Jessica Gulseth: Lenten Devotion - Scripture Study as Spiritual Practice


For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Recently an elder in our community, more than 50 years older than me shared how concerned they were about all that has been happening in our world. They talked about their life and lamented at some of the changes over the years, and my relief slowly started to emerge. When I tell you I felt so much better, I felt SO much better. The thoughts and feelings I had been having were normalized and some of them were even shared by this person. It gave me some perspective and encouragement. It reminded me of the first time I read the beginning of Moses' story. I had always known of Moses who stood up to Pharaoh and parted the Red Sea. I hadn’t known of the Moses who was also hesitant. It changed the way I felt about my own uncertainty being called into ministry. This is the beautiful power of scripture. Encouragement and hope reside in the pages of stories about people who endure and overcome. To dwell in the Word every day is an opportunity to find peace you didn’t know you needed. May the Word of God bring you encouragement, peace and hope as you relate to the stories of people who came before you.

Loving God, open the Bible to me. Reveal your love in the stories from of old. Show your character in the pages of this book that has been passed on from generation to generation. Shepherd me through studying your scriptures. Amen.



Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 14:12

Something that tempts me more than I want to admit, is the attitude of ‘I already know’. I catch myself assuming I already know what a piece of scripture has to say to me or to the Church. If you’ve been around scripture, church, or a community of faith in Christ for a while there are some stories in the Bible that get repeated over and over again. I find it hard to read, listen to, or engage in conversation without assuming I already know what God has to say through those well-known stories. But if I believe that the Word of God is a living and active word, as this text tells us, this mindset may be a problem for me. If you can relate, here’s what I have to remind myself when reading: I must hold an attitude of openness, and a sense of humility to keep learning and hearing something new.


God, let your word speak to us in new ways, help us to hear your words as if they were being told to us for the first time. Help us to have an open heart and an open mind to your living Word. Amen.



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

Have you ever heard that when you’re feeling hungry or snacky that you should drink water first? See, we’re dehydrated so often, what we might be feeling is thirst and not hunger but it’s hard for us to differentiate between the two. It’s funny how often we misread what our own body needs. It made me wonder: How often do we misinterpret and neglect our own need for God’s Word? This might be a confession you can’t relate to, but sometimes I will go all day without drinking water (because I love coffee too much). I get to the end of the day and I can’t figure out why I feel so gross, so tired, so unwell. Then it clicks. ‘You didn’t drink ANY water ALL DAY.’ Well, something else clicked when reading this text. Some days end with me lying in bed wondering why I feel so gross. I would run through my personal checklist: I slept well the night before, I ate well, drank water, was social and so on. Click. You haven’t read your Bible IN DAYS. I’ll be honest, I forget that to read my Bible daily is to care for my body, my mind, and my spirit in the same way that drinking water does.


God, we give you thanks for your Word. Remind us of the nourishment that comes from your Word. Feed us with the good food of your love, that we might taste and see your goodness in all that we do. Amen.


Jessica Gulseth is a seminarian at Luther Seminary in St. Paul seeking ordination in the ELCA. Jess is a Director of Children & Family ministry in the Des Moines, IA area.


Used with permission. Originally posted on Church Anew, a ministry of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, MN.

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