Mid Week Update/Devotion 4/15/2020 “My Dwelling”
We will get to the Mid-Week devotion in a moment.
I have a few announcements first.
Good morning, afternoon or evening, depending on when you are watching this mid-week version of our online church presentations. Welcome! I want to extend a greeting to those of who who are joining in today, whether you are a member of Centenary United Methodist Church, or a friend or family member of someone who attends here. Maybe you have no connection to this church except through these video devotions. Welcome. My name is Pastor Mel Nielsen, but most folks around here call me PMel.
Continued Prayers for Al Showalter who suffered a stroke. I have spoken with him and he is making some progress, he is at Passavant and still coveting your prayers for healing power for his left side especially. He thanks you for all the cards and letters.
Prayers for our extended families, some of whom are being directly effected by COVID-19.
Prayer request for teachers separated from students and needing to teach online.
Prayers for MacMurray College staff, faculty and students.
Prayers for those who were in the path of the tornadoes that caused so much damage across the south.
Before our time of prayer, let us take a minute for you to have the opportunity to share your joy or concern.
We huddle together in prayer to meet the quietness of our dwellings. We admit it is difficult waiting with heavy hearts for the all clear to be sounded. Waiting for the news that we may gather again. We cry out thinking about what was and not knowing what is to be. We call upon your name today Lord, for the world has forsaken us, but we know that you have not.
We miss our families, we miss visiting, we miss our church. Come to us, God of love. Let your Holy Spirit touch us and give us hope. Yes, give us hope for a better tomorrow, for an end to our turmoil and an end to the quarantine. O God, we want so much to look forward to tomorrow. Grace us with your presence as we agonize through this day.
Hear our prayer, O God. Can you hear our prayer? Amen.
Loving God thank you for listening to our prayers, now be with us as we pray the words which you have given to us;
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
For ever. Amen.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. 6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
DEVOTION: “My Dwelling”
A lot has been made of the fact that we have been asked to shelter in place. For most of us that has meant to stay home. No large gatherings, venture out only for necessities. Are we getting tired of sheltering in place? We are reminded how blessed we are to have a place to shelter in. Many of our sisters and brothers across the south have no home to shelter in. The tornadoes have taken away even that. “How much more,” I thought as I watched the stories on the news of the survivors.
Those words made me dig into the Psalms. God guided me to the 27th Psalm for our devotion today. I read through it a few times to see which words glimmered. This was a habit I discovered while at school. A professor said to read and wait for the glimmer. If you think God has chosen certain words for you, then read over them and wait. There is no physical reaction, it is more a result of the spiritual sight I mentioned on Easter. About the third time I read through the Psalm, verse 4 glimmered.
Let me read it again, “4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” What these words say to me is this, I don’t dwell only in my house, I dwell in God’s house. That could mean my body, my home or my church. Funny those are the only places I have dwelt, except for a quick run to the grocery store. Even there, a friendly church member said hello, we talked, and I felt the presence of God still with me. We were both wearing masks but, we still recognized each other.
That was a nice moment, but we both knew we needed to go back to the safety of our dwellings. So I went back to the parsonage. Centenary provides nice home, but I must realize that it is not just a house you provide or my home, it is God’s home. It is a gift, like all things in this world, a gift from God.
I am not just dwelling in a home, I am dwelling in the house of the Lord. My physical sight tells me it is a nice house, temporary living quarters. My spiritual sight tells me that this is the house of the Lord.
I hope you see your home that way. We understand that THE house is heaven, and we will all dwell in that place someday. Yet God provides for us right here, right now. If we begin to think of our earthly homes as a place where God resides, that may help us know our homes are pretty good places to sheltered in. The roof on our homes may keep the snow and rain out, but what keep us safe, really safe, are the blessings of God; and the blessings of God are not limited to the sanctuary at Centenary. They reside with us wherever we reside.
I have spoken with numerous people who have moved to retirement facilities after 40-50-60 or even more years in one home. We talk about it not being the same, but we speak about knowing God is with them. God is the same no matter where we live, or where we are sheltering in place. God is in our homes, God is God is in the hospitals, God is in the Governor’s mansions and in the White House, God is in the fire stations and the police stations, God is in the make shift shelters being set up in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. Truly, God is everywhere people seek to find Him.
I know these are difficult times, we are learning how to get by without each other as we remain in our dwellings. The best news about all of this is, God is with you. God has never left. How can one God be in so many places at one time? That question used to concern me. If God doesn’t satisfy, no earthly answer ever will. God’s ability to be us and protect us goes beyond my ability to comprehend. That is why God does the creating and I simply sit in my dwelling and try to understand the depth of the Word.
The Word of God today tells us that even though the enemy surrounds us, we have our heads uplifted just slightly above it. Yes, God does hear our cries of fear and frustration, yet God also wants to hear something else coming from within our dwellings. When we come into the Lord’s presence we are expected to give shouts of joy. The Psalmist recommends that we make some music. How about it, shall we spend this day in song with God, praising the one who is always with us, not just in our dwellings, but dwelling inside of us.
In my limited human understanding, that is how I understand that God can be everywhere at one time, God is within us. Wherever any of us go, there is God with us. Let us allow God’s beauty to shine forth from within us today – in song. If you are like me and singing in tune is difficult, if not impossible, then play some music and sing along the best you can.
It is more about what is in your heart than what key you sing in. Speaking of keys, we all need a key to enter our dwellings don’t we? Once we get inside the key to knowing God is in there with us might be to open your hearts, open your minds and maybe even open your mouth and start making a joyful sound unto the Lord. Today let us make music to the Lord.
May God’s peace be with you until we meet again,
Stay safe and God bless.