NCFI Cares: How We Grieve the Holy Spirit, by Guest Contributor

Recently, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the passage in Ephesians 4:26-32.  Yes, the Holy Spirit’s work is to bring to our remembrance all things that Jesus taught [John 14:26].  I was counselling two staff who had a conflict over some work matters.  One was angry, a believer and the other staff, a non-believer, told me that she would no longer ask for help from the other.  I sat down with two of them and talked openly about the conflict.  As I was talking, the passage of Ephesians came to my mind and I affirmed that to be angry was a normal human response but not to do anything to resolve that anger was wrong.  Later I further talked to the Christian staff whom I said that not to forgive and to hold on to the anger would grieve the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 4:30].  I left her to think further on what God’s Word had said.  The incident made me reflect further on my own responses in anger towards others rightly or wrongly and how I too would have grieved the Holy Spirit if I continued to hold on to that anger. 

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, grief is deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.  In medical terms, there is no consensus on the defining features that would distinguish normal and pathological grief, it is generally accepted that grief becomes pathological when the reactions are excessive, prolonged, or unresolved.  In counselling the grieving, one understands that the loss of a close person, or loss of job or loss of a dream can be devastating.  The Lord allows us to go through grief and in this, we can identify with Jesus who is acquainted with grief, and even borne our griefs, a man of sorrows [Isaiah 53:3, 4]. Christ’ humanity brings us closer to Him and we can accept our human frailty of experiencing grief because He also experienced it. God has emotions but He is transcendent, beyond our comprehension.

The Bible uses the word “grieve or grieved” 37 times in the New King James translation.  The Old and New Testament mentioned six times that God or Holy Spirit was grieved[Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40; 95:10; Isaiah 63:10; Mark 3:5; Ephesians 4:30].  Genesis 6:6 “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” tells us that God is grieved when man rebuffed his covenantal love in sin and disobedience. God was also grieved when the Israelites rebelled in the desert under Moses’ leadership. God’s anguished response to sin is evidenced in two main ways: divine judgment and compassion for the sinner. Because God is holy, He has to judge sin but He offers compassion and salvation for sinners in the process.

May we be very conscious that the Holy Spirit can be grieved through our actions, speech and our attitudes in our day-to-day life responses.  Lord, teach us how to live and walk by the Spirit.

Sharing by Goh Swee Eng

NCFI Cares: God’s Name In Nursing: Yahweh Shamma–The LORD is There

Yahweh Shamma is from Ezekiel’s vision when the Israelites were exiled in Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied that the Israelites would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and temple. Then the Israelites would be reunited with the Lord and would name the city “Yahweh Shamma” the LORD is There. (Ezekiel 48:35).

For New Testament Christian believers, Yahweh Shamma communicates much more than just a city or church that the Lord will inhabit, instead through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, that began at Pentecost, believers have a continued promise of Yahweh Shamma. He is with us.

As I reflect upon this miraculous assurance and blessing we have from our Lord, I am reminded of our patients who need the assurance that Yahweh Shamma is with them as they face the unknown of cancer treatments, high-risk pregnancies, or a debilitating illness. Yahweh Shamma is also with our coworkers who are alone and afraid; those caring for chronically ill children and/or parents with dementia; and the single parents struggling to live a godly life in a worldly society. Yahweh Shamma is with each of our patients, families, and coworkers providing comfort and guidance for their life journey.

Similar to the Israelites, we are personally acquainted with those who feel exiled as they live outside the fellowship of Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. We can be rest assured that Yahweh Shamma is there also. Waiting to be reconciled with his beloved children. They just need to open their hearts and spirits, and they will notice the Yahweh Shamma, the LORD is still there.

NCFI Cares: How Can We Have Self-Control?

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Self-control is probably one of the hardest things to master. How often have we been defeated by a bad habit, a bad attitude, or a wrong mindset? We make promises to improve. We ask someone to hold us accountable. But deep inside, we know that we don’t have the will or the ability to change. We can talk, we can plan, we can read from books, can pray but we still find it difficult to overcome and control many of the things that are inside us!

Thankfully, we know our God knows our weakness, and He also knows the medicine which we need! The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23). The only way to gain self-control is by allowing the Holy Spirit to control us.

God is not nearly as concerned with our ability as He is with our surrender.

In other words, our key focus is not effort but surrender—to live moment by moment submissively trusting in the Lord rather than in self. Paul says this is what it means to “walk by the Spirit” (v. 16).

Are you ready for a change? You can change, for God is in you and in us. As you surrender control to Him, He will help you bear the fruit of His likeness.

So our new year can be started like this: “I am in need, Lord, of your power so that I might change and grow. I surrender myself to You. Please help me to understand how to be submissive to You that I might be filled with Your Spirit.”

Written by Bulbuli Mollick, Bangladesh, NCFI Board Member

NCFI Cares: Sword Training 101

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There is intrinsic skill and strength required for sword fighting or fencing. Each person must have knowledge on how to use a sword. Learning the technique of sword fighting also takes practice. A participant can’t just read a book. Instead, they spend time in a safe environment practicing their new skills. These same concepts can be applied in using the sword of the Spirit, i.e., word of God to combat the enemy (Ephesians 6:17). Just like the sport or art of swordsmanship, using the word of God as a weapon takes knowledge, skill, and training.

Our sword training begins with an in-depth knowledge of scripture. Our education includes historical context and theological meaning, as well as appropriate application of God’s word to our lives. We also need godly wisdom in how to use scripture with each skirmish we encounter. Like a warrior yielding a sword, we need to discern the consequences of each strike.  For example, at certain times a quiet resolve within our heart is the best way to combat evil. While, at other times the strike of our sword is issued verbally. Like the art of sword fighting, these are carefully planned out strikes to halt or disarm the enemy, with minimal collateral damage.

As with any weapon, it takes knowledge, skill and discernment to appropriately use the sword of Spirit. And neither sword should be yielded inappropriately or used haphazardly.

Blessings, Carrie

Prayer: Our Lord is faithful to strengthen you and protect you from the evil one while directing your hearts toward his love and the endurance of Christ, amen. (1 Thessalonians 3:3-5)

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NCFI Cares: CPR for Hope–Breathing!

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Breathing is necessary for physical life. Nurses and other health care providers may insert a tube into the lungs to facilitate breathing, and/or attach a ventilator or breathing machine that will “breathe” for a patient. Another intervention for someone not breathing is to have a nurse place their mouth over a patient’s mouth to blow air into the patient. These are all extreme measures that help the patient breathe when they are unable to meet their own oxygen requirements.

Spiritual breathing is also important to sustain life. Jesus, meeting with disciples after the resurrection, breathes on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22).  This holy intervention brought the eternal Holy Spirit into their spirit. From this point forward, the disciples are focused on continuing the ministry of the new covenant.

At times we need a renewal of the Holy Spirit to invigorate our calling in Jesus. Just as CPR has another person breath physically for a patient, we need to breathe spiritually for a fellow brother or sister. We can reach out to one another with prayer and various social connections. Whether it is through email, text or a phone call a simple inspiring message can bring a freshness into someone else’s life. So send the “breath of the Spirit” to someone who needs a boost of hope!

“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5)

Grace & Peace,

Carrie

p.s. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters around the word who experience hardships and violence because of their faithfulness to Jesus (Ephesians 5:18)

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NCFI Cares: Our Seal of Hope

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An amazing miracle happens every time a person comes to salvation through Jesus Christ. They receive a mark or seal. In an instant, they not only receive righteousness through the forgiveness of sins, they also receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. As one bible expert explains, this is a seal of ownership (Eph. 1:13-14). Like a seal on a document in New Testament times the mark identifies and indicates its owner, who would “protect” the document. So too, in salvation, the Holy Spirit confirms Christians are identified with Christ and are God’s property, protected by Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

This infinite marking, unseen by human eyes, provides evidence of our true identity in Christ Jesus. We may have doubts about our relationship with God or may be fearful. No matter what feelings or experiences we have, we can stand in confidence that we are the Lord’s precious child. In Psalm 139, the writer contemplates all the places he might hide from the Holy Spirit. He concludes by saying, “you will be there…your right hand would grab hold of me” (vs 7-11). This touching assurance of our security is a recount of our intimate relationship with the Lord. For the Lord not only seals us as his possession, he secures us as blessed children.

Prayer: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” amen (Romans 15:13)

NCFI Cares: Our Radical Hope

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       The room is quiet as Jesus communicates his final instructions to the disciples. He senses the anxiety and insecurity of those he has called “friends” for the last three years. As Jesus works through the important points he knows the disciples’ world will be turned upside down with his torture, death and resurrection. In the years to come, they will face persecution and suffering as they live out his gospel message. Jesus is not only concerned about the disciples future he is providing important instructions for future generations of followers. Thus, Jesus assures them by saying, “I will not leave you as orphans. I will be with you always.”(John 14:18) How can Jesus ensure his continued presence? “For I am sending the Helper, who speaks for me.”(John 14:25)

            This radical hope is the Holy Spirit. He is our promised Helper, Counselor and Advocate. The disciples waited until Pentecost to receive their promised Advocate, yet we receive our Helper immediately with salvation. Our hope rests on knowing that we are never alone. We don’t need to run to gurus nor prophets to understand what the God of the Universe wants for us. Instead we go to scripture where the Holy Spirit brings to our heart and mind truth, teachings, and the way of righteousness (Ephesians 1:13, John 14:25-28). We should seek out pastors and mature believers to guide us in living out these truths while depending upon the discernment of the Holy Spirit to illuminate individuals as a community of believers and the body of Christ (I Corinthians 2: 10-15; 12:13,27). This is truly the miracle of Emmanuel, God with us. As we seek to reveal the teachings of Jesus in our personal and professional lives, we are secured in the radical hope of the Holy Spirit’s continued presence.

Prayer:  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” amen (Romans 15:13)