Created for His Purpose

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

When I initially enrolled in college to pursue my degree in Psychology, I was more than excited. The complexities of the human mind have always fascinated my overly creative brain. With a focus on Behavioral Health, I would empower others to learn and choose options that promote emotional wellness. All was well until it was time to select courses for the next semester. The core classes were not available during the day [this was in an era before online courses]. I could not take evening classes due to my job responsibilities. The disappointment of sitting out a semester was overwhelming as I thought about the setback in achieving my goals.

We are allowed to do anything, but not everything is good for us to do. We are allowed to do anything, but not all things help us grow strong as Christians. 1 Corinthians 10:23 NLV.

My plans were blocked because there was a significant conflict between my goals and God’s plans and purpose for my life. I have always been a believer. Still, I enjoyed fulfilling my dreams according to my desires. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11.

Through my discouragement, God revealed His plan and my purpose. He opened the windows of heaven. I received numerous scholarships and grants for my nursing education. Although I was the oldest nursing student in my class at 40 y/o, I graduated with top honors. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.

Serving patients and their families requires humility, which allowed the spiritual growth that I needed to become a follower of Jesus Christ. God used nursing as a ministry for me to provide compassionate care, emotional and spiritual support to diverse populations. Many years later, I can say, “Thank you, God, for your divine intervention. Amen.”

Our walk through life is as different as our fingerprints. Even so, a believer’s steps are ordered by God. We are to make disciples like the Apostle Paul. His conversion reveals the incredible power of God to give us a complete spiritual makeover and restoration when we surrender to Him—created by Him and for His purpose. 

Prayer: God, we ask you to reveal your purpose and direction for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Priceless Value of Knowing Christ

Many have surrendered their lives to Jesus. And when the relationship begins, they are excited about serving God. But there is a prevailing misunderstanding among believers–the imaginary perfect life in which all of our problems are eliminated when we serve God. Who can not relate to quickly finding out that serving God places us in a spiritual battle? Yes, we easily become discouraged by the never-ending hardships and challenges. Still, wavering faith is the precursor for doubt. We begin to question God, His love, and His promises. Isn’t our life supposed to become more manageable when we serve God? “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 requirement of living a faith-based life by trusting in God through an unknown waiting period for God to answer our prayers becomes our breaking point. We struggle with our dependency on God. The refusal produces a spiritual battle from within–obedience versus self-reliance. Impatience sets in as we begin to develop strategies to help God bring a faster solution.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

A child has blind faith in their parents. They run to tell them [trust] the problem and possess the belief [faith] that their issue will be resolved. For those who doubt that God created us with a measure of faith, children easily disprove that concept. Confidence causes children to run to their parents [who they know and trust] every time a problem arises.

The reason that we lose hope is that we do not know who Jesus is. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15. Realistically, who would trust a stranger? Trusting in self erases our childlike faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Faith is replaced by doubt and unbelief. How did it happen this quickly? Without diligently studying the scriptures and praying, we only know Jesus by His name, and the consequence is disbelief in the omnipotence of God, our Father.

Our relationship suffers as we become overwhelmed by our circumstances. Quickly our perception changes from believing and trusting in a caring Heavenly Father to distrust in a distant and unknown God. Like skating on thin ice, we see the warning signs of danger, but we take the risk anyway by trusting in our thoughts and abilities. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6.

The relationship fractures from self-confidence. We lose our connection to the God who sees and cares. The seeds of doubt and unbelief continue to grow into a forest, blinding our eyes as we stumble over the rocky terrain of hopelessness. Our mindset continues to change as we become disgruntled, blaming God for not keeping His promises.

Even so, God clarifies in the book of Jeremiah who is not doing their part in the relationship between humanity and God.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all of your heart I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity. Jeremiah 29: 11-14. NKJV

We determine the growth and development of our relationship with Jesus based on our commitment to stay connected. Jesus will give us strength and spiritual reinforcement to overcome. Increase your knowledge of Him through the scriptures. Call out to God in prayer. And enjoy the priceless gift of having a thriving relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. 

I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. John 15:5 Amplified Bible

Prayer: God, we thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus. We desire to surrender our lives to you by doing our part in having an intimate relationship with you, built on faith, hope, trust, and obedience. We ask for strength. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

What Will You Have Me to Do?

In 2007, I worked with a nurse raised in an orphanage who was physically abused daily by her caregivers. Marie’s only childhood picture reflected a beautiful girl with curly, blond hair. Even so, the smile of joy and happiness that a child should possess was absent. The emptiness of her soul was reflected in the flat expression that told the story of a young life void of love.

Working the night shift in a locked inpatient Behavioral Health Unit was usually quiet unless we faced a patient who challenged the boundaries. It was very tranquil that night, giving us time to chat between hourly rounds. But then something unusual happened, Marie began to ask questions about God and how I coped with being alone at our stage [mid-forties] in life. After the intense conversation, we decided it was time to eat. We shared our personal reasons for caring for individuals with emotional issues who could not cope with life stressors. We laughed and agreed that we were strong women.  Sharing the common interest of being book lovers, the chatting stopped as we became one with our novels.

Her question, “How do you receive love and comfort from an invisible God?” broke the silence like a window breaking into a thousand pieces. I recall praying a silent prayer asking for the help of the Holy Spirit. My answer would determine if I could prove that an invisible God really loves and cares for humanity. I opened my Bible and showed her Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, let us make man in our image, according to our likeness…. My answer was honest, “I know that we have a soul that is like a [spiritual] umbilical cord, which connects us to God.”

“But, how does God make you feel better, you are happy all of the time?” “No, I am not happy all of the time, but when I worship God by praying and singing, I feel peace and inner joy.” “But, how does that make you feel better?” I asked if I could pray with her. She agreed, and after the prayer, she told me that she couldn’t explain it, but she felt different. Sometimes we cannot or should not give a verbal answer. Prayer was the appropriate response. Thank you, Holy Spirit.

Marie’s statement, “I would like to show you what I do to release my pain.” produced the immediate thought that she would show me scars on her arms from cutting. In Behavioral-Health, cutters are frequently admitted for treatment. But I was wrong. As she handed me her cell phone, I started scrolling through pictures of art that were perfect beauty. My eyes began tearing because, in God’s infinite mercy, He gave Marie a phenomenal talent. She reiterated that she had never taken an art class. At the age of 30, she bought art supplies based on her ability to color and draw as a child. Truly, God is love.

In two weeks, I had a Church Community Health Fair scheduled and asked her if she would like to participate. “Can you teach people who can only draw stick figures how to paint something simple in 60 minutes?” She had eight students who had never picked up a brush. The fair went well, and I found out that I could paint more than stick figures. Marie worked part-time in the unit, so we did not see each other until the following week. For the first time, I saw a smile as she expressed having a great time at the fair. She shared that she had never been around people who demonstrated God’s love. Then she asked the slam-dunk question, “Did you tell your Pastor and members that I grew up in an orphanage and was abused? Is that why they treated me nice?” I reassured her that everything she shared was confidential, to which she responded, “I am not ashamed of my past nor do I keep it a secret.” 

God’s timing is always perfect. In answering her question, He allowed me to share the reason why we can love others unconditionally–God is love, and we are part of the body of Christ. Because Marie experienced agape love from our members, she stated, “I believe that God does love us.” She emphasized that she was not ready to attend church, but would consider it for the future.

I share this experience because it is time for us to ask, “God, what can I do for others?” There are many “Marie’s” who are in emotional or physical pain because we are doing nothing to alleviate the suffering in our world. Every day, countless people push through the cloudy darkness of poverty, hunger, loneliness, depression, homelessness, and abuse. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

God does exist, and He has a special interest in His creation. The scriptures portray Jesus’ life as one of servitude. Jesus demonstrated love and compassion through acts of kindness as He taught, fed, and healed the suffering from emotional and physical illnesses. We represent Jesus Christ to a world that is suffering from the lack of love and compassion. Even Jesus’ disciples were self-centered. 

When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:35-37.

We can learn how to love others as God commands. It takes a baby step to open our eyes to see the suffering and a giant leap to actively alleviating the suffering of the human race.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou

Prayer: God, what will you have me to do? Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Voice of a Stranger

God has given us intrinsic safeguards against strangers. It is not the learned dislike for people that we are referring to. Feeling uncomfortable or being guarded with a stranger raises our awareness and keeps us safe from harm.

A baby is a perfect example of stranger-danger. Many parents are proud to show others their new addition to the family. But the time factor is limited when a stranger [even if it is an extended family member] can interact with the infant. The onset of stranger anxiety usually happens at the age of 6-7 months. No longer will a stranger’s smile produce a smile in a baby who is unfamiliar with the person.

Because babies prefer familiar adults, they might react to strangers by crying or fussing, going very quiet, looking fearful or hiding. Fear of strangers usually becomes more intense at around 7-10 months of age. It can last a few months or continue for much longer.

As we mature, we begin to experience a change in our acceptance of strangers. How many broken heart experiences have left individuals wounded, bitter, and in despair? What happened that we readily let our guard down and invited an unknown person into the most intimate part of our being?

We are driven by the desires of our hearts. And we are willing to take the chance because “You only have one life” or  “It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.” Cliché’s based on chasing the deceitfulness of the heart breed disappointment. We cannot follow our hearts! 

For the believer, we face two additional hurdles, the voice of our carnal hearts [our desires] leading us to sin against God and recognizing the voice of false prophets speaking false teachings. But wait! How is this possible when Jesus said:

  • My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. John 10:27-29
  • “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…” Matthew 7:15-16

The answer is quite simple: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Becoming entangled in the web of deceit is the result of trusting in our own ability. Eventually, we cannot hear the Voice of God. Our habits take a drastic shift to pleasing self. The Bible that we fail to study is the guiding and warning Voice of God. And the prayers for strength to overcome temptation were never prayed. Remember, the “gut feeling” to decline and walk away, now we ignore it as nonsense. That was the Holy Spirit’s warning!

The voice of our desperately wicked hearts is powerful! Listening to our heart that is fueled by our desires produces the bitter fruit of disobedience. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Galatians 5:17

The conflict between right and wrong demands that we make a choice. We cannot listen to the voice of our heart and also hear God’s voice. Without spiritual reinforcement, we gradually begin to accept false concepts–Did God say that? “Where is it in the Bible that we should not listen to secular music? What is wrong with tattooing and piercing my body? They really are not unbelievers, they just need time to learn how to serve God. God understands that I do not have enough money to give tithe and offerings.”

Challenging the Voice of God causes us to step onto the broad path that leads to destruction. Using vocal tones of comfort, Satan’s false prophets speak their updated versions of the scriptures to fit our needs in modern times. New Age sermons proclaim that “God understands we will sin.” Compromise is the gateway that fine-tunes our ears to only hear the voices of strangers–who we no longer fear.

Believe it or not, it doesn’t take much effort to disobey God. Without spiritual reinforcement, humanity is no match for Satan. He observes our behaviors and listens to our spoken words. Eve was mesmerized by the melodic voice of the beautiful serpent speaking words that supported her desire to disobey God.

Please know that your temptation is a strategically developed scheme that matches your sinful desires. Satan is creative. He uses a stranger’s voice in the music that soothes your loneliness, the attractive unbeliever who begins the conversation with “Hi” and a smile, or the YouTube and TikTok video of the financially successful person you perceive to offer the perfect solution to fulfill your dreams.

Believers, we must silence the voice of our heart and guard up against the satanic stranger’s deceptive voice. Do not allow your ears to be mesmerized by the diabolical words of Satan, our enemy. Include God in every aspect of your life by praying and waiting for His answer. How do we know it is the Voice of God? There is no catch or drawback in God’s plans. And Satan cannot invade our soul, when we fall down, we willingly gave ourselves to the sinful situation. 

Never forget, we have the Omnipotence of the Trinity, God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. They provide us with the spiritual strength to fight against Satan’s spiritual wickedness. Every one of us has guardian angels that fight the evil of satanic angels. God has protection for humanity!

  • The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • Pray without ceasing–always pray. 2 Thessalonians 5:17
  • Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” Matthew 4:10

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

Prayer: God, we need your help. Many have lost their way and can no longer recognize your voice. We ask you to release Satan’s stronghold on their hearts that they may seek you in repentance. God, we are praying for complete cleansing and restoration of their hearts as only You can do. We pray for Your strength to regain the desire to study your Word and talk to you every day through prayer. We ask You to create in us a clean heart and to renew a steadfast spirit within us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Muted and Silenced

Modern technology: It is has become a universal language that people from all over the world have become fluent in. Technology is a major part of our everyday lives, and it is often how we form opinions, communicate with others, and even explore new ideas.

Cell phones, laptops, and televisions have permeated our lives and are the most common methods for passing the time or relaxing and relieving stress. We can change channels according to our preferences. download or delete apps that provide pertinent data or enjoy “just having fun” activities. Communication is global. Our options provide texting, face-timing, etc., to people in places we will never physically visit. Yes, our techy options are unlimited.

Two of my favorites are the ability to mute and silence. Mute is a feature that allows you to remove or prevent further posts or tweets from that person without unfollowing or blocking that account [and without the other person knowing they are muted]. Silence is simply the “no-sound” feature. Although we utilize these options according to our moods, to-do responsibilities for a particular day, or to take a break from over stimuli, the “mute and silence ” options are limited to inanimate objects.

We are powerless to mute the responsibilities and busyness that modern life demands from us. Nor can we mute or silence the negative thoughts, insecurities, fears, phobias, the inability to cope with life’s stressors, and the inability to move forward from the residual of past trauma. Fear, anxiety, and depression have gripped our minds pushing us further down into the abyss of of darkness.

The global prevalence of mental health issues is invasive and relentless. Over 47 million American adults suffer from a diagnosis of mental illness. In 2017, around 10.7% of the world population suffered from impaired mental health. We must realize that the statistics are based on individuals who have been diagnosed. Health care professionals admit that we have an unknown number of indigent individuals or those who can function and complete the robotic tasks of daily living with undiagnosed mental health conditions.

The Pursuit of Peace

“Just make it go away” is the desire of every individual who has to live with unpleasant memories or the increasing stressors of unknown life events. Our challenges are overwhelming and in desperation we have reached our limits. A google search for apps that promote growth of inner peace, calming fears, alleviating depression, and de-escalating anxiety are popular because we just can’t take it anymore.

But wait! We have another option: To leave it all behind–the pressures of mainstream and join the migration to a peaceful setting. We begin to research our options: Live on or off the grid, buy land, build a tiny home, grow organic veggies, renovate an RV and travel, and live where we control the pace of life.

For two years, I researched my options to leave it all behind. Surprisingly, I discovered that the nomadic lifestyle requires hard physical work, strong determination, and a stash of disposable income. Another factor is dealing with the hungry animals on the land who smell your aromatic food. In 2001, I was a camp nurse for 90 days in the Catskill mountains of New York. At sunset, we had to leave a big pot of various foods at the camp entrance to distract and feed the bears, which prevented them from entering our campsite with over 300 girls.

Muted and Silenced gone wrong

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Genesis 1:26. The problem is that we have forgotten that God created us with a spiritual umbilical cord–our soul. We may not understand that being made in the image of God comes with some intrinsic factors. Our genetic makeup was given to us by God, our Father. Just as a child is the reproduction of their parents, we have the physical, mental, emotional, and most importantly, the spiritual composition of God, Elohim, our Creator. We cannot break that connection. Even if we fail to serve God, the emptiness in our souls exists as we search for other options for completion.

Jesus, God incarnate, the Messiah, demonstrates that He was human and was not above the suffering caused by the vicissitudes of life. Yet, He surrendered by acknowledging “not my will but your will be done.” Jesus is our matchless role-model. He lived obediently by placing God was first and foremost in His short life of 33 years. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

Human, yet, Divine

  • Jesus wept. John 11:35
  • And He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, where He knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.…Luke 22:41-43
  • When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16
  • And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

It is presumptuous for us to attempt to analyze the emotions that Jesus manifested. We believe the historical facts from the Holy scriptures that Jesus was a human being when He lived on this earth. Do we ever think about the tremendous responsibility that Mary and Joseph had? They had to provide and raise Jesus–God’s Son from a baby until He grew into His purpose [Luke 2:41-52].  Yes, human arms held Jesus, Mary’s hands fed Jesus, she taught him the scriptures, and His Mother loved him.

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 NLT. At that point, Jesus was fully aware that He was the Son of God and the divine purpose of his life. Still, He was obedient to His earthly parents. We have a long earthly journey of surrender and obedience ahead of us if we want to possess peace from Jesus.

The Only Way to Possess Peace

We have muted and silenced Jesus! Many of us fail to study the Bible. We say we love Jesus, yet, we do not know who He is. How can we love or have a relationship with a stranger? The Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide us with four different perspectives of Jesus’ life. The conclusion: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We can stop frantically searching, purchasing, listening to musical apps, spoken words with an instrumental background, taking pills to go to sleep, pills to wake up…to gain the peace that only Jesus can provide. There are no levels or options of spiritual peace that can be achieved outside of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

“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.

Surrender by giving your heart to Jesus, Unmute spiritual ears and turn on the sound [to hear the voice of God]. It is the decision to enjoy the never-ending peace and contentment that remains even in the seasons of turmoil and darkness. 

The puzzle of my life was incomplete until I added the peace that comes from Jesus. Truly, our only option: Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Amen.

Bible Reading: John 14

Prayer: God, we admit that we are weary from living according to our own mindset. We desire a relationship with you and pray for the peace that only comes from you. Forgive us of our sins and strengthen us while we wait for your divine intervention. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The God Who Sees, Forgives, and Rescues

The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar reveals the faithlessness and impatience of humanity that leads to disobedience against God while waiting [in obedience] for God’s promise to be brought into fruition. When we consider God’s covenant with Abram in Genesis 15 and the events that follow, prayerfully, we will gain a new perspective of the love of God for His creation fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.

The popular film “The God Who Sees” by Nicole Mullins and Kathie Lee Gifford is biblically inaccurate and misleads many individuals to view God as harsh and punitive. Because of our perspective of God, our spiritual eyes are often blinded to His never-ending supply of grace and mercy. Hagar was not abandoned, nor was she a victim. This situation was caused by Sarai’s and Abram’s disobedience to God, and Hagar’s pride and arrogance. Sadly, humanity’s saga continues into the 21st century, where we continually rebel against God. Yet, He lovingly forgives us and rescues us in our self-inflicted distress.

The story of Hagar is one of God’s mercy and rescue plans to provide deliverance to people just like you and me who create messy situations, which require divine intervention for resolution.

The characters of our story: Abram, Sarai, and Hagar.

Historical overview: God’s Covenant with Abram

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:1-5 NKJV

God’s promise included an heir that would come from Abram. Verse 6 in Genesis 15 tells us, “And Abram believed in the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Abram fully believed that God would do exactly what He promised. Certainly, we can expect that Abram shared this joyful news with Sarai, they would have a male child–because males were the rightful heirs according to Jewish law.

“You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7.

Doubting God’s Covenant Promise: How did Sarai convince her faithful husband to agree to have children through Hagar, her Egyptian servant? The last part of Genesis 16:3 gives us the answer for Sarai’s rebellious scheme (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) Ten years had passed since God made the covenant with Abram to give him a male heir. The 10-year wait for God to fulfill His promise was too much for the older couple who were feeling desperate. Indeed, God had forgotten His promise, forcing them to think,  “God requires our help.” Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6.

Question: Did God condone the polygamous marriage between Abram and Hagar? 

In Genesis 2:24 when Moses writes of a man leaving his mother and father and clinging to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, that is God’s original standard, he said. Much of the Old Testament, however, is the documented history of God’s covenantal relationship with his people. “A covenant is like a marriage, where two parties make a commitment to be devoted to each other, to be loyal, to be faithful,” he said, noting the Old Testament contains a series of these covenants. An example of this is how Abraham did not trust God or wait for His promise of a son, and then has a relationship with Hagar, yielding Ishmael.

Question: Besides her advanced age, what prompted Sarai to create the plot and why did Abram agree to marry Hagar? Polygamy was against God’s law of marriage between two individuals–husband and wife. Genesis 2:24

So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River— 19 the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.” Genesis 15: 18-21

Canaan was inhabited by unbelievers with pagan practices and polygamy was one of those practices. All of us live in glass houses, so we cannot throw stones. We are influenced by worldly customs, often using our desires to manipulate the meaning and intent of God’s Holy Word. Many Christian marriages do not reflect God’s original law for a holy, loving, joined as one flesh, and confusion-free marriage based on a thriving spiritual relationship between God, Husband and Wife. The result is unhappiness along with a high divorce rate among married believers as opposed to working together in harmony to prepare for the reward of eternal life living in the New Heaven and New Earth.

The Disobedient Plan is Fulfilled: Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. Genesis 16:3.

I will deviate from the biblical story for a moment. In the 1990s, I lived in New Jersey in a community whose majority culture included the practice of polygamy. Often we have misconceptions of the actual design and structure of polygamy. Much to my surprise, my friends suggested an individual that was interested in dating me. But when we met, He indicated that the relationship involved an offer to become a first wife with the agreement that a second wife would be brought in at a later time to bear children. Not only would I select the second wife, but she had to be one that would be subservient in nature and respect the position of the first wife along with our husband. I am a servant of the Most-High God. Therefore, I respectfully declined the relationship along with the marriage offer.

The Aftermath of a Broken Covenant

The Internal Chaos Begins: Hagar, the Egyptian servant became Abram’s second wife. When Abram and Sarai agreed to help God produce an heir, Abram broke his covenant vow with God. The conditions of the vow was that God would give them [Abram and Sarai] a male heir. God specifically said in Genesis 2:24 that marriage was between two people. 

But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Genesis 16:4. Definition of contempt: the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn; the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful.

Becoming Abram’s second wife did not change Hagar’s status as a servant to Sarai. Now the situation begins to escalate: Hagar feels that she is above her mistress because she is Abram’s wife, and pregnant with his child, something that her aged mistress was unable to do. 

Abram assumes no responsibility:

Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. Genesis 16:5-6.

The grievous act of two becoming three reaped chaos and confusion. The miserable consequences of sin–disobedience to God always produces negative consequences. And for those who could identify with Hagar, how many Christian, modern-day infertile wives would bring another woman into their home to live as a surrogate mother throughout the pregnancy? Artificial insemination would not alleviate the situation of two women–one legally married and the other carrying her husband’s child living in the home together.

The husband who is the father of the surrogate’s child would have to divide his attention between two women. And yes, it would be natural for the surrogate to develop feelings for the father of the child. Pregnancy empowers the woman as intended by God. But a live-in surrogate would also result in a loss of self-esteem and worth in the wife. The disrespect of woman to woman is certain to develop when we attempt to change God’s original plan for the family by violating His commandments. 

Additional consequences: There are no rational thought processes in a situation like this. Sarai taking matters into her own hands resulted in an emotionally charged fiasco. Blaming Abram and retaliation against Hagar were Sarai’s only possible responses. After Hagar running away, the marriage between Abram and Sarai had to suffer. After all, Hagar was pregnant with Abram’s only child. Yes, he would have great concern for her. But God, who is Omniscient–already knew of the pending disobedience. God expected for this situation to become volatile. He was prepared to intervene in a situation above and beyond the disobedient couple’s ability to resolve.

God’s Divine Intervention of Rescue

The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.”

God’s mercy includes obedience, structure, and discipline. The angel instructed Hagar to submit to Sarai’s authority, which clarifies her position according to God’s hierarchy. In addition, there was a grave consequence for Abram, Sarai, and Hagar’s sins:

And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” Genesis 16:11-12

There are always consequences when we sin against God. We may suffer the full impact, or we may be shielded entirely from residual damage. Still, we have made a covenant vow to serve and faithfully trust in God. Please know that every sinful act desensitizes us to the barrier that exists between truth and error and obedience and disobedience. Sin always changes our willingness to obey God.  

God’s Love and Mercy: A new covenant between God and Abraham is established: When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.” Genesis 17:1

Prayer: God, it is your grace and mercies that you extend to forgive our disobedience every day. We ask forgiveness for the impatience to wait on your promises. Please give us the strength and the wisdom to trust in you and accept that your plans are perfect and you do not require our help. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ Worthy Name. Amen.

Evidence of a modern surrogacy plan gone wrong: I can recall a surrogacy case in the 1980’s, in New Jersey, where I lived that had a bitter outcome for the mother of the child.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Dilemma of a Half-Hearted Commitment

Nursing has allowed me the excellent opportunity of meeting numerous individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Yes, I have been exposed to many concepts and embraced the ones that have improved the quality of my life [living as “We” as opposed to the limited perspective of “Me, Myself, and I”]. Yes, I am my brother and sister’s keeper. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

But there is a danger in being exposed to the various world views, the secular and the worldly pleasures. When our curiosity is piqued, we lose control over our five senses. We are then lured and drawn into the mysterious, the glamorous, and the covert darkness in our world. We become confused as we continue to engage in sinful activities. Eventually, we are desensitized to the consequences of our rebellion against God.

Why are Satan’s plans so effective? He is a fallen angel and has had over 6,000 years to deceive humanity. Only the Trinity–God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are Omniscient–all-knowing. The Creator’s creation would be doomed if Satan could read our minds. Thank you, God. But Satan and his angels easily observe our behaviors. Yes, Satan deceived Eve, but she desired to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 NKJV. Although Adam and Eve had not witnessed death, God would have given them the essential meaning that death meant the end of life. Whatever Eve’s behaviors were, maybe staring at the beautiful fruit or slowly walking by the tree, Satan saw his opportunity to fulfill her desire to eat from the tree. But most importantly this was his way of retaliating against God for expelling him from heaven. Remember he easily confused the angels that participated in the insurrection against God.

“and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Realistically, who desires to know evil? Let’s consider this scenario: If someone told me, “I know that you are a Christian but if you do this one thing, you will gain the power to see not only your future but the future of others.” This is the got you moment: I am already aware of God’s command on divination, but I am mesmerized by the presenting lie. Why? I desire to gain the ability to see into the future, which results in letting my guard down to the point that I continue to engage in this conversation. I should have responded, “Get behind me Satan” and simply walked away from the temptation. But I listened, thinking that I possessed the power to dance with the devil and come out the winner. The basic childlike concept is that Eve saw the forbidden tree every day and desired to eat the beautiful fruit. She was easily enticed to act on the opportunity to disobey God’s command. 

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what sinful nature desires. These two forces constantly fight each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. Galatians 5:17 NLT

The reality is that we cannot live in a bubble or be isolated from the spiritual wickedness of this world. We face a daily spiritual battle with the forces of evil. Did God leave us alone to fight Satan? No! But there are two innate weaknesses that we must accept:

  1. The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9
  2. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do. Romans 7:15

God calls out the half-hearted individuals who want to live the hypocritical  blended life of having secret desires and sins, yet attend church or watch virtual sermons, give tithe and offerings, help those in need, etc.

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.'” Revelation 3:15-17 NKJV

We must make a decision: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Did we forget? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5

Being a once-a-week Christian is a deceptive trick of our enemy-Satan. Our thoughts and desires are revealed in the music we listen to, the words we speak, and the activities we engage in every day. Please know that God does not have a gray area. Either we love, honor, and glorify God, or we fulfill our carnal desires. We often possess a mind troubled with confusion and frustration because we stay in the valley of indecision.

Biblical prophecies are being fulfilled. We are living in the last days. God sounds the alarm by letting us know that we must live a faith-based life with complete trust and obedience to Him. His Son, Jesus Christ is coming soon!

Human Effort: God requires a full-time commitment to seek after righteousness and to live holy. 

Divine Intervention: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12-13.

Prayer: God, we confess that we are serving you half-heartedly, and for this grievous sin, we ask forgiveness. We desire to recommit our hearts, souls, and minds to serve you as the One and Only El-Shaddai. Please impart your strength to us to live as overcomers. We thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ Worthy Name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson

Hearing God’s Voice

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

In the quiet of our solitude is the time that our minds are in tune to receive the teaching and comfort from the Holy Spirit. Do you know the third person of the Trinity? He is powerful and is everywhere to everyone who invites Him into their hearts. He is the voice of God. © 2021 Sonya Johnson