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: Our Faith: A Construction Project?

Are there times when you feel like your faith is a construction project? A time or season in your life when it seems like God is busy tearing down old walls, removing dilapidated furnishings, refurbishing an old room, or maybe even building a new room (Philippians 1:6).

Building of our faith can occur during times of adversity and suffering when we feel like the Lord has a wrecking ball to our hearts, or a jack hammer pounding on our souls, or a hammer to our faith. The death of a loved one, pain and illness from a disease, a loss of job or financial challenges, a strained relationship and other personal experiences are all opportunities for the Lord to renovate our faith. Like a construction project on a building the use of the correct building materials with endurance and patience can rebuild our faith into a sturdy, long-lasting building.

Building up of our faith can also occur when we experience a dry or a desert time in our faith.  Maybe you lack faith or patience in your personal walk with the Lord; or maybe you have picked up some worldly bad habits—less time in prayer, no longer attending church, and other non-faith building projects.

Or maybe you sense the Lord is not tearing something down, but instead is building something new, like a new role in nursing, a change in job, or in ministry. Even the good changes in our lives feels uncomfortable and causes anxiety and pain. Even though we pray for the process, many times we resist the Holy Spirit when he starts laying out the construction plans (Philippians 1:6)

Whether the Lord is tearing down to make something new, removing bad habits, or is preparing us for a future role we need to partner with the Lord on faith reconstruction project.  Instead of being resistant to change and holding on to our current circumstances submit to God. The Lord is always looking for ways to conform us to be more like Christ and to equip us for His work.

Give him the hammer and the nails and let him go to work; so that you will always be equipped and able to do the work God has called for you to do (Ephesians 4:12-13).  

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

NCFI Cares: God’s Name in Nursing–Yahweh Sabaoth–Eyes of Faith to See the LORD of Hosts.

Our look at Yahweh Sabaoth takes us to one of my favorite accounts in the Old Testament found in 2 Kings 6:15-17. Elisha and his servant are sleeping in Dothan. The servant arises early and sees the king’s army has encircled the city with their horses and chariots.

Can you imagine the servant’s fear and anxiety? I am sure he thought that he was going to die. He probably doubted himself, the Lord’s plans, and definitely Elisha’s wisdom. Panicked, the servant awakens Elisha and says, “What shall we do?”

Elisha reassures the servant: “Do not be afraid, for those with us are more than those who are with them.” Instead of scolding the man for his lack of faith, Elisha recognizes the servant’s need for faith in God, not in a prophet as the miracle worker. So, Elisha prays for the Lord to open the eyes of the servant, so he too can see through eyes of faith. Sure enough, the Lord opens the servant’s eyes and he personally witnesses the LORD’s army of chariots, horses and fire encircling them. The cross reference for the text says, “The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the LORD is among them:” (Psalm 68:17). Wow! That is too many to count. No wonder Elisha is so calm and dozing in the early morning hours seemingly without a care in the world. There are innumerable angels ready to protect Elisha from the king’s army.

The reason this passage is a favorite, is because it reminds me that we are unaware of what truly goes on in the spiritual world.  We don’t see the Holy Spirit working in our lives, nor as the LORD’s name Yahweh Shabaoth reminds us, we don’t see the LORD of Hosts commanding an army of angels to care for you, me, and all the saints today. “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7).

The passage is also a great reminder, to not beat ourselves up when we lack eyes of faith to see into the holy spiritual dimension. Instead it is a time to relax and trust in the God who commands his Holy Army to protect and provide for us—especially when we are anxious and fearful (Hebrews 1:14). And finally we are reminded to model faithfulness like Elisha and provide prayers and encouragement to others who are filled with doubt and worry.  

NCFI Cares: God’s Name in Nursing–Yahweh Rapha

As nurses one of our favorite names of God is Yahweh Rapha—the God who Heals. God used the name to describe himself to the Israelite’s in Exodus 15:26. As the Son of God, Jesus demonstrated the same healing characteristics through miraculous healings and resurrections. Many times Jesus emphasized the importance of faith for miraculous healings: “Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’“ (Luke 18:42). Does this mean Yahweh Rapha heals when we have faith? Of course not, non-believers are healed all the time. Instead, the emphasis on faith, points out our belief in God as Yahweh Rapha. For example, do we have confidence in the Lord to heal every disease, every illness, every deformity, every trauma, and every ‘fill-in-the-blank’? Do we believe the same miracles that occurred in the Bible can happen today? Is our faith, which is probably smaller than a mustard seed, enough to confidently say, Jesus can raise the dead?

God's Name Wordcloud2

Other questions to reflect upon are: Are we content with the healing God does provide? Or do we get bitter when his sovereign wisdom chooses not to heal?  Or maybe, an even more profound question is: In this day of surgeries, treatments, and cutting-edge technology, do we even need Yahweh Rapha for healing? Or do we only run to him when the prognosis is bleak? One Bible scholar had a poignant reminder, “God answers every prayer. We just don’t like it when he says “no” or when he provides the answer we don’t want”. The same is true for healing. God does heal everyone, every time. We just may not see his miracle until we come to our eternal dwelling.

As we consider how healing interfaces with our faith, God’s Name–Yahweh Rapha includes the realization that God is sovereign in how his healing power is dispensed to our patients, our families, and to ourselves. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15), while trusting in his everlasting lovingkindness (Psalm 136).

NCFI Cares: “Move”

I (Martha) want to share the experience I had before traveling to PACEA Regional Conference in Taiwan from June from 2 to 11.

I am reminded of the word for the song:

Only to believe, only to believe

Everything is possible, only to believe

That God gives victory, only to believe

Moses had many problems also before doing what God wanted him to do. He told God about his problems and God´s answer was:

The_Crossing_fo_The_Red_Sea by Poussin ” Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff and stretch out hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:15-16).

Moses was called by God to lead the people of Israel. Moses wasn’t always firm in his faith and many times he doubted. God had to encourage him to get up, to move and direct Moses in what he should do. I don´t know if that has been your experience, but this was my experience. God spoke to Moses very loudly, “Why do you cry to me? Move and tell the people to go.” I imagine a very big and strong God pushing a small man into a situation too big and too difficult.

If God had spoken to me like this, I would have been paralyzed and it would have made everything worse. When I thought about attending the Taiwan Conference God said “Move”, but he did it gently. My first problem came in deciding about the resources for the trip. God sent me a letter through Steve confirming available resources. My second problem was my very old mother who was not in good health.  My older brother came through and agreed to care of her. God kept saying “Move” The third problem was the Visa, but when I explained the work of the NCFI to the Consul of Taiwan, she said, “Today, it is a very necessary to put Christian values back into the profession.”

God showed me that when He wants to guide me through the impossible, he removes all obstacles and performs a miracle. God told me “Move”. He took my hand and walked with me along the way. He knows my fears, my weaknesses and my need for more softness than Moses needed. God also showed me that we must move because He is moving. He doesn´t leave us alone. He does the miracle silently. We are members of the NCFI community and must keep moving. And we must do what God wants us to do. We must continue to bring the vision to all Christian nurses to move. Nurses must move to bring the souls of our patients to Christ; and move to bring the souls of our colleagues to Christ.

This was my experience. Different than Moses’ experience, but the same God. The God who says “Move” through His spoken promises, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance. The Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still”. (Exodus 14:13-14)

 

by Martha Fernandez Moyano, International Board Member, Argentina

 

Aside

My Christian Nursing Mentor

Mary Elizabeth O’Brien is an amazing Christian nursing researcher, scholar, and practitioner.  I discovered her book Spirituality in Nursing: Standing on Holy Ground while in grad school. I was researching Spiritual Care for various papers I wrote, as well as implementing Spiritual Care into an Associate Degree Nursing Program and then with The Art and Science of Spiritual Care: Train-the-Trainer project for Nurses Christian Fellowship International. Later, I discovered her other works and have used them as resources for my books and articles.

Sister Mary Elizabeth is a woman of God, a servant for Christ, and an excellent mentor. Even if it is only through her publications. She merges Scripture with the practice of nursing with a humble, compassionate and gracious spirit.  I owe my maturation as a Christian nurse to her and recommend her works be part of a Christian nurses library.

O'Brien books

 Checkout a review for each of O’Brien’s books on my Facebook page.

NCFI Cares: The Test from upon High

I wanted to share this guest devotion from my colleague in Argentina who provides godly wisdom during times of testing by the Lord. It is not only relevant. The timing of the devotion also demonstrates how the Lord impresses upon different members of the body of Christ to teach and encourage others during such a time as this. Peace of Christ to you, Carrie77ba6-ncficares_3bloglogoJames 1:12 “Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.” Reading: James 1:12-18.

My friend listened silently, as the doctor gave a diagnosis, treatments, and a long list of explanations. The doctor, noticing my friend’s quietness, stopped and asked her, “Why are you not asking questions?” She replied, “I stopped listening when you said that my small son has Diabetes.”

A simple sentence “Your son has Diabetes.” is difficult for a mother to hear. As believers we ask the question, “How does God allow these things to happen?” The Word says, “Blessed is the man.” But, can you be happy for someone who receives this diagnosis? Is it a punishment or a test? It is common that we have a mistaken concept of what the word means by “test”. And it is common that we have a wrong concept of what means the word “proved”.

Abraham had a similar experience, yet more profound. After many years God gave him a son, whom then God asked Abraham to sacrifice (Genesis 22:9-12). How is it that we are before God a “friend” of ours delights in our suffering (James 2:23)? Often we have read that God not only proves us, but allows the test. But whom does God prove? God tests those he loves. Those who are his friends. Difficult as it is to understand, with the criteria of this world, but those of us who know God as our Creator we know that God is molding us.  Since he has given us form, it is possible that it hurts us, a tear never escapes from us. God is never going to leave us alone in the tests. Instead, he is gives us the assurance in his Word that will not just prove us beyond what we could expect.

The tests that come from upon High extracts qualities of light that God has been sowing in our heart: obedience, faith, humility, patience, and total dependence. If you have decided to serve the Lord prepare yourself for the test. Say to the Lord, “Here I am.” And in times of adversity you will be able to reach Peace.

Guest devotion by Martha Fernandez Moyano, Argentina, NCFI International Board Member

 

Share your story of endurance!

I am currently working on an article on Christian suffering. Hopefully, to be published in the Journal of Christian Nursing. A section of the article explores how we endure suffering while maturing our faith and deepening our relationship with Christ.  As I was researching, it occurred to me that I know many Christians who have persevered through cancer, chronic illnesses, grief, trauma, abuse and other travesties with the daily grace of Christ for the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Peter 4:16)—Amen & PTL!

As I look to guide Christian nurses in both enduring suffering and supporting patients and families, I would love for you to share your personal experience. The current overarching themes I discuss in the article are: lamenting, humility, surrender/vulnerability, endurance, perseverance, joy, hope and alert to Satan. I am open to other concepts, themes or words the Lord has spoken into your suffering, so feel free to share.

You can share your experience or thoughts on Facebook, here in the blog, or privately via contact form (see below). Sharing your story gives me permission to take an excerpt of your story and possibly use it in the article. I can’t commit publication of any excerpt or content, for I am not the final editor. I will only use your first name or initials to preserve privacy.  At the same time, I do state the following disclaimer. If you are concerned about your privacy, then maybe it is not a good idea to share it with me.

My prayer and blessing for you is “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer, trusting in the one who is, who was and who is to come, amen.” (Romans 12:2; Revelation 1:8)

NCFI Cares: Celebrate Unity-a NCFI Values

ncfi-values-wordcloudOne of the coolest things about NCFI is the unified voice of Christian nursing. I am not saying everyone is in agreement, nor that there is never conflict. Disagreements are to be expected with any family, group or organization, especially considering the diversity of cultures, experience, education, and personalities NCFI represent.

What I am speaking more about is the unity of Christ manifested by the lack of individual denominations. In other words, the question “What denomination do you belong to?” or “Where do you go to church?” has never come up. I have attended 2 NCFI Congresses, International Board meetings, and various international conference calls and our focus has been on Christ-centered nursing.

We are all disciples, unique members of the body of Christ and unified for the same goal—equipping and encouraging Christian nurses to integrate Biblical principles and Christ centered values. Which, by the way, is our mission!

Ephesians 4:1-6 is a passage to anchor us to our purpose in NCFI:

“….I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Let’s take the unity of Christ beyond NCFI and into our daily nursing practice–committed to focusing on commonalities instead of areas of dispute while preserving our unified faith through the dwelling Spirit.

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What does the Nicene Creed have to do with Christian Nursing?

What does faith in nursing have to do with the Nicene Creed? I say “a lot!” To better explain myself, I need to share with you my history with the Nicene Creed. If you have read  a previous blog posting on January 2013, you will see that Tove Giske asked me to contribute four Christian nursing articles for the Journal of Faith and Profession a journal published in Norway, 2012. While I was praying and thinking about the series of articles, I thought of the 4 essential concepts to Christian nursing: Faith, Compassion, Prayer and Excellence. These topics became the 4 articles with accompanying Bible studies. After their publication, I compiled the 4 together with international edits, etc to create  Our Faithful Journey in Nursing: A Teaching on Faith, Compassion, Prayer, and Excellence in Nursing (available as an eReader through Amazon).

It was while I was researching and writing the article on Faith, that I came across the Nicene Creed. My home church and denomination does not use any creed or written prayer as part of the liturgical service. I experienced the congregation reciting the creed as a statement of faith  when I attended other Christian services, like Catholic, etc.

Also, during this time around 2011-2012, I was researching and learning about the postmodern philosophy and culture exploding in the USA and other western societies. In a nut shell, postmodern philosophy denies absolutes, objectivity, and dogmatism to one of relativism, subjectivism, and tolerance. For Christians, who hold to a faith defined by Truth (big T–God) and obedience to rules, postmodern philosophy is in sharp contrast to our faith.

I have also been a student of world religions. I came from a Mormon back ground, explored various religions and philosophies during my ‘seeking’ years, as well as live and work in a melting pot of cultures, religions, and philosophies. All this to say, I seek to understand other people and their beliefs, as well as stay aware of how a simple interpretation of words in the Bible can be the basis for different religions and sects.

Okay… I admit I am getting long winded here, but the point is when you learn how various religions say who Jesus is and how that is different then Christianity, you become a life long student of the Nicene Creed. For example, Islam views Jesus as a prophet, etc.See  World Religion Chart for more information.

The Nicene Creed was written during a time (325 AD) when there was much dispute between the scholars and theologians about the Truth of Christianity. Who is God? Christ? Holy Spirit? What is salvation? and other BIG questions. Also, remember this was before the Bible or Scripture was available to everyone. The typical Christian went to church and memorized scripture, prayers, creeds, etc as a way to live their life and teach their family.

Okay…here is the point…The Nicene Creed is the basis of our Christian Faith and is a spiritual questionnaire of what each one of us truly believe. Here is the best online version I have found with scriptures supporting each statement Nicene Creed w/ Scripture .

So what does the Nicene Creed have to do with Faith in Nursing? Everything! stay tuned