The Walk of Faith

Go outside, find an open area, and look as far as possible. Your goal is to identify your endpoint, which is the distance you can recognize what is ahead of you. Even with 20/20 vision, our eyes cannot see over the horizon–the point of limitation. Of course, there are assistive devices such as binoculars and telescopes, which enable us to view objects beyond the capacity of the scope of our eyes. Even so, we will agree that our vision, which is highly valued, has limited abilities.¬†¬†

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Now let’s focus on our spiritual eyesight. Many of us restrict the power of God because we only believe in the solutions that we can develop. Self-reliance cancels out faith in God by placing Him in a tiny box. Because we do not believe that God is Omnipotent, and can deliver us from our hardships, we become despondent and easily discouraged. Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1.¬†Just because you cannot see beyond the horizon does not mean that nothing is there. When we fixate on our limited abilities of self-reliance, we are saying,¬†“God, I do not believe in your supernatural power.”

There is something that I especially love about God. He knows our weak level of faith in Him, yet He patiently waits for us to take the first step onto the Path of Faith. Living a faith-based life is accomplished by taking the focus off of our limitations and the circumstances, and saying, “Yes, God, I believe that you will fix this problem, and I will patiently wait for victory.” Pray a simple, plain-spoken prayer. Admit that your faith is shaky, and ask God for what you need Him to do for you. Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Isaiah 55:6.¬†

We do not have to wait until our situation is in dire straits in which our situation has escalated to the point of being extremely bad or difficult. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22. As soon as the challenge arises, stop, pray, and ask God for His Divine Intervention. Believe in God and His promises: I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24.

Faith is the telescope that allows us to see God’s unlimited possibilities. Go ahead, remove the obstacle of doubt and disbelief! With trust and determination, take the first step, and put your spiritual foot forward on the Path of Faith.¬†Believe in God!¬†“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Bible Reading: Hebrews 11

God, we come to you today, asking forgiveness for placing you in a tiny box because of our limited vision. We have the desire to completely believe and trust in you until you bring us deliverance and victory. As we strive to live a faith-based life, we commit to bring every challenge to you in prayer and to wait for your answer. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

God’s Promise

God does not ask us to do in our own strength the work before us. He has provided divine assistance for all the emergencies to which our human resources are unequal. He gives the Holy Spirit to help in every situation, to strengthen our hope and assurance, to illuminate our minds and purify our hearts. 8T 19. Ellen G. White

Never give up. Pray, pray, pray, have faith and wait. Happy Sabbath!

Do Not Be Deceived, part 2

From Deliverance to Rebellion 

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” Exodus 3:2-3

When God appeared to Moses through the burning bush, the Nation of Israel suffered extreme and harsh oppression. Knowing that God was the only one who could deliver them from slavery, they fervently prayed for freedom. Because they believed in and worshipped an invisible God, the Egyptians punished them severely for not honoring their gods and bowing down to their idols. Thinking that God had abandoned them, the waves of discouragement hovered like a dark storm clouds.

As Moses stood by the burning bush, The Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.” Exodus 3:7.¬†God’s Promise:¬†So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey… Exodus 3:8

Although Moses received the command, “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10,¬†Moses was afraid of the people of Israel and their oppressors.¬†But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” Exodus 3:13.¬†Moses believed in the God of his ancestors but did not have a relationship with God based on faith and trust.

Because of his overwhelming fear of Pharaoh, Moses took his brother, Aaron. Together, they delivered God’s message to Pharaoh to let the Israelites go into the wilderness for three days to offer sacrifices to their God. But,¬†Pharaoh replied, “Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the Lord? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2.¬†Pharaoh represents Satan and his attempts to inflict hardships on those who love and serve God. Even so, we know how the story ends, continue to pray, wait, and watch for God’s supernatural power.

Recap: In the Devotional, Facing Opposition, published on 10/7/20, I shared my testimony of the harsh oppression that I suffered in 2011 on my job. Like the Israelites, I also became discouraged. Although I prayed every day for deliverance, God did not alleviate my situation immediately. He knew the trials that I had to endure to eliminate the sin of self-reliance and to bring me to the state of total dependence on Him.

After meeting with the Director with the intent to resign from the job, she became friendly and established a working relationship, But, the change in her attitude from antagonistic to pleasant was short-lived. She began to abuse her authority by delegating an excessive amount of administrative duties, which extended my already long workday. I prayed for alternate employment, but another job was not in God’s plans. No matter how many jobs I applied for, God did not allow me to find another job.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11. 

Many of our trials are severe. Please, Do not give up! I am a living witness that when God resolves our problems, He brings complete victory. God used an unexpected method to settle my work-related challenges. My oppressor was terminated from the organization when the Regional Director found a hidden file containing patient related fraudulent documents. Whatever you are facing, pray, endure, and wait on the Lord!

God’s Promise:¬†I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24

The story of Israel’s exodus from bondage to freedom reveals God’s unconditional love and compassion for humanity. Like Israel, we are overjoyed when God resolves our hardships and gives us a victorious outcome. Even so, many of us suffer from weak and wavering faith. We easily forget that God has delivered us from the bondage of past trials and tribulations. When faced with the present challenges, we react with uncertainty and fear. Do not be deceived by doubt! It is faith that is the key to opening the door to victory. God has not and will not abandon us.¬†

Following the death of his firstborn son, Pharaoh freed Israel but changed his mind. Pharaoh, along with his best soldiers, pursued the Israelites to recapture and enslave them again. But God tells us,¬†“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8.¬†In Exodus chapter 14, God provided for their escape by parting the Red Sea as they safely walked through on dry land.¬†¬†When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the Lord said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.” Exodus 14:26.¬†The power of the Invisible God drowned Pharaoh and his army.

Unfortunately, many people were enticed by the worship of idols and secretly participated in paganism while in Egypt. It did not take long for the faithless to desire the pagan rituals of their former oppressors. While Moses was on Mount Sinai communing with God, the people demanded that Aaron make them a visible idol.¬†Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1.¬†

Aaron, who witnessed God’s miraculous power, was cowardly, fearing for his life, he gave in to the people’s demands for a pagan idol. And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool and made a molded calf. Exodus 32:2-4

Do not be deceived! From a spiritual perspective, we can identify with the Israelites. We forget about the situations, the worldly habits, and the former relationships God has delivered us from. We begin to look back and desire the people, places, and things that separate us from God. Reflecting on deliverance and maintaining a spirit of gratitude through prayer allows us to instantly recall God’s love, grace, and mercies, and thank Him for our victorious outcomes. In return, all God requires of us is to serve and worship Him with faith, trust, and obedience. Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD! Psalm 27:14

God’s Promise:¬†I will be your God throughout your lifetime‚ÄĒ until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4

God’s Promise:¬†Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. John 14:27

God’s Promise:¬†And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 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

Saints of the Most High God, “Do not be deceived by Satan!” We can learn from the history of Israel that faithfully serving God is our best option.¬†Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.¬†

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33

We have an Omnipotent, Heavenly Father who has plans for us: The reward of Eternal life, immortality, being reunited with our resurrected family members who also served God, and life in a perfect New Heaven and New Earth forever and ever. Amen.

God, we pray for the courage to live a faith-based life, always trusting in you, despite our circumstances. Thank you for loving and taking care of us. We look forward to the day when we can live with you forever in the New Heaven and New Earth. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

 

Do Not be Deceived!

On October 31, many individuals will give homage to the pagan holiday of Halloween. If you were thinking that Halloween originated as a holiday full of fun, to celebrate the gothic lifestyle, dress up in costumes, and take your children to collect candy from the neighbors, then you will be disappointed when you become aware of the history and the reason for the “All Hallowed” day of homage to Satan.¬†

As you read this, you may think, “this writer is fanatical and that is the issue with religion,” “those Believers don’t know how to have fun,” and that is why I will never be one of them. While many unbelievers may acknowledge that God exists, they fail to accept the prevailing darkness of evil in this world, nor will they admit to serving Satan, the originator of sin. Lucifer, the fallen angel who felt that he was equal to God, was cast down to the earth, and from that point, his name was changed to Satan.¬†

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

  1. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. Ezekiel 28:17
  2. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world‚ÄĒhe was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Revelation 12:7-9
  3. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Disclaimer: Within this article are many false concepts that I do not accept, condone, or practice. The article is for informational purposes that describe:

The origin of Halloween: Halloween falls on October 31 because the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, considered the earliest known root of Halloween, occurred on this day. It marked a pivotal time of year when seasons changed. More importantly, observers also believed the boundary between this world and the next became especially thin at this time, enabling them to connect with the dead. https://www.countryliving.com/entertaining/a40250/heres-why-we-really-celebrate-halloween/

Following the crowd, cultural beliefs, or enjoying a partying lifestyle are some of the reasons that individuals embrace and celebrate pagan rituals and holidays. Even so, there is a deeper reason for being led astray by seemingly innocent but ungodly beliefs and celebrations: Lack of knowledge, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” Hosea 4:6

Lack of knowledge and willful disobedience leads us to sin against God, who is our only Creator and Heavenly Father. Satan has the advantage over us when he observes that we do not take the time to study and pray. It is a freewill choice to ignore God’s Word. Whatever the reason is, when we acknowledge that we are not studying the Bible, and praying for guidance, we set ourselves up to be easily deceived. Remember that humanity was created a little lower than the angels, Psalm 8:5,¬†which means without spiritual reinforcement we are no match against Satan.

Reflecting on the picture with the skeleton walking the spiders in a dreary, melancholy setting is the exact opposite of the beautiful world that God created for humanity. Do not be deceived! Ghosts, and other depictions of the dead roaming the earth are not biblically based. Guard your five senses against the worldly pleasures of sin. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:7

The following text tells us how God feels about the worship of human-made images, contrived deities, and pagan rituals:¬†You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above, on the earth below, or in the waters beneath. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…Exodus 20:4-5

One of the significant issues that Satan has presented to cause conflict is the State of the Dead. The great deceiver preys on humanity because of our natural emotions and desires to maintain communication with our deceased loved ones. Perhaps your cultural and religious beliefs have formed your knowledge and views of reincarnation, or a separate soul caught in-between heaven and earth, or that the dead in heaven rejoicing while looking down on their loved ones who are suffering. Even so, God says, It is not true.

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward because the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love, their hate, and their envy have already vanished, and they will never again have a share in all that is done under the sun.…Ecclesiastes 9:5-6

The Comfort of Christ’s Coming

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Did you notice that the phrase “fallen asleep” is used for those who have died? What happens when we fall asleep at night or even during the day? We awaken because sleep is temporary. Believers of the Most High God, I encourage you to cast aside all cultural and prior religious or pagan beliefs. We know that God is absolute! We can trust and faithfully believe that if “He said it, then it is truth.” Believers will be awakened and restored to the original image, along with receiving immortality when Jesus Christ comes again.¬†

Paganism has existed since Lucifer became Satan. He is angry and presents God as unloving and unfair. But Satan is the Master Deceiver (remember the Fall of Adam and Eve, Genesis 3). 

What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, they were exposed to idol worship. The Egyptians worshipped many gods, animals and were fascinated by death. Their pagan rituals excited all of the five senses, idol worship was mesmerizing to the beholder’s eyes. Alcoholic beverages and sexual immorality set the stage to entice many of the Israelites to denounce God and to participate wholeheartedly, even in animal and human sacrifice. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. Deuteronomy 18:10-12

Can you imagine a people that God had lovingly blessed and taken care of would fall so deep into sin that they would burn their children on a pagan altar? What are we burning on the pagan altar from giving in to our desires for worldly pleasures? Remember, Satan always presents sin carefully and beautifully gift wrapped to conceal his ultimate deceptions, leading us to embrace temptation as if it were the truth.

Bible Readings: In preparation for part 2 of Do Not be Deceived, please read Exodus chapters 31 and 32.  

God, we thank you for giving us the Holy Bible, the only Book that begins with the Creation of our world, the history of humanity’s weaknesses, and battles against Satan’s deceptive tactics. We praise you for letting us know how the story of sin and death will end. Please impart your wisdom to us as we gain the strength that we need from you to overcome. We pray for spiritual discernment that we do not fall when false concepts are presented as the truth. Please protect us from Satan, the evil one. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Facing Opposition

The year 2011 proved to be very challenging in my nursing career. I was working as a Clinical Supervisor for a well-known Healthcare organization. The hours were long, 12 hour days were the norm, and the position included every other month after hours, On-Call responsibilities. The supervisory position promoted me from providing direct care to patients to being the go-to person for all patient issues and the management of the nursing staff. I also received training to review medical records for accurate documentation to support services rendered for Medicare reimbursement. Truly this was a blessing, and I thanked God for His Divine Intervention. Nevertheless, I would endure unfair treatment that was hidden from coworkers and management.

Let me provide some background information on the hiring process; the organization required three interviews with the Clinical Director, Executive Branch Director, and the Regional Director. When I interviewed with the Executive Director, she explained that it would be at least 4 to 6 weeks before the position would begin because the Clinical Director was on vacation for two weeks. The Clinical Supervisor was the second administrative position in the Clinical Department’s hierarchy, which meant that I would have to interview with the Clinical Director upon her return. She would make the final hiring decision.¬†

But God had alternate plans; I received a call from the Executive Director, who explained that the Corporate’s Regional Nursing Director arrived at the office and had scheduled my interview for 10 am interview on Wednesday. She explained that my background check, which included digital fingerprinting for criminal history, verification of driving records, vehicle insurance, nursing license, job history, and professional and personal references were completed in record-timing. At the close of our conversation, she wished me good luck because the Regional Director was also a Legal Nurse, and the interview would be challenging.

The events that I share now prove that the impossible becomes possible when we pray and ask for God’s intervention. On the morning of the interview, I prayed and asked God to direct my thoughts and placed the outcome in His hands. The Regional Director’s interview felt as if I was a defendant in a courtroom being interrogated by the Prosecutor. Much to my surprise, at the end of the interview, she offered me the position of Clinical Supervisor and asked if I was ready to start orientation the next day, Thursday, to which I readily agreed.¬†¬†

For the next seven business days, I received the initial orientation and began my duties, only utilizing the Regional Director’s assistance as needed. I was thrilled but was also very na√Įve in office politics. I would face a major issue from the Clinical Director, who was on vacation when I was hired. On the morning of her return, she walked past the cubicles with a joyful greeting of “Good Morning, I’m back.”¬†¬†I can recall the events as if it happened yesterday. “Hi, my name is _____________, I am the Clinical Director. I assume that you are the new Scheduler.” “Hi, my name is Sonya, very nice to meet you. I am your Clinical Supervisor.” The look of disgust on her face set the tone for our present and future working relationship.¬†

From that moment, I faced daily opposition. In fact, during our initial meeting behind closed doors, my Director verbalized that she was very resentful that the Vice President approved the hiring of a Supervisor without her consent. Everyday, the workload increased. In addition to my responsibilities, the Director began to delegate more of her duties based on misguided feelings and abuse of authority. I worked under extreme duress for almost three months.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:7-8

Everyday, I prayed, asking God to give me the strength to bear the situation. Finally, I prayed a different prayer, asking God for the courage to step out in faith and to bless me with another job. I was still in my probationary period, and could leave the job without consequences. I began to apply for other nursing positions. A few days before the end of my probationary period, I decided to meet with my Director to resign. Since my cubicle was across from her office, I slowly walked the few steps to her doorway and inquired as to whether she could meet with me sometime that day, to which she responded sarcastically, “I am very busy for the next couple of days.” “Okay, but I would like to let you know that I am resigning effective today.” “What??? But, why?”¬†

Because of our relationship with God, as believers, we will always face opposition, “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.¬†How we respond to our trials and tribulations indicates our level of faith and trust in God. In our carnal nature, we rely on ourselves, which escalates and worsens our problems. Do not take the easy route! We must pray, and give all of our hardships to God. God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1.¬†Then we must wait patiently for God’s answer, and that is the hard part.

I will share the victorious outcome that God provided for my dilemma. Before the meeting, I prayed and asked God to guide my thoughts and my words. Standing in the doorway of her office, I looked at the angry expression on her face, which escalated my anxiety. My heart was beating fast. As she thought about my resignation, the tone of her voice changed, and I was invited to sit down and share the reason for my resignation. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

God directed me to focus on my job performance and productivity, and to ask if it was satisfactory, to which I received a resounding “yes!” Then I acknowledged that I enjoyed working for the company and had hoped that we would establish a positive working relationship. I am unable to remember the rest of the conversation. But, my Clinical Director offered a heartfelt apology, and asked if she could hug me. We went out to lunch that day and enjoyed a get-to-know-you conversation. God allowed us to work in unity from that day forward until her separation from the organization.

Facing opposition is part of our life-long spiritual journey. But always remember that God has us in His hands.

Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:11, 14

Bible Readings: Psalm 27 and James 1

God, thank you for your never-ending love, grace, and mercies. Please help us realize that you will remove the obstacles and bring victory to our lives if we only ask and wait on you. We ask in faith for your Divine Intervention upon our circumstances. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

 

The Project of Spiritual Development

In the 90s, I lived in Newark, New Jersey, and worked in Upper Manhattan, New York City. The gated apartment building that I resided in was 22 floors high with a fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline. At night, the view of the buildings and the Hudson River with thousands of lights was breathtaking.

Although I had a vehicle, public transportation was the least expensive and less stressful commuting method across the state lines. The commercial realtor who owned the apartment building negotiated hourly, roundtrip curbside transport with New Jersey Transit to Port Authority available 16 hours a day, seven days per week. The buses had full amenities with comfortable and spacious seating to enjoy the scenic views, nap, or review daily work responsibilities. With special lanes assigned for buses and ride-sharing, the commute took 60-90 minutes to arrive at Port Authority in NYC.

During the five years of commuting, I always sat on the bus’s left side, looking out the windows to take in the varied lifestyles and activities in two states. In 1995, the City of Newark began building NJPAC, one of the largest Performing Arts Centers in the United States. Passing the site was part of the daily bus route, and for two years, I witnessed the construction of the massive building from the concrete foundation to completion. As I reflect on the workers’ commitment to produce this excellent structure, I applaud their dedication and perseverance. For those who know the history of Newark’s urban city, the State of New Jersey can be proud of its most spectacular building, NJPAC, which celebrates the Arts, recognizes the community, and has led to the rehabilitation and revitalization of one of its most problematic cities. https://www.njpac.org/about/mission-and-history/

We may never have the opportunity to build a spectacular building or house. However, we can begin the process of spiritual development to build a rock-solid relationship with God. Please know that unlike building the Performing Arts Center to its’ completion in 1997, spiritual growth and development is a life-long journey. It is not a once saved, always saved spiritual experience. When we decide to serve God, we must go through many life-changing events that cause pain and suffering. Even Jesus forewarned,¬†“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.¬†

Nevertheless, we have a Heavenly Father who has committed to always take care of us: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” Hebrews 13:5.

What is required for us to develop spiritually?

Sanctification:¬†to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate; to purify or free from sin, requires that we strive daily to become Christ-like. For us to meet God’s definition and standards of holiness, we must believe in¬†Righteousness by Faith.¬†Total belief in God requires action on our part every day of our lives. The Apostle Paul shares his spiritual journey, “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me‚ÄĒand not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” 1 Corinthians 15:10.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

Serving God is not a complicated process. Yes, it takes whole-hearted commitment to renounce worldliness and all of its pleasures; even so, God does not require the impossible. I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13. God is fully aware of our limitations. He knows how much each of us can bear. Still, He waits for us to ask for help. God does not force us to give our hearts to Him. From the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve, we know that God gave humanity the free will of choice to worship Him with faith, trust, and obedience or to choose another path that will lead to destruction and death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Romans 6:23

Think about your childhood. Did your parents/caregivers raise you with love that included morals, values, boundaries, and discipline? God created marriage and family institutions because we (human beings) require love, a sense of belonging, and a learning environment to reach spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental development. If your parents had expectations, then indeed, it is realistic to accept that God, our Heavenly Father, would also require us to love and worship Him.

There is nothing unfair about serving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. God is our Heavenly Father, who knew that humanity would reject Righteousness and choose the pleasures of sin. Unconditional love, which originates from God, led to creating humanity:¬†And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…Genesis 1:26.¬†Personally, I am overjoyed that God would create us, although He knew the willful sins that we would commit.

Our Father had the Plan of Redemption in place because He knew that some of us would strive to live holy lives by committing our hearts to Him. Before creating human beings, God and Jesus agreed that Jesus, His only Son, would die for our Redemption, which allows us to be saved from the consequences of sin. Jesus’ death on Calvary’s Cross was not a last-minute strategic plan. Who else could die for us? It took Jesus, who was Divine and without sin, to rescue the human race from the final death.¬†He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:15

When I reflect on the changes¬†from October 2019¬†to now, I am thankful that I have and serve a Heavenly Father who knows and cares. Yes, our world is in a state of chaos from a severe pandemic, economic decline, social unrest, and political rivalries. But, have you thought about the strength of the COVID-19 virus? Over 1.04 million individuals have died due to the Coronavirus. Currently, we have the original COVID-19 virus and a mutation of the said virus that continues to wreak havoc. There is no vaccine or human actions that can guarantee that we will not contract this airborne, respiratory illness. If God did not love us, He could allow the Coronavirus to wipe out the entire human race.¬†The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1.¬†From studying God’s Holy Word, the Bible, we know that the Coronavirus will not wipe out humanity and leave the earth desolate.¬†

We have readily embraced the concept of transparency (to reveal all) as if this concept is something new and has evolved in modern times.¬†What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9.¬†God has always been transparent. The Bible tells us about God’s character, the Plan of Salvation, God’s commands and precepts, His standards of Righteousness, and prophetic events that will happen before Jesus Christs’ Second Coming.¬†And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14.¬†

Because of God’s love and mercies, He extends to us the opportunity to accept His Plan of Salvation. Now is the time to build a spiritual foundation based on faith, trust, and obedience. Transformation can only occur when we possess the willingness to do our part every day. Praying without ceasing and diligently studying the Bible gives us the strength to persevere.¬†Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.‚Ķ Romans 5:3-5

Despite our circumstances, the global pandemic, economic decline, and social and political unrest, it is our Faith in God that keeps us connected to Him. We have the blessing of active participation in our spiritual development. 

  1. ¬†Now repent of your sins and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped away… Acts 3:19
  2. Jesus declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
  3. But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
  4. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23
  5. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9.

Bible Reading: 2 Peter 3

God, we thank you for the opportunity to have a relationship with you built on love, faith, trust, and obedience. Thank you for being transparent and revealing the steps we need to develop spiritually and stay connected to you. We ask forgiveness of our sins and pray for the strength to persevere. We desire the reward of Eternal life and commit to serving you for the rest of our lives. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

Changing Seasons

Autumn is the time of the year when the days grow shorter, the temperature takes a downward shift, and most of the earth prepares for its wintry rest. However beautiful the Fall season is, many individuals begin to reflect on and become remorseful because of their circumstances. If you find yourself slipping down into the abyss of discouragement and hopelessness, God has a message:

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, 

a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

We can denounce the three D’s, Discouragement, Disappointment, and Depression. Yes, God has provided us with emotions as a way of expressing our feelings. Even so, feelings should not overpower our rational thought processes. Satan is very busy in his attempt to make us feel that God does not love us. He uses many of our challenges to separate us from God. But we know how that story ends, God will destroy Satan and his angels. So do not let the evil forces in this world separate you from the love of God.¬†

What can we do to change our outlook on life? Begin by acknowledging the lack of faith and trust in God and His promises. Pray for forgiveness, ask for God’s guidance, and “Dry your tears and move forward!”¬†So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

You may think, “that is easier said than done.”¬†He (God) heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3.¬†There are no exceptions to this promise; however, we must put forth the effort and decide that healing is what we desire. God always gives us His love, grace, and mercy to push forward with our lives, despite our overwhelming circumstances.¬†

2 Samuel 12: 1-25 tells us how God extends grace in the harshest circumstances. When King David acted on his desires, sinned and took Bathsheba, another man’s wife, the price of sin was high. The first baby born to David and Bathsheba died. God forewarned David through the prophet Nathan because of his contempt for God that the infant would perish. Although David refused to eat, and fasted and prayed, on the seventh day after the prophecy, the baby died.¬†

When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate. 2 Samuel 12:19-20

As believers, we suffer many tribulations that we did not cause. Still, God knows the trials required to reshape our minds and characters. We must experience a complete transformation in preparation for living in the New Heaven and New Earth. Living for God is to live righteously. Our lives have meaning and purpose, and that is always to please God. 

In our extreme circumstances, God promises,¬†No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide an escape, so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13.¬†Yes, our sorrows are great. Jesus forewarned us,¬†“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

God has promised Divine Intervention. Now we must do our part (human effort) by faithfully trusting in God and changing our outlook on the present circumstances. In His mercy, God allowed King David and Bathsheba to conceive another child, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. When we press on in Jesus’ name, we can receive His power to go through and overcome all of our past, present, and future dilemmas.

It is possible to get rid of the three D’s, is Satan greater than God?¬†No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37.¬†It is a personal decision to ask God for deliverance and victory from the overwhelming circumstances that have taken your inner peace and joy away. God offers total restoration. So, Dry your eyes and move forward. With God, all things are possible.¬†

Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 12

God, we desperately need your help to dry our eyes and move forward. Although our faith is weak, we commit to trusting you through all of our circumstances. Thank you for your never-ending grace and mercies. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.