Fearless with God

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” NIV Deuteronomy 31:8

God provides Deliverance!

I can recall in my childhood possessing a very timid and fearful outlook on life. Unfortunately my Mother had been bullied by her older sister and as a result she had many fears which has existed throughout her adult life. Fears that prevented her from pursuing and developing her innate gifts and talents. Fears that were evident during my childhood which led to many insecurities, and caused me to become a follower among my peers.

I can recall that one of my strongest desires was to learn how to swim. Inspite of the many verbalized dangers, with the most prevalent being death by drowning, I persevered and became an accomplished swimmer. Now as an adult who possesses a disability with both knee joints, the only non-weight bearing exercise I can actively participate in, is the sport of swimmimg.

During my childhood, Fear slowed my desire to pursue vital areas of personal growth and development. However, my character begin to change during my teenage years, and I no longer required validation from my peers. In high school, I chose a “College Prep” track which included an internship working in a major department store.

At the age of 40, I relocated to another state to complete the clinical portion of the RN program. I began to view life from a spiritual perspective which led to a strong sense of developing my blessings-my natural gifts and talents.

Although I studied the Word of God and prayed, my decision making skills suffered greatly. The fears that were incorporated into my childhood were constantly resurfacing. It has taken a lifetime for me to develop my spiritual gifts. Even so, through prayer, studying and believing God’s promises that He is always with me, God has enabled me to learn and possess decision making skills which lead to positive outcomes.

In 3 John 1:2, the author relays, “Beloved, I pray you to prosper concerning all things and to be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

When we lack confidence due to past life events, we are inhibited by fear and as a result we are unable to possess good health. Our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health suffers from suppressing our natural inclinations to reach for higher goals.

I encourage you to self-evaluate, and identify your interests and your talents. Find other individuals who can mentor and empower you to develop and grow.

A positive attitude of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13) also applies to our innate abilities.

After taking a 25 year hiatus from my love of crocheting, I participated in two projects to make hats for the homeless and underserved children. It was a blessed and fulfilling mission to provide for those in need. In addition, I enjoyed creating items evolving from a skein of yarn made by my own hands.

God loves us, and has blessed each of us with personalized talents. Pray your “fears” away, and enjoy the wonderful attributes that were custom made for you.

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:14

Challenge for today: Explore, identify, and develop your interests and talents.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Thank you for making us in your image. Please give us the victory over our fears that have prevented us from developing our gifts. We desire to possess health and happiness according to your will for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

The Cost

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on Earth. Therefore, Go and make disciples of all the nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands, I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT

Many years of my Clinical Nursing experience was devoted to the area of Home Health. As I progressed in my tenure, I was offered Nursing Administrative positions which translated into working in the office. The thought of not traveling in a 60-mile geographical area for 8-10 hours per day made me think that I had finally “paid my dues,” and I would be able to focus on the improving the quality of care from my office. Even so, there was an unspoken requirement, not only was I expected to fulfill my duties as an Administrator, I was required to be a backup clinical nurse when needed. Eventually, the responsibilities became so overwhelming that I quickly reached the burnout stage, and readily understood why there was such a high turnover for the position.

As believers, many of us have reached the Burnout Stage in our spiritual lives. We have placed our desires above the duty that God has given to each of us. In fact, we have forgotten about The Great Commission found in the 28th chapter of Matthew which is straightforward in defining our primary role in life.

“Go” is the command from God. There can be no misunderstandings or varied definitions for this word.

“Go” is a verb-which indicates action; it means to move from one place to another; travel; leave; depart.

Simply speaking, it is not enough for us to Attend church services, Study the Word of God, Pray without ceasing, and stay in our comfort zones of self- gratification.

God requires discipleship! Leaving our homes and sharing the great news of Salvation is the #1 priority and purpose for our lives.

There are so many individuals that need to know that God is love and He deeply cares for them.

Sacrificial giving extends beyond the giving of monies, there is a great Cost when fulfilling our role as a Disciple; putting aside our temporal pleasures, leaving our homes, and ministering to others through visitation.

Can you imagine the progress and hastening of Jesus’ Second Coming, if each of us took a 60-mile radius and ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of others?

Challenge for today: Pray for direction, leave your home, and make a face-to-face visit.

Prayer for today: Dear God, We want to do your will. Please forgive us for willful disobedience by not going out and spreading the good news of Salvation. We ask for your guidance as we seek to take a different path in our lives. Being your disciples and making new disciples is what you require of us, and we are ready to do as you command. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Winter Wonderland

The Book

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

After many years of shelf life, I finally removed my nursing textbooks and adjunct study materials from my bookshelf and placed them in a box. As I reflected on the time, effort, and study that was required, I realized that I had memorized a massive amount of information that led to obtaining nursing licensure and rendering safe clinical practice to my patients. Although I had accomplished a major goal to become a nurse, the Board of Nursing (BON) had stringent criteria for annual Continuing Education related to the nursing profession. Whether I had the desire or initiative, I was not given a choice in the requirements for retaining the license that was given to me by the BON.

I recently read an article that indicated 87% of American households owned a hardcopy of the Bible. As exciting as this may seem, the percentage plummeted when members of these households were asked, “How often do you read (study) the Bible? The general consensus was although the desire to study the Bible existed, there was just not enough time to study the Word of God.

How many of us easily slip into the category of desire, but never really commit to faithfully studying the Word?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV

We must take the time to self-evaluate and rearrange our priorities. Our spiritual lives require an ongoing connection to the Vine-Jesus Christ. The Bible was given to feed and nourish our relationship with God; spiritual growth requires daily continuing education of God’s Word.

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. Hebrews 11:6 NIV

As believers, we do not have a choice, God tells us plainly the necessity for studying His Scriptures. We need to know God and what He requires for our lives.

Challenge for today: Make the commitment to study the Word of God everyday.

Prayer for today: Dear God, We have not studied your Word as we should. We need to know your will and your way for our lives. Please forgive us for placing you last in our priorities. We commit to doing what is pleasing to you from this day forward. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

The Reason

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

During the holiday season, we often hear the phrase: “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Although there is no biblical substantiation that Christ was born on December 25th, we do know that He–Our Savior and Lord was born as a human baby from an Immaculate Conception-the only Virgin Birth designed and ordained by God.

Jesus who is the Son of God was born sinless and with purpose: To Redeem us of our Sins; to provide an alternative to the second death which we deserve; to prepare an eternal home for us in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Jesus’ great sacrifice extends beyond a manmade seasonal holiday experience. Isaiah uses descriptive words to honor His status as our Lord and God who bore burdens, who suffered, bled, and died; and then, Overcame Death, and was Resurrected with all Power, Glory, and Majesty.

In John 14, we are told not to possess troubled hearts or minds. Why? Because Jesus has already made provisions for those of us who know from personal experience that, “Jesus is the Reason.”

Revelation 21-22 tells us of the New Heaven and the New Earth that God has personally designed for His Faithful Followers who know that “JESUS is the Reason.”

What gift can I give that would ever be worthy? All that I have, is sinful and unworthy. I was born in sin and inquity has shaped every aspect of who I am. Even so, my nothingness, my wavering faith, falling into temptation, self-will, and disobedience is washed clean and becomes much when I repent and place my life in Jesus’ hands.

I proclaim that, “Jesus is my Reason!”

“I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand on the Earth.” Job 19:25

Challenge for today: Make Jesus your reason by faithfully committing your life to Him.

Prayer for today: Dear God, we want to acknowledge your greatest gift, your Son-Jesus Christ. You are the only Reason that matters to us. We commit our lives to you from this day forward, and we thank you for your great sacrifice. In your holy name, we offer ourselves to you. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Helping Hearts and Helping Hands

The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seem, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

Last week, I communicated with one of the senior members of our church who made the decision to live in a Long Term Care facility following her Rehabilitation treatment. During my nursing career, I have witnessed many individuals make the heart wrenching decision to give up their homes and most of their personal belongings to live in one room with minimal possessions, and hope for the best as they share living space with a total stranger.

On this past Sabbath, it was cold and rainy, and my arthritic knees ached immensely from the bitter elements of the weather. We made the decision to stay home and watch the televised and uplifting church service from Oakwood University Church. After eating an early dinner, I began to read an article on “His Will for my FamilyDiscovering God’s Plan and Purpose.”

At the conclusion of reading several articles in this Christian magazine, the Holy Spirit instructed me to prepare myself to leave for visitation to the nursing home. I placed several layers of clothing on, kissed my surprised husband good-bye, and took the 5 minute ride to the facility where I had worked as a Charge Nurse 38 years ago. (My life took a full circle when God instructed me to return to Texas where I resided from 1976-1987.)

As I parked the car, and looked at the building, the vague memories as a Nurse sending out patients to the hospital began to return when I saw the ambulance and the paramedics exit with a resident on the stretcher. I quickly glanced to make certain it was not the individual I had planned to visit.

When I entered the building, my mind immediately attempted to place me as the young and inexperienced nurse on her first job. I greeted several residents sitting in the lobby, and was in awe that the building was exactly the same as I remembered it. I passed the office where I could remember wheeling the heavy cart of patient charts to document the significant events during the shift. I was no longer entering to render healthcare for patients; however, I still have a responsibility to render spiritual care as defined by God.

Although my role has changed, God’s plan and purpose for my life remains unchanged. My priority as I entered the nursing home was to minister to others from a spiritual perspective. What a joyful blessing the three of us received as we shared laughter, memories of our respective lives, discovered common bonds, and acknowledged God’s grace and mercy through our aging process. We read the Word of God and offered a prayer of thanksgiving for our blessings of life.

I exited the familiar building feeling more enriched and blessed than when I entered. I am thankful that when God spoke to me and said, “Get dressed and go” that I was obedient.

Helpful hands and Obedient hearts-Our duty to God and Others.

Challenge for today: Make the commitment to visit someone in need on a weekly basis!

Prayer for today: Dear God, Please give us the desire to leave our comfort zones and reach out to those in need. Help us to put all excuses aside for not fulfilling your plan and purpose for our lives. We ask you to forgive us and bless us as we move forward. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Aspen, Colorado

Winter Wonderlands

Winter is a beautiful season when various parts of the earth are clothed in snowy garments.

It is still so much beauty that God has provided for us to enjoy. Nature reveals God’s ever-present love, it is up to us to explore His gifts to us every season.

Have a wonderful day!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz