Lenten Devotions cont’d

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

As we begin the slow process of recovering from the tornadoes that ravaged our area this week, I hope you are comforted by these devotions.  They are a gift from the students of our Wesley Foundations in the Nashville Episcopal Area.


Thursday, March 5

Have Faith and Give Thanks Even in Hard Times

Read Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 1: 3-7

We have all had rough patches in our lives, and sometimes it is rather hard to stick with God through it all, but I would like to share a story from my life that might help you understand why it’s important to keep faith in God.

About 10 years ago, my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was kind of advanced when the doctors found it and, if I remember correctly, they wanted to operate right away so that it did not spread to the rest of her body. My family and I did not know how to handle the situation right away and it was hard to grasp the enormity of it. But my grandma told us that she was determined to get through it and survive, and she was NOT gonna let the cancer break her down. Even though things weren’t exactly going the way she wanted, she kept her strong faith in God. Her faith, support from her family and friends, and a lot of chemotherapy treatments made her – after 8 long, hard years ­– cancer free. And for that everyone was so thankful.

Two years later, however, the cancer was back. But this time it was in her liver. This was not what we were expecting at all. My grandma went through more treatments, except it was with radioactive beads. The doctors decided to try this and see how it worked so it was kind of like a test run. We were not very sure about this, but my grandma decided to try it if it would possibly help with the cancer. Now my grandma is doing pretty well most days even though it is sometimes tough, but she has been a fighter and a survivor throughout this whole cancer ordeal. Her faith in God has never wavered through all of it, and it has inspired our family to keep going and keep our faith in God strong also.

I’m telling you this story to show how important it is to keep believing in God even when everything seems to be going completely and totally wrong. We should stick with God in the good and the bad because He is who will help get us through it all. God should also be thanked both in the good times and the bad. It makes God happy when we thank him even when things are not going our way. That tells him that we trust that he will make all things work out for the best. Far too often I think we forget that God likes to hear our prayers in addition to giving thanks to him. The combination of the two delights God and says that we have faith that he will make things better in the future.

Thought for the Day:  Remember no matter how hard things in life may seem, keep you faith in God. He will NEVER leave you.

Prayer: Hey God, thank you for always watching over us. Help us to always remember to pray to you and to thank you both in the good times and bad. We love you so much. Amen.

                • M. Einerson  (UTM Wesley)


Friday, March 6                              

 “The Greatest Participation Award”

Read Psalm 121, Micah 7:18-20, and Romans 3:21-31

What is the one thing that everyone has done at some point in his/her life? Youth Sports. If you remember your recreational sport days, you’ll remember the best part of it all: the postgame juice boxes and oatmeal cream pies and the participation awards. Everyone was a winner. You didn’t receive an award for playing well, it was for your ability to get a ride, show up with a jersey of some kind, and occasionally try to make a basket, shoot a shot, or catch a pass while your teammate picked flowers or sometimes their nose.

When we embark on our walk with God, we come to realize the difference between a participation award and a reward. For clarification, a reward is something that is given to your because you have earned it through hard work, while a participation award is given to anyone who shows up to an event. Verse 23 of Romans 3 says,” ALL have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, but ALL are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.” Paul goes on to use phrases like “Through HIS faithfulness” and “GOD’s patient tolerance”, but what does this tell us? We have received, not achieved, the most important participation award possible. We play a game called life on Earth, and we can miss the target, fall short of success, and sometimes struggle, but God continues to award us with forgiveness, unwavering love, and compassion.

As I read through Micah 7:18-20 and Psalm 121, I also recognized a common theme of God’s protection and compassion. Micah 7:18 finishes with “He doesn’t hold on to his anger forever; He delights in faithful love.” How amazing is it to know that someone DELIGHTS in faithful love, DELIGHTS in forgiving us for our sins, and DELIGHTS in continually having to overlook our sins? Again, God is awarding, not rewarding, us with His compassion and love. Despite our defiance and failure to uphold our end of the deal, God is joyous in the process of forgiving us. Not only does He continue to wash us clean of our sin, but He also protects us in every way possible. From Psalm 121:6-8, you can see that in all circumstances, conditions, and directions, God offers his protection; He’ll protect you in the “night” or “day”, when you are “going” or “coming”, from “now until forever from now.” In all parts of life, if we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, or if we show up with a jersey ready to play, God will reward you with protection, compassion, and unwavering love- the most important participation award possible.

With all of this said, these passages serve as a proclamation of God’s power, His absolute permanence in our chaotic life, and His amazing grace. I hope as you read through them, you didn’t focus on our imperfections, but His ultimate strength and sacrifice. He loves you! He loves to watch you grow, and He will ALWAYS love, protect, and forgive you… “from now until forever from now.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, allow us to recognize your strength and compassion and to glorify your amazing grace, because it is you who has given us this life and the opportunity to praise your name. We thank you Lord for all you have done. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

                  • C. Hunt (UT Martin Wesley)


Saturday, March 7                     

  “The Mountains”

Read Psalm 121 

 “I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Ever since I was a child my parents have taken me to the mountains in East Tennessee. It was always a great experience, but the trek up the mountain was always an arduous task. We would go hiking around the cabin and after a while our legs would get tired and sweaty.

Though these times in life were hard there would always be a time that my parents would take out of our walk to pray. This gave us time to rest, relax, and take in the beauty of God’s creation. This moment of prayer taught me that in life when times get hard, it’s okay to take a moment and breathe.

When we take time out of our day to pray to God and realize that he is where strength comes from, we can breathe and get a second breath that God gives us.

Prayer of the day: God please be with us as we go through our busy lives. Give us the strength to walk up our own mountains and keep our eyes on you. Amen.

                • G. Haynes (Austin Peay Wesley)


Sunday, March 8                                                                                           


Read Matthew 17, 1-9 and John 3, 1-17

            Throughout the Bible, many people are transformed through God. Jacob is “transformed” into Israel. Saul is “transformed” into Paul. In both cases, God takes someone and helps them become the person He has planned them to be. But for many people, we aren’t called to service by wrestling with God, nor in a flash of light. Many of us, like Nicodemus in the Gospel of Luke, have questions, and that’s ok.

In today’s society, we as Christians feel that we need to know the answer to every question anyone will ask us about our faith. And, even worse, if we can’t make a strong argument for Christ in any given situation, we sometimes don’t. But, as we see in Luke, even those who lead us have to ask questions. And, most importantly in Luke, we see, despite the fact we don’t know everything there is to know, that God is there to help us when we stumble.

Thought of the Day: Don’t dwell on the past. Rather, use it as a guide so that you can be transformed through Christ in your future.

Prayer: Lord, help us to not be ashamed of our questions, but rather use the questions we have so we may grow closer to you. Amen.

                • T. Lawson (MTSU Wesley)


Monday, March 9

“But God… Why?”

Read Psalms 128:1-6 and Hebrews 3:1-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5

God has placed many roadblocks in my way throughout my life. Each time I was faced with one of those challenges my response was, “But God… why?”. Why, God, can my life not happen according to my plan? Why not this way? I was upset and confused by the times God told me no.

They say hindsight is 20/20. After some time, I began to see how God was working through those hardships. In Psalms 128, it speaks of the blessings God gives His people when they are obedient. Obedience is not an easy concept for me, especially when the task is something that I struggle with. My heavenly calling is the first thing that comes to my mind. The call to love others no matter how they are different than me. The call to lay my pride aside and to be a servant to all. The call to see everyone as a precious child of God. Our callings are not easy tasks and can take years of practice, but they are not impossible with God’s help.

Hebrews 3:1-6 encourages us to keep our thoughts fixed on Jesus. We must hold firmly to the hope that He gives us and be obedient to God’s individual calling that he has for each of us. Let us not respond with, “But God… why?”, but instead let us answer with, “Here I am, Lord”.

Thought of the Day: God wants me to trust him and respond with obedience to his calling.

Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, we confess that we have heard your calling but find it difficult to obey. Help us to respond with joyful obedience. You are a good good father, and we choose to put our trust in you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 Prayer Focus: Those who are discerning God’s call for their life

                • H. Underwood (MTSU Wesley)


Tuesday, March 10

“God’s Blessings for Us”

Read Romans 4: 1-13

The LORD bless you from Zion. May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. ~ Psalm 128: 5

Often, we hear in our society and culture today the phrase #BLESSED. It is often accompanied by pictures on social media of dream vacations, expensive electronics or jewelry, or new cars or houses. Yet in all of us that use that phrase, how often are we thanking God rather than showing up our peers? Do we remember what it means to be truly blessed?

The blessings that God gives us are perhaps a little different from the #BLESSED blessings that are so often shared. We see in Paul’s letter to Rome how God has blessed Abraham, and how God chooses to bless us. Paul reminds us that it isn’t through any works of our own that we earn a blessing. If we seek to earn such a gift, we see it as wages, or a payment that is owed to us. In versus 6-13 Paul shows us that it is through faith in God that we receive God’s blessings. It doesn’t matter the “stage” of faith you have, or how far in your journey in Christ that you are. God loves you and blesses you because of who God is and not how much we do.

Remember to take a break. God rested on the seventh day and so should we. “Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy.” As you slow down from the grind we have of life, look around you. How has God blessed you in life? Despite all the twists and turns in life I’ve been through, when I remember to pause, look around, and really SEE the people and community around me, I can’t help but see how God has #BLESSED me. It really is through nothing that I am, but everything that God is that I have a network of people that love and care about me. Reach out and talk to someone. More people love you than you know. As a challenge for the rest of this season of Lent, share the people that love and care about you with #BLESSED and why they are a blessing in your life. You’ll be reminded just how much love is out there, and maybe, if we all do it, we may remember the true meaning of blessed.

                • A. Barker (MTSU Wesley)


Wednesday, March 11

 Freedom Through Christ

Read John 7:53-8:11 & Psalms 128

21 whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
– John 3:21

All of us, like this woman, has been caught in the act of sin and stand condemned by God; but God offers grace to those who repent. This passage shows God himself changing the appointed punishment and he reestablishes the foundations of righteousness. In John 7:53-8:11 God shows us his mercy towards all people. God said “neither do I condemn you, Go now and leave your life of sin” he said his after he told the Pharisees “if anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. He was saying that no one is without sin, but through the glory of God and his mercy we are covered by grace. Colossians 2:13-16 tells us that “13when you were dead in your sins… God made you alive with Christ. 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross”

In John 3:18-21 it tells us that the Light (Jesus) has come into the world to show us mercy and not punish us but deliver us from darkness. Life is not fair; our lives are messy and hard, and most of the time we think that nothing is going our way. Forgiveness is God’s recipe for a fresh start. Not only will God free you from your sins but, he will bless you beyond compare. In Psalm 128 it says that God blesses all who walk in his ways. Blessing and prosperity will be yours, who walk in the footsteps of God. Follow God down his path and not your own. Seek him first and may his will be done.

Thought for the Day: God wants us to repent for he has shown us mercy

Prayer:  Lord, in our repentance show us your glory and lead us down the path of righteousness. Help us to follow your will and show mercy to others. In Jesus name, Amen

                • D. Stott (MTSU Wesley)


Thursday, March 12

“Where’s the Exit?”

Read Exodus 16:1-8

“He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first born from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.”  Colossians 1:17-20

Do you ever feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends? Like you’re running around with no direction? Wherever you turn things fall apart? So much so that you want to give up or even shut down? I have.

I am the kind of person that likes to be in the know. I like to know everything that is going on and be involved in it all. I like to be in control. I like to know what is going to happen when and why and have a back up plan in case the first falls through. I do this with everything: school, work, home, etc. I give my all to everything. But sometimes I think, “What’s the point? Why am I giving everything but getting nothing? When is someone going to help me?” But the irony is… I am often so busy, that I ignore the people that are trying to help me, check in on me, tell me to slow down and rest.

I am so busy running around, that instead of taking note of the ways and people God has provided for me, I keep complaining about how exhausted I am. But if I just took a moment to stop and look around, I would see that I am not alone. Even if there aren’t people around me helping, when I take a step back and look, I see all that God has done for me. God has and is always providing exactly what I need in each exact moment. No more. No less. I try to rush Him. I try to ignore Him. I complain to (and sometimes about) Him wondering when He is gonna show up and do something. But most of the time, He has already done it, and I missed it because I wasn’t focusing on Him. How often do you find yourself in this situation? I know I find myself here more often than I would like to admit.

How have you been missing God’s provisions in your life? Have you been running so far, so fast, so long that you missed your exit? Maybe even your exit to the cross? Have you been living your life in fast-forward wondering when the happy ending will come?  Let’s pause, rewind, and see that it already has come. God has already written and executed His plan. He has already provided. Jesus died on the cross so we don’t have to live each day wondering where our strength will come from, wondering what will happen next. Just like God provided the exact amount of quail and manna the Israelites needed for each day (no more, no less), He is providing for you. He is right next to you running this race. Sure, we have all screwed up along the way, taken wrong turns, ignored the road signs, and run out of gas, but God has the Map and is guiding you through each turn.

Thought for the Day: Where has/is God providing for you?

Prayer Focus: Ask God to show you ways that He can provide for someone else through you.

                • C. Shepard (MTSU Wesley)


Friday, March 13                         

“The Walls that Build Temples”              

Read: Ephesians 2:11-22     

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Psalms 95:3-5 (NIV)

Every day, in every moment, we are surrounded by walls. Not literal walls, necessarily, though that may be true for some of us–but figurative walls. Ones that separate us from each other. Personally, I feel these walls in every aspect of my life; they dictate my actions, my thoughts, and my words. There are so many walls that I can name–walls between me and people of different races, genders, beliefs, ages, and lifestyles. These could be walls that have been “constructed,” so to speak, by society and culture, established long before I physically existed; these could also be walls that I have built to protect myself at the expense of relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have learned to walk through life with fear, sticking to the path that I can easily see, avoiding touching these walls for fear of disrupting the “peace.”

But what peace could there possibly be if I live in fear? God does not call us to live in fear. Because of Jesus and his sacrifice and because of God’s mercy and grace, we are told not to live our lives in fear–that we have nothing to fear, because we have an all-loving and amazing God on our side. The earth molds to the will of His hands and the seas part with the whisper on His breath, so why do we let these walls control our lives? In Ephesians 2:11-22, it speaks on how God breaks down the walls of hostility between us and creates a unified body—one of peace and love. The most amazing part of this is that not only does God break down the walls of hostility that we have built between us, but that He has constructed a new set of walls—ones that guide us and unify us. These walls—the ones built from God’s love—form buildings and these buildings become a holy temple, built in peace; it says, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” It is described as a household and a dwelling where we find reconciliation through God, with Jesus Christ as its cornerstone.

Therefore, we must ask ourselves: what are the walls of hostility and isolation that exist in our lives? What are the ones that exist due to society, culture, or history, and what are the ones that we have created? How can we, as individuals and as a, community allow God to break down these walls to build ones that will rise to create a guiding, unifying, loving holy temple, not with our worldly lust for control as the cornerstone but with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone? How can I/we recognize the holy walls that have already been built and that are being built now?

Thought of the Day: God calls us to recognize the holy walls in our lives and to let them guide us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us let go of this want for control over these walls in our lives. We need Your holy temple, a set of walls that does not separate us, but unifies us; with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone, this holy temple can exist on Earth as it does in Heaven. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Those struggling to feel unity and peace.

                • B. Barnett (MTSU Wesley)


Saturday, March 14

Trust When Things are Tough

 Exodus 16:27-35 and John 4:1-6
One day, discussion at my Sunday school came around to the idea of finding a reason for why certain events happen in your life and whether we should accept that everything that happens in our lives is a part of some master plan.  And on one hand I can be a very independent person.  I like to think of myself as self-sufficient and capable of taking care of myself.  And yet on the other hand, what this passage in Exodus shows has its own draw.  The idea of being able to depend on God to provide your food every single day for forty years is something that can be hard to fathom in our fast-paced modern world.  As dangerous as the Israelites’ situation was, I can’t imagine a more physical example of God’s love then to have him literally rain food from the sky every day, just for you.

More times in my life though, I feel closer to Jesus in our passage in John.  Here Jesus is said to leave Judea not because of any higher plan he hears from God, but because the Pharisees have caught wind of all the people the disciples and he are baptizing.  When I face situations like this, where I feel pushed around by circumstance and not in control of my own life, it can be frustrating.  More than anything I would prefer if God just swooped in and dropped just what I need from the heavens.

Yet there’s something comforting in how Jesus travels from baptizing people and ends up arriving at a well.  No matter the chaos and pressures surrounding his circumstances for coming to Samaria, he still ends up connecting to water.  I feel like we get asked to trust in God, we aren’t expected to sit around and wait for our solutions to just pop out of nowhere.  I believe sometimes what we need to do is keep our eyes open and see how even when change comes around, we can continue to do what we were called to do in different ways.

Prayer: Dear Father, keep our eyes and hearts open to you so that even in times of tribulation, we don’t lose sight of your unfailing love. Amen.

Prayer Focus: Noticing God providing in big and small ways.


                • M. Schremmer (Vanderbilt Wesley)