The Freedom to Worship

SHOUT the Cry of Freedom!

Religious Liberty

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It is a blessing to enjoy reading the Bible, praying, and singing during praise and worship to the Most-High God in my home or church. In fact, I can go outside of my house, read the Bible, pray, and sing on any public domain I choose without repercussion. People may not like it, but the First Amendment is our platform for exercising religious freedom.

Unfortunately, many individuals never consider those who will never own a Bible or secretly worship God at the risk of exclusion from their families and society. Even worse is facing long-term imprisonment for renouncing the prevailing traditional or pagan worship and proclaiming belief in God. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

The history of persecution for serving the “Christian God” is recorded in the Bible. Who can forget Saul, the hunter of Christians? Only God could redeem such a diabolical man and transform into the Apostle Paul. This devout Man of God actively wrote instructions for the churches and encouraged Christians to keep moving forward as they strive for the mark.

Will we experience persecution for serving God? Yes. Currently, some individuals are facing exclusion and isolation in their homes because they have chosen Christianity over their traditional or cultural religions. Consider the expansion of diversity that causes conflict between God’s standards and the world’s acceptance. What about the office parties or gatherings that we cannot attend because of the godly standards we uphold?

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14

We must take advantage of the freedom we enjoy: studying the Bible, praying without ceasing, witnessing to others, attending church, and watching virtual services without censorship. Please pray daily for those suffering because they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 12

Prayer: God, we thank you for the ability to serve you in freedom. But we pray for those who are excluded, isolated, and persecuted for accepting Jesus as their Savior. We ask you to give them strength, and hope to never give up because you love and care for them. We pray for perseverance as we await the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And we ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson

Now This Is LOVE!

SHOUT the Cry of Victory 30 Days of Prayer Day 15

I have come to the conclusion that we [believers] do not love God enough.

Honestly, I cannot think of one person that is willing to die for me. Nor can I think of anyone who would promise to supply all of my needs for my entire life. And who can I talk to twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week? Even my best friend would get tired of hearing my voice after a while. This is the whole conclusion of the matter: I am ready to LOVE God with all of my heart, soul, and mind.

Bible verse: Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Prayer: God, please help us to get rid of the distractions that bombard our lives to the point that we are unable to love you. Thank you, for your love, grace, and mercies. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson

Surround Yourself With Love

Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:22

I recently read that we should ask God to reveal the people who really love us and remove those who do not have a genuine love for God. If they love God, then their words, behaviors, and actions reflect their love for us. God reminds us that He has no tolerance for the human mix of love and hate. Either we have a heart full of love or hate. “Whoever claims to love God, yet, hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20

Because I have struggled with separating myself from toxic friends and family, God reached out by allowing me to read a devotional about letting people go. Please know that the “believers” are family members and long-term friendships. Still, I took a leap of faith and prayed this prayer, “Dear God, please reveal to me the family and friends who love you and have love for me. And give me the courage and strength to remove the remaining people from my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

1 Corinthians 13 gives us God’s standards for love. When we study the love chapter, please note that love does not include mistreatment nor the lack of compassion. Imagine asking for help and receiving the response of “I will pray for you, but right now I have things to do,” or they give this reason for not answering your phone calls and text messages: “Don’t take it personally, I just haven’t felt like talking [to you].”

Love for God is the determining factor that identifies who we should include in our lives. It is usually easy to eliminate friends that do not have our best interests in mind. But how do you handle the situation when being unequally yoked extends to a spouse or family members? Unhealthy relationships destroy our ability to focus on God. Please know that we have invited a significant problem into our faith-based life when we tolerate toxic people that make life even harder for us.

Having unconditional love in our hearts does not mean that we become victims of emotional abuse.

Our only decision is to Put God first! I am the LORD; that is My name! I will not yield My glory to another or My praise to idols. Isaiah 46:8. People, places, and things can easily become our idols if they interfere with our relationship with God.

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers, for what do righteousness and lawlessness share together or what does light have in common with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 NASB

Run from individuals that are confused as to who they are serving. They have compromised and blended worldly habits into their “sanctified” lifestyle. Also, please stay away from mean people! Spouses, family members, and the people in our social circles always impact our relationship with God in a positive or negative aspect. If you are seeking peace and victory, make certain that the people surrounding you are not stumbling blocks. We cannot have a covenant relationship with God or enjoy peace and inner joy when we allow: lack of support, toxic communication, jealousy, controlling behaviors, resentment, dishonesty, disrespect, and negative financial behaviors.

You Are in the Right Relationship When It Is Helping Your Walk With God, Not Hurting It. God is love! And He desires that we surround ourselves with caring and compassionate people who love God and love us.

Love God, Love Others, and Love Yourself

Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 13

Prayer: God, we desire to have a relationship with you based on love, faith, trust, and obedience. Thank you for loving us first. We ask that you rescue and protect us from the people who would harm us emotionally. Please bring people into our lives who love you and love others. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson

The Loss of Spoken Words

We live in a time where the busyness of this world has produced a loss. We have lost our desire for spoken words. Sadly, we think nothing of texting someone who is grieving or in a struggle, “I am praying for you.” But the reason we have lost the desire for spoken words that are full of heartfelt compassion is much deeper, “we have wandered away from Jesus, our first love.”

The Apostle Paul knew the importance of the body of believers maintaining contact with each other: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. But more importantly, he knew that maintaining our relationship with Christ is vital for spiritual growth. Jesus is coming soon to give everyone their reward. It is time for us to renew our covenant vow by returning to our first love. Only then will we desire to build each other up with spoken words of compassion and hope.

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:21.

God, we have lost the desire to encourage one another because we have lost our first love for you. Please forgive us and give us the strength to return to you. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.

Why Anger is Deadly

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. Psalm 37:8

Anger is a God-given emotion. Without anger, we would tolerate social injustice and heinous crimes such as molestation, abuse, neglect, human trafficking, etc. The big mistake is that we use anger to hurt and retaliate against people instead of the issue. Because of our pride and sinful nature, we cannot control our anger without godly discipline and self-control. God has uncompromising guidelines on our emotions: Uncontrolled anger is a deal-breaker to receiving eternal life. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15

Unfortunately, bitterness and unforgiveness tag teams with anger, and we lose the fight to push forward with an emotional healthy mindset. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:20. But most importantly, anger prevents us from sanctification, the daily struggle of becoming righteous, holy, and acceptable to God. I have heard many believers boast, “I have righteous anger.” Well, that is not possible because God says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6.

Many times we are at fault when an emotionally charged situation arises. The trending psychological answer of, “I am sorry you feel that way” is not appropriate if you have caused the inflammatory situation. If you know the individual and their problem of controlling their anger, say a short prayer aloud. At that point, you are asking God for divine intervention. Next, offer a heartfelt apology, and walk away.

We have a perfect role model, Jesus Christ, who dealt with the angry demands of many individuals who rejected his deity as the Son of God. But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Matthew 26:63. Most of us do not possess the godly discipline of maintaining silence. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted over the earth.” Psalm 46:10. Not only does God resolve the unrighteous situation, but He also does it in a manner that brings glory and honor to His Name.

Luke, chapter 4 tells us of the angry opposition that Jesus faced for telling the truth: When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way. Luke 4:28-30.

Satan knows that his time is short on this earth. So, he uses distractions to deceive us into speaking and behaving in an unholy manner. Disobedience is enmity against God. Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19-20

We have come too far in our spiritual journey to let anger, a deadly and uncontrollable emotion overpower us, and cause the loss of eternal life. Pray for deliverance if you love to become angry. He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people. Revelation 22:20-21

Bible Study: James 1

God, we ask forgiveness for inappropriate anger, hostility, and retaliation. We desire to maintain peace, be obedient, and serve you wholeheartedly. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.