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

“Show Me Your Glory”

We excitedly praise and thank God for His blessings upon our lives. Yes, God’s never-ending grace and mercies are reasons to rejoice. But how do we react to the hardships and sorrows of life? There are two groups of believers, those who strive to faithfully obey God, enduring trials and sorrows, and those who are fretful, impatient, following their inclinations, and always asking God for help out of their dilemmas [that are really the fiery trials required for spiritual transformation].

The behaviors of the second group indicate they do not understand the spiritual journey nor comprehend that God’s grace and mercy are not to be taken for granted. The Israelites freed from enslavement represent the second group of believers who acknowledge God but desire a life filled with ease and blessings.

Traveling back in time, let’s enter the life of the freed Israelites in their Wilderness of Despair. “on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” (Exodus 16:1-2). These are the people who God delivered from the Egyptians, parted the Red Sea, and destroyed their enemies who pursued them.

The next chapter, Numbers, reveals their ongoing complaints. “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:1-2).

Returning to the book of Exodus, in chapter 33, we read the dialogue between God and Moses. God demonstrates that He is fed up with the ungrateful, murmuring Israelites. “For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the children of Israel, You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.’ “(Exodus 33:5).

Still, Moses was a loving and dedicated leader and intercessor for the “stiff-necked” people who possessed a rebellious and ungrateful spirit. “Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.” (Exodus 33:7). He did this to establish a “tabernacle of meeting” where he talked to God on behalf of the people.

God showed love and favor to Moses for his faithful dedication. Although we read about other individuals who talked with God in Genesis, none can compare to Moses’ numerous face-to-face encounters with God. “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11). In reading verses 12-17, we become familiar with how Moses petitioned God, “…consider that this nation is Your people.” (verse 13, last part).

Because of their fearless leader, God changes His original promise to remove His presence from Israel. “And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14). Prayerfully, we gain a different perspective of God’s gifts of grace and mercy to the generations of disobedient complainers.

Fast forward to today’s believers, we express our discontent in various ways. A few verbally complain about their fiery trials, but most are anxious, worried, depressed, or have internal anger against God. We seek happiness and ease over the promised gift of Eternal life, which requires hardships. The journey has been extended, Jesus has not come, and many have lost their focus.

Moses could have asked God to make their journey easier by taking their trials away in the meeting with God. But Moses loved God with all of his heart, soul, and mind. And this, God, knew that he had 100% of Moses’ heart. It was through humility that Moses asked:

“And he said, ‘Please show me Your glory.'” (Exodus 33:18).

God’s response: “Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ “”But He said, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.’ “(Exodus 33:19-20).

Sadly, we know of the complainer’s endless wandering of 40 years without receiving their reward of the Promised land. Only Joshua and Caleb from the original generation of freed Israelites were allowed into the Promised Land. Everyone else received God’s just punishment of death.

Today, as we reflect on the greatness of God, His love, long-suffering, grace, and mercies, in humility, we can ask for God to show us His glory. We are not asking for a face-to-face encounter. We are praying for the glory of His goodness, graciousness, and compassion to permeate our hearts. And in return, we dedicate our lives in faithful obedience and service to our Creator God, Jesus Christ, King of King, and Lord of Lords.

Prayer: God, we thank you. We ask forgiveness for being a stiff-necked people. We desire to dedicate our lives through obedience, reverence, and honor. God, please give us strength as we face the wilderness of trials and sorrows as we wait for Your Son’s soon coming. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2022 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers, and Woman, You Are Loved by God Ministries

Answering the Call Podcast

So Elijah went and found Elisha, son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders, and then walked away. (1 Kings 19:19 NLT)

When Elijah ran for his life because Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him [Read 1 Kings chapter 18], God had an action plan to prevent the Queen’s desire from being fulfilled. Not only did God send an angel to feed Elijah in the wilderness, but the food that he ate also sustained him for 40 days. Yet, God was not finished with His miraculous plan. 1 Kings 19, verses 15-17 directs Elijah to anoint two kings and Elisha as the prophet to succeed Elijah.

King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were wicked–building many idols. Due to fear of execution, many Israelites turned to idol worship, which was at an all-time high. Even Elijah was convinced that he was the only person who served the one true God. Many believers are convinced that they are the only ones suffering severe trials and sorrows. Looking at our circumstances, we begin to sink into despair. God is aware that our human hearts are frail. Even so, God always has a rescue plan for those who love and serve Him.

“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)

Elisha’s Call: “…and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away.” (1 Kings 19:19, first part)

Elisha’s Response: “Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, ‘First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!'” (1 Kings 19:19)

Elijah’s Answer: “Elijah replied, ‘Go back, but think about what I have done to you.'” (1 Kings 19:19, last part)

To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we benefit others. https://law.utk.edu/2016/05/10/to-whom-much-is-given-much-will-be-required/#:~:text=To%20whom%20much%20is%20given%2C%20much%20will%20be%20required%20(Luke,expected%20that%20we%20benefit%20others.

Serving God always includes spiritual responsibilities. Every person who accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior is called and anointed to witness the Good News of Salvation. Matthew 28:18-20, The Great Commission identifies that we are Jesus’ disciples. All disciples have received spiritual gifts according to God’s plan. Even in a raging pandemic, God has provided technology to advance His message of Redemption and Salvation. Using our social media pages to post a daily Scripture takes little effort, yet, it builds our relationship with Jesus because it requires us to pray and study the Bible.

Still, the question remains, “When God calls, how will we answer?”

Prayer: God, we ask that You reveal our spiritual gifts that we may live a purpose-driven life and hasten the Second Coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Gift of a Sound Mind Podcast

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7

A baby is born with the ability to thrive. In fact, the first twelve months produce an accelerated rate of growth and development. The only fear that develops is the innate “stranger danger” between six and nine months. Many children are exposed to counterproductive stimuli during maturity to healthy spiritual, mental, and emotional development. The unhealthy atmosphere of a home void of love produces fear, unhappiness, and the failure to thrive.

Let me tell you a personal story. Many years ago, we had the privilege of our three grandchildren, ages 4, 6, and 9, living with us for one year. They were fearful, had insomnia, and constantly argued with each other. One day, I watched a few of their programs and was shocked at the physical violence and derogatory words in a children’s anime. We met to discuss a simple but effective performance improvement plan the next day.

We did a store run to purchase crayons, coloring books, scissors, markers, glue, construction paper, children’s books, balls, dolls, and containers of blowing bubbles. Since I had an extra laptop, they were taught the simple basics of navigating to Youtube to watch nonviolent programs. But their favorite activities were learning to swim and visiting the park to run and play. The complex had a pond with ducks where they lost their fear of animals by feeding them bread scraps. Watching and playing with electronic gadgets had a limit of two hours a day.

The change was immediate. Two of the children possessed an advanced level of artistic drawing. Spats and bickering became nonexistent, except for the struggle over specific colors of pencils, markers, and crayons. Yes, I could have purchased separate drawing utensils, but they needed to learn the values of cooperation and sharing. The refrigerator was covered with their art. Daily simple tasks were given to teach and assist their young minds in understanding gratification from a job well done. The reward of receiving hugs, kisses, and frequently hearing “I love you” changed little warriors into happy and loving children who respected each other.

Now, we focus on refuting the belief that our past defines our present and future. Your childhood determines your adult life because you do not know who God is. He is the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnibenevolent, and our loving Heavenly Father.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 1 Timothy 1:7. Focusing on our limited abilities [because God gave us a finite mind] prevents spiritual, mental, and emotional growth.

1 Timothy 1:7 is a scripture that reminds us of the innate qualities that God created us with. A sound mind requires ongoing learning by seeking credible knowledge, discovering and developing your natural talents, and learning new skills. Biblical knowledge from studying the scriptures results in faith, trust, and confidence that God is in control. Power is courage! We are not afraid of life or the challenges that we face.

Satan desires to minimize God’s power and attempts to deceive us to believe that he is all-powerful. In reading Job chapter 1, it is evident that our archenemy has God-given limits: “‘All right, you may test him,’ the Lord said to Satan. ‘Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.’ So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” Job 1:12.

Just a side note: God can destroy Satan now if He desires. And Satan is aware of this and functions inside of God’s boundaries. Satan obeys God’s limits, yet the human beings created in God’s image have the irreverence and boldness fed from pride to openly and continuously disobey our Creator.

The Apostle Paul was young Timothy’s spiritual mentor. In 1 Timothy 1:7, Paul reminds and reprimands his protege for the fear he possessed, afraid to suffer for Jesus.

Fear is like a tornado producing destruction in all areas of our lives. Fear’s bitter, rotten fruits are anxiety, worry, nervousness, timidness, depression, sadness, and pessimistic thoughts. Fear impedes progress! Do not embrace this destructive emotion that is based on nonexistent realities!

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” “Deuteronomy 31:6, 8

Created from God’s Ultimate Love, we were born with everything required to live productive, happy lives. God is aware of the dysfunction that sin causes in our maturity from children to adults. How is retraining our minds and leaving the past behind possible? With God, ALL things are possible!

“Do not call to mind the former things; pay no attention to the things of old. Behold, I am about to do something new; even now, it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.….” Isaiah 43:18-19

Learning and reminding ourselves of these scriptures

  1. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14)
  2. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7)
  3. “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)
  4. “No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:10-12)

We are in a new season of our lives. It is time for us to become the soldiers God created us to be. Discover your hidden talents and spiritual gifts by praying and asking God to reveal your purpose. Disciples are fearless because we believe that God loves us and will always sustain 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 NIV)

Prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24). In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2022 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers, and Woman, You Are Loved by God Ministries

Fail-Safe Plans Podcast

“The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” — Michelle Obama

“Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. Most of all, other people can’t stop you. Only you can stop you.” — Jeffrey Gitomer

Trends come and go. But one trend has become a foundational belief and has grown into a worldview: Self-Elevation By Seeking Success. Yes, we are encouraged to risk our assets to start new businesses, invest in thriving stocks, and climb the career ladder. And now, “Influencers” who feel they have the wisdom of Solomon convince us to go for it. Sadly, many people act on the advice of those who are making blanket statements and live stressed-out, unhappy lives because they have suffered financial losses, or traded away their peace of mind.

Okay, we know the world seeks after tangible things. But many of the royal priesthood–believers, whom God loves, fully accept the prosperity messages preached from pastors who thrive on material wealth. The prevalent scripture that is misquoted and misinterpreted is Jeremiah 29:11. God’s promise is manipulated and twisted from its original meaning to support the acquisition of wealth.

NASB translation: “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

KJV-For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)

In Matthew 6, Jesus gave us warnings regarding the pursuit of wealth: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [material wealth].” Matthew 6:24.

James clarifies the stability of our lives, cautioning us not to make future plans.

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:13, 14 NLT, NIV)

Does the life of a believer consist of an endless list of “Do Nots?” God has given us the ability to dream and abundantly blessed us with natural talents and spiritual gifts. Learning and accepting that God’s plans are 100% fail-proof should provide us with the desire to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. Jeremiah 10:23.

Christ in His life on earth made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will? As we commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps. E.G. White

Before making a decision, pray and wait on God for an answer in every aspect of your life. God has the desire to bless us “according to His riches in glory” according to His will and His plans. The peace and joy that come from faith, trust, and obedience in God are available to every disciple. God’s omniscience gives Him the ability to guarantee the perfect outcome of His plans. Who else can provide us with the guarantee that no obstacles–human or spiritual wickedness can prevent the plans of the Almighty God from coming into fruition?

Prayer: God, help us to rely totally on you. We ask for direction in our lives and the strength to achieve and fulfill Your plans. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2022 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers, and Woman, You Are Loved by God Ministries

The Highest Honor Podcast

Hardships, trials, sorrows, obstacles, and life stressors often leave us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Unless we understand God’s purpose and direction for our spiritual growth entirely, we can easily slip into the pit of D’s–Discouragement and Depression. Our mental and emotional state of mind dramatically impacts our faith and trust in God. What is our view of God? Do we view God as the Great Punisher? Or do we possess the “Why Me?” mindset?

“I tell you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John, yet even the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28 BSB). What? John the Baptist was beheaded! [To be continued.]

Discipleship always includes suffering. Only the Apostle John died a natural death. And the Apostle Paul, when imprisoned, wrote, “For to me, living means living for Christ and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires…” (Philippians 1:21-23 NLT)

Yes, dying does end our suffering. Still, most believers do not consider the desire to cease living. Although the rough times hit like a tsunami, our hope remains. No one likes to suffer! How do we make it through without giving up? Changing our perspective can only happen when we accept the purpose of suffering and believe the promise that Jesus is always involved in our suffering.

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world, you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] (John 16:33 Amplified Bible)

How do we know if our suffering is for Christ? Or because of the consequences of disobedience or mistreatment by another person? Pray and ask God. David’s prayer: “Test me, O LORD, and try me; examine my heart and mind.” Psalm 26:2

When prior experience, strategies, and help from family and friends do not alleviate or bring resolution, we suffer for Christ. Deliverance is only through God’s Divine Intervention and given when His purpose is fulfilled in our lives. The human effort of prayer and studying the Scriptures will provide us with the faith, strength, and courage required to journey through the harsh wilderness.

Although John the Baptist was imprisoned in a cold, dark dungeon and beheaded, He foretold the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” (John 1:27 NKJV). John was aware that serving and suffering for Jesus Christ is a privilege and honor.

Certainly, this should be a moment of truth for every believer that, in humility, we realize the privilege and honor to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. Philippians 1:29

Prayer: God, thank you for revealing to us through the Holy Spirit that we are highly favored and privileged to serve and suffer for your Son, Jesus. Please give us the strength to endure suffering as we prepare for Eternal life. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2022 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers, and Woman, You Are Loved by God Ministries

Know Your Job Description Podcast

Some situations are vividly recalled because of the negative impact on our lives. As I diligently searched for employment, the title read, “Innovative Nursing Administrative Position.”

Description: Immediate administrative nursing position that requires solid clinical background with excellent critical thinking skills. Newly developed with the goal of increasing the quality of care among our residents.

Yes, I was excited this had to be a perfect fit. The interview went well, and I received a tentative start date pending background checks.

But there was a red flag that I ignored. The job description was a draft–a work-in-progress, which equated to unknown definitive duties. Receiving reassurance that completing the job description was imminent, along with the salary and benefits package, persuaded me to accept the facility’s offer with excitement. All was well for the initial four weeks, and then new duties were added every day for at least two weeks. The boulder rolled down the mountain when the Charge Nurse resigned on one of the units. The expectation was that I would fulfill the position until another RN was hired and trained.

Eventually, my administrative duties were withdrawn, and I was the full-time replacement for the vacant Charge Nurse position. Shortening the story, I resigned because of the bait and switch tactic of the company. With research, I learned that I was eligible for unemployment compensation. Two infractions: I was demoted to a staff position due to a vacancy without an end date, and the facility never advertised to replace the Charge Nurse position. The facility’s Administrator attempted to block the unemployment but lost the appeal. Isn’t God good?

Many believers have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, either lacking scriptural knowledge or the desire to become a disciple–living to serve. What does God require of us?

Spiritual Job Description

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27

As disciples, we are called into a life of action. To obey God with humility and live a life of service to others in need–providing spiritual [mental and emotional] encouragement and physical necessities. Our role model is Jesus Christ. Impoverished [which God does not require of us], Jesus lived a life of complete servitude. And still, He serves as our High Priest and Heavenly Intercessor. Therefore He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 NASB)

Thankfully, our spiritual job description has no loopholes or unknown areas. Surrendering in humility to God and loving Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind gives us the motivation and zeal to pledge ourselves to discipleship. For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27 ESV)

Bible Study: Matthew 25:31-46

Prayer: God, we pray for forgiveness for not humbling ourselves in obedience to fulfill our spiritual job description. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ Worthy name. Amen. © 2022 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers, and Woman, You Are Loved by God Ministries