Continuous Joy

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your life. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38 NLT

The world was shocked by the recent death of Anthony Bourdain. Many of us longed for the satisfying lifestyle of travel, food, and meeting others. In fact, Psychologist Abraham Maslow had a theory, “Self-Actualization” which is defined as the culmination of fulfillment in one’s life.

Is it possible for us to have total fulfillment without living a godly life? According to biblical instruction, we are compared to branches which will wither if not connected to the vine-Jesus Christ. Our lives can never be actualized without a direct connection to the source. When we establish and maintain a relationship with God; we instinctively reach out to others.

Luke 6:38 tells us the benefits of giving. However, our reward is contingent on the amount of time or money that we are willing to give. The joy we receive from blessing others provides a reason to live. We are not philanthropists or benefactors; we are simply living and giving according to God’s standards.

How many ways can we help others? Cooking a meal; cleaning a home; filling a pantry with food; visiting those in the hospitals and nursing homes; praying in person; active participation in church ministries; volunteering at homeless shelters, hospice organizations; paying a utility bill; tutoring children with homework; donating clothing, shoes, etc. The options are endless.

Dear God, I want the joy that comes from serving you and others. I am ready to receive the blessed life that you have promised from giving. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Getting Rid of Selfishness

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

Show hospitality to one another without complaining. 1 Peter 4:9

Growing up in a Christian home taught me the gift of giving. It is in my nature to always help those in need. I am certain that my upbringing played a major role in becoming a nurse.

However, there has been a devastating change among those who claim to be “Christ-like”. A Spirit of Selfishness has infiltrated the body of Christ-the church. There has been a decline of financial giving; fewer invitations to share an after sermon meal; and a complete turning away from helping the needy. We receive with two open hands and give with a couple of fingers. How are we able to live contently without doing anything to alleviate the suffering of others?

A couple of years ago, the Children’s Ministry leader told a story based on Mathew 6:25-34. When she asked the children if they were worried about anything, one of the children responded: “Yes, I am worried about not having enough food for my family to eat.” To hear a small child express the fear of hunger felt as if a dagger had penetrated my heart. I prayed and asked God for guidance as to what I needed to do.

The abundance that God has blessed us with was not given for us to collect material assests. As believers, we have been given the mission of alleviating the burden of those who struggle to have basic necessities. Only what we do for Christ will count. It is the greatest blessing to use our monies and time to help those in need.

What can you do to help others?

Dear God, Please give us the spirit of hospitality. There are many individuals who are suffering. Help us to use the resources that you have given us to help others. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

God will Provide

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

Our lives are richly blessed when we study the Word of God. The Bible is the only book that contains writings that are diverse and spiritually uplifting. It is God’s blueprint for our daily lives. In Genesis, we are given a vivid description of Creation which reveals the love of our heavenly Father. The last book-Revelation expounds on last day prophecies; causing the reader to possess the knowledge that one-day evil will be eradicated.

One of the most beautiful stories told is how God provided for the prophet Elijah, and the Phonecian widow and her son. Famine and drought were present in their land, causing severe limitations of food and water. Elijah was also hiding from King Ahab who was determined to find Elijah and take his life. As the story unfolds, God provided for His servant and the widow (1 Kings 17).

When the vicissitudes of life begin to overwhelm us, we must reinforce our knowledge of God, by studying His Word. God always provides! He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. God is faithful. His promises will always come into fruition.

Dear God, please give us the desire to search the scriptures which tell of your great love and power. You have provided the blueprint for our lives. Thank you for your loving-kindness. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Dare to be Different

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but, let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

Are you thinking about the latest fashion craze or excitedly waiting for the next television episode of continuous drama? We are admonished not to be caught up in the fleeting pleasures of life. The enticement of sinful activities will undoubtedly lead us down the path of destruction.

Our desire to serve God-who is jealous-can be circumvented by worldly idols. Do your priorities align with God’s standards? By praying for guidance, we can become aware of the things we need to give up. Daring to be different may cause us to lose friends and family; it may cause us to give up many things that make us happy; it may cause us to sacrifice everything that we have been doing which does not reflect our love for God.

Dear God, I have spent too much time trying to conform to the world. Please forgive me and give me the courage to be different. Amen

He is Here

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

” I am convinced that God will guide our choices whether difficult or even seemingly impossible when we draw near to him with humility, sincerity, and faith. For that reason I am assured that God is constantly at my side.” Story via Adventist Mission

For many of us, we are experiencing a challenging situation. However, God has promised to comfort and provide for us, no matter the circumstances we face.

Psalm 23 NIV

“The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right path for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley. I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Dear God, We are facing situations that are so tough, and we are trying to handle them on our own. Please help us to remember that you promised to never leave us or forsake us. We love you. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Are you frustrated?

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I Am All Too Human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:14-15

I am an avid crocheter. There are projects that I have attempted to make, only to realize the pattern was incorrectly written. The frustration of undoing all of my hard work led me to develop a different method of following a pattern. Taking the time to read the pattern thoroughly has enabled me to determine if the pattern is accurate. I also take an additional step and make a sample swatch. The extra steps have eliminated halfway completion of a project only to find an error.

In our spiritual lives, many of us are weary from constantly trying to do what is right, only to fail. We study the Bible, diligently pray; yet, we commit sin on a daily basis. The frustration grows over what seems to be an impossible task. The answer is that we are using the wrong approach to grow spiritually. Good deeds are based on our efforts; we must rely on complete faith in God. Our focus needs to be redirected on building a faith-based relationship with God.

Studying the Bible and prayer are essential to establishing and maintaining our spiritual connection with God. However, there is an additional step that is required: the submission of our will. We are unable to control our will to sin. In fact, making the wrong choice often happens in a split second. Later, we question ourselves as to how we allowed ourselves to sin. The frustration over constantly doing wrong would leave us destitute if God did not have a perfect plan in place.

Our prayer is to ask God to show us His will for our lives. Stop and pray before making every decision. Do not rely on yourself to do what you think is right. God would never have placed such a burdensome task on His created beings. We would never gain the victory over sin, causing us to completely give up on the plan of salvation. Remember, His pattern for victory over sin is flawless. There is never room for error.

Dear God, Please help me to submit my will to you. I am tired of doing wrong when I know what is right. I want to follow your perfect plan for my life. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz