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

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.

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.

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. 

Make it Personal

When relocating from the Northeast to a small town in Texas, I had to make a significant adjustment, and that was to transition from tactless to tactful. In the southern regions, if something needs to be said to another individual that is not pleasant but truthful, there is an art form of using analogies or comparing one situation to another to relay the truth. Granted, it wasn’t easy for me to learn how to be less direct in expressing myself. But as I began studying the Bible diligently, I realized that God required me to say truthful words but wrapped in kindness. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6

Because of God’s grace and long-suffering, He always reveals the character traits, behaviors, and habits that are not in harmony with His will. When we study how Jesus exposed sin, He often used parables. So there would be no misunderstandings; Jesus always thoroughly explained the meaning of the story. Luke 18:9-14 tells us of “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Tax Collector).

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Bible is our spiritual mirror.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Study the Bible, and look deeply into the spiritual mirror. God reveals our every thought, word, or action that is sinful. Not only does the Word of God expose our sins, but we are also told the cost of sin, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23. Because sin leads to destruction, God is straight-forward: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Establish a relationship with God that is up-close and personal. Only you and God know the thoughts, words, and actions that result in separation from Him. God loves us so much that although He is plainspoken, as our Father, He patiently waits for us to acknowledge, confess, and repent of our sins. Still, serving God requires a humble heart and a “do-right” mind.

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9. Because we are naturally drawn to sin, it takes human effort and Divine intervention to overcome sin. No temptation has overtaken you, except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV.

Do not be offended by the Word of God. Humbly, receive correction and discipline. The exposure of our wrongdoings is required for us to experience a spiritual transformation. Sanctification is a life-long journey. Make a personal decision to love and serve God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. God would never ask us to do the impossible. We have a Heavenly Father who readily extends His unconditional love, grace, and mercy. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Saints of God, we are nearing home! 

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.…1 Corinthians 15:51-53 BSB

Happy Sabbath! Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow!

God, we thank you for revealing our faults and allowing us to change. We ask forgiveness for our sins. We pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to have a deeper understanding of the scriptures. Thank you for the Sabbath, a day of rest and spiritual renewal. 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 written permission of the author.