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

The Creator of Humanity-Happy Sabbath

Within the past two years, a trend developed to find out where your ancestors were from. It is a lucrative hype with 26 million individuals paying at least $99 for an in-home ancestry test that reported conclusions outside of our human capacity. Even though one person says that she took nine tests using aliases, and three different companies reported three errors and six different results, the falsehood behind finding a person’s ancestry is ignored. These deceptive companies continue to thrive off of individuals who require validation from a DNA test and accept manmade fabricated results.

I found the following ad in a google search for Ancestry DNA testing:

Dear Reader, Where are you from? For many of us, that question can be hard to answer. Ancestry records can certainly help part of the way.

Would you like to know where you are from? Then we will explore the Bible to find out what God, the Creator of humanity, tells us about our origin.

    1. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26
    2. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
    3. And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2: 18, 21-22
    4.  And Adam called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20

From the hands of God, Adam, a human man, was created. And from Adam’s rib, God created the first human woman, and Adam named her Eve because she was the mother of all human beings. There is one aspect that we can agree on: “Only humans can reproduce humans.” Although scientists are attempting to graft or propagate humanity, God has not given us the intellectual or scientific knowledge, wisdom, or ability to create human beings without the union of egg and sperm.

Studying the Bible is the key to our existence. Knowing the story of the Creation of humanity provides all of the validation that we need to live peaceful and anxiety-free lives. God has provided a Book, the Holy Bible, with 66 books that relay the beginning of the world, our origin, what led to us losing immortality, the story of redemption, how this present earth will end, and the reward for the faithful. 

We will receive complete restoration, which includes Eternal life along with living in a sinless and perfect New Heaven and New Earth in the presence of God, forever and ever. Amen.

Still, human beings have a serious problem. We have attempted to bring God down to our level of existence and thinking. How can the creation be greater than the Creator? We are not the first generation who has been bold enough to think that they know more than God and have the wisdom to determine life’s origin. 

21 These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.

22 “Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:

23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”

Making the decision not to belong to your parents does not change the fact that they are your parents. God reiterates that all of humanity belongs to Him: 

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 6:19

We are God’s property! Do not let others measure your worth or attempt to determine your origin.

Whether or not your parents decided to reproduce you intentionally or your birth was from an unplanned conception, know who you belong to. We are children of God who is our Heavenly Father. In fact, we hold a special place in God’s heart. God gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us that we can be forgiven of our sins and live as the holy and righteous sons and daughters of God. What manmade information can compare to Jesus sacrificing His life for you?

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders You have done, and the plans You have for us–none can compare to You–if I would proclaim and declare of them, they are more than could be numbered. Psalm 40:5

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

El Shaddai–the Almighty God took the dirt off the ground with His hands and lovingly and skillfully made the first human being. Claim your birthright! Take your rightful place and allow God to love you and uphold you with His righteous right hand.

12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

God, we thank you for creating us in your image. Please give us the strength to accept your unconditional love and the future planned for us that we may live with you forever in the New Heaven and New Earth. We 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. 

Please, Don’t Say That!

There are some quips and quotes that produce a downward spiral of our inner joy and happiness. Although the reality is that the words may summarize the situation, they still leave a bitter impact on the mental and emotional well-being of the person who embraces these counterproductive statements. Let’s explore a couple of examples:

    1. “Good karma versus Bad karma.” If you are kind and do good, then good things will happen to you. But if you do bad things, then you will get back worse than you’ve given out.
    2. “Bad things happen to good people.” Because our perception of what constitutes “bad” differs from our life experience, I will only give one example of a tragic event. We can certainly agree that the premature death of a baby or child ranks as one of the highest on the list of bad things.

The reality is that both of these statements can easily be disproven. “Good karma versus Bad karma.” We have been given an innate drive to provide for our basic needs. So if a child never had enough to eat and learned that stealing was a method to diminish hunger, then certainly their perception of stealing is that it is a vital part of life. These children mature into adults with a skewed value system. As we differ, so do our definitions of “bad and good.” But the reality is that suffering impacts all of us.

“Bad things happen to good people.” Tragic events happen to everyone and are not dependent upon our good or bad character traits, personality, ethnicity, social, or financial status. Death is one of the cruelest events that humanity faces every day, and death is no respecter of persons.

How Negative Thoughts Are Ruining Your Life

“Whilst we know that a person’s genetics and life circumstances contribute to mental health problems, the results from this study showed that traumatic life events are the main reason people suffer from anxiety and depression. However, the way a person thinks about, and deals with, stressful events is as much an indicator of the level of stress and anxiety they feel,” said lead researcher Peter Kinderman, Head of the Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society. psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201408/how-negative-thoughts-are-ruining-your-life

“Don’t say things like that!” “Why would you say that?” “That was really a terrible thing to say.” Have you ever been told that something you said was inappropriate? It was not a slip of the tongue, nor was it based on an emotional response. Your innermost thoughts that were hidden in the deepest recesses of your mind finally erupted like a volcano. The vicissitudes (a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant) of life will make us better or bitter. Focusing on our circumstances produces anxiety and worry, which cancels our Faith in God.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. Psalm 103:1-2 NLT

For those who are following my blog, you are aware that I place a lot of emphasis on studying the Bible and maintaining constant communication with God through prayer. The Bible provides the way and the means for us to live a faith-based life. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15. And prayer is so vital that we are admonished to always pray, whether in times of peace and prosperity or turbulence and poverty. 

Believers in the Most-High God, this is the expectation that God has for us:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There is something that I love about the Bible; there are no secrets. No, we do not know the date that Jesus is coming again or the cause of the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Nor has the physical appearance been described when the righteous receive immortality at the Second Coming of Christ. Still, the Bible is a complete guide to living a victorious life as Overcomers!

The scriptures reveal the tribulations that we must face in our earthly 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.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 3:3-5

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

The trials that I have suffered have been harsh, and if it were not for my faith in God, I probably would be institutionalized from a severe psychiatric disorder. But I am not! God delivered me and gave me complete mental and emotional healing, and I am sure that in those tribulations, my faith was only the size of a mustard seed.

The book of Job tells us of the extreme, harsh sufferings that Job, a righteous man, endured because Satan challenged God that Job only served Him because of his wealth. 

9 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” 12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence. Job 1:9-12

The “wall of protection” is a gift from God that we have, or Satan would cause a continuous flow of tragic events, including death, to destroy the Believers in God. While we are blinded by our circumstances, the army of angels are protecting us, For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; Psalm 91:11.

In studying the Bible, I have never found a command for self-help in the “good or bad” times. We are admonished to have love, faith, trust, and obedience in God. Yes, we will cry many tears because of the hardships in our lives. Even so, I have learned to cry and pray at the same time. While the tears are flowing, I begin to feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and my prayer of distress becomes a prayer of thanksgiving and praise. 

Human effort is required to remain joyful! Trust in God’s process because our times of struggle will produce necessary spiritual growth and development. After all, what is the purpose of faithfully serving God? We are eagerly awaiting our reward of Eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or discouragement. You can do much to brighten the life of others and strengthen their efforts, by words of hope and holy cheer. Steps to Christ 119, 120. Ellen G. White

God’s promise to His Believers:

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3

Bible Reading: Psalm 91

God, we thank you for providing for us and for guiding us through the vicissitudes of life. We ask forgiveness for our lack of faith, focusing on our circumstances and thinking and saying negative words. We desire to live with a spirit of gratitude. 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.

Your Value: Priceless

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Matthew 6:26-27

Throughout the Bible, God expresses and validates our value to Him. We are priceless!

Yes, God knows that we are priceless, but how do you feel about yourself? We are of such high worth that Jesus Christ died for us. We have been gifted with a seed of faith that has the ability to grow at phenomenal proportions. And God never stops giving His abundant love, grace, and mercies. Would God patiently wait for us to come to him, and give us unmerited gifts if He did not value us? Believe and receive: For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9. 

It is by our faith that we become part of the family of God. Faith believes in God, at all times, in all situations. We must believe that God exists, and we are His children. And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

During this wintry season, do not place yourself in a season of darkness. God is our Heavenly Father. In the vastness of this universe, God knows you personally: Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:7.

I encourage you to study the Bible diligently. The Bible reveals God’s character and is the Voice of God. The Bible is complete with real-life stories of humanity’s struggles, defeats, and victories. Most importantly, God consistently reveals His love for us, despite our failures and shortcomings. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1

Prayer is vital to deepen our relationship with God. Prayer provides an ongoing connection to God. The next time that distressful emotions overcome you, begin to pray. Do not focus on the amount of faith that you have or that you do not have. It is by faith that we even have the desire to pray. When we believe, our invisible God becomes visible in various ways. We serve a God who meets us where we are and ministers to our individual needs. Prayer is powerful. Remember, it takes the human effort of prayer to tap into God’s infinite love and power.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. John 14:27

God, we pray for the ability to see ourselves as you see us. Thank you for fearfully and wonderfully creating us in your image. Indeed, you are an awesome God! As we continue our spiritual journey, we pray for increased faith and trust in you. This prayer we ask in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. 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.

© In the Vastness poem written by Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

God’s Love for Humanity: Jehovah Jireh-Our Provider

At the age of 5, I was taught a simple song: “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so.” As a young child, I did not understand the significance of those words, nor did I realize that Jesus agreed to make the ultimate sacrifice, and He died on the cross to redeem humanity from sin. I understood that Jesus was in heaven with God, His Father, and He loved me even more than my parents. Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. 3 “Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

Fast forward almost six decades, and one would think that my faith is rock-solid strong, and I live a worry-free life 100% of the time. But sadly, that is not my testimony. There are times that I lose my spiritual strength when the going gets tough. Still, I faithfully pray and ask God to forgive me for my faithlessness. Recently, God intervened by allowing a sermon entitled, “Lord help my mind,” to show up on my social media page. It had to be Divine intervention because I was not familiar with the Pastor, and I have filters set to block channels that I have not subscribed to. Even so, God always answers our prayers and provides when we need His help! Hallelujah!

When Jesus chose the 12 disciples to follow Him, they were required to leave their homes, families, and jobs. Jesus called together his twelve disciples. He gave them the power to force out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness. Matthew 10:1 CEV. If you can take a few moments, please read the chapter. Pay close attention to verses 5-15, which are entitled, “Instructions for the Twelve Apostles.” 

Don’t take along any gold, silver, or copper coins. 10 And don’t carry a traveling bag or an extra shirt or sandals or a walking stick. Matthew 10:9-10. Stretch your imagination, and apply these directives to a recent job offer. If the employer offered the job with these requirements, would I be presumptuous in saying that most of us would decline the position? Even if we accepted the job, we would have many questions that needed concrete answers before leaving our personal effects at home. 

Do you believe that God is your Jehovah-Jireh, Our Provider?

Often, there is a wall of “Doubt and Disbelief” that surrounds our minds from the front, back, and both sides. We only believe as far as our eyes can see, or we rely on the methods that we used to resolve our previous challenges. It is easy to convince ourselves that our actions from self-reliance gave us the positive outcomes. But faith requires trust and obedience in God while we patiently wait for His answer. When we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we experienced a spiritual transformation and became His disciples. Sadly, even though God has blessed us with all of our necessities; a job, shelter, clothing, and food, still, we do not possess unwavering faith in God when hard times arise.

Uncertainty, fear of failure, and self-reliance places us in direct conflict with God. Our lack of faith puts us in a spiritual dilemma: And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6. 

Jesus’ disciples did not question their instructions, nor did they complain about their lifestyle restrictions. It was by their faith-believing in God and His promises-that they readily accepted the conditions of discipleship. Jesus has told us in advance that if we become His disciples, we will have many trials and sorrows. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 CSB

Faith brings the Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. …18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. John 14:16-18

Before Jesus’ death, He gathered the disciples together to tell them that although he was physically leaving, He would send the Holy Spirit to lead, direct, and provide comfort to them. Believing in and being filled with the Holy Spirit is part of our spiritual walk of faith. Have you ever felt distraught and prayed, and then you experienced peace and felt the assurance that everything would work out according to God’s plan? It is the Holy Spirit that provides the inner spiritual peace that a software app that uses guided imagery to provide temporary tranquility can never offer. Are you unable to discern truth from misinformation? Then pray and ask for understanding and wisdom. Yes, giving us knowledge and discernment are functions of the Holy Spirit. Are you experiencing sorrow from the loss of loved ones? Pray and ask God to provide you with comfort, and the Holy Spirit will initiate the healing of your broken heart.

Faith brings Victory

God is transparent, He does not tell us that our lives will be easy. Because of His  unconditional love, God prepares us for the struggles ahead. In studying the Bible, we do not have to guess what our lives will be like as His disciples. Traveling down the narrow Path of Righteousness is a bumpy ride with many potholes (our trials and tribulations). Even so, if we keep our minds focused on Jesus through faith, trust, and obedience, He has promised to lead and guide us safely through. It is the loving hands of Jesus that comes to our rescue and lifts us out of the potholes. All He asks of us is that we have steadfast and immovable faith, the consistent faith that causes us to believe in Him in every situation and under all circumstances. 

Faith brings Joy

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:1-5

Faith brings Peace and Contentment

“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. We do not have to feel anxious or worried. Our commitment to serve God includes living a peaceful life as long as we fulfill His Divine purpose for our lives.

Faith brings Provisions

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:25, 30, 33-34 NLT

God knows everything about us, even the number of the hairs on our heads. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Luke 12:7. In our neighbothood, we have the privilege to hear the birds every morning and evening chirping as loud as they can; even the birds know that God is their Jehovah-Jireh. Never forget who we belong to, God knows our every need. Let us embrace our Heavenly Father and give Him the praise, the thanksgiving, and the honor for being our Jehovah-Jireh.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

God, we want to thank you for being our Heavenly Father who continues to provide for us even when we forget to thank you. Please forgive us for our doubt and unbelief. Thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercies. We commit to building our faith and trust in you by praying and patiently waiting for you to provide and resolve our problems. 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. 

God’s Love for Humanity: The Legacy of Love

God’s Love for Humanity is a 3 part series.

Every recipe has the main ingredient. It is the dominant item, and the rest of the things contribute to its flavor, appearance, and combined, they form the recipe’s unique characteristics.

Yesterday, I conducted some research on the central themes of the Bible. I follow one criterion from my academic background; make sure that the source is credible. I could not believe that not one theologian mentioned “love.” The most crucial foundation for having faith, trust, obedience, and hope is believing that God, our Creator and Heavenly Father is love.

So, I will proclaim: God is love! He is the originator of Unconditional Love, and from His love flows abundant rivers of grace and mercy.

I have a friend who has two adult sons that refuse to fly away and leave the home nest. Although she is ready for them to go, they cannot detach themselves emotionally from Momma’s love. In fact, they are hanging on as if their wings are broken. The only way for these mature birds to leave the nest is for Momma to call the locksmith and to place their suitcases on the porch, and that’s something that Momma is not going to do.

Let us take a journey through the Bible where God openly reveals that He is love and His unconditional love for humanity.  

Morning Prayer: God, we thank you for another day of life, complete with your grace and mercy. We pray for forgiveness of our sins. Thank you for your love. Please help us recognize that we were created from your love and that you gave us the innate ability to love you, love others, and love ourselves. 

Innate: existing in, belonging to, or determined by factors present in an individual from birth: NATIVE, INBORN. Innate behavior. originating in or derived from the mind or the constitution of the intellect rather than from experience. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/innate

Although we will focus on the biblical proof of God’s love directed toward humanity, we must acknowledge that God first created the world, and our world will always belong to Him because of His love. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28 NKJV

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 NKJV. Yes, God made us on a Friday.

God’s Love: The Creation of Human Beings

And on that beautiful Friday, humanity was lovingly created from the hands of God: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7. Never forget that we were not spoken into existence, we are God-designed; it was from the hands and breath of God that we were given life. Now that is LOVE!

According to Genesis 1, God said:

    1. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”
    2. “let them have dominion over…”
    3. “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”

God’s Love for Humanity: The Gifts of Food and Shelter

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” Genesis 1:29

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground, the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9

God’s Love for Humanity: Not created to be Alone!

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2:18, 20-22

God’s Love for Humanity: The Ability to Love a Soul-Mate, Marry, and Reproduce

And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:23-24

Even the Apostle Paul says that marriage is a mystery:

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. Ephesians 5:31-32

God is love! And from God flows unconditional love, and from his love flows never-ending grace and mercy.

While reading Genesis chapters 1-2, I performed a spiritual self-evaluation and asked myself, what is wrong with me? God has given me the innate ability to love Him, love others, and love myself. I am created in God’s image, and He has faithfully supplied all of my necessities, so why do I succumb to the “Diseases of the D’s?”: Times when Doubt, Disbelief, Discouragement, Depressing thoughts, Despondency, or feeling Downtrodden enter my mind, and I act as if I can’t move forward. Certainly, the D’s demonstrate my lack of faith in God.

King David also reflected and asked himself: Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5 NLT

We belong to God!

We are not a label, a race, nationality, or ethnicity, nor are we lower, middle, or upper class. We are not defined by the clothing we wear, the car we drive, or the neighborhood that we live in. Financial wealth is insignificant in the sight of God. We must disregard all of the categories that the world attempts to place us in. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9

Never lose sight of who you belong to, and that is God, our Heavenly Father. The only status that we need to be concerned about is being part of the righteous who are faithfully awaiting the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Every time you begin to feel yourself slipping downward, memorize and repeat King David’s validation of who you are:

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:14

Again, the Apostle Paul validates who we are according to God:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:27-29

Redirect your focus: Yes, we better know that we are somebody! We are children of the Most-High God, created in the image of our One and Only Creator, our Heavenly Father, the Alpha, and the Omega who is the beginning and the end.

Many individuals are raising their arms with a clenched fist to signify or indicate power. But, I am here to say that when the Children of God, we raise our arms, it is with open hands to acknowledge the Deity and the Power of God and we are asking God to reign down His love and blessings upon us. Glory to God! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! Psalm 150:4

God, we praise you and worship your Holy Name. We ask you to forgive us for failing to recognize who you really are. God, please help our minds. We keep losing focus and forget that you have given us the innate ability to love. Our implanted seed of faith has not grown like it should because the cares of our earthly journey crush us. God, we pray that every stronghold of defeat is removed from our minds and that we never fail to give you the praise, the honor, and the glory. We humbly ask this prayer in the Wonderful 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.

 

Letting Go

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourself from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 2 Corinthians 6:17

Growing up in a home with a Mother who was an Ordained Minister included strict guidelines and mandated obedience. We were not allowed to watch many television programs or cartoons, wear seductive clothing, or have friends who were unbelievers. It was not her intent for our family to blend in by adapting to the world’s ungodly standards. Although my father was not as strict as my Mother, he respected that she was a “Woman of God.”

Once I became “grown” and desired to explore the world, the first thing that I did was to pierce my ears, four piercings in each ear. In today’s standards, that wouldn’t even cause a reaction. But then the domino effect started. The love for expensive jewelry caused me to stop giving tithes and offerings. “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. Malachi 3:8. The transition to becoming a worldling was easy because I stopped studying the Bible and no longer attended church.

I never stopped believing in God. But serving God and living righteously were not my priorities any longer. Satan allowed me to meet a good man who was faithful, did not party, drink, smoke, or use profanity. But remember that there is always a gimmick when the gift is from Satan. Yes, my “good man” did not believe in marriage and was a self-proclaimed agnostic. 

There are many whose hearts are aching under a load of care because they seek to reach the world’s standard. They have chosen its service, accepted its perplexities, adopted its customs. Thus their character is marred, and their life made a weariness. In order to gratify ambition and worldly desires, they wound the conscience and bring upon themselves an additional burden of remorse.

The continual worry is wearing out the life forces. Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. . . . He bids them seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and His promise is that all things needful to them for this life shall be added.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 330.

Long ago, the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. Jeremiah 31:3

Although I had given up on God by being enticed by the things of the world, God did not give up on me. One day, I was driving and saw a store, “One Dollar or More,” that caused me to stop. As I was browsing, an older woman approached me and started a conversation about the unique items that were in the store. Then she said, “God misses you.” I can tell you that was a “Jesus is LORD!” experience. She invited me to her church. I turned to resume shopping but then realized that I did not thank her. From where I was standing, I could easily see throughout the store. She was not in the store, so I went outside, but she was not there. Since this store was in New Jersey, the only parking available was metered parking. I do know this, that as old as the woman was, there is no way she could have disappeared in a moment.

I started attending church and was rebaptized. It was then the “Satan vs God” battle started. I ended the relationship with the good man before my rebaptism, but he wanted to remain just friends. Soon, I realized that he was a distraction. I had to make a choice, and that choice was painfully difficult. Even so, when God says that He always makes a way out from temptation and that he will never leave you or forsake you, He stands by His promises. As a newly baptized member, the church assigned a spiritual mentor who was a prayer warrior. God made sure that I did not have to fight alone.

As for the older woman, when I described her to the church members, I was told that no one fitting that description had ever attended their church. I believe that God sent one of His messenger angels to approach me as a kind, and soft-spoken godly woman to let me know that He still loved me, and He wanted me to return to Him.

For most of my life, I have traveled on a path of suffering. Nevertheless, God has always placed His loving arms around me. I encourage each of you to give up all worldly desires by following the will of God which places us in harmony with God. Yes, we will continue to struggle in our walk with God. Even so, when we live by faith and obedience, we will reap the benefits of having complete peace in our stormy trials and sorrows. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. Amen!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him, we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 ESV 

God, we thank you for never giving up on us. We ask for forgiveness of our sins. We need your strength to overcome all worldly temptations. Thank you for being our Heavenly Father and loving us unconditionally. We pray 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.