Pray for Peace and Power

Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10

If you don’t know what to do, pray. If you don’t know where to turn, pray. If you need direction, pray. If you need answers, pray. Whatever it is that you need, pray. God hears your prayers and will get you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it! So, don’t stress, don’t worry and, keep the faith! And, whatever you do always pray! It always helps! It has helped me in many situations and, will do the same for you! God bless you and have a wonderful evening! Donell Ferguson

With the surge in the COVID-19 virus, joblessness, civil unrest, political dissension, war, and death, our world is in a state of constant turmoil. Although we have no control over these events we do have control over the time that we spend with God. Prayer is our opportunity to talk with God about our concerns, release them and enjoy the peace that only God can provide. Prayer indicates our willingness to include God into our lives, prayer acknowledges our dependence on His power, and prayer renews and builds our faith and trust in God who is our Heavenly Father. God is love and He is ready to hear and help us through every crisis.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Bible Reading: Psalms 27

God, we thank you for the gift of a new day full of grace and mercy. We give our worries and our problems to you and ask that you give us strength and peace during these tumultuous times. It is our desire to place our lives in your hands. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Stay Aware! Stay Safe!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

“If only I had more ________”

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1

At the age of five, I learned a powerful prayer: God is great, God is good, and I thank Him for my food. Amen

As I matured through the lifespan, I decided the prayer was for children, and I exchanged the simple prayer for prayers that contain more elaborate words. One certainty that we can have is that the journey of life always brings change. I started a new job located in the next state, which required 3 hours of travel every day. The essential responsibilities consumed most of my waking hours, and with the exhaustion at the end of the day, I would mumble a quick prayer before retiring for the night.

Soon my focus changed, I began to search for a work-life balance; but could not find the time to study the Bible, pray, and have meaningful worship more than once a week when I attended church. Yes, on Sabbath, during the service, I would feel guilty for not praising and worshiping God during the week. But my weekly commitment to do better only resulted in making empty and unfulfilled promises from week-to-week.

Then my life changed, the new job had excellent perks, it was laid back, which left me with a high energy level and a lot of extra time. I focused on my achievements of a nursing career progressing well, and savings account that was flourishing due to newly acquired financial management skills. Eventually, traveling became a hobby, and to make things even better, I met a travel partner (it was a platonic relationship) who lived for the weekend. Life was wonderful! Not a week passed that we didn’t have activities that consumed every weekend from Friday-Sunday.

I was happy and told myself that this was a good life, and I deserved it for all of my hard work. With the responsibilities of work and the time spent on leisure activities, I placed my educational goal on hold. To make matters worse, I began to make excuses, “If I only had more time, then I could attend church every week, but I am too tired.” My focus was on self-gratification, and I didn’t even have time to say the simple prayer of “God is great, God is good…”

“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jeremiah 31:3

Although I had forsaken God, He is always faithful and remembered me. After enjoying two years of fun in the sun, during a phone call, my best friend reminded me of my commitment to further my education. I half-heartedly agreed to apply so that I could tell myself (and him) that I took the final step to become a Registered Nurse.

Although I had completed all of the academic courses required for nursing, the RN program in the State of New Jersey was in high demand, and I was placed on a 2-year waiting list by three colleges. Again God intervened, and the same friend that reminded me of my educational goal recommended that I apply to the program that he attended. Two weeks later, I received my acceptance letter, which required me to leave my former life behind and relocate to Upstate New York. God allowed me to achieve my goal to become a Registered Nurse, where I had many fruitful years to minister to those who were physically ill and mentally dejected.

When we possess the mindset of, “If only I had more ____________________” whether we fill in the blank with time or money, we exclude God from our lives. Through self-reliance, we begin to think of our desires and the methods in which we can achieve everything we want. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Deciding to place our lives in God’s hands prevents us from carrying the unnecessary burdens of our future, even during the pandemic and civil unrest. God’s promises are not dependent on present circumstances. He only requires that we acknowledge Him and accept His Plan of Salvation. God’s decision to create humanity despite our decision to forsake his loving-kindness has not influenced the extension of His grace and mercies. Jesus Christ, His only Son, agreed to die for our redemption to save us from a sin-filled life, and the destruction of the second and final death.

When we perceive God as our Heavenly Father, we become as little children filled with love and trust. Only then can we believe, speak, and live by the simplicity of the child’s prayer: God is great, God is good, and we thank you for our food. Amen.

Bible Reading: Matthew 6

God, we thank you for your love, your power, and for the provisions that you have blessed us with. We desire to include you in our lives and ask for your Divine intervention and blessings. Thank you for giving your Son to die for our sins, who rose from death to serve as our Heavenly Intercessor. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.

༺♡༻ FABULOUS ༺♡༻

Smile by Cutting your Losses

The rewards of humility and the fear of the LORD are wealth and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4

“Sometimes, your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

How easy is it for you to smile? You may think that smiling is an inappropriate response when so much chaos and confusion is present in our lives. But that is the root of the problem, do not let external factors influence and control your state of happiness and well-being.

Smiling has great benefits: Each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.

For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress (3). Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters—dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin—are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well (4). This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever—100-percent organic and without the potential adverse side effects of synthetic concoctions (4). Finally, the serotonin release brought on by your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter (5). Many of today’s pharmaceutical anti-depressants also influence the levels of serotonin in your brain, but with a smile, you again don’t have to worry about negative side effects—and you don’t need a prescription from your doctor. Riggio 2012 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile,

Who would have thought that the simple act of smiling could create homeostasis-balance in your mind and body?

When we feel that our options are limited, it is then that we need to pause and take solitary “me time.” Grab a pen and journal and write down your present emotional state of mind. Identify the external factors that are contributing to your distress; next, make two itemized lists: (1) Things I can Control or Change and (2) Things that I Cannot Control or Change. The obstacles that appear to be mountains are most likely roadblocks that you can effectively remove from your life story.

Let’s address the Number #1 cause of unhappiness and discontent, our financial status.

Getting control of your life always involves seeking help. Begin with researching credible online resources that do not ask for your personal information or attempt to convince you to enroll in their debt management programs. When your finances are overwhelming, it is impossible to enjoy peace of mind; making a financial budget planner is crucial to identifying and eliminating impulse spending. https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/saving-budgeting/creating-a-budget

If you have two to three closets of clothing and shoes, consider selling your excess online at mercari.com. Buyers are eagerly waiting to purchase quality items with the movement of their fingers. Remember, set the price to sell, yes; you will take a loss if you compare the original cost to the sale price; even so, it is better to sell low then to have items that you will never wear again collecting dust.

Love coffee, brew your own. If you are a Starbucks connoisseur, consider purchasing a coffee brewer, a bag of French Roast, and a beautiful cup. $700 a year is a lot of money to pay someone else for an accessible and achievable skill.

Speaking of things that we consume to make our tastebuds happy, restaurant food comprises a large part of eating up your budget. Choose one of your favorite dishes, google, and find a cooking video to learn how to fix a delicious meal. Watch the video a couple of times before the actual meal preparation. Taking baby steps to learn how to cook can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars, and offers the benefit of discovering and acquiring new creative skills.

Cut the parasitic relationship with your Debit/Credit cards. These cards are not your friends. Make a withdrawal and get cash, label a few envelopes for expenditures, and stick to your budget. Place the leftover money in two clear jars, one for paper money and one for coins. Monitor your progress every month, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

There are many other ways to curtail spending; however, unless there is a genuine desire to change, becoming financially savvy is only a wasted thought. Debt accumulation rarely happens overnight, and noticeable debt management and relief usually take a minimum of one year. Even so, embrace and celebrate every accomplishment you make toward becoming a happy person who is striving to live a simple, debt-free lifestyle.

Including God in our plan to overcome and improve our financial status gives us the reassurance that our Creator loves and cares for us. And that gives us reason to Smile!

I can (and I will) do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

God, we have identified our weakness of money mismanagement, and we are asking for your help and strength to become excellent stewards of the resources that you have blessed us with. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.

No matter how hard life can get, go to bed grateful for all you have

Prayer Produces Power and Peace

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Two weeks ago, my husband and I had a discussion during morning worship on what we could do to deepen our spiritual relationship with God. On the previous day, I read an inspirational devotional on the power of prayer. The reminder that our spiritual growth is based on doing our part, I suggested that we begin to pray together every two hours during our waking hours. The first day went very well, but on the subsequent days, we failed to honor our commitment.

It was not intentional that we failed to pray as planned. In fact, at the end of the week, we were unable to identify the obstacles and distractions that redirected our focus from praying. Yes, it is distressing that the most powerful resource we have, prayer, which allows us to freely connect to God; so many of us have great difficulty following the command to “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Realizing our shortcoming, we prayed for forgiveness for failing to remember to pray, and developed an action plan and set our cellphones to alarm every two hours–while awake.

It is not possible to verbalize prayers continuously; even so, we must always possess an attitude of worship, which is the acknowledgment, reverence, gratitude, and love for God, our Heavenly Father. Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; Colossians 4:2. With great intent, we are admonished to keep our minds focused on God and His grace and mercies. Living with a spirit of gratitude includes thanking God for every trial and blessing.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character. Character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5. There is no cookie-cutter approach to obtaining spiritual growth. Our weaknesses and shortcomings differ as our fingerprints differ. It is up to each of us to identify the character traits and worldly pleasures that keep us separated from God.

Since January, the world has been bombarded with the global pandemic that continues with an alarming increase in the rate of Infectious Cases and Deaths. The roller coaster of an economic recession, loss of jobs, the inability to pay debts, heinous crimes, missing children, social injustices, social isolation, the failure to fulfill travel and educational plans, and political unrest have drained our energy and affected our motivation to move forward. Without the desire to strengthen our relationship with God, we cannot possess spiritual power or peace of mind.

The need for prayer is ongoing. Of all the things that we determine are excessive, prayer will never belong in that category. When we purpose in our hearts to have a closer relationship with God by communicating with Him through prayer, we develop a habit that produces victory. Every aspect of our lives improves, peace replaces anxieties and worries, and we gain strength because we have tapped into the only source of spiritual power. The Bible says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Pray and trust in God. He has great plans for the faithful, and that is to enjoy Eternal life in a New Heaven and New Earth, where peace, love, and joy will exist forever and ever. Amen.

Bible Reading: Romans 8

God, we thank you for the ability to talk to you whenever we are ready. Please give us the wisdom that we need to include you in every aspect of our lives consistently. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

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Fragile and Needful Things

About a month ago, I placed an online order from walmart.com who hires private contractors to deliver. Imagine my surprise when the driver only walked halfway down the short path and threw the package onto our porch as if it was a baseball. As he turned to enter the truck, I remained standing on the porch holding up the box. There was a brief moment of eye contact, and then he sped off. It was not my intention to confront the driver but to change his perspective that not every empty driveway indicates that no one is home, excitedly waiting for their box. Thankfully, the employee who prepared the package for mailing had wrapped the item in bubble wrap, and it was protected from damage.

When we hear or see the word fragile, we usually think of tangible items that can be easily broken, perhaps eggs, or injured, like a newborn baby. After considering the list of intangible things that are fragile and needful, my top three are Life, Time, and Relationships.

We are given a measure of grace when we open our eyes to a new day. The decisions that we make from day-to-day indicate our gratitude to God for the blessing of being alive. Time is a precious commodity that can never be retrieved or duplicated. Once yesterday has passed, we have to focus on the 24 hours that are in front of us, and hopefully, we will have the opportunity for the blessing of tomorrow. Structure and discipline have a direct impact on whether or not we utilize our time wisely. Individuals who possess time management skills have a higher level of appreciation for the ticking minutes that can be used constructively.

Outside of work, how do you spend your downtime? To maintain mental and emotional health, the grunge duties and tasks must be counterbalanced with our interests. Whether your role is stay-at-home mom or dad, full-time student, or caregiver, taking the time to do what brings personal enjoyment is mandatory for your well-being. How we spend our time is an indicator of the value that we place on ourselves. Consider your “me time” a priority at least once a day. Reserve the time to work toward one goal that provides happiness, thus improving your self-worth.

Our accomplishments provide us with a sense of satisfaction and give us inner joy, especially when we can use our creativity. At the end of the day, taking the time to reflect on one’s activities should provide a great sense of satisfaction. Achievements empower and encourage us to persevere and keep moving forward. If not, then we must identify the factors that prevented us from reaching our goals. Recognizing and eliminating obstacles, heightens our awareness, and keeps us focused. Life is too precious for regrets.

Relationships are one of the most critical and fragile aspects of our lives; how easily strong bonds break from the impact of neglect, and the forgetfulness of their value. People need people! Whether you embrace this fact or have feelings of disdain, we were not created to be alone. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18. 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply”, … Genesis 1:27-28

Most importantly, we have an overwhelming need that requires daily commitment; the strength of our relationship with God is wholly dependent on our actions. God is always here for us. Although we are distracted, or we lose our desire to continue our relationship with Him, God is just a prayer away. Communication through prayers of gratitude, confession, and repentance, for problem-solving and guidance, bind us to the Creator of every living thing in this world.

Love was the reason that God created us in His image to enjoy this earthly Paradise. We were not an afterthought… the Garden of Eden was an all-inclusive, upscale, breath-taking, and perfect environment that was gifted to us. Begin a virtual journey on youtube.com and as you look at the phenomenal areas that still exist on this earth; the fields with an array of wildflowers, rain forests, the beaches with white, pink, and black sand, the oceans, the sun, moon, and stars, nature reflects the Love of God.

What can compare to the variety, hues, textures, and tastes of the fruits growing abundantly from the trees? The fields of grains sprouting from seeds, the nuts, and the red, yellow, orange, green, and purple vegetables that provide nourishing foods for our bodies. We were given everything that we need to sustain the optimal health of our minds and physical bodies.

God made the decision to create humanity who would reject to live in peace and harmony and to choose the evil of sin. Indeed, the heart of God is full of loving-kindness. Remember that God gave his only Son, Jesus Christ, who was sinless and made the ultimate sacrifice to surrender His Divinity in exchange for the rigors of humanity. And why? Jesus died so you and I could escape the defeat of death and destruction. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Romans 6:23

God continues to reach out His loving arms: The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

As the events of this world worsen, God is always with us. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We still have time to accept the Plan of Salvation by accepting His grace and mercies. Love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. Be faithful, trusting, and obedient. He will never leave us or forsake us. And reflect on the New Heaven and New Earth that He has planned for us: However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! 21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people. Revelation 22:12, 20-21

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.

Let the Words of my Mouth

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Governance is not Possible

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. God has established the authorities that exist. Romans 13:1

Societies have developed laws and regulations to maintain a safe and peaceful existence for all to enjoy. Even within a structured environment, there is always the possibility of chaos from those who possess discontented minds. Human beings possess an innate resistance to the obedience and conformity required to possess discipline and self-control. We desire peace; however, our behaviors reveal our appreciation or disregard for the laws that are designed to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes, and protect liberties and rights.

If obedience were that easy, we would never drive above the speed limit, wounded hearts from broken marriage vows would not exist, the hatred that sparks the desire to commit heinous crimes and the conscious thoughts to cheat on our income taxes would not be a reality. Non-compliance has permeated our society to the point that contractual obligations are required to enforce the commitment to obey. If we were prone to uphold rules and regulations, most importantly, we would gravitate toward establishing loving relationships with God, our Creator, and all of the inhabitants of this earth.

Who would not desire to live in a beautiful world without lawlessness?

Many have attempted to create an ideal place of utopia where perfect happiness, love, and respect would always exist. Unfortunately, history reflects everything but humanity’s desire for a safe and peaceful existence based on adherence to rules and regulations. For those of us who believe in the Bible, the story of Creation reflects that God intended for us to live forever in a perfect and peaceful environment.

Because God did not create humanity with robotic minds and gave us the free will of choice, Adam and Eve fell from grace because they desired much more than God had given to them. Eve was told that they would not die (Adam and Eve already possessed immortality), and as gods, they would know the difference between good and evil. When we look at the reason for their fall, we assume that it was because Satan used the visual imagery of a talking serpent to deceive Eve and that she was so mesmerized that she made an impulsive decision. But Eve already possessed a disobedient spirit, despite the gift of Paradise, she desired to eat from the one tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that God commanded, “Do not eat from this tree.”

The desire to disobey God’s commands has been the downfall of humanity and will exist until the end of time. Why are we in this predicament?

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9

We will look at disobedience from a modern perspective. Those who have raised children take extra precautions to provide a controlled environment especially during the early years of development from infancy to the toddler stage. Provisions for the physiological and psychological maturation are given to create a safe, nurturing, and peaceful environment. All is well, with a few bumps in the road, until the toddler reaches the second year of life, then the resistance, the disobedience, and the temper tantrums begin to evolve. As the little one is stomping their baby feet, and expressing “no” to the activities that previously made them happy, the parents are in awe as to how their joyful little one progressed to this point.

One thing that we can be sure of, it is not the environment that influences us to misbehave, to be contrary, or to nourish our rebelliousness. Because of the sinful desire to disobey, we naturally gravitate toward the very things that are terrible and bring grave consequences. For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. Mark 7:21-22

Good deeds cannot save us from the internal battle of good versus evil that we face every day. 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 7:15.

For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit, what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other so that you do not do what you want. Galatians 5:17

We have biblical proof that substantiates the fact that humanity is unable to choose good over evil without the love of God in our hearts. Hence, the death of Jesus Christ was necessary for the Plan of Salvation to be available to all who are created in God’s image. Because sin permeates every aspect of our lives, we will never be able to self-govern without external influence. 

We must have the power of God to give us the strength to restrain ourselves and maintain discipline and structure. Although corruption exists in high places, remember that God established the government of rules and regulations. Please do not focus on those who are in powerful positions and manipulate the laws for their benefit or make decisions that risk our health and well-being. Each of us has a responsibility to obey the laws of the land (if they do not conflict with the Word of God), and then if there is conflict, we pray to God for guidance.

Acknowledging that God is first and foremost is the first step to renouncing the concept of self-governance. We need God desperately to guide us through this tumultuous journey of life, and He has promised that He will always be there for us. 

1 Now, this is what the LORD says—He who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine! 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Isaiah 43:1-3

Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5

God, we desperately need you in our lives. We look forward to the day when your Son, Jesus Christ will come again, and we can live in the New Heaven and New Earth. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

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