Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. Psalm 32:10
The LORD delights in those… who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11
First and Last
I discovered a long time ago that my day is just better when God is part of my morning routine. Scripture and prayer with tea and toast. Or journaling or writing, focusing on Him and His promises.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
But as I’ve asked how I can dwell in His shelter and find rest in these tumultuous days, He’s shown me a way to take this morning practice to the next level.
The instructions come again from the Psalms:
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, Psalm 92:2.
It is good to give God the first word and the last word of the day.
Want to give it a try? The psalmist says it’s a good thing…
When we wake, before all the clutter of the day comes stampeding through our minds, let’s declare God’s unfailing love as the banner that will fly over every hour, every event, of this day.
We start the day knowing we are the beloved. We set our minds and our hopes for the day on the foundation of His unfailing love.
Every morning for the next week, I’ll post a Scripture about God’s steadfast love. If you’re interested in establishing this Dwelling habit, read that Scripture first thing. It will be there early, so you can read it even before you get out of bed. (Apologies to West Coast readers!) Declare His unfailing love that will walk you through the day, say it aloud, and ponder this one snippet of His Word until the evening, when you go to bed and you …
Finish your day with declaring His faithfulness that day. Remind yourself how He has helped you, guided you, provided what you needed, disciplined you for your good, gave you His wisdom, strengthened you, changed you, reminded you of His presence, or intervened with His miraculous power—your stories will be unique to you and each day’s situations. At night, declare His faithfulness throughout that day, and thank Him.
I’ll be doing this. Join me. Dwell in the shelter of the Most High. Give Him your very first thoughts and words in the morning, and your very last at night.
Listen. And dwell.
During my morning walk, my phone dinged to announce the Verse of the Day on my Bible app. I took a quick glance at it.
Psalm 28:7. Hmm. These are words I could use in a Dwelling post on my blog, I thought.
When I was home again, I sat down to write.
But when I opened my Bible to review the verse and write a blog, I unconsciously reversed the numbers in the Scripture reference. Instead of Psalm 28:7, the Verse of the Day, I opened my Bible to Psalm 27:8.
And here is what I read:
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”
How could I possibly resist or ignore Him? Instead of jumping into composing a new blog, my Lord and I talked.
We dwell in His shelter when our hearts hear His constant invitation to come and talk—and we respond and go to Him.
I have to confess that I don’t always react in this way. Sometimes I hear Him but I ignore His invitation and go running off, doing or thinking something else. Or sometimes I even give Him excuses. “Yes, Lord, I want to talk with You—but first I have to make this one phone call.” Or run to the store for a few things. Or check my email.
Listen today, and you will hear Him say, “Come and talk with me.”
Dwell in His shelter. Those who live there find rest.
Let your heart say, “Lord, I’m coming.” And go, talk with Him. Don’t dawdle. Run!
Father, Lord Jesus, and Guiding Spirit, my heart hears You. I’m coming!
Alternate Dwelling Places
So, where have you been dwelling? Did you take inventory of your thoughts this week? It is our thoughts that take us to the places we dwell.
Writing about dwelling, I was prompted to pay attention to the paths I allow my thoughts to travel — and the places where those thoughts take me. On the day I wrote this, some of the places my mind was dwelling included:
The violence and ugliness in our country’s streets. Anxiety about the future. Fretting about paying bills. Wondering about health issues. Lubec, and feeling sorry for myself that I’m “missing out on my dream.” Thinking critical thoughts—of both others and myself.
No, it wasn’t pretty. They were not happy or pleasant places of dwelling. And certainly not peaceful or joyful or uplifting. And I was in a gloomy state.
Yes, I had also spent time with my God. But as I examined the paths down which I’d let my thoughts run during the day, I realized that I had spent far more time dwelling in those other places than I had spent in the shadow of His wings.
In Colossians 1:6, Paul wrote that the Good News was bearing fruit everywhere, changing lives, “just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.”
For me, the most powerful way to find His shelter, to move in close under His wings and find His grace, is through the Good News in the Scriptures. There we find the truth about who He is, who we are to Him, His kindness and mercy, His plans, and the hope He gives. The longer I dwell in the Good News, the more I am changed.
The Scriptures give me God’s gentle responses to each of those gloomy places my thoughts had dwelled. His alternative dwelling places. Do some of the following statements seem impossibly, even foolishly, simplistic to you? My only reply is this: This is what our God says.
Worry about the future—I hold your days in my hands. I hold YOU in my hand. You’re very precious to me. Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. I’ve got you. I’m here to help you.
Fretting about paying bills—I know what you need. I will supply all you need. I will take care of you.
Wondering about health issues—I am your strength and refuge; I work for good in every situation; even if you walk through the fire, I’ll be with you, you will not be destroyed.
The nation’s chaos—I know what’s going on. I am still the Almighty, your God. I have not changed. My plans have not changed. My kingdom of justice and peace is coming. And in the meantime, you, my daughter, are to be a channel of my light, my love, my grace in the world while you are there.
Feeling sorry for myself— (Oh! I’m ashamed that I have dwelt there. He delights in giving me everything He has—and I was feeling sorry for myself? Really, Elaine?) Remember who you are to me. Live in gratitude. That’s one of the “pleasing sacrifices” you can give Me. It will change your life, too.
Critical thoughts: You are my masterpiece, in whom I am doing a work. And, by the way, remember that I am also working in that other person you’ve been so critical of.
So there it was in front of me. The choice: On which side of the dash am I going to dwell?
As Colossians 1:6 says, God’s wonderful truth changes my life.
I wrote the above several weeks ago. During the intervening weeks, in these days when we see trouble every way we turn, one of the His truths that has opened up greater depths for me is Psalm 46:1. It’s one of those verses we know so well and have heard so repeatedly that we often don’t grasp the richness of it—until we live it.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
And Nahum 1:7 adds this: He is close to those who trust him.