might be hurting and in need of some love and care. I know that it is really hard especially this time of year. The calendar fills up quickly, we are trying to create the perfect holiday for our family and friends, looking for the perfect gifts and just trying to get it all done by December 25th, but in all of the busy-ness we may miss out on some special moments that we might want to ponder and treasure in our hearts.

So, my challenge to you, and to myself, is to slow down, take a breath. Don’t rush through the holiday season in such a way that at the end, you are shaking your head and wondering what just happened. Don’t allow the busy-ness of the season carry you away. Rather, takes those moments to pause. Look around wherever you happen to be. Listen to what others are saying. Look for opportunities to reach out to others. Be aware of what God has placed in your life and enjoy the life that God has blessed you with. Enjoy the gift of the present and unwrap each day with thought and care.

Joy Stealers | By Tricia Milligan | November 2020

We are told in Philippians 4:4 that we are to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” In Psalm 68:3 it says, “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before the Lord; may they be happy and joyful.” In Psalm 100:2 we are told to “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” In Romans 12:12 we are exhorted to “Be joyful in hope.” These are just a few verses that address our need and desire to have a joyful heart, but why is this so hard to attain? And when we do find some joy, why is it difficult to maintain?

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been looking at Isaiah 41:10. It says, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” As I read it again the other day, the two words afraid and discouraged popped out at me. As I thought about them, I thought about how fear and discouragement are joy stealers. I think there are other joy stealers that can enter our lives on a regular basis; comparison, shame, guilt, worry, just to name a few. We allow our minds to dwell on these, instead of dwelling on God. We put our focus in the wrong place. It clearly says in Isaiah 41:10 that the answer to our fear is to remember that we are not alone, but we have Almighty God by our side. We do not need to be discouraged because we can have hope in our God. He is there to strengthen us and help us. He will not let us down, but He will rather lift us up.

I could not help but think about one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 73. Asaph bears his soul here in this Psalm and I can definitely relate to how he is feeling. I have been in a similar place a time or two. Asaph is discouraged. He is seeing those that are following the ways of the world, those who are arrogant and prideful, and they are prospering. They seem to have easy lives and everything seems to be going their way. He has heard them mock God and thinks, “Have I followed God for nothing? Am I missing out on something?” But then our friend Asaph, with his troubled heart, enters into the sanctuary of God. Then, how his perspective changes. He remembers who God is and that God will not be mocked. He remembers, this life is not all there is, there is more to come. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” He finds joy in the truth of who God is and in having that eternal perspective of what is to come.

The other day I read a devotional by Gwen Smith called Caught Between Trust and Worry. In this devotional she shares a friend’s story. Her friend is struggling with trusting God with her grown children who are moving away. She has come to speak with Gwen and shares this story:

God impressed a message on my heart this morning that challenged and convicted me! I just have to tell you about it. I ride motorcycles. Have for years. I love the feeling of being out in the open air. It’s exciting and invigorating. When I ride, I feel vulnerable and alert. It’s risky and requires balance, it’s much more difficult than driving my car, but I ride because it energizes me and makes me feel alive.

This morning I rode my bike to work while it was still dark. I don’t usually do that because the headlight is small, so the light is dim. As I was riding, I began to thank God for allowing me to ride my bike to work. I thanked him for allowing me to feel alive and energized along the way. And as I did, He spoke to my heart. I sensed He was saying, “Erica! This is what I want my relationship with you to be like: exciting, risky, and energizing, like riding your motorcycle! But instead you take your car with me. You want to feel safe. You want to see with brighter headlights. You grasp for more control, by worrying and fretting about things you can do nothing about. In doing so, you miss out on a faith that is alive and energizing… a faith that trusts me and takes risks.”

As I read her story and thought about what God had impressed on her heart, I felt Him impressing on mine as well, that the greatest joy stealer we face is complacency in our faith. When we get stuck in the legalistic rut of checking off our list that we have prayed, had our quiet time, went to church, served in the nursery, and we can go on with the rest of our life. When we settle for the mundane, “going through the motions” kind of faith where we know the right answers, but we don’t allow them to penetrate our hearts. I have been there way too many times. The times that are most joyful and exciting in my life, are when I am growing in my faith. When I am actively reading and memorizing and learning from the Word of God. Jesus did not come and die for us to just return to what we had before, or to live a shell of a Christian life, but rather that we will have a full and abundant life trusting Him and relishing in the relationship that we have in Him and with Him. Living our life for Him and for His glory. Living a life filled with joy that rests and trusts in Him no matter what life brings our way.

Be Joyful | By Tricia Milligan | October 2020

We have been looking at joy over the last couple of months. Remember my little song…Jesus, others, and you what a wonderful way to spell joy. The first two seem to be kind of natural and understandable and even somehow acceptable. Putting Christ first and thinking of others before ourselves, those are things that seem right and good and unselfish, but sometimes we have difficulty in focusing on our own joy. We think we are being selfish if we focus on ourselves. I recently started working out again and have been doing some old DVD’s I have at home. Leslie Sansone says in one of these DVD’s, “When you are taking care of yourself, it is your gift to others.” Her point is that if you are not taking good care of yourself, then you cannot take care of others. It has also been said this way, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It is okay and very necessary to spend some time focused on us, on our own needs, and on our own relationship with Christ. Even Jesus went away from His disciples and those He ministered to, to have time alone with the Father. It is necessary to refocus and refresh, so we are ready for what is ahead, both personally and for those that the Lord brings into our paths.

When I first started thinking about my own joy, I thought, there really isn’t a specific verse that addresses this. As I have mulled this over the past couple of weeks, several passages have come to mind. One of them is in Romans 12:12, Paul writes, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” As I thought about this, I guess I have always thought about these three as separate instructions, but I think that they are very much linked. Our joy comes from the hope that we have in Christ and all the promises that we have through our reconciliation with God. We know He is with us and will never leave us. We know He is our strength and shield. We know that His grace is sufficient for us. These truths and the hope that we have helps us to be patient in affliction and to find joy in the midst of the struggle. We are reminded of our hope and the promises of God when we are faithful in prayer and when our focus is in the right place, on Christ.

Our focus begins with our mind. Our thoughts are very much tied to our joy. If our focus is on the negative and the difficulties, we will find ourselves discouraged and frustrated. If our focus is on the positive, our whole countenance can be transformed. We are told in Ephesians 6 that part of our armor is the Helmet of Salvation which protects our thoughts and mind. In Philippians 4: 6-7 we are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we pray, choosing to be thankful for what God has already done and resting in His promises, He gives us His peace, which will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. This helps us to find joy in all circumstances because we are remembering the hope and the promises we have through Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells us to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. How do we do that? What does that even mean? I got to have lunch with a dear friend and mentor not too long ago and was sharing some of my thoughts about what I had been learning and she shared a story she had read in a study many years ago. The woman who wrote the study shared how when she was a young mom many years before with one baby on her hip and a toddler hanging on to her legs, one day there was a knock at the door. It was a vacuum cleaner salesman. She let him in. As he began his demonstration, she realized her mistake. She tried to tell him she didn’t want a vacuum and to get him to leave, but now he was in and didn’t want to go. She thought, if I had only left him at the door and shut it firmly it would have been much easier. In the same way, if we take each thought and ask, “Is this true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?” Before we ever let it enter in, we will be much better off. We need to accept and dwell only on those things that are in line with God’s word and His truth and discard anything that does not.

There are times when those unwanted thoughts creep in though. Kind of like the little pebble that has found its way into my walking shoe. I usually don’t notice it at first, but at some point when I am walking, it works its way out of its hiding place and makes itself known. I kept forgetting to dump it out when I got home. I even asked Brent one day to remind me…we both forgot. A couple days later I was walking with DeAnna and told her to remind me when we got home. I finally tried to dump it out, but I guess it had lodged itself in the edge of the shoe and did not leave, because it was there the next time I walked. After another thorough dumping of my shoe, it is finally gone. So what do we do about those unwanted thoughts, the lies that the enemy loves to whisper in our ears that leave us discouraged and feeling unworthy and useless? We take them to the Lord. As Pastor John says, we do that spirit driven manual override of our thoughts so that we reset. We allow that Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds to be like Christ. He is there to help us. It is where that faithful in prayer comes back in, asking Him to help us. We also must be faithful in the Word. We cannot recognize what is true and right and pure and pleasing to Him and what is in line with His truth, if we do not know what His truth is.

The other thing that came to mind as I sat here writing is how worship of the Lord can transform our attitude and our thoughts, even on the toughest days. I remember one day, many years ago when I was teaching in Dallas, it had been a particularly rough day when everything seemed to go wrong. I was not happy or joyful as I was leaving school. I had a long drive back to our apartment in Arlington and I began to pray and then I began to think of a chorus that we used to sing in Youth. I couldn’t exactly remember all the words, but I kept singing it until I finally remembered all of it and sang all the way home. When I walked in the door with a smile on my face and laughter in my heart, I told Brent about my horrible day. Worship of the Lord puts our focus back on Him and reminds us that we are not alone and of the One who stands beside us, goes before us, and has our back. Isn’t it wonderful to know we are completely surrounded by His love and protection? It brings joy to my heart just to think about it.

So, my dear sisters in Christ, it is my prayer for all of you, that you will have a life filled with joy. That you will find peace and hope in the hardest days as you remember the things that God has done for you. May the God of peace guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus as you focus on His truth in all things. May you be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. May your joy overflow as you testify to all that God has done for you and rest in His tender love and care.

Love One Another | By Tricia Milligan | September 2020

Joy! “Jesus, Others, and You, what a wonderful way to spell joy.” I don’t know about you, but in this time in my life, I find myself seeking some hope, some joy. I long for some sense of normalcy. But this time has also been a time of reflection and evaluating what is important and possibly some things that need to be changed.
In the August devotional, we talked about putting first things first and giving Jesus His proper place in our lives. Today, I want to focus on the second part. “O is for others we meet face to face.” In this weird time of our lives, our interactions with others is severely limited in a lot of ways, but we do still have contact with others in some form. So, what should our attitude be toward one another?

The other morning, I woke with another little song floating through my head from many years ago,

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, that your joy may be full.”

God does not do anything halfway. He does not want us to have a little bit of joy. He wants us to have a heart full of joy, a life full of joy. In John 15:10 – 12, we find the passage that this song comes from. Jesus knows He is headed to the cross and He is giving His disciples His final instructions. He is sharing with them His heart and what He desires for those who follow Him. He indicates that there are two important elements to having a life filled with joy. The first is our abiding relationship with Him and walking in obedience to the Father. The second has to do with our relationships with one another. He clearly says here, “Love each other as I have loved you.” This is not a suggestion. This is not a recommendation. This is a commandment.

The problem comes, at least I know for me, when there are those people that rub us the wrong way, those are the people that make it difficult to be obedient in this. But if we are following the example of Christ, we are told in Romans 5:8, that God demonstrated His love to us by sending Jesus to die for us, while we were still sinners. We were not desirable. We were not lovable, yet God loved us and Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him – that we would be reconciled to Him. We are to have this same love for another, especially those that rub us the wrong way.

So how do we do this? Thankfully, we are not left on our own. If we look at Romans 12, Paul gives similar instructions. Romans 12:9-12 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” That sounds good right, but how do we do that? I think Paul gives us the answer back a few verses in this chapter, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, that is in the process of renewing our minds. He is changing our attitudes to be more like Christ. One of the fruits of the spirit is the patience that we need for one another. Another key element here is being faithful in prayer. Praying for those that we are in contact with, as well as praying for our own attitude toward the difficult relationships, can help change our focus and lead to a transformation in our hearts.

In Romans 12:3 – 8, Paul tells us that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but with sober judgment. As I read this the other day, I wondered if Paul was not thinking back to who he was before he had that encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was an important man, who was sure that he was doing the work of the Lord. He was getting rid of those filthy Christians that were threatening all that he knew. But God intervened and showed him just how wrong he was. Sometimes we think we are in the right, but we need to stop and consider what is God’s perspective. Am I about doing the things that are honoring and glorifying to Him, or what is pleasing and honoring to myself?
Paul goes on in Romans 12 to talk about the body of Christ and functioning together in harmony. Each part is important and significant. We all belong to one another and need to function together. In Philippians 2, Paul encourages the church in Philippi to be united in Christ, with tenderness and compassion for one another. He asks them in verse 2, “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” The unity of the body, working together and not against one another, brings joy to the whole body of Christ. I know it is hard for me to be joyful and at peace when there is conflict and dissension around me. We should be coming together for the joint purpose of glorifying God and spreading the gospel message to those that have not heard. We should be working together, supporting and encouraging one another and not tearing one another down.

I came across a little story just yesterday that demonstrates what we should be about as fellow believers demonstrating the love we have in Christ.
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he gave them the signal to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying the treats. When he asked them why they chose to run as a group when they could have more fruit individually, one child spoke up and said, UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?
UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means, “I am because we are.”

We all form one body. We are the body of Christ. I cannot be apart from the body of Christ. I cannot do what I am called to do without the support of my brothers and sisters in Christ. We were never meant to live this Christian life alone. As we come together in love as we were commanded to by our Savior Jesus Christ, we will find joy and make an impact on the world around us. We will be lights in the darkness and bring hope to the world as God intended, a testimony of His great love and grace.

First Things First | By Tricia Milligan | August 2020

Since the Brunch back in July, the idea of joy has been floating around in my head. One of the things that came to mind is a little song that I learned as a child, J-O-Y. It goes something like this:

Jesus, others and you, what a wonderful way to spell JOY.
J is for Jesus, let Him take first place.
O is for others, you meet face to face.
Y is for you, in whatever you do.
Put them together and what have you got?
Joy, Joy, Joy.

I think there may have been a little more to the song, but this is what I remember.
I recently started going through a new Bible study on the book of Philippians, when I was reading through the first chapter, I noticed that Paul’s primary focus was on the Philippian’s relationship with the Father and wanting them to grow deeper in their faith and knowledge and understanding of who God is. As I started thinking about it, chapter 2, Paul focuses on our relationship with others and not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought, but instead serving our fellow believers, as well as, being lights to the world around us. Then in chapter 4, he turns to self, telling the Philippians, and us as well, to rejoice in the Lord, to be anxious for nothing, and to give thanks to the Lord. There is so much more packed into the four chapters of Philippians, but Paul got this combination too…Jesus and God first, then others, and then yourself, Jesus – Others – You, leading to a life filled with joy.

I want to spend a little time today just focusing on first things first, putting Jesus first. Of course, the first verse that came to mind was Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of these things will be added to you.” In the Message it is put this way, “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” What is your life steeped in? If I am totally honest, mine has not been steeped in God, but rather in anxiety and uncertainty. During times of uncertainty, people often offer us the verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know that plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” That is totally true, God does want us to prosper and to give us a future and a hope, but we can’t stop there at the end of that verse because then the focus is on us and what we gain from it. How does God give us that future and hope? If we look in the next few verses we find, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14) When we turn our hearts to Him, when we seek after Him first, when we give Him His rightful place in our lives, then we can become the one He created us to be, because we have things in the right order.

I remember many years ago, we had a young missionary come through our home. She had come to share at the missionary convention that our church had every year. As a young teen girl, it was exciting to have this young woman in our home and sharing with us. One of the things she did while she was there was share her story with our youth group. She shared with us how God had worked in her life through different circumstances and had given her the desires of her heart. She shared the verse with us in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” In my young heart, my focus and what I heard was that God will give me the desires of my heart…I missed what she was really trying to tell us. First things come first. The first thing here is to delight yourself in the Lord. When our delight is in Him, then the things we desire are in line with what He desires for our life and that is where we find joy and contentment, not from having the desires of our hearts met. I learned this lesson the hard way, as my stubborn heart is apt to do. God gave me the desires of my heart. He gave me a loving and wonderful husband. After some struggle and heart ache, He also gave us, not just one child, but four, exactly what I wanted and desired. But what I discovered was that my heart still lacked the joy and contentment that it longed for. My thoughts of, “I will be happy when…” only found disappointment when I had those things and I still wasn’t happy. That is when God started to show me that I had my priorities wrong. My husband and my children could not bring me joy and fulfillment. It is not even fair to ask them to do that. My joy, my peace, my hope, could only be found in an active and thriving relationship with Him.
Has it all been easy since then? Absolutely not. There are times when life gets crazy and my priorities get skewed once again. But there is a peace and joy that comes when I turn my heart back to Him. When I get things back in order and put first things first. When I seek after Him, He shows Himself to be true and faithful. He fills my heart and life with joy and opens my eyes to see where His hand has been at work that I have been too busy or distracted to see.

Later in Psalm 37 the Psalmist writes, The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand. (Psalm 37:23-24) I saw this verse along with a prayer that a friend shared on Facebook just yesterday that I think is a good thing to add to my daily routine right now.

Dear Lord,
Help me to be strong – in You.
Help me to love – through You.
Help me to have joy – in You.
Help me to do good – through You.
Please direct my steps and help me to follow You today.

Sisters, may your steps be firm. As you stumble, may you find His strong arms wrapped around you. May you feel His hand in yours, guiding you and giving you strength. May you find your future and your hope as you delight yourself in Him. May you put Him first, and find every need met fully in Him.

Bloom in the Desert | By Tricia Milligan | July 2020

Have you ever felt you are in a desert place in your life? Trapped in the wilderness with nothing around you for miles? A place where there is not much hope? We live in very troubling times. There is a lot of uncertainty and there does not seem to be much hope of relief. The Israelites found themselves in this same position several times during the Old Testament days. God sent prophets to speak truth, repentance, and hope to the people. We have those words recorded for us, that we can turn to in such times.

One of my favorite prophets to go to is Isaiah. In chapter 35 he offers some hope for us when we are in that desert places in our lives. We are not without hope. Our God is the Creator who spoke the world into existence out of nothingness. He is the One who promises redemption. He can turn those desert places of our lives into something beautiful, a testimony of His grace, mercy and love.

Isaiah writes, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom. It will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” Through the last several weeks, I have felt the Lord impressing on me to bloom where I am planted. Boy, sometimes, that is hard to do. We would love to be planted in a beautiful garden. One that is well tended and cared for. We want to be in the place surrounded by more beauty and where there is plenty of nourishment and water, so we know we will be well fed. But sometimes He asks us to bloom in the desert, in the wilderness. I know that when we are out hiking or there is a flower blooming in an unexpected place, that it brings a smile to my face and fills my heart with joy. So maybe when we are asked to bloom in the desert places, in the wilderness, it is because the Father has placed us there to bring joy to the world around us. To offer hope to a world that is lost and hurting that has no hope.

Paul encourages the church in Philippians 2, to do everything without grumbling or complaining. Ouch! That steps on my toes right now. I can honestly say, that has not been my attitude lately. But when we do, we will shine like lights in the sky as we hold firmly to the Word of life.

Going back to Isaiah 35, he goes on to say, “The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” If I stop to think about it, when I go to a beautiful garden, I am struck by the beauty of the whole garden. I seldom focus on the beauty of just one bloom. So maybe, I don’t want to be planted in the garden. Maybe it is better to be planted in the desert or the wilderness so that I can reflect and display the glory and the splendor of the One who planted me in that place.

It is in the wilderness and the desert places that we find souls that are hurting, so what are we supposed to do? Isaiah tells us in verses 3 and 4, “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way, say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance, with divine retribution He will come to save you.’”

My sisters, we have a job to do. We have been given a mission in this world. We are to bloom in this dark world and offer hope to a lost world. We are to strengthen feeble hands. We are to steady the knees that give way. We have words of hope that we are supposed to be sharing with those around us. We are not abandoned. God is not watching from some distant place. God is here with us. He is at work, even when our eyes are blinded to it. We cannot give up hope. We need to continue to hold on to the Word of life and share it with those around us. We need to stop grumbling and complaining, and start asking God to direct us to those that need to hear His message of hope. We need to lift one another up in prayer, asking God to strengthen our feeble hands and our weak knees, so we may stand firm in our faith, and bloom where He has planted us.

Finding Refuge | By Tricia Milligan | June 2020

I have struggled some this month about what to share for this devotional. I went to my parents’ home three weeks ago, expecting to spend time hanging with my mom and keeping her company while my Dad was in the hospital. God had other plans. He knew I needed to be there to say good-bye to my Dad and to help my Mom in the first couple of weeks after his passing. I definitely have seen God’s hand in the timing and in the outpouring of love for us during the last several weeks. But my heart and my life has felt like it has been turned upside down.

As I was taking my morning walk the other day, I was thinking of several things that I could write about. When I got home and sat at my computer, I stared at the blank page and could think of nothing to write, nothing that seemed to fit or be the right thing. So I closed the computer and went on with my day.

Yesterday morning, I again was taking my morning walk. Conversing with God about those that touch my life who are continuing to face difficult circumstances and in the back of my mind was what to write to share and encourage each one of you. The word that came to mind was empty. The page from the day before stared at me empty. I felt empty. My soul cried out to the Father, “How can I share with others and encourage them, when I feel empty? I have nothing to give right now God. What do I do?”

As I continued to walk, a truck drove past me. As it turned the corner up ahead of me, I noticed a sticker in the middle of the cab window with one word, REFUGE. Now, I have no idea what that meant to the person that was driving that truck, or what it represented, but I know what it meant to me in that moment. When I am empty, I have a refuge where I can go. When I am completely depleted and at the end of myself, there is a refuge where I can go. When I am weary and burdened, there is a refuge for me.

A refuge is defined as shelter or protection from danger or distress. It is a place where we find the resources we need for refreshment and renewal. It is a place where we can escape for a bit and rest in the peace that is there. For us as believers in Christ, He is that refuge for us. No matter what we are facing.

Psalm 9:9 says, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

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.”

Psalm 31:19 says, “How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You, that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.”

Psalm 36:7 says “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

So I will take the advice of the psalmist in Psalm 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” I will turn to Him and fully put my trust in Him. I will pour out my heart, and give my grief and pain to Him, to find the healing and comfort that is only found in Him. I will seek refuge in Him. He is my stronghold. He is my shield. He has good things for me, even in the midst of my present circumstances. His love has not failed. He is with me and invites me to come and take refuge in His love and care for me.

Father, I thank You that You never leave us on our own. I am thankful that I do have a refuge in my time of trouble, a place I can turn when I am at the end of myself and find myself feeling empty. I am not alone. There is peace, there is hope, there is healing and restoration found in You. Be our refuge today.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen

Who Do We Trust | By Tricia Milligan | May 2020

We are living in such an uncertain time. Each day I read conflicting reports from every direction. Some people say we should not have quarantined. Some people say we need to open things right now. Some people say we should stay isolated longer. Some people say that masks are needed. Others say that they really aren’t necessary and can be more harmful than good. So how are we supposed to know what to do? Who are we supposed to trust?

When we are facing times of fear and uncertainty, I only know of one sure place to turn. We have access through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to the One who knows the end from the beginning. We know the One who has a plan for us, to give us a future and a hope, who wants us to proper and to thrive. (Jeremiah 29:11)

In Psalm 20:6-8 it says, “Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to His anointed. He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” We could rewrite verse 7 for our times in this way, “Some trust in doctors, some trust in statistics and reports, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” God hears us when we call. He will guide us and direct us if we are seeking after Him. He is the One who knows each day ordained for us and it is written in His book before one of them even came to be.(Psalm 139:16) We can fully place our trust in Him for every single day of our lives. Verse 8 tells us what the result is when we put our trust anywhere other than in our God, we will be brought to our knees and fall. We will survive, but it will not be on our feet. We will be knocked down by the challenges of life. But if we put our trust in the name of the LORD, if we look to Him for help and for hope, then we will rise up and stand firm.

This phrase “stand firm” brought to mind an acrostic that I wrote several years ago. It helps me to remember how to stand firm in times of trouble.

Seek His








Resting in the

Master’s Hands

So what are His truths? What do we have that we can stand on?

Romans 8:38 -39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavished His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.

Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Job 42:2 I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

The Scripture is full of truths that tell us who God is. When we know and remember who He is and what He has already done for us, it brings us to a place of rest, a place of peace.

Have you ever had a really hard day where things have just seemed to go wrong at every turn, and then you come home someone you love, and you stand for a moment in their embrace and feel the burden you have been carrying lift even for a brief moment? There is a safety and an ability to breathe in that moment and in that place. That is what God wants to be for us. He wants us to come to Him and allow Him to wrap us in His love and mercy and grace. He wants us to be still for a moment and know that He is God and that He’s got this. All of it!

Are you feeling uncertain? Are you not sure what to do or where to turn? Pause for a moment. Remember who you are and whose you are. Remember the One who holds you securely in the palm of His hand, and then rise up and stand firmly planted on His truths and promises. He’s got you and He will not let you down. He is the One you can trust.

The Treasure of Wisdom | By Tricia Milligan | April 2020

I don’t know about you, but I am often at a loss as to what to do when certain situations arise. As a friend, wife, mother, teacher, daughter, woman, there are situations that enter my life and I wonder, what am I supposed to do now? We are definitely in some uncertain times at the moment. We have to make choices and decisions that we never would have expected to be making. We often lack wisdom as to what is right and what is best at a moment.

There is a wonderful promise found in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” What an amazing promise and assurance. I have prayed for wisdom on many occasions and as I move forward dealing with whatever the situation is, a new thought or perspective pops into my mind, and I know that God has answered that prayer. But I think I am often taking this promise out of its context. There is more that He wants us to see and to understand about what this means and what true wisdom is.

This promise is sandwiched between two very different passages. In verse 2 James encourages us to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James goes on to say that if we persevere through those trials, we will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Then he says, if any of you lacks wisdom? I think he is reminding us that we are not there yet. The trials will continue to come throughout our lifetime. Jesus said, in this world you will have troubles, but take heart I have overcome the world (John 16:33). We need the wisdom that God offers to see us through those trials.

In 1 Corinthians 1:24 it says, “But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Isaiah speaks of our Lord, the Messiah, in Isaiah 33:6 saying, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to their treasure.” In Colossians 2, Paul echoes the words of James in his desire for believers to be mature and complete. He says, “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). The wisdom of God is a gift given us through our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the key to the treasures and the resources at our disposal as children of God. Whatever we face in this life, we do not face it alone. We have Jesus. We have His strength. We have His grace. We have His peace. We have His wisdom.

The verse in Isaiah 33 called Jesus, “a sure foundation.” I believe this is echoed in the thoughts of James that follow this promise of wisdom. James gives the warning that when we ask, we must believe and not doubt. “Because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” The Message puts it this way, “Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” When I read this verse in this way, I was reminded of Jeremiah and the charge that God gives him against the people of Israel. Jeremiah 7:9-10 “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before Me in this house, which bears My Name, and say, ‘We are safe.’” The people of Israel were keeping their options open. They were trying to cover all of their bases, in case they were wrong, so they would be safe. James is warning us about doing the same thing. We cannot pray and ask God for wisdom and then go about life doing our own thing, trying to figure things out on our own and creating our own contingency plan in case God doesn’t come through for us. Our idols look much different today, but not the sin. We cannot look to the world for security, hope, peace and then go to God, so we will be safe. We cannot go on sinning, so that grace abounds. We are called to live life differently than the world. We are called to find all we need in Him through Christ.

I know that I often feel just like James describes here, tossed around by the waves of life, unstable and knocked off of my feet. That is not what God intends for His children. He wants us to stand on His firm foundation. He wants our lives built on Christ, our Rock and our Redeemer. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, then one rests content – untouched by trouble.” This brings us full circle, back to wisdom, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise” (Psalm 111:10). Wisdom is what is right and true and just. Wisdom gives discernment and direction. Wisdom gives us insight and understanding. We cannot find wisdom in the world. We cannot find it in our own heart, we can only find that wisdom in the Lord, in understanding who He is and giving Him the honor and glory and praise that it due His Name.

So consider it pure joy, my sisters, that we are in this trial at this time in our lives. God is at work in our hearts and lives to make us mature and complete, not lacking anything. Let’s ask Him for wisdom to guide us through this time, secure and strong in our faith, trusting Him and Him alone to get us through. May we seek to know Him more, so that we can rest content no matter what happens next. May we be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that we may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Mountain Moving Faith | By Tricia Milligan | March 2020

There are two rugs in our kitchen with the saying, “Faith does not make things easy. It makes them possible.” I apparently liked the saying when I saw them, or they would not have ended up in my home, but I didn’t spend much time thinking about what that means until recently. The saying caught my eye and I read it again.

Wouldn’t it be nice if faith made life easy? Remember the old TV show Bewitched and Tabitha would wiggle her nose and things would just be made right. (I probably just dated myself with that reference.) Wouldn’t it be great if we could believe something or have faith that it would happen and pray about it and it happen? But that is not how faith works. Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible. It makes life possible. Faith is more than just a religion or a set of beliefs. Faith is defined as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” We are called to have faith. We are placing our faith in God. We are placing our complete trust and confidence in Him.

As I thought about the saying, my thoughts turned to the verse in Matthew 17:20,”Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” That sounds like the kind of faith that makes life easy. Moving mountains and getting them out of our way. That would make life easy, but would it make it good? We often pray for the mountains of life to move, financial issues, difficulties in our marriage, health issues, infertility, loneliness, or whatever difficulty life throws our way. But there are times that God’s answer is not to move the mountain, but to help us conquer that mountain. He knows that the things we learn as He helps us climb and navigate that mountain is beneficial to us and will bring glory to Him. The struggles of life are beneficial. They strengthen us and build our character.

I have read several articles recently about the changes we are seeing in kids and the high rate of depression and anxiety. They have not been taught to deal with the struggles and challenges of life. In many ways, we have swung too far and have made life too easy for our kids, and life is not good. They don’t know how to navigate life. Chores and responsibilities are good for our kids. Disappointments are good for our kids. They don’t have to get everything they want…and my Heavenly Father knows that disappointments, challenges, and struggles will teach me what I need to know to face the seasons to come. I don’t have to get everything I want or think that I want.

As I sought to expand my thinking a little more on the subject of faith, I ran across an article by Heather Riggleman on Crosswalk.com called How to Undo the Hustle and See What’s Holy. In the article she describes a time in her life when God removed something that was extremely important to her. She had her dream job and seemed to be excelling and then it was gone. It left her questioning and searching for answers as to why this was happening. She realized through different circumstances that God was attempting to refine her life and strip away some false thing that she had accepted as things that should be of high importance and priorities in her life. She realized she needed to start looking at God’s expectations for her and not the world’s.

She writes, “It is radically freeing because when we become who we were meant to be in the first place without all the heavy. Unbecome, undo, unearth, untangle, unravel. Right now is your chance to trade the hustle for the holy. Imagine who you could be if you could unbecome by trading, striving for surrender, hype for hope, running for rest, busy for being, scarcity for abundance, anxiety for joy. There is a better way to be a ‘better you.’ It doesn’t begin with a bunch of worldly, shallow, already set-up-to-be-broken self-made promises. The better you is already found in God’s Word. But it’s been buried in the lies that hustle-is-better-than-holy life.”

Her use of the word untangled, reminded me of Hebrew 12 where we are called to set aside the sin that so easily entangles us and fix our eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith. As we continue to place our faith in Him, He continues to refine us and purify us. He strengthens our faith and makes who He meant for us to be.
Toward the end of her article Heather continues, “I loved the hustle more than I loved God. And He wasn’t going to have it. God will stop at nothing to remove the obstacle between you and me.”

As I thought about that, I thought, maybe the mountains we see in our lives are not the mountains that need to be removed. Maybe what we see as mountains are really challenges that we need to face in our lives and they are God’s way of removing the mountain of pride, the mountain of fear, the mountain of self-reliance, or other mountains that stand in the way of being who He created us to be. Maybe they are the tools to remove these mountains so I can have a closer relationship with Him and know Him better.

I need to look to Him. I need to lift my eyes up to the mountains. I need to turn to the One from whom my help comes (Psalm 121:1). I must fully trust and with full confidence, put my faith in Him and allow Him to help me navigate this life. Faith is not about making life easy, it is about making a full and abundant life possible in the midst of the difficulties. Finding peace, hope and joy as I rest in Him.

God’s Extravagant Love | By Tricia Milligan | February 2020

It is February and of course our thoughts turn toward love with the stores decked out with decorations and displays to encourage us to buy elaborate gifts to show those we care about how very much we love them. The love that we have for others or that they have for us cannot even begin to compare with the love God has for us. Romans 5:8 tells us that God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 1 John 3:1 says, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

There is a song that I hear often on the Christian radio stations, Reckless Love. I know that there are some do not like the song. Some have said that it is not right to describe God’s love as reckless because it is not reckless. God purposely and with determination loves us, and I would agree. However, I do not think that is what the songwriter intended. I have always thought that he meant that from the world’s perspective, God’s love is reckless and incomprehensible. To the world, God’s love is foolish, because the world says you have to earn love. The idea that we should receive God’s grace, His great riches at the expense of Christ is foolishness to the world. But that is exactly what God did.
The world also says if you fail me, then I don’t have to love you anymore. That is not what God says. In Jeremiah 31:3 He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” The Psalmist declares over and over again in Psalm 136 that God’s love endures forever. Paul encourages us in Romans 8:38 -39 with these words, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I have an aunt whose husband left her for another woman years ago. He lived with the other woman, but my aunt refused to give him a divorce. She did not believe that it was what God wanted. To many this appeared foolish and reckless. She continued to pray for him and God answered those prayers. He returned to the Lord and he returned to her. That is God’s grace and love in action.

God told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute, who then leaves him. When she returns, God tells Hosea to take her back. From the world’s perspective, that is foolish and reckless, but it is grace and God’s extravagant love that He has for His unfaithful people clearly demonstrated.

A convict on the cross was promised that he would be with the Savior in paradise…to the world, that is unfair and inconceivable, but that is grace and God’s amazing love.
So, what should be our response to this great love that God has poured out on us? In Psalm 5:7 in the Passion Translation it reads like this, “But I know that You will welcome me into Your house, for I am covered by Your covenant of mercy and love, so I come to Your sanctuary with deepest awe to bow in worship and adore you.” To even begin to understand the love that God has for us should lead us to a place of worship and awe for our Heavenly Father. He has done what no one else would have done or could have done.

I think it also calls us into a deeper love for those around us. God sometimes calls us to step out of our comfort zones to do things that don’t make sense to the world. They might say we are foolish or reckless, but God calls us to it so that He might demonstrate His love to others through us. We must be obedient and share His grace, love and compassion to the hurting world around us.

Relish His great love for you today. Let Him wrap you in the comfort that can only come from knowing an all encompassing love that is not of this world. Then, allow that to compel you to step out in faith and obedience to live for Him as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

2020 Vision | By Tricia Milligan | January 2020

The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection. We think about the things that have happened during this past year. We have thoughts of gratitude for the things God has brought us through, and then sometimes wonder how God will resolve those things that still hang over us. We look to the upcoming year sometimes with great excitement and other times with great trepidation and uncertainty. I, for one, am thankful that I do not have to face this new year alone.

There have been some years that I have picked a verse to focus on for the year. Some times with better success than others at sticking to the task of learning and seeking throughout the year. I have a friend who has switched to picking a single word that she prayerfully seeks God through during the coming year. We have done that in the Women’s Ministry as well the last several years. We prayerfully pick a word that is our theme for the year. We ask God to teach us more of Him as we seek the truth and understanding of what that word means to us as believers and allow it to impact us throughout the year.

This year, I also feel like God has given me a prayer for the year. Over the month of the December I was reading a couple different devotionals to help keep my focus where it needed to be, on Jesus, the greatest gift ever given. One of the books I was reading was Max Lucado’s book In the Manger. On the last page of the book he records this prayer:

Heavenly Father,
Restore my spiritual sight to 20/20, that I might see Your Son as He truly is and that I might know Him for all that He is. May I proclaim Him,” my Lord and my God” just as truly as Thomas did. Help me to see more of Him today.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen

What an awesome prayer for the year 2020, that I might have 20/20 spiritual sight; that I would have the ability to see Christ more clearly and know Him for who He truly is. We can have knowledge of Him and still not see Him and understand who He is.

In Mark 8, Jesus for the second time feeds a huge crowd of people, this time 4,000. When He is again alone with His disciples, He gives them the warning, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (vs 15) The disciples had no idea what Jesus was talking about. So He responds, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?”(vs 17-18) He did not want them to be like the Pharisees who had the truth of God, but did not see or understand why He had come. He wanted more for His disciples. He needed them to see and to understand that He is the Messiah, the Redeemer, the One who came to meet all of our needs. He desires the same for us.

Oh, that we might have a clearer vision of who Jesus is. May His light and truth will shine in our lives so that we may see and understand who He is and what He has for each of this in the coming year.

True Friendship and Genuine Love | By Debbie Fetter | November 2019

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’ You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:10-17

A believer cannot withdraw from the circle of God’s love by being disobedient. Of course God does not stop loving His disobedient children. But Jesus is instructing His disciples that obedience is the key to abiding. Through abiding, we can experience joy as a blessing of His love. Joy is fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) which is a result of abiding in Christ’s love. The “Abiding Believer” is motivated by the wonder of God’s love for him or her. Jesus now commands His disciples to “love one another, just as He had loved them.” Jesus teaches His disciples more about love here by explaining the five characteristics of genuine love.

1)Love is obedience to Christ’s example and teachings. (Keep my commandments)

2)Love is sacrificial. (That one lay down his life for his friends)

3)Love always communicates truth. (All things…I have made known to you)

4)Love takes the initiative in meeting the legitimate needs of others. (I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.)

5)Love will bear fruit with abiding results. (That your fruit would remain)


A person can be a casual friend, a close friend, or an intimate friend—depending on his or her love and loyalty. Likewise, all believers are God’s “friends” in the sense of their justification. But abiding believers are His “special friends” on a deeper level, because they seek to obey Him consistently.


“Love” for a friend reaches its pinnacle when someone willingly sacrifices something, even his or her life, for a friend. Jesus had spoken of His love for His disciples (v. 12). Jesus would shortly show them how great His love was by making the supreme sacrifice of dying for them. After that, they would also have His example to follow. The most you can do for a friend is to die for him or her. However, Jesus even died for His enemies! Believers have given different degrees of sacrifice to serve others while serving Christ. We are not just talking about giving away our excess possessions and money here. Seldom do we even come close to reaching the level of sacrifice for our friends that Jesus is describing here. The closest to it is getting martyred for the gospel, but no believer has ever approached the high level of sacrifice that Christ gave when He left Heaven to become a man and die for our sins.

Communicating Truth:

What is the difference between a servant of God and an intimate friend of God? Jesus proved to His disciples that they were His “friends” as well as His servants, because a master shares his plans with his friends, not with his slaves. He had told them what was coming, therefore treating them as His friends. The friends of the king had the closest and the most intimate connection with him and had the right to come to him at any time. Remember Esther could not just speak to the king at any time, right? “Slaves” receive orders without explanations, but friends have an intimacy with their Master. Saved believers have Jesus’ teachings, the privilege of reading it in the Bible, and of understanding it with the Holy Spirit giving enlightenment. What a blessing! We get the privilege of being Jesus’ friends and knowing God’s truth, too.

Jesus Chose Us to Meet the Needs of Others:

A servant (doulos in Greek) must obey his master without questions. God didn’t call Abraham and Moses slaves but called them His friends, they both asked God questions and received answers. Jesus also raises His disciples (and us) from the level of being used as tools, or as slaves, to the position of being full partners with Him in His work.  Jesus says I no longer call you slaves. Jesus revealed His plans to the disciples, as His friends. Following His ascension, Jesus gave them even more revelation at His transfiguration. He had chosen them to be His friends, and He also appointed them to a specific task: a mission to spread the gospel. We, as Jesus’ disciples, have also been given that same mission.

Bearing Fruit with Abiding Results:

Jesus linked going with bearing fruit. It is impossible for us to produce fruit for God on our own; we can only bear it. If we abide in Christ, attached to the vine, we can bear much fruit. Making new converts is the most important fruit Jesus has planned for us. This fruit will be everlasting, because people’s salvation will remain in effect for all eternity!

This section concludes with “whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.” Jesus is linking prayer and fruit-bearing in a cause and effect relationship. Therefore, prayer plays a very essential role in the believer’s fruitfulness.

Abide in Me | By Debbie Fetter | October 2019

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:1-9

“Abiding in Christ” is one of my own greatest struggles. Others tell me it is theirs, too. It is one of the most serious failures in the Christian life. The benefits of abiding are as great as the dangers of neglecting it.

Jesus had just explained to His disciples that He was going to send them the Holy Spirit who would teach them all things and would also bring to remembrance all things that Jesus had said to them. Jesus also told them that He would be going to the Father. Here Jesus continues to prepare His disciples for His departure.

What inspired Jesus to use this “Vine” metaphor? A visual cue might have sparked His words. Some suggest it may have been the cup of wine during the Last Supper, or perhaps the elaborate vine on the Temple gate, placed there as a symbol of Israel by Herod the Great.

Jesus wanted to teach them the “One Thing” needed was to abide in Him. Abiding would result in them bearing much spiritual fruit. This is the “One Thing” that we need to learn too, to produce the right type of good works: spiritual fruit generated by the Holy Spirit, which results in works that will be acceptable at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Jesus often used a grapevine to describe the nation of Israel. This passage has three metaphors. Israel had been an unfaithful vine, but Jesus was the faithful one, the true vine, who fulfilled all that the Father required.

The Father is the Vinedresser and Believers are the Branches. In the spring, the branches got “taken away.” The Greek word “airo” translated “take away” probably means the vines were lifted up on a pole off the ground so light and nutrients can get to the branches. The Father lifts them up to make sure that the branches will not get moldy or diseased, so they will bear fruit in the future. In the fall, the branches are pruned and the dead non-productive parts get trimmed away. The dead wood is not useful because the value of the branch is in the grapes that it bears.

Throwing into the fire and burning is an allegory for something done to the useless branches. If we are the branches, does this mean the unproductive ones have lost their salvation? No, of course not! Why not? Because Jesus is NOT telling this story to explain justification. Jesus uses “abide” here to speak of our sanctification. Some teach this refers to our unacceptable post-salvation “dirty rags” that go up in smoke, not done in the Spirit. Others view it as illustrating the disciplining process, where God removes certain aspects of your life that prevent you from being productive for Him. God’s purpose in discipline is loving, but the process may be painful.

Abiding means believing, depending, appreciating, and trusting in Christ. The principle of abiding is both positive and negative. Negatively, it is impossible to produce fruit for God on our own; we can only bear it. Positively, if we abide in Christ, attached to the vine, we will bear much fruit. The benefit of abiding is fruit bearing. If we don’t abide, it prevents us from bearing fruit, breaks fellowship, and severs us from Jesus, who is the source of life.

How do we abide? Picture yourself sitting in a recliner, resting only on Christ’s love for you. The Greek word for abide is “meno.” The meaning of meno is “to remain.” I am resting in the undeserved aspect of God’s love for me, given to me, an undeserving sinner; a love that God has for me whether I am performing well or not! You can understand abiding, and still not be able to do it. Abiding takes practice!

To abide we practice awareness of God’s perfect love. We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19). He gave Himself as a ransom for our sin. (Matt. 20:28) A ransom is a sum of money paid for the release of a prisoner. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) How often are we being fully cognizant of the fact that, in our sins before salvation, we were prisoners and in terrible bondage to sin and death, yet God still loved us? This thought is staggering, that Jesus loved me so much that He died for me.

Jesus wants all His disciples to continually abide in these truths. A close relationship with Christ is not obtained by focusing on my success or performance. It only occurs when I am abiding in His unconditional love for me.

Do Not Let Your Heart Be Troubled | By Debbie Fetter | September 2019

“Do not let your heart be troubled; (you) believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3

I remember two years ago feeling really worried, stressed and agitated about moving here. When it came right down to it, the stress wasn’t really about getting everything in its place. It was more about getting us back into a place where we belonged. I also felt unsettled for many days after our dog was attacked. I didn’t sleep well and my heart was very troubled! My new home life in our nice new neighborhood suddenly felt very unsafe, and I felt quite threatened and agitated.
Jesus’ disciples also had reason to feel troubled and agitated. Jesus had just announced to them that He is going to go away. He was going leave them, after they had forsaken all to follow him! Jesus had also just said that Peter would deny Him, implying that some great trial was imminent. How shocking this must have been to them! In a very short time, life for the disciples was going to fall apart. Their sun was going to set at midday. Their world was going to collapse in chaos around them.
To comfort them, Jesus has some instructions, explanations, and promises.

In Verse 1, Jesus says “do not let your heart be troubled; (you) believe in God, believe also in me.” Jesus was literally saying “stop being troubled.” The verb pisteuo means to believe, trust, rely, depend on someone or something, or to take as truth what someone is telling you. This is in the imperative mood, which means it is a command. This is in the active voice, which means they must choose to believe it. Jesus was telling the disciples to trust in Him, just as they trusted in God the Father. This was a strong claim to His deity. Since He is God, they could rely on what He was about to tell them as coming directly from God. Jesus wanted them to stop letting their hearts be internally agitated.

God allows us to be in situations that are very much out of our comfort zone. He does this to mature us and to prepare us for future ministry. Why does God do this? He puts us in a situation where the only thing we can do is trust in Him. There are many times God has done this with me. Instead of being agitated, I have to decide to look at the unwanted situation the way God is seeing it. God may want me to be a witness of the gospel to somebody, like the vet. Or God may just want me to trust Him more. So, it is totally correct for me to ask, “God, why are you allowing this to happen right now? What are you doing with me? And by the way, I trust you, while I am waiting for the answer.”

In Verse 2, Jesus reveals the purpose of His going to the disciples. He says “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “ This is said to quiet them and to also give them some additional information about why He is going. In the Jewish culture, a dowry was given to allow a man to build a room onto his Father’s house as preparation for marriage so as to make ready a place for the new couple to live. The groom would build this add-on dwelling place. When it was finished, the groom would go and get his bride and bring her home. The bride did not know when the groom was coming! The Jewish father’s house was an analogy that Jews were aware of. Jesus says he is leaving to build a dwelling place for His bride, the church, to live in, in Heaven. There are many rooms or add-ons to God the Father’s house for each of us. “Prepare” is the Greek word “hetoimazo,” meaning “to make ready.” The Lord is saying He is preparing a future place for those who believe in Him next to the throne room, or dwelling place of God. This is very comforting! Jesus Himself will take me to Heaven where I will be safe from all harm, danger and all the unfair things that seem to happen in this life, and where I will be cared for in the utmost of perfection. No disease, violence or harm will come to me there, and there I will relating to God as a member of His family who lives in His house.

Some Applications:
1. It is important to not get so caught up in what is happening today that we loose sight of eternity. Jesus promises to come again, He has prepared a place for us, and our future home is guaranteed. Christians already own real estate in Heaven. We are already legal residents there and we are merely “renters” here on earth.
2. We can depend on this. Stepping into our custom-designed heavenly dwelling places, we will each realize that we’re finally home, and that throughout eternity we can never be separated from our heavenly Father.
3. It’s tempting to amass a lot of possessions during our days on earth, but the Bible says only what’s truly important—the things we’ve done for Him—will last.
4. When we get to the eternal home we are anticipating, we won’t need to plan for or to organize anything; everything will already be in its place.

Share the Load | By Tricia Milligan | May 2019

Sometimes life is hard. At times it can be very overwhelming. A few months ago I heard a song for the first time called River of Mercy. It talks about carrying a load we aren’t made to carry and taking it to the River of Mercy and letting it go. It reminds me of the verse in 1 Peter that talks about casting our cares on Him for He cares for you. It also is reminiscent of Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When I read this verse the phrase “and learn from Me” really stood out to me. I thought I had heard something one time that they would pair a younger oxen with an older one to train them, so I started looking to see what I could learn about oxen or cattle and yokes. I did not find this, but I did find some other interesting things.

The yoke itself can weigh up to 60 pounds. The yoke is made to be carried by two, so if I am not yoked to Christ, then I am dragging around the yoke in an awkward way and not getting very far at all. I also learned that cattle do not like to do work. They will do what they can to avoid work, so they must be taught to wear the yoke and to be obedient to the farmer. I definitely relate to that…I would tend to avoid the hard lessons of life, but I must be trained to be obedient to God.

The cattle when they are put in the yoke have to be taught to be obedient to the commands of the farmer. The farmer has to be consistent in his routine and commands that he gives the cattle. They have to do it every day. This reminds me that I need to be consistent both in the Word and in prayer. I need to learn to listen to the Fathers voice and respond in obedience.
Cattle must be taught to work together, always going in the same direction so that they will travel well together. If I am yoked with Christ, then I must learn to go the same direction. This reminds me of Proverbs 3:5 -6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. “ Jesus walks right beside me and we follow the direction of the Father. My focus needs to be the same as that of Christ, so that we are heading in the same direction and working together well, accomplishing the task the Father has given me.

Cattle are slower than a horse, but they are also determined and will continue at a task as long the farmer is encouraging them to continue. The Father has also given me a book full of encouragement. There may be difficult tasks ahead and it may take time to complete, but if God has asked me to do it, He will be there to help me accomplish it. He will not leave my side, but will continue to encourage me until it is accomplished.

There is no task that we are meant to do on our own. When we do, then we grow weary and burdened. When we fight against Him, then we are making the task more difficult on ourselves and carrying heavy burdens we were never meant to carry. But when we bring it to Jesus, He helps shoulder the load. He is gentle and patient with us and will bring us to a place of peace and rest. We will find it easier to walk through the most difficult of situations if we will trust in Him.

Deliver Us | By Tricia Milligan | April 2019

We have come to the end of the Lord’s prayer and I think it really is the most crucial part of our prayer. Jesus closes the Lord’s prayer with, “Deliver us from evil for yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen”. I have always thought of these as separate phrases. First we have “Deliver us from evil” and then we have the closing praise of the Father, but that little word “for” connects the two phrases. Jesus knows that we will face evil in this world. He tells the disciples, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Sin entered the world and we face an enemy that prowls around masquerading as an angel of light, but who is really a roaring lion seeking who he can devour. Paul encourages us in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God daily so that we are ready to fight the enemy and to put on each part with prayer.

Jesus knows that there is only one true defense against evil and that is God. Only He can deliver us from evil. He is the one who established His Kingdom. He is the one who conquered sin and death on the cross. He is the power. When we are weak, then He is strong. His power, His strength, His grace displayed in our lives and it brings glory to the Father.
Jesus prays for Peter in the midst of the chaos in the Garden for He knows that Satan wants to sift him as wheat. Jesus prays for Peter that his faith should not fail and that he will return and strengthen his brothers (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus knows the enemy. He knows his tactics, but He also knows who has already won the war. We can depend on Him to intercede on our behalf and we know He is able to defend us against the enemy. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.

So let us walk in the fear of the Lord, seeking to walk in obedience to Him, loving Him with our heart mind and soul, serving Him faithfully, asking for His guidance and protection daily for our good and for His glory (based on Deuteronomy 10:12-14).

Lead Us Not Into Temptation | By Tricia Milligan | March 2019

We have come to the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation.” I have always struggled with this phrase in the Lord’s Prayer. To me it seemed to be in direct contrast to the verses in James 1 “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”( James 1:13-15) If we go back further in James 1, he encourages us to consider it joy when we face trials of many kinds because God is at work to develop our character and to make us more like Christ. With this in mind, God brings us to situations where we have a choice how we are going to react and respond. We are to pray for His protection that we do not follow our sin nature, but chose to follow Him and lean on Him for wisdom and hold firm to our faith.

Jesus before He goes to the cross He prays for the disciples and those that will follow them in faith. In John 17: 11-12 Jesus prays I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” His heart was for these He loved. He wants them to be protected. He wants us to be protected. He knew that only the Father could protect them by the Power of His name.

I know that way too many times, I attempt to handle situations on my own. I don’t have to and actually I can’t. I cannot even trust my own heart because God’s word tells us the heart is desperately wicked. We saw in James, that we are lead away by our own evil desires, but we have God on our side. Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. In his book, The Prayer of Jesus, Ken Hemphill, says, “…we must lean on Him every day – and at frequent points throughout the day – in order to escape the power of sin. We waste our time when we fight temptation with only our higher goals and our loftier reforms, for God alone can give us strength to overcome our shortcomings.”

Life is messy, and we often are messed up, but we have God on our side. When life gets rough, we can come to Him in our mess and ask for Him to lead us away from the temptation. We can focus our eyes back on Him and know He is with us and able to deliver us or grant the grace as He walks with us through whatever it is. He can keep our feet from slipping and help us stand firm in His truth and in our faith.

Clean Slate | By Tricia Milligan | January 2019

Forgive Us, Help Us Forgive Them

When we think about a new year, we often think of a clean slate. Starting everything new and things are going to be different. That is not always the case though. The challenges of life that were present in December follow us into January. New challenges arise often more quickly than we would like and we end up frustrated and discouraged. Our new year already tarnished and battered.

We have been going through the Lord’s Prayer the last several months and have come to the part,  “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Forgiveness if we accept it and apply it in our life and let go of the guilt can bring that true clean slate, both in our relationship with God and our relationship with those around us.

This request is a two-fold request. First, we are to seek God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness, but we are also to extend that forgiveness, mercy, and grace to those that are around us. As recipients of the marvelous grace and forgiveness we have received through the work of Christ on the cross, we are called to extend forgiveness to those that are around us.

Several months ago when Pastor John was going over the passage in 1 John 2, verse 12 really stood out to me, especially how it was worded in the NASB translation. “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.” First, we are forgiven, not because of anything we have done, but because we come to the Father bearing the name of Christ. The other thought I had is that forgiveness is for the sake of glorifying the name of God. The focus of much of the Lord’s prayer is to bring our focus and attention to the character of God and giving Him the honor and glory that He deserves. The act of forgiveness shows the character of God. It shows that He is merciful, compassionate, long-suffering, gracious, and loving. So when we as Christians, follow the example of Christ, and forgive those that we feel have wronged us, then we are displaying the character of God to the world. We are bearing His image and bringing glory and honor to His name.

Growing up in the church and being a rule follower by nature, I had a tendency in younger years to be very judgmental of others. As God began to work on this area of my life and as I asked Him to teach me to be more merciful to others, what I began to realize is that some things that I took as offense against myself were often my own interpretations of the circumstances. I realized I don’t know what the other person is thinking and the more I dwelled on the something the more I made it personal, even if it had nothing to do with me. I learned I have to let things go, which is not always easy to do.

As I was thinking about forgiveness, I began to wonder what if my first thought when I feel like I have been wronged is to pray and ask God to help me forgive the person, instead of the impulse to tell others how I have been wronged? We are told not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the body of Christ. My tendency to “share” with others when I feel I have been wronged is not beneficial to the building up of the body of Christ. It doesn’t promote unity, but taints the opinion of others of the person I am speaking of. If I take it to the Lord first and ask for His help and guidance, I know it would make me pause and think before I share with others because it will allow Him to help me change my perspective.

Forgiveness is not our natural tendency. It is not our first impulse when we have been wronged. But it is what God desires for us and requires of us. He has forgiven us much. He has extended His abundant mercy and grace and as His children, created in His image, bearing His likeness and His name, we need to extend forgiveness to those around us, no matter what the circumstances Psalm 130:4 says, “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” It is our act of obedience and necessary for us to live productive lives in service to our King and our God.

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.