As the Seasons Change

As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. Psalm 17:15.

The Apostle Paul placed great emphasis on the transformation of our character. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14. We are preparing now to live forever in a perfect and sinless New Heaven and New Earth. We cannot justify holding onto ungodly character traits and unrighteous habits, which will prevent us from receiving our reward of eternal life. Knowing what God expects from us will give us the motivation to please Him. You must be holy because I, the Lord, am Holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own. Leviticus 20:26. Amen.

Prayer: God, it is our desire to change and to strive for righteousness. We ask for forgiveness of our sins. God, we desperately need your help in our spiritual transformation. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Trading In the Old Me

Imagine that you received an even-trade offer to receive a new vehicle for turning in your current vehicle. The only condition is that you would not see the new vehicle prior to the trade. Some would hesitate and need time to think about it, while others would give a definite answer of no. Still, there is the enthusiastic group that would be elated, readily agreeing to participate in the blind trade.

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior we agreed to surrender and to become His disciples. Changing us from our inherited tendencies, eliminating our self-reliance, taking away the desire for worldly habits, and giving us a character makeover is a lifetime spiritual process known as Sanctification. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ have become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” NLT. Yes, Sanctification is to become holy as Jesus is holy.

Where do you stand as far as trading off the old you in exchange for the new person in Christ Jesus? Which group of individuals represent your decision to become like Christ?

Prayer: God, we thank you for the opportunity to become holy and to live righteously. We have made the decision to be faithful disciples in preparation for eternal life. Thank you, for giving your life that we may be redeemed from our sins. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

For the Love of Money

Strong, self-reliant, in-control, achiever, talented, and powerhouse are just a few adjectives we use to describe the people we respect. Striving to achieve wealth is a core value among most individuals who live in Capitalistic nations. 

Capitalism is often thought of as an economic system in which private actors own and control property in accord with their interests, and demand and supply freely set prices in markets in a way that can serve the best interests of society. … It is this rational self-interest that can lead to economic prosperity.

The issue with Capitalism lies within the goal, “chasing economic prosperity”. Money produces divisions in social classes. But the love of money is more addicting than every illicit drug. The emotional roller-coaster that most ride on is caused by the love of or the lack of money. It is nearly impossible not to fall in love with the prosperity that money brings to our lives.

Most are powerless to their desire for wealth. Money embraces us with her comforting arms while blinding our spiritual eyes. We easily become the victim to its demand for servitude–“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

Our assets promote confidence and place us in a cozy comfort zone. We have no worries when our liabilities are under control. Living with plenty makes us kick our shoes off and throw our clothes on the floor, as we relax listening to some great music. Yes, we congratulate ourselves on our achievements. Life is good! Isn’t it?

Before we become annoyed by asking, “What’s wrong with enjoying the fruits of my labor and possessing savvy financial management?” That is a separate issue from, “It is this rational self-interest that can lead to economic prosperity.” Because I am a believer in the Most-High God, my life is patterned after Jesus Christ. So my blogs are from a believer’s perspective based on the Word of God–the Bible.

By no means do I consider myself a Bible scholar. But throughout my years of studying, I cannot find any scriptures that support Capitalism. In fact, the Four Gospels [written by four different men with varied personalities] vividly relays Jesus’ perspective on accumulating wealth. throughout their writings, King Solomon and the Apostle Paul addressed the complicated consequences that loving money brings. Read Ecclesiastes 5:10, Hebrews 13:5, and 1 Timothy 6:10.

Why was Jesus adamant about the destructive consequences of “riches?”

And He said to them, “Watch out! Guard yourselves against every form of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 BSB. The Pharisees were hypocrites who lived by double standards. Their responsibility was to teach others about God’s laws, but they thought too highly of themselves to obey said rules for the ordinary people.

Luke 8:4-15, The Parable of the Sower, is a powerful revelation of the different types of people who hear the gospel of truth and how they react. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life and bring no fruit to maturity. Luke 8:14. When serving God, we must produce fruit while living a faithful, obedient life. We die daily to our sinful nature by striving for righteousness.

The pursuit of wealth chips away at your inner resolve–chasing wealth and comforting yourself with a “no worries ever” mindset weakens your God-given mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. Your perspective is fixated on your accomplishments and the good life. Where does dependency on God fit in?

I recall Joyce Meyer sharing a story of a red dress she purchased. One day while cleaning out her closet [to give to a woman in need], she saw the red dress, and pushed it to the keeper’s side of the closet. “I heard the voice, ‘Take out the red dress and lay it on the bed.” As she bypassed the dress and pulled out more clothing, the command repeated itself only louder. “God, is that you? I know that you are not telling me to give away my favorite red dress that I have never worn.” The shortened version of her testimony is that she took the dress out of the closet and gave it away. From her encounter with God, Joyce Meyer was taught humility and the purpose of her ministry, to provide for those in need, spiritually and physically. 

Every day we see the earth’s rich covering of beautiful and colorful plant life, the varied species of animals, and the diversity of humanity, which reflect God. The Master Artist loves “Perfect Beauty.” It was never God’s purpose for us to live in poverty or be plagued with social issues and rampant diseases. Sinful desires have escalated beyond our control. The love of money has prevented our nations from eradicating the misery of poverty and the rapid growth of diseases. Yes, we have gone too far. What human being is worth $208 million for a few games?

For the love of money, many believers have traded in their desire to live in the New Heaven and New Earth. We have thrown in the towel on preparing ourselves for Jesus’ Second Coming. Grasping the here and now has empowered us to create a “heaven on earth,” as reflected in the Lifestyles of the Rich Believer.

But Luke 12 relays Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Fool:

Then I will say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry!”‘ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be required of you. Then who will own what you have accumulated?’ This is how it will be for anyone who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”…Luke 12:19-21 BSB

Prayer: God, please have mercy on us. We are distracted by the pursuit of happiness. We have lost our desire for eternal life. Living in the New Heaven and New Earth is a vague memory because of our love for money and earthly possessions. Forgive us, Heavenly Father. Create a clean heart and renew a spirit of humility within us. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Prevailing Darkness

“Home is where the heart is” PROVERB: Your home will always be the place for which you feel the deepest affection, no matter where you are.

Our homes are the safest place, non-threatening, lovingly embracing, and sheltering us from the chaos, confusion, and busyness of our external environment. We enjoy the moments of solitude and silence from the never-ending maximum speed of the world surrounding us.

The dynamics of human life have escalated to the point that many individuals are leaving their corporate positions, selling their homes, and seeking that perfect place that provides peace and tranquility. Yes, getting away from it all has its advantages. Still, it will not stop the vicissitudes [a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant] of life.

In fact, I recently listened to a young wife express her devastation over the years they planned an extraordinary lifestyle–RVing, purchasing a few acres of forested land, and visiting every state within the U.S., only to have their dreams shattered. Within six months of living their dream, the husband developed stage 4 cancer and passed away. 

Sin and death were not God’s plans or His fault. Yes, He is Omniscient and was aware that Lucifer would incite an insurrection, and that human beings, His masterpiece would disobey and fall deep into the abyss of darkness. With unconditional love, God created us, gave us the greatest gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who still serves us. As our Heavenly Intercessor, Jesus hears our prayers of confession, and repentance, readily forgiving us. All of our prayers are sent through by the Holy Spirit, including prayers for comfort, and physical necessities. Jesus Christ forgives us daily and presents us as faultless to God, our Father. We should have a committed relationship with God, our Creator who gives us a never-ending supply of love, grace and mercies every day.  

Sadly, humans have been deceived by Satan, our Arch-enemy since the fall of Adam and Eve. Where did the deception take place? In the Garden of Eden–the first couple’s home, their safe-haven. And why was the Prince of Darkness so effective in his diabolical plot? Because he presented God as withholding the best–superior knowledge like gods possessed from Adam and Eve. But deep in the recesses of his mind, Satan also thought that God would destroy the first human beings, Adam and Eve for their disobedience. But little did the Prince of Darkness realize that humanity would not be destroyed. The Plan of Salvation and Redemption–Jesus’ death and resurrection was set into place before Adam and Eve were created.

Isaiah 14:12 tells us, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!” Isaiah 14:12. To be called the “Son of the Morning” [morning star, son of the dawn], Lucifer’s beauty was beyond our most active imagination. Are we mesmerized by beauty? Yes, exterior appearances, the excellence of natural talents and abilities of people is who we worship–the entertainment industry, the sports arena, art, fashion, and glamour, is fueled by billions of dollars while our social problems escalate globally. 

Lucifer had the desire for much more than he was given by God. He convinced some of the angels that God was unfair and he led an insurrection against the Creator of angels and humanity. If we were created lower than the angels, [For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5], then know that he easily twisted God’s commands. His deceitful words caused Eve to doubt God. Satan’s lies also led her to act on her desire to eat from the forbidden tree. Adam had the choice not to sin, but like many of us today we make the decision to commit the grievous sin of disobedience. And that was the beginning of the Fall of Man–humanity.

We cannot be compelled or forced to sin. It is our desire to sin fueled by desire, doubt, and disbelief in God.

And we are still falling deep into the abyss of darkness, pulled by our desire to possess more than God has given to us. We are drawn into Satan’s darkness through his deception–he presents the fun activities of the occult, mysticism, spells, witchcraft, voodoo, Goth, the exciting thoughts of entering realms from beyond, going backward or forward into time, and our all-time favorite–magic: the power of illusion.

In fact, Disney’s movies Black Widow, Cruella, Magic Camp, Soul, etc., have been used to introduce Satan’s “darkness” into our families–the children whose minds are like sponges eagerly ask to watch the deceptive wickedness. Once act on our desires, the seed of darkness is planted, and it grows out-of-control. Eventually, our homes become a dwelling-place for the satanic behaviors of abject disobedience, bullying, mental and emotional neglect. We become tangled in the web of deception and our character changes. Love dissipates through the open door and windows, producing unhealthy family relationships, and dissolves our desire to worship God.

Yes, our frustration with life has led us to seek an alternate route for resolution of our problems. We are inundated with fortune-tellers, tarot card readers, witches, and warlocks, potions, etc. Loneliness has driven us to accept the biggest deception; active communication with the dead. This area is Satan’s playground. Many “Christian believers” also engage in speaking to the deceased or knowing their future. This is what God says:

“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; there is no longer any reward for them because all memory of them is lost.” Ecclesiastes 9:5

Do you think that delving into darkness has no consequences? I recently saw on TikTok a lifelike doll created in the exact image of the baby that had died. It is known as the “Reborn Doll.” It gives the parents the ability to touch, hold, and speak with their deceased baby forever. If this phenomenon does not make you awaken you to the prevailing darkness in this world. Pray immediately! You have become desensitized to the power of evil.

God has given us His guidelines. Read the warnings in Leviticus 19. The only evil practice that has changed from biblical times to the present is the sacrifice of human beings [as far as we know]. The Israelites loved to engage in pagan worship.

“Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:31

The Bible provides the most accurate history of paganism. The Israelites freed from Egyptian slavery never received their reward of entering the Promised Land. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.” Numbers 11:5. If their complaints were not accurately documented in the Bible, one may think and laugh out loud, “Who would desire to return to slavery over food?”

Our carnal cravings have propelled us into a world of darkness far more advanced than the biblical Israelites. We have embraced ungodly beliefs, rituals, art, movies, music, morals, values, and norms that feed our desires for the unknown–a dimension beyond our boring existence. The pursuit of happiness is causing us to achieve our desires by any means necessary. 

Satan’s most significant achievements in the 21st Century:

  1. Acceptance of false teachings and false prophets who speak false prophecies.
  2. Churches who water down the scriptures. Pastors preaching motivational speeches as the money flows in from members hearing “feel-good sermons.”
  3. Sexual immorality. Marital infidelity, etc.
  4. The state of the dead–the belief they are among us, reincarnation, rebirth, ghosts, the dead presently in heaven or hell, etc.
  5. Chasing success and material wealth.
  6. Fascination with the occult.
  7. Abusive and neglectful relationships.
  8. Challenging God’s truth–the Bible.
  9. Presenting himself as a victim–Lucifer, the fallen angel who God refused to forgive.
  10. Leading us to turn ourselves into idols. “I worship myself by pursuing my right to happiness.”
  11. Just believe that God exists, and you will receive eternal life.

But the greatest modern-day deception is that “Jesus Christ is not the Son of God and He is not the way to God or salvation.” Read: John 14:6.

Many have given up the hope that Jesus Christ is coming again. Even so, it is of no consequence how we believe. He said it and God cannot lie.

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12-13

The Reality: The darkness in our world can only be overshadowed by the Light of the World–Jesus Christ.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 5:1-7

We cannot blend righteousness with ungodly people, places, and rituals of this life. God has planned a perfect home for the faithful. Read Revelation chapters 21-22 every day until you can form a visual picture of your forever home.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Prayer: God, we pray for your strength and power to shield ourselves against the spiritual wickedness on earth. May we have the desire and make preparation for eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson 

Do you desire righteousness?

With the fourth beatitude we have reached a major turning point. The first two exemplified a turning away from our human weakness and sin, while the third expressed the Christian’s humility in light of that weakness. The fourth, by way of contrast, is a turning toward the positive aspect of Christianity. It is a hungering and thirsting to be right with God and to be like Him. Thus the Christian life is more than a mourning over past sins. It is also an intense desire for present and future righteousness. Excerpt from Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus by George R. Knight

What a defining point for our relationship with God: We must desire righteousness!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

The Seasons will Change

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Presently, our small town in Texas is crippled by the bitter, icy winds and the chilling temperatures that have frozen our utilities leaving many without water and electricity. Our streets are layered with a thick coat of ice and adorned with a snowy covering that has turned from snowball quality to a highly dangerous road hazard.

For those who endure far worse winters as a routine way of life, please know that we are not equipped to meet the challenges of icy winter storms. Our county does not have plows or dump trucks filled with a sandy/salty mixture for traction. We barely own clothing that would protect us below a temperature of 40 degrees if we dared to venture outdoors. And did I fail to mention that all cable providers have sent apologies for the outages?

Being from the Northeast, I have endured many harsh winters without blinking an eye. But the brutality of this storm has caused the cessation of all activities with the exception of looking out the windows. As I read, study, crochet, or use my cell phone to stay connected, I console myself that this storm will be over in four to five days. In fact, by next week our temps will be in the 60s.

During my solitude, I figured out a secret to staying content during our winter storm, I know that this storm will not last. There is an end to the harshness that has us at a standstill. If only it was that easy to remain content when I face the seasons of my trials and tribulations. If only my faith was stronger and I believed Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. There is no other way to grow strong spiritually than to go through trials.

God requires continuous growth. We are not where He needs us to be in our relationship with him. Faith and trust must flourish and until it does, God helps us to reach the mark, the level that pleases Him. Unlike the counterproductive storms, our trials produce: And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 NKJV

God, we thank you for loving us so much that you help us to build the spiritual qualities that are pleasing to you. We pray for the strength to trust you during the process of changing and growing. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson Ruiz