Changing your Life by Witnessing-Happy Sabbath

At least once a week, I participate in online surveys. Two questions appear in every survey: Are you influenced by your family and friend’s experiences with a particular product or company? If you were offered a job equal to your current job, would you be proud to work for this company? All companies that expect to thrive in the current economic decline environment are very concerned about their reputation and the consumers’ perception of their business culture.

We can also perform a self-survey. Do other individuals influence your commitment to serve God? What opportunities do you seek out to share your faith by telling of the goodness of God?

God has given us a commission-a work that He considers our duty in serving Him. We must witness to others! Not only does sharing our testimony of spiritual transformation strengthen our relationship with God, witnessing is a faith-building activity that encourages others to include God in their lives.

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

Read verse 17. Although the disciples were with Jesus and eyewitnesses of His ministry, which included the healing power of physical ailments, casting out demons, and providing food for a multitude, some of the disciples still had doubted the divinity of Christ. What is the road-block that kept them from having 100% faith and trust in Jesus? In verse 18, take notice that Jesus had to remind them that He was the Son of God, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”

Even though we live in times of economic instability, we have total faith in our employers that we will receive our salary, or the supermarket we shop at will always have food for purchase. And certainly, we believe in our abilities. Who doesn’t enjoy completing goals in which we entirely relied on ourselves to accomplish? How many of us think about the gift of God’s grace for a new day of life and the ability to function with mental and physical strength? We receive many blessings that God lovingly provides, yet, our doubt is targeted at Jesus, the Son of God who sacrificed his life for our salvation.

1. Taking the Giant Leap of Faith-serving God is a spiritual decision and requires an unwavering faith-wholehearted belief that God will do exactly as He says he will do. But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

2. Self-forgiveness and God’s forgiveness-Forgiveness is often an area of intense struggle. Perhaps we have hurt others who will never accept forgiveness because they refuse to interact with us. Even so, we can always pray and ask God to forgive us, and then we must forgive ourselves and move forward in the power of Jesus’ name. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

3. Human Effort-Serving God always requires action on our part. We must put forth the determination to fulfill our role in the Plan of Salvation. …and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open, and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.…2 Chronicles 7:14-15

4. Remaining Motivated-Accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior brings many low in the valley experiences. 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. Trusting in Jesus provides us with the confidence to enjoy the sweet peace and comfort from knowing that God will bring us through victoriously. 

5. Perseverance-Never become weary in serving God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. The plans that our Heavenly Father has for His faithful children end with living in a perfect New Heaven and New Earth.

Many are fearful of sharing their testimonies with others. How has your life changed since accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? As unique as our fingerprints, so are our testimonies of the transforming power of Jesus that has touched our lives.

Sharing our testimony is essential for spiritual growth. When the Apostle Paul was before King Agrippa, he testified of his conversion from Saul to Paul.

“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. Acts 9:5-6

The Apostle Paul always shared the powerful story of his spiritual transformation with unbelievers. When we can tell our personal experience of how God has transformed our lives by accepting us, usually at our lowest point, then our testimony proves that God is real. And that He is waiting for each and everyone to come to him.

Our spiritual eyes must be fully open before we can tell others about Jesus Christ. We must possess a firm foundation of belief, trust, and faith in God. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance when testifying of your deliverance from sin. For example, if you have a history of child molestation, most individuals do not need the intimate details of the suffering you experienced. Your focus is to bring glory to God and how He provided deliverance by giving you complete mental and emotional healing. 

From my experience, I have been told many deep, dark secrets while witnessing. Because there are many atrocities that I have never suffered, I often share the story of the Apostle Paul’s transformation. Read Acts chapter 9. Saul had a thirst to seek and kill Christians who believed in the saving power of Jesus Christ. And the worst part is that Saul thought he was doing this under the cloak of religion. Because of his level of wickedness, God physically blinded him, and for three days and nights, he did not eat or drink. But, our God always brings a victorious end. God not only took away Saul’s desire to kill, to complete his spiritual transformation, but God also changed his name from Saul to Paul. Hallelujah!

Do not be discouraged if the person you are sharing God’s love with does not accept God. If they have taken the time to listen to your testimony, then their heart is open to change. The Holy Spirit will minister to them as they reflect on the words of truth they have heard. It is not only spoken words that convey our relationship with God. We may never know the burdens that lift from the persons to whom we said a joyful “Good Morning,” or performing a kind deed when it was least expected. Our smiles and cheerful disposition are an outward reflection that we have the inner joy that comes only from serving God.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, we can use social media for witnessing. It has been a rough and turbulent ride in 2020. Pray and ask God to reveal the opportunities to share your faith with or without words. Your relationship will continue to grow deeper with God, and your faith will strengthen. In a world filled with hopelessness, we must proclaim that we serve a mighty and loving God who delivers us. God is always faithful! Despite our trials and sorrows, like Job, we can proclaim, But I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end, He will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

God, we thank you for the Sabbath. We ask in your name to grant us the holy boldness to tell of your great love and plan of salvation to others. Please fill our hearts with compassion and the desire to serve you with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission. 

Hawaiian Sunset” no_foreign_lands, B. Domino-Reyes photography

Changing your Life by Surrendering

What is your first thought when you hear the word surrender? Many think of giving up or defeat. After-all the dictionary definition is: to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. And yes, in the case of interaction with an adversary, the dictionary definition accurately describes the situation.

“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 NLT

Take my Hand

Surrender takes on a totally different meaning when God is involved. When the storms of life have beat us down, and we feel as if we cannot deal with another problem, if we allow ourselves to surrender to Jesus Christ, He takes the impossible and performs miracles. Surrendering is asking Jesus to be a part of our lives by confession and repentance of our sins. Having a relationship with God is not complex, nor is it complicated. The spiritual component in humanity and the seed of faith that God has given to everyone automatically connects to God when we commit to serving Him.

We do not have to understand or attempt to analyze the peace and inner joy we receive from serving God. It is in the midst of our raging storms of trials and sorrows that all we have to do is say, “God, help me.” And the hands of Jesus reach out, and the spiritual bonding begins as our hearts start to calm down from the reassurance that we are no longer alone to bear our burdens.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

With our Heavenly Father, defeat or the feelings of being overwhelmed are part of our past. We decided not to ever surrender to our harsh trials and tribulations again. Feeling empowered and victorious is the outcome of giving ourselves to the only One who can tell our storms, Peace, be still! Who else would know exactly what we need when we need it? Never forget who you belong to: Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us… Genesis 1:26

Make your life complete by surrendering to God. It takes human effort to nurture the seed of faith.  By believing, trusting, and obeying God in all circumstances will guarantee that you will never be defeated again.

God, we are ready to surrender to you. We confess and ask forgiveness of our sins. We commit to love and serve you with all of our hearts, souls, and minds from this day forward. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Surrendering to God gives us constant peace, despite our circumstances. Image credit: no_foreign_lands, B. Domino-Reyes photography

Love God, Love Others, and Love Yourself

“Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” 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 22:36-38 BSB

As Believers, we are to think, act, and live differently from those who do not believe in God. The pursuit of financial gain is the goal of those seeking to satisfy their desires. Unfortunately, many who profess to serve God have boarded the “Prosperity Ship” because of greed. Our overabundance is not to be used to purchase the latest fashion or trends. One of the most discouraging things I have ever witnessed was an individual who was a Pastor’s wife and had converted one of their bedrooms into a closet.

At Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon, he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:1-4 NIV

Loving God means that we strive to stay in alignment with His plans for our lives. We have primary responsibilities to help those in need. God has given everyone spiritual gifts and talents. Consider the elderly, living alone because spouses preceded them in death, and their children live in other states. Certainly, they could use a prepared meal or help with cleaning their homes. Local Churches involved in community service require monetary donations beyond the tithe and offerings from their members.

Currently, with the pandemic, many children are engaged in virtual learning. Two of the most challenging courses are math and science. If you are gifted in these subjects, you could offer virtual tutoring to assist the learning process and alleviate the burden of parents who cannot help their children learn the new and updated versions of these subjects.

When we love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, we have a natural desire to reach out beyond ourselves. 

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42

Until Jesus was born as a human, He never experienced suffering. In His Divine Nature, Jesus did not have prior personal experience of the mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish that accompanies harsh trials and tribulations. Contrary to popular belief, there is not biblical support of Jesus or the angels crying in heaven. Sorrows, trials, and tribulations are part of the earthly journey of humanity.

Nevertheless, in the short span of 33 years, Jesus’ desire was always to please, honor, and glorify God, His Father. the Bible is full of stories of our Savior always helping and healing many of physical illnesses. The life of Christ demonstrates that He broke the barriers of all the “isms” that prevent many of us from reaching out to those in need.

Jesus gave Himself for us and to us, paying a holy and precious price on the cross. After giving His all, is it too much for Him to ask us to do the same thing? No man or woman will ever amount to anything in God’s kingdom or ever experience any of His power until this lesson of prayer is learned–that our personal considerations, no matter how important or precious to us, are secondary. Dr. Francis… From the Devotional Streams in the Desert

Study the Life of Christ in the book of Matthew, and reflect on the great sacrifice that Jesus willingly made for us. We cannot say that we are followers without possessing knowledge of Jesus, His character, and the manner in which He lived.

We are in a holiday season where the focus is placed on spending money and gift-giving. Although we do not have Biblical support indicating the actual day of Christ’s birth, many accept the celebration of Christmas day as His entry on earth as a human. Make every day a celebration of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection by committing to serving God and serving others.

Bible Reading Plan for December: Matthew chapters 1-28

God, we thank you for our spiritual gifts and talents. May we always put you first, and have a loving and giving spirit. Thank you for always providing our needs and blessing us with additional resources that we may help others. As we celebrate the season of giving, we thank you for giving your life that we may have redemption from our sins and receive the reward of eternal life. We pray in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Edited and updated on 12/14/2020, 9:05 am

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

 

Christmas Wreath handcrafted by Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Prayer is Our Weapon

Read: Acts 12

The praying Believers did not believe that Peter was at the gate. They prayed but had doubt that God would answer their prayer.

Prayer is the only option we have.

Prayer puts us in the neighborhood of God. When our faith is weak and our doubt is strong, pray anyway.

Prayer places us to be in alignment with God.

Prayer unleashes the Power of God!

Acknowledge your weakened faith, by praying, “Lord help my unbelief.”

Prayer, fasting, and humility of heart places us in the vicinity of God.

Pray in your desperation. Prayer points us into the direction where God is.

Just keep praying. Prayer increases our Faith!!!

As we commit to a closer and deeper relationship with God, increase your communcation with God through prayer.

Make the promise to yourself that you will increase your prayer life. Pray to the Creator, the God of Heaven and Earth and you will see a change in your life like you have never witnessed before.

God, we ask you to forgive our unbelief. We pray for an increase in our faith. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.

God’s Promises

Hopefully, you have committed to accept the gift of the Sabbath. God was aware that we would need 24-hours a week to cease the necessary day-to-day activities that place excessive strain on our minds and bodies–mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Life with God ensures that we are not alone and left to struggle even under harsh trials and sorrows.

Receiving God’s promises requires that we have a relationship with Him. God’s promises are for “His people.” We agree that we will fulfill the terms of our covenant with God.

Diligently seeking God in prayer, studying the Bible, exercising faith, trust, obedience, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ are conditions of participation in the Plan of Salvation.

Serving God is not passive, nor is it based on doing nothing. We actively strive toward spiritual perfection, which we achieve through Christ.

Set your spiritual standards high, and Satan will never have the opportunity to take you low. Knowing that God loves us and will never abandon us erases all doubt, discouragement, and stress.

Validate your status by verbalizing, ” I belong to God!” You will begin to notice that peace will replace a discontented spirit. Serving God has definite advantages, and now is the time for us to discover the perks that come from having a Heavenly Father. No worries, ever!

Claim God’s promises through faith. It pays to serve the Lord.

God, we thank you for the ability to serve you. Please help us realize when we are feeling alone, we have failed to connect with you. Thank you for always being consistent with your love and blessings of grace and mercy. We love you. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Failure, Fear, and Faith

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV

Imagine never being disappointed by broken promises or events that change the course of our lives. The reality is even with careful planning, we can never fully be in control of our lives. As long as we have breath, we will endure many unexpected changes that can be so devastating that we feel as if life is not worth living.

What happens when we experience a crisis? Most of us seek outside help or we rely on our previous problem-solving skills. We begin to focus on options that will alleviate or resolve our present challenges. Feeling hopeful, we apply our solutions, praying that our circumstances will be short-term and end with a quick resolve. As we begin to lose hope because our solutions failed, it is at that point that we are forced to acknowledge our limitations.

Unless we have a history of possessing rock-solid faith in God, Satan the greatest enemy of humanity attempts to make us his victim. We lose our focus on God’s Omnipotence and His promises, and we become gripped by fear. Our emotions escalate, and the bitter fruits of doubt, anxiety, and worry take over as we desperately seek options outside of God our Jehovah-jireh.

There was another option, as soon as the challenge arose, we take it to God in prayer.

Have you reached the point in your spiritual life where you have complete faith and trust in God? Do you thank Him for the troubles of trials and tribulations in your life? These are undoubtedly thought-provoking questions that allow us to evaluate the strength or weakness of our relationship with God. The definition of faith is knowing that the situation is impossible, yet, still trusting in God to intervene and provide a victorious outcome. Without suffering, we cannot attain spiritual growth.

Although hard times leave us feeling overwhelmed and alone, it is not true, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. Self-reliance is enmity against God. We cannot say that we trust in God when we attempt to help him by taking steps to resolve our challenges. The hardships of life that place us in a helpless situation build our faith and deepen our relationship with our Creator.

Be strong and courageous…Deuteronomy 31:6. The path that leads to Righteousness is bumpy with many twists and turns. We have a spiritual guide that knows our journey, and He will guide us according to His plan for our lives. No matter how difficult our situation is; Be Steadfast, and Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 

Bible Reading: Psalm 27

God, in our humanness, we consistently fail to recognize your great power that can bring resolution to every trial and tribulation that we face in our lives. We give you our burdens and will wait for your intervention. Amen.  –SJR

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.

Our Turning Point

At some point in our lives, we will come to a spiritual crossroads. If we choose to follow God, then we will have to change the way we think, discard the things that we are chasing after, and we may have to give up the relationships that interfere with our faith-walk with God. Because God has given us free will, these decisions are not mandatory. We can live as we choose to live.

Although many believers do not make it a habit to disobey God blatantly, often we fall into the deadly web of compromise. God is aware and has identified that humanity has a weakness: There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12. If you refer to the Devotional reading, “Letting Go,” published November 21, 2020, I attempted to place an Offer of Compromise before God. I convinced myself that I could stay in an unequally yoked relationship in which we would just remain friends.

Even though I was in a fierce battle between good and evil, God knew that I have always loved Him. God did not leave me alone to struggle. He took my mustard seed faith combined with the resilience of a Spiritual Mentor who was a dedicated Prayer Warrior, and our Omnipotent God broke my chains of bondage for that individual.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

From that experience, I realized that the limited plans and strategies that I developed could not provide hope or a future. I acknowledge that God is my all-and-all. Yes, God is El Shaddai, Jehovah-Jireh, and the Creator of all humanity. He is unconditional love, and from that love flows His blessings of grace and mercies. God has promised, Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24. Therefore, I acknowledge His greatness by humbly serving Him and walking through life on bended knees.

There is a song that I love, Bow Down and Worship Him. The writer of this song gives us the solution to prevent separation from God (due to so many earthly distractions) by staying in constant communion with Him. Through diligent study of the Bible and never-ceasing prayer, our worship acknowledges His Deity. Still, we must establish and build an up-close and personal relationship with God, which allows us to fully receive His abundant blessings of love, grace, and mercies. Spiritual growth is only possible from our desire to stay attached to our Heavenly Father.

Our love and adoration for God are expressed through praise, prayer, faith, trust, and obedience that keep us connected to our Creator, who is the source of our strength. Preparation time is now! We must praise and worship God on earth to prepare for worshiping Him in the New Heaven and New Earth. Your opportunity to accept God’s offer to choose Him is on the way. When He brings you to the spiritual crossroads in your life, it is that turning point where Jesus is standing with His arms open wide, saying gently, “Come to me.” Never forget, Jesus Christ is coming again! Soon, we will be in His presence to worship the “I AM, the Alpha and the Omega, forever and ever. Amen.

Bible Readings: Revelation 21-22

God, we thank you for loving us so much that you bring each of us to the crossroads where we must decide to wholeheartedly serve you or turn and walk away. We ask you to give us strength as we persevere in our spiritual journey. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Seeking a Better Life?

Do you remember playing the game, Hide and Seek? The child assigned to find the others would close their eyes or at least pretend to close their eyes and count to 20. It was a simple but exciting game that would make us giggle when the seeker quickly found the others before us. But we didn’t realize that our laughter gave the seeker the exact location where we were hiding. There was always one child, Jimmy, who we could never find. Jimmy was never found because he didn’t mind getting his clothes dirty, nor did he laugh when his playmates were found in their hiding places. And when it was Jimmy’s turn to seek, he quickly found all of us and won the game. Jimmy knew something that we failed to realize, finding places to hide required going above and beyond what we were willing to do.

Then with a humble heart, you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13. 

When God tells us to seek Him, it’s not because He is hidden. Seeking God allows us to have an up-close and intimate relationship with Him. Do not let your zeal subside; keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer. Romans 12:11-12

Serving God should bring excitement. We have access to God at all times, and in every circumstance, we can approach God in prayer. Our desperation to remain close to God reveals that we possess the love, faith, trust, and obedience, (which are fruits of humility), to obey His will. Loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind proclaims that we honor His Deity-He is our Creator and Supreme God. We also acknowledge that we are incapable of living without His presence in our lives.

God never requires more of us than we are capable of doing. He knows that His Divine Intervention is needed for us to be victorious overcomers. Serving God on His terms reassures us that He will resolve our challenges according to His will. 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

We have many tangible desires and devise strategies and develop plans to pursue our wants. But are we zealous for God? “Zeal is dedication or enthusiasm for something. If you have zeal, you’re willing, energized, and motivated.” (vocabulary.com). How often do we possess the desire to desperately seek God? Do we maintain zeal when we are enjoying excellent or great times, or do we become discouraged and seek God only when our circumstances change and harsh struggles overwhelm us?

God never leaves us to guess or self-determine what is required to seek and serve Him. Love for our Heavenly Father keeps us motivated to be in His presence continually. We are to go above and beyond in our prayer, praise, and worship to our Most-High God every day and throughout our day and night.

Making the habit of keeping a song on our lips and speaking praises of thanksgiving allows us to stay in the presence of God. Abiding love, abundant grace, and never-ending mercies are freely given to us. Not because we can ever do anything to deserve those gifts, it is a testament of God’s love for humanity. Often it is the distractions of our everyday lives that separate us from seeking God and staying in God’s presence.

Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

If you are having difficulty staying in contact with God, then I encourage one change in your life. Satan loves individuals who live a disorganized lifestyle. Make a much-needed change by structuring your life. Pray, commit, and ask God to help you break the nonproductive habit of disorganization. Take a moment to write goals for the next three days and include worship sessions to begin and end your day. With prayer and diligence, chaos will turn into calm, and your lifestyle will reflect that all is well. With a peaceful mind, and organized environment, you can meditate on the Word of God and worship freely without distractions. Present your plans to God in prayer, asking for His blessing. 

Ask God to give you wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV. Do not fret if your plans worked out differently. If it was not because of a distraction that kept you from fulfilling your goal, then know that Divine intervention kept you in the direction that God desired for you.

Approach God with humility and practice the powerful habit of diligent prayer. Seek Him in the joyful, good times and in the stormy, sorrowful times. God is waiting for us to faithfully come to Him. God’s Promise: Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

Bible Reading: Isaiah 65

God, we thank you for giving us the answers on how we can live according to your will. We pray for the zeal, and the love to serve you with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. God, we need your help to change the obstacles that are keeping us from desperately seeking you. We love you and ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission. 

Reaching Out-Sabbath Devotional

We are in difficult times, yet many continue to live lavish lifestyles while others are homeless and hungry. The great divide between “those who have and those who have not” continues to grow.

Black Friday (2020) hit a new record with consumers spending $9.0 billion, an increase of 21.6% year over year (online sales hit $7.4 billion on Black Friday in 2019), according to Adobe Analytics data. It was the second-largest online spending day in U.S. history, coming in behind Cyber Monday 2019. abcnews.go.com

The spending will continue throughout the holiday season while many families wonder how long they will have housing and live off minimal food.

As believers, we have a responsibility to take care of those in need.

    1. 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
    2. 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
    3. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? James 2:16

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/

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16, Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Matthew 14: 13-17

It is difficult to grasp the concept that Jesus’ disciples were selfish and faithless. Although Jesus was the perfect role model who consistently helped others, they still maintained the “looking out for number one” mindset. Remember, the disciples possessed the power to perform miracles, yet their true character was revealed when they told Jesus to send the people away to fend for themselves. Their response to Jesus’ command to feed the multitude, “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Matthew 14:17.

The root of the problem is simple: We do not love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, so it is impossible to love others. Nor can we build our faith in God through self-reliance. We may give the 10% that God requires, Malachi 3:8-15, but God requires more from those He has blessed with wealth. Our definition of wealth is not God’s definition of wealth. When we have all of our necessities, our abundance of money is to provide for others.

Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:9-11 NLT

Make a change this holiday season. All believers have a divine purpose to bless others. Our unselfish giving to those in need results in an increase of love for God and others. The innate selfish spirit and hardened heart begins to melt away as we become full of compassion and the desire to minister to those who are unable to provide for themselves. Decide to be content with what you have and commit to sharing your financial resources.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25: 34-40

God, we confess that we have hardened hearts and clenched fists concerning our money. We ask forgiveness for the selfish spirit that has controlled us for a long time. We desire to change and fulfill our purpose in life to alleviate the burdens of those in need. We pray for your blessings as we continue to do your will. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author. 

Looking Beyond Today

Good Morning. It is a new day, and we have received our gift of abundant new mercies. As I continue to think about peace and why there is a shortage of peace among believers, the Holy Spirit provided an answer: we are not thinking or preparing for Eternal life. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

As I searched for sermons on Eternal life, there were no up-to-date, 2020 sermons. From 2013-2019, there were a few brief sermons on Heaven and Eternal life. How is this possible? Are we so distracted or content with our present lives that we have lost our desire to live forever with God?

One of the posts even included a message entitled, “The Crippling Fear of Everlasting Life,” known as apeirophobia. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12. Remember that Satan boldly spreads false information, which is why we must boldly witness to others regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The most precious promise for a believer is if we are faithful, obedient, and strive to live righteously, then the ultimate reward is immortality in the New Heaven and New Earth. “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12-13

Yes, our lives are like boats on the ocean that fluctuate between fearful storms that bring strong tumultuous waves and the soothing calm of tiny ripples. But we must always remember that we have the Captain and His Crew. God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and countless angels are always available who will never leave us, nor will our boats capsize and sink to the bottom of the ocean. “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

I share the answer to my prayer on how to have perfect peace every day. Despite our circumstances, we must always believe in the power of God and acknowledge that He gave Jesus, His Son, for the redemption of my sins. Make the decision not to let your circumstances prevent you from grasping the peace that flows from God. Ask yourself, “How often do I think about the promise of life in the New Heaven and New Earth?” 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD.They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. God always fulfills His promises! All He asks of us is to have faith. From today forward, believe that all things are possible with God, and obey His command, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

There is great joy that comes from knowing the vacation you planned will happen soon. Begin to look forward to the promise of eternal life. We know how the story of this earthly journey ends. For the faithful, God has promised to change our bodies from mortal to immortal, from trials and sorrows to forever possessing joy. We will be able to laugh, never to shed tears for any reason, and be surrounded by the glory of God. Yes, we must look forward to speaking with Jesus, the one who died for us, and now serves as our Heavenly Intercessor. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5

The Apostle John describes his vision:

18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. 19 The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
21 The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.
22 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. 25 Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. 26 And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. 27 Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 22:18-27. Amen!

God, we thank you for the great sacrifice of your Son, Jesus. We ask for forgiveness of not claiming your promises of peace and eternal life. It is our desire to live forever with you in the perfect New Heaven and New Earth. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus who is coming soon. Amen!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.