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—he 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.

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 naïve 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.

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—and 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.… 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.

Happy Sabbath!

The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

The year 2020 has brought many changes to each of our lives. Even so, we can be thankful that there is an Omnipotent God that promises to take care of us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Sabbath provides us with a weekly retreat from secular problems. We can enjoy a much needed break by focusing on God and relying on Him to provide spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical renewal and refreshment to our weary souls.

For the next 24 hours, give your grief, worries, disappointment, heartbreak, loss, and failure to God. Prepare to worship God by singing or listening to a few songs, and then pray until you receive a breakthrough of peace and a calmness in your spirit. Have you ever been so thirsty that you started to dream about water? And when you finally had the water, it tasted so good that you drank all of it immediately? When we are spiritually dehydrated, only God can quench our thirst.

The men and women in biblical times had issues and problems, just like you and me. Still, God loved and delivered them from their adversaries and burdens in life. It is vital that we study the Bible to learn who God is and the victorious outcomes He gave to real people in their times of loss and overwhelming grief. Has God changed? “I am the LORD, and I do not change….” Malachi 3:6. 

David, the shepherd boy that God used to kill the Philistine giant, Goliath was anointed as a young man to become King of the Nation of Israel. When you study the Book of Psalms, you will recognize that David’s feelings alternated between faith in God and fear of his enemies. Yet, David never gave up on God.

Who can love us like our Heavenly Father? The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

King David provides some advice when we are feeling hopeless because of our circumstances: 

Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Seek out the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His marvels, and the judgments He has pronounced… 1 Chronicles 16:11

Prayer and Praise give God the go-ahead to unleash His Power!

Do not limit your prayers and praise! God has a Cup of Comfort that He invites each of us to drink from. If this is your first time praying for a breakthrough, then prepare yourself for victory. God never fails! Keep praying and singing until you feel the sweet comfort that only God’s supernatural power can provide.

We are God’s children. God did not speak us into existence. He knelt down and made Adam from the dust of the ground. Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7. 

Always know that you hold a special place in God’s heart. King David sang this song of praise: I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:14. We have every reason to rejoice: God created us in His image; He has promised to heal our brokenness and to supply all of our earthly needs.

Proclaim to the world: Oh yes, I feel loved and adored right now because I know that my Heavenly Father loves me!

Happy Sabbath! In Jesus’ Name, we will press on. Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself.

Sabbath prayer: God, I belong to you. I am in distress, and I need your healing power to ease the painful burdens that have me overwhelmed. Please extend your Cup of Comfort for me to drink from that I may step out in faith and fully trust you with my life. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercies. And thank you for creating the Sabbath, a time that I can experience a time of rest from the cares of life. God, I love you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer that I ask 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 written permission of the author.

Performance Improvement Plan, part 2

Are you praising God for a new day?

Because of the loving devotion of the LORD, we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness!… Lamentations 3:22-23. We have received the gift of a new day! The problems from yesterday are now part of our past. We can use prayer as our most powerful resource to address all lingering and new challenges of today and faithfully wait for God to answer.

Is it possible to live without worries? Is it possible to have peace when all is not going well? Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus… Philippians 4:6-7

Have you noticed that the Stock Market rises and falls like a roller coaster ride based on the presenting circumstances? Many individuals also suffer from mental and emotional instability because they focus on the uncertainties of life.  We miss out on promised blessings when we nurture self-reliance. God is aware that we require help in our daily lives. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.

Performance Improvement: Make an immediate change by admitting that your faith in God is weak and wavering. Believe that God is love and will never leave you alone to figure out the answer. Begin praying effectual (effective) prayers, which are honest and plain-spoken. Express your doubt and unbelief, ask for forgiveness, and for God to strengthen your belief in Him. Praying in faith for what you need allows God to unleash His supernatural power upon your life.

Performance Improvement: Although most of us thrive on the instant gratification of I need it right now, God sees our impatience as sinful behavior. Pray and wait are His commands. Obedience is a requisite for all believers. God never fails, nor can God ever make a mistake. Waiting is the answer to increasing our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father, who is Jehovah Jireh-Our Provider.

Performance Improvement: Live with the confidence that God loves you. Reflect on your blessings of life, health, and strength. If you awakened this morning in your home, fully aware of who you are, then consider yourself blessed and highly favored. As a believer, life does not include seeing the glass half-full or half-empty; our glass is always overflowing. Regardless of the circumstances, embrace God’s promises, which will change your perception of who He is, and redirect your focus from problems to praise.

And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Performance Improvement: Become a Bible-based Believer! We are unable to live with a spirit of gratitude when we have an unbelieving heart. It is impossible to know who God is when we fail to study the Bible, which reveals God’s character and His promises. Fear and doubt are traits that dominate the minds of unbelievers. There is no gray area of compromise with faith, either we believe in God 100% or our worries prove that we are not who we say we are. 

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

Commit to improving your relationship with God by praying and studying the Bible every day. Claim the victory and speak out loud: God, I do not know how you will do it, but I completely trust in you to resolve my problems!

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will do it. Psalm 37:5

Bible Reading: 1 Peter 5

God, we ask forgiveness for not faithfully trusting in you. We admit that we become easily overwhelmed by our circumstances. We desire to have unwavering faith. We ask you to give us strength through your power to be overcomers. 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.

Performance Improvement Plan, part 1

The last decade of my nursing career transitioned from direct patient care to managerial positions. Although I possessed formal education in employee management, I must confess that it was the most painful and challenging time in my life. As nurses, our clinical practice is regulated by the Board of Nursing; therefore, we are unable to deviate from the standards and prudent regulations for administering patient care.

With that in mind, one would imagine that the problems are few in dealing with highly trained healthcare professionals. Not so! Every day there were multiple staff issues, including patient complaints. Since most of my career was spent in nursing, I can share that the policies are very stringent. After all, nurses are dealing with human life, and errors must be minimized. So here is the challenging part; although I gave verbal counseling, the employee usually failed to show improvement and required subsequent disciplinary action to address the policy’s breach. 

Praying before meeting with the employee provided the strength to deal with their denial, justification, and blame on circumstances to avoid the consequences of their non-prudent actions or omissions of care.

Policy breach in the nursing profession is always substantial because patient safety is compromised. Even so, there were only a few employees that accepted accountability for their actions. The Performance Improvement Plan was a concerted effort to retain the employee and modify counterproductive behaviors. Unfortunately, the majority chose to resign immediately from their position and carry unacceptable behaviors to yet another employer.

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, and still think, speak, and act the same way? The Bible is our standard for living godly lives. We should experience a significant change when we transition from Unbeliever to Believer. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The Word of God reveals all that we need to know to possess Christ-like characters. It is up to us to diligently study the Bible to self-evaluate and develop a Spiritual Performance Improvement Plan. It is only through humility, faith, obedience, and trust in God that His power, grace, and mercies can produce a complete transformation within us. 

Possessing love is the foundation required for change.

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and 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

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23. 

With God, we can change by eliminating all displeasing inherited character traits and learned behaviors. Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory!

Bible Reading: So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 1 Peter 2:1-3

God, we confess and ask forgiveness for not living according to your standards. We possess character traits that do not reflect love. It is our desire to live holy, and acceptable lives. Please extend your grace and mercy along with your supernatural power that we can experience a complete transformation. We ask for your strength to achieve daily spiritual growth. 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.

Winning the Race

Awakening to a new day is supposed to produce a spirit of gratitude and inner joy. Yet, many individuals dread awakening to the many responsibilities that face them day-after-day. Our lives are not an easy journey. We easily become overwhelmed when we feel that we cannot resolve our challenges. After all, isn’t that what makes our lives worthwhile, to be proud of our accomplishments?

Last week, my husband and I decided to start journaling twice a day, before morning and evening worship. We acknowledged and accepted that our moments of forgetfulness were increasing. We overlooked a few responsibilities with deadlines and did not realize the oversight until several days later. After paying two late charges, we knew that our lives required reorganization. 

Journaling enables us to identify our daily “to-do” list in the evening for tomorrow’s duties. The following day, we review the proposed goals for that day as we check-off the completed items, and we present our plans to God in prayer. 

Because of things that happen beyond our control, we prioritize our list of duties and are not annoyed when a couple of today’s goals become part of tomorrow’s “to-do” list. Flexibility also allows us to accept that just maybe our plans did not sync with God’s plans. Although we can never control the unexpected, when we do our part by planning, and setting goals, whether short-term or long-term, we gain a sense of purpose.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victorious Outcomes

I can (and will) do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13. With God, we have the hope and the ability to win the race.

Go Ahead! Run, Run, Run!

Bible Reading: Romans 5

God, we thank you for loving us. We desire to run the race and to win. Thank you for teaching us how to live structured lifestyles. Please assist us in our desire to change the busyness of a disorganized life. 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 author’s written permission.