It’s Just Too Much

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all that I need. Psalm 23:1

Two lifestyles are trending now: Having excessive things [Materialism] and only basic needs [Simplistic or Minimalist].

Some people have cluttered homes. And others have well-organized museums that display their well-chosen things. As I prepared to relocate, it wasn’t difficult to figure out that I had too much stuff (craft supplies, clothing, home decorations, and furniture). The truth was that I spent a lot of money in the previous six years on things that I would never use again. It took five weeks to choose and pack the necessities and donate the many items. 

The decision to relocate to Florida was the opportunity for new beginnings. I decided to rid myself of the nonproductive life-long behavior of seeing, wanting, and buying. First, I had to acknowledge and pray for forgiveness for wasting the financial resources that God had blessed me with. Still, there was a more significant concern, “What was the reason that I kept buying material things?” I prayed for change, but also asked God to reveal His answer. It was not going to be easy. I needed divine intervention for this journey.

For some individuals, the question remains, “What is wrong with buying the things that you want if you work hard?” Psychologists have their theories, but we will approach this from a spiritual perspective. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19. 

Two reasons come to mind, focusing on material things causes a distraction from what is essential in life, especially your relationship with God. Secondly, out-of-control “wants” produce an ungodly trait of selfishness that is always hungry and requires constant feeding. “Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.” Deuteronomy 15:10-11.

Because of our sinful desires, the Apostle Paul tells us, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 7:15. Eliminating character traits that do not align with God’s requirements will always cause an intense struggle. Especially habits of excess, whether it is tangible items, food, etc. We cannot overcome without God’s help. To produce a change in our character requires “Human effort plus divine intervention.”

The struggle to break the habit of materialism is real. Victory is only possible when we put God first. Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. Loving God produces the desire to obey all of His commands. Put God first.

Bible Study: Matthew 6

God, we ask you for the strength to get rid of the stuff that clutters our minds, homes and distracts us from putting you first. We desire to have a closer relationship with you and to help those in need. We ask this prayer 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.

All or Nothing

Many in our day seem to believe that all humans are automatically children of God–that God is the Father of all people. Not so. He may be their Creator, but that does not mean that He is their Father. The Bible is clear on this point. It is only those born of the Spirit and who have responded in faith who belong to the family of God. Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus, George R. Knight

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. John 3:6

Our careers and jobs rank highly in the scheme of our lives. But financial gain, the acquisition of wealth provides only the tangible–those things that we can see, feel, and touch. The desire for financial stability has paved the way for a disconnect from God, our Provider. God has to be first! If money has such a high level of importance, then we would not have the mental health issues or suicide rate that reached pandemic levels before our worst health problem, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Globally, we are overwhelmed by the emotionally challenging diseases of anxiety, depression, and worries. Frustration and lack of perseverance have infiltrated many individuals, including those who say, “God is first in my life.” Even believers are using mind-altering substances to ease their turmoil, a glass of wine every night to provide peace to a stressful day. Alcohol, cannabis, illegal drugs, and prescription medications are readily accepted to ease the pain of life and have led to addictions that are destroying many individuals along with their families.

I’ve told you these things so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world, you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world. [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] John 16:33

Jesus warned us of the environment we would live in, full of heartaches. Even so, He says that we can have peace, which is only available through Him. Our relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior, requires total commitment every day. It takes faith, trust, much prayer, fasting, and diligent studying of the Bible, the Word of God for spiritual growth. Without God, we cannot have peace or inner joy. Substances do not provide mental, and emotional stability. Just ask those who are in recovery.

And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. John 14:16

Jesus is aware of the fragile hearts and wavering mindsets that plague humanity. He knew that we would react to our tests and trials with an emotional response that would separate us from God. So, He sent us the third person of the Trinity Godhead, the Holy Spirit who fulfills the roles of Comforter, Guide, Teacher, and Revelator–One who reveals the will of God. We do not have to understand, all we need to do is to believe. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14

God created us with finite minds, with limited understanding, so we would depend on Him. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts then your thoughts.” Isaiah 55: 8-9

God is not asking us to try to figure out the challenges of life. All He desires is that we give “our all” by exercising faith, completely trusting in Him, praying, and being still [having peace and patience] while we wait for His solution, which always leads to a victorious outcome.

Jesus is coming soon! Time is against us. We must live with the determination and persevere in loving God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. God only accepts “our all,” which is giving our best in serving Him. God has to be number one; He will accept nothing less.

Bible Study: John 3

Prayer: God, we confess that we are not giving you our best, and for that sin against you, we humbly ask for forgiveness. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit. We pray for spiritual wisdom to eliminate the distractions that prevent us from loving you and faithfully obeying your will. 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.

Singing a New Song–The Benefit of Change

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Relationships are hard work! Still, against all odds with the people, places, and things that distract us, we can enter into a forever relationship with God. The decision is a freewill choice. God will never coerce us to serve him. But if we choose to have a relationship, we must do our part to grow our seed of faith. Faith requires giant leaps. Letting go of worldly influences that instill doubts and fears is a godly requirement. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

To serve God requires perseverance. Human effort is continuous action on our part in the Plan of Salvation. We must possess:

    1. Conviction
    2. Courage
    3. Commitment

Have you ever tried a new recipe and didn’t have the exact ingredients? You decided to substitute with items you had, and then your completed dish did not turn out as expected. With God, there are no substitutions. He tells us, “For I am the Lord, I change not….” Malachi 3:6. 

Reflect on your lifestyle. Are you giving your all to God?

I can recall changing the ingredients in the way that I served God. My love for secular music outweighed my commitment to God. The genre did not matter. I loved everything from Jazz to Classical to Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Reggae, and Country. If the words conveyed a message and the beat was in sync with the rhythm of my heart, I embraced the music with open arms.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

But God had other plans. A close sister-friend asked me a life-changing question, “Do you listen to gospel music?” My response was weak, “Yes, sometimes I do, but mainly on the Sabbath.” We were going for a girl’s day out, and before I started driving, she handed me a cassette tape. Yes, this was many moons ago. I remember the last song caused me to pull over because I had a “Day of Pentecost” experience.

From that day forward, I prayed for God to overcome the addiction that I had to secular music. Sin always has consequences. Although, I do not listen to secular music at home, it is impossible to avoid hearing songs that bring back memories. Still, it remains a struggle to resist the urge to sway to the worldly melodic sounds that used to be a significant part of my lifestyle. Because of my desire to have a deeper spiritual relationship, I was convicted to give up all music that does not honor God.

Many of the current songs that are under the label of Gospel/Christian, I cannot embrace. No, I cannot “Stomp” my way to heaven, nor will the feeble attempt of a gospel artist changing the lyrics to Prince’s song, “Purple Rain,” make me think of serving God. Music is so powerful that it can lift us out of hopelessness, soothe our emotional hurts, and decrease physical pain. But music can also influence us to turn away from God.

We can thank God for the gift of music which enhances our praise and worship to him. Certainly, music will be a part of our heavenly existence. Serving God requires continuous conviction, courage, and commitment. When the trials and sorrows are raging, or past losses consume our thoughts, the Holy Spirit will cause us to remember a song that reflects God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. Using our voice to sing praises and prayers is an act of worship that God will always honor.

Our desperation for a closer relationship with God and the desire to receive the gift of eternal life is worth every change we make. I invite you to change your life by getting rid of everything that does not glorify and honor God. You will be able to sing a new song that encourages you to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

Holy, Holy, Holy

I Love you, Lord

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Bow Down and Worship Him

Lord, Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary

Draw Me Nearer

My Soul Says Yes

Oh, Friend, Do you, Love Jesus?

Peace Be Still

Encourage Yourself

It is Well With My Soul 

No More Night

His Eye Is On the Sparrow, and I know He watches me. 

Bible Reading: John 14

Prayer: God, we ask you to give us a new song in our hearts, so we never forget your love and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. 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.

 

Seeking New Opportunities?

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

Our desires and how we pursue those goals indicate our priorities and relationship with God. When we seek God first, He opens up doors of opportunities that we could never open for ourselves.

I could not find a clinical program in New Jersey without a two-year waiting list when pursuing my nursing degree. I presented the problem to God, and He provided above and beyond my expectations. Acceptance into a nursing program in Upstate NY included a scholarship along with full-time status as a student. I did not work for two years. God provided scholarships and money for all of my necessities of rent, utilities, food, and car maintenance.

As I share this testimony of what happens when we seek God first, I have to ask myself, why isn’t my faith in God stronger? God has supernatural power that we are unaware of because we fail to seek Him first. Align your desires and plans with God’s plans for your life by praying and asking Him to reveal his plans for your life.

Seeking God includes loving and obeying Him with all of our hearts.

    1. He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
    2. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27
    3. Bring all the tithes (10% of all income or increase) into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. “If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in. Try it! Put me to the test!” Malachi 3:10

 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.… Matthew 22:37

Seeking God means loving Him with all of our hearts, soul, and mind. Giving of our love, time, and money are tremendous opportunities that we may have on the bottom of our to-do lists. When we put God first, the blessings of peace, contentment, and inner joy will change our lives immensely. Please know that our finite minds can never imagine what God is ready to do to transform our lives. 

Bible Study: Malachi 3

God, we admit that we are chasing our desires. We acknowledge that we can do nothing compared to the blessings you are ready to give to us. We desire to seek you first and wait for the plans you have for our lives. Thank you for hearing and answering this 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. 

How far would you go?

Establishing boundaries is necessary to guard against mistreatment and prevent the seduction of disregarding our morals, values, and ethics. Still, most importantly, we strive to live within the boundaries of righteousness because of our love and commitment to God. We may associate seduction to only things that represent a sexual meaning. But the definition of seduction, to be lured by tempting or attractive things, applies to all desires that cause us to sin against God. We live in a time where going after the people, places, and things that please our desires defines success. Unfortunately, self-gratification causes us to forget our covenant vow and sin against God in many areas of life.

God has given us the free will of choice along with the five senses of vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. And it is our desires, fueled by our senses, that make us yearn for the ungodly and unholy things. Yes, those secret things that we hold inside our hearts, you know the things that only you (and God) are fully aware of. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9.

There is something that believers have in common. We have an arch-enemy, you know, the fallen one, Satan. His desires are for us to commit one or more sins at some level every day. Are you aware that God limits Satan’s power? No? One major limitation is that Satan cannot read our minds, because Omniscience is an attribute of God. But Satan quickly observes our behaviors without difficulty because he does have power!  Are you patient, loving, kind, and generous all of the time? Do we wear the mask of being a wonderful person but hold onto grudges and unforgiveness? How much time do we set aside in the 24 hours every day to honor and worship God? We give Satan the upper hand by failing to be steadfast and committed to serving God, our Heavenly Father.

Thankfully, God was fully aware that humanity would continuously fall and transgress His law. Redemption for the human race was set into place before the fall of Adam and Eve. God placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because He did not create robots. God created us in His image out of love. He did not speak us into existence. He knelt down and took dust and carefully formed us with the most complex minds and bodies that no human will ever fully understand. If we thought about the anatomy and physiology of our bodies, like David, we would proclaim, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 ESV

It is our choice to serve and worship God or make ourselves an idol by giving in to our carnal desires and living without boundaries.

Yes, these are strong words, but we are living in the last days. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 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. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Identifying the character traits and desires that are not in sync with holy and righteous perfection makes us fully aware of how Satan will tempt us. If I choose to live a life of celibacy but watch shows and movies with sexual content, I am setting myself up to fall. Regardless of the trend to be bold, transparent, and seek prosperity, being independent, strong-willed and disobedient are character traits that lead us to sin against God. 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

The question is: How do I stay away from myself?

Bible Study: 2 Timothy 3

God, we acknowledge that our desires for worldliness, whether it is striving for financial gain or living according to how we feel, is enmity against you, and for our sins, we ask forgiveness. Please teach us how to walk humbly with you as we await the soon coming of your Son, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We ask this prayer 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.

Lost in Translation?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man or woman of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.…2 Timothy 3:16-17 BSB

Did you know that the Bible was translated into English? If you speak another language, then you are familiar with the phrase, “Lost in translation.” Many words in American English have double-meanings or a play on words, “No pun intended.”

The Bible is not complicated. It takes a spiritual mind in Christ Jesus to understand the “Voice of God.” To explain this concept, think about babies. They have the innate ability to recognize their mothers through their five senses. And I thought babies would always remember their fathers, but this proved to be inaccurate with fathers who shaved their facial hair. The babies did not recognize them and cried as if they were looking at a stranger. Of course, those who sought to prove this hypothesis carefully manipulated the experiment with controlled factors, the fathers were not allowed to speak. Certainly, the babies would have recognized their father’s voices.

For us to recognize our Heavenly Father’s voice, we always require Divine intervention when studying God’s Word–the Holy Bible. Before studying the Bible, pray for forgiveness of sins and ask for the Holy Spirit to give you a correct understanding of the scriptures. Also, ask God to provide you with the wisdom to apply the Word of God to your life. If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 AMP

Because we are on a learning curve throughout our lifetime, we can seek a higher level of knowledge from those who are anointed and appointed to minister to mass congregations. Even so, we can attend church services, listen to sermons and study the Bible without experiencing a spiritual transformation. It is not enough to study the Bible. We must also apply it to our lives. Yes, God has anointed many individuals to preach the Word of God, but all who say that Jesus is their Lord and Savior must search the Bible and receive the knowledge to think, act, and live holy, righteous lives. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV

With the Holy Spirit as our teacher, we will always gain truth when studying biblical principles.

It is true! We may feel overwhelmed when searching the Internet for spiritual guidance through sermons. Who do we listen to? How do we know they are preaching the truth? The Apostle Paul answers those questions: They must preach about Christ!

Because of his love for God, many are familiar with Evangelist Billy Graham, who passed on February 21, 2018. Every sermon that he preached, regardless of the subject matter, always included Jesus and biblical scriptures. He never preached about gaining material wealth, and if he spoke on anxiety, worry, and depression, he explained the reason behind the feelings, “your relationship with Jesus is lacking depth, and commitment.”

I do not promote pastors, ministers, or speakers of any particular denomination or religion. God is no respecter of persons. He does not have favorites based on the denomination of the church or social, educational, and financial statuses. We must pray for spiritual discernment before listening to any sermon and studying the Bible, so we have the correct understanding of the Word of God. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.… John 10:27-28 BSB

Many preach with other motives: It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. Philippians 1:15. Because it is impossible for us to know other people’s motives, we can use the Apostle Paul’s message: Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely. … Philippians 1:17. Again, Paul gives us the defining answer, they must preach about Christ! The subject of the sermon may vary; even so, Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

Every one of us has a spiritual job to fulfill: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20. To receive eternal life, we must have a personal relationship with Christ that grows stronger and deeper every day. When we are in love with God, we excitedly spread the message of His saving grace to others.

Please know that studying the Bible is not an option! The Bible is the Voice of God! To know who God is we must have knowledge of His character, expectations, and promises. Do not be concerned about being lost in translation! When we pray for understanding, God will never allow the scriptures to be confusing. Our Teacher, the Holy Spirit is always ready and available to provide us with the ability to grasp the meaning of God’s Words.

We are blessed to have the most powerful technology available to read and hear the Word of God in many languages. Even for those who live in remote areas or in countries where the Bible is prohibited, and the media is controlled, remember that the angels are God’s messengers. If you are without a Bible, pray and ask God to give you a Bible. “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Bible Study: 2 Timothy 3

God, we thank you for the Bible, your Holy Word. Please forgive us of our sins. We pray for spiritual discernement and wisdom as we seek knowledge through the study of your Word. Our desire is to have a deeper relationship with you as we prepare for Eternal life. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. 

Will you do what God is asking you to do?

In six weeks, my life took a drastic turn of events. The farmhouse that I leased and lived in for six years would be placed on the market for sale. For three weeks, diligent search efforts for alternate housing produced nothing but waiting lists. When did this small town become so popular? So, I expanded my search to a 100-mile radius, which offered many alternatives, including a 55+ community in Florida. I laughed at the glitch on the internet because Florida was 1400 miles away. But as I began to explore their website, I completed the online application out of curiosity.

My immediate focus was packing, selling, and donating six years of my life in six weeks. Within two days, I received a congratulations email from the property manager in Florida. I called and thanked her but relayed that I was looking for housing in Texas. Then we were hit with the Texas storms, and the frigid temperatures were more than the pipes in the kitchen could withstand. They froze even with the water running at a slow rate. Thankfully, the bathroom pipes were located in the middle, warmer area under the house and shielded from the icy freeze. I was blessed to have running water. Most of the town lost power, but God’s mercies kept my electricity and gas on during this challenging time.

Two days after the storm, I heard a loud hissing noise in the front of the house. When the temperature reached 45 degrees, the pipe for the water hose had split into several places, and water was running full stream down the lawn and the driveway. Thirty minutes later, the landlord told me to fill up some gallon jugs because the pipe was irreparably damaged. Also, the kitchen pipe had burst, and he had to shut off the water to the house. I placed three totes in the bathtub and filled them to the brim. And that was the end of running water for seven days.

About 20 years ago, I worked as a camp nurse living in the Catskill mountains for three months. I never thought that I would have to use grid skills again in my lifetime. I had enough bottled water to sustain me for three weeks but had to boil water in a giant pot for basin baths and washing dishes. Also, flushing the toilet was manually accomplished and limited to once a day. My stock of cleaning products kept everything clean and odor-free. But, no complaints, I was one of the fortunate. Most in our town had to evacuate their homes due to lack of electricity and water.

The situation worsened, and our county required intervention from FEMA for the severe water shortage in nine cities. Due to the overwhelming number of burst pipes, every plumber available within 30 miles had a full schedule. Running water was the least of my concerns; I began to pray, pray, pray because I had to move in three weeks, and there was no available housing.

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will sustain you, and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

One day, as I washed my face and looked in the mirror, there are no wrinkles, but I saw many new gray hairs at the top of my forehead. During my prayer, I reminded God of his promise to take care of me and rescue me from my dilemma. That same day the property manager called me from Florida to ask if I was still interested in the apartment. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

I left Texas on Thursday, February 25th at noon in a 20 ft. U Haul truck. The Holy Spirit gave me the knowledge and skills to drive, park, and back-up a large truck for a four-day adventure to a new home in sunny Florida. Yes, I was the recipient of a big blessing. No longer do I have the responsibilities of a big house, lawn maintenance, paying three utilities, and enduring the waiting period for vital repairs to be completed on time.

I wish that I could say that obedience to God’s command for me to relocate to Florida was my first action, but it was not. Because I was pursuing my desires, I even had the boldness to ask God if He would leave me homeless. Then God showed His power! God blocked every effort to remain in Texas. On future calls for prospective housing, I received no further responses. And the plumber still had not arrived for repairing the broken pipes!

So you may ask, “But how do you know that God is speaking to you instead of a personal desire?” Because Divine Intervention is supernatural! Not only do miraculous wonders occur when you pray for God’s will to be done in your life, everything that God does is perfect. Even so, the next step is crucial. Once revealed, obedience to God’s unexpected plans is your test of faith. I can testify that God’s plans are so phenomenal all doubt is erased from your mind.

When God fulfills His plans, there are no glitches or mistakes. Many miracles occurred during my relocation, but I will mention two that stand out. The estimated cost for fuel was $600-$700 for a 20 ft truck with a load. The actual gas price was $380-$400. I will also disclose my two fears, driving over the long bridge in Pensacola, Fl, and night blindness from the headlights, especially on two-lane highways.

On the second day of the journey, heavy rain extended my driving time by three hours. The link from one highway to the next was a mountainous road. Not only was I driving at night, but I also have never experienced curvy roads going through a mountain. I downshifted into third gear and prayed for strength. The Holy Spirit told me to look ahead, not to the left or the right, and to keep my eyes focused on the yellow middle line, indicating whether the curve in the road was to the left or right. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when the sign for the major highway said “2 miles.”

The next day when I entered the Pensacola Bay/Three-Mile bridge crossing over the most massive body of water that I have witnessed, I was prayed up and prepared. Instead of fear, I was able to look at the vast body of water with a different perspective of beauty. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 NKJV

Obedience to God’s will requires doing something different. The life-changing experience happens for everyone who proclaims that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. My experience was almost like Abram’s, though I have traveled extensively through the state of Florida, I had never even heard of this city. Like Sarah, I laughed at the prospect of leaving Texas and moving to Florida. I did not deny that I laughed, but I failed to acknowledge the power of God when I did not trust Him to fulfill His plans for my life. 

The time is approaching for you to come to the crossroads where God says, “This is my plan for you.” Will you do what God is asking you to do?

Bible Study: Genesis 12

God, many times we say, “Yes, Lord, let your will be done in my life,” but we do not realize that your plans are very different from our plans. We ask you for the faith to always trust and obey when you lead and direct us. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy. We ask for a special blessing upon our lives this Sabbath as we spend quality time praising and worshipping you. 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.

Pensacola Bay Bridge during construction

Ten Percent of Our Time

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15

It is easy for me to give back 10% of what I receive financially or for items that are an asset. But as I searched for scriptures on how God expects us to use our time, the reality is that most days with the exception of the Sabbath, I fail to worship God even 10 percent of the 24 hours He has blessed me with. Yes, this fact about how I spend my time does concern me.

Would you agree that God deserves more of our time everyday?

It is a personal decision to dedicate more time studying, praying, singing, and praising God. I do not intend to make my worship ritualistic. An increase in the time that we spend worshipping God will certainly increase our faith, trust, and result in a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father.

With more time spent in worship, the Holy Spirit will reveal our character flaws, and have the opportunity to teach us what God requires of us to live Holy and righteous lives.

What about the increase in our faith? The challenges in the season of darkness will not overwhelm us because like David said, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4, we will become totally dependent on God in times of adversity.

God, we have identified a serious problem, our time spent with you is insufficient in comparison to the blessings of your grace and mercy that you continually give to us. Please forgive us for our sins. We make the commitment to spend more time with you everyday. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Happy Sabbath God’s Spiritual Spa

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy. Exodus 8:11

It was reported that our former first lady, Melania Trump visits the spa on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day. There is a common thread among humanity, we require love and attention. Life is harsh! Whether one is wealthy or impoverished, hungry or full, no one is spared from the vicissitudes–a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant–of life.

“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

What makes the difference to having and living everyday with peace and inner joy is our response to the never-ending struggles. If we are seeking solace or answers from nature, spas, yoga, meditation, sleep apps or deep-breathing exercises then we are relying on alternative therapies instead of God, our Creator.

Throughout the Bible, God instructs us to remember. Why? We look at our reflection once or twice a day and quickly forget what we visualized. In fact, we can look in the mirror in the morning and by the evening when we look again, we may not even recognize the image we see. It is the fleeting moments that affect us but we don’t have the ability to grasp or control them.

So, we embrace the hardships and the rigors in our lives as if they were newborn babies. And then the bitter fruits of doubt, discouragement, anxiety, worries, and depression take root, and begin to flourish.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. Isaiah 40:28

Omniscience–all knowing is a quality that only God possesses. The Creator of humanity was fully aware that we would have a poor memory of who He is when our trials hit. Yes, God knows how easily we become overwhelmed. Hence the reason, He created us with the desire to seek Him for love and attention. But God does not force us, contrary to what Satan wants us to believe, we are not enslaved. We have the freewill of choice to serve God or not to serve Him.

If we say, yes to God then He provides us with the knowledge to be overcomers.

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, and he watches over you very carefully]. 1 Peter 5:7 AMP

God expects us to acknowledge, remember, and obey His commandments everyday. For 24 hours from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, our Creator gives us the solution to overcoming the ruggedness of life by spending one-to-one time with Him. We receive a much-needed break by observing the Sabbath. 24 hours of God-time erases the stress from the vicissitudes that burden us from the other six days of the week.

We have our Creator who says, “Remember the [seventh day Sabbath] to keep it holy,” and I will commune with you and re-energize, refresh, and strengthen your soul. We have God’s Spiritual Spa available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where He sends our Comforter, the Holy Spirit to dwell with us. But the Sabbath is Holy! It is our prime time to devote one complete day to our Creator. All we have to do is obey and shut out the issues that trouble us the other six days of the week.

Membership in God’s Spa gives us free access to the Spiritual Team of God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, the Holy Spirit and the countless army of angels who never sleep or grow weary. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components must have daily communion with God to function properly. We should worship God everyday, but He set aside and designated the Sabbath, 24 hours as Holy.

Our perception of God along with our definition of holiness impacts our desire to obey the fourth commandment. Serving God is up close and personal. I decided that I would stop following humanity’s strategies to obtain peace, contentment, and inner joy a very long time ago.

We cannot compete with God! If we believe that we were created in the image of God then we should bow down and worship Him with faith, trust, and obedience. It is when we fail to obey by immediately communicating with God in prayer that our emotions escalate, and we worry as the unbelievers do.

God has given us a membership with unlimited access to His Spiritual Spa. Our membership was paid by the precious blood of Jesus who sacrificed His life that we may have redemption. He is alive and serves as our Heavenly Intercessor soon to come again for the faithful. So go ahead, take your daily visits and enjoy your weekly sabbaticals in the only spa that provides communion with the Trinity Godhead.

Jesus told us exactly what He would provide for us, “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Prayer: Even so, come Lord Jesus is our prayer. God, our Father we love you. It is our desire to embrace the membership to your Spiritual Spa paid by the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the Sabbath and for loving us. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson Ruiz, Steps 2 your Spiritual Success