Seeing Clearly for the First Time

I just watched an amazing video about babies and children, ages six months to 4 years of age, born with a visual impairment. As the tiny glasses were placed on their faces, the reaction to seeing clearly the faces of their parents for the first time brought smiles and jubilant laughter. Through my tears, I thanked God for giving humanity the knowledge and wisdom to make ongoing healthcare advances.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Health Innovation: Health innovation is to develop new or improved health policies, systems, products and technologies, and services and delivery methods that improve people’s health, with a special focus on the needs of vulnerable populations. And although the WHO has received criticism, I wholeheartedly support their devoted efforts to promote efficiency, effectiveness, quality, safety, and affordability in healthcare.

From a spiritual perspective, many of us are also visually impaired. We cannot see how much God really loves us, nor are we happy or content with our present circumstances. My prayer this morning focused on gratitude. As I reflected on the past 24 hours, I thanked God for a new day and a comfortable bed with soft pillows. My day was productive: three meaningful worship sessions with God, wrote a Devotional and ate two power-packed nutritional meals. Downtime included repotting a couple of plants, playing my favorite online game, and listening to various artists’ inspirational music videos. Yes, I enjoyed another worry-free day.¬†

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; Colossians 4:2

My journey to a peaceful existence involved an emergency plea to God for help. A few days ago, I was blinded by self-reliance. My spirit was crushed because my focus was diverted from God to the presenting circumstances. After a couple of sleepless nights, I became sick and tired of my visual impairment. After reading, Jeremiah 31:3, The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving devotion,”¬† I had a real-talk with God. Me: God, I know that you love me. But I feel so distant from you, my insomnia has returned, and I feel anxious. Please tell me what I need to do to feel your love and to calm my worries. God answered me through the lyrics in a song: Place your life in God’s hands, and you will experience complete peace.¬†

Immediately, I recognized that God was speaking to me. I stopped what I was doing and prayed a simple prayer: God, I place my life in your hands. What will you have me to do? Amen. Every day, I commit to placing my life in God’s hands and pray that He opens my eyes that I may see His loving plans for me. Throughout the day, I make a conscious effort to express my gratitude by just saying, Thank you, God. I love you. Like the babies, I am smiling and laughing because, for the first time, I am really seeing my Heavenly Father.

Our Heavenly Father’s arms are long enough to wrap around each of us. He patiently waits for us to commit our lives to Him. Go ahead! Seeing God clearly is a life-changing experience.

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:17

Bible Reading: Psalm 34

God, we commit our lives to you. Please reveal your plans, and help us to realize that you love us with an everlasting love. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

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

 

New versus Old

When I attended college, purchasing used textbooks was the best option for those on a financial budget. It was an excellent way to save and also a source of income for those who were sellers. The trend was to use the previous editions even if a newer, more costly edition had been published. Hopefully, being part of a study group where at least one person had the latest edition kept the rest of us up-to-date. Times were rough, so before my start date, I purchased used books at a low price. I was thrilled to approach my academic year with preparedness and have a little money left-over.

However, my joy was short-lived. I received the email with the syllabus for my science course that contained a warning. Within one year, new and updated theories were proven and introduced. The professor’s letter stated: To successfully pass this course, you must use the new 12th edition. Not only did I have to purchase the new book, but I was also the proud owner of an outdated book that decorated my bookshelf. From that experience, I learned the valuable lesson of not making premature decisions based on presumption or saving a few dollars.

At least we have one Book that will never change. We can be thankful that the Word of God, the Holy Bible, which includes the Old Testament and the New Testament, will never require updates. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:18. Have you thought about why Jesus emphasized that not one aspect of the Law, God’s Holy Word, would ever change?

Do you believe that God is Omniscient? Yes, God knows everything from the beginning to the end. God was fully aware that Satan would use his cunning deception to create the concept of an “Old Covenant vs New Covenant”¬†controversy to disallow the Old Testament. Regrettably, many 21st century Believers have fallen for the false teaching that the Old Testament is obsolete.

1 Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.

2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.

3 They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.

4 You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Psalm 119:1-4

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 1 John 4:1

Staying close to God by praying and studying the Bible along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit keeps us in His presence, and prevents us from being deceived. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1. Satan counts on those who use self-interpretation to add or delete from the Bible. If you hear concepts that are not biblically supported, pray for the Holy Spirit to provide you with knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual discernment. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. God is and always will be in control of this world! 2 Timothy 2:15

Modern society has suffered from the prevalence of misinformation, deception, embezzlements, scams, and ever-increasing crime for so long that many of us have become desensitized and have gradually embraced the concept of “this is just the way it is.” Because we have failed to obey God’s command:¬†Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 2 Corinthians 6:17,¬†we have compromised God’s standards by applying worldly concepts to the Word of God.¬†

False Teaching: The New Testament is not an updated version of the Bible intended to replace an outdated, Old Testament.

The New Testament is a fulfillment of the Old Testament; therefore, the entire Bible is complete and stands as God’s Word forever and ever. Amen. All Scripture is inspired by God¬†and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16

The Change: During the Old Testament times, God required the killing of a perfect Lamb to forgive sins (read Leviticus 5:7 for exceptions). In the Old Testament, the death of the lamb pointed to Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God who shed His blood to die for the Redemption of our sins. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16. Jesus’ death was required, or humanity would cease to exist.¬†

The Plan of Salvation was fulfilled and guaranteed by Jesus’ death and resurrection. When Jesus comes again, those who are faithful will receive the reward of immortality in the New Heaven and the New Earth. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Ephesians 1:7.¬†

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible was written by holy men inspired by God and provides us with all we need to know about God. Never would our God change, delete, or rearrange the scriptures. Only humanity under the influence of Satan would be so bold as to challenge the Word of God! Even so, remember that our Omniscient God always has the answer even before the problem or situation arises.

Fact check: God was fully aware that Satan would seek to change the 7th day, Saturday-Sabbath by proclaiming that it was only for the Jewish religion.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:2-3

I have not found any disclaimers or exceptions to Genesis 2:2-3 that support keeping 9 of the 10 commandments. Personally, I am not willing to take the chance of challenging the 7th-day Sabbath, because I desperately want my reward of Eternal life. Nothing is ever an after-thought with God. God has not abolished the Old Testament nor has He made updates to His commandments. 

Fact check: The Ten Commandments are still valid today, including the specific command to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it, you shall do no work: you, nor your Son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days, the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

Fact check: God has given us the knowledge and wisdom to evolve into a modern-day society that could not include animal sacrifice to forgive sins. Hence, that is the only aspect of the forgiveness of sins that changed from the Old Testament biblical times to the 21st century. Jesus Christ is our High-Priest, who is in Heaven, acting on our behalf as our Intercessor. Just as we approach God through prayer, song, and praise with reverence, faith, and trust, those who lived in Old Testament times also enjoyed the privilege of worshiping God and being in His presence spiritually.

Before the Fall of Adam and Eve, they enjoyed face-to-face communion with God in their state of sinlessness and immortality. Genesis tells us that God created humanity to be in His presence. Disobedience to God, which is a grievous sin, changed the privilege of us physically being in the presence of God. 

But the LORD God called out to the man, “Where are you?” “I heard Your voice in the garden,” he replied, “and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” Genesis 3:9-10. As a Heavenly Father, the Lord God visited Adam and Eve every day. Remember, they were the only two human beings in the Garden of Eden. Adam would have been very fearful if this was the first time God visited them. Adam expressed that his fear was because He knew that He was naked and did not want God to see his nakedness. God did not tell Adam and Eve that they would become naked if they ate from the forbidden tree. He said to them that they would die.

Did Adam and Eve understand that their nakedness was the result of their disobedience? The Lord God already was aware that Adam and Eve had sinned. The Omniscient God knew their exact location, 11 “Who told you that you were naked?” asked the LORD God. “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”‚Ķbut asked the question so Adam would confess that He had disobeyed and sinned by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Because of our sinfulness, many questions will remain unanswered. But one thing is for certain, from the beginning of the creation of human life, all have been given the privilege of being in the presence of God spiritually.

A trait that we are born with is curiosity. We always seek after the unknown. Now from a spiritual perspective, this is an excellent way to live, always seeking righteousness. The Nation of Israel was no different than we are. Recall that they lived in Egypt, a land filled with false idols that could be seen. Some things are consistent in the human race. The people in the Old Testament also had the desire to see God.¬†I will cause all My goodness to pass before you,” the LORD replied, “and I will proclaim My name‚ÄĒthe LORD‚ÄĒin your presence. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” But He added, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.” Exodus 33:19-20

In our current state of sinfulness, we would suffer an immediate death from God’s Shekinah glory.¬†“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24.¬†Even so, please know that it does not take a church building for us to experience the presence of God. In our vehicles, prayer closets, outdoors in nature, anywhere and everywhere, we can worship and enjoy the presence of God. We are not required to have an earthly priest, minister, or pastor approach the throne of God on our behalf. As children of the Most-High God, we have the privilege to seek God for ourselves.

Have you ever prayed a silent prayer? God does not place physical stipulations or restrictions on worshiping Him. As long as we are truthful and possess a humble and contrite heart, we can enjoy God’s spiritual presence. Every person from Genesis to Revelation has received the opportunity to be in God’s presence, and I can assure you that being in His presence gives unspeakable joy.

One day soon, we will behold our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face-to-face in all of His glory. Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, that they may see the glory You gave Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24

Preparing for Eternal life, one day at a time.

Bible Reading: Exodus 40:34-38

God, we thank you for the privilege of being in your presence any time we choose. You are our firm foundation in a world full of chaos. Thank you for loving and caring so much for us that you gave your only Son, Jesus, to die for us. Please guard us against the deceptions and the spiritual wickedness in high places. We will be careful to give you the praise, the honor, and the glory that you rightfully deserve. We ask this prayer in the Name of the Worthy Lamb, 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.

 

Happy Sabbath!

Jumping the Spiritual Hurdles

What Is Hurdling?

Hurdling is the act of running and jumping over an obstacle at speed. Hurdling forms the basis of a number of track and field events, which are a highly specialized form of obstacle racing. In these events, a series of barriers known as hurdles are set at precisely measured heights and distances, which each athlete must pass by running over. Failure to pass over, by passing under or intentionally knocking over hurdles, will result in disqualification. https://athleticscoaching.weebly.com/hurdles.html

What does it take to run and jump over obstacles physically? Training, speed, and agility are required for a runner to become successful as a hurdle jumper. There are many concepts that the runner must know, but one of the most interesting is to:

Drive with the knee. Don’t drive with the toe. If you drive with the toe, you’re going to hit the hurdle, and force your body up, go slow and probably fall down. Make sure that the knee is up and powerful. https://youtu.be/T97kkzRMEAY

Although the runner can learn the theoretical concepts of jumping hurdles, they will not be successful in the sport if they are unable to master the physical skills. It would appear that training the body to glide over waist-high hurdles effortlessly would be the most challenging task that a runner can face. But are you aware that runners use mini-hurdles to get faster and become more agile? Commitment to a regimen of never-ending physical training, along with the proper nutritional intake, and 8-10 hours of rest is required to stay healthy for peak performance.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33

The life of a Believer in the Most-High God requires jumping many spiritual hurdles. The sorrows, trials, tribulations, and challenges we face are the mini-hurdles that should produce peak spiritual performance. But usually, when we face the storms in life, we feel incapacitated because our perception is limited. We see the hurdles as waist-high obstacles that are impossible to jump over. Then discouragement sets in, all because we forget to place our faith and trust in God. Just as the runner makes the commitment to train, we must put forth the effort to build our faith. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Do not focus on the obstacles in your life! With a humble heart, immediately pray and ask God for help. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24. God knows the spiritual growth and development we require, and He will continue to allow us to face hurdles until our character reflects the Character of Christ. Remember, Sanctification is a life-long process that we must go through until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 

Therefore, since such a huge crowd of witnesses surrounds us to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrew 12:1

What do we need to do to run with endurance? Just as the athlete needs to train for agility, strength, and speed, we need to diligently study the Bible, increase our prayer life, and possess unwavering faith and trust in God. There is a significant difference between an accomplished athlete and a Believer. Even with a coach, training to reach peak physical performance is based on the runner’s abilities. Self-reliance is the athlete’s means to achieving success; hence, the reason behind the arrogance of “I did this based on my own abilities.”

Thankfully, God does not require us to resolve our challenges based on our limited abilities. In fact, God desires just the opposite of self-based achievements, and self-reliance, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right (humble) spirit within me. Psalm 51:10. Without humility and faith we can not please God. Spiritual growth thrives off of trust in God. Pray and wait. Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6.

Live with the mindset that your life will include hurdles. There is no other path that will produce spiritual perfection. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize! 1 Corinthians 9:24.¬†So go ahead, when the obstacles are placed in front, behind, and on both sides:¬†Call on the name of the Lord!¬†“Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” Psalm 50:15

Bible Reading: Psalm 27

God, we thank you for the Sabbath day, 24 hours, to focus on our spiritual growth and development. You knew that we could not reach peak spiritual performance without a day of rest from all the cares of this world. Please forgive us for not faithfully trusting in you. As we strive to reach peak spiritual performance, we ask for the strength to endure. 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.

The Crisis is Under Control

Don’t Be Afraid!

As a nurse, it is imperative that we remain level-headed and in control under all circumstances. My definition of control probably differs from your description: Possessing the knowledge and skills to take the appropriate action to resolve the presenting situation. Like military organizations, the nursing profession molds and retrains our minds. The expectation is to use critical thinking, astute judgment, and follow the regulations and standards to ensure that safe, quality care is delivered to our patients. Naturally, the shaping of my thought processes has spilled over into my personal life. And because of my professional traits, I have faced a spiritual conflict for quite a long time. The sin of self-reliance keeps resurfacing.

Yes, my belief in God’s promises is strong; however, I had to acknowledge my sins of doubt and self-reliance during worship this morning. It was time that I faced the fear of completely placing my life in God’s hands. After I confessed to God that I have been trying to help Him out with his plans for me, our Heavenly Father did not scold me. He directed me to read a very comforting Devotional entitled, “Fear Not…I Am With Thee.”

Through prayer, I made a covenant with God to go all the way and place my life in His hands. Proverbs 3:5-6 has become a personal goal: Sonya, Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your limited understanding. God, I make the vow to seek your will in all that I do because I know that you will show me which path to take. Amen. The little nagging worries of wondering how everything will come together and be resolved has left. I received a breakthrough today when I committed to living a faith-based life. The burden of trying to make plans for the unknown future is no longer my concern.

Our world is in a crisis, but God is not!¬†Of David. A psalm. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; Psalm 24:1.¬†

Our Omniscient God is waiting for us to believe His promise: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with My right hand of righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

Instructions for total dependence on God:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:10-13

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

God, we are tired of carrying the burden of not fully believing in your promises. We ask forgiveness for the sins of doubt and self-reliance. Thank you for loving us and giving us peace. We promise to wait and trust for your plans to be revealed. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Living a 5 Star Life

Have you ever had the opportunity to stay in a 5-star hotel? The outward appearance is not only exquisite, but it is also breath-taking and appeals to all of the five senses. Four years ago, my employer, United Healthcare, conducted a 2-day seminar in the Gaylord Texas Resort & Convention Center located in Grapevine, Texas. The Atrium immediately transports you into a tropical paradise that makes you forget all of your worries.

Gaylord’s Texan Christmas

What Makes a 5-Star Hotel
Aesthetic
The Senses
Quality of Service
Personalization of Service
Rooms, Dining, and Amenities
Consistency. https://www.coylehospitality.com/blog/what-makes-five-star-hotel/

Although the hotel is a visual paradise, it’s outward appearance is not enough. A 5-star hotel has personality and character traits. Coyle Hospitality reports, Consistent, exceptional service is arguably, the single most important distinguishing factor between a five-star hotel and other hotels. Outward beauty without exceptional customer service would place the Gaylord Texan Resort in the category of just another nice place to stay.

Believers, what about us? Are we living a 5-star life that testifies to the world that we followers of Jesus Christ? When we interact with others including our family, can they see and hear that we are different?

Yesterday, on social media, I read a religious article that concentrated on the biblical knowledge required for us to know who God is and the impact that the scriptures have on living a righteous and holy life. What may or may not be surprising to you are the arguments that occurred between Believers. How can we represent God to others when we post remarks that are open for every eye to see? Disunity is very disturbing, and is always ungodly behavior. There should be no debates regarding the Word of God. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16.

When Jesus stood trial before Pilate, the Roman Governor, the Jewish people hoped that He would be condemned (Read Luke 23). What I love about Jesus is that He never argued, and unless He was teaching, His demeanor was quiet and He was a man of few words.¬†So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”¬†Jesus replied, “You have said it.”¬†But, Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. Luke 23:3-4.¬†Jesus’ answers were always thought-provoking, and required the person asking the question to perform an in-depth self-evaluation.

Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life. Yes, Jesus Christ lived a 5-star life. You may think, “Well, He is the Son of God.” Think about the Baby Jesus being born to human parents, Mary and Joseph. They had the responsibility of raising Jesus just like our parents raised us. The same spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical growth and development that occurred in us from birth through adulthood, Jesus, the Son of Mary, and Joseph also experienced.

The advantage that Jesus had was that He stayed close to God through constant studying and prayer. He desired to please God. What attribute did Coyle Hospitality rank as number 1 for a 5-star hotel? Exceptional service! For us to be 5-star Believers, we must give outstanding service to God and others.

  1. Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” 38 “This is the first and greatest commandment.” 39″ A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39.
  2. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. Galatians 5:5
  3. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. Galatians 5:16
  4. 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! Galatians 5:22-23
  5. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6
  6. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Hebrews 12:1

We can only achieve a 5-star life when we have the mindset and commitment to be a servant of the Most-High God. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28. Jesus, our Role-Model, lived a 5-star life, not based on the pursuit of comfort or wealth. While on this earth, as a human being, Jesus gave God all of the honor, praise, and glory for His infinite love, grace, and mercies. The Son of God was obedient to God even unto the death required to fulfill the Plan of Salvation.
So, go-ahead, develop the mindset and continue striving to live a 5-star life.

Pressing Toward the Goal-Written by the Apostle Paul
I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Bible Reading: Luke 23

God, we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ who willingly died on the cross that we may live a 5-Star life, now and for eternity. We ask you to give us the strength to put all foolishness aside and to faithfully serve you. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Make it Personal

It is Satan’s work to discourage the soul; it is Christ’s work to inspire with faith and hope. Desire of Ages 249. Ellen G. White

Moments ago, I watched an ad on youtube.com for a nonprofit organization that provides clean water to underserved persons. Who would think that a vital substance that most take for granted is in short supply and impacting over 785 million people globally? The organization’s founder sold all of his possessions and volunteered for Mercy Ships, a charity foundation whose mission is: To provide free healthcare and improve healthcare delivery systems in the poorest nations. During the ship’s travels to many developing countries, he realized that a phenomenal amount of individuals, especially children, were dying from drinking dirty water. And he did something about it! charitywater.org

It is impressive that this charity is one of the few where donations are divided into two categories: Wells for clean water receives 100% of monies donated, and the Overhead costs are funded by socially responsible companies and philanthropists. Because of his integrity, and love for God, over 1 million people are now actively involved in providing clean water by their social and financial commitments to make this world a better place.

I immediately began to pray and thank God for supplying all of my needs and having good people with loving hearts that care about others’ welfare.¬†The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1.¬†God is still in control of the world that He created. Planet Earth will always have a Nation of people doing their part to alleviate humanity’s suffering. Although oceans apart, our hearts are bound together by our love for God and each other.

It is a fact that the challenges in our lives can leave us feeling defeated. But that is only one way of looking at our circumstances. We can connect with the invisible God during our trials and tribulations and allow Him to become visible in our lives.¬†Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7. After watching the story of charitywater.org, I began to question my relationship with God. If I believe in God’s promises, why am I feeling crushed when the storms of life are raging? So this morning, I prayed and asked God to give me the answer to increasing my faith and trust in Him.¬†God, please tell me how to have a deeper relationship with you.¬†God’s response: “Make it Personal.”

Let’s think about the time and effort we put into our friendships, or meeting that special one that you hope is your soul-mate. When we engage in healthy relationships, we give our best, and we offer 100% of ourselves. We are loving, compassionate, and seek to make others happy and content. Even so, relationships are reciprocal–give and take, both individuals must desire to build a foundation based on commitment, trust, and transparency (honesty). To have friends, family, and significant others who say I love you through words and actions just makes our lives complete.

…the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

Throughout the Bible, we can read stories of God’s love, grace, and mercy. In fact, the character of God is continuously revealed from Genesis to Revelation. Because He knows that our intentions are good, but our faith wavers, God tells us to entirely rely on His love, and power. Matthew 6:19-34¬†provides us with the solution to feeling defeated when our tank of Faith (and bank account) is empty.¬†Psalm 27¬†dispels every fear and emphasizes faith and trust in God.

For I am the Lord, I change not…Malachi 3:6 first part.¬†Loving relationships are based on commitment and produce enthusiasm and excitement. For the solution to making our relationship personal with God, ask yourself: Am I giving my best to God? For each of us, this question is up-close and personal.

After some serious self-evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that I can do better. Yes, I am the one who keeps changing by allowing doubt and unbelief, based on my circumstances, to interrupt my love relationship with God. Now that I have identified the wayward behaviors that prevent me from obtaining spiritual growth, I can focus on building a deeper relationship with God based on commitment, trust, and transparency (honesty). God, I am ready to make it personal.

Bible Readings: Psalm 23, and 1 Peter 5

God, we often lose sight of your love, grace, and mercies that you freely give to us everyday. It is our desire to have a personal, and committed love relationship with you. God, we love you. Thank you for loving us. We pray this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

New and Improved?

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2

Even as a young girl, reading and researching have always been among my top priorities. So you would not be surprised when I said that the library was one of my favorite places. Weekly, I anxiously awaited selecting the six books allowed for a 14-day checkout. Because I am a Baby-Boomer, I did not grow up with the World Wide Web. My childhood consisted of pencils, pens, paper, hard-copy books, learning to write cursive, and calculating mathematical problems without a calculator.

Do you think that those are antiquated ways of a former life? If you follow my blog, you know that I have embraced technology with an open mind. Even so, for 12 years, I tutored students and realize that technology and the new style of learning has presented severe challenges. How many parents are desperately seeking tutors for their children, or adults who have the desire to pursue higher education but have given up because of virtual limitations, digital books, and poor study habits? 

I decided to do some research by searching the internet “for effective learning techniques.” Excerpt from the article:

The world we live in is a constantly evolving one with new disciplines and skills arising every year. With so much to learn and so little time, employing the right learning techniques is essential. 

According to research, here are the best learning techniques:

1. Distributed Practice. 

2. Practice Testing. 

3. Interleaved Practice. 

4. Self-Explanation. 

5. Elaborative Interrogation. 

6. Retrieval Practice. 

https://www.lifehack.org/860370/learning-techniques

The author of this article has written learning techniques based on scientific studies that are new and improved that promises to produce a successful outcome. But my question is: If our world is dynamic and constantly evolving, it would be a small percentage of individuals who would even have the time to learn the complexities of these scientific methods.

I did not have these techniques when I self-studied in 1994, for four months and challenged the college course of Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, and passed. Nor did I have knowledge of scientific-based strategies when I pursued my Nursing degree and maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout the program. Please know that I am not boasting about my abilities. I was one of two nursing students that were above the age of 22. Believe me, 40 has never been the new 20. The struggle to complete a nursing degree at this stage in life involved sacrifice. During my educational pursuit, I ceased all social activities. Praying for understanding and the wisdom to apply nursing theory, critical thinking, and quick, accurate judgment to always deliver safe patient care was only possible with Divine Intervention.

I do know that prayer, faith, and miracles are not scientifically based. Yet, I have a life-time of testimonies that proves God always does the impossible. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26. Without technology, I would be severely limited. Now when I provide volunteer tutoring services, I combine old-school methods with technology to facilitate success. The point that I emphasize is not everything new and improved provides successful, positive outcomes.

There is another false concept that has crept into modern-day society, “The Prosperity Message.” For the Believer, Jesus Christ is our role model. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7. According to historians, a manger was an apparatus to feed cattle. When we study the life of Christ, He was born in a place where animals were fed (probably comparable to a barn). The Son of God began a lowly life and continued to live a life of poverty. Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

Striving for financial gain is not supported by the scriptures. Remember the story of the rich, young ruler who desired to follow Jesus? 

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:21-22. 

It is the behavior of unbelievers who love money to seek wealth and prosperity as the first priority in their lives. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24. When we love God, we embrace and accept His definition of prosperity, seeking after Him to gain spiritual growth and development.

If financial success is not God’s definition of “to prosper,” then what do verses such as 3 John 1:2 really mean? “Beloved, I pray that in every way you may prosper and enjoy good health, as your soul also prospers.” We know that our spiritual component exists for the sole purpose of having a relationship with God. Created in God’s image means that we were created to serve and worship Him by always staying connected through faith, prayer, and diligent study of the Bible. Serving God means that we give up the sin of self-reliance. Our purpose is not to acquire more money; Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. The Believer’s prosperity is spiritual growth and development!

With God, we can enjoy a never-ending supply of God’s love, grace, and mercies. Jesus provided us with the answer for having prosperitySeek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33. When we strive to live holy and acceptable lives, we do not need to focus on money. Our Heavenly Father sustains and provides for all of our needs. What does it mean to seek God? The Contemporary English Version of Matthew 6:33 says, But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

Jesus emphasized to His disciples: 

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, also believe in me.

2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3

Our present earthly journey that we are living is temporary. Revelation chapters 21 and 22 provide us with God’s plans for our future, living eternally in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Plainly spoken, we will receive immortality, a life without sin, death, sorrow, trials, or Satan. God has promised us happiness and joy forever and ever. Amen! Gaining eternal life and living in a perfect world more beautiful than any place we have ever seen and having face-to-face communion with God is the ultimate definition of prosperity. Can you imagine meeting Jesus and personally thanking Him for sacrificing his life for us?

Today’s standards may proclaim that the acquisition of wealth enables one to reach their fullest personal potential. And modern-day sermons may include that God desires for all Believers to enjoy financial prosperity. However, our Role-Model, Jesus, left instructions for us in the Bible that are still pertinent to modern-day Believers. Rely on God, He will give us spiritual prosperity that will last eternally.

I have no desire for the most expensive purse or clothing, nor a bank account bursting at the seams. All I want to do is to see Jesus! To gain Eternal life is the prosperity that I desire. Until Jesus comes again, I will continue to spread the message of His unfailing love, and the Plan of Salvation. While the world seeks after wealth, the Saints of the Most High God have the hope that burns within our hearts, Jesus Christ is coming soon! And that is a reward, which the prosperity of money can never provide. 

And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.…Philippians 4:19-20

Bible Reading: Philippians 4

God, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who died and rose again that we may have Eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth if we so choose. Please reveal to us your truth and give us the wisdom to dispel new and improved theories that are not biblically supported. 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. 

Preparing for the Big Move

Going on vacation requires a lot of preparation and planning. Even so, moving to another place requires much more effort. Identifying the things that we need to keep and give away usually causes the most distress. Yes, packing and unpacking are the least favorite things that are on our to-do list. But when we are excited about moving to a new home, moving is not a struggle.

How are you preparing to move from this earth to the New Heaven and New Earth?

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. ” Matthew 22:37-39

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Ephesians 4:31

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.… Galatians 5:22-23

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

We are nearing home! Do a thorough soul-searching and ask God to reveal all character defects. Ask forgiveness and for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is coming soon!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right Spirit within Me. Psalm 51:10. Amen.

Have a blessed day!

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

Happy Sabbath!

Not a DIY Project!

For as long as I can remember, I have loved DIY projects. I have tackled everything from yarn to macramé to metal, but refinishing accent furniture made from wood is my favorite. To find a vintage item and do a complete makeover or repurpose an item for a different use makes my day. Usually, I can look at an item and receive a creative vision. Yes, I admit that I am addicted to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. 

Without realizing it, I placed myself on the list of DIY projects. I decided to work on the ungodly character trait of impatience, which has always led to frustration and irritability. The steps to getting rid of impatience were carefully written on my dry-erase board. I prayed a prayer of confession and repentance, asking God to help me to change my character defects (yes, I have a couple more) that are displeasing. Even so, I approached spiritual growth as a DIY, with the mindset of, “I can do this, if I try harder!”

The problem: I thought too much of my abilities. Whenever a situation arose that tested my commitment to change, I failed the test by reacting in the same manner. Changing my behavior was much more challenging than I anticipated. Would I ever make progress? After a track record of failures, I prayed and asked God to reveal what I needed to do. God always answers our prayers. In my YouTube feed, a sermon entitled, The Cry of Desperation, provided the answer to my predicament of stunted spiritual growth. 

Solution: Stop the behavioral reaction by immediately praying for God’s help to overcome.¬†I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13. Not asking for help from my Spiritual Team, God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit, every time I faced the temptation led to the same repetitive response. Through prayer, I admitted that my character has flaws; but it took time to finally realize that I am not a DIY project.

Without Divine Intervention, the change that we desire will not happen. Possessing the Character of Christ requires teamwork: Human Effort + Divine Intervention= Victorious Outcomes. When self-reliance causes us to place too much confidence in our abilities, we set ourselves up for a big letdown. The Apostle Paul tells us of the human dilemma: I do not understand what I do. I do not do what I want to do, but what I hate, that is what I do. Romans 7:15. 

Change begins with the acknowledgement and acceptance that we are fully dependent on God. Our Heavenly Father lovingly forgives us, You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19. Asking for repentance allows us to turn our lives over to God, faithfully trusting and obeying Him, and asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Again, the Apostle tells us to …Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. Philippians 2:12

Two scriptures provide us with God’s requirement for our character traits. Striving to be like Christ means that we must walk through life on bended knees:

  1. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law…Galatians 5:22-23
  2. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Commit to¬†Have the Attitude of Christ.¬†Remove yourself from the DIY list. We have a Spiritual Team to rely on that has our lives in their hands. Remember, we can tap into our Team’s supernatural power any time of the day or night. Our Faith plus Divine Intervention keeps us on the Path of Righteousness. Never give up! Soon we will receive our reward of Eternal Life in a perfect world without sin, sickness, or the sorrow of death. Hallelujah! We can depend on God!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12

Bible Readings: Colossians 3, Living the New Life

God, we desperately need your help to change and achieve spiritual growth. We admit that we do not pray enough, and we ask forgiveness for the omission of staying connected to you. God, we renew our covenant with you to always seek your Divine Intervention. As we observe the Sabbath, we ask to be filled with your Holy Spirit. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Holy 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.¬†

If I Could Have the Choice

Yesterday, I read a poetic narrative of one woman’s journey that included the sadness of disappointment. Her story reflected the bad experiences of many who have endured the heartache of broken relationships. The intentional severing of a relationship can occur between employer and employee, husband and wife, friends, family, and members leaving their church. (Please note that death, which also ends relationships, is not included in this article.)

Breaking bonds with another person or employer always causes an intense emotional reaction. Although it may result in freedom from an unhealthy relationship, let’s face the facts, it still hurts. The immediate response will always be deep-rooted hurt. A hurting heart feels as if you have lost your ability to breathe. Individual reactions may include anger, resentment, and regret; however, if these unhealthy feelings are not controlled, they will grow like weeds in a beautiful bed of flowers. And that is the concern, Cry as often as necessary, but do not let the actions of another individual destroy your ability to love.

If I could have the choice…I would never wish a broken heart for anyone, including myself.

We do have a choice: to live for the present, plan for the future, and involve God, who is the greatest Healer of broken hearts. Whether we are shattered from grief, or at the happiest time in life, we have a spiritual umbilical cord that is connected to God. Because God is Omniscient, all-knowing, our broken heart comes as no surprise to Him. For every challenge that humanity suffers, God has already given us His promise of Divine Intervention.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3. Yes, we are devastated, and God knows how we feel because He is the Creator of humanity and the Giver of Unconditional love. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24. When we are brokenhearted and need comfort, all we have to do is say, “Lord, please help me!”

Healing is a process, and it begins when we ask God for help. Exercising faith and believing in God’s promises unleashes our Heavenly Father’s power for complete recovery. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17. God did not create us as fragmented pieces. How do we know this? Consider your mind-body connection; every system and the structure and function of the human body is synchronized to function as a whole. Only God has the capability to take our brokenness and make us whole again. God is our¬†Jehovah Jireh, who takes our mental instability, emotional despair, physical impairments, and lovingly removes all residual effects as if we never experienced sorrow.

Admit that you are grief-stricken, pray, and cry. Take a baby-step, by writing down at least one thing that you are thankful for every day for the rest of your life. Live every day as if it is your last chance for happiness. Do not worry about your future. God has your life in His hands. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:33-34

Please know that many changes happen when relationships are severed. The home and neighborhood you love, the double-income, and having that particular person share your life will probably cease to exist. Continue to pray hourly, be courageous and take the additional steps to move forward. Think about your lifeline, those friends who love and care about you, they are your resources. Please do not get caught up in telling them about the intimate details of your severed relationship. A simple explanation, “We are no longer together,” or “I am no longer working on that job” is enough information.

Maintain your focus by asking for help from friends and family to rebuild your life. Just remember that not everyone can offer financial assistance. If you need to move in 30-60 days, then ask at least 2-3 people for help to look for alternate housing. Research for community resources and continue to always trust in God. We were created to help one another. God never abandons us. He still provides everything that we need to live a healthy and productive life. Just remember the storm cannot and will not last forever.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:1-3

God, Please help us. Amen.

God Knows

When life’s problems seem to overpower the soul

And many things happen which we cannot control

With all of our struggles and heavy tasks

Jesus will lighten our burdens if we only ask

How many times in the course of the day?

If we didn’t have suffering would we take time to pray

If we would seek God in sunshine and in rain

He wouldn’t have to remind us by sending pain

In all of our weaknesses He knows what we would do

So, through hard trials we gain strength anew

© Esther Johnson 1997 (My Mother)

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