Failure to Thrive

What does it mean to be failure to thrive? Failure to thrive (FTT) is a term used to describe inadequate growth or the inability to maintain growth, usually in early childhood. It is a sign of undernutrition.

As believers, we can easily develop Spiritual Failure to Thrive. What does Spiritual Failure to Thrive mean? How do we end up with this fatal, but reversible condition?

Spiritual Failure to Thrive is the inadequate growth of love, faith, and trust in God. It is the inability to successfully bring about or reach a deeper relationship with God due to the lack of faith, the neglect of continuous prayer, and sporadic study of the Bible. The desire to seek the self-gratifying pleasures of life constantly distract, causing disobedience to God’s commands. Spiritual Failure to Thrive is a life-threatening condition from the cessation of human effort to sustain growth in one’s relationship with God. 

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…Hosea 4:6 NIV, first part

Pray without ceasing. (Never stop praying.) 1 Thessalonians 5:17

We are living in critical times. For our relationship with God to be dynamic-ever-changing, the continuous activity of prayer, praise, and worship is required every day. Feeling distant from God is a situation that we have complete control over. God never leaves or forsakes us. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12. Serving God requires strict obedience. We cannot deviate from or interpret the commands of God according to our understanding. Without the burning desire to obey, we can never “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. 

As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30.

External and internal factors contribute to an infant’s or child’s Failure to Thrive condition. However, Spiritual Failure to Thrive can only occur from one internal factor. Our hearts are not filled with a genuine love for God. Thankfully, we can quickly correct this condition by making a covenant to serve God with unconditional love. Faith, trust, obedience, prayer, and Bible study are the nutrients that restore, and the undernutrition that produces Spiritual Failure to Thrive is thoroughly eliminated.

5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 NLT

God, we pray for the desire to do what is right, and to serve you with our whole hearts. We want to be healed from this Failure to Thrive condition, and pray for the strength to be faithful, and obedient. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask 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 written permission of the author.

Use Your Weapons!

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10

Whatever battles you face in life, God has given you all you need to stand firm.

On the hierarchy of created beings, King David says: What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor. Psalm 8:4-5. With glory and honor, we are to serve God actively. Our Creator was aware of the struggle we would face against Satan, humanity’s greatest enemy. And that is the reason we have given spiritual armor to fight off Satan’s attacks against us.

Human Effort
Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 1 Peter 5:8-9

What are our weapons? Love, Faith, Trust, Obedience, Prayer, and Studying the Bible.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17 NLT

When we diligently study the Bible and pray without ceasing along with unwavering faith, God says, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper,” Isaiah 54:17, first part. 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18. Rate your prayer life. There is not one individual who can say that they pray too much.

Divine Intervention
Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. Hebrews 1:14 NLT

Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. Luke 10:19

We are disciples of Jesus Christ! We must claim the victory! Stop believing that you are helpless against our greatest enemy–Satan is the Master Deceiver and the Father of all lies.

Faith propels us to a spiritual level that we would never achieve without putting on the whole armor of God. Fear, doubt, disbelief, anxieties, and worries should never be a part of our mindset. Those are the characteristics of unbelievers who can never overcome or enjoy peace of mind.

Take your rightful place as a soldier in the Army of God. Declare war against every situation that Satan presents. We know how the story ends:

Satan Is Destroyed Forever
7 When the 1,000 years are finished, Satan will be free to leave his prison. 8 He will go out and fool the nations who are over all the world. They are Gog and Magog. He will gather them all together for war. There will be as many as the sand along the sea-shore. 9 They will spread out over the earth and all around the place where God’s people are and around the city that is loved. Fire will come down from God out of heaven and destroy them. Revelation 20:7-9 NLV

God, we confess that we are not putting on the whole armor, which has left us weak and defenseless, and for this, we ask forgiveness. We desire to be soldiers in your Army. We pray for strength as we prepare for Eternal life to live forever with you. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask 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.

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

King of King and Lord of Lords

The one born to be our Saviour was no ordinary man. Those who have tasted His marvelous salvation gladly and lovingly crown Him Lord of all. He will soon be on His way to our planet for the second time, not as a babe in a manger, but to reign forever as king. That glorious day is the grand focus of Christmas. “If angels sung because the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, shall not our hearts echo the glad strain, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men? Although we do not know the exact day of Christ’s birth, we would honor the sacred event…. Jesus came into the world to bring hope, comfort, peace, and happiness to all.”___ Review and Herald, December 17, 1889.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Lord, In the fullness of time, You sent a Saviour–Christ the Lord. Help me to be ready when He returns as king. Amen

Our Priceless Gift

Have you heard the message that “Jesus saves?” Yes, His birth as a baby was in a lowly place where a manger was his first baby bed. A manger or trough is a structure or feeder used to hold food for animals. Can you imagine a precious newborn baby–the Son of God being placed in an animal feeder? Jesus Christ, the majestic Son of God, made the ultimate sacrifice for you and me.

Throughout Jesus’ short time on this earth, 33 years, His focus was always to serve humanity. He ministered to the spiritual needs, fed the hungry, healed physical impairments, and cast out demons. Jesus had many devout followers who desired to be His disciples. However, they were not prepared or willing to pay the cost of discipleship.

And one of the scribes came to Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Matthew 8:19-20 BSB

We love God, and alose have the desire to follow Christ, but the people, places, and things we chase after cause us to turn away like the rich, young ruler.

16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.'” 20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Matthew 19:16-24

Do you have a spiritual understanding of this parable? God does not require us to be homeless, hungry, or live in poverty to serve Him. Yes, we must have the necessities of life to sustain our well-being, which Jesus says in Matthew 6 that He will provide. God loves us. Blessed and highly favored with innate abilities, talents, and spiritual gifts to live healthy and productive lives, God proves His love for all of humanity.

Love, Faith, Trust, and Obedience make up the foundation to establish and maintain a relationship with God. It is human effort combined with Divine Intervention that gives us the ability to have continuous spiritual growth. Still, we must take additional steps to fulfill the requirements of discipleship. We must give up and let go of the desires and the distractions that prevent us from having an up-close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Commitment to God includes a journey filled with the pangs of suffering, but also we possess perfect peace because God has promised to always take care of us.

What is your testimony? What has God done for you? Has He filled your life with unconditional love, hope, peace, and joy? Then tell as many people as you can that over 2,000 years ago, Jesus, the Son of God was born, lived, died, and was resurrected to redeem humanity from the horrible curse of sin.

God’s Gift to Humanity

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Hold on to Jesus’ promises:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.” Revelation 22:7

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

Heavenly Father, in this season of gift-giving and receiving, help us never to forget the price paid for our redemption. We desire to be your disciples whatever the cost we are required to pay. We look forward to the day when you will return to take us to our heavenly home. Until then, we will love and serve you with our hearts, souls, and minds. We pray 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.

God’s Answer: Yes or No

Growing up in a home with a Mother who was an ordained minister was not easy. “Mommy, can I do…?” Minister Johnson measured our every request with God’s ruler. Did it meet the standards of righteousness? The King James version says: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6. But due to the varied modern methods of training children, the Contemporary English version makes God’s command plain-spoken for 21st-century parents: Teach your children right from wrong, and when they are grown, they will still do right. Proverbs 22:6. As I matured, I finally realized that if there were any possibilities of suffering negative consequences, then the answer would be an automatic “no.” My mother fulfilled the requirements of raising her children according to God’s truth.

What about us? Can we accept when God says, “No?”

Because our desires have a strong influence on us, often it is difficult to know what is acceptable to God when we pray for an answer of yes. Let’s say that you need a vehicle. You begin to do research and find a dealership that is offering a special with “zero down and 60 payments of $485 a month.” You pray and ask God for His blessing, and the next day, you decide to stop by the dealer, just to look. After speaking to the sales rep, he or she bypasses the vehicle that you are interested in and shows you an upgraded version. You readily agree to the offer for a test drive, and now you’re caught up in the bait and switch tactic. After the test drive, the offer is extended with the same criteria, only the monthly payment is $575, which will begin in 45 days, and this deal is only available for 24 hours. The offer is not from God.

As unbelievable as this sounds, we place ourselves into predicaments all of the time. The other day, I was asked, “How do you know if what is presented is a blessing from God or a gift from Satan?” Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17. Because Satan cannot give good gifts, nor can he offer a perfect situation, there is always an “if, and, only, or but” that we have to fulfill, which leads us into the journey of suffering negative consequences.

“Watch the stealthy approach of Satan, watch against old habits and natural inclinations lest they exert themselves; force them back if need be a hundred times. Watch the thoughts, watch the plans, lest they become selfish and self-centered. Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” TMK 351. Ellen G. White

Back to our vehicle dilemma: Purchasing a vehicle includes the additional expenses of full-coverage insurance with deductibles, registration fees, new vehicle tax, and operating expenses. Also included are the routine maintenance expenses and the unexpected, which may or may not be covered in the warranty. Working within our financial budget includes developing an alternate plan if a loss of income occurs. Will you have the means to pay these expenses if you are laid off or permanently lose your job? Vehicle payment+ insurance + routine/uncovered warranty maintenance + operating expenses = Total cost of the purchased vehicle.

God is already aware that you need a vehicle, and He promises, “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24. So when you do your part (Human Effort) through financial planning of the monetary resources that God has blessed you with, then God acts (Divine Intervention) and presents the perfect vehicle within your budget. And even if you lose your job, God has plans to provide for your monthly payment until you are employed again. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 2 Corinthians 1:19

God never wavers between yes and no—he’s completely affirmative in all his dealings with us. All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus. Because of Jesus, all God’s answers are yes, as you pray in his name and Spirit. Are you waiting for a “Yes” from God but secretly afraid he’ll say “No”? If what you want is his will, you can be sure his answer will be “Yes.” Wait for the Yes to work itself into your life, in God’s timing.
—Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Faith, trust, and obedience are always required to serve God.

  1.  And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV
  2. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
  3. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:6
  4. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

God, please teach us how to seek your will. Many times we have placed ourselves into situations with negative consequences due to disobedience. And for this, we ask forgiveness. We desire to bring our petitions to you and to wait and accept your answer, even if it is no. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask 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.

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.