Taking Risks vs Faith Moves

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

Have you ever been caught between a rock and a hard place, and were really clueless as to which decision you should make? The trending advice is to “just do something.”

There are two options that will bring resolution to the decision-making process: Take a risk or Make a faith-based move. Let’s explore the dynamics of both processes for a clearer understanding.

Taking a Risk

Decisions based on emotions, uncertainty, exploration of options that provide a 50/50 chance of a positive or negative outcome or from another individual’s input related to their prior experience or lack of experience.

Making a Faith-based Move

The Decision is based on God’s guidance which always leads to a perfect outcome.

Many of us have plenty of experience with making risk-based decisions; and, as a result, we have suffered many negative consequences. Nonetheless, we are still indecisive when we are faced with taking the best option of trusting God and living a faith-based lifestyle.

In the 12th chapter of Genesis, God instructed Abram to leave his country, his relatives, and his father’s family with the promises of blessings not only for his family, but also blessings for other families. Make note of the fact that Abram was 75 years of age when he obeyed God and made his faith-based move to leave everything and everyone that was familiar.

God has no boundaries when He gives his approval and blessings; the things that we perceive as impossible are always possible with his divine intervention.

God’s Promise

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 NIV

Our Responsibilities

Pray without ceasing! 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14 NIV

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelation 14:12

God is faithful! Always place your trust in Him! Remember that God’s thoughts, plans, and outcomes are always perfect; there are no reasons that would justify taking risks when we faithfully serve God.

Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright within him: but the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4

Prayer for today: Dear God, We have relied on self, on others, and on our circumstances to take risks and endure terrible consequences. We admit that our faith is weak and our disobedience to you is out-of-control. We ask forgiveness for self-reliance and pride. We desire the patience until we hear your still, small voice saying to us: “No, not now or this is my plan.” We pray that your will be done in our lives from this day forward. This prayer, we ask in the worthy name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen. Hallelujah, hallelujah, Amen!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

Carver Park, Keene, Tx

Learning Silence

Focusing on Self-Improvement

You might think you are a very religious person. But if your tongue is out of control, you are fooling yourself. Your careless talk makes your offerings to God worthless. James 1:26 ERV

Do you remember the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?”

It was a child’s attempt to utilize a defensive technique to counteract and prevent showing the devastation from being the receiver of those terrible words. Reflect on your childhood, were you the giver or receiver of vicious words spoken from anger?

Fast forward many years later, we have become aware that misspoken words constitute bullying and emotional abuse. The words that we give and receive from others can build healthy self-esteems or destroy and produce brokenness.

In James, chapter 1, God commands us to listen more than we speak. Our tongue–possessing control or the lack of control–is a direct reflection of our relationship with God.

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. Anger does not help you live the way God wants. So get rid of everything evil in your lives–every kind of wrong you do. Be humble and accept God’s teaching that is planted in your heart. This teaching can save you. James 1:19-21 ERV

There is no middle ground, gray area, or justification for disobeying the Word from God. It is a true domino effect when we sin with our spoken words: Anger and Vicious Words are a tag-team that produce wounds to others and reflect the evil characteristics that we possess.

Perform a thorough self-evaluation: Confess, repent, and ask God for victory over disobedience from an out-of-control tongue; it is only by His grace and mercy that we can overcome all of our sinful habits.

If you have wounded someone with angry words, or been the recipient of angry words, then Forgiveness is what God requires. Always remember, that we only have one opportunity to possess the godly character that is required for eternal life, and that is while we are alive and breathing.

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Prayer for today: Dear God, We are asking forgiveness for disobedience by possessing an out-of-control tongue and an ungodly character. It is our desire through your grace and mercy that we practice self-control in all aspects of our lives. We desire a character that reflects the Fruit of the Spirit and we know it is only possible by obeying you under all circumstances. We ask for your divine intervention to heal those that we have hurt and to help us to forgive and heal from those who have hurt us. We look forward to the day when we will live on a perfect earth. Until then we ask for the strength to change and to be more like you. We ask this prayer in the name of your worthy son, Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

Learning how to Live

Focus on Self-Improvement

Teach me how to live, oh Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands… Psalm 27:11-12 NLT

Last night, I dreamed that I was on an island and was being pursued by an enemy. As I was walking through the trees, another individual was running toward the clearing, but suddenly stopped, and just stood as if he could not take another step. When I reached the clearing, I realized that both of us were at the edge of a high cliff with the ocean beneath us. We had to make a quick decision, either to jump into the water or to be subdued by the enemy.

As I watched the other individual jump from the cliff, he disappeared into the depths of the watery abyss. I made the decision to be recaptured by the enemy, but then I heard a command to climb down the mountain. I whispered a prayer, fearing that I would fall to my death, even so, I began to climb down until my feet reached the solid foundation of the ground at the foot of the mountain. Immediately, I was met by a rescue team of individuals who were waiting to take me to safety.

I have never dreamed anything that I could recall so vividly the next day. For me, this dream is not a fictional adventure story, my dream reflects my weakness in seeing the circumstances as impossible. With His great love, God has also given the reassurance that when I fully trust in Him, He will always deliver me from the hands of the enemy and bring a resolution to the tumultuous problems that I face.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8 NLT

God knows our problems, our fears, and our concerns, all He asks of us is to come to Him in prayer, and to faithfully trust in his power to relieve us of the heavy burdens that we face.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

We must learn to live by faith and trust God completely in spite of circumstances.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NLT

Prayer for today: Dear God, you have proven over and over that your love, grace, and mercies extend beyond our limited thoughts. We ask you to forgive us for doubting your power. As we strive to live by faith, please help us to know who you are and how much you love us. This prayer we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

A Healthy Relationship with Yourself

The Focus on Self-Improvement

We live in a society that values outward appearances, extravagant lifestyles, and independence with a focus on pleasing self. The consequences of discarding the old, but effective and proven values have resulted in mass confusion for many individuals. We are discontented with our natural bodies; we possess the mindset of “the sky is the limit” in our desire for material possessions; in fact, our pursuit to own more and to pattern our lives after others has led to an overall state of discontent and unhappiness. Even the younger members of society, our children, are demanding pleasure seeking activites due to self-proclaimed boredom.

As a result, we have stopped loving ourselves; depression, suicide, and massive debt accumulation have escalated to epidemic proportions and lifelong therapeutic intervention combined with antianxiety and antidepressant medications are the new normal. Even Facebook posts include transparency where individuals reach out to strangers for help with their emotional distress.

Our standards must be based on spiritual values. Do you know who you are and who you belong to?

I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it oh, very well. Psalm 139:14

We were physically created in the image of God; therefore, your height, your skin tone, your body shape, your eye color, your hair texture, and your shoe size is perfect in the eyes of God.

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV last part

Our focus should not be on following the latest trends, for what is popular today will be forgotten next week. Always seeking after popularity, or purchasing the latest designer’s fashion at any cost results in a life of instability and dissatisfaction.

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

If God lovingly created us with a purpose then we are to seek after His will for our lives. He has given us the ability to pursue our dreams, to develop our talents, and to live peaceful and contented lives.

I am beautiful, you are beautiful!

God has determined our value; He gave his Son Jesus Christ to die in our place, and if we choose Him as our personal Savior, then we will live on a perfect earth with a Holy city that John describes in Revelation 21-22.

Live by and uphold godly values, you will possess the peace and joy that only comes from God.

Prayer for today: Dear God, We ask for your peace in our lives. We have become distracted and entangled in the world’s standards for life. Please help us to focus on the blessings and desires that you have for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

The Mind-Body Connection

The Focus on Self-Improvement

When I was initially diagnosed in 1995 with Hypertension, I took the steps to change my eating habits, incorporated daily exercise, and was rewarded by a weight loss of 50+ lbs. The prescription that I received to control my diagnosis had the side effect of fluid retention in the lower extremities. At that point, I did research which convinced me to stop taking the medication; Why not? I was eating healthy, and exercising, so why did I need to take pills which resulted in swollen ankles. I checked my blood pressure twice a week and it was within normal limits, so I was convinced that all was well.

After a couple of weeks, I began to have slight headaches which I attributed to job stress. I can recall feeling dizzy and relaying to my coworker that I felt as if I was going to faint. I was working in a medical clinic and my nursing colleague began to perform a nursing assessment: No, I was not pregnant; however, my blood pressure was 240/120. At the time, I was working in New York City, and living in New Jersey which caused me to rely on public transportation. Obviously, my judgment was impaired because I chose to travel back to New Jersey for a same day appointment with my primary physician instead of seeking medical treatment at a local hospital that was two blocks from my place of employment.

Have you convinced yourself that all is well? We have the option to build or destroy our minds and bodies by the lifestyle that we choose. Our mind-body connection is phenomenal; if we are exposed to levels of high stress, our emotional state compromises our physical health, and we may experience decreased memory, fatigue, mood changes, and elevation of normal vital signs-especially the heart rate and blood pressure. When we consume a diet of comfort foods that contain high-calorie counts, high sodium, saturated fats, syrups, and sugars, we are exhibiting impaired judgment and self-destructive behaviors which intensify to the point that we just do not care anymore; consequently, our internal organs sustain irreparable damage, and our cabinets are filled with medications that disrupt the normal and natural balance–homeostasis of our bodies that God created us with.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. I Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

We cannot look back nor be filled with regret for our past lifestyle behaviors. Today is a new day full of grace and mercy, we must utilize today to pray for the strength to change. Many say money is power, I say that knowledge is power! Begin to read the food labels– the ingredients and the percentages of sodium, sugar, and saturated fats–perceive those foods as dangerous and destructive.

The hardest test in my life is the one that I face on a daily basis, food not only provides nutrients, it also provides pleasure and satisfaction from our sense of taste. Although I have given up unhealthy foods, I am always betrayed by my senses: My eyes see the peach cobbler, my brain becomes an enemy, and causes me to reflect on the memory of eating this food, and the chain reaction occurs; I begin to weaken and feel as if my life depends on eating just one bite of that delicious cobbler.

For me, I am still in a struggle, I cannot allow myself the one bite of the cobbler; the cobbler will act as a gateway to resuming the unhealthy habits that I have walked away from. With time, our taste preferences can change, we are able to adapt to eating fresh peach slices with cinnamon and graham cracker crumbles as opposed to the adulterated peach cobbler dish.

Is it possible to change self-destructive behaviors? Psychiatrists/Psychologists differ on their professional opinions of whether a sustained change is possible. How many individuals are on short-term diets, or have sacrificed parts of their digestive system due to gastric surgery, and still end up with emotional and nutritional imbalances?

If change is to occur, we must endure the struggle! God is always with us!

The Bible contains many instructions and guidelines on what God expects from us: We must learn Self-Control which is a component of the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 23

Do you believe Philippians 4:13? If yes, pray for change and believe that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Today is a new day! Make a plan for change, present your weaknesses to God in prayer, exercise faith, always pray when you are tempted, and remove yourself from the situation. He never gives us more than we can bear in our lives. God is faithful!

Prayer for today: Dear God, We need you to give us the strength to change, and to sustain the change from self-destructive behaviors to a healthy lifestyle. We are suffering the consequences of disobedience and selfish desires. We desire a strong and healthy mind-body relationship in order to serve you and we strive to obediently follow your plans for us. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

https://www.health.harvard.edu/

Who is in your Circle?

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 NIV

Recently, I joined a Facebook group that focuses on the revival of fervent prayer for women by women. The moderator has recently published a prayer journal along with a bracelet keepsake which identifies the purpose of her ministry. The combination of reading and hearing positive feedback which addresses real-life issues has broadened my perspective on our spiritual and emotional needs as Women of God.

As godly women, we are preparing ourselves for kingdom life and witnessing to others by example; therefore, we must conduct ourselves in a manner that represents Jesus’ character and His ministry when He interacted with others. In addition to striving for our character to align with the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22,23, it is our responsibility to seek those who are in need of love, compassion, and friendship.

We can begin by identifying who is in our closest circle; whether it is longtime friends, members of our biological and church families, or new acquaintances, reach out to your friends at least once a week.

1. Purchase or make a beautiful journal to list your circle of friends.

2. Set a schedule to communicate by text, phone call, or mail a “thinking of you” card at least once a week.

3. Most importantly, pray fervently for every woman on a daily basis.

We need to create a bond of love by praying, laughing, voicing our concerns, providing a listening ear, sharing relevant knowledge and life experiences which indicate that we care.

We can make a difference in the lives of our friends through sacrificial giving of our time. Remember quality supersedes quantity: take a moment to reach out, that moment may be more important than you could possibly imagine, go ahead, get in touch with someone today!

We can brighten the darkened path that all must travel at some point in life.

Prayer for today: Dear God, You have placed us in the position to minister to others in need. Please help us as we reach out to others to help ease their burdens of life. We thank you for hearing and answering our prayers. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz