Perception, Purpose, Power, and Peace

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14

The year 2020 deflated the motivation and zeal that many individuals have always possessed. But they let themselves get distracted by the civil unrest, political strife, and deadly disease that has caused the death of human beings at an unprecedented rate. Now that humanity faces a variant of the original COVID-19, we face a pathogen that our rapid response vaccine may be powerless over. Even so, we must come to our senses and recognize the power of God. He still extends grace and mercy, or else we would not be alive. Yet, many feel even more discouraged because they desire that God destroys the COVID-19 organisms to resume their everyday lifestyles.

This is the message that God conveys to us in 2021:

6 Seek the Lord while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
7 Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
8 “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 55:6-9 NLT

Thankfully, God knows the future. We are instructed to present our requests to Him through prayer. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6. And most of us are obedient as we excitedly tell God our lists of desires. But, deep down inside, we are praying, “God, please give me what I am asking you for.” Our desires often stand in the way of accepting God’s answers to our requests, which are: “yes, no, or wait, I have a better plan.”

For this prayer, I received a response of “yes” in December 2020.

I want to share my miracle of healing that happened when I was in the hospital on December 7th-8th. On Sunday, 12/7, I was admitted to the Short Stay Cardiac unit for chest pain. I had a team of three Cardiologists come in to see me on Monday morning. Based on my diagnostic test results in May of 2019, which diagnosed a blockage in the lower left side, they wanted to perform a surgical procedure on Tuesday, 12/9. I refused and told them that I wanted a current non-surgical diagnostic test first, and based on the results, if I had to have the surgical procedure, I would agree to it.

The Doctors told me that it was a waste of time because there was no way that the blockage that showed in my heart in 2019 would not have progressed and worsened. Since 2019, I prayed for control over my appetite, and to lose the desire for junk food. Additional changes included eating a plant-based diet and incorporating exercise into my lifestyle. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. 1 Peter 1:14

Before the test and during the test, I prayed and asked God for healing, and to show His miraculous power to this team of unbelieving Philistines.

Two hours later, three Cardiologists were shocked and surprised that the test results showed no blockage, and I was discharged immediately from the hospital on Monday evening.

I am still praising God. Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24. God is still working miracles for His honor and His glory. Amen. Sonya RN

Currently, I have presented another petition to God, and have been told “no” twice. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5. Now, I must obey and: Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD! Psalm 27:14

God, we place our lives in your hands. You have promised to take care of us, and we ask forgiveness for our disobedience, and unbelief. Help us to realize that your plans are above and beyond what we can do for ourselves. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Making Tough Decisions

At the age of 40, I was one of two applicants accepted for the RN nursing program in Upstate New York. I knew that God intervened because I had applied to several nursing programs in New Jersey that replied with provisional acceptance based on a one-two year waiting list. I received my acceptance letter from the Upstate program within two weeks of sending my application. While reading the terms, I was surprised that the starting date only gave me ten weeks to relocate. How would I accomplish this impossible task? The questions of doubt and disbelief flooded my mind. Was this really a blessing from God?

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:6

Knowing that I had a significant decision to make, I was wavering between excitement and fear. The problem was: At the time, I was involved in a beautiful relationship full of love, nurturing, and happiness. Please believe that my significant other did not share my joy when I explained that I was moving four hours away to pursue my educational goal. He extended the offer to move in with him without the pressure of having any financial responsibilities. Then I could attend a program in New York City as a full-time student. My mind was confused. I had a decision to make, which path would I take?

The Spiritual Dilemma

During this romantic involvement, I was not obedient to the will of God, but I had boundaries, “I did not believe in living together.” Since the age of 15, I worked and provided for myself. During our relationship, I never asked for money. Although we were deeply in love, I always knew that we were unequally yoked. Not because of the lack of respect, love, or his generous spirit, he did not believe in marriage or worshiping God.

According to the world’s standards, he was a good man who worked hard and was financially savvy. He owned a beautiful condo and possessed financial wealth, but God was never as much as an after-thought. I was only told his story from the rise from rags-to-riches one time. Because he gave himself full credit for his accumulation of wealth due to his rational and logical financial strategies, I was unable to mention God to maintain a peaceful existence. 

Yes, I was living the life that many have only dreamed of, but I was caught in the web of compromise. Would I be willing to give up the lifestyle of the rich but not famous? Perplexed by this dilemma, like the prodigal son, “I came to my senses.” Even in my fallen, prodigal stage, there was still a God in heaven that I believed in, and that belief brought me to my knees.

“For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the LORD, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 AMP

God revealed his answer by allowing a smooth transition from being gainfully employed in New Jersey to relocating to Upstate New York and living in my apartment as an unemployed student nurse. God provided scholarships and grants to provide for me financially. Upon graduation, I was hired as one of the first graduate nurses in a pilot program to work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I obeyed and followed God’s plan, completed the nursing program, and worked as a Registered Nurse for many years.

Twenty-two years have passed since I was faced with the choice of obeying God’s plan or following selfish desires. When we commit to serve God, we also commit to total obedience. Without love, faith, and trust in God, we fall back to our previous habits of self-reliance. Have you noticed that trials and tribulations regularly test us? God is not trying to destroy us. He desires that we stop making mistakes by trusting in our abilities. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 1 Peter 1:14

Facing dilemmas may never end. Even so, life with God provides the blessings of peace despite our circumstances. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5. Ask yourself, “how do you view God?” Can you put aside your doubt and fears, pray, and wait for God’s divine intervention to resolve your circumstances? Reflect on the impossible situations that you have faced. You did all that you could do, yet, nothing worked out. When you least expected it, God rained down blessings, unleashed His mighty power, and you received a miracle. 

The Amplified Bible: Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20

I share this testimony because someone is facing a dilemma. You believe in God, but your mind is wavering between conflicting thoughts and actions. Pray and believe: Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

Pray and confess:

I need God’s peace to transform the way I view my current situation.

I need God’s peace to remind me that God is always in control.

I need God’s peace to guard my mind against anxious thoughts. 

God, we thank you for being our Jehovah-Jireh (provider). We ask for your Divine Intervention in our lives and the peace that only you can provide. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is the task of identifying what is no longer needed or desired. Many of us are committed to get rid of the old things in anticipation of replacing them with something new. Yes, we are meticulous with discarding unwanted tangible items, but what about our undesirable character traits?

One of my favorite quotes is by Lao Tzu: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Because of the negative impact that sin brings to humanity, there are a couple of things that we are involved in a battle with: Self-governance and Self-control. No one wants to admit that they have these ongoing issues, including me. In case you think that is simply not true, have you ever driven over the speed-limit or wished the pedestrian caught in the middle of the walkway when the light changed would hurry up? What about your emotions? Did you ever take out your frustrations on an innocent victim? What about the bitter fruits spoken in anger against those that you love? Did you change the story so that you appeared to be the victim instead of the instigator?

God was fully aware that we would be drawn to lawlessness and lack of self-control. Historically, we may have learned in academic settings how and when the various governments were established. Still, the scripture tells us that God established laws before the creation of humanity. Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.”

The exception of obeying our government’s laws is when they conflict with God’s law, precepts, and commands. As believers, we can agree that God, our Creator made human beings and that He has given us the ability to reproduce children. He also commands us that since He created human life that we do not have the right to take another person’s life or our own life. The fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill (You must not murder, NLT). Exodus 20:13. Just because the current law allows us to have abortions, the government’s law is in direct conflict with God’s law.

We are unable to rationalize or justify obedience vs. disobedience according to our thought processes. Jesus Christ tells us, “If you love me, obey my commandments. Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” John 14:15, 21

The fruit of self-control requires that we apply structure and discipline to every area of our lives. So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31. Did you notice that God specifically addressed appetite as one of the most significant areas where we lack self-control? We are so out of control with our desires that the FDA has approved genetically reproduced animals to meet supply and demand. Without self-control of what and when we eat and drink, it is impossible to obey God.

God never said that it would be easy to obey Him. First and foremost, we must love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind to possess the desire to be obedient.

Spring Cleaning

Human Effort: Now, the easy part: We commit, confess, repent, and pray to have the Holy Spirit in our lives every day. Studying the Bible provides us with God’s standards and expectations. But, here’s the challenge: 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. God has provided us with a seed of faith. Even so, believing, trusting, and seeking Him through diligent studying, and consistent praying is the only way for our faith to develop and grow, and for us to get rid of the old life.

Divine Intervention: Instruction and Guidance

    1. “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? 37, Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:36-39
    2. 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 22 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 5:16, 22-23
    3. “Do not call to mind the former things; pay no attention to the things of old.” Isaiah 43:18

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. Accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior initiated the spiritual transformation, and then it is our responsibility to obey by performing a spiritual spring cleaning every day. 

How can we spring clean every day? We use the Bible as our spiritual mirror and humbly admit through the prayer of confession and repentance that we have kept some words, thoughts, and behaviors from our old life. Next, we make a conscious effort to stop, pray for strength, and hold back the bitter words and ungodly behaviors. Yes, we will struggle to change as God cleans us through tests and trials. But remember that we are not alone: I can (and will) do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13. Hallelujah! We will have the Victory!

God, give us a clean heart that we may serve you with all of our heart, soul, and mind. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

No Neutral Ground

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” Matthew 12:30

The “neutral ground” is a strip of land running through the middle of a two-way street, most commonly known to other American cities as a median. During the early 1800s, neutral grounds were canals used for transporting goods throughout the city; others were used for rail and streetcar lines. Although the city of New Orleans has incorporated the use of neutral ground in its development, neutral ground in the 21st century, for the most part, constitutes an area that is of little use or purpose.

Many individuals have taken the position of neutrality: “I don’t get involved in that.” Throughout their lives, they take the stance of doing nothing by never actively participating for or against any problems facing humanity. Yes, they will readily engage in conversations regarding the pandemic, family issues, social injustices, poverty, political dissent, and civil unrest. But the bottom line is they have created a purpose for neutral ground, it is their comfort zone, and they do not intend to budge from that location.

The problem with living on neutral ground is that they “see and don’t see.” The focus of their lives is inward. It is a “me, myself, and I” proclamation of self-preservation. Neutrality produces inactivity. For the most part, human behavior is predictable. If a person has a selfish spirit, they can’t reach out and alleviate others’ suffering, nor is it possible for them to wholeheartedly serve God. Standing on neutral ground is a sinful character defect. It is a deal-breaker for receiving the reward of eternal life.

To substantiate these statements, we must refer to the scriptures.

  1. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:36-39
  2. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20
  3. He has told you, mortal one, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
  4. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17
  5. Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:17

Since the pandemic, neutrality has also invaded the body of believers. There are church leaders and members who have done relatively little to reach out to other members and their community suffering from emotional and physical losses.  We readily utilize our cell phones for multiple purposes, but not to call and provide spiritual encouragement. Our love for others is an indication of our love for God. To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we benefit others. https://law.utk.edu/2016/05/10/

In creating humanity, God has defined the purpose of our lives. We must look beyond ourselves with a spirit of obedience, and one of active participation. Being employed on a 40-hr per week job does not fulfill God’s divine purpose for our lives. God directs us to observe the ants who are always busy with their activities of intent and purpose.

  1. Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Proverbs 6:6
  2. There are four things on earth that are small but unusually wise: 25 Ants—they aren’t strong, but they store up food all summer. Proverbs 30:24-25

Even so, animals do not have free will. They instinctively act from the innate nature that God created them with. On the other hand, God has provided us with guidance and His expectations through the Bible, His Holy Word. We have the option not to follow God’s commandments and instructions; however, there is a high price to pay for the disobedience of doing nothing and standing on neutral ground. “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” Revelation 22:12. Still, we can easily remove ourselves from the lose-lose situation of neutrality by loving and obeying God, and meeting the needs of others. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 1 John 3:17

Love (and Obey) God, Love Others, and Love Yourself!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission. 

A Prayer for 2021

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

Dear God, I want to begin this prayer by saying that I love you. Thank you for not letting me drown or be burned up emotionally and spiritually during the many trials and sorrows I experienced in the past year. You have always kept your promise to safely guide me through the valley lows that I have come up against time after time. Please help me to keep my focus on your amazing love and miraculous power instead of my circumstances. I realize that your plans for me are perfect and will prepare me to live with you eternally. Yes, I have asked you for many things during the past year, but this is a prayer of thanksgiving. I commit myself to serve you faithfully and obediently for the remainder of my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer that I ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Catch-Phrase Christians

What does the word “Christian mean to you?” For me, it means Christ-like, possessing Jesus’ character, and following Him even unto death. I recognize that prayer to God is the only way to communicate with God, and I can boldly approach the throne of grace without mediation from a pastor, priest, or human-made idol.

As a follower of Christ, I possess love, faith, trust, and obedience to all of God’s commandments, including Saturday, the seventh-day Sabbath. I believe in the Trinity Godhead-God, the Father, Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. I acknowledge and accept that the Bible, the Word of God, was written by men of God under Divine Inspiration and has never changed and is still valid. And the Bible is where our focus will be today.

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle (the smallest letter or stroke) will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Matthew 5:18

The lack of desire to diligently study the Word of God is not a new phenomenon. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. Hosea 4:6

Living by God’s truth requires consistent effort:

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

What exactly defines a “Catch-phrase Christian? One that does not possess knowledge of the Bible and filibusters by using their own opinions as answers.

Just yesterday, we had an insurrection against the democratic system of the United States of America. Was your response similar to any of these responses?

It’s a shame what is going on in the United States.

Nothing surprises me anymore.

The President is at fault.

This is what happens when you cheat someone that should rightfully be the President for the next four years.

They are taking a stand to Make America great again.

If so, then you are a Catch-phrase Christian who is unaware that biblical prophecy is being fulfilled and these events indicate the closing of this earth’s history. Nor are you preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus because studying, hearing, and obeying the scriptures is a mandated part of serving God.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man (or woman) of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For those of us who are studying the Holy scriptures, we know why the insurrection happened:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 2 Timothy 3:1-4

If we only performed part of our job duties, our employer would institute a Performance Improvement Plan’s disciplinary action, and further non-compliance would lead to termination. Yet, for many, they choose how they will serve the Most-High God. If they read the Bible at all, the search is for feel-good scriptures. But feelings do not last, and the disobedience of not studying all of the Bible leaves us with anxiety, worries, and depression. We cannot have the peace of God when we have no idea who God is, and disregard the only method of gaining knowledge of God. We cannot have personal relationships with strangers.

The Apostle Paul tells Timothy about the Catch-phrase, counterfeit Christians: They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Timothy 3:5

God has provided us with all of the knowledge we need to prepare for the times of persecution that are upon us. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13, But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. 2 Timothy 3:12-13

Ephesians 6:11-18 admonishes us to put on the whole armor of God, which includes the diligent study of the Bible.

The continuation of the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy:

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:14-16

Human Effort: As soldiers in the Army of God, the scriptures, along with prayer, faith, trust, and obedience to God, equip us to stand against Satan, the enemy of humanity. The study of the Word of God has a definitive purpose: God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:17

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 ESV

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

We do not have to blend in with unbelievers by being a Catch-phrase Christian. Stand out by proclaiming the Word of God. Yes, you will be shunned by others, maybe even those who profess to be believers. But we must not concern ourselves about what others think about us. Know this, everyone did not reject Jesus Christ. When we boldly proclaim the scriptures, they will not be heard only by the scoffers. Many individuals are just waiting for someone to tell them that there is a Savior, Jesus Christ, who provides love, peace and unspeakable joy to those who faithfully serve Him.

The diligent study of the Bible will prevent us from the pitfalls of “Catch-phrase Christianity.” Study, pray, and witness by proclaiming the Word of God. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13

God, we thank you for the scriptures that provide the knowledge that we need to live holy and obediently. We ask forgiveness for not studying the Bible. Please reveal the meaning of your words, and give us wisdom for a spiritual transformation. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. 

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

The Commitment

Prayer: Lord, we desire to serve you and to live according to your will. We thank you for the mercies of a new day. Please forgive us for our sins. We ask for your blessings upon our lives. We pray this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary. As I listened to this song of dedication and commitment to God, I asked myself, “Are you willing to serve God with all that you have to give?” My answer to God was through a heartfelt prayer that included, “Create in me a clean heart, O, God and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

In the past, I have possessed self-reliance, made many mistakes from disobedience, failed to diligently study the Bible, and had a hit-and-miss prayer life. But today, my prayer of consecration was to give my heart, soul, and mind to serve God for the remainder of my life. 

I encourage you to make a complete commitment to God. He truly loves us and is sending Jesus, His Son, for us very soon.

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

The Difference Should Be Obvious

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Serving God sets us apart from unbelievers. Can others see that you reflect the light of Jesus Christ? So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. Galatians 5:16 ESV. What about your character? 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

Performing good deeds is not the same as accepting Jesus as our personal Savior and living holy and righteous lives. Many philanthropists and those who volunteer to alleviate the suffering of others embrace atheistic and agnostic beliefs. And yes, there are individuals who believe in a higher power outside of themselves. Even so, their faith is not in the “I AM.” They worship idols, angels, imaginary part human and part animal demigods, nature, practice witchcraft and divination, and then there is self-worship. 

It is easy to find self-appointed false prophets who convince others they are foretelling the future or speaking to the dead, along with persons who claim to be equal to God. One of the most sinister and rapidly growing cults is the Church of Satan–Satanism, where his followers are pulled in because of greed, which is now known as the “joy of excess.” 

Do not be intimidated by Satan! We should acknowledge that the greatest enemy of humanity has evil power. Refer to “The Fall of Man” in Genesis 3. But Satan’s power and deceit can never overshadow the power of God the Almighty. Satan will never have the unlimited ability to do what he would love to do, and that is to destroy every true believer of the Most-High God.

We have a Godhead: God, the Father, Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit who will always limit Satan, yet, provide us with the power against sin if we do our part.

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. Galatians 5:16-18 NLT

Our thoughts, spoken words, demeanor, behaviors, and actions indicate who we are loyal to, God, or Satan. The friends that we hang out with, the places we visit, the management of our time and money, the food we eat, and how we dress should loudly proclaim, “I believe in and serve the only God, the “I Am,” who has completely transformed my life.

Joshua challenged the Nation of Israel, who loved paganism, “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 NLT

Make it obvious that you serve God, even if it means letting go of relationships. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 2 Corinthians 6:17.

If it is difficult to know which relationships are beneficial to righteous living, begin the elimination process by asking your friends to be prayer partners and to study the Bible with you. Believing in God and dedicating your life to Him through love, faith, trust, and obedience is required to live a holy and righteous life. Because we are naturally loyal to sin, we need the Godhead to attain spiritual growth and overcome sinful tendencies. And that is why God tells us to separate ourselves from unbelievers. We don’t need additional opposition in our day-to-day lives.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

God’s promise of a better life is coming very soon for those who serve Him with their heart, soul, and mind: Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2

God, we ask for your divine power as we strive to live holy and acceptable lives. Please reveal to us the people, places, and things we must give up to live righteously. We need your strength to overcome sin. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

 

Static Interference

Do you listen to the radio? Among all forms of media, radio is still the most popular. Invented by Guglielmo Marconi: an Italian inventor, he proved the feasibility of radio communication. Marconi sent and received his first radio signal in Italy in 1895. https://public.wsu.edu/~bryan.mclaughlin/Radio/Who_Invented_Radio.html

Is radio still relevant today? Listener habits have changed, but our love for radio hasn’t. Discover why radio is still popular, outperforming podcasts and TV in the digital era. Across all demographics, Nielsen demonstrates that radio is still the most popular form of media in America. Radio reaches 90% of adults aged 18-34, 94% aged 35-49, and 91% aged 50 and older. That being said, here are our thoughts on why radio is still popular today. https://radio.co/blog/radio-still-popular

As much as we enjoy radio broadcasts that have stood the test of time, there is one element that plagues radio, static interference.

Static is the noise produced in a radio or television receiver by atmospheric or natural, or man-made electrical disturbances and the electrical disturbances producing this noise. http://www.merriam-webster.com

Yes, static is something that remains entirely above our technological capabilities. Even so, we have adapted and readily expect noise interference to occur at some point during our listening enjoyment.

Daily I pray and ask God to reveal the thoughts and behaviors that prevent me from fulfilling my divine purpose to live righteously. I will share the answer that the Holy Spirit placed in my mind: As Believers, we have too many concerns that have nothing to do with serving God.

Like the radio that will forever be plagued with static interference, we have also placed ourselves in a position to suffer from static. We have allowed people, our day-to-day challenges, and our fluctuating emotions to create ongoing interference. The noise that we allow in our lives stands in the way of our commitment to establish and maintain an unwavering, faith-based relationship with Jesus Christ. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. 1 John 3:7

In 2021, reduce the static interference of too many concerns by redirecting your focus. Begin by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Use your Facebook page, TikTok, Instagram, youtube, etc., to help others. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT. If you believe that God helps us to overcome, then share your testimony. Let others know that there is a loving God who can help us gain victory over the static noise in our lives.

Living by the Word of God can only be done by diligently studying the Bible. Remain faithful to Jesus by whispering a prayer throughout your day. Have a meaningful praise and worship session with God at least twice a day. And most importantly, Jesus says, “If you love me keep my commandments.” John 14:15. Without obedience, we fall back into our old habits from a former lifestyle of sin. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

God, we thank you for the ability to develop a strong relationship with you. We desire to eliminate the static interference that prevents us from serving you with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Please help us to guard our thoughts and become more aware of the distractions that pull us away from you. Thank you for hearing and answering this prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.