Perfect Peace

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

I have attended church and listened to many sermons throughout my life; however, I can count the times that I was taught how to connect with God through prayer for Divine intervention to resolve all of my real-life challenges.

I routinely had morning and evening prayer; even so, my mind was constantly in motion, and always focused on how to resolve my problems. Through His mercy, God allowed me to form a bond with a spiritual sister who taught me how to include God in every aspect of my life.

Prayer is the connection to our Heavenly resources. Do not place limitations on the number of times that you pray. We are instructed to pray without ceasing; whether your prayers are silent or audible, God is always available.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can enjoy perfect peace. The comfort that comes from God is only available when we invite our Heavenly Father into our joys, our sorrows, our trials, and our victories. There is not one issue in our daily lives that is to great or to small for God.

Challenge for today: If you know individuals who are constantly in distress, pray with them and teach them how to apply God’s Word and constant prayer to their daily lives.

Verse for today: You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Isaiah 26:3 NLT

Prayer for today: Dear God, I desire to include you in every aspect of my life. My life has been full of worry and restlessness because I am trying to solve my problems without you. I now realize that in order to have peace that I must completely trust you by inviting you in through prayer concerning everything. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

God’s Pre-Requisites

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice! Phillippians 4:4

Prior to attending nursing school, I was required to take three academic science courses: Biology, Microbiology, and Human Anatomy and Physiology. Although a letter grade of “C” was considered passing, the School of Nursing required a “B” or above for entry into their program.

The college offered regular science courses and pre-nursing science courses that were limited to applicants who received conditional acceptance to the nursing program based on the pass criteria. There were many individuals who missed the mark by 1-2 points to which their response was that the nursing school enforced an unfair acceptance policy. Regardless of the many complaints, 25 years later, the policy remains steadfast.

Recently we received an unexpected blessing. The surgeon who performed my husband’s initial dental procedure conveyed that a second surgery was required due to the inability to predict the healing of the bones in our bodies. As we listened, my thoughts wandered on our dental insurance and the cap on the allowable annual benefits; the second surgical procedure would utilize all of the remaining benefits, and we would have out of pocket expenses.

During the appointment, in spite of the letdown, we chatted about leaving the Northeast to get away from the bitter winters and the fact that we were expecting temperatures in the 20s for the weekend. At that point, the Doctor shared his history of relocating to Texas for similar reasons. We laughed and admitted that we had grown accustomed to the warm climate that living in Texas offers.

The blessing is that my husband’s second surgery was performed “free of charge.” I will not analyze the “how or why” of the gift that God blessed us with.

After reading the 4th chapter of Philippians, I have a much clearer understanding of the pre-requisites that God has for those of us who desire Eternal life.

1. Be Full of joy!

2. Possess Gentleness aka Kindness.

3. Have thoughts which are true, honorable, pure, and worthy of praise.

As Christian believers, we represent the human aspect of the love of Jesus Christ. When we are faced with disappointments, and the challenges of life, God still expects us to possess joy, and exhibit a kind and gentle disposition at all times.

Challenge for today: Rate yourself on the Gentleness Scale: Poor, Fair, Good, or Excellent.

Verse for today: Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. Philippians 4:5 Good News Translation

Prayer for today: Dear God, I have failed the pre-requisites that I must possess in my character. I ask forgiveness for the times that I have mistreated others. I am asking for your help as I do my part in becoming a gentle and loving Christian. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Never Alone!

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 NLT

You are never alone! We cannot deny that the struggles of life are real…and the impact is often harsh. Nonetheless we have a compassionate Savior who loves us and His promises never fail.

Are you aware of the comforting promises that are in the Word of God?
Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

God has verified that He is the Author of the Bible, and He is the one who inspired individuals to convey his purpose and his promises.

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. 2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

Our Spiritual growth is stunted when we fail to study the Bible. In order to have a healthy relationship, you must get to know the other person. The Bible consists of 66 books with many chapters that reveal who God is.

Believing in God is a wonderful beginning; it takes love as a foundation to build a relationship, and when we love God, we are eager to know everything about Him.

There are many self-help books available that can be utilized as adjunct reading material to assist us in overcoming our daily hardships of life. However, all books are to be secondary to studying the Holy Bible.

Believe and receive the comfort that only God can provide. Start the love relationship with our Savior today–He is the Alpha and Omega–the beginning and the end, there is none like Him!

Prayer for today: Dear God, I desire to have a faithful relationship with you. I am willing to do my part in getting to know you by studying your Word. I need you in my life. Thank you for providing the Bible. I ask for your grace and mercy as I begin the journey of knowing who you are. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Is it the best situation?

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 NIV

I just read a good-bye letter from an individual who has decided to eliminate social media (Facebook) from his life. He has the desire to reflect on his own thoughts, identify his beliefs, and perform a deep evaluation of who he really is as a person. There was also the mention of the need for companionship which led him to make the decision to buy a cat.

There are a vast number of individuals who live without familial support or close friendships. We live in a virtual world where face to face contact and communication has rapidly declined. It is easier to send text messages or FaceTime with friends or family than to interrupt our hurried lives with the inconvenience of a face-to-face visit.

As popular as the virtual world has become, we have become desensitized to the needs of others; the loving bonds that humans require for stability, strength, and validation have been weakened to the point that we use social media to post death notifications as if it were of no great importance.

What is your present Quality of Life?

There are additional drawbacks to following the popular behaviors of mainstream society. We begin to lose our individuality: Reflection on one’s life can bring the feelings of satisfaction or remorse. If you are feeling lost or invisible and your present lifestyle is nonproductive or has you thinking, “there has to be a better way”, then identify the areas that you can change. Often the behaviors or habits that lead to dissatisfaction can be modified with a realistic plan and perseverance.

In 2007, I lived in New Jersey, working on a job which required 12 hours of actual work as opposed to the 8 hour day that was supposed to be a benefit of the position. As soon as I qualified for PTO, I took a few days off and started mailing resumes to facilities in Upstate New York. Within two months, I relocated to an area that had a slower pace of life along with a job that had a realistic work schedule.

There are times when your life only requires minor adjustments to achieve a healthy and productive status, and there are times when your life needs a major change.

My decision to relocate to Upstate NY was based on a real talk with God through prayer. When all of the pieces of the puzzle came together, I knew that God had blessed my prospective plans.

Reflection of your present life should bring joy and satisfaction; if not, then it is time to say good-bye, whether it is people, places, or things. God desires to always give us hope.

Verse for today: “For I know the plans that 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 NLT

Prayer for today: Dear God, I am feeling change is necessary in my life to eliminate the emptiness that I possess. Please help me to identify the people, places, and things that I must say good-bye to. Thank you for providing a future full of hope for me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Count your small Victories!

As it is written, The righteous shall live by faith. (last part) Romans 1:17

Although we possess unique talents, personalities, physical features, and life experiences, we share a common factor, which is the ability to learn.

We can change our method of thinking and doing by learning organizational skills. Time management, planning, structure, and discipline are essential components of a productive lifestyle aka having great organizational skills.

1. Purchase a journal…yes we live in the world of digital and electronic communications; however, there is a benefit to using a writing instrument to document on (hard copy) paper, your task becomes a concerted effort as opposed to the mindless repetition of using keystrokes.

2. Plan for tomorrow…planning is very different than worrying about tomorrow. Do a walk through in your home to identify cleaning tasks, look in your closet to declutter the excess, review your bank account, these are areas that are often neglected in our busy lives.

3. Identify areas for improvement! This is one of the most overwhelming phases of organizing your life. Where is the journal? Divide your lists into Mini-tasks that can be completed in 20 minutes or less.

4. Label all of your tasks as Short-term goals: For example, cleaning your refrigerator does not have to be an all-day task that you have relentlessly avoided for a very long time; divide it up into three or four mini sessions, over a period of 1-2 weeks and remember to progress from the easiest task to the hardest task.

5. Grab a Calendar: Place yourself on a schedule by identifying the day and time slots for performing the tasks. This is the onset of Discipline and Structure becoming actions; in fact, this is the beginning of Change in your habits–you are on a learning curve– embrace the remolding of your mind!

6. Implement your plan! Check your journal and begin cleaning, decluttering, and reorganizing.

7. Evaluate your plan. There are times when we have misjudged the magnitude of the task; set your timer to 20 minutes and begin anyway.

8. Modify your original plan: If you require hangers or storage totes then work around that aspect of closet reorganization. Grab some bags, identify give-away clothing and declutter instead of hanging up the clothing that is laying on your chair.

I just completed a couple of tasks which I have avoided for quite some time. I am feeling on top of the world as if I had received a free gift.

Organization has a soothing effect on our minds: Structure and Discipline removes the chaos of clutter and empowers us to function at a deeper level; mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Challenge for today: Make it happen today–take 20 minutes to identify the areas which need organization.

Verse for today: I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NIV

Prayer for today: Dear God, My life is full of chaos and clutter. I need your strength to embrace and implement an action plan to eliminate the things which prevent me from living a disciplined life. Please show me how to begin. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz