The Responsibility of Being a Light

Devotional–The Responsibility of Being a Light from The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

“But let your ‘Yes be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No, No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” –Matthew 5:37

Can you recall a situation that placed you in a dilemma with another person? If so, how did you respond? Every reaction whether with spoken words or behaviors represents our relationship with Christ. Did you reflect later only to regret your reaction or response? Perhaps we later apologized for an emotional reply or we were disappointed in our answer because it compromised our spiritual values.

Sanctification is daily spiritual growth and requires a lifetime for our character to be molded into the Character of Christ. Yet, we should recognize a change in our morals and values moving toward the godly standard of righteousness. As Christians, we are called by God to uphold His standards. “…because it is written, Be holy, for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Yes, we are works in progress, but our minds should never waver in choosing to say or do what is right–as defined by God.

Scenario: You are in a meeting with your Manager and are asked to manipulate the actual findings of the monthly report. And for your dedication to the company you are being considered for a promotion to become Department Supervisor. You just purchased a new house. What is your response?

Scenario: Your wife brings a bag of clothing home with 8 items from an expensive store and the receipt only shows that 6 items were paid for. This is not the first time. Do you ignore the situation or ask questions [after you pray for guidance]?

When facing temptation, immediately pray [a silent prayer] and ask for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and discernment. If possible clarify the words that are spoken to you by repeating them back to the person. If the situation involves an illegal cover-up be prepared for a hostile response.

Remember, this is a test of spiritual warfare. Do not be intimidated into compromising your godly standards. Stand your ground! Keep your response terse–using as few words as possible. With a calm and gentle tone, boldly proclaim, “I am a Christian and I will not say or do that.”

But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:33

If choosing righteousness causes the loss of family and friends, a marriage, a job, or money then so be it. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus promises He will supply all necessary provisions. But most importantly, our reward of eternal life is at stake when we deny Christ. Brothers and Sisters stand strong as a Soldier of God. Let your yes be yes and your no is no.

And there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel it–only those who walk in the Way–and fools will not stray onto it. Isaiah 35:8

Prayer: God, we pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and discernment when facing the compromise of temptation. Lord, help us exert holy boldness and stand for right thinking and doing in every circumstance that threatens to make us sin against You. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

What Does God Expect from Us?

Devotional—What Does God Expect from Us? From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

The Law of God is the Divine Standard of Righteousness

Worldwide there are approximately 10,000 plus religions and thousands of churches. Hundreds of ads and apps urge us to use their translation of the Bible. Pastors have waged war against one another by degrading other churches and preaching their interpretation of the Scriptures as confusion, anxiety, worry, and depression continue to escalate among today’s believers.

Unfortunately with so many different ideologies causing conflict, many people including Christians have decided that truth is whatever they reason it to be.

What does God expect from us?

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ “–John 14:6

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” –Matthew 5:17-18

Jesus clarified that He came to fulfill God’s Law. Yet, today’s Christian believers have accepted the deception that God’s Law was changed, especially the Creation’s seventh-day Sabbath. It is not the law of God that has changed, we have changed and attempted to mold God’s Law to fit into our heart’s desires.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. Matthew 27:50-53

When Jesus died, the veil ripped from top to bottom indicating that the imperfect sacrificial law–the ceremonial law was abolished. The sacrificing of animals was no longer necessary because God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, the precious Lamb of God fulfilled His commitment to God that He would die to redeem humanity’s sins.

From God’s loving heart, He gave Jesus for the Redemption of our sins. And for this great sacrifice what does God expect from us? With a loving heart for His Son, Jesus puts God first through faith and obedience.

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

Consider this fact: Jesus, who commands the armies of angels, created the world, and humanity had to learn obedience. Jesus obeyed human parents, the Roman laws, and the Mosaic law. But first and foremost, His love and loyalty were to God, His Father. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane proved that His obedience was steadfast even if His death was necessary to remain obedient to God.

“I will send you the Helper from the Father. The Helper is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me.” (John 15:26)

There are two reasons for our confusion, we do not pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit who gives us discernment of the Bible, wisdom, and guides us every day to stay on the Path of Righteousness.

“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)

Secondly, we must abide in Christ by praying and meditating on His goodness every day. Jesus is our Heavenly Intercessor. Our prayers are taken to Him by the Holy Spirit. What a great mystery.

What does God expect from us? To pray continually. To study the Scriptures. To love His Son, Jesus and to have a close relationship with Him. To love and help others. To witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world overcome by the plague of sin.

What does God expect from us? For us to put Him first! For our desire to be for Him. For us to surrender our stubborn will and accept and submit to His plans for our lives. For us to receive the reward of eternal life, we must be all in–wholeheartedly committing ourselves to follow Jesus by surrendering our hearts and desires to Him.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Because we are under grace does not give us the right to do as we please. Worship is having a dedicated mindset to seek God and to abide in Christ. Unceasing prayer and diligent study of the Scriptures along with faith and obedience are the human efforts required to serve God. Worship on this earth prepares us for worship in heaven.

Why would you want to die for your sins when Jesus has already died for your sins?

With a made-up mind and humility, we Surrender daily to the will of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With Perseverance, we endure the trials and sorrows necessary to change our character into the Character of Christ.

Pick up the Shield of Faith! Always, Put God first! Let your first prayer in the morning be one of love and surrender. “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). Amen.

Bible Study: Matthew 5

Prayer: God, we pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Many are confused or overwhelmed by the noise of countless opinions. Lord, we ask You to speak truth to us, and we surrender and commit to serving You for the rest of our lives. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

The devotional is also available as a podcast on Spotify.

Christian Values: Light, Love, Loyalty, Faith, Obedience, Gratitude, and Praise

Christian Values: Light, Love, Loyalty, Faith, Obedience, Gratitude, and Praise From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

“Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, Great is Your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:22-23

We receive God’s gift of abundant mercies each day we awaken. And our response should reflect a heart bursting with gratitude, joy, and praise. We are privileged with the opportunity to experience our Heavenly Father’s blessings which produce spiritual growth and development. God’s Divine Intervention in giving Jesus provides us with forgiveness for our sins and the opportunity to receive eternal life [if we choose to accept His gift].

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus died only for humanity. Nor the angels or animals required salvation and redemption. We should embrace Jesus as if our lives depend on Him because they do.

Sanctification is growing daily spiritually. Spiritual transformation occurs in steps. The process of being transformed into the likeness–the character of Christ is progressive. Our part: Light, Love, Loyalty, Faith, Obedience, Gratitude, and Praise. Every day we pray and renew our commitment to living in the Light of Christ.

“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).

In our weakness, we cannot change our hearts or characters. The Holy Spirit gives us Jesus’ strength along with wisdom and guidance to continue our lifelong journey on the Path of Righteousness.

Prayer and study of the Scriptures reinforce our Christian values. Our journey is dependent on keeping our relationship with Christ steadfast. Do not let anyone persuade you to go against your godly values, even if it means traveling with Jesus alone. Stand for Christ! Pray and ask God to change your heart and character. Remain steadfast! There is a great reward for the faithful.

“For, ‘In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.’ ” (Hebrews 10:37)

Bible Study: Galatians 5, verses 22-23

Prayer: Jesus, we give you our hearts and ask You to give us your strength. We desire to remain steadfast in Your light. Thank You for hearing and answering our prayer. In Your Holy name, we pray. Amen.

This Devotional reading is available as a podcast on Spotify.

God’s Spirit is Withdrawing From the Earth–Preparing for Eternal Life

The following quote from John Bradshaw summarizes our world’s spiritual and moral decline.

In recent times, the world has witnessed events that just a few years ago might have seemed unbelievable. Flooding, record temperatures, and devastating fires have given evidence that our planet is fragile. Traditional moral values have been turned upside down, while defenders of biblical standards have been ridiculed. Social media has become an ocean of unbridled anger and malice. Cancel culture ruins lives, careers, and reputations.

Politics has become openly hostile, seemingly devoid of the collegiality that once characterized political discourse. The lingering COVID-19 crisis revealed that in no time at all, the attention of the entire world can be fixed on a single, polarizing issue. John Bradshaw, It is Written

“And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever…” Genesis 6:3

“So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Genesis 6:12

There are 8 billion people on this earth. Can you imagine that only 8 would be saved and receive eternal life? Humanity is on a rapid and progressive journey toward the time of Noah. Many who were steadfastly serving God have fallen because of their carnal desires. Biblical prophecies are being fulfilled, yet, we continue to live casual, carefree lives.

Satan has introduced the noise of entertainment, the sports arena, politics, social unrest, violence, and addiction to social media to distract the people of God. Yet, the greatest entry into a believer’s life is from unequal relationships between believers and unbelievers. “Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

We have become mesmerized by the intentional deception of preaching false interpretations of the Scriptures. How is the prosperity message being tolerated and accepted in many of our churches? The reason for the popularity of false prosperity messages is our disinterest in studying the Bible.

Baptism by immersion is only practiced by a few Bible-based churches. Witnessing to others and community outreach participation by members are almost non-existent. Prayer meetings and Bible studies are virtual because of the low attendance in-house. Weekly church attendance is not indicative of a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus Christ.

The time is now for an honest, self-reflection and praying the prayer of David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Human Effort: Serving God requires an intentional mindset of striving to be holy. “…Be holy, for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Jesus lived as a man who was tempted like we are, yet, He did not sin. It is impossible to live holy without divine help. Our commitment involves putting God first and seeking His guidance in every area of our lives.

Divine Intervention: “I will send you the Helper from the Father. The Helper is the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me. And you will tell people about me too because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27, ERV)

The human effort of daily surrender, faith, obedience, perseverance, prayer, and Bible study prepares us for the anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. In these last days of earth’s history, we need God’s Divine Intervention to stay on the Path of Righteousness. Although the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth, from the whisper of a prayer, we can have the Spirit of God within us to lead, teach, and give us spiritual wisdom and discernment.

Bible Study: Acts 3, The Day of Pentecost

Prayer: God, we desperately need Your help. We commit our hearts to you and ask to be anointed with the Holy Spirit. Thank You for your Divine Intervention. We pray for knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray, Amen.

The God Who Answers Our Prayers

Devotional—The God Who Answers Prayers from The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.'” –Psalm 27:7-8

God’s promise to the righteous: “When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him.” –Psalm 91:15

We serve a dependable God who promises us that He will answer our prayers. Throughout the Scriptures, we find examples of those who prayed for God’s divine intervention and received a yes answer. Elijah’s prayer for three years of no rain, King David’s prayer of confession and repentance, King Hezekiah’s prayer to extend his life, Jesus’ prayer to raise Lazarus along with His prayers in John chapter 17, and the Garden of Gethsemane.

When Paul and Silas were wrongly imprisoned, God intervened. “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” Acts 16:25

The Dilemma of Today’s Prayers–Praying Amiss

The confusion of hearing mixed messages from self-exalting pastors, Bible teachers who give their version of the Scriptures, and self-proclaimed prophets who prophesy a false interpretation of the Word of God, truth combined with prosperity teachings has led many to pray for material possessions. The Apostle James tells us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Definition of Amiss: wrongly or inappropriately. The prevailing reason for inappropriate prayers originates from our hearts’ lusts [desires]. God will not give us the desires of our hearts unless they benefit us spiritually.

But Jesus tells us to ask: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will also do; and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

Jesus’ promise to answer our prayers with yes has a condition. He will give a yes answer to our prayers if we are asking for the spiritual things that are necessary to do His will to perform greater works. Throughout Jesus’ life of 33 years, His works reflect the ministry of salvation and miracles of provisions and healing. What exactly does that mean? Are we limited in our prayers to God?

“Then a great multitude followed Him because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.” (John 6:2)

People Who Followed Jesus Because of His Power to Give to Them

“…when the people, therefore, saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” (John 6:24-25)

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God, the Father has given me the seal of his approval.'” (Johns 6:26-27).

The crowd of people followed Jesus because He fed them not because they were interested in having spiritual insight–the understanding, knowledge, and wisdom that He was the Son of God and the power and authority that was given to Him by God, His Father.

The Prayers of Today’s Christians

Are we praying for others? Or do we simply ask only for ourselves and our families? Our priority in prayer is usually for material possessions. Or, we pray for deliverance from the consequences of our wayward actions. Even for those suffering from physical illnesses, God may not provide healing for them.

In Matthew chapter 6, verses 25 to 34, God has promised to give us provisions–the things that we need daily. Our daily prayers should reflect asking for spiritual blessings in our lives: Forgiveness of our sins, for God to reveal His will for our lives, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, wisdom and discernment of the Holy Scriptures, a deeper relationship with Christ, our purpose and spiritual assignments, and daily protection from spiritual warfare.

In Isaiah chapter 38, we read of King Hezekiah’s physical condition, his prayer, and God’s answer.

Hezekiah’s Predicament: “In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live ‘” (Isaiah 38:1).

Hezekiah’s Prayer: “Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (Isaiah 38:2-3).

God’s Answer: “And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, ‘Go and tell Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years’ ” (Isaiah 38:4-5).

In Daniel chapter 10, we read about Daniel who fasted and prayed for three weeks as he fervently petitioned God to understand His vision. To excel in the divine knowledge required for our journey of Sanctification, we must make our spiritual connection with God our number one priority. Never forget the earth as we know it will one day be non-existent. Every day we should prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords to live with Him in the New Heaven and New Earth. Amen.

Jesus’ prayer in John chapter 17 gives us an example of praying for ourselves and others.

Bible Study: John 17

Prayer: God, we admit that our prayers have been self-focused, and we ask for forgiveness for this sin. We pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and a deeper relationship with Jesus. Lord, we ask You to give provisions to those in need. This prayer we pray in the Worthy name of Jesus, Amen.