Following Jesus Can Cost Your Life

Then Jesus said to his disciples, whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

Prayer: God, we are ready to recommit our hearts, souls, and minds to you. It is our desire to deny our desires and to faithfully serve you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Just Say Yes

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” John 5:6

Jesus is waiting for our faith-based answer of ” Yes.” Whatever is going on in your life, He was aware before it happened. It’s time for us to rely on God in every situation. “Is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Trust God

God, we are saying, yes. We give you every burden, every situation, and every hardship to You. And we will faithfully wait until you bring victory. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Kristene DiMarco–It is Well (Live)

Our Determination

Throughout Jesus’ life, He stayed close to God by constantly praying for strength. Jesus lived a life having devout love for God and others. The compassion to heal, speak words of hope, and provide for basic needs was evident by the many miracles He performed. Yes, Jesus is our role model for living righteously.

Casting all your care on him, for he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7. It takes strong determination to have faith in God. We cannot accomplish this daily task without the strength given by the Holy Spirit. To receive the power to overcome temptation and hardships, we must stay connected to God through constant prayer.

Of the many activities we do in life, prayer is the most important. Our willingness to trust and obey God is reflected by the amount of time we spend with him. Prayer is for our benefit. Through prayer, we experience change. We live a faith-based life having the confidence that God will always provide deliverance. Prayer allows us to redirect our focus from earthly trials and look forward to eternal life. “Do not grieve, because the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

God, we come to you on this Sabbath day acknowledging that you love and care for us. We have the desire to stay connected to you. Please restore the joy and peace that we have lost. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

The Desire to Have a Higher Quality of Life

Here’s to our Health!

We can agree that each day brings its challenges. As we struggle to resolve yesterday’s problems, tomorrow arrives, bringing with it additional hardships. Will it ever end? Not really, but we do have an option. What changes can we make to improve our quality of life?

First, we must take a deep look at our priorities and goals. Our lifestyle and pursuits indicate the hierarchy of what we consider to be important. Every individual has unique interests, and that’s okay. If fashion is our first love, then our focus will be on the latest trends. We will have a strong desire to pursue a glam lifestyle with a room-size closet full of clothing and accessories.

Our choices are always indicators of our priorities.

How did we react to purchasing during the pandemic? “In the U.S., consumers spent $211.5 billion during the second quarter on e-commerce, up 31.8% quarter-over-quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

Without discipline and self-control, our desires escalate, and we never reach the point of saturation–we are unable to stop ourselves from the spending frenzy, nor do we embrace the concept of “enough is enough.” It is the pursuit of our “wants” that drives innovative ideas and the war between businesses to fight for a competitive edge. Supply and demand is a powerful force, meet the consumer’s demands or face declining sales with the possibility of bankruptcy.

And voicing our demands works quite well. Consumers spent more than 900 billion dollars online during the pandemic in 2020. And our expenditures were well beyond purchasing essential items.

How did we end up compromising our quality of life?

We are stressed because our pursuit of happiness depends on the acquisition of tangible items—the habit of seeking self-satisfaction is driven by the opinions of others. Convincing the consumer that we cannot live without upgrades is the foundation for successful marketing and advertising. We are spending billions on personal desires. The price is costly. Our mental and emotional health has plummeted. Depression, anxiety, and constant worries prevent any chance of possessing the beauty of having peace and inner joy.

Even so, we have a growing number of people who are concerned about their frazzled lifestyle and poor quality of life. They have developed a plan of escape. The decision to opt out of the stress and emptiness from pursuing things is on the rise. Yes, we have a diverse population of individuals who have opted-in to live the country life, van life, and tiny-home life. While some may see this as unrealistic or an easy way out, it takes inner strength and hard work to make a plan, sell your material/tangible items, and distance yourself from mainstream society.

When I experienced a significant life event last year, I begin to reflect on the quality of my 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. Yes, I had to start life over, but something did not feel right. I begin to pray for a change in my environment. Six months later, God answered my prayer. The change that I prayed for was in my immediate future. The landlord notified me that he was selling the property.

Alone, I drove a 20-foot U-haul truck 1500 miles, which resulted in living on the road for four days. The further south, I traveled the hotter the temperatures and the more frequent the rainstorms. Although my overnight stays were at hotels, the move from Texas to Florida required creative solutions. For 12 hours a day, I lived out of a truck. During the daytime hours, I had to GPS local supermarkets to replenish my food and ice to keep my essential food items cool.

The days were long. I looked forward to the rest stops to walk and take short naps. Replenished, I pushed toward my goal. Still, it was the most incredible experience to enjoy the scenic ride, complete with witnessing the beauty that still exists on the planet Earth. It was a tough, and tiring journey, but I did it! The decision to have a higher quality of life forced me to rethink my priorities, and I took active steps to pursue my dream.

In Genesis chapter 1, God provides us with a complete description of Creation. God made a perfect, beautiful home for the first married couple with all types of animals to care for and an abundance of flowers and trees. Does that prove that God desires for us to have a peaceful and joyful existence?

We are promised a reward to live in the New Heaven and New Earth when we are faithful to God. Until Jesus comes again, we can have a higher quality of life. It was not God’s original plan for us to live in the noise and busyness of the concrete jungle where trees and flowers are nonexistent. We have a greater appreciation of our Creator when we can contemplate on His goodness in a peaceful and beautiful environment with sunshine and fresh air where you can hear the birds sing and commune with Him in nature.

Pray for change and the strength to improve the quality of your life. But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Bible Study: Genesis 1

God, we need your help to change. Our desires have prevented us from having peace and joy. We admit that our lives are out of control. Please reveal to us how to live a peaceful and productive life. 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.

Preparing to Move?

When God told me to relocate from Texas to Florida, I hesitated. Was this my desire? But when God is ready to fulfill the plans that He has for us, supernatural things begin to happen. The miracles that come into fruition proclaim that God is in control. Then it is up to us to obey and move forward.

It took two months to separate, donate, and pack my personal belongings. Yes, I had many challenges, including the Texas storms that left me without running water for ten days, but my focus never changed. I was aware that the moving date was February 25th, and I did what was required to meet the deadline.

Recently, I have noticed that my faith is not growing as it should. Through my prayers, I asked God to show me what I need to do for an increase in faith. God always answers prayers. I read a devotional this morning that reminded me that this world, in its present state, is not the believer’s permanent home. 

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5. God has plans to move us to a perfect, new home [the New Heaven and New Earth]. Without the chaos of sin, death, or disease, we will experience complete joy and peace. No more race relation issues will ever plague us again.

I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.…” Revelation 21:2-3

We have become too comfortable with our present living arrangements. Every day should be a day of preparation to move to our new home. When Jesus comes again, it is not a secret that we will receive the reward of eternal life if we faithfully serve God. Redirecting our focus on God’s promises will allow us to maintain a joyful, peaceful life. Stay encouraged. We are nearing home!

Bible study: Revelation 21

God, thank you for reminding us that you have plans to move us to the New Heaven and New Earth. Please give us the strength to endure. 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.



Still Have Concerns and Worries?

Accepting Jesus as our personal Savior brings responsibilities to maintain the relationship between God and ourselves. Our covenant with God requires us to believe that He is Omniscient–All Knowing and Omnipotent–All Powerful. God told Moses, “Tell them, ‘I AM’ sent you.”

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. God is a keeper of His promises. God does not require us to carry the burdens of life without His divine intervention. We dishonor God with our doubts and unbelief. God expects us to keep our part of the covenant by faithfully trusting and waiting on Him in good or challenging times.

We are to live a life by faith and purpose-driven with the intent to serve God and others.

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.

In His mercy, God made a covenant with Noah to cleanse the earth of humanity’s wickedness. “Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.” Genesis 7:6. Although Noah was mid-life, he was faithful and demonstrated complete obedience by building the ark according to God’s instructions.

In comparison to biblical times, we have an easy life. We perceive our lives as unbearable because we do not want to experience the suffering of trials and sorrows. God will allow what is needed for us to experience complete dependence on Him. Our covenant with God is a vow for us to “believe in Him, and to patiently wait until He brings us victoriously through our challenges.”

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

Bible study: Genesis chapters 5-9

Prayer: God, we ask for forgiveness for responding to our suffering by worrying. It is our desire to completely trust you with our lives. Thank you for the Sabbath and your daily gifts of grace and mercy. We ask for the strength and courage today to faithfully serve 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.