Overcoming Hurtful Words

“When exposed to varied scenes in life, and words are spoken that are calculated to cut and bruise the soul, speak to yourself: ‘I am a child of God, an heir with Jesus Christ, a co-laborer with God. I must not therefore have a cheap mind, easily to take offense, always thinking of myself, for this will naturally produce an inharmonious character. It is unworthy of my noble calling. The heavenly Father has given me my work to do; let me be worthy of the trust.’” Our Father Cares by Ellen G. White

As I read this passage, I thought about the many hurtful words that I have given and received throughout my life. Yes, the power of the tongue has the ability to wound or to heal, to tear down or to build up. When we are placed in a situation as the receiver, we should choose to turn and walk away. When we have chosen to be the giver, we should stop and pray immediately. There are times when we are placed in precarious situations due to no fault of our own. Mentally raising the white flag in retreat and foregoing retaliation is our best and only godly option.

The disobedience of Adam and Eve led to discord, disunity, and the division of human beings that exist even today. Hurtful words are extremely painful; how we react is even more important than focusing on the bitter words. We must pray, forgive, rise above the incident and focus on our status as a Child of God. Once the seeds of anger and resentment are planted in our hearts, we have put aside our status as Christians-Christ like and given ourselves to serve under the rule of Satan.

“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from Evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:10-12

God was already aware of the impact of His created beings falling into sin. Even so, we have the Word of God and prayer to invite God into our lives when we experience hurt. Trusting in God to take care of every painful situation enables us to experience spiritual growth as we draw closer to Him.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I have been hurt and I have hurt others by speaking devastating words. I ask you to forgive me and to help me move forward in my relationship with you. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

 

Your Spiritual Appraisal

…For a great reward awaits you in heaven…Matthew 5:12

The criteria for being a good employee and an asset to a company has changed significantly within the last 10 years. Performance appraisals are utilized as a tool to measure employees who have met or not met a company’s standards for productivity, attitude, and overall contributions. Imagine if God utilized performance appraisals to measure our spiritual life. Not only would we give up and throw in the towel, we certainly would feel that God’s expectations were unfair and unjust.

Serving God is merely a choice; it is a conscious decision to receive the most expensive gift from the Giver-Jesus Christ. I am unable to imagine giving my life for individuals who enjoy being enslaved to the pleasures of this world when the opportunity to live spiritually free is available. It feels like a breath of fresh air when we take the time to realize our Salvation is a gift. We do not have to earn favor. All God asks of us is to live by faith and have complete trust in him. When we consider how much God is willing to do for us, our spiritual benefits outweigh all earthly rewards.

Eternal life is immortality, never an ache or pain, no more drama, sadness, strife, violence, sickness or death. We will have constant joy and be in the company of God, Jesus, the angels, our loved ones and friends who fell asleep in Jesus-they will be raised first when Jesus comes, and persons who have lived from the times of Genesis to Revelation through our present time. The criteria are to willingly give 100% of our hearts and minds to God.

Then I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the old Heaven and the old Earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying look, God’s home is now among his people he will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:1-4

Prayer for today: Thank you God that our reward of eternal life is not based on our merits, but on your love and desire for us to live with you forever. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

In Sync with your plan

There is a song that simply says, “Trouble in my way I have to cry sometimes, but Jesus will fix it afterwhile.”

The challenges in life are not easy for the believer. We have our share of tough struggles; however, that is the cost of following Jesus. In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus extended the invitation to several individuals to follow him. They made excuses because they were not ready to give up their own agenda. Following Christ and his plan for our lives takes total commitment. We must learn to be obedient and place our will and desires aside.

Depend on God through every trial and tribulation. Pray and wait for God’s answer. He has promised us in Isaiah 43:2-3, 5 that, “When you go through Deep Waters, I will be with you. When you go through Rivers of Difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the Fire of Oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Do not be afraid, for I Am With You…”

Are you ready for the most successful life that you can have? God is waiting to provide His plan for you. “I have decided to follow Jesus, and there is no turning back.”

Prayer for today: Dear God, Help me to realize that your plan is the best plan for my life. Amen

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

In Sync through Prayer

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:6
For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father who art in heaven; hallowed it be your name…Matthew 6:8-9

Jesus always gave the honor and glory to God his Father. He has provided the blueprint for communicating with God our Heavenly Father. Prayer does not require eloquence; we are to speak to God as our best friend. God is aware of our every desire, our brokenness, our concerns, and our needs. Every prayer is heard whether in the times of distress or giving praises of gratitude. Prayer is a vital element for spiritual growth and for maintaining a constant connection to God. Remember that God has a spiritual army: God the Father, Jesus his Son, the Holy Spirit, and legions of angels to guide, comfort, and provide for us.

Never, ever give up in life. God’s army is always available for us; He can never fail, use prayer continuously and your outcome will always be victorious. Happy Sabbath!

PRAY without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Prayer for today: Dear God: I have not stayed in touch with you through prayer. I desire to have a closer relationship with you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

In Sync by loving and giving

Dear Friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2

The three epistles of John are designated as Comfort and Counsel letters. 3 John is addressed to Gaius, a close friend of John the Elder, who provides shelter and food for the region’s traveling disciples. The Elder commends Gaius for taking care of others, who had no means to provide for themselves, yet they continued with their mission to spread the gospel. It is amazing when we read of biblical life and the struggles that disciples faced when witnessing to others. The conditions were harsh from inclement weather, the danger of bandits and wild animals, and overall weariness from traveling on foot. In spite of the lack of material goods or comfort, God had willing individuals to spread the message of Jesus and His great sacrifice for humankind.

As believers, what are we doing to take care of fellow believers? When we moved to Texas, I had been unemployed since the previous year due to my undiagnosed disability. We were in the financial struggle of our lives. Yet God used two of my very close friends to provide for our needs. Their faithfulness to God did not go unrecognized; they are truly blessed and highly favored for their obedience to God. We are not fulfilling our duty to God when we are stashing our resources. Lack of faith in God causes us to withhold and have lack of concern for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

I can attest that God has abundantly provided for our obedience to relocate. In four years, God has honored our sacrifice and opened the windows of heaven. My husband is taking early retirement in December, and I have been retired since 2017. Amidst our struggles, we have always shared with those in need. It is our love and trust in God that prompts us to be in sync with our spiritual duty to others. Loving and giving causes us to possess compassion. As a result, our hearts and minds are prepared to receive and obey the Holy Spirit.

I invite you to read 3 John-New Living Translation. The Elder provides a contrast in the two categories of believers that exist in the church. There is no gray area-either we are in sync with God or outside of the parameters that God has set for us. We are unable to define loving and giving according to “God knowing our circumstances.” It is a blessing to grow spiritually because we placed God and others first. Stand on the promises of God: Matthew 6; Malachi 3:6-12; Philippians 4:19.

We do not give to selfishly desire to receive; we give because we love God: God has proven that He is the ultimate in loving and giving.

“To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I want is to be like him.”

Prayer for today: Dear God, Please give me the desire to use my resources to help those in need. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

In Sync with God

Using your Spiritual Gifts and Talents

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

As a young girl, I had the desire to play the piano. My parents allowed me to take piano lessons to no avail; I lacked the coordination to read notes and play at the same time. While dealing with the disappointment of the failure to learn to play a musical instrument, one of my Mother’s friends offered to teach me how to crochet and knit. I immediately excelled at both crafts. In addition, I taught myself how to sew by cutting out fabric for doll clothing and hand stitching with needle and thread. Eventually, I received a sewing machine and advanced into making clothing from very complex patterns. The skill that I lacked to play the piano was compensated for by my skill to create with my hands. Fast forward 45 plus years, and I have developed my talents to the level of a master crafter and seamstress. I recognized the abilities that God has blessed me with and have developed them to honor God. Our unique spiritual gifts along with our talents were given to us to glorify God. The Giver of all gifts is pleased when we make use of our natural abilities along with learning new skills. Our lives are to be well rounded and to include hobbies which give us joy.

Although crafting brings great satisfaction to my life, I am unable to give my hobbies precedence over my spiritual gifts. Throughout my nursing career, I have ministered to patients with disease processes; providing emotional support, education, and interventions based on medical treatment and nursing care plans. I have retired from my career, but maintain my desire to minister to those in need. I thank God for the opportunity to be a vessel to write devotionals, provide food, clothing, and emotional and spiritual support to those in need. “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well…” Romans 12:6 NLT

Have you identified your natural abilities and spiritual gifts? If not, pray and ask God to reveal your talents. God is our foundation: We are wonderfully made and possess unique talents. Along with serving God, add the elements of hobbies and spiritual gifts to serve others and your life will be complete.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I am asking you to reveal my spiritual gifts and my talents. Please give me the ability to learn new skills so that I may serve you and others. Amen

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

In Sync with your Body, Pt. 4

Knowing your Purpose in Life

Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them. Isaiah 43:7

Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the Sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:2-3

From a biblical perspective, we are told why God created us; we were created to serve and to give Him praise. What does it mean to serve God? Is it merely attending church one or two times a week? What does God expect from us? It is our duty to align our desires with God’s will. Living day-to-day with a focus only on our agenda fulfills a purpose that we have developed to satisfy our desires.

For those who are successful, reflecting on their accomplishments brings a joyful pride. They have worked hard and deserve the rewards of financial stability, job security, and vacationing abroad. Are these not the blessings promised in Malachi 3:6-12? The most probable answer is yes. Our acknowledgment and faithfulness to God is the highest form of worship that we can offer. However, there is the missing element of sacrifice. Even Abraham who was blessed with wealth beyond measure and a legacy from whose lineage we are from was tested. God commanded him to literally sacrifice his son Isaac as a test of his faithfulness. And yes, Abraham proved his faith was strong when he did as God commanded, but God honored Abraham and Isaac’s faithful obedience and provided the animal for the required sacrifice (Genesis 22).

In order for us to find out what our purpose is in life, we must ask God. The question of asking God to reveal your purpose for your life is necessary for the completion of spiritual alignment. Knowing what God has planned and requires of us will always involve sacrifice on our part. If God sacrificed His only Son-Jesus Christ-then we can expect a major change to our agenda. If the thought of asking God to show you His purpose for your life has put fear inside of you, then you are not living in His perfect will.

As my husband’s retirement draws near, our plans for a cross-country vacation may or may not be on the chopping block. We are praying and have not received an answer if our vacation is in God’s will. It is not easy for us to have our wavering faith tested. We are often so caught up in our own desires that we eliminate the possibility of asking for Divine guidance. In Isaiah 55:8, God tells us: “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” NLT

Fulfillment of a purpose driven life does not occur without Divine guidance.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I am living according to my own desires. Please reveal to me the purpose you have for me. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz