New Growth

King Solomon wrote: Whenever I tried to become wise and learn what goes on in the world, I realized that you could stay awake night and day, and never be able to understand what God is doing. However hard you try, you will never find out. The wise may claim to know, but they don’t. Ecclesiastes 8:16, 17.

As I returned home today, I looked at the trees whose branches are without cover until the spring season. I soon became fixated on the bare tree limbs, the frigid temperature, and the gray clouds, which prompted me to make a negative comment regarding the dreariness of the long winter days.

When we pulled into the driveway, my attention was immediately drawn to the shrubs in our yard, whose leaves were bursting with two different shades of green. At first glance, it appeared that the change in the color of the leaves was an indication of poor health. However, once I was in front of the bushes, I realized that the small branches with the lighter shade of silvery green leaves were new growth. During the past three days of a sunless sky and gray clouds bursting with torrential rain, the shrubbery appeared to have doubled in size.

How was this plant growth possible? Most of our winter has been cloudy with a few days of sunshine, and sparse rain, definitely not conditions for optimal growth. As I reviewed the definition of photosynthesis, I realized that my understanding of the power of God is limited by my finite mind. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees, each bearing fruit with seed according to its kind.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11 BSB. Instead of using a scientific journal as a reference point, I should have picked up my Bible and read Genesis the first chapter on the Creation.

We serve a powerful and loving God who does not change. His faithfulness, His grace, and His mercies are not dependent upon our limited understanding. Scientific research will not help us to understand His thoughts or His ways. Whether our days are bleak or full of sunshine, all God asks of us is to have complete faith in Him. If we do our part, then He will provide the perfect mixture of sun and rain that is necessary for our relationship with Him to experience bountiful and unlimited growth.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

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DIY Change your Thoughts

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5.

By the time Noah lived, the human race had rapidly increased in number, along with evil thoughts that produced corruption and abject wickedness. Their choice of sin prevailed over truth and righteousness, and with regret, God made the decision to destroy every living thing by a flood. Genesis 6:7, 17

We have a natural inclination toward sin, it is easier for the winds of strife to enter our minds than it is for us to possess pure and wholesome thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as a man thinketh, so is he.” Our thoughts come to fruition by our behaviors and our actions. You are what you think.

Under normal circumstances, we are entirely predictable. It is not difficult to listen to the words and observe the actions and behaviors of another person. Our habits, our choices, our strengths, and our weaknesses reveal our real character.  The secret thoughts that only God knows about define who we are, and it is those weaknesses that provide the leeway for temptation. So, isn’t is Satan’s fault that we desire to do evil based on sinful thoughts?

Satan is a fallen being and does not possess the powers of the Trinity Godhead. Satan is not Omniscient; therefore, God has not given him the supernatural ability to read our minds or to control our thoughts. He uses a process to manipulate us based on observation, he watches us closely.  Do our negative words, facial expressions, or actions reveal our innermost thoughts? Yes, we are 100% responsible for our thoughts and the fall into the temptations of sin. We cannot be compelled by Satan to think evil thoughts or to do evil actions.

Sinful thoughts lead to evil actions. Is there a way to effectively control our thoughts? We must do our part by practicing conscious awareness of ungodly thoughts and halt them immediately. Even so, it is through constant prayer, that we will gain the victory over sinful thoughts and the evil actions that follow. By asking God to help us to focus on His righteousness, we will overcome evil.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

- Watch your thoughts they become words; watch…

 

How do you take your Tea?

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. Isaiah 43:2, first part

A tea-drinker is one who enjoys endless flavors that are relatively free of calories. From the flowery explosions of White Jasmine & Rose to the spicy and robust Ginger root teas, there are so many choices, that make it difficult to choose just one. Herbal teas are the best option because they have the dual purpose of providing natural remedies for minor ailments, and do not contain the drug-caffeine.

For those who are newbies to the full-flavors of tea, avoid the boxed teabags by any means necessary. Teabags contain the dust and fannings, the tasteless leftovers from the rich, fragrant tea leaves. Look the other way and use your time to find a retailer that sells loose leaf tea. As the term implies, it is the cut leaves that pack a powerful and delicious experience that is well worth the price. Consider purchasing organic tea leaves to have the option of avoiding toxic pesticides.

If only our lives were as easy as pouring out and discarding the leftovers of sin; our teapot of daily living would never contain sin’s harmful pesticides. When we seek after worldly pleasures, we drink from the cup that contains the dust and fannings of disobedience, and our relationship with God becomes tainted.

Obediently studying and following godly instructions does not guarantee a pot filled with flavorful tea. We cannot sweeten our spiritual journey! Just when we are ready to take it easy, the boiling waters of strife and the bitter waters of trials and tribulations impact our lives by leaving their sour taste. It is with certainty that we will endure many bitter flavors in life. Do not despair! It is during the times when the tea has the most pungent taste that we will discover that God is with us.

As tea leaves must steep to extract their full-flavor, we must do our part to achieve spiritual growth by dedicating sufficient time to pray and diligently study the Bible. Even so, God will never ask us, “How do you take your tea?” Through His grace and mercies, He keeps us from drowning in the bitter waters of life by providing us with the perfect pot of tea brewed from the choice leaves of blessings and the sweet waters of peace.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

blooming _ flowering tea in a clear glass teapot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road of Suffering

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2

If there were two roads: The Road of Suffering and the Road to a Peaceful Life, would you willingly choose the option to suffer? For those of us who would immediately want the peaceful life would be distressed to find out that the Road to a Peaceful Life merges into the Road to Suffering.

I have often pondered as to why there are so many levels of suffering. I am unable to remember a time in my life when I was not facing some type of hardship. So, I began to pray for comfort and for much-needed answers. The scriptures provided sound reasons for staying on the Road to Suffering. Because God is with us!

  1. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
  2. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…Psalm 46:1-3
  3. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
  4. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…2 Corinthians 12:9

There are definitive purposes for every trial and hardship that we endure. Our journey is all about strengthening our relationship with Christ. Living devoid of suffering prevents spiritual growth. We must experience whatever is required of us to live every day on bended knees. Suffering ensures that we maintain a connection with God based on absolute dependency throughout our lifespan.

Another benefit to suffering is the Refinement and Perfection of our Character. We become one with Christ when we surrender our total selves to Him as we become transformed into His likeness. Our character must align with God’s character. The first attribute we must possess is “Unconditional love” for God and others. This characteristic alone may be the one that has extended your journey on the Road to Suffering.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NIV

Prayer: Dear God, Please help us to be faithful and joyful as we travel the Road of Suffering. Thank you for also traveling this Road, which led to your death for us that we may be redeemed. We ask you for the strength to grow closer to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

“Living the Dream”

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2 NLT

I was recently at an estate sale and overheard a conversation that began with “How are you?” In response, the person stated in an upbeat manner, “Living the dream.” It was as if time had stopped. We waited for further clarification of the dream; was it an abundance of money, a great job, good health? However, he never said another word as all eyes watched this stranger jubilantly walk away.

Living the dream is a subjective state of mind. No two individuals will replicate the meaning of what the dream is to them. My interpretation of living the dream may be tied to significant interaction with my family, enough money to pay the bills, the enjoyment of being retired, or experiencing a pain-free day.

From a spiritual perspective, Eternal Life should be our dream and every thought and action should reflect this desire. Even though we are told in John 14 and Revelation 21 that Christ is preparing a new home for us, many have lost hope in this promise. We are putting most of our time and energy in the pursuit of secular dreams–tangible things that will eventually be destroyed. Do we really understand God’s promise of “a new heaven and a new earth?” If yes, then we live for God and strive for Eternal life, which is through sanctification, wholly committing ourselves daily to God.

The thought-provoking statement of “living the dream” has me seriously thinking about the changes I need to make in my spiritual journey. Unlike working to obtain “the dream” from a worldly perspective, I am unable to do good works to receive Eternal Life. It was not a coincidence that I heard the stranger’s response. There are changes that I need to make in my life if I desire to hear Jesus say, “Well done.” Thank you, God, for getting my attention-my commitment to you needs major improvement.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020