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A new devotional, submitted and curated by our congregation, will be posted each day of Lent. Subscribe to receive each devotional at 7 a.m. ET by texting DEVO21 to 474747 or by clicking the mail icon above. 

Do You Want to Fast This Lent?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? – Isaiah 58:6-7

The central idea in fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function or activity for the sake of drawing closer to Christ. In the Bible, fasting is always associated with prayer and food. However, as Pope Francis points out, there are many things we can “fast” from in order to be closer to Christ – especially during the season of Lent. Richard Foster, in his book “Celebration of Discipline,” encourages Christians to fast from the following:

People – we have a tendency to devour people.  Silence and solitude (disciplines we will explore later) can actually help us love people more. 

Media – and the constant barrage of endless noise.

Cell phones – you do not have to answer every time someone calls or texts.

Billboards and Advertising – who determines what you need in this life to feel happy?

Consumer Culture – Consider using your buying power to do without and instead bless those in greatest need.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline ordained by God for the good of Christian fellowship. May God find our hearts open to his means of receiving grace.

Here are a few questions to ponder today:

1. What is the primary purpose of fasting?

2. How can fasting reveal what controls your life?

3. What is most difficult about fasting for you?

About Paula Renfro
Paula is the newest Lay Leader (2023) and serves as the Head of the Altar Guild.

Given Up for Lent

Photo by Sarah BrunThis devotion is comprised of excerpts from the book 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole.

What might be the fruit of fasting stinginess?  What might occur if our families fasted accumulation?

Though what is specifically “given up for Lent” shifts from generation to generation, the broad categories of entertainment, pleasure and food have remained constant throughout the centuries — caffeine, chocolate, designer coffee, carbs, and social media rank among the more popular offerings.  Can such polite fasts alone truly prepare us to be awed by Christ’s resurrection?  God seems more interested in what we are becoming rather than what we are giving up.

Faith, in general, is less about the sacrifice of stuff, and more about the surrender of our souls.  

Consider fasting these things:

1. Regret – do not feed it.  Do not give it space. Let it go.

2. Speeding past sorrow – honor the losses in your life.  Instead of speeding past sadness, slow down and be present in your emotions.  With Jesus, sit with your sorrow and let loss do its eternal work in your soul.

3. Avoidance – pay attention to avoidance mechanisms that surface when you face the unknown, unknowable, uncomfortable or unavoidable.

4. Leavened bread (hypocrisy) – with Israel’s exodus from Egypt yeast became a symbol of what was left behind: hypocrisy, corruption and bondage. Jesus used leaven as a metaphor of false teaching and hypocrisy (Luke 12:1)

5. Addition – fast adding anything to your life. Try to spend a day without spending money. Let each choice not to buy remind you of what you could not purchase: your pardon.

6. Withholding – Ask God to reveal any area in which you are withholding love from Him, others, or yourself.  

…in the words of Orthodox Reverend Alexander Schermann, “The purpose of Lent is not to force on us a few formal obligations, but to ‘soften’ our heart so that it may open itself to the realities of the spirit, to experience the hidden ‘thirst and hunger’ for communication with God.”

Reflect upon your personal preparation for Easter. Why are you setting aside forty days to honor Jesus’ death and resurrection this year?

Submitted by the Lay Leaders

First Time Fasting

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. – Nehemiah 1:4

Fasting – Painting by Deb BarnardMuch like Nehemiah, there have been times where I have been so distraught over current events that I have figuratively (or literally) sat down and wept. Often these events are ones where I feel I have little control or influence. A couple of years ago, one such event happened and I felt compelled to go beyond my usual manner of prayer and try fasting. I thought that maybe if I tried a deeper form of prayer and connection with God, my prayers would be heard and the outcome I desired achieved. 

I had recently learned about the Wesleyan fast, which seemed like a good place for a beginner to start: You fast from sundown one day until 3 p.m. the next day. I didn’t know what to expect, but decided to give it a shot. 

The experience was eye-opening. I went to work as usual that day and found myself thinking of God during moments I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Every time my stomach grumbled, it was a reminder of what I was doing. I prayed a lot that day — in my car, during my lunch break, walking to a meeting — I felt closer to God that day than I may have ever felt before. 

I went home and checked the news to see if my day of prayer and fasting had worked. Had I somehow changed the outcome of an event I had little influence on? No. I remember staring at my phone, disappointed that I didn’t get what I wanted. I went to God in prayer again and this time, He answered. “Not yet. Maybe some day, but not yet.”

Fasting not only drew me into closer step with God, it also reminded me that God’s timing is perfect. He hears our prayers, but answers them according to His perfect plan. 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for spiritual disciplines that draw us closer to You. Help us to understand that Your plans and timing are perfect. Amen. 

About Roxanne Sutton
Roxanne Sutton is mom to Parker (5) and Mitchell (3), wife to Brodie, chair of the St. Thomas UMC Communications Committee, part of the behind-the-scenes Sunday morning livestream team, coffee lover and hobbyist baker. 

The Benefit of Fasting

Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Matthew 4:4

Where my treasure is, there  my heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21

So what does my mind dwell on; what makes my heart warm; what is my treasure? Fasting is directing me to introspection. Anything that controls my mind and blocks me from God’s leading in my life needs to be rebalanced in my heart.  This is the conversation I need to have with God.  I need to let go of the physical, emotional and spiritual drain and give it to Him. Fasting helps me do this – rebalances my life and puts our Lord back where He needs to be – First.

Have I tried fasting?  Yes.  Sometimes it is very hard because my mind keeps going back to things I want or I should be doing.  It is easier for me if I concentrate on God’s Word — read scripture, read devotions, pray or sing hymns. Doing these things keeps my mind on spiritual things. ‘ Lectio 365’ is a good devotion to start your day.  You can read it or listen to it and pray as you get centered in God for the day ahead.  I usually need to physically remove myself — go for a walk in Manassas Battlefield, leave my books at home, turn off my phone and listen to what He has been trying to teach me.  I need to relax with Him, love Him and let His love fill me. God does not force Himself on me.  He waits for me to invite Him in.  So I invite Jesus in and pray he will empty me in preparation for His indwelling. 

If I am full of the ‘world’ there is no room for Him.

Praise God in all things, in feast and in famine (Fast)

 – Give Him the Glory.

About Marian Ludlow
I have been a member of St. Thomas since 1998 and many folks know me from helping to coordinate the OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors). I am new to SPRC this year and volunteer in the church office on Tuesdays. I enjoy painting and being a gram.

Studying the Bible Is Good for All Seasons

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:20

Paintings of Four Seasons by Marian LudlowSeveral times in my life, I've had to move to a new place where I knew almost no one. Thankfully, I've found that one of the best ways to get plugged in to a new area is to find a church and join a small group or regular Bible study.

Through studying His word, I was able to make friends and become involved in communities when I was starting out in sports journalism in the Virginia towns of Culpeper and Martinsville. Even since my teenage years, I've gained so much from being parts of groups at various stages of my walk with the Lord.

A Bible study with my church basketball team helped me turn my life over to God and stay at peace through major hip surgery. Later, a young men's group provided accountability. More recently, a parenting group made me realize that the challenges I was facing weren't so different from everybody else's.

Now at St. Thomas, I'm blessed to attend Bible studies led by Pat Dodson and by the Miller family. Even through Zoom and without meeting face to face, these provide key checkpoints to help me stay focused on God. He has put so many wonderful people in my life, and for that I'm always thankful.

About Lacy Lusk
Lacy is the husband of senior pastor Abi Foerster. He serves on the Communications Committee and enjoys ushering. In non-pandemic times, their family loves attending sporting events, movies, concerts and plays.

Scripture and Study

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. – 2 Timothy 3:16

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. – Acts 17:11

“Dad’s Bible” - Painting my Marian Ludlow

Most Christians would agree that it is important to know Scripture.  If that is a correct statement, then it is also important to study Scripture.  How else will you learn and know the truth about Scripture unless you study Scripture.    

Just because you hear someone say something (like on the TV news) or read it in print (newspaper or social media) does that make it true?  No.  You have to “study” the issue or what is being said or is being presented to you.  So it is with Scripture.  Some parts of Scripture are easier to understand than others.  Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean that you toss it aside and ignore it.  That is why it is important to listen to others and their understanding of Scripture.  

Anything that is worthwhile takes effort and work.  If you are not willing to put forth the effort, or at least attempt to make the effort, then there's no reason to even begin.  The two Scripture passages presented above are important to begin the effort.  First – you need to accept and believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed”, whether or not you understand all Scripture.  You will not find anyone that understands all Scripture.  Reading Scripture is good and is the absolute first part, which leads to the study part.  This then brings us to the second Scripture passage from Acts: We should do as the Bereans did, to see if what is said is true. See what other past Bible scholars have said, read the Bible footnotes, check other Bible commentaries on the passages of Scripture. 

Don’t do it alone.  As you begin your reading and study, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your understanding of the Word.  Join a study group that looks at God’s Word so that we “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Holy Spirit, put a desire and hunger in my heart to learn and know your Word.  Be my guide as I open Scripture, study your Word and apply it to the way I live, so that my life will glorify Jesus.

About Earl Amstutz
I'm an Adult Sunday School Teacher, help at the food pantry, sing in the choir and participate in other activities in the church.  I’ve been married to my wife, Jane, for fifty-two years and am a long-standing member of St. Thomas (joined in 1978).

His Burden is Light despite the Plentiful Harvest

Matthew 11:28 - 30Painting By Deb Barnard

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 In the past, I travelled along with others on a mission trip.  Leading up to the trip, I always tried to imagine the work I would be doing while I was there to prepare myself mentally and physically.  All this imagining was fine, but it was nothing compared to the reality of seeing a truckload of one thousand cinder blocks pull up to a job site or 50-pound bags of cement ready for mixing.  The thought of having to help unload the blocks or mix the cement made me feel a little heavy-laden.

Despite this, I thought of the reasons He called me to join the mission team: provide much-needed manual labor to the construction crew, spread the Word in a different part of the world, and attempt to change some stereotypes held by people.  I turned to the Gospel of Matthew for scripture to bring the situation into perspective.  To hear Jesus say to us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light -- all the time knowing that He was going to face torture and die -- helped me focus.  It helped me realize that however difficult my labors may seem, following Jesus’ example and taking up His yoke will provide the rest that my soul needs to carry out a life devoted to Him and His message.

Each time we started the mission trip, the missionary we worked with emphasized we would not finish the project and we should keep this in perspective.  I often thought and prayed for the Lord to touch others’ hearts and lead them to work with us on this mission.  At these times, I would turn to Matthew and pray for more workers to the harvest.

Lord, we pray that we always remember the words of your Son who reminded us that taking up His yoke would give us rest from the labors of everyday life and the things of this world.  Lord, I ask that you reach into our souls and lead us to work on Your plentiful harvest.

About Rich Banner

I live in Manassas with my wife and three children.  We all enjoy cooking and travelling.  I also serve as the Chair of the Finance Committee.

My First Bible and a Plan

Listening to the sermon series, Bible 101, a question was posed asking when people received their first Bible. When did YOU receive yours? During that series my children and I drove through the Parking Lot Party and I was given a few papers. One in particular looked useful and in a layout that I could uphold. 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan was printed near the top.

Over the next couple of weeks I felt nudged to go out and gift myself the Bible that was never gifted. I browsed websites and tried small businesses to no avail. Finally, I masked up to enter Barnes and Noble. Several mounds began to pile up around me as I sat on the floor and flipped through various translations, versions, types, colors, themes, etc. I didn't really know what I was searching for but I finally made my purchase, feeling content with my choice. Back home, one of my children showed interest and curiosity towards my purchase and asked that I read my book to them. Bedtime was upon us but after reading a chapter from Isaiah they asked if I could read another. I happily obliged. After finishing a chapter from Romans they sweetly cooed, "I really like listening to you read it." A few days later I found the note that I've attached. I began using the New Testament Reading Plan on the date of my anniversary, the day after I purchased my first Bible. The 5x5x5 plan helps keep me on track without stressing and the Bible version I selected reflects an endearing stage of my life.

The responses of my children conjured up a memory of phrases mentioned during two different church services. 1."Many people will never open a Bible, but they WILL meet you."  2."The Bible was meant to be Daily Bread, not cake for special occasions." May you feel that nudge to feed your soul and be a model through your actions.

About Vicki Schoch
Vicki Schoch [shuck], member for 10+ years, wife of Eric for 15+ years, mother to Laney, Sabrina, Josephine, and Giovanni. Favorite to-dos: jigsaw puzzles, food as nutrition, nature, and informational texts. Life-long passion: observing children in their natural state to create simple strategies for families to increase their potential for success.

Studying Scripture and the Bible with Children

Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. - Luke 2:47

Josephine and Giovanni share the lessons they've learned in Sunday School. 

About Josephine and Giovanni
Josephine(6) and Giovanni(4) virtually attend King's Kids on Sundays. (Josephine)-I love storytelling and using humor to make others happy. (Giovanni)-I love learning and using new information(especially Math and dinosaurs), surprising people, and having fun. Our favorite prayers are (J)"Angel of God" and (G)"The Lord's Prayer".

The Benefits of Reading the Entire Bible

Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105

Photo of Mount St Helens by Sarah & Matt Hammack ‘A Path Unto My Feet’When I was in the 9th grade, I decided to read the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.  When I finished, I read it again.  Although I did not understand much of what I read, I was able to pick out things that meant something to me.  And of course, there were stories I was familiar with from Sunday School and youth group.  The gospels were easier to understand, and I enjoyed the beauty of some of the psalms.  After the second time through, I didn’t start a third time, focusing my reading more on the New Testament.  I attended church regularly, including through college and during my first job after graduation.  And then I gradually fell away from church.  A few years later, married and with a toddler and a newborn, my husband (also a lifelong Methodist) and I realized we needed to go back to church – so we started attending St. Thomas.  We faithfully attended both church and adult Sunday school.  When an evening Bible Study, “Through the Bible in a Year”, was offered, we found a weekly babysitter and signed up.  That marked the beginning of a more serious effort on my part to study and understand God’s Holy word.  It was so good to go through the Bible again, this time with a leader, a workbook, and group discussions.  I found I was able to build on my earlier study, as I attained a better understanding of God’s character, and what He was saying to us.  My faith was growing and maturing.  The Bible is how God shows each of us how he wants us to live.

After this study, I signed up for other Bible studies, each one giving me new insights. Study into God’s word has deepened my faith, increased my understanding of God’s power and love, and helped me live a more God centered life.  My faith is what helps me through life’s hard times and what increases my joy during the good times.  I’m so grateful that I’m able to study God’s word through the scriptures.  

About Janie Russell
I have been a member of St. Thomas for 42 years, which means I’ve spent over half my life at this church!  I currently serve as the chair of the Sunbeam Children’s Center Board and I am also on the Church Council, Finance Committee, and Mission Council.  I have two adult children and two grandsons, whom I love dearly.

Need Answers? Pray!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Photo by Sarah BrunMany, many years ago, Gary and I lived in New York. (Both of us were small-town, county people).  Gary eventually got a transfer to National Airport, so we started looking for a home in the D.C. metro area.  Gary moved to Alexandria while the boys and I stayed in Levittown until we could sell that house and find a new place to live.  

We looked and looked.  We looked in Prince George’s County, Frederick County, and Prince William County.  We had to consider commute, schools, county/city reputations, and cost of living in the areas as well as the cost of the house.  We saw so many homes.  Some we immediately eliminated while some were on the short list. We just didn’t know where to live

At the same time, I was participating in a devotion/faith/action based program through our church.  Each week we had to do specific things, one of which was a daily devotion time at 5:00 AM.  We were all doing this devotion at the same time in our homes, sort of together-apart.  Sounds like the way we do things right now because of Covid.  The devotion time consisted of Bible reading, meditation, and prayer.  

One morning, as I was doing the devotion, I was VERY distracted because all I could think about was “where are we going to live?”  I couldn’t concentrate at all, so I just stopped and did what I should have done weeks before: I prayed.

I poured out my house-hunting frustrations to God.  I laid it all at His feet.  I told God to make it very clear where He wanted us to live.  

I’m sure you have all heard that God answers prayers!  Well, He does!  

Within two days, God had eliminated all options except the house where I currently live and have lived in for 43 years.  God answered our prayers and brought us to Manassas, VA.  

His plans are perfect!

Prayer:  Most precious Lord, please help us to turn to you first.  Please help us to listen to You and trust that You will put us right where we are supposed to be.  And, God, thank You for sending us to Manassas and to St. Thomas UMC. Amen

About Lynn Furlong
Lynn attends the traditional service, sings in the choir and loves going on START trips.  She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Trustees.

Fervent Prayer

The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. – Psalm 28:7

Through the years, the majority of my prayer life has been focused on praying for my family and friends. For their health and well-being and that they would draw close to the Lord. In October of 2014, I found myself turning my prayers inward. I was told that I needed "Whipple Surgery" to remove a growth in my small intestine. My surgeon told me that it was a "big surgery" with a difficult recovery, I would likely be in the hospital for 10 days, and to expect to feel "lousy" for at least 8 weeks, after which, I would slowly start to get my strength back.

I walked out of his office feeling anxious, to say the least.

As I started to process what he had said, I realized I wasn't anxious about the outcome of the surgery. The outcome was not in my control. It was in God’s hands, and I trusted Him with it.

What was in my control was how I would handle the pain and feeling "lousy" for so long. I had never experienced pain or feeling "lousy" for more than a few days at a time. I was afraid I would be a "big baby,” be "mean", or become discouraged. This is not how I wanted to react.

My desire was to handle the recovery in a way that would honor God and please Him. It became clear to me that I could trust Him with my recovery just as I was trusting Him with the surgery. I began praying fervently that the Lord would help me keep a faithful attitude. I prayed that He would keep reminding me to turn to Him for strength.

My fear faded as I trusted that He had heard my prayer and that He would be with me through it all.

The surgeon was right. It was very difficult, but the Lord carried me through. He gave me peace, and I didn't become discouraged. My family will have to attest to whether I was a "big baby" or if I got "mean." Thanks be to God.

About Cheryl Rosko
I began attending St. Thomas UMC with my husband, son and daughter about 25 years ago. I love spending time with my family, including my two beautiful granddaughters. I enjoy vacationing at the beach and enjoying the view from an ocean-front deck.

Pray with Simplicity

Great Reasons to PrayTake a moment to read and reflect on the passage of Scripture below from the Gospel of Matthew 6:5 - 15 (The Message, Eugene Peterson):

 5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for fifteen minutes of fame! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

As you read this passage, where was God speaking to you?

Richard Foster, author of the Celebration of Discipline says, "To pray is to change."

Do you believe this? Have you ever experienced this in your own life? How might you simply come before God so that you can experience the adventure of prayer more this week?

Dear Lord, I come before you this day seeking your grace and love.  Help me to turn to you in all things, to quiet my own voice in my head, and instead to listen to what you are saying to me.  I love you, Lord.  Amen.

Talking with God

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:12

Painting By Deb Barnard

Prayer has been a very important part of my life for many years. I think it was sort of a gradual process, but I believe God has helped me develop a meaningful prayer life through a variety of situations throughout my lifetime.

I like to look at some of the Psalms because the psalmists do an excellent job of expressing who God is. He is not my buddy, He is not a genie, He is not at my beck and call. He is God, and I come before His throne with reverence and adoration. But at the same time, I know He has such a very deep love for me that He sent His Only Begotten Son to pay for my sins. God has faithfully and patiently led me into Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and friendships in which prayer was seriously discussed in an effort to develop a genuine understanding of what prayer is and how to pray.

Picture yourself sitting in your family room or at the dinner table or in your favorite restaurant and talking with God as you would a valued and trusted friend, someone you love and for whom you have respect. Tell Him everything that is on your heart. Everything! He wants to be a part of your life, He wants to help you, to take care of you, to guide you. Just ask Him.

I can look back over my life and remember countless times when I have prayed for forgiveness, for help, for guidance, for healing. And God is always faithful. ALWAYS. If you've been disappointed because God has not answered a prayer the way you thought He should it was probably because you were too specific and didn't trust Him to handle the situation. You can trust Him, you truly can.

If prayer is not a part of your life, I'd encourage you during this time of Lent to begin. You might want to start off by spending 30 seconds thanking God for Jesus. And who knows where you'll go from there. But it will be good.

About Jane Amstutz
Member of the Chancel Choir; Facilitator of the Prayer Chain

Peace Amidst the Pain

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. – James 4:8

Photo of a Rainbow by Matthew & Sarah Hammack

I've been a Christian for a long time, and I know that Jesus loves me and died to save me, but I still find myself wondering why hard stuff has to be so painful. Is God really being good through all of it? I think C.S. Lewis says it best: "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." And it's at this point that Romans 8:28 queues up in my mind and heart: "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." That verse helps shed some light on the reality that even if something doesn't feel good, God can still work good from it. And verses 5 and 6 from Romans chapter 8 give us another layer of assurance: "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace."

What doesn't feel good in my flesh won't make sense in my flesh. But if I have the Holy Spirit in me, my spirit is different because God is there--His indwelling presence with me. He speaks reassurances in the spirit. He speaks comfort in the spirit. He reminds me that He is right there with me in the spirit. People and circumstances might disappoint me, but God never will. It's all about maintaining my prayer life and relationship with our living, loving Lord. Therefore, I have to keep my mind focused on what the Holy Spirit whispers, not what my flesh screams. And in my spirit I know God is good to me.

Dear Lord, thank you for your goodness to me. When I am in pain, please help me to remember all the times You've been faithful and praise you in spite of my circumstances. In the strong and faithful name of Your Son I pray, amen.

About Julie Bailey
Blessed wife of 29 years to Perry, mom of Madeleine, Jack and Susannah, American Heritage Girl leader, devoted West Virginia Mountaineer fan.

Time Alone with God

Happy Birthday Manamana! Read the bible every day and you will have courage to save your kids at work. I like to start my day with a prayer. I pray before I get out of bed. Admittedly, I have considered this may be a stall tactic to avoid getting up. I am thankful for a new day and for all of the blessings in my life. I ask God to point me in the direction of whatever He would have me do this day. After feeding our dogs, I like to settle in for a cup of tea and a devotional. Again, I thought of a way to relish a slow start to the day.

Recently, my sister sent me a devotional that changed the way I think about my morning routine. Steve Scholer at Creighton University pointed out the importance of spending time alone with God. Jesus often spent time alone with God in prayer. Time alone with God not only nurtures and deepens our relationship with God, but it can develop “a wellspring of grit and compassion” we can use to deal with the hardships of life on earth. Now I know the time I spend in prayer and the time I spend alone with God every morning gives me the resources I need for the day ahead. 

After I wrote this devotional, I came across a birthday card our grandson, Donovan, gave me in 2016. It would seem that he had it all figured out years before me! Our strength comes from spending time with God.

About Cary McMahon
My husband, Rick, and I are long-time members of STUMC. I am a recently retired pediatric nurse practitioner. Together with our children, their spouses and our grandchildren, we run a family farm winery.

We're So Excited!

Our Lenten Journey is set to begin this Wednesday, February 17 at 7 am.  We hope that as you read each day's devotional, written by one of our members, that you will be drawn closer to Christ.  We have set up this Lenten Devotional Blog to live on our website under the "Nourish" tab because we believe that the Word of God, Prayer, and our stories help our faith to be nourished and to grow!  Each time there is a new post, all those who are subscribed to our blog will receive an email.  

May the Holy Spirit lift you up and challenge you to engage the spiritual disciplines of paryer, study, fasting, silence and solidtude, service and submission, and confession, worship, and celebration more deeply this Lent!


*  Currently, our regularly scheduled worship on Sunday morning & Tuesday evening is suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus restrictions. 
Please join the community’s Worship Livestream Event on Sundays at 9 am Traditional and 11 am Contemporary.


St. Thomas UMC
8899 Sudley Road
Manassas, VA 20110

Our Haymarket Campus

Worship: Sundays at 10 AM
Haymarket Elementary School

Office:15000 Washington Street
Suite 206  (Above Town Hall)
Haymarket, VA 20169


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