Remain Calm and Confident

“The Lord will fight for you, and all you have to do is keep still.” Exodus 14:14 GNT

Read Exodus 14

Yesterday, I received an Explanation of Benefits statement from my Dental Insurance which contained a code that indicated I was also covered by a secondary Dental insurance company. I felt annoyed because I had provided written proof two months ago which verified the secondary insurance had ceased in 2017. In addition, one of the charges from the Dental provider’s office had been billed twice and payment was denied. So, now I had to make two calls in the morning to address the errors on the part of the provider and the insurer.

It is not an easy task when a patient/subscriber is calling for a correction of a processed insurance claim; the Customer Service Rep (CSR) is not the individual who is employed as the Claims Adjuster, and the call involves research on the part of the CSR.

Prior to calling the provider’s office and the insurance company, I prayed for God’s intervention to resolve the issue, and to help me remain calm, and maintain a gentle tone in my voice. Imagine my surprise when the Billing Manager answered my call at the Dental office–she never takes on the duty of answering incoming calls. Within five minutes of explaining the double billing for the same procedure, I received a callback and my account now has a zero balance.

The call to the insurance company resulted in verification that my correspondence was received; however, it was not documented in my account that I no longer had secondary dental insurance. I was placed on hold because the issue required escalation to a supervisor; I received an apology and my account now reflects that I only have one dental insurance in which they are the primary insurer. I offered a sincere thank you to the CSR for the resolution of the error. Yes, it was their mistake but I asked God to help me to remain focused on the goal of correcting the error, not on how it occurred.

In reading Exodus 14, we learn of the deliverance of the Israelites from their life of enslavement from the Egyptians. Although God had given them freedom, they were full of complaints. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he deeply regretted that he had set the Israelites free. He sent his mighty army of soldiers armed with swords, riding in their chariots pulled by the fastest and strongest horses. When the Israelites became aware of the pursuit by Pharoah’s army, they remained faithless; filled with fear and blame, they accused Moses of taking them out of Egypt only for the purpose of dying. Even so, we know how the story ends; not one of Pharoah’s soldiers or horses survived the tumultuous Red Sea.

Whether our challenges are great or small, when we ask for Divine intervention and exercise our faith–by fully depending on God–our outcome will be victorious, because God can never fail.

Prayer for today: Dear God, We place our challenges of life in your hands. Please give us the knowledge we need to do our part and the wisdom to stay still while you do your part. Thank you for your Divine intervention. May we always praise your Holy name by living a life filled with gratitude. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

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Goodbye does Hurt

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 NIV

The most beautiful and precious aspect of life is the ability to love. We were created in the image of God so we are living proof that God is love. And when God created us, He did not clone us; our bodies contain DNA–the carrier of genetic information which results in the uniqueness of every human being. Our features replicate those of our parents, grandparents, or extended family members; yet, our fingerprints are not a shared feature, and those prints are able to distinguish us from every other living individual.

When we experience grief through the loss of those that we love, we lose a vital part of what makes us complete. Think about a puzzle that has many parts that are uniquely shaped, but they interconnect to make the puzzle complete. If there is a missing piece, we must either locate it or discard the puzzle because it will never fulfill its purpose.

We are not like the puzzle with the missing piece that can never be complete. Yes, goodbyes hurt, we feel powerless, and the void from our loss appears to be an abyss that plunges us deeper and deeper into despondency. However, there is a divine plan for healing and restoration from the impact of our loss.

God was fully aware that separation by death, divorce, and the brokenness of family ties or friendships would bring hurt to our fragile hearts. He has provided a solution to our brokenness: We are able to mourn our loss, even so, we have the ability to move forward through His healing power. It is God who fills the void of the missing piece of our hearts with love, hope, and divine comfort from the Holy Spirit.

After his resurrection, Jesus was fully aware that his disciples would grieve when He would ascend and return to His heavenly home. Before His crucifixion and death, He took the time to lovingly prepare them (read John, chapters 14-17) for the time of their separation; although they did not fully understand.

And I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Comforter [the Holy Spirit], that he may abide with you forever. John 14:16

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. You heard me say, I am going away and I am coming back to you. John 14:27 NIV

I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father. John 16:28

John 17:6-19 records Jesus’ prayer for the protection and sanctification of his disciples. Because of His love, Jesus also prayed for all Believers:

…Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. John 17:24

God sent His only begotten Son–Jesus Christ to die for us. While on this earth as a human, Jesus experienced loss from death, and separation from His family and friends. The sadness and expression from Lazarus’ sister Martha: “Lord, Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” may cause us to believe that Jesus did not care when the two sisters sent the message that their brother was sick. But that was not the case; Jesus delayed his intervention to give glory to God by staying where he was for two additional days.

When we read the scriptures, we realize that Jesus was close to the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and as He approached the tomb of Lazarus, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:1-44). God desires for us to know that when Jesus lived on this earth that He was human and felt the grief of death; the Son of God knows from personal experience the devastating feelings of brokenness and separation of loss. And remember that Jesus died for the remission of our sins, and was resurrected on the third day–He Arose!

Oh yes, we have hope!

O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15:55

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1:18

And, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:12-14

Dear God: I pray for the healing and comfort that only you can provide for those of us who are experiencing the pain of loss from the death of loved ones, from the brokenness of severed marriages, family ties, and friendships. I humbly ask you to send your Holy Spirit to provide the balm to soothe our grieving hearts. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. ©

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Forecast: Storms with Heavy Rain

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 NIV

We live in north Texas where April showers and storms are prevalent and bring harsh flooding to our area. The rain oftentimes lasts for 24-48 hours, resulting in our yard reaching its saturation point. Because the geography is flat, we must endure standing water with rapidly growing grass that cannot be mowed until the ground dries. Although the conditions are viewed as undesirable, my rosebush has new blooms, and the outdoor plants and shrubs have an abundance of new growth.

The storms and heavy rains of our trials and tribulations are often harsh and we may feel as if we have reached our saturation point; yet, when we endure the standing waters of our tests, we also experience spiritual new growth. We must not allow our feelings to become grievous or ask for God to remove the trials. God alone knows what each of us requires to receive the crown of life that He has promised. It is during the time of flooding that we must pray for the strength to endure.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18 ESV

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

Our Texas weather forecast predicts two days of sunshine to be followed by more rain. Even though we are able to plan accordingly for our changes in weather conditions, we are unable to foresee when our next tribulation will occur.

By consistently praying and studying the Bible during the sunny periods of our lives, we are able to deepen our relationship with God. When we establish dutiful habits of prayer and study, we are able to faithfully trust in God during the seasons of storms with heavy rains.

Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey…Hymnal

Prayer for today: Dear God, I want to experience a deeper and meaningful relationship with you; a relationship based on faith, trust, and obedience. I know that you have promised that if I endure to the end that I will receive a crown of life. I ask for your strength to see me through my storms with heavy rains. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Look the Other Way

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch is not able to bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither you, unless you abide in me. John 15:4 BLB

But as for me, I trust in You O Lord. Psalm 31:4

When I was 5 years old, I learned a beautiful song: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

At such a tender age, I somehow knew that I was unable to literally see Jesus; nonetheless, I had unwavering faith that Jesus would answer my prayers and protect me from hurt, harm, and danger. Of course, now I realize that it was the Holy Spirit who enabled my young mind to comprehend the spiritual meaning of the song.

For 8 years (1964-1972), as a young girl, I traveled on the crosstown public busses twice daily–to the Seventh Day Adventist elementary school in Newark, NJ, without incident. I did not possess fear nor was I ever distracted by the activities surrounding me. I simply believed that Jesus and my guardian angels would always be present.

Until a child reaches a certain stage of maturity, they are very impressionable and believe what they see and hear. In order to fully abide in Christ, we must become as children and allow the naivete of innocence to permeate our mind. It is a simple concept to have faith and believe in Jesus Christ.

As we mature and endure the harsh realities of life, we begin to lose our faith and fixate on our circumstances instead of our faith in God. However, it is imperative that we stop focusing on our circumstances. We must look the other way!

If God protected me through the Civil Rights Movement, the Newark Riots, and the tumultuous times of protest in the 1970s; I am living proof that He is able to do above and beyond all that we can ever ask for or even think of.

Just turn and through faith–look into His wonderful face.

Prayer for today: Dear God, I want to turn and look into your face and just believe and trust in you with child-like faith.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20)In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Lonely? Pray for Purpose

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. Psalm 133:1 NIV

One of the most devastating conditions of our society is the isolation of loneliness. There are various situations that lead to an individual feeling alone; most of us have experienced this dilemma at some point in our lives.

Even God recognized that it was not good for Adam to be alone; therefore, he created Eve as his wife and helper.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18 NIV

God’s word never changes nor does his word ever fail. The reality is that when God created this earth, it was according to His perfect plan which did not include sin. It was the Fall of Adam and Eve that altered Gods plan for His created beings and brought the consequences of sin that we are still experiencing in our present lives.

There are many biblical examples of individuals who experienced a solo walk in life: Elijah, Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus Christ. Even so, we can read about their lives, and we know that God ordained their purpose.

I have witnessed many individuals express if only they were married or in a relationship, they would never feel alone. King David was surrounded by wives, family, children, advisors; yet, throughout the Psalms, he pleads with God not to abandon him. David suffered from constant feelings of loneliness and fear of his enemies.

Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in Anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation. Psalm 27:9 NLT

The key to avoiding loneliness is to pray for God to reveal His purpose for your life. Our purpose is always one that glorifies God; it is never based on our selfish desires.

God was fully aware that the enemy of loneliness would infiltrate our lives and create despondency. As Christian believers, there are commands that we must obey:

1. Attend Church often:

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 NLT

2. Help others continually:

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

3. Develop your spiritual gifts and talents:

Acts 16 tells us that Lydia of Thyatira was a businesswoman who sold purple cloth. “Ability, enthusiasm, singleness of purpose and mental acumen were hers, and she prospered greatly in an honorable and extensive calling of ‘selling purple’.”

4. Believe, Ask, and Fulfill:

God is always here! He desires that our lives are filled with peace, contentment, and happiness.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: For the LORD thy God, it is he that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6 KJV

Prayer for today: Dear God, We rebuke the feelings of loneliness that has a stronghold in our minds. We acknowledge and accept that marriage may not be part of your Divine plan and purpose for our lives. Please reveal our spiritual gifts and talents and may we always use them for your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

All Hail King Jesus

for he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but 3 days later he will rise from the dead.” Mark 9:31 NLT

Yesterday my cousin said to me, “I am going to serve God till the day I die.” What a powerful testimony that expresses her love for God.

As I reflected on her words, I realized that this is a commitment to God; a rock-solid commitment that she will faithfully follow him by obedience, prayer, and study of His Word, no matter the circumstances.

I pray on this Easter Sunday that we not think of a holiday; but, we reflect on the life that Jesus gave for us and the Eternal life He is preparing for us.

Yes, He suffered, bled, and died; but, He Arose, and is Alive. Hallelujah!

All Hail King Jesus! Embrace His gift of Life!

Sonya Johnson-Ruiz

Remembering God’s Goodness

What has God done for you? Remember and continually praise Him!

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

When we remember what God has done for us, it prevents the sin of INGRATITUDE.

Sonya Johnson Ruiz