How Well Do You Know Him?

From 1966-1974, there was a game show called The Newlywed Game that featured four couples who had been married less than a year, competing against each other. The husbands guessed how the wives would answer, then the wives came back and answered the same questions, and couples got points for matches. Then the husbands got sent out and the process repeated. The couple with the most points won some sort of domestic “newlywed” prize, like a dishwasher. https://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/newlywed-game

How well do you know God? As long as we are willing to stay connected to God, and do our part (Human Effort) spiritual growth never stops. Divine InterventionBecause of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Currently, I am participating in an online “10-days of Prayer” spiritual revival. Today’s message is entitled “Praying God’s Promises,” and states that we have to know God’s promises for us to build our faith and relationship with him. After the completion of reading the message, I asked myself three questions:

    1. What is your purpose for serving God?.
    2. How well do you know God?.
    3. Can I name five of God’s promises, and how am I applying these promises to my life?

Immediately, I realized that I would not be able to accomplish this spiritual undertaking on my own. I begin to pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal an action plan for my life. The first step was to identify the promises that I would incorporate into my life through prayer every day. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is an up-close and personal one, so the promises that each of us choose to hold on to and include in our lives will differ. Even so, there is one exception, all who desire to learn who God is, and live a faith-based life must pray for the Holy Spirit to be a part of their spiritual journey.

Since last Friday, I have been praying to be filled, guided, and comforted by the Holy Spirit throughout the day and night. Have there been any changes? Yes, my outlook has changed. I have the reassurance that God has heard my prayers of thanksgiving and the desire to grow closer to Him. Doubt and defeat have been replaced with an increase in faith. I am confident that God is working out every situation in my life.

I am sharing my list of promises:

  1. Praying for the Holy Spirit

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever–He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him because he lives with you now and later will be in you. John 14:16-17

2. Recognizing that God has no limitations

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

3. Acknowledging that only God can provide emotional healing

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

4. Refusing to let circumstances steal my inner joy and peace

“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

5. Faithfully and patiently depending on my Heavenly Father to provide help 

“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

6. Trading selfish desires for God’s plans by seeking Him before making decisions

For I know the thoughts (plans) that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then 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 29:11-13

7. Staying aware of the reward of Eternal life for the righteous

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12-13

Because of the natural tendency to get distracted by this journey’s cares and burdens, I made a hard copy of God’s promises. Whenever I need a reminder that my faith is wavering, I read and include His promises in my prayers any time of the day or night. I want to have a relationship with God as never before and pray to have love, unwavering faith, trust, and obedience. God loves us so much. I extend the invitation to make the necessary changes in your routine and get to know God as never before.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving us the greatest gift that we will ever receive, and thank you for being the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen!

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

Maintain the Connection

As I studied John 15, I received a spiritual recharge compared to a cell phone connected to its charger. Only I did not have to wait for the timely process of being fully charged. Human Effort: For 2021, my mindset is different. The expectation is that I will receive the blessing of total restoration from God. And what a difference that has made in my outlook on life. God does not make us wait, the spiritual recharge happened immediately. Divine Intervention: During prayer, I received the reassurance that Jesus is Lord, and as long as I stay connected, I will experience the never-ending joy and peace that comes from serving God. 

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:9-11 NLT

In this chapter of John, Jesus was instructing and encouraging His disciples because of his pending death. We are Jesus’ disciples, and He has given us the answer to possessing constant inner joy: Stay connected to Him through faith, trust, and obedience to God’s commandments. And the reward is: Yes, your joy will overflow!

Staying connected is the only way to be energized with the peace, joy, and reassurance that comes from faithful commitment to Jesus Christ, our Savior, and Lord. Jesus obeyed His Father even unto death. Remain in me, and I will remain you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:4. Daily prayer, praise, and study of the Bible indicate our desire to worship and dedicate ourselves to God.

Serving God is a guaranteed mood stabilizer and frees us from the bondage of fear. Doubt, depression, sadness, anxiety, and worry are fruits of fear. We cannot have fear and faith. Staying connected requires faith. Staying connected requires that we expect to receive a spiritual recharge every time we worship God. 

In praying, we ask God for many material blessings, begin to ask Him for an increase in faith, and to give you the desire to serve Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind. You will receive joy, peace, and contentment, despite the presenting circumstances. We should not be living on empty when we serve the Most-High God. Jesus paid for us with His life. And because of His sacrifice, we can receive spiritual recharges any time of the day or night.

Jesus is the True Vine. It is impossible to succumb to the adversities in this life when we are connected to the vine. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I, in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4

God, we have not done our part in staying connected to you, and for this, we ask forgiveness. Thank you for the gifts of love, joy, and peace. We commit to serving you with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. 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.

Preparing for your Purpose

God is calling you to a life of devotion to serve and to fulfill your divine purpose, which can only be accomplished through Him. Love, faith, trust, and obedience to God, His Father are the character traits that Jesus exhibited throughout his life as an earthly being. How much more should we strive to dedicate our lives to God?

Do you think about eternal life, and what your life will be like living in a perfect New Heaven and New Earth? Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2

Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

God, we thank you for our lives. We make the commitment today to fulfill your purpose for us. Please reveal the things that we need to do for your honor and glory. 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.

King of King and Lord of Lords

The one born to be our Saviour was no ordinary man. Those who have tasted His marvelous salvation gladly and lovingly crown Him Lord of all. He will soon be on His way to our planet for the second time, not as a babe in a manger, but to reign forever as king. That glorious day is the grand focus of Christmas. “If angels sung because the Saviour was born in Bethlehem, shall not our hearts echo the glad strain, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men? Although we do not know the exact day of Christ’s birth, we would honor the sacred event…. Jesus came into the world to bring hope, comfort, peace, and happiness to all.”___ Review and Herald, December 17, 1889.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Lord, In the fullness of time, You sent a Saviour–Christ the Lord. Help me to be ready when He returns as king. Amen

Happy Sabbath! We are Not Forsaken!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Today, I read in Matthew chapter 27, the words spoken by Jesus just before His death on the cross:

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:45-46 NLT

If you are in a time of darkness, please know that God has not forsaken you. God has promised: He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3. I know that God keeps His promises. In October, I experienced loss, which left me as a family of one. Through my tears, many times, all I could do is pray, “God help me.” And just as God promises, the gaping wound in my heart has healed. It is said that time heals all wounds, which is not true. There is only one, our Heavenly Father, Jehovah Shalom-the God of Peace who brings us peace, comfort, and above all, healing.

Yes, I am grieving my loss. Still, I did not stop reading the Bible at Matthew 27. I continued to read Matthew chapter 28, which tells us of Jesus’ resurrection. God did not forsake Jesus, nor will He ever abandon those who He created in His image. 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.

Never give up the hope that we will have a better life. God gave us His best, His Son, Jesus Christ. No, human beings did not kill the Son of God. Jesus willingly gave His life to redeem humanity. Our greatest need was a Savior who would save us from our sins through forgiveness. 

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords is coming soon:

12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Do not let any situation leave you hopeless! 

20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! 21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people. Revelation 22:20-21

Hold on! Continue, even in the midst of your tears, grief, and suffering, praise and worship God.

O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. Psalm 95:6

God, thank you for loving us and giving your Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. Please help us remember that you have glorious plans, promising us eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. We love you, and we ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Changing your Life by Witnessing-Happy Sabbath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Remaining Motivated-Accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior brings many low in the valley experiences. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Trusting in Jesus provides us with the confidence to enjoy the sweet peace and comfort from knowing that God will bring us through victoriously. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaiian Sunset” no_foreign_lands, B. Domino-Reyes photography

Changing your Life with Love Series

Retraining our Mindset, part 1

Who is Jesus? Without having an up-close and personal relationship, our initial answer would probably be, “He is the Son of God.” But for those who have a testimony of deliverance, Jesus Christ is much more than the Son of God. Prayerfully, today we will learn who Jesus is and how we can grow closer to Him.

To establish, build, and maintain any relationship, we must possess unconditional love, utilize healthy, ongoing communication, and be willing to serve. Yes, there are many other characteristics, but these three traits form the foundation for the building blocks, such as mutual respect, trust, forgiveness, etc.

Before we move forward, study and memorize 1 Corinthians 13, the Love chapter that identifies the traits that grow from the tree of unconditional love:

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

Who does Jesus say that we have to love?

“Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” 37 Jesus declared, “ ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:36-39 BSB

Self-evaluate: If you can verbalize these words: “I don’t like him, her or them,” then God has a message for you:

19 We love because He first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God, but hates his brother and sister, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother and sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this commandment from Him: Whoever loves God must love his brother and sister as well. 1 John 4:19-21

Loving others is not based on ethnicity, physical likeness, socioeconomic status, or religious preferences. Nor do the participation in peaceful protests, rallies, or giving financial support indicate that we possess the love that God requires of us. Loving others unconditionally (without stipulations) is a core character trait that we must possess, or we do not have a love for God, nor can we have a relationship with God. In fact, God says we are “liars” Ouch!

Finally, we must believe that God is Unconditional love, and He is Omniscient-all knowing. Let’s use our creative abilities to script a probable conversation between God, the Father, and Jesus His Son before the Creation:

Son, you know if I create human beings, they will disobey and fall into sin by pursuing self-seeking pleasures. The relationship they need to have with us will be a constant struggle because the “Seed of Faith” that we give them will remain the same size because of their doubt and unbelief in our power. They will be distracted by the things that Satan will present to them, and their greatest love will be for money. You know that they will not love us and they will hate each other. Jesus, are you sure that you want me to create human beings? Yes, Father, I will give my life for their redemption from sin. But, Son, you will be born as a human into poverty, have a life of suffering, you will be rejected, despised, hated, and falsely accused of blasphemy against me. And the most terrible thing is that you will die on a cross with large spikes driven through your hands and feet. Yes, Father, I understand. Still, I am willing to die for all of humanity.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

God, we want to say thank you, and we love you. Please forgive us for our sins against you and each other. Help us never forget the gift of your Son, Jesus that died and was resurrected so we may have eternal life. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

 

Saving our Environment: The Believer’s Responsibility

Good Morning. Thank you, God, for another day of life. We commit our plans to you, asking for your blessing. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

I awakened to another beautiful, wintry day. As I opened my eyes, I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. Before listening to my online audio Bible, an article in my newsfeed caught my attention. How Single-Use Makeup Wipes Contribute to Environmental Waste | InStyle. https://www.instyle.com/beauty/skin/makeup-wipes-bad-for-environment

With the popularity of makeup artistry, this information certainly gives us something to think about because the current trend is a 7-10 step process application of makeup, including glam eyelashes. For many, the removal of layered makeup also requires the additional use of products that guarantee instant removal. However, fast and easy products always have hidden elements that cause damage, and makeup wipes not only contain fibers that damage the skin, but they also harm the environment. 

While reading, I immediately thought of this verse: The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1. I was already aware of my last earth-wrecking habit: Using plastic freezer bags. Gearing up for the research mode, I found a realistic and achievable method for using glass containers to freeze food. All of my food storage containers are glass, but I never thought of using mason jars, or glass freezer containers. https://www.attainable-sustainable.net/plastic-free-freezer-storage/

Environmental sustainability is responsibly interacting with the planet to maintain natural resources and avoid jeopardizing future generations’ ability to meet their needs.

If we really believe that God, the King of Glory, created this earth for humanity, we will do our part to eliminate wasteful habits. Certainly, worshiping and honoring God not only requires that we take care of our bodies, 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we also do our genuine part in taking care of Earth, our beautiful home. 

So, let’s move forward and take one more step toward changing our  counterproductive habits. Our most excellent way of honoring God is to praise and worship Him with thankful hearts and demonstrate our gratitude by taking care of our earth-home with love and tenderness.

Psalm 24

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
2 For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas
and built it on the ocean depths.

3 Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols and never tell lies.
5 They will receive the Lord’s blessing
and have a right relationship with God their savior.
6 Such people may seek you
and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

7 Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors,
and let the King of glory enter.
8 Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty;
the Lord, invincible in battle.

9 Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors,
and let the King of glory enter.
10 Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies—
he is the King of glory. 

God, we thank you for our earthly home and we commit to changing our habits to prevent waste in our environment. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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

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

Our Turning Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bible Readings: Revelation 21-22

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

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