I am the resurrection and life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”John 11:25-26, ESV
NCFI Cares: Next Steps on Our Journey
“Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”Deuteronomy 6:10-12
Many of us have been in or are still in a wilderness journey with COVID, job struggles, family problems, grief from loss of loved ones, and other personal experiences. As we continue to trudge along we can find hope in Moses’ guiding words to the Israelites.
As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of their experiences in Egypt and the judgements they had witnessed. He pointed out how God had provided for their every need including shoes still in good shape and clothes that had not worn out for 40 years (Deuteronomy 29:5). In addition, God had not only protected them from their enemies, but He had also taken another nation’s land and given it to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 29)
Moses guiding words included next steps for the Israelites:
- Remember their slavery in Egypt.
- Remember how God loved and cared for them in the desert.
- Take possession of the land.
- Do not let the blessings of the new land lead them sin.
- Love and obey God enjoying the blessing he gave them.
God promised the Israelites that if they would stay faithful to him, they would keep their promised inheritance (Deuteronomy 30:20).
As we live in our wilderness journey we can follow Moses’ advice and look to our promised inheritance of eternal life:
- Remember times when God freed you from your past and/or sin(s).
- Remember God loves and cares for you during this time
- May be helpful to list what you do have (food, clothes, shelter, etc.)
- Possess the abundant life you have in Christ (faith, hope, love, joy, peace, endurance, and strength)
- Do not let fleshly desires and the temptations of the world lead to sin
- Return to abiding in Christ through prayer, worship and living in the Word
I love the practicality of God’s word to the Israelites found in Deuteronomy 30:11-14:
“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.”
In other words, God says, “You Got this!”
NCFI Cares: Zealous for the Lord
“I have been very zealous for the Lord,” (1 Kings 19:10)
In the previous devotion we followed Elijah’s example and cried out in distress to God saying, “It is enough!” (1 Kings 19:4). In this devotion we will review events in Elijah’s life and discover how a prophet of God can become exhausted and in despair.
During the severe drought in the land, Elijah received provisions through ravens and then from a widow and her son. (1 Kings 17)
- Later, at the appointed time, the Lord directed Elijah to confront King Ahab for his wickedness and idoltry worship of Baals. (1 King 18)
- Elijah then confronted the Isaraelites and their idolatry. He challenged the prophets to a showdown with the LORD. The Lord triumphed and Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:22-41)
- In response to the coming rain and empowed by God, Elijah runs from Mount Carmel to Jezreel about 50 km. (1 Kings 18:46)
This brief synopsis reveals how Elijah confronted wickedness and fought a spiritual battle with the prophets of Baal. The events were all directed by God to bring King Ahab and the Israelites to repentance. After their repentance, the Lord blessed them with rain. However, all is not well for Elijah. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, in response to the slaughter of the prophets of Baal, sends a death threat to Elijah. (1 Kings 19:1-2)
Then he (Elijah) was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (1 Kings 19:3)
After his spiritual victory, we think Elijah would be courageous. Instead, he was afraid for his life and runs to Beersheba, a 172 km journey. He leaves his servant at Beersheba. Alone, Elijah continues for another day’s journey into the wilderness. Under a broom tree or shrub Elijah lies. Alone, afraid and exhausted he cries out to the Lord, “It is enough”. This brief look shows how Elijah became exhausted from ministry work.
As overworked, stressed nurses we are at risk of exhaustion and burnout; or a common American idiom states, “running yourself into the ground.” As I mentioned last time, there is nothing wrong with admitting our human distress and exhaustion. Jesus recognized the importance of leading his disciples to a place to rest, even if he wasn’t successful at find the time and place.
The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.). They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. (Mark 6:30-32)
Take some time to review events and experiences that has led to your exhaustion. It may be helpful to journal or write them out as a prayer.
NCFI Cares: “It Is Enough!”
In addition to the onslaught of stress in our personal life, many of us have lost our support systems. Friends we had previously commiserated with and strategized about family issues are no longer readily accessible. Yes, we can still meet via video chats and phone calls, but gone are those precious chats over a meal or during a favorite activity. Our in-person meetings with colleagues to brainstorm solutions and navigate coping mechanisms are no longer available Instead, many of us are remote workers, isolated at home to navigate responsibilities without the support of peers.
2020 has been an exhausting year. Nurses and health care workers have and continue to experience extreme emotional and physical distress. What was originally predicted to be an upheaval for a few weeks or months. Has now turned into a grueling, endless year of lockdowns, remote schooling, and work-related stressors. Many of us have been blessed to not experience the illness and/or loss of loved ones from the coronavirus. Yet, we are overwhelmed with the numerous social and personal difficulties:
- Burden of home schooling children.
- Worry over children and their response to homeschooling, social isolation and family stress.
- Extreme stress and over worked related to work AND/OR inundated with economic worries due to job loss
- Strained relationships with spouses and/children
- Inability to visit and/or care for aging parents and sick relatives.
- Isolation, fear, and depression as a prisoners in their own home,
- And countless sufferings, too many to name.
The biggest, most acute loss has been our spiritual support. As Christians our lifeline is the rooted attachment found in our Christian fellowship. Weekly times of worship, regular consistent group prayers, and connectedness with our church family is the bedrock to life. Yes, many can attend online church, chat via group video, and send frequent texts and messages through WhatsApp. YET, it is not the same as coming into the House of the Lord and experiencing the Holy Spirit’s connection with our church family. In less than a year’s time our solid footing in life has been drastically changed by the pandemic. We have been proverbially cut-off at the knees and are no longer able to stand strong in our faith.
Many of you may be saying with me, “It is Enough!” During a recent period of extreme fatigue the Lord reminded me of another person who had said, “It is enough.”—Elijah. In the next few devotions, we are going to explore events leading up to Elijah’s exhaustion. Then, like Elijah, we can gain strength to stay the course in how the Lord is using us during this unprecedented time.
In the meantime, I want you to openly cry out to God about your exhaustion. It is okay to say, “It is enough”. Psalm 118:5 David shared his distress, “In my distress I called on the Lord, and he answered me and set me free.”
From this place, God will care for you and provide what you need. If need be, reach out to someone else who can provide a helping hand. Remember, the Holy Spirit uses other people in our lives to help us out. “Although an assailant may overpower one person, two can withstand him. Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken”. (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Week #8: My Shelter, Sovereign One
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. (Psalm 91:9-10)
Our testimony is more than a way to bring the lost into the saving grace of Christ. It is also more than our “salvation” story. It is a constantly changing expression of how the Lord is working in our lives. Our testimony is a continuous narrative of our faith journey filled with valleys of sadness and peaks of joys. These times can be Godly intercessions for us personally and professionally, and may also include family, colleagues and/or patients. Whether our family is protected from an accident, our patients are healed from an illness and/or a colleague finds cancer in the early stages. The Lord’s will intersecting in our day-to-day events is opportunities to share. When we tell others the mighty deeds of the Almighty we build up their faith and encourage their spiritual growth (Psalm 145:4; 1 Corinthians 1:4).
I encourage you to take time and reflect on these most recent events and how the Lord has strengthened and/or encouraged you as a Christian nurse. Next, pray for the opportunity to share with a colleague how “my Shelter, the Sovereign One” has worked in your nursing practice. Like the writer of the 91st Psalm, we can use our life journey of living in the refuge of the Lord as a teaching tool for our patients and colleagues.
Write out and memorize: Psalm 91:9-10
Reflect: Who will you shared your experience with this week?
Prayer: Oh, Lord, I will praise You for all your wonderous deeds and tell others of Your great salvation and mighty works for those who love You! Amen
Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns You Tube Video
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: In the Garden with Jesus
With Easter fast approaching and Christians around the world preparing to celebrate the resurrection, the tendency may be to rush past the pain and suffering our Lord endured. He invites us into the garden and into his experience: “My soul is deeply grieved, even to point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” (Matthew 36:39). Amidst his anguish and turmoil, we can learn from our Master to steadfastly pray, to endure suffering, and to welcome death as a path to life with him. (Romans 6:8; 8:17). Use the hymn below entitled, “Go to Dark Gethsemane” as a meditation or reflection as we spiritually accompany our Lord through his suffering.
Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.
Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There’ adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear the cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.
Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom;
Who hath taken Him away?
Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes:
Savior, teach us so to rise.
GYouTube video: https://youtu.be/vD6tcMroY0A
Hymnal w/ music: https://hymnary.org/text/go_to_dark_gethsemane
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, CarrieJames 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
One of the most powerful and important things we do as humans is PRAY! I say humans for I have discovered that most people pray. Face it anytime we are facing devastating news, struggling with relationships, or diagnosed with an illness or disease, we pray! Prayer is especially important for Christians. It is the means in which we communicate with God. Not just to give him our to-do list, but he gives us his to-do list, as well.
Anyway, all this to say I want to pray for you!
- I encourage you to submit a prayer request in one of the following ways:
- you can add a comment to this blog
- follow me @carriedameron #pray4me
- Fill out the form below–and I will receive an email
Either way I will pray for you. Just a word about my prayers. I am a Christian, thus I will pray to God and use verses from the Bible as part of my prayers for you.
- I have also created a category entitled “PRAYER” so if you want to learn more about prayer, especially as related to nursing or health care.