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What Happens When the Door Closes and you are in the Storm?

This is the post excerpt.

Reflection of our lives reveals that we have overcome many obstacles; however, for reasons which are not easily identified, we are feeling quite overwhelmed with the present and unexpected life event. When we perceive that we are overwhelmed, fear, worry, and anxiety escalate at disproportionate levels.

As a result, we become fixated on the closed door and become spiritually disoriented, quickly forgetting the power of Divine intervention. When we begin to communicate with God through prayer, we then understand that God has allowed the door to close. He is protecting us as only a Heavenly Father can do. As our relationship grows deeper with God, He will enable us to see his excellent plan for our lives-many open doors.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

Will you do what God is asking you to do?

In six weeks, my life took a drastic turn of events. The farmhouse that I leased and lived in for six years would be placed on the market for sale. For three weeks, diligent search efforts for alternate housing produced nothing but waiting lists. When did this small town become so popular? So, I expanded my search to a 100-mile radius, which offered many alternatives, including a 55+ community in Florida. I laughed at the glitch on the internet because Florida was 1400 miles away. But as I began to explore their website, I completed the online application out of curiosity.

My immediate focus was packing, selling, and donating six years of my life in six weeks. Within two days, I received a congratulations email from the property manager in Florida. I called and thanked her but relayed that I was looking for housing in Texas. Then we were hit with the Texas storms, and the frigid temperatures were more than the pipes in the kitchen could withstand. They froze even with the water running at a slow rate. Thankfully, the bathroom pipes were located in the middle, warmer area under the house and shielded from the icy freeze. I was blessed to have running water. Most of the town lost power, but God’s mercies kept my electricity and gas on during this challenging time.

Two days after the storm, I heard a loud hissing noise in the front of the house. When the temperature reached 45 degrees, the pipe for the water hose had split into several places, and water was running full stream down the lawn and the driveway. Thirty minutes later, the landlord told me to fill up some gallon jugs because the pipe was irreparably damaged. Also, the kitchen pipe had burst, and he had to shut off the water to the house. I placed three totes in the bathtub and filled them to the brim. And that was the end of running water for seven days.

About 20 years ago, I worked as a camp nurse living in the Catskill mountains for three months. I never thought that I would have to use grid skills again in my lifetime. I had enough bottled water to sustain me for three weeks but had to boil water in a giant pot for basin baths and washing dishes. Also, flushing the toilet was manually accomplished and limited to once a day. My stock of cleaning products kept everything clean and odor-free. But, no complaints, I was one of the fortunate. Most in our town had to evacuate their homes due to lack of electricity and water.

The situation worsened, and our county required intervention from FEMA for the severe water shortage in nine cities. Due to the overwhelming number of burst pipes, every plumber available within 30 miles had a full schedule. Running water was the least of my concerns; I began to pray, pray, pray because I had to move in three weeks, and there was no available housing.

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will sustain you, and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

One day, as I washed my face and looked in the mirror, there are no wrinkles, but I saw many new gray hairs at the top of my forehead. During my prayer, I reminded God of his promise to take care of me and rescue me from my dilemma. That same day the property manager called me from Florida to ask if I was still interested in the apartment. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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

I left Texas on Thursday, February 25th at noon in a 20 ft. U Haul truck. The Holy Spirit gave me the knowledge and skills to drive, park, and back-up a large truck for a four-day adventure to a new home in sunny Florida. Yes, I was the recipient of a big blessing. No longer do I have the responsibilities of a big house, lawn maintenance, paying three utilities, and enduring the waiting period for vital repairs to be completed on time.

I wish that I could say that obedience to God’s command for me to relocate to Florida was my first action, but it was not. Because I was pursuing my desires, I even had the boldness to ask God if He would leave me homeless. Then God showed His power! God blocked every effort to remain in Texas. On future calls for prospective housing, I received no further responses. And the plumber still had not arrived for repairing the broken pipes!

So you may ask, “But how do you know that God is speaking to you instead of a personal desire?” Because Divine Intervention is supernatural! Not only do miraculous wonders occur when you pray for God’s will to be done in your life, everything that God does is perfect. Even so, the next step is crucial. Once revealed, obedience to God’s unexpected plans is your test of faith. I can testify that God’s plans are so phenomenal all doubt is erased from your mind.

When God fulfills His plans, there are no glitches or mistakes. Many miracles occurred during my relocation, but I will mention two that stand out. The estimated cost for fuel was $600-$700 for a 20 ft truck with a load. The actual gas price was $380-$400. I will also disclose my two fears, driving over the long bridge in Pensacola, Fl, and night blindness from the headlights, especially on two-lane highways.

On the second day of the journey, heavy rain extended my driving time by three hours. The link from one highway to the next was a mountainous road. Not only was I driving at night, but I also have never experienced curvy roads going through a mountain. I downshifted into third gear and prayed for strength. The Holy Spirit told me to look ahead, not to the left or the right, and to keep my eyes focused on the yellow middle line, indicating whether the curve in the road was to the left or right. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when the sign for the major highway said “2 miles.”

The next day when I entered the Pensacola Bay/Three-Mile bridge crossing over the most massive body of water that I have witnessed, I was prayed up and prepared. Instead of fear, I was able to look at the vast body of water with a different perspective of beauty. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 NKJV

Obedience to God’s will requires doing something different. The life-changing experience happens for everyone who proclaims that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. My experience was almost like Abram’s, though I have traveled extensively through the state of Florida, I had never even heard of this city. Like Sarah, I laughed at the prospect of leaving Texas and moving to Florida. I did not deny that I laughed, but I failed to acknowledge the power of God when I did not trust Him to fulfill His plans for my life. 

The time is approaching for you to come to the crossroads where God says, “This is my plan for you.” Will you do what God is asking you to do?

Bible Study: Genesis 12

God, many times we say, “Yes, Lord, let your will be done in my life,” but we do not realize that your plans are very different from our plans. We ask you for the faith to always trust and obey when you lead and direct us. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy. We ask for a special blessing upon our lives this Sabbath as we spend quality time praising and worshipping you. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

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

Pensacola Bay Bridge during construction

The Source of Peace

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2 NIV

Trusting God with your life is the only way to have peace. Do you have a worry-free life? I encourage you to increase your communication with our Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit is available to comfort us when we reach out to God in prayer. There is never a time that any of our prayers remain unanswered. God loves when we remember Him through our prayers, praise, and worship.

Happy Sabbath!

Bible Study: Exodus 20:8-11, Psalm 91

God, we thank you for loving us and for the privilege of Prayer. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Sunset today, Palm Bay, Florida

How to Please God

But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Many of us are familiar with the first part of Hebrews 11:6: But without faith, it is impossible to please him. However, the scripture also says that it takes additional action to receive our reward from God. We must believe and diligently seek Him, only then will we be blessed with the gifts that God has for us.

Serving God requires active participation every day. There are many sermons directed toward our anxiety, worries, and feeling down and out. But the answer to our emotional distress is for us to pray more. Communication with God through prayer is our life-line.

The Holy Spirit goes into the Spiritual Comforter mode while we are praying. It is a relief to feel your burdens lifted while praying. I may have started broken, weary, and hopeless, but never have I felt anything but victory after seeking our Heavenly Father in prayer.

Hebrews 11:6 further explains that we must believe that God is who He says he is, recall that God told Moses to tell the Israelites, “I Am” sent you.

Another messenger’s sermon on faith:

You may say, “I love God, but I just have difficulty trusting Him.” Then you are not pleasing to Him. You cannot struggle at the core of your relationship with God and still enjoy a vibrant fellowship with Him! Faith does not eliminate problems. Faith keeps you in a trusting relationship with God during your problems. Faith has to do with your relationship with God, not your circumstances. Some may say, “I’m not much of a person of faith. I am more of a practical person!” Yet you will never do anything more practical than to place your trust in the Lord! Nothing is more secure or certain than that which you entrust to God. From Today’s Devotional-Experiencing God Day-by-Day

Making a renewed covenant with God is just a prayer away. We are not required to do anything strenuous or challenging to serve God. It is a simple commitment to offer ourselves and worship our Creator. God loves us more than we will ever know. Believing (faith) in God requires constant communion with Him. We cannot live off of yesterday’s worship, praise, or prayers. Diligently seeking God places us in a position to build our faith and trust in Him. Whether we are in the mountain highs or the valley lows, God is always here! He is patiently waiting for us to seek Him.

Bible Study: Hebrews 11

God, we have failed to keep in touch with you as we should. Please forgive us for not diligently seeking you. We are renewing our covenant to have a much closer relationship with you. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask 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

We are Never, Ever Alone!

Yesterday, I listened to a Christian radio station that was 100% inspirational music. To be honest, I was surprised by the lyrics of a couple of songs that expressed despair.

1. “All is not well with my soul, I am feeling alone, empty, and…”

2. “As usual, I awakened feeling like I just couldn’t get out of the bed today.”

Many believers are expressing more despondency than the unbelievers and that should not be the case. We have “Forever Love” by our Spiritual Team, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, along with angels who protect us. If anyone should be feeling alone and empty, it should be the worldlings who worship themselves and other idols.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Unfortunately, we are the problem. Remaining connected to Jesus is all about action. Our relationship with Christ is dynamic, constantly changing due to spiritual growth. Studying the Bible diligently and praying throughout the day keeps us connected. Because we have allowed people, going places, and other things to create chaos in our daily lives, we are disconnected from Jesus Christ.

The answer to reconnection is easily accomplished. Make the decision to eliminate everything that pulls you away from spending quality time with God. We allow too many distractions in our lives. Serving God involves boundaries. Do not get caught up in busyness or allow others to consume your time that should be spent with God. Our connection to God is easily broken when we cannot say “no.” The ability to let the call go to voicemail, or text back, “getting ready to have worship, ttyl” are examples of how we manage our lives in making certain that we put God first.

Will you lose friends? Possibly, but if they do not respect your relationship with God, then you are unequally yoked.

One of our greatest struggles is pulling our minds away from our jobs. Yes, our jobs provide the finances that we need, and definitely are a blessing, but many believers are hungry and thirsty for money and tangible possessions. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33. The expectation from God is that we will have complete faith and trust in His promises and worship Him everyday, all day long. Whisper a short prayer throughout the day thanking God and expressing your love for Him.

Back to the modern lyrics of hopelessness, we are warned that we can do nothing without our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle. Jesus willingly died that we can be redeemed from our sins. No one deserves more of us than we give to God.

Through His love, grace and mercy, our Creator is aware of our weaknesses. He knows that most of humanity responds to challenging situations with emotions. So God gave us the Book, the Holy Bible is complete with stories of victories and defeat, along with the plan of salvation, and wonderful praises and promises. Make the commitment to learn more about God, and your life will change. And like David, even when hardships arise, we can smile through our tears, and praise our Heavenly Father.

I will praise the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. Psalm 34:1

Bible Study: Isaiah 43

Prayer: God, we recognize that we are too distant from you and for that sin of omission, we ask forgiveness. It is our desire to serve you by giving you the time that you rightfully deserve. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Forever Love

There are very few individuals that can give or receive forever love. Relationships form much to quickly because we are desperate for the wrong person. God tells us that His love is everlasting; yet, we place Him in the position to be next in line.

Who can love us like God? Loneliness is more than a state of mind, it is the reality of many who confess their belief in God. Why is it that we can have a Heavenly Father along with an entire spiritual team, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the angels and still despair?

The answer: We desire someone who cannot provide the love and nurturing of our soul. Only God can fulfill our spiritual needs and He patiently waits to give us everlasting love.

Our emotions were given as a blessing of expression, not to replace our cognitive abilities. We rely too much on our feelings for guidance. “Follow your heart” only applies to a relationship with God. He will lead you in the right direction that ends in perfection. No, we are not perfect, but God is, which means we do not have to suffer negative consequences when we trust and obey.

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

The “Everlasting Love” of God never fails. Do not miss out on the greatest love experience from your Heavenly Father. Give God what He rightfully deserves: Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

Did you forget about Jeremiah 29:11? God has plans for us! First, get in sync with God by loving Him as Jesus commanded and your life will change. How will it change? If we do our part (human effort) then God will always fulfill His plans for us (Divine intervention).

God, we admit that you have not been first and foremost in our hearts. We ask forgiveness for putting you last with our love and attention. Our souls are empty without you. We recommit our hearts to you and we can’t wait to receive your everlasting love. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Happy Sabbath Become a Peacemaker

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God. Matthew 5:9

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

Excerpt is from Today’s Devotional–Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus–George R. Knight

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Highs and Lows

What you need to know for the Highs and Lows

This life is full of ups and downs. There are moments when it seems as if you’re touching the hem of heaven because they’re so dazzling. And others when it seems you stand on the brink of hell because they’re so heart wrenching.

We can tend to feel far away from God in both. When times are good, we forget how much we need Him. When times are hard, we wonder why He has forsaken us. And yet both of those responses are only our humanity talking.

Neither height nor depth…will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

God’s affection for us is the same at the highest and lowest moments of our lives. The heights of success and the depths of despair cannot separate us from Him. His love is the one constant we can count on no matter what.

Take comfort in this, friend: Whether this is your best day on earth or one of your worst, you will never be alone or unloved. Not even for a moment.

-Devotional encouragement by Holley Gerth, from her blog Heart to Heart with Holley.