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

This is the post excerpt.

The brainchild of two Registered Nurses, ages 50 plus, who asked the question, “What happens when the door closes and you are in the storm?” After a lengthy discussion, we identified that maturing through the lifespan can be a difficult process for many women. Historically, we have overcome many obstacles; however, for reasons which are not easily identified, we are feeling quite overwhelmed with the present-unexpected life event.

When we perceive that we are overwhelmed; fear, worry, and anxiety escalate at disproportionate levels. As a result, we become spiritually disoriented, and gradually we become fixated on the closed-door. When we begin to communicate with God through prayer, we will realize that God has allowed the door or chapter in our lives to close. He is protecting us as only a Heavenly Father can do. As we draw closer to God, He will allow us to see his wonderful plan for our lives-many open doors.

Make it Personal

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1 NLT

Yesterday, my husband and I were playing an online word game similar to Scrabble which has ongoing ads in the free version of the game. Much to my surprise, one of the ads offered a game with the options to select the adjective that described your present emotional state; the individual chose Depression and a psychological analysis with suggested remedies appeared.

We are living in a time when the Ds are prevalent: Depression, Despondency, and Desperation. Individuals seeking professional therapeutic intervention is at an all-time high along with pharmaceuticals being prescribed to modify behaviors and balance emotional dysfunction. For those who are unable to afford therapy, online counseling is offered by those who are often not qualified to intervene. Therapeutic intervention cannot be based on a cookie-cutter or a one size fits all approach; a client-centered treatment plan with short-term and long-term goals are required with face-to-face communication. However, the premise is that “Desperate times call for Desperate Measures.”

Most individuals will agree that life is hard and has many struggles. But the division occurs on the method we choose to cope with our emotional dysfunction due to hard times.

Believers Coping Strategies

1. Begin to talk to God through prayer…real talk…let Him know how you are feeling, and ask for His help in every aspect of your life.

If my people who are called by name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me…” Psalm 27:8 (first part) NLT

2. Put the electronic gadget down and Buy the Book! Purchase a Bible in the translation that you can understand and begin to study. Psalms 23 and 27 are reminders of the Omnipresence of God and the love that He has for each of us.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Psalm 23:4 NLT

The Lord is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?

3. We must acknowledge God as our Creator.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 NLT

4. God is love.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

5. Validate Who you belong to Every day!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

6. Wait and Rely on God’s Divine Intervention!

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

“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 NIV

Human Effort + Divine Intervention= Living a Victorious Life as an Overcomer!

Although our beliefs and life experiences differ, all individuals possess a belief system. It is the disparity in our beliefs that determine whether we are connected to or disconnected from God. Just as an embryo grows into a fetus and is connected to its Mother inside of her uterus by an umbilical cord, following its birth the umbilical cord loses its purpose and is severed. Not so with our connection to God!

God has created us with an everlasting spiritual umbilical cord in that we can always stay connected to Him. It is a personal choice to receive the spiritual nourishment that God lovingly offers to us. As long as we have breath in our bodies, we can make a personal decision to discard belief systems that leave us feeling worthless, hopeless, and full of despair.

Believe and Receive the Love of God

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

Even when we make it hard for others to love us, God is still there, just waiting for us to say: And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8 (last part) NLT

Bible Readings: Psalms 23 and 27

Prayer for today: Dear Lord and Father of all mankind, We thank you for creating us. We thank you for never severing the umbilical cord that keeps us connected to you if we so choose. We ask forgiveness of our many sins, shortcomings, and our refusal to pray without ceasing, and failure to diligently study your Word. We have placed ourselves in an emotionally dysfunctional state by not taking the time to know who you really are. God, we commit our lives, our thoughts, our behaviors, and our actions to you that we may strive to live a holy life. Thank you for the Bible and thank you for the ability to connect with you at any moment in the day or night through prayer. God, you are so awesome and we thank you for creating us in your image. We love you, and we worship your Holy name. As we move forward, we will serve you until we breathe our last breath. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

Victory Over and Over Again

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Human Effort + Divine Power = Victory Over Sin

We must acknowledge the fact that we must have a close relationship with God in order to be an Overcomer.

God’s promises indicate that human effort must accompany Divine power; God always require us to do our part!

Humility is the Antagonist to Pride

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 ESV

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17

As Believers, we cannot stand on stubbornness which is the outward display of a hardened heart/mind and is enmity against God.

God requires a broken spirit–recall the way you felt after a major disappointment–feeling as if you had no other alternatives; that is exactly where we need to place our mindset when we serve God: We must live like God is our all and all, and our only choice.

Confession is Mandatory and Repentance is Required!

A Contrite (Repentant) Heart?

Contrite: To possess sincere remorse, filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV

How difficult is it for you to admit when you were wrong? If we are unable to admit wrongdoings to others, then our ability to repent to God is also affected. We are unable to bypass humanity and approach God with a haughty spirit and excuses for our wayward behaviors against others.

Are you puffed up with PRIDE? Do you need to apologize and ask someone for forgiveness? Have you refused to forgive someone for their actions? Remember, your salvation is not dependent upon the individual accepting your heartfelt plea for forgiveness; however, our salvation is dependent on our acceptance of every plea of forgiveness in spite of the circumstances. We must do what is necessary for our human relationships prior to approaching God and asking His forgiveness for our sins.

Seek God through Prayer and Study of His Word

Losing one’s house or vehicle keys usually cause an immediate sense of loss, panic, and desperation. We should possess similar feelings when we fail to seek God through prayer and the studying of the Bible.

The human effort involves possessing the knowledge that we are required to actively participate in the Plan of Salvation. There is no chance for us to change, or to have a healthy and thriving relationship with God if we do not receive our spiritual food from God’s Word and maintain constant communication with God through prayer.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8 NLT

Eventually, we will reach a crossroads in our lives where we must make this decision; to seek God, to obey and faithfully trust in him or to live as we determine. Oh yes, salvation is a choice, but we cannot pick and choose the sacrifices, or the lifestyle that we are willing to give to God. Genesis 4:2-8 recounts Cain’s disobedience to God, and God’s rejection of his sacrifice. Obedience to God is not an option in the Plan of Salvation!

Thankfully, God has made salvation so simple that children can understand what is necessary to follow God and live for him. With God, we can receive victory over and over again. Establish an upfront and personal relationship with God; His love and his character are revealed in the Bible and through prayer, and His will for our lives is always revealed by the Holy Spirit.

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

Bible Reading: Genesis 4

Prayer for today: Dear God, Thank you for the Plan of Salvation which included the ultimate sacrifice of the death of your Son, Jesus. We know that He is alive and interceding on our behalf in heaven. We confess and repent by asking forgiveness of our sins. We ask you to remove all hardness from our hearts. We commit our lives to you through the study of your Word, praying without ceasing, obedience, faith and wholeheartedly trusting that your plans are perfect and we commit to obediently following you. Thank you for your love, your mercies, and your grace. thank you for hearing and answering our prayers. We ask these blessings in the Worthy name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

Nothing but the Word remains Unchanged

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all that you do. Remember the Lord is coming soon. Philippians 4:4-5 NLT

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

Life is dynamic, evolving, and ever-changing; especially in a capitalistic nation–we are never satisfied with our present status–always seeking and pursuing after something greater. As a result, we are always dissatisfied, and we never achieve true peace or happiness because we are never content with the blessings of today.

We desire the highest paying jobs, the most expensive clothing and accessories, luxury vehicles and homes with mortgages that leave us in massive debt. The rate of depression, sadness, and apathy has increased among Believers resulting in the inability to even praise God for His blessings of our necessities in life.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Philippians 4:12 NLT

There is an immediate change that is possible in your life: Begin to diligently study the Bible.

Make your study personal: Do not read with just your eyes, speak the words out loud, and reflect on the message that God has for you.

Do not run a race in your study of the Bible: It is of little importance to complete a “Read the Bible in one year” plan if a transformation does not occur in your life.

Read the passages over and over again: Pray for revelation and the ability to memorize. Give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to bring the Word of God to your remembrance when the storms of life are raging or when your emotions are slipping into a unhealthy state.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NLT

Bible Reading: Philippians 4

Prayer for today: Dear God, Thank you, thank you, thank you! For all that you have done and will continue to do, we thank you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

Make Family First

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. Psalm 27:14 (ERV)

The old adage-good things come to those who wait-is often laughed at in today’s societies. Our mindset is to beat the clock, or to be ahead of the game; waiting is viewed as a waste of time. We complain about the bureaucratic “red tape” processes or the slow pace of change. Our paychecks are received via direct deposit, and the use of debit/credit card usage exceeds cash purchases to the point that most cashiers are feeble in their attempts to count change.

Most companies measure the worth of employees by their ability to reach or exceed productivity standards. We are encouraged to pursue instant gratification by going after our desires at top speeds: Automated systems, cellular phones, social media sites, instant messages, texting, email, e-books, e-cards, and internet on the go; sorry, no time to communicate face-to-face or to visit friends or family.

We feel revitalized and empowered by technology, considering ourselves fortunate enough to be part of a dynamically evolving high-tech lifestyle. Our daily lives are moving twice as fast, and we are desperately attempting to keep up with the current pace of life.

Stop for a moment. For those of us who can reflect on the lifestyles of our grandparents or great grandparents, pursuits of personal desires were placed very low on their lists of priorities. I can remember when maintaining the stability of the family was considered to be the most precious commodity in life. I can also remember when dinner was a time when the family enjoyed a meal, shared their thoughts, and had a good laugh or a loving spat.

Our present lifestyle did not come as a surprise to God; therefore, the family was designed to withstand the storms of life.

God knew the challenges that we would face in the 21st century. He has given us instructions to just wait, and utilize his perfect plans for our lives. It is worth the effort to re-prioritize your activities for at least one weekend per month. Make calls to set up face-to-face visits, and plan a mid-afternoon brunch or dinner with your immediate, extended, or adopted family. God did not intend for us to feel lonely, or adapt to isolation. We do not have to compromise our values to endure meaningless relationships.

Be strong, be brave and pick up the telephone, or make the visit. The sound of the human voice or a loving hug from our family supersedes all messaging or postings on social sites. Technology has its place; however, God never intended for us to change his original plan for the family and develop a lifestyle that breaks down family ties.

Pray and ask for the Lord’s help in making family the precious commodity it was intended to be in your life.

Challenge for today: Extend yourself to include others in your family circle.

Bible Reading: Psalm 27:4

Prayer for today: Dear God, We are thankful for another day of life. We ask you to help us to return to your original plan for family life. We have become distracted by meaningless things that add no value to developing and maintaining healthy relationships. We ask forgiveness for straying and not doing your will. As we extend ourselves to others who are broken, we pray that we can show your love and provide encouragement. We thank you for hearing and answering our prayer. We ask these blessings upon our lives in the Worthy name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

The Time is Now

Practical Messages for Impractical Times

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! Revelation 3:15

Many years ago, I served as a juror on a very lengthy murder trial. Reviewing the evidence presented by the State Prosecutor and the Defending Attorney proved to be a daunting task. We were mentally and physically exhausted from dissecting the witnesses’ statements for hours. Deliberation continued for days due to indecision on the part of three jurors. The Foreman urged us to reach a unanimous decision. Finally, the Judge approached us to reiterate that we would not be a “Hung jury” in his court. A decision had to be made in a timely manner; the verdict could not be “maybe”, each juror had to make the decision of guilty or not guilty.

In Revelation 3, letters were written to three churches regarding their spiritual condition. The members of the Laodicean Church were wealthy and felt they had no further needs; their hearts were not fully committed to God due to the love of money. The letter admonishes them to make a choice-there was no middle ground. God clearly stated the consequences of defining salvation according to their own thought processes.

Presently, there are three groups of individuals; those who serve God, those who do not serve God, and those who are in the valley of indecision-not committed one way or the other. As we progress in our lives, we cannot be a “Hung Believer.” The plan of Salvation does not contain variations or multiple-choice options.

We must make the decision to be obedient and serve God fully or choose disobedience by living to please self.

The time is upon us, earth’s history is coming to a close. God’s spirit is being withdrawn from the earth, and things will only get worse. Religious liberty is losing strength as evidenced by Bible burning and persecution for acknowledging God on a global level. The atmosphere of racial and religious tension has gained strength and has forcefully divided the United States once again. Heinous crimes, violence, substance abuse, and suicide have increased at a phenomenal rate. Families are torn apart and the list goes on and on.

We are either guilty or not guilty of being “hearers and not doers” of God’s Word. The decision to completely serve God is a personal choice and the result of love, commitment, and obedience. Either we will choose to have the greatest reward-Eternal life or to be destroyed by hell fire-the final death of the wicked.

And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name: For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed. Revelation 15:3-4 NLT

Bible Reading: James 1:22-25

Prayer for today: Dear God, I have been standing in the valley of indecision for too long. I ask forgiveness for the sin of wavering by not fully committing my life to you. From this moment forward, God, I want to commit myself to you. Please reveal your plan for my life. Thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercies. I ask this prayer in the Worthy name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019

If and Then

If we seriously think about the little that God asks us to do, then we would gladly do it and even go above and beyond through sacrificial giving of our praise, our worship, our time and our money.

God deserves so much more than average; He deserves effort above what many of us are willing to give. When is the last time that you truly sacrificed for God?

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 ESV

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 7:14

Prayer for today: Dear God, We admit that we are not giving to you as we should. We have become self-centered in our ways of thinking and doing. And we ask forgiveness for placing you second in our lives. As we move forward, we ask you to reveal your will in our lives and teach us how to give above and beyond what we are currently doing. We ask these blessings in the Worthy name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2019