Winter Wonderlands

Winter is a beautiful season when various parts of the earth are clothed in snowy garments.

It is still so much beauty that God has provided for us to enjoy. Nature reveals God’s ever-present love, it is up to us to explore His gifts to us every season.

Have a wonderful day!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Reflections of Victory

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deuteronomy 20:4

As our family reflects on the year of 2018, we are thankful for God’s grace and mercy. It has been a year filled with hardships, loss of family members, health issues, and unspoken challenges. Even so, we have been blessed with many awesome victories that were only possible because of God. In fact, the good times still outweigh the troublesome times and we stand tall as Overcomers because of God’s great faithfulness. We are filled with never-ending joy as we continue to strive to possess unwavering faith in the Lord our God.

“Thank you Lord for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making me whole. Thank you Lord for giving to me, your great Salvation, so full and free.”

Challenge for today: Recall as many blessings as you can and make a vow to never complain again.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Thank you for your great faithfulness. I would be nothing without you. I am because of your love, your grace, and your mercy. Thank you, thank you, thank you! In your Son’s precious name, we offer this prayer of thanksgiving to you. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Sunrise

Get Married and Stay Married

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord, ‘they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Matthew 25:11-12 NIV

One of my favorite biblical accounts is the parable of the 10 Virgins-5 Wise and 5 Foolish. For many years, I did not possess a complete understanding of who the Virgins represented; however, in my naivety, I prayed that I would not be like the foolish virgins.

After researching from a credible source, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me the correct understanding of the parable. All of the Virgins represent believers who have accepted Christ as the only way to salvation, and who have knowledge of His Word, which is the Truth. As believers, we anxiously await and prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Since I was a young child, I have listened to countless messages regarding Jesus’ Second Coming and the promise of Eternal Life. Fast forward five decades, and I anxiously await His return. But there was a period in my life that I became weary, and ceased preparing for the Great Event. I no longer searched the Scriptures by studying the Word of God, my prayer life was virtually non-existent, and I failed to invite or acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit, I became a foolish virgin.

The Virgins represent the two classes of believers who are waiting for Jesus to return. All profess faith in Christ and have lamps which represent the Word of God. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. So what was the determining factor that 5 were wise and 5 were foolish? When we read the complete parable in Matthew 25:1-13, not having “Oil” is what led the “Bridegroom” to proclaim that He did not know who the 5 foolish virgins are, leading to their rejection from entering the marriage feast.

Oil represents the Holy Spirit: The third person of the Trinity Godhead. “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26.

The Holy Spirit enables us to distinguish truth from error and causes our conscience to be troubled when we commit wrongdoings. In addition, the Holy Spirit provides never-failing Comfort in times of distress, and dutifully keeps us walking on the Path of Righteousness by bringing the truth to our remembrance.

There is a pertinent action for us to take in order to possess the “Oil.” We must invite (through prayer) the Holy Spirit into our lives. There are many who ask, “What is this Holy Spirit that you refer to?” I can only tell you that when I prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit and surrendered my will and my way of thinking, doing, and acting, that I begin to view life from a spiritual perspective. My character is changing and I desire for my life to align with the Word of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

There are times when I slip and fall into sin, and possess the ways of the Foolish Virgins-knowing the truth, but giving into my sinful characteristic of self-reliance, because I failed to invite the Holy Spirit into my heart.

Even so, I share this personal testimony to tell you that I can not “Make a Wish” to possess the “Oil of a Wise Virgin.” To be filled with the Holy Spirit requires active participation by surrendering and praying daily. I have committed to building a strong relationship with God the Father, God the Son-Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. I am married to the Trinity-Godhead and will stay married through surrender, obedience, the study of God’s Word, and prayer to be filled with God’s precious Oil.

Challenge for today: Pray and fast to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Prayer for today: Dear God, We desire to be a Wise Virgin and we ask you to forgive us, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and fill us with your Holy Spirit. We believe and we receive as we await the Second Coming of your Son-Jesus Christ. In His Holy name, we pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Reference: Christ’s Object Lessons by Ellen G. White

Your Car is Ready

I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

Lead me in a straight path. (Psalm 27:11)

“Many people want to direct God instead of surrendering to be directed by Him. They want to show Him the way instead of submissively following where He leads.” From the Devotional
Streams in the Desert

Imagine that you are driving your vehicle and your front passenger reaches over and attempts to assist you by grabbing the steering wheel. I know you are thinking, “Who would even think about doing something so senseless?” Yet in our lives we want to be the driver and invite God to be the passenger on our journey.

God is aware of the many Dangerous Curves Ahead as we travel through our journey of life. He designed the road that contains the potholes, road closures, and detours. The gas stations are strategically placed for spiritual fill-ups and tune-ups when we are running on empty.

When we invite God into our lives, His position as Driver is pre-determined. Our responsibility is to fasten our seatbelts in the passenger seat and let the never-failing GPS (God Personally Steering) navigate us to our final destination, the New Heaven and the New Earth.

As we travel, our road trip will offer times of laughter and times of sorrow; however, with God as our Driver our destination to victory is guaranteed.

Challenge for today: Read Psalms 23 & 27

Prayer for today: Dear God, we ask you to be the Driver as we travel through this journey of life. Thank you for steering us to victory. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Sacrifice

So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. Luke 14:33

Are you aware that serving God requires total commitment? When we step out in faith to trust God to become his follower, He looks at our life, and determines the things (obstacles) that need to be eliminated.

You may ask,”What is it that God wants me to give up?” Each of us has personalized stumbling blocks that cause us to compromise our relationship with God. It may be a job which requires working on the Sabbath, friends, lifestyles, habits or unhealthy relationships. It is always the things or people that satisfy our fleshly desires that we want to hold on to:

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 NIV

Whatever God requires us to give up is hurting our spiritual relationship with him.

And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

The command is to “let go of whomever or whatever” when we commit to discipleship. We were created to hate and resist sin, even so, when we compromise and willfully choose our fleshly desires, it causes us to be in direct opposition to God, our Creator.

We are unable to carry our own cross without total surrender and sacrifice. Because our carnal-fleshly desires indicate self-will and enmity (being actively opposed against) toward God; He requires us to make the decision to either be with Him or against Him.

God has promised that our sacrifice in saying–yes to Him, will lead to our transformation as overcomers.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Revelation 2:7

The Tree of Life symbolizes eternal life; what a great reward for sacrificing and fully committing to saying yes to God!

My soul says yes, yes, yes Lord yes, yes to your will and to your way!

Challenge for today: Prayerfully ask God to reveal the obstacles in your life which prevent saying yes to Him.

Prayer for today: Dear God, Please show me the people, places, and things that I need to let go of. I am ready to say yes, no matter the sacrifice that is required. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

The New Life

Revelation 21 ESV

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold The Dwelling Place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

There are many individuals that feel life is nothing but struggle after struggle and then you pass away, so you might as well live according to your own desires. Our lives are full of trials and tribulations because God’s purpose is to ensure that we strive for spiritual perfection. Imagine studying for a course-learning theory and never applying any of the newly acquired knowledge to your life. The Word of God is the spiritual theory that should be diligently studied (every day) in order for our lives to change.

We are unable to align our thoughts, actions, and behaviors to God’s requirements unless we study the Bible on a daily and systematic basis. There are individuals who may not possess good study habits and have challenges with memorization. The great news is that we are able to acquire new or upgraded study skills at any point in our lives. A printed copy of the Bible, a journal, writing pen, and seated at a table with a comfortable chair is recommended. Staying alert and oriented is less of a challenge when you are not in an area which encourages relaxation.

Study Skills

1. Eliminate all distractions including your phone-ringer silenced.

2. Offer a heartfelt prayer for the Holy Spirit to give you the correct understanding of the Word.

3. Choose one chapter that you can focus on that is applicable to your present challenges.

4. Use your journal to take notes on the message you are reading and what you will do to apply the Word to your life.

5. Incorporating Christian music as part of your study time assists in providing an atmosphere conducive to reverencing God.

Studying the Bible is an essential part of worshipping God. Your worship time should be a minimum of one hour on a daily basis. Depending on your household, you may have to study in 30-minute increments. Do not neglect your children!

Striving for spiritual perfection is only possible with the leadership of the Trinity-God the Father, God the Son-Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit. Reaching God’s standards for our lives requires active participation. It is never enough to hear sermons which are quickly forgotten. We may attend church whenever services are available; even so, 2 Timothy 3:15 admonishes us to:

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a Workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of Truth.” NASB

There are two priorities for studying God’s Word: We get to know who God really is and a complete overhaul and transformation of our sinful character will occur!

Do not fret over the translation of the Bible! Find a Christian Bookstore (yes, they are still around) and read Psalm 23, if you are able to understand the Song of David, then pray and purchase your Bible. It is not the “ye or thou” that matters to God. He wants us to proclaim:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you! Psalm 119:11

There is a great reward waiting for us when we love God and strive to serve Him with all of our heart: A New Life-An Eternal Life. Diligently study God’s Word and you will develop the most loving relationship with Him, and you will come to realize that “The Struggle is Real, but Victory is Sure.” Elder R. Bevins

Challenge for today: Purchase your Bible and study Psalm 23 and Romans 12.

Prayer for Today: Dear God, I need to know who you are. Please give me a clear understanding of your instructions that I may love you and be transformed. I desire a strong relationship with you and I desire eternal life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz