Yes, We Need Love

Are you familiar with the cliche, “Looking for love in all the wrong places?” Many of us are looking for love in all the wrong people. We have different definitions of love based on our total life experience from childhood to the present. Because of sin, we willingly compromise by placing ourselves in the lives of those who do not love God wholeheartedly.

We were created from love and redeemed from sin by unconditional love. Yet, we fail to commit our love and life to the very One who suffered, bled, and died for us, Jesus Christ. Have you discarded your prior beliefs or knowledge of love to embrace God’s, unconditional love?

God definition of love: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

But then God says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9

Sounds like a dilemma? Not for God. We do not understand that it takes God’s supernatural power to give us the wisdom to understand unconditional love.

God’s concept of love: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

God’s expectation for all believers: “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 22:37-38

Jesus gave us the foundation to resolving all of our challenges of feeling lonely, empty, and broken. We must love God with our “all.” Are we doing our part in the love relationship with God?

After the creation of Adam, God was aware of the misery that being alone would cause: Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18. Marriage is a holy institution ordained by God. Adam and Eve were the first married couple. God designed the family: And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28.

Sin entered and messed up God’s perfect plan. But the plan of salvation and redemption was already in place before the creation of the human race. Our Omnipotent God was fully aware that Adam, Eve, and the entire human race were lost without His perfect, divine Son dying for us.

We should never doubt God and Jesus Christ’s love for humanity. It is only human beings who are created in His image. We have the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components of our Heavenly Father. Still, we do not comprehend God’s love.

The breakdown: We fail to do our part in the love relationship with God. The daily prayer, “Let your will be done,” demonstrates the level of commitment that we have to God. 

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will do it.… Psalm 37:3-5

God is always aware of our mental, emotional, physical, and most importantly, spiritual needs. Why would He withhold the blessing of us being loved by another individual? If we cannot love, obey, have faith, and trust in God, then we are not ready to enter the life-long (until death do us part) holy union of marriage.

We will always remain in the struggle between good and evil. Without divine intervention, our human effort would be meaningless. The decision to follow Jesus involves a challenging journey. “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.

Trust God’s plan by praying daily, “God, let your will be done in my life. Please show me the way to love and serve you with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Amen.”

God is the giver of gifts! We receive His love, grace, and mercies every day. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” 1 Chronicles 16:11-12.

God does not promise us that He will give us a husband or wife. But we are guaranteed eternal life if we: Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways, know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. Proverbs 3:5-6, Amplified Version

Are you looking for love? Allow God to show you the joy of being in a love relationship with Him, and He will bless you beyond your expectations.

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 13

God, we confess that we have not loved you with all of our heart, soul, and mind. And for this, we pray for forgiveness. Please show us how to love you by teaching us how to love you through faith, trust, and obedience. 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.

Align Your Thoughts With The Holy Scriptures

Have you tried hard to get the victory over your past or a present habit that you know is wrong? Do you believe that God heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3) or that He cast our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19)?

Satan desires that we think and live as victims who are enslaved to brokenness and addictions. But God promises us Deliverance from our past traumas and present sins.

Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever because you delight in showing unfailing love Micah 7:18

For our core beliefs [and thoughts] to align and be in sync with the Word of God, we must study the Bible. The Holy Spirit cannot bring God’s promises to our memory if we lack the knowledge.

Pray for help with time management. But also pray for spiritual discernment. Pay close attention to the people and things that distract you when spending time with God through Bible study.

God created us to have an up-close, personal relationship with him. When we take the time to study the Bible, our thoughts of doubt and disbelief change. We begin to think on a spiritual level. The Holy Spirit empowers us by opening our spiritual eyes, and we receive godly wisdom to recognize the foolishness of this world.

Be aware! Now we will face tremendous opposition! Satan will use family, friends, and strangers to question our commitment to God. Even so, with holy boldness (Acts 4:31), we will be able to speak the words of Jesus: Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan you are stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:23. Satan may be prepared to debate or argue, but he has to retreat when we pray and call on the name of Jesus.

Knowing the Word of God prevents us from thinking and living as one who is defeated and hopeless. Praise God! We know how the story ends: Jesus, our loving Savior, is coming again in all of His glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people. Revelation 22:20-21

Bible Study: Micah 7

God, we admit that we don’t know you as we should. We desire to grow closer to you, and ask forgiveness of our sins. We need to be filled with your Holy Spirit. Please give us understanding and wisdom as we study the Bible. 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. 

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.