Living Stress Free is Still Possible

1. Take all circumstances to Jesus in prayer.

2. Believe in God: He is always victorious.

3. Simplify your lifestyle. You do not need all of those things.

4. Structure your life with discipline.

5. Invest in stewardship-stop spending money. Forget about Black Friday.

6. Explore your creative side of life.

7. Stop eating fast food, and drinking caffeine.

8. Get at least 7 hours of sleep.

9. Exercise by walking everyday.

10. Have fun and laugh.

Suffering gives the Ability to Comfort Others

“The Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble…” 2 Corinthians 1: 3,4

I have often pondered as to why there are so many levels of suffering. I am unable to remember a time in my life where I was not facing a hardship. This morning, as I studied the daily devotional, my question was answered from the Word of God.

1. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

2. …From everyone who has given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

3. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…Psalm 46:1-3

4. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

5. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…2 Corinthians 12:9

There has been a purpose for every trial, and hardship that I have endured. My relationship with Christ is in need of a daily upgrade. I am required to put aside all thoughts of independence. The connection to God is one that provides grace and ongoing spiritual growth. God, I thank you for your love. I thank you for helping me to realize that through my suffering, my relationship with you will enable me to comfort others. Please reveal to me who I can be a blessing to each and everyday. Sonya Johnson Ruiz

A Peaceful Life

Do not let your hearts be troubled…John 14:1 NIV

Yesterday, I eagerly listened to my niece describe the benefits of country life. Recently, she and her husband, along with their three children made the decision to give up the glamour and convenience of the city. As I looked on their relaxed and smiling faces, the change was evident. The benefits of sacrificial obedience spoke more than the words expressed regarding the joy of life in a country setting. With the innocence of a little child, she encouraged me to consider relocating to a serene environment which provided opportunities for a more natural lifestyle. Although, I am unable to make an immediate transition, my husband and I have developed the blueprint for our move in the near future.

As our society moves toward increased violence, racism, natural disasters, and disregard for human life; we are to maintain a peaceful existence which is available only through Christ. We are admonished to rely on the promises that a place which surpasses all earthly serenity is being prepared for us. God knows the plans that he has for every individual who has given their hearts to Him. It is our responsibility to embrace the love, joy, and peace that He offers. What a wonderful and comforting God we serve that cares about our state of mind and our quality of life. God please help us to live a peaceful life; in spite, of our earthly circumstances. Thank you for loving us. Amen

Our Fragile Heart

Come to me, all who have heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

“Leave the past behind”, “Just let go” or “Don’t let the past ruin your future”, and the cliches go on and on. There are many individuals who feel that self-motivation techniques provide healing from brokenness. But, the simple truth is that-it is not possible to let go of your past- without intervention. Your first thought is probably, “oh another advocate for long term therapy.” Yes, therapeutic intervention is available from many sources: God, the right family members, trusted individuals, therapists, support groups, etc. The options are many as we attempt to imagine the painful process which produces the outcomes of letting go and having a brighter future.

Prior to choosing the right resources, we must ask ourselves if the journey is one that we are prepared to take. The willingness to be healed from brokenness begins on a spiritual level. It is the submission of all fears and the expressed desire for our fragile hearts to be given back to God. This is not a sabbatical or a religious revival. It is a private pact with the Creator of all mankind. Once we take the most important step of praying for Divine intervention, we must continue by acknowledging and accepting the past events that have led to our current state of fragility.

Acknowledgement and acceptance are two of the most powerful barriers that prevent us from continuing our journey to healing. Often, our brokenness has occured because we were victims by the words and actions of those who were designated to love and nurture us. It is difficult to accept that our family or caregivers could inflict the physical or emotional pain that has left us with deep, and unhealed wounds. In addition, acknowledgement requires the additional step of forgiveness for the person(s) who hurt us. The walls of hatred and bitterness are not impenetrable. It is the simple act of affirming that we forgive and forget all words and actions of the individuals who committed acts of destruction against us. With the choice to forgive, we have spiritually empowered ourselves to move forward. It is only then that healing of our fragile hearts are possible.

Acceptance of our past circumstances propels us to change roles from victim to victor. The catch phrase of “being a survivor” eliminates the spiritual aspect of healing; and allows the past an opportunity to overshadow our bright future. We are unable to change the past events of our lives. However, if we take the necessary steps to begin our journey, God has promised to provide guidance, and the comfort necessary to heal our fragile hearts.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

What God Values

This morning I read a very interesting devotional which stated that we should be more concerned with having a meek and quiet spirit as opposed to decorating our outward body. In today’s society, the standards of fashion demand concealers, foundations, mascara, vibrant lipsticks, high profile jewelry, and designer clothing and accessories. As we focus on making corrections to our faces, and adding vibrant jewels; our mirrors reflect a painstakingly masterpiece, in which we are well-pleased. The worldly values that we uphold and participate in, provide a stark contrast to the modesty in dress and avoidance of outward adornment mentioned in the Word of God.

In fact, our behaviors indicate that our values are misaligned with God’s values. We are unable to apply as makeup, the intangible qualities of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. We are unable to purchase a meek and quiet spirit that reflect obedience to God. “If we live in the spirit, we are to walk in the spirit.” Galatians 5:25 What are the changes that you need to make to align your values with God’s values? We are guaranteed an ever truthful reflection when we look deeply into the spiritual mirror of the Word of God.

Breaking the Spiritual Growth Plateau

“Come out from them and be separate says the Lord… 2 Corinthians 6:17

During my career, one of the most difficult days was Wednesday-known as Hump Day. The expectation was to push even harder because there were only two days left in the work week. Since statistics prove that Friday has the lowest level of productivity; Wednesday’s were quite vicious for catch up work along with the daily goals for that day. I often day-dreamed of how beautiful I would feel on Friday at 5 pm as I struggled to meet the grueling deadlines on Wednesdays. However, my wishes for better days and a lower standard of productivity for the third work day of the week, never came into fruition. Now, as I think about my previous dread of Wednesdays; I have a couple of time management resolutions that would have changed my outlook, and increased my productivity to coincide with my times of peak energy. Also, I could have collaborated with co-workers to find out their secrets to success on managing the hardship of (relentless-work) Wednesday.

Many times we reach a plateau in our spiritual lives. We just cannot figure out the answer for getting over the hump. We pray, study the Word, attend church, exercise, eat right, and practice kindness; but, still feel as if something is missing. The solution to overcoming our stunted spiritual growth may link to how we utilize our time. We have received the gift of 24 hours to serve God through various activities. With the daily distractions we face, it is easy for our secular activities to overpower our spiritual activities. God admonishes us to separate ourselves from the hustle and bustle of the world. In addition, time with the Creator includes more than praying, studying, and attending church. Have we included helping others in their time of need, or is our time solely devoted to self? The gift of our time is necessary to facilitate spiritual growth. Develop a Spiritual Time Log. Give 1-2 hours a day in the pursuit of non-self activity. With a few time management changes, we can say good-bye to our “spiritual plateau” and reach our fullest-spiritual potential.