Week #4: Secured In Faithfulness

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

(Psalm 91:4)

            Have you ever seen an adult bird tuck a baby bird under their wings? The adult bird has the strength of being larger and more mature; has acquired life-learning wisdom; and is alert to the surrounding dangers. The baby chick rests securely, for it is weak and vulnerable dependent on its parent for sustenance. The chick possesses no knowledge of anything beyond the warmth and security of the parent. I always think that is true protection and reliance

            In the simple, yet intimate life of a bird, we are given another source of God’s protection—his faithfulness. Some Bibles use “truth” meaning stability, firmness and reliability.  At first we may be confused to think that the word “truth” is interchangeable with the word “faithfulness.” Yet, isn’t that where the strength and security of our Lord comes from? His truth. The divine instruction of the Bible and the authenticity of Jesus Christ are truth and define the faithfulness of God.

            Romans 3:3 reminds us of the indescribable law at work with God’s faithfulness—it isn’t dependent upon the believer. For whether we believe or not, God’s faithfulness does not change. We are to be the baby bird. The difference for us is how we rest…are we secure and content like a baby bird under its mother’s wings? Or are we panicking constantly peeking between the feathers to make sure all is okay?

Write out and memorize: Psalm 91:4

Reflect: Reflect on this past week and how you have been like a baby bird—tucked comfortably under the refuge of God. Or, have you been filled with doubt and worry peeking through the comforting wings of our loving Father in Heaven.

Prayer: Oh, Lord You are my guardian and stronghold caring for me as a helpless chick. Help me to live out Your faithful promise that not even a hair on my head goes beyond your notice or caring hand (Matthew 10:29-31) Amen.

Worship Song: Promises Never Fail by Bethel Music & Emmy Rose

Week #3 Our Rescuer

The two scenarios found in Psalm 91:3 are enough to cause fear and panic.  And, once again we are reminded where our security rests. We have the shock-and-awe of an animal snare. A snare is a trap hidden in the forest or jungle. Because it cannot be seen or detected it traps an animal unaware. Another fear is the unseen panic of a deadly pestilence, which we are currently living through the corona virus.

“For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from deadly pestilence.” (Psalm 91:3)

This week as I met with my women’s prayer/fellowship group, we were amazed at the how quickly the corona virus has invaded our lives. In a matter of weeks or months, many of us went from knowing about the virus in China, to a few cases popping up in our area, then to shelter-in-place to stop transmission. Suddenly we have a whole new existence with remote working or unemployment, homeschooling our children, and no face-to-face contact with our neighbors, friends, and church family. For some of you the virus has infected your family, friends and/or neighbors; or you have already lost loved ones to the respiratory illness. And since most of us our nurses or midwives, we are on the front lines caring for patients who are severely sick and dying, while trying to keep our own family from becoming infected.

Through the “shock-and-awe” scenarios of a snare and pestilence found in Psalm 91:3,   we are reminded where our security rests. In our Rescuer–Jesus Christ!  We are protected in his hand. Not immune to disasters or viruses, but secure in his ever present providence (Hebrews 13:5/Psalm 118:6; 1 Chronicles 29:11). God knew about the corona virus, including the who, what, where, when, and how. He even knows the why!

Even though we are vulnerable to the tragedies of this world, we have a secured eternal place with him.  

Reflect: Use an online Bible tool (BlueLetter Bible) to look up the topic “God’s Providence”. Write down the verses and explore how your beliefs about the “hand” of the Lord line up with scripture (Psalm 118:6/Exodus 15:6)

Write out and memorize: Psalm 91:3

Pray/Praise: Father God, You are my rescuer and nothing in my life is outside of Your knowledge. For just as You know when a sparrow falls from a tree, so you know every cell in my body and moment in my life (Matthew 10:29-31).  Thank You and praise You, for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! (Romans 11:36). Amen

Week #2 My God in Whom I Trust

I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. (Psalm 91:2)

            A military wall or high strong fence is a means of protection. It prevents enemies or vicious animals from coming inside the protected area. Those inside the protected area are secure from whatever is on the other side of the wall or fence. If the wall or fence has holes or is weak, the people inside the protected area are vulnerable. We know in our minds that the Lord is a refuge and fortress.  Yet, at times we have doubts. Or, we allow fear to break into our fortress. These can be our own natural tendencies or fleshly worries, concerns or stresses.

One way we can remind ourselves of the strength of the Lord, is to say it out loud. “I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress…” (Ps 91:2)

            There is strength and guidance when we speak to the Lord and recognize his protection. It is not as if the Lord provides a sudden barrier, like in action movies. The writer of the psalm or song used 4 different titles for the Lord: Most High, Almighty, the Lord, and God–these names represent the power of our Creator God and the endearing Love of our Covenant God. God’s name and character is the fortress and our refuge.

            Through our spoken words, our heart grabs onto that which our mind already knows—The Almighty, the Most High is our sanctuary. Notice the confidence of the writer.., I will say to my My God in whom I trust” And as we say to our nursing students, you build confidence by saying it, doing it and believing in the confidence. We don’t wait to feel secure or “positive”. We say it out loud knowing the power rests in the God to bring it forth (Isaiah 55:11; March 11:22-24). Like the Psalmist, proclaim with confidence, “I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

  • Write out and memorize: Psalm 91:1 & 2
  • Reflect: Spend time this week exploring ways you need the Lord’s refuge and fortress. They can be physically (from the coronavirus) and spiritually (fear, stress, etc.). Then, confidently proclaim “My refuge and My fortress, my God, in whom I trust” over every concern you listed.
  • Pray/Praise: Almighty, Most High God, we have found refuge in You as a strong encouragement to hold fast to and a hope set before us through your Son, Jesus. He is our hope, an anchor for our soul that is sure and steadfast. Amen. (Hebrews 6:18-19)
  • Song: A Mighty Fortress is our God

Week #1 The Shelter of the Most High

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

(Psalm 91:1)

I published a series exploring Psalm 91 after the death of my sister. The Lord led me to Psalm 91 as a lifeline to Him. His strength, comfort and hope held me up during my grief and despair. Even today, 7 years later with a seemingly life-time of challenges behind me, the Lord continues to follow through with his promise: When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble (Psalm 91:15).

Join me in exploring the promises found in Psalm 91. I have updated each devotion for today’s crisis, along with relevant reading and reflections.

Psalm 91 is a song of trust and hope that guides us in understanding our God and the protection He provides. It is not a guarantee that nothing bad will happen to you and me, nor to our families and friends. Instead, as one Bible scholar states it is promise of “no fear and no fall”. This spiritual covering is a protection from the elements outside or beyond the Lord’s hand. We do not have to be afraid of what comes our way in this life, nor the next. As the coronavirus pandemic causes illness and death to our family and friends, sends us into social isolation and stretches our personal reserves to the max, we can rest in confidence. God is still in control! The Lord was not surprised by the COVID-19, nor the impact to our society.

            Our God is the Almighty, the Supreme Being and Ruler of everything on earth and in heaven (1 Chronicles 29:11-13). And we have a choice to dwell with Him. This is not just a onetime choice at salvation, but a daily surrender to the Most High. This choice brings the assurance of abiding with the Lord (1 John 4:15). Yes, pain and suffering may befall us, but we rest in the confidence that our Lord is in control and we can rest in the shadow of His presence. We make that choice for right now–this moment and for tomorrow’s known and unknown moments.  We choose where we want to dwell and abide.

            Normally, in my devotions, I don’t ask personal questions about your relationship with Jesus. With the current global crisis, I think it is important to ask questions about faith. Do you know Jesus Christ?” “Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?”

In order to abide in the shadow of the Almighty and dwell under the protective shelter of the Most High we need Jesus (John 14:6). He provides the way to the Almighty. Only through the one and only Son of God, do we have assurances of the Almighty. Click on the link if you have questions and want to know more. https://peacewithgod.net/.

Included with the series is supplemental activities so you can eat, digest and live on the nutrients of our daily bread.

Go Deeper

Read: Psalm 91

Reflect: In your prayer journal write out the entire Psalm 91.

Pray/Praise:

So David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

Memorize: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1)

Link to Psalm 91 Scripture Song “My God in Whom I will Trust” (Esther Mui)

NCFI Cares: Giving With Joy by Guest Contributor, Steve Fouch, UK

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

My youngest daughter has had an innate streak of generosity since she was tiny. Anything she got, she wanted to give away to a sibling or a friend. So much so that we sometimes had to suggest that she needed to hang on to some things that she needed for herself. More than once, she offered her food to someone else, and we had to remind her that she needed to eat as well!

Her generosity may have come with the idea that she could get people on her side more easily by being generous to them. However, I think that might be a bit cynical. I believe that she simply enjoys making other people happy and being generous is the easiest way she could think of to achieve this.

For myself, I am so often aware that being generous can entail real sacrifice – of time as well as of money. In that respect, I have often not been a cheerful giver, parting with my gift out of dutiful reluctance rather than joy.

Yet, when I have been spontaneously generous, it has not ended up feeling like a sacrifice. I remember well the old man begging outside of London Bridge station one cold and dreary December morning. I walked past him because I had no change to give, but I did have the means to cross the road, go into a coffee shop and come back with a hot tea and a hot mince pie to warm him. It was a sacrifice of ten minutes on a busy morning and a small sum of money, but it made a difference to him, and it made me happy.

Giving is part of worship, bringing joy to our heavenly Father – Paul makes this clear in 2 Corinthians 9. It is also an act that gives joy and blessing both to the receiver and the giver of the gift. It is not how much we give but why and how we give that matters – does it come from our heart wanting to bless others and rejoice in their joy, or is it out of a sense of duty?

As NCFI Treasurer, one of my duties is to oversee the giving of sponsorships to those coming to the World Congress every four years. While these are only part of the expenses that delegates face, the joy of seeing people able to come and participate in Congress is such a huge blessing to me. It is also a huge blessing to give thanks back to individuals and fellowships who give to the work of NCFI each year.

Generosity in giving is such a source of joy, and one we so easily miss if we see it just as a duty.

NCFI Cares: Year of the Christian Nurse & Midwife by Guest Contributor Martha Fernández Moyano, Argentina

This year 2020 has been declared by WHO, the World Health Organization as the year of Nurse and Midwife.  This year coincides with the two hundred years of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the nurse par excellence who is considered as the precursor of modern nursing.

This year opens in front of us with many possibilities, not only to recognize us, as a fundamental pillar in the health service, but also, so that our voice becomes audible in the places where important decisions are made in health policy. The entire nursing profession is celebrating. Finally, our efforts are recognized as a knowledgeable vocation and above all that we are part of an important profession in which we still have much to say and do.

This holistic profession that takes care of the human being from birth to death not only does its physical part but includes the spiritual, as well. As Christian Nurses and Midwives we have much to contribute to the new paradigms that arises as the 21st Century runs full of advances in both new discoveries and new technologies in the field of health.

God tells us that “ye are chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and holy nation, a peculiar people that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2: 9). Today more than ever we have to bear witness to the Lord in our workplace.

You who chose this profession as your vocation, begin the year giving you the first place. Leave aside the negativity, do not hide, train yourself, and do not walk alone. Become known as a Christian nurse. Take care physically and spiritually. Search the Lord in prayer, look in his Word for what He has for you this year. Where can you collaborate to enhance and give relevance to your profession?

Healthy leaders are needed, free with powerful conviction in the values ​​of Christ. “then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4: 1)

NCFI Cares: Christmas Angels

This is a republish of an NCFI Cares for Christmas from December, 2015. Enjoy!

One of the amazements of the Nativity story is the angels’ announcement to the shepherds in Luke 2:9-15. I have taken creative license in imagining how the scene unfolded:

Heaven is buzzing with excitement. It is about to occur. Jesus will become human. Even though the angels are informed of this great mystery and the significance of salvation, they are filled with wonder and anticipation.

“How long does it take for a little human to be born?” one angel asks. “Why can’t God just make one, like Adam and Eve?”

“I can’t wait” says another. “There hasn’t been this much heavenly excitement since the creation of the Heavens and Earth and the miracles in Egypt.”

“Wait!” says a third angel. “What if the humans miss it? The wise men are on their way, but what if they are the only ones who come to see this miraculous event?”

“I am sure there will be other people who will come and worship the Son,” responds another angel.  “After all, God has given them many signs of what to look for”

A shout arises from the angels, “It is time! Mary is giving birth!”  An overzealous angel, unable to contain his excitement, bolts to earth. The angel finds himself hovering over shepherds in the field and at a loss of what to say or do. Uh, oh! The angel thinks, I have messed up!

Looking for a clue of what to do next, the angel notices the fear on the shepherds face.

“Don’t be afraid!” the angel nervously says. Trying his best to reassure the terrified shepherds. “Listen carefully” says the angel. His confidence is building and the words are flowing. Thank you God, I know what to say! So with renewed confidence, the angel continues.  “For I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.”

“This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” The angel notices the sky is suddenly filled with other angels and together they rejoice:  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”

The angel returns to heaven feeling assured knowing that all of earth, throughout eternity will know the significance of the Son’s birth!

Merry Christmas!

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, by Thomas Cole, c. 1833-34. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, United States

NCFI Cares: The Simplest Prayer

Many of us our familiar with Peter, who after seeing Jesus walk across the Sea of Galilea, stepped out of the boat and walked on water with Jesus.  At some point in his miraculous steps, Peter became frightened and began sinking into the water and cries out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:23-33). These 3 simple words form the basis of the most powerful, simplest prayer. A simple pray that can guide us in teaching our patients how to pray.

First, we guide our patients in calling out to the only one who can help them, “Lord.” We don’t pray to a cosmic force, an unknown god nor one of the many god’s worshiped in other religions. Instead, we call out to the Almighty God through our Savior.

Second, is the action verb “save”. This simple 4 letter word communicates so much of the human experience. An English dictionary gives the following definitions for “save”: rescue from danger or from pain and fear; spare the individual from suffering, anxiety, or the unknown; and stop the spread of illness, infection, or cancer. And of course, the verb “save” is also used to communicate the need for forgiveness and life void of a Savior (Luke 19:10; Romans 10:13).

The final word “me” is more than a personal pronoun. It is an intimate identification as a child of God. That the Lord of heaven, the Creator of the Universe knows each hair on our head, cells in our bodies, and days of our lives.Together, “Lord, save me” is a simple prayer that anyone can learn. It communicates the magnitude needs of humanity calling out to the only power able to change the situation. Next time your patients or clients are new Christians, experiencing pain or discomfort, or too distraught to pray, teach them to this simple prayer. Then you can rest in confidence knowing the Lord will answer their prayer.

Debbie’s Touch

Today I realized, I am surrounded by Debbie’s. Or maybe I should say Debora’s, Deborah’s, Debra’s, Deb’s, and Debbie’s. Recently, I hired a new instructor whose name is Deborah. As I added her contact information into my phone – all these Debbie’s popped up. As I scrolled through them. I noticed how I am surrounded by Debbie’s.

There is Debora, whom I have been working with for a few years. As we have recently moved into leadership positions, we have become true “partners” in strategizing and co-leading the program. I see us becoming more than colleagues in the years to come.

The next was Debra who retired in 2016. Before her retirement, there were two Deb’s team-teaching the same class. Staff in my department and I would distinguish them by calling them Deb and Debra. There were quite a few years with our dynamic Deb team or Deb2.

In my writers’ group, there is a Debbie. I don’t know if her name is short for Deborah or Debora. I am assuming Deborah, the name from the Old Testament Judge found in the book with the same name. Deborah is my favorite spelling. For my little sister’s name was Deborah and we called her Debbie. Amazingly, Debbie, my writing pal, has the same warm, kind heart that my sister Debbie had. Maybe adding the “ie” to the name softens the heart and brings kindness.

Also included in my contact list, was long-time colleague and previous mentor Deb. She welcomed me into teaching and provided excellent guidance as I ventured into a new career.

I scrolled past another colleague, Deborah. She was my Spanish teacher for a semester. My lack of fluency in Spanish is in no way reflective of her teaching abilities. She has a vibrant personality and creative teaching style—esta excellente!

Speaking of excellent professors, I had the wonderful privilege of sharing a house with an ecology professor when I traveled to Haiti. Debbie not only provided a brief home-away-from home, she led a walking tour around the college campus. On the morning of my first day in Haiti, my personal tour included exotic birds, tropical flowers, and a cocoa tree along with other marvels of nature hidden on this marvelous exotic island.  Her tour is part of a student-work study program.  Debbie educates Haitians on how to share the knowledge of their wonderful island with others as a source of income.

The final Deb in my contact list is the name of a site visitor from an accreditation team member. Even though our time was brief, and she was officially evaluating the program, like other Deb’s she was warm and friendly.

And, of course, I still have my sister’s contact information. I look at her name, nestled among such amazing Deb’s, I know she is in good hands. Hands that touch my life through her namesake and continue to fill my life with her warm presence.

NCFI Cares: Part II NCFI Heroes: Spiritual Support through Provisions–People

In the previous NCFI Cares we began a series exploring how you, an NCFI Hero, can provide prayer support to the leadership team and global work of NCFI. For Part II, we will focus on how NCFI Heroes can support spiritual leaders through 2 types of provisions. The first provision the NCFI leadership team needs is people.

The most pressing people deficit is our continued need for both a Manager and a Director for the IICN (International Institute of Christian Nursing). The IICN was created to “advance a Christian worldview in nursing practice, education, leadership, and research.” Thus, it is essential that IICN have leaders with a passion and purpose in strategizing how NCFI can be the voice of Christian nursing across the globe. More information about these position can be found at http://iicn.ncfi.org/about-iicn/institute-leadership/

A new round of International Board nominations is currently occurring for the 2020-2024 term. As regional committees are nominating board members from the national fellowships, each region and national fellowship needs volunteers to fill key leadership positions.

NCFI also has two ministry outreach projects needing people:  NG or Next Generation Nurses which targets students and early career nurses to globally connect and support them in their emerging careers; and an Alumni Ministry which aims to connect retired nurses, especially those previously involved with NCFI.  To learn more about these ministries, connect with your national fellowship or your regional chair. https://ncfi.org/ncfi-regions/

It is difficult to move a ministry forward and reach more nurses for Christ, when we lack people. So, pray and ponder how you may be a NCFI Hero who volunteers their time for the global work of NCFI (Matthew 9:37-38)