Lenten Devotional for Saturday, April 4

Psalm 31:9-16, Lamentations 3:55-66, Mark 10:32-34 

 Astonished and afraid.  

We find in today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel that Jesus’ followers were astonished and afraid as they followed him on the road to Jerusalem. Maybe you can identify with this. I must confess that at any given time in my own journey following Jesus I have been one, or both, of these things. I put one foot in front of the other as I journey after Jesus not fully understanding where he is leading me. I remain astonished by the person of Jesus and the miracles of who he is while simultaneously being made afraid by the mysteries of the journey.  As the disciples were experiencing these very things, the scripture tells us that Jesus took them aside and told them what was going to happen to him.  

“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles,who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” 

Jesus is out in front, leading the way to Jerusalem and then stops (for the third time in fact) to tell the disciples what is to come. The first time Jesus told them they didn’t believe him.  The second time they didn’t want to believe him. But this third time, Jesus is again trying to help them understand the reality of what is about to occur: that the road of redemption must journey by the foot of the cross.  It is a stark reality that the disciples were having trouble wrapping their minds around. So they did the only thing they knew to do in the midst of their bewilderment—they followed behind Jesus into Jerusalem.  

During the Lenten season as we reflect on the realities of the cross perhaps you are also struggling to fully grasp the depth of its message.  Perhaps the mystery of redemption seems to allude you. You might even find yourself astonished and afraid. I wonder if our scripture today is reminding us that Jesus continues to take us aside and reveal his message to us. Perhaps today, all you are able to do is fix your eyes on Jesus and follow each of his steps on the road to Jerusalem. During this Lenten season, may you be reminded that following in the steps of Jesus is, in fact, journeying toward redemption by way of the cross.  May it be so.  

Christy Ridings, Director of Spiritual Formation and Associate University Minister 

University Ministries   

Lenten Devotional for Friday, April 3

Psalm 31:9-16, Job 13:13-19, Philippians 1:21-30 

If you’ve spent much time in the Christian tradition, you’ve probably heard Paul’s famous words in Philippians “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” These words take the common experience of every human, life and death, and put a sense of purpose to each. All of us, at some point, must answer the question about what we believe it means to live and what it means to die.  

So, what are you living for? I know I have lived for all sorts of things, and oftentimes my direction feels like it changes by the day. I’ve lived seasons of my life for accolades and recognition, seeking the achievement and praise that comes along with it. I’ve lived at times to acquire money and material things, seeking security and the pleasures of more stuff. I’ve lived trying exclusively to focus on my career and the jobs that I might be able to find if I were to succeed.  

Now, I don’t think many of us consciously choose these directions all of the time. But I do know that if my purpose is vague, then so is my direction. I often end up getting swept around by the things that make me happy or offer the least resistance. And yet, isn’t it so inspiring and refreshing to others around us when they have a sense of calling and purpose that’s driving them?    

I believe Paul had such a deep and intimate relationship with God that it was an easy decision to say that to live is to live for Christ. It was his experience with the risen Jesus that animated his sense of purpose and calling in the world. In the end, this is what the season of Lent invites us to experience and remember. As we practice temperance through fasting, we open up more of ourselves to experience a deeper and more meaningful encounter with the risen Christ. I’m hopeful that as we all continue through the Lenten season in the ways God has called us all to participate uniquely, that we might echo Paul’s words more sincerely each day in saying, “To live is Christ.”  

Larkin BrileyDirector of Missions and Outreach & Associate University Minister

University Ministries 


Lenten Devotional for Thursday, April 2

Psalm 31:9-16, 1 Samuel 16:11-13, Philippians 1:1-11  

Psalm 31:9-16 is a compelling passage.  We live in a world that is good, created by the Good Lord Almighty, but also one that is filled with suffering:  sorrow, hunger, sickness, death, grief, violence.  The sin of humankind has brought on all kinds of hardship.  Sometimes it seems like there is terror on every side.  At times, we might feel forgotten, of use to no one, like broken pottery.  Other times, we might feel surrounded by enemies.  Jesus himself “was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:3)  He was well-acquainted with grief and tears, and just like us, was subjected to the world’s difficulties.  But, “…however fierce the waves are which beat against us, and however sore the assaults by which we are shaken, we hold fast this as a fixed principle, that we are constantly under the protection of God, and can say to him freely, ‘Thou art our God.’” (John Calvin).   

Our refuge and salvation are in God and his unfailing love and mercy.  God will not fail us, no one can take God from us.  blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)  As we see in the passage I Samuel 16:11-13, God has a plan, and it will succeed.  God makes use of even mistake-prone people like David.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)   

We look forward to Easter, when we celebrate our Savior’s resurrection and his triumph over sin and the world! 

Danny Biles, Professor 

Mathematics and Computer Science Department, College of Science and Math 

Lenten Devotional for Wednesday, April 1

Psalm 143, Jeremiah 32:1-9, 36-41, Matthew 22:23-33 

I have heard all kinds of stories of God “telling” people to do things – break up with someone, quit one job and take another, move to a new city.  I listen to those stories and sometimes it is hard to know what to make of them – I have never heard talk to me in this way. But, this is just the kind of thing that we read about in scripture all of the time.  Today’s passage from Jeremiah is one of those times.  

Things were not looking good for the people of Israel or for Jeremiah personally.  Babylon’s army had surrounded the city and was about to take it captive.  Jeremiah himself was confined in the courtyard of the royal palace.  The future looks bleak, and in the midst of that situation God tells Jeremiah to buy a plot of land.  It may have seemed silly to those around him that he would buy a piece of land that was about to be in the hands of the Babylonian army.  But, God tells Jeremiah to do it, and Jeremiah listens.  Through Jeremiah’s obedience, God says to the people who have nothing but fear for the future, “This is not the end of your story.  You are mine and I will bring you back to this place. This land will once again be yours.  I will enter into a covenant with you and I will never stop doing good to you.”  Through the faithful actions of Jeremiah, hope is brought into a dark and impossible situation. 

Are there ever times and places where you have felt lost and abandoned by God?  Where you have felt cut-off and abandoned?  Have you ever felt like the Babylonians have surrounded your city and there is nothing that you can do about it?  In those times, we may need to turn to this text to see a picture of God’s future for us.  Here, we are reminded that God controls that future and it is one of hope, rebuilding, fruitfulness and recovery.  God’s promise to the Israelite people through Jeremiah continues to come to us today – we are never left in the midst of disaster and struggle without God. God WILL rescue and redeem us. 

Heather Daugherty, University Minister 

University Ministries 

Lenten Devotional for Tuesday, March 31

Psalm 143, 2 Kings 4:18-37, Ephesians 2:1-10 

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” —Christian D. Larson Has catastrophe entered into your life? Does it seems as if the only one in the world suffering is you? Remember this—throughout the Bible there are several moments where the characters acknowledge that God will not leave nor forsake his children. Multiple times, God through his faithfulness, listened to the outpouring request of his people and poured out a blessing. There is suffering in this life. The greatest example of such turmoil is the pain and suffering of Jesus Christ. It is, however, through God’s righteousness and love for us that he hears our prayers and provides a path for us to follow. God has provided us with something special and its inside of us to overcome all obstacles and to do great things. David, in his knowledge and reverence of and for God, cried out and asked for guidance. He spoke to God about his faithfulness. He recognized that only God could provide him with an abiding peace in his life. The entire 143rd Psalm highlights David’s desire to be heard and to do for the Lord. He was fully aware of how much better his life would be with God in full control and him following God’s plan for his life. The ability to utilize the talents God has provided us with; talents to uplift downtrodden humanity; talents to have altruistic character: the great provision God offers to his people is not empty. We must adhere to what it is God desires for us—ultimate surrender. From an earthly vantage, if you sacrificed something so important to you for someone else, would you want a small amount of thanks and loyalty? God is only asking that we do the same. Since he has unfailing love for us—he wants us to have unfailing love for him. He has provided a Savior on our behalf and he is asking that we accept his lordship. As difficult as it may seem, the benefits are amazing and the alternative is horrifying. I cry out to you, oh Lord. Provide in me a clean heart. Allow for my thoughts, actions and being to be of you. Let every interaction I have create a new relationship or enhance an existing one with you. Give this community the strength necessary to help grow your kingdom. We humbly submit to all you have been, are and will be in our lives. Thank you and amen.

Lenten Devotional for Monday, March 30

Psalm 143, 1 Kings 17:17-24, Acts 20:7-12 

Through these passages we see Jesus bringing life to those who are dead – David, Eutychus, and the widow’s son. Although we may not realize it, each and every day Jesus is bringing life to the dead parts of us. He gives us breath and the water of life and we rise up and live a fruitful life because of the power and love of Jesus.  

David pleads with God to take him out of his deep depression, “Lord, come quickly and answer me, for my depression deepens and I’m about to give up. Don’t leave me now or I’ll die.” Psalm 143:7 PTP David knows that he will not be able to get out of this dark hole he is in without God and the light He brings. He mentions that he thinks about the blessings and wonders that God has done in the past and he knows that, like in the past, God can bring him out of this pit. David suffered a tremendous amount of stress, pressure, heartache, and emotional turmoil during his life. But one thing that He always goes back to is the Truth. He knows that regardless of his emotions and feelings of despair, the Truth of God’s  love for him will get him out of any pit. He turns to the one who can make it better, who can pick us up and carry us to the light.  

In the stories in 1 Kings and Acts, both disciples did not try some crazy trick or weird procedure to raise those men to life. They simply spoke Truth over them and let Jesus put life back into the mens’ lives. When we are in a pit, a funk, or even just having a bad day, once we realize we cannot make it better ourselves we are one step in the right direction towards healing. Speaking Jesus’ name over our troubles and turning them over to Him is sometimes the only thing we can do – and it is the BEST thing we can do. Giving our hurt and pain to the one who loves us more than anything is the best type of healing we can receive. Speak Truth over yourself and remind yourself how loved you are – Jesus will bring healing and life beyond what you can even imagine.   

Haylie Craver 

Class of 2020, Belmont College of Law 


Lenten Devotional for Sunday, March 29

Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:6-11 , John 11:1-45 

During his missionary journeys around the ancient Near East, Paul faced trials and imprisonment for preaching the Gospel of the risen Christ.  As told in Acts of the Apostles, Paul continued preaching and teaching in the capital of the highly militarized Roman Empire during the reign of Emperor Nero.  He was bringing a message of hope to a world that had been governed by corrupt dictators such as Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero.  Because Romans armies had conquered the Mediterranean world, there were many displaced people in the city including Jewish Christians like Prisca and Aquila, fellow workers in Christ who had been exiled then returned.  They are mentioned in Romans 16:3-4. 

One person permanently changed by Paul’s letter to the Romans was St. Augustine of Hippo.  Augustine’s book Confessions tells of his early sinful life and eventual conversion to Christianity.  In the turning point of Confessions, Augustine hears a child’s voice in a garden telling him to “take up and read,” which causes Augustine to flip open a Bible and find this passage in Romans 13:13-14: “Not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts.” 

Likewise, the message of Romans 8:6-11 is that today we live in a fallen world like that fragmented, conquered realm of the Roman Empire during Paul’s time.  The middle of Paul’s letter to the Romans (specifically Romans 8:6-11) is the turning point because it is about the difference between the old and the new.  We can choose to live in the old, lower world of the flesh or turn our hearts and live according to the new Holy Spirit, which reigns in Christ and in each of us.  Paul tells us if we set our mind on the flesh, it ensures only death, but to set our mind on the Spirit is the door to eternal life and peace.  What more could we want than eternal life and peace when we look around?  If we remain stuck in the mud and trapped in the flesh, we are just like those corrupt Roman emperors who did not try to please God.  Paul’s message has transcended the centuries and given life to Augustine and millions of other followers of Christ.  We need have a turning point in our own Lenten journeys towards Christ. 

Jonathan Thorndike, Professor 

English Department, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences 


Lenten Devotional for Saturday, March 28

Psalm 123, Psalm 130, Ezekiel 36:8-15, Luke 24:44-53

Perhaps you have felt it before – the restlessness, anxiety-building symptoms of a “waiting” allergy attack. It tends to happen in long checkout lines and definitely in Nashville traffic. We are allergic to waiting, or at least I am. We try to avoid it or at least minimize it. Instacart, DoorDash, Waze, and of course the beloved Disney Fast Pass are key tools in our anti-waiting arsenal, designed to minimize wait times wherever they may appear. In essence we hate to wait.

Yet, in today’s scriptures, the psalmist presents a counter-cultural idea. In Psalm 130 he actually encourages us to wait. That’s right, WAIT for the Lord. It’s a theme seen in each of today’s scriptures. In Ezekiel, Israel is encouraged to wait for the Lord’s redemption, and in Luke 24, the disciples are encouraged to wait for the one “my Father has promised.”

So how does a 21st century believer with a severe allergic reaction to waiting respond? Surely there is a saintly fast pass hidden within the verses. Unfortunately, no. Rather the psalmist encourages us to lean into the waiting with specific instructions on how we should wait. The psalmist describes waiting with his “whole being” and in anticipation of its fulfillment. To underscore this, the psalmist twice repeats “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

Notice too that waiting has a companion, the antidote to our allergic reaction — hope. In the waiting, the psalmist places his hope in God’s word and encourages us to do the same. Thus, the psalmist illustrates that waiting is not a passive, religious thumb-twirling enterprise, but an action. God calls us to actively wait by placing our hope in Him.

Finally, the psalmist ends with why we should wait on the Lord. He tells us to “put your hope in the Lord for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

Waiting is hard. Thankfully we are not called to wait alone. In Luke 24, as Jesus prepared to ascend into heaven, he told the disciplines that he would send them a helper in the Holy Spirit. Thus, even in the waiting, God is with us., showing us His unfailing love.

Christie Kleinmann, Associate Professor

Department of Public Relations, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Lenten Devotional for Friday, March 27

Psalm 130, Ezekiel 33:10-16, Revelation 11:15-19

Growing up, I always had a transactional view of God. To my high school self, God was just interested in my behavior and as long as I didn’t cuss, steal, or kill anyone, I was good. And if I was good, God would give me things that I wanted. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a faulty way of thinking and believing in God. Verse 3 in Psalm 130 says that if God kept a record of our sins no one has a leg to stand on. Even if we are perfect, or “righteous” as Ezekiel says, if we disobey one time (Ezekiel 33:12) our previous perfection counts for nothing. We cannot stand on our righteousness in the presence of God.

Deep down each of us know that. We know that we are broken. Either we fail to measure up or we realize that we are frail people that need help.

But there is hope.

Notice how Psalm 130:3 states that no one is righteous. The psalmist says that “if” God kept a record of everyone’s sins no one could stand, implying that he doesn’t do that. And verse 4 speaks to the true nature of the holy God of the universe: “But with you there is forgiveness”. Sometimes my transactional view of God creeps in and tells me that I don’t need forgiveness. The lie tells me that I need more of God’s blessings. But my hope is not in the gifts that God gives me, my hope is with the unfailing love and redemption that God provides (Psalm 130:7-8).

I also love the way this psalm expects God to redeem and provide mercy. It’s like the writer has seen it before; like the writer has cried out to God previously and seen Him answer. The psalmist is willing to wait because he knows mercy and redemption is coming and it is worth it.

Today’s verses in Ezekiel speak of life and death. No one can have life without repentance, which isn’t an elimination of sin. Repentance is what Ezekiel 33:11 says twice: to turn! It says to turn from your evil ways. The first followers of Jesus were called followers of the Way. They followed the way of Jesus, the way He did life: sacrificed for others, loved the marginalized and privileged alike, and led with kindness, passion, and gentleness. The first Christians turned from an evil way of life to follow the Jesus way of life. And that’s our call now: to step into the life Jesus offers through the forgiveness of a holy, loving, and awesome God.

Ryan Neises, Coordinator of Academic Services and Sports Ministry



Lenten Devotional for Thursday, March 26

Psalm 130, Ezekiel 1:1-3; 2:8-3:3, Revelation 10:1-11

In Psalm 130, the Psalmist pens a beautiful prayer full of longing for God to answer him and the hope of believing that his prayers are already being answered. He tells all of Israel to put their “hope in the Lord” because “with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all of their sins” (vs. 7b-8). They did not know at the time when God would redeem them or how He would do it, but through prophets and Scripture Israel knew God would come.

Fast-forward to Ezekiel 36. The Israelites have been overtaken, destroyed and plumaged multiple times. They are losing hope that there is a God at all, much less the type of God who would come to them and rescue them. But verses 9 and 10 offer a new hope to the people. God says to His people, “I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor… the ruins will be rebuilt.” God sees and knows His people. He never forgets His promises to them. He gives them timely words of encouragement in their moments of despair because He knew they needed it. He continually springs us hope.

Move to Luke 24:44. The disciples’ Teacher has just been murdered in an unthinkable way. Many of them abandoned Him and went into hiding after His death. They had what they thought was an unshakeable hope, but now it was all over so quickly. How could something so true be snuffed out so fast? How could they dare to have hope in anything ever again? And that’s where our Hope comes in again. Jesus has just raised from the dead and shows Himself alive to His disciples. Jesus tells them that everything that has happened to Him is to fulfill Scriptures written long ago that they knew but just needed the reminder.

He is a God Who Himself made the way for us to be redeemed. He cares greatly for us and sees each of our needs, looking on us with favor. He offers hope in every situation. So now let us continue to pray Psalm 130 knowing that our great Hope has come for us and will come again to bring us to Himself.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope. I put my hope in the Lord for with Him is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.

Ashleigh Martin Neu

Belmont Alumna Class of 2018