Will you give your best?

Sharing this morning’s daily devotional from another author. Pray that you will be blessed.

He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed. MARK 14:35

Some Christians are satisfied to have only a surface relationship with Christ. Others desire to share the holiest moments with Him. On the night Jesus spent in sacred prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the people responded to Him in various ways. There were those who were so indifferent to Jesus that they were unaware He was even in the garden. Then there was Judas, who knew where Jesus was but was too busy with his own schemes to join Him. The rest of the disciples joined Jesus in the garden, but they were distracted by sleep.

Jesus told them the urgency of the hour, but they did not comprehend it. There was the inner circle of disciples, Peter, James and John. They initially prayed with Jesus, yet even they could not grasp the significance of the moment. Ultimately, Jesus prayed alone. He went father than His disciples and prayed longer. At the greatest moment of intercession in human history, there was no one willing to go with Jesus and watch with Him.

God is calling you to go deeper in your prayer life with Him. If you are willing to be that person Jesus can take with Him into the most sacred moments, you will experience things only the angels shared with Jesus in the garden that night.

From Today’s Devotional-Experiencing God Day-by-Day

Bible Reading: Mark 14

God, we pray for a deeper relationship with you. We commit to increasing our communication with you through prayer. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

My Words and Thoughts

This morning, a podcast speaker challenged us to seriously reflect on our spoken words and thoughts for the past year. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21

Did my spoken words that others could hear and the whispers of my heart, which only God could listen to, reflect that I love and honor God? For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

King David was aware that eventually, our secret thoughts would reveal themselves through our spoken words. Whether good, bad, or ugly, our mask will fall off, and who we are is made evident to others. It takes the right situation to bring out our real character. 

As we reflect on our words and thoughts, may we approach God humbly and ask forgiveness for the selfishness of our unfriendly characteristics. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Make the decision to embrace the new beginnings. We have been blessed with a new day to think lovely thoughts and speak empowering words. Thank you, God, for your grace and mercy.

Bible Study: Proverbs chapters 18 and 23

God, we ask forgiveness for the harsh and hurtful words that we have spoken of because of the sinful thoughts deep in our hearts. It is our desire to be transformed into people that possess unconditional love, mercy, and kindness. We pray this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Our Lives Matter

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27

A thought-provoking question, “Do others see the love of God through my behaviors, habits, and lifestyle?” Nonverbal communication can speak louder than our spoken words. Do they know that we are believers by our clothing, mannerisms, and cheerful disposition?

We may not respond with words to various situations, but whatever is deep in our hearts will eventually be revealed. It takes the right situation to expose our true character.

Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny. Lao Tzu

Living for Christ requires that we have wisdom, which we must ask for because wisdom is a spiritual gift that only comes from God.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave if the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-7

Just as our relationship with God requires daily prayer and study of the Bible for spiritual growth, our character is always a work-in-progress. To live in sync with God remains a daily challenge. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit to withstand the challenges and to be overcomers.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

Because we believe in grace and forgiveness and love, it is all too easy to think that God is so easygoing that it doesn’t matter how we live or what we do. That is not so. Because He cares about us to be as whole as possible in a sick world. Above all things, God wants our happiness, both now and eternally. And because He desires for us to be happy, He takes our needs seriously. We are important to Him. Excerpt from Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus, George R. Knight

Living by faith, and fully trusting and obeying God requires 100% dedication to Jesus Christ. When we do our part to love and serve God we receive salvation through His Son, Jesus.

Who am I? I am a child of God who has been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. Every thought, action, and behavior must represent God and His definition of righteousness.

Bible Study: James 1-2

God, we acknowledge that our hearts are not close to you, and that has prevented us from representing your godly standards. We desire to have a deeper relationship that we may love you with all of our heart, soul, and mind. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Do you desire righteousness?

With the fourth beatitude we have reached a major turning point. The first two exemplified a turning away from our human weakness and sin, while the third expressed the Christian’s humility in light of that weakness. The fourth, by way of contrast, is a turning toward the positive aspect of Christianity. It is a hungering and thirsting to be right with God and to be like Him. Thus the Christian life is more than a mourning over past sins. It is also an intense desire for present and future righteousness. Excerpt from Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus by George R. Knight

What a defining point for our relationship with God: We must desire righteousness!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Praying Through the Darkness

Psalm 88 is the one song that King David wrote, which begins in despair and ends in despair. 

Beginning: O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near.

Ending: You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend.

The dark times in our lives may feel as if we have been abandoned by God, our family, and friends. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1:5. We should not attempt to ask “why” or use analytical deduction to figure out the reason for our dark times.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

In my personal experience, God has used the temporary state of darkness to draw me closer to Him, and to build my faith. The reality is that we need the trials and tribulations to stay on the path that leads us to the Light, Jesus Christ. Remember Job and his dark period? God told Satan that Job was a righteous and faithful man. Job faithfully served God, yet, he endured extreme suffering. God is aware of how much each of us can bear. Our Omnipotent God knew that Job would remain faithful, even through an extended period of darkness. It is God who allows our tribulations for the purpose of preparing us for our greatest reward: Eternal life!

Pray through the Darkness

Human beings have fragile hearts, we can only take so much before we are ready to completely give up. But I would like to invite you to change the manner in which you are praying. If you were speaking to your best friend would you repeat the same conversation over and over each time you chatted? God is our Heavenly Father, Jesus is our Savior, and Heavenly Intercessor, and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. Pray with honesty: “God, I am feeling the worst that I have ever felt in my life. Please show me that you are here and that you love me. Jesus, help me!”

There is power in the Name of Jesus!

The darkness places us in the position to desperately look for the Light, who is Jesus Christ. Seeking God through His Son, Jesus is the only way to escape the darkness, and as young children, we must approach God with transparency. God does not require eloquent four-syllable words for us to communicate with Him. He desires that we pray with humility and honesty. 

Praying through the Darkness

Where do we take our anguish? Do we call our family or friends? We can, but only after we take it to God in prayer.

Do not stop praying! Prayer meets our inner need to connect to God, our Heavenly Father.

The benefits of praying in our darkest hour:

    1. Freedom from Fear, Psalm 118:56.
    2. Strengthens Your Soul, Psalm 138:3.
    3. Receive Guidance, Isaiah 58:9-11.
    4. God-given Wisdom and Understanding, Daniel 9:20-27.
    5. Deliverance from Harm, Joel 2:32.
    6. Rewards for being Alone with God,  Matthew 6:6.
    7. Gift of the Holy Spirit, Luke 11:13.
    8. Fullness of Inner Joy, John 16:23-24.
    9. Complete Peace, Philippians 4:6-8.
    10. Freedom from Anxiety, 1 Peter 5:7.

The scriptures for the Benefits of Prayer are from a sermon that I listened to by a powerful, and annointed Woman of God, who believes that our worst problem is not praying enough. I am inclined to agree with the Pastor, “Why is it so hard for us to pray?” The good news is that we can break the habit of ignoring God immediately. I encourage each of you to make a covenant with God in the year 2021 that you will begin to “Pray without ceasing.”

There is a simple but powerful song: God answers prayers in the morning, God answers prayer at noon, God answers prayer in the evening, so keep your heart in tune. 

Bible Study: The 10 verses listed that explain the benefits of prayer.

God, we admit that we have failed in honoring you with our prayers and praise, and for this intentional sin, we ask forgiveness. Thank you for the privilege of prayer and for being our Heavenly Father. As we worship you daily, may we draw closer to you and prepare for the soon coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

The Gift of Time

One of the Devotional websites that I have read for many years made a significant change. They drastically reduced the readings in size with a subtitle indicating it was only a “1 minute read.” Was it necessary to make the change to appeal to and increase readership?

The Master had special times and places for quiet conversation with His disciples. He met with them…more often on the sacred slopes of the Mount of Olives. Every Christian should have his own Mount of Olives. Most of us today, especially those of us in cities, live under great stress.

From early morning until bedtime, we are exposed to the whirlwind of life. Amid all the turmoil, there is little opportunity for quiet thought, God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship of the heart! Come close to the Master for your personal mountain top experience with Him! From Today’s Devotional–Streams in the Desert–by L. B. Cowman

Time is a gift from God. We have received 24 hours to rest, sleep, work, enjoy recreational activities, but most importantly, to worship God. Many do not give 5% (1.2 hours) of their day to pray, study, and sing to praise and worship God. Are you part of the majority who glorifies and honors God with a spiritual relationship of one-minute reads?

 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

Day-to-day activities are structured to distract us and consume the valuable time that we should spend worshiping God. Our love for God is not only revealed by our character, Galatians 5:22-23. The time that we spend worshiping demonstrates the importance that we place on having a relationship with God. Please do not believe that “Quality over Quantity” applies to the time we spend praising and worshiping God.

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

Throughout our day, we can whisper a prayer. Memorizing and reciting a scripture that reminds us of God’s love is comforting and builds our faith in a Heavenly Father who is always available. Never forget the plans that God has for the righteous who love and serve Him. We will receive eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4. 

God is intentional in revealing the things that will not exist when Jesus comes again, which is everything related to sin. God did not say that He would wipe out our complete mind or memory. We will recognize our family and friends and possess the same character traits that we have now. The righteousness that we pursue and the godly habits that we practice are preparing us for a perfect, sinless life with God, forever and ever. Amen.

Thankfully, God has given us the guidelines for living a holy and righteous life:

  1.  Jesus declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 “This is the first and greatest commandment. “Matthew 22:37-38
  2. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
  3. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 
  4. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think on these things. Philippians 4:7-8

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Receive your gift of time! Now is the time for us to work on transforming our character to align with God’s requirements. Studying the Bible imparts the knowledge, and praying gives us the reinforcement, the strength, and the Divine power to accomplish those changes. We are told in Hebrews 12:14 to work at living a holy life, or we would not see the Lord. This scripture reiterates that now is the time to acknowledge, confess our faults, repent, and ask God to help us to live holy. When Jesus comes again, it will be too late to pursue righteousness.

Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:13-14

God, thank you for giving us the much needed time to acknowledge, confess, and repent of our sins. We desire to get rid of the traits and habits that prevent us from loving you with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and from living holy. Please forgive us for our sins, and give us the strength to change. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.