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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

Never Stop Praying

The Lord loves you. The Lord is of tender compassion. His promise is, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up for you a standard against him. Bear in mind that Jesus Christ is your hope.

In the sad, discouraging things that shall come to you at any time, Christ says to you, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me” (Isa. 27:5). Our Father Cares…Ellen G. White

Our Prayers

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. …” – Eph. 1: 18, 19, NIV

There is a gift that God has given to all of us: Prayer, which enables us to communicate with God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even so, many pray and remain burdened, depressed, and hopeless after praying. Let’s identify the root of the problem: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3. You may say, “But I am not asking for money,” perhaps not, but what is motivating you to pray? Is it your desire to receive the Victory and live as an Overcomer?

The Lords Prayer
9 After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13

Praying unleashes the Power of God upon our lives!

  1. Acknowledge God’s greatness: God, you are awesome, wonderful, loving, merciful, kind, etc. Thank God for His new mercies of another day. Openly express everything that you are thanking Him for (you should have a list of things).
  2. Extend the invitation: God, I place my life into your hands. My plans for today are_______________. I ask that your will be done in my life, anything I have committed to do that you cannot bless, please do not allow it to happen.
  3. Forgiveness: Acknowledge your sins and shortcomings and pray for His Divine intervention to overcome.
  4. Petition for Provisions: Pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit! Yes, our Father is aware of our physical needs; still, in humility, we ask Him to fulfill our spiritual needs first, then we ask for our necessities. Always thanking God in advance for what He will do, and then we faithfully wait.
  5. Strength against Temptations: Our temptations are custom-made according to our weaknesses. Our weaknesses are personal. Only you and God know the secret desires that prevent you from living a righteous life. Praying for spiritual discernment to recognize the traps of sin and wisdom are gifts that God freely gives to those who ask.
  6. Special Needs: Maybe you are disorganized, need to pass an exam, have a family-relational issue, or you cannot find your keys. God is our Heavenly Father, make your prayers up-close and personal.
  7. Ending: Thank God for the opportunity of Eternal life, praise Him for all that He has done, and all that He will do in your life.

The order or the exact content of our prayers should not be our primary focus. We must express praise and thanksgiving before we ask for anything else. God desires that we have joy. A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22. Now that you have given your burdens to God and have the inner joy that comes from gratitude and faith, you can pray an Intercessory prayer for others, and the condition of our world, etc.

Prayer is often misunderstood. We do not have to pray formal, lengthy prayers to reach out to God. There are times when our spirits are so grieved that all we can say is, “God, please help me.” 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you.…John 14:16

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3

God is love, and He desires that we possess joy, peace, and happiness. As Believers, we commit to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts. Why should we have burdens, feel abandoned, and depressed? Begin your day with thankfulness; rejoice, and praise the Creator of humanity who gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from sin and the final death.

Our present situation is not all there is to life! God has promised a better life: 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

Prayer is a mood stabilizer. Begin to say little prayers of thanksgiving throughout the day: Thank you, God. Smile more. And eliminate all negative words. Develop your faith in God through patience. Our glass is not half-full or half-empty. With God, our glass is always full because of His wonderful blessings. Change your perspective, and you will have the Victory!

Bible Reading: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:1-4

God, we thank you for a new day. We thank you for being our Heavenly Father. We ask forgiveness of our sins and shortcomings. We commit our lives and place them in your hands. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit, and give us wisdom and spiritual discernment that we may recognize your love, your goodness, and your power. Thank you for your promise of a New Heaven and New Earth. 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 written permission of the author.

Broken for a Purpose

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3: 9

Did you know that God expects for us to change our character to reflect the character of Christ? Each of us needs gentle reminders that God has standards for Believers, with His help we can experience complete transformation and become the righteous people that He requires us to be. We are preparing for Eternal life one day at a time.

Bible verses that provide guidelines for our characters:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things. Galatians 5:22-23

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:1-12

…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

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

One of my friends posted this message of hope on Facebook and I had to share it with my readers.

Gracefully Broken! 
I was in Dollar Tree last night and there was a lady and two kids behind me in the LONG line. One was a big kid, one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glow sticks and the baby was screaming for them so the Mom opened the pack and gave him one; which stopped his tears. He walked around with it smiling, but then the bigger boy took it and the baby started screaming again.

Just as the Mom was about to fuss at the older child, he bent the glow sticks and handed it back to the baby. As we walked outside at the same time, the baby noticed that the stick was now glowing and his brother said “I had to break it so you could get the full effect from it.” I almost ran because l could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.”That little baby was happy just swinging that “unbroken” glow stick around in the air because he didn’t understand what it was created to do which was “glow”.

There are some people who will be content just “being” but some of us that God has chosen, we have to be “broken”. We have to get sick. We have to lose a job. We go through divorce. We have to bury our spouse, parents, best friend, or our child because, in those moments of desperation, God is breaking us but when the breaking is done, then we will be able to see the reason for which we were created.. so when you see us glowing just know that we have been broken but healed by his Grace and Mercy!!! #nevergiveup Repost from Facebook

God, we thank you for the reminders that we have committed to living a purpose-driven life. Thank you for the hardships that allow us to be broken for transformation to occur in each of us. We look forward to the day when we will have no more sorrow, trials, or tribulations. Until then, please lead and guide us that we may tell others of your great love and mercy. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Seeking Refuge

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

Think about the following scenario: You are on vacation, and an imminent hurricane is scheduled to hit the island in 5 hours. The escape route to safety would involve climbing up the narrow trail of a mountain. Because energy conservation is a priority, you have received a small backpack for essential items. What items would you place in your backpack? What clothing and shoes would you wear?

Your heart is beating fast as you look at the picture of the mountain and listen to the instructions from the experienced guides that have hiked these mountainous trails since they were young children. There is a team of four guides, two placed in lead positions, and two following at the end. The journey will take 60 minutes. Each person has been given a sequential number from 1-30.

The following instructions/rules guarantee a safe arrival to the Overcomer’s Refuge Center:

    1. 30 individuals will function as one unit. Each person is expected to adhere to the given directives.
    2. Always keep your eyes focused ahead of you; do not turn your head to the right or the left.
    3. If you need help at any time, loudly shout out your number and wait for the guide to come to you. All climbing ceases until the individual receives assistance, and the “All-Clear” status is given to resume the climb.
    4. There are two rest stations, Courage Station, located 20 minutes and Strength Station, 40 minutes from the trail’s starting point.
    5. Finally, trust in the guides! And be sure to thank them for their help when you arrive at the rest stations and your final destination.
    6. We are ready to begin the journey. Please count off starting with the #1.

Spiritually, this is the life of a Believer of the Most High God. Our journey consists of life-long traveling on the narrow Path of Righteousness. We are expected to follow all of the road map instructions in the Bible, given to us by God, our Guide. Daily communication through prayer keeps us from deviating to the right or left or making detours that lead to sin.

God is aware that our climb is long and strenuous. And because we serve a God who is fair, He required his Son, Jesus Christ, to take on humanity, and suffer even unto death on the cross. Although Jesus used his Divine powers to heal the sick, and perform miracles, He experienced loneliness, grief, rejection, and all of the sorrows and trials of being human.

Jesus’ cruel punishment was for you and for me!

Jesus felt pain when the spikes were driven in His hands and feet, and when the sword pierced His side. The Crown of Thorns caused excruciating pain causing him to bleed profusely. (Have you ever injured your forehead?) There were no other options, Jesus’ sacrifice was required to offer Redemption for humanity, or we who were created in the image of God would suffer the second and final death.

About three o’clock, Jesus cried out loudly, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” This means, “My God, my God, why have you left me alone?” 50 Again Jesus cried out loudly and then died. Matthew 27:46, 50. While He was on the cross, Jesus expressed the agony of experiencing, for the first time, a complete mental, and emotional separation from God his Father, who had to withdraw His presence for the Plan of Redemption to be fulfilled. The sinful actions from human hands did not kill Jesus. He willingly gave up and died to fulfill His promise to God for us to escape the final death and to live eternally if we so choose.

Our trials and sorrows are often viewed as more than we can bear. Even so, Jesus knows what each of us requires to experience complete transformation in our lives. It is time to pray for help when we become overwhelmed, and the enemy of hopelessness enters our minds. Jesus Christ is our guide! All we need to do is faithfully believe trust and obey His instructions.

The benefits from suffering: 3 Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.…Romans 5:3-5

Give your burdens to Jesus! We have a loving Savior who will guide us through the rough, uphill climb. 

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”… Matthew 11:28-30

God has given us inner strength and courage that can only be developed by suffering hardships. Are we alone? Never! Follow Jesus’ instructions:

Do not look to the right or the left. Please keep your eyes focused on me! 

With all of your heart, soul, and mind, believe in this promise:

12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Revelation 22:12-14

When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory!

Bible Reading: Revelation 21-22

God, we ask for your guidance, and your help as we endure the suffering that will perfect our characters. We thank you for giving your Son, Jesus to die for us. We look forward to the day when your Son will come again as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. 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.

Up-Close and Personal

But I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end, He will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

Do you feel that God is distant? Our connection with God depends on our level of faith. Do you genuinely believe that God is Omnipotent (all-knowing) and Omnipresent (having unlimited power), and most importantly, that He loves you? If your answer is shaky or no, then the unbelief is within yourself.

Take a few minutes to reflect on your life from birth to present. If you had the slightest belief that God exists, then you will recall some impossible situations that were resolved when you had no options. When we face adversity, and our problems end with a positive outcome, we may say, “I don’t know how it worked out, but it did.” Everything worked out because of Divine intervention, and we can be thankful for God’s never-ending gifts of grace and mercy.

One of the easiest decisions for us to make is to have an up-close and personal relationship with God. All we have to possess is faith-to believe in God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Faith erases doubt! When God created humanity, He instilled in us the desire to seek and establish a connection that includes believing in Him and freely expressing His presence in our lives through praise and worship. 

There is a fascinating story of how God extends the invitation to come into our lives. The gospel singer Kurt Carr shared that as a young child, he walked by a neighborhood church every day, and at the age of 13, God told him to start attending that church. Since his background did not include family members that believed in God, it was the work of the Holy Spirit who placed the thought in his mind because God had a great purpose for his life. Despite the circumstances he obeyed, God honored Kurt’s commitment by allowing his musical talents to flourish and minister to others about His love worldwide.

Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31

First, we must believe that the invisible God, Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit exist. The Trinity Godhead, our Spiritual Team, is ready and willing to activate the spiritual switch that turns on powerful intervention available to all. Faith believes that God does the impossible, that He will turn our circumstances from defeat into victory. 

Is it possible to live a faith-based life? Yes, when we learn how to apply the Word of God to our practical lives by proclaiming faith and trust in our Heavenly Father, God imparts strength into us to overcome all challenges.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victorious Lives

Life is tough! But our Heavenly Father created us and everything in this world. He has not left us alone to carry burdens that would leave us discouraged and hopeless. We have the free will choice to ask God into our hearts. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5. Do not weigh yourself down with the burdens of this life, establishing a spiritual connection with God is the best decision that you will ever make.

Life with God is like a cool gentle breeze on a hot, summer day. Go ahead, pray, and commit to an up-close and personal relationship with the Father who will never fail.

Bible Reading: Matthew 6

God, we are in the struggle of our lives. We believe in you, and we ask for an up-close and personal relationship with you. Please teach us how to have unwavering faith and trust in your love and your power. We ask forgiveness of our sins and ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, 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. 

The Anguish of Disobedience

Nineteen years ago, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes to carry out the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil in a mission that was orchestrated by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. https://www.newsweek.com/9-11-timeline-how-september-11-attacks-unfolded-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-1531072

After working the night shift, I awakened on 9/11/2001 in time to watch the live coverage of the plane hitting the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Residing in New Jersey, I was only one hour from New York City, when the most sinister terrorist attack on the United States reached completion. The grief that gripped my body, soul, and mind forced uncontrollable sobs of anguish as I watched the horror of the hatred that exists in humanity for each other and for God.

In Genesis chapter 4, we are given a historical account of the first act of violence, One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Genesis 4:8

The Bible provides us with the story of the first premeditated murder of brother against brother. Uncontrollable jealousy and anger provided the emotional response that resulted in Adam and Eve’s oldest son killing his younger brother. Because of pride, Cain felt entitled in his actions to end the life of his brother, Abel, and walked away as if nothing had happened. Read Genesis 4.

Even under perfect conditions, sin causes us to desire more than God has given to us. From the biblical description, the Garden of Eden was paradise, a home filled with aesthetic beauty created for the first married couple, and their children. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the test for obedience, and to prove that humanity received free will of choice to serve God or not to serve Him.

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” Genesis 2:2-3. God’s promises cannot fail. When He promised that death would occur because of the sin of disobedience, we are still reaping the devastation of sin, the senseless loss of life.

Currently, we are in an ongoing battle with an invisible enemy; the formidable COVID-19 virus is still wreaking havoc on humanity: Worldwide Total cases: 28.2M Recovered 19M Deaths 910K. It is not our fault that the Coronavirus is our number one health threat. But we are accountable for the failure to heed the warnings or to use our best defenses of social distancing and wearing face masks that would curtail COVID’s savagery on human life.

Did God create human beings in His image just to get rid of us? Absolutely not!

God is loving, and because He freely extends grace and mercy, we are forewarned of the consequences of our disobedient choices. No one is compelled to sin. It is a conscientious decision to act on our desires and engage in risky behaviors. Unfortunately, when we seek pleasure or to do harm based on emotions, all rational thought processes cease. Pride causes us to rely on our wit, charm, knowledge, and prior experience to develop schemes that we think will guarantee the avoidance of negative consequences.

The desire to please self is all-consuming; pride takes over, and we fail to remember that every decision renders negative consequences, or positive outcomes that also affect others. Many innocent victims have lost their lives or suffer because of the selfish desires and actions of disobedient risk-takers, and persons consumed with hate.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Romans 6:23

It was a willful sin that resulted in the death of the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ. What a powerful commitment, to die to save humanity. Think about Jesus telling God that He would die for us and provide Redemption so we would not have to die the final death. The story gets better. God accepted Jesus’ gift because:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” 8 Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8

We have this hope: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will return for those who are faithful and obedient.

“Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”… Revelation 22:12-13

Although our current situation looks bleak, we must not give up hope or the opportunity to have eternal life. We have a Spiritual team, God the Father, Jesus Christ, His Son, and our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who are just a prayer away.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble (tests, trials, and sorrows). But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We Will Never Forget 9/11!

Nor should we ever forget: Jesus Christ’s sacrificial gift of His life; the life that provides the Plan of Salvation, which gives us eternal life, if we so choose.
I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1:18

Amen, it is so!

Bible Readings: Revelation 21-22

God, we pray for the survivors of 9/11 and the families and friends of those impacted by the Coronavirus. We pray for those who have given up hope and feel that life is not worth living. We ask you to provide healing and comfort according to your will. As we prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming, we need your protection and guidance to live as faithful and obedient servants. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

Leader or Follower?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams

It is a widespread belief that based on our character traits, we are either leaders or followers. Leaders are seen as the strength of society; they are the movers and the shakers, always developing and embracing innovative ideas and motivating others to do their best. Followers rely on others to create, direct, and implement plans of action; they give their support by actively participating in bringing the plans to completion.

Are you a leader or a follower?

God requires the Believer to fulfill both roles: We are to become spiritual leaders and followers. 

  1. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
  2. Witnessing to others, And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 15:16
  3. Pursuing righteousness and possessing godly character traits; When they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:2. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. There is no law against these things. Galatians 5:22-23
  4. Possessing love, compassion, and care for others; Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17. O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you, to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Active discipleship reveals that we have accepted both roles as spiritual leaders and followers. We can inspire others by sharing our testimony about the blessings that God has given to us. When our spiritual eyes are open, we can see the many opportunities to speak, encouraging words of comfort, greet others with a smile, offer to pray, use social media to post scriptures, etc. 

Loving God, loving others, and loving ourselves equips us with the desire to serve. It takes humility, faith, and obedience to become a follower of Jesus Christ. Blessed are the meek (humble), for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5. Our love relationship with God prepares us to be faithful followers. “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Revelation 22:12

Life, as a believer, just became easier. Now that we know our purpose, we can fulfill the dual roles of being the leader and follower that God has determined for us to become. 

Bible Reading: 1 Peter 3

God, we thank you defining our roles as spiritual leaders and followers of you. We pray that you show us how to actively fulfill our responsibilities to witness and care for others. 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 written permission of the author.

 

Discipline has Benefits

Are you experiencing severe hardships?

Nothing tends more to promote the body and soul’s health than does a spirit of gratitude and praise. It is a positive duty to resist melancholy, discontented thoughts, and feelings–as much a duty as it is to pray–Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p 251

“… Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10

We have so much to be thankful for, even when we are experiencing severe hardships. The Bible instructs us to communicate with God daily through prayer, but do we include thanksgiving praises for suffering? It is easy to become sad and burdened by our trials and sorrows; even so, God desires that we develop a different approach when we pray, and that is to praise Him for allowing us to suffer.

 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

We are in the fight of our lives against sin. God has developed a fail-proof method of keeping us from sin’s wages, which is death. Suffering is the path that all must walk down for us to achieve spiritual growth and maturity. God’s Word reveals that suffering produces endurance, a righteous character, and hope for a brighter future. Now that we know the purpose of suffering, we can change our perspective and embrace God’s perfect plan.

Suffering produces spiritual growth!

Reaping the benefits of a new and improved character and unwavering faith can only be obtained through hardships. It is not God’s purpose to punish us. It is His purpose to prepare us for a perfect life without sin in the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21-22). Changing our perspective of suffering, and embracing God’s perfect plan with faith and obedience will prepare us to receive our heavenly reward. 

Have you ever picked vegetables from a garden? They are quite different from the store purchased vegetables that have been cleaned and polished. It takes careful and dutiful washing of hand-picked vegetables to remove the dirt, debris, and bugs. For those of us who did not perform the cleansing task well, the veggies that looked great and had a pleasing aroma also contained grit’s residue. 

Our characters contain the residue of sin that requires many thorough cleanings. God does not force us to accept His will for our lives. Each of us has been given a “free will of choice” to trust and obey God by following His plan or developing and pursuing our desires. However, if we pray as King David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 then we can expect God to begin the cleansing process that will refine us according to Galatians 5:22-23: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

If we desire to serve God, we align our desires according to His plans, including a life with hardships, sorrows, tests, and trials. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? Hebrews 12:7. God is love; therefore, His plans have the intent and purpose to remove the residue of sin as we pursue righteousness by faith.

“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

No, Spiritual cleansing and discipline will never feel good, but if we pray, praise, obey, and trust in God, we will receive blessings from having a pure heart. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8. God has promised us the blessing of Eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. Trust His process; approach life with a spirit of gratitude by praying, praising, and thanking a loving and patient God who desires that none are lost.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Bible Reading: Hebrews 12

God, we thank you for the discipline of hardships. We desire to have pure hearts and characters that are pleasing to you. We ask forgiveness of our sins. Thank you for your never-ending grace and mercies that you freely give to us, although we have done nothing to deserve them. Please give us the strength to endure as we prepare for Eternal life. 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.