Prosperity is yours

According to many television ministers; if we serve God, then we are promised the materialistic achievement of wealth. Their sermons are geared toward the acquisition of massive bank accounts, million dollar homes, and upscale automobiles. In fact, if you do not have, then it is your fault, because you are not utilizing the right tactics to obtain your “blessings of wealth.” However, the concept of believers pursuing after the things of the world is not biblically based.

The Word of God specifically points out that we are not to pursue wealth in any form. In Matthew 19, the rich young ruler asks Christ what must he do to have eternal life? When he was told to sell all that he possessed, he walked away, “for he had great wealth.” In 1 Timothy 6:10-11, Paul instructs young Timothy to pursue godliness as opposed to wealth.

So, what is wrong with living comfortably? After all, we work hard, we save our money, and we deserve the comforts of life. The pursuit of wealth distracts us from the greatest lifetime reward that God has promised to us: Eternal life. “No man can serve two masters, either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can not serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24

God has blessed many of us with an overabundance of money. We gladly thank God for opening the windows of heaven on our behalf. The confusion begins when our values do not align with God’s instruction for the use of His blessings. James 1:27 instructs us to look after the widows and the orphans. This simple instruction translates into assisting those in need; especially placing elderly women and children as our first priorities.

For those of you who are reading this post, please pray that we will have the desire to use our overabundance to help others in 2018.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” 1 John 2:15

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Unhealthy Relationships

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

What constitutes a healthy relationship? It is vital that the individuals in the relationship have a similar definition of unconditional love. Healthy relationships are formed from a mutual agreement to bond with another individual that is based on love, respect, and forgiveness. Relationships also benefit from the input from one another, which allows for personal growth; it is necessary to have another perspective to promote the expansion of one’s knowledge and life experience.

When these elements are present, both individuals are validated; and, the relationship evolves into a nurturing union.

Unhealthy relationships can only offer brokenness. One or both individuals endure pain and suffering. We compromise our emotional integrity when we hold on to relationships that produce only adverse outcomes. For many individuals, the unanswered question is, “why do we stay?” The simple fact is that once our fragile hearts are broken, we no longer possess the strength to identify and pursue our options. Our weakened state of mind creates reasons to accept dysfunction as an acceptable fate for our lives.

How do we move forward when we are emotionally wounded? There are a couple of viable options.

1. Avoid analyzing the reasons for the unhealthy status of the relationship. Trying to determine what led to the harmful behaviors will either end in blaming yourself or a compromise for staying in a destructive relationship.

2. If possible, develop a plan to improve the conditions of the relationship-which requires a mutual agreement with the other individual-and may involve therapeutic intervention. However, your values must align to produce change.

3. If it is not possible to achieve harmony; then let go of guilt and fear, and exit the relationship.

You owe it to yourself to be in a loving and caring relationship.

 

Overcoming

A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit. For the despondent, every day brings trouble…Proverbs 15: 13, 15

Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is? The simple fact is that we were created to fulfill God’s purpose and His desires. When we live outside of what God intended for our life, it is not possible to for us possess peace or happiness. We begin to search for distractions that can only provide fleeting moments of superficial happiness. As we become bored, our state of mind changes to an overall feeling of dissatisfaction with who we are, and what life has to offer.

So, how are we supposed to transition from a meaningless existence to a purpose driven life? Ask God; pray for God to reveal His divine purpose for your life.

1. Take the time to self-evaluate your gifts and talents. Identify the qualities that make you unique.

2. Open your mind to stepping outside of your comfort zone. Volunteer for organizations that provide assistance to persons in need.

3. Acknowledge your blessings. Develop a spirit of gratitude by recognizing the privilege of having the necessities of life.

4. If you require emotional support; seek assistance through your local churches and other non-profit organizations.

God desires for us to possess a glad heart. When we align our life with His purpose, our happiness is not based on changing circumstances; our happiness is based on His divine will.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Love is a Plant

As long as I can remember, I have possessed a great love for plants. Living in Florida provided the perfect amount of sun and humidity for our plants to flourish. The growth of two of our plants exceeded all of my expectations; an ivy with runners of over 50 feet, and a palm that expanded from 5 inches to 5 feet.

When we relocated, it was necessary to sell all of my precious plants. During our moving sale, the plants sold immediately for prices much higher than I expected. The years of nurturing and cultivation paid off well. However, I was determined to take my prized ivy, and placed a “Not for Sale” sign on the plant stand. On the last day of our sale, my husband inquired as to how comfortable I would be traveling over 1000 miles with a huge plant on my lap. It was a hard reality check. I reluctantly removed the sign, secretly hoping that my plant would remain unsold. I was heartbroken when the individual who purchased my ivy, laughed and expressed that she would be the envy of all of her friends who would finally realize the power of her green thumbs.

In the 12th chapter of Mark, we are reminded that love is the greatest commandment. God’s expectation is for us to cultivate and expand our love to include all individuals; as well as eliminating all conditions that we place on others to receive our love. We are unable to select individuals as we select fruit- only the ripe and unblemished will be purchased. It is our duty to God to be a living example of His love for us.

The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23, lists the attributes of possessing a godly spirit, with love as the first requirement. Love is not an option; nor is it an earned privilege. It is a condition for us to have eternal life. In the new heaven and new earth, former things will have passed away. This includes all malice toward family members, and self-designated enemies. God has given us specific instructions on how to cultivate our character. The awakening to a new day provides us with another opportunity for spiritual growth. Love is a plant whose runners should grow endlessly, and without boundaries.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Good Tidings of Joy

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…Revelation 21:1

As a young girl, one of my greatest passions was reading. It was not unusual for me to complete a carefully chosen book in one to two days. In fact, as I reflect, I was always systematic in my approach to selecting the reading material. It had to be nonfiction with interesting characters whose purpose was to take me on their journey in fulfilling a mysterious plot.

The desire to read has continued throughout my lifespan of five decades, and I am still systematic in my approach. However, there has been a transition in my selection from fiction to nonfiction. There is a book which outranks all of the exciting mysteries that I have embraced. The Word of God is now my greatest source of joy. I eagerly read the precious promises that my journey has a known destination.

I am the character in the book that is written about my life. My journey is personal-God is my Author, my Editor, and my Publisher. The fulfillment of my journey is to live in a new heaven and a new earth. It brings me great joy to know that God guarantees best seller results.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Celebrate inspite of…

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down. Psalm 146:8

The holiday season brings a gamut of emotional feelings for many individuals. Memories of lost loved ones are ever-present; along with the ambivalence of whether to join the majority of individuals celebrating the festivities. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…”

Death is one if the most devastating events that we can experience. It grips the heart and often refuses to let go of the loved ones who remain. However, we serve a loving and caring God who refused to leave us bound by the awful grip of death. ” I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Revelation 22:13 “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 The reason to celebrate is overwhelming: Jesus Christ died and was resurrected that we may have hope for eternal life.

Please remember, there are many of us who have lost distant loved ones. For various reasons, we may not have had the opportunity to experience the joy of their lives. I encourage the immediate families to make a memory book, full of pictures and joyous events, to share with the extended family members, who also feel the grief of losing our loved one.

The Celebration of Life deserves to be treated with respect, and should be ongoing. Life is a gift from our most wonderful God. Every breath that we take gives us a reason to celebrate on a daily basis, and is not dependent on a “holiday season.”

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

A Humble Servant

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 1 John 3:17. Be completely humble and gentle. Ephesians 4:2

On the third Sabbath of every month, the Homeless Ministry branch of our church provides food, clothing, toiletries, and sleeping bags to the indigent population in Ft Worth. On Friday, we experienced a drastic change in the weather-close to freezing temperatures with rain and chilly winds. As we (my husband and cousin) traveled to our destination, I begin to think about the individuals that were facing the wintry conditions without shelter. My mood changed to match the melancholy atmosphere of the weather. I start to pray for God to bless and alleviate the burden that so many men, women, and children are facing every day of their lives.

As we perused the area for a place to park, it appeared that the population had doubled since my last visit. Providing for others has always been a part of my life; however, the prior experience did not prepare me for the level of human suffering that I witnessed from the warm shelter of my vehicle. I immediately lost focus for the purpose of our mission as overwhelming grief replaced rational thought processes. I felt intense remorse for selfishly desiring more than the necessities of life when there are so many individuals who are without.

Due to the harsh weather conditions, the Deacons made the decision for the women to remain in our vehicles while they served the community. As my cousin and I begin to express the gratitude and humility that we should possess, the tears streamed down our faces. God allowed us to reach a crossroads in our lives by opening our eyes to society’s impoverished conditions. We needed a spiritual wake-up call to boost our spiritual growth. For us to develop the character traits that God desires, we had to witness abject suffering. My prayer is that we always retain the moments that we observed and to always use our extra resources to help those in need.

Dear Heavenly Father, please give us the desire to attain the humility and gentleness that you require from your children to see the world through your eyes. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2017

Miracles do Happen

Recently, I read a story regarding the disbelief in modern day miracles. The fact that modern day Christians expressed that God does not perform miracles as He did in biblical times is disconcerting. What possible factors preclude our belief in the Word of God that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”? Hebrews 13:8

The transition from believer to unbeliever occurs gradually. We adapt to current trends such as self-reliability, building financial portfolios, and engaging in pleasure seeking activities. As our newfound independence separates us from the Creator; we begin to question our former belief system. The belief in a single all powerful God diminishes to a belief in multiple gods. Our lifestyle begins to reflect the idols that we value: jobs, money, shopping, cellular devices/electronics, online dating and porn sites, unhealthy relationships, and the list is never-ending.

It is definitely a time for prayer and soul searching when we cease to believe in the Omnipotent God. As we open our minds to explore why God has changed; we now see that it is the Creator’s beings who have changed. If the miracle of a new day does not move you, then think about the last predicament that resolved itself without serious consequences in your life. It was definitely divine intervention that shielded you from all hurt, harm, and danger. Remember when the impossible became a reality?

God is still performing many great and powerful miracles. The secret to recognizing His power is that we must acknowledge that He is the one and only God who has not changed. As a result, a spiritual transformation will occur; and, we will know that our Omnipotent God still performs modern-day miracles on a daily basis.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Free Gift Available

It’s the holiday season. A wonderful time of the year for many of us to enjoy the Christmas carols, home baked cookies, and all of the magnificent displays. I have always felt excitement from the Thanksgiving holiday until the end of January. This year, I am especially enthusiastic, because I am crocheting handmade gifts, and making ornaments.

By nature, I am a giver and do not expect anything in return. (I am certain that the innate traits of giving and nurturing were responsible for my career choice in becoming a nurse). However, it is rare that individuals can process and accept a free gift. We have evolved into a cynical society that questions the act of doing good. “Free?…What do I have to do?…There must be a catch.” I admit that the question of an ulterior motive also crosses my mind when I am offered something for free.

Regardless of the gifts we receive during this season, none can compare to the free gift of God’s grace. The simple act of believing makes us the receiver of salvation. The exciting part is that we do not have to wait for a designated holiday season. Grace is extended to us on a daily basis. Love is the motive behind this wonderful gift. Thank you God for loving us and gift wrapping our lives with your never-ending grace. Sonya Johnson Ruiz

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8,9 NLT

Unnecessary Consequences

2 Thessalonians 3: 3. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

As a person matures through the aging process, it is a natural tendency to reflect over their life. The mistakes, disappointments, and bitter experiences usually surface as the most prevalent memories. “If I had only known then what I know now, I would have done things very differently.”

The feelings of Regret vs Satisfaction can hinder or promote our present and our future plans. Regardless of your history, if you are reading this article, you have been blessed with a brand new day. Our mindset determines whether we will use the gift to change, and allow God to redefine our pattern of negative decisionmaking. We do not have to suffer consequences from misguided decisions on our part.

Often we mistake trials as negative consequences. Trials usually surface as a circumstance in which we did not have an active part. In fact, we usually feel powerless, and question ourselves or God as to why we are suffering. However, there is a marked difference between trials and consequences. Trials mold our character to reflect Christ’s character. It is our greatest accomplishment to become more like Jesus. God has promised to protect us from the evil one. In order to reap this benefit, we must open the door of our hearts/minds to receive guidance. Prayer, obedience, and faithful study of God’s word are the keys to preventing consequences. It is a relief to know that if we include God in every aspect of our lives; He promises us a positive outcome, according to His will.

Dear God, please give me the desire to include you in all of my decision-making processes. I am tired of experiencing negative consequences. I need your help. Thank you. Amen Sonya Johnson Ruiz