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

The Sadness of Her Soul

Today, I intentionally paid attention to the many people that were at the beach. The sun’s dancing rays highlighted the pale blue waves, still, there were no smiles or laughter even among the children playing. As I contemplated on the reason for the somber mood, our time watching the Atlantic’s waves by Patrick AFB was abruptly cut short. The sirens blared as a robotic voice gave warnings of a pending storm with severe activity including lightning strikes.

I folded my chair and walked slowly down the walkway when a young woman turned her head to the left. As our eyes met, the sadness of her soul was reflected in her eyes. Yes, the same brokenness that I saw in my patients on the Behavioral Health Unit was evidenced in another victim to their circumstances. I decided to interrupt the melancholy mood that was prevalent among the beachgoers packing up to leave. I stopped, looked at the ocean and said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” to which she replied, “Yes, and the breeze makes it perfect.”

We smiled. But, before we could continue our conversation, again the siren sounded loudly, ending all thoughts of watching the serene waves become angry and forceful. The young woman left quickly with tears streaming down her face, entered her vehicle, held the steering wheel with both hands, placing her head into her outstretched arms. As, my friends and I drove away, I whispered a prayer asking God to heal the stranger’s broken-heart.

We live in a time where advancements in technology have soared along with the statistics for suicide, depression, anxiety, and worries because love is running on empty. I invite you to look outside of yourself and speak to someone with eyes that reveal “all is not well.” Just a simple “How are you ?” may provide a calm moment in their stormy sea of mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish.

Prayer: God, we pray for the broken hearted, for the weary, and the individuals who feel life is not worth living. We ask you, Holy Spirit to provide comfort for those who are grieving, and provide a way of escape for the abused, and the neglected. Help us to pay attention to the people surrounding us that know nothing about your love. Jesus, fill our hearts with the love and compassion that you have for all of humanity. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

Love God, Love Others, and Love Yourself

©2021 Sonya Johnson

Sorry, You are Not Dressed Properly

SHOUT the Cry of Victory 30 Days of Prayer Day 6

You Mortals, the Lord has told you what is good. This is what the LORD requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy and to live humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 GWT

Prayer: God, please give us the courage to change our clothes and put on the clothing of a servant, as Jesus did. We ask for forgiveness of the sins of pride, selfish desires, and disobedience. We desire to live a purpose-driven life, full of faith and trust in you. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

The Servant’s Daily Attire

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

Protection at No Cost

Safety: The condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury. 

We have an innate safety mechanism: The Nervous System protects us from physical danger based on our response to a life-threatening situation. The fight or flight response is an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fight-or-flight-response/

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

Even with the fight or flight response, our critical thinking and judgment must perceive the situation as dangerous or life-threatening for activation. If only we had an automatic response to the danger of sin. But God did not create us with that ability because we would not need His divine intervention. 

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Our warrior God has promised us protection against all spiritual warfare–the traps of worldly pleasures and thoughts of doubt and defeat set up for us by Satan. I like to call it “God’s Spiritual Flight Response. “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14. Each morning our defense is to pray and ask God to protect us from all hurt, harm, and danger, which includes the personalized plans of Satan to make us stumble and fall.

Our relationship with God is dependent on our knowledge, faith, and trust in Him. Many believers cannot enjoy the all-inclusive protection from our Spiritual team because of a lack of knowledge. Studying the Bible reinforces our belief in the Most-High God. How can we trust someone who is a stranger? King David expressed the benefits of serving God: He is Elohim shomri–God is my protector!  

Do you have the peace of mind and joy bubbling over because you have a personal relationship with our loving and compassionate God? Start today by praying and searching the scriptures. No-cost, ongoing protection from all danger seen or unseen, and guardian angels sent to protect us 24/7. Yes, we should dance the spiritual happy dance.

Every day, smile and sing “Oh Happy Day!” We know who created us, and we know who we serve. Give our Heavenly Father the praise He deserves!

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16

Bible Reading: Psalm 91

Prayer: God, we praise your holy name. Thank you for the protection from our guardian angels that we take for granted. God, we love you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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

The Journey for Love

I watched a documentary entitled “Forbidden Love” last evening. The title made me somewhat uncomfortable because I was expecting the worst such as pedophilia, etc. But I was pleasantly surprised when I began to watch, and the content was nothing like I expected.

This well-made documentary was about young love between upper-class young women for lower-class young men in a society where interaction is strictly forbidden. Even speaking to the lower-class is considered taboo. Still, unconditional, innocent love flowed from their young hearts, which knew no boundaries. Their deep-rooted love touched the depths of my heart because the journey involved leaving their families who had raised them with love and in financial comfort.

Despite being disowned by their families, the young women proclaimed, “I would rather kill myself than to leave the man that I love.” Not many of us could have endured the extreme conditions and poverty the young couples faced from staying together. Still, they stayed with each other and raised happy and healthy children.

About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

The journey of love involved harsh, bitter treatment and the death of Jesus Christ on a cross for you and me. We have the opportunity to experience a love relationship like none other. Yes, we say that we love Jesus and that He is our Lord and Savior, but how far are we willing to go to serve God? What are we willing to endure?

“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

One day all who believe in the Lord will have to prove their love for Jesus Christ. Will we be faithful and face persecution, or will we deny knowing Jesus like his disciple, Peter?

Bible Verse: Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Matthew 26:34

God, we say that we love you. Yet, many times we fail in our words and actions, which are sinful against you. Please teach us how to accept your love for us that we may love you and others unconditionally. 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. 

Give Yourself the Gift of Love

Give Yourself the Gift of Love is part 2 of a series to identify and eliminate external and internal factors that distract us and keep us from achieving spiritual growth and maturity.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs—First Corinthians 13:4–5

How did love become so complicated? If you watch most toddlers interact with each other, they are happy and will share their toys…if they were taught this life-giving behavior. Intervene to prepare your child for the future: If your child is playing by themselves all the time, you may want to encourage them to interact and share with others (even if they are an only child) because this is a crucial skill.

As individuals differ, so will their definition of love. It is almost a certainty that our life experience impacts the way that we understand and express love. If you are raised in an environment where love was understood without physical affection, then you may have matured into an unaffectionate adult who has difficulty forming attachments. In contrast, growing up with healthy physical affection —such as hugs, kisses, and holding hands —promotes a strong sense of well-being and usually results in adults who are nurturing in their relationships.

Compare your view of love with that of 1 Corinthians 13. Perhaps your definition of love does not come close to the love that is expressed in the Bible. Move forward in your spiritual journey to possess agape love. Strive to have the defining characteristics of love that God created us from. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. 

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. First Corinthians 13:1 NLT

Is there any purpose to meaningless noise? Most of us desire to give and receive the warmth and overall great feeling from being loved. We must discard our prior life experiences and preconceived notions of what love is if the way we love fails to be an exact match to God’s definition. And once we are in total sync with God’s definition of love, it may become necessary to perform The Big Chop, part 1 of this series, for the unloving individuals who refuse to possess one of humanity’s basic psychological and physiological needs. 

Give yourself the gift of love by reading and memorizing First Corinthians 13 until you possess every godly characteristic of unconditional love. When we understand and practice God’s agape love, we become like Christ. Even Jesus’disciples failed to understand His love and compassion for others. The multitude of 5,000 in Matthew chapter 14 would have never eaten if Jesus had let the disciples make the decision.

Christ was selfless while He lived on this earth. It is love, the core value that forgiveness, grace, and mercy flow from like a river, nourishing everything in its path.

Love God, Love Others, and Love Yourself!

Bible reading: 1 Corinthians 13

God, thank You for loving us and giving us Your definition of love. We ask forgiveness for the unloving and careless ways that we have treated others. Please teach us how to love unconditionally. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

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

My Words and Thoughts

This morning, a podcast speaker challenged us to seriously reflect on our spoken words and thoughts for the past year. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21

Did my spoken words that others could hear and the whispers of my heart, which only God could listen to, reflect that I love and honor God? For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

King David was aware that eventually, our secret thoughts would reveal themselves through our spoken words. Whether good, bad, or ugly, our mask will fall off, and who we are is made evident to others. It takes the right situation to bring out our real character. 

As we reflect on our words and thoughts, may we approach God humbly and ask forgiveness for the selfishness of our unfriendly characteristics. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Make the decision to embrace the new beginnings. We have been blessed with a new day to think lovely thoughts and speak empowering words. Thank you, God, for your grace and mercy.

Bible Study: Proverbs chapters 18 and 23

God, we ask forgiveness for the harsh and hurtful words that we have spoken of because of the sinful thoughts deep in our hearts. It is our desire to be transformed into people that possess unconditional love, mercy, and kindness. We pray 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.

The “We” Concept

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Walking humbly with God

To “walk humbly with God” is the basis for loving mercy and doing justice. Because of what God has done, we fully invest in healing the world around us through mercy and justice. Cultivating our walk with God provides the power and passion for us to fully engage—it grounds everything else we do. David Kool and Andrew Ryskamp.

Many individuals embrace the duty of alleviating the burdens and poverty of those in need. Simply put, they dedicate their time and money to helping others. We have nonprofit organizations, soup kitchens, sidewalk showers, street barbers, and the list goes on and on. If you have a good heart, unselfish and caring, you naturally desire to extend your helping hands.

But there is a qualifier that distinguishes the believer from the philanthropists or those who perform good deeds. We share our faith in God. We represent the love that God has for humanity. We bring hope to the discouraged and demonstrate that God is real because He cares and provides for us.

To walk humbly with our God takes a willing heart and daily perseverance. Love is the foundation for humility. Yes, we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and we can freely love others under the right conditions. But would we continue to try to help the homeless person who curses at us or says, “get away from me”?

It is the challenging circumstances that produce endurance. Who hasn’t used anger or isolation to protect oneself from the painful adversities of life? All of us require meeting the basic physiological needs of our bodies, of which food and water are mandatory.

Brown bag lunches are simple and effective in helping those who are homeless. A peanut butter sandwich, banana, a bottle of water, and a couple packets of hand wipes meet basic needs.

Start a mason jar bank and place the amount of money you would use to spend for personal desires that bring no real value to your life. Research for safety precautions when interacting with the homeless population. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…. Psalm 91:11. Find a partner with the same “we concept” values and your life will be fulfilled in ways that you never imagined. 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

Love God, Love Others, and Love Yourself

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35

It takes love outside of ourselves to produce the “we concept.” Yes, we like to think of ourselves as good people. But God tells us in Jeremiah 17:9, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Ouch! So, now that we are aware of the impact that sin has on every one of us, we can take steps to change our hearts.

We have a helper, the third person of the Trinity Godhead, the Holy Spirit, to help us walk humbly with God. How important is the Holy Spirit to our lives? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.… Galatians 5:22-23. 

Walking humbly with God requires character development. It is our character that must go through a total makeover. Think about a house that is broken and battered. All it takes is a person with a dream, the desire, and money to refurbish the fixer-upper house that nobody wants into a beautiful and livable home. God planted the seed inside of us to stay connected to Him (the dream), we must possess the (desire), and Jesus paid the price (through His death) to reburbish sinful humanity.

God also functions on the “we concept.” God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the messenger angels are always ready and available to intervene for our spiritual makeover. When we give our permission by inviting Jesus Christ into our lives, we experience a complete transformation. The Bible teaches us what is acceptable and pleasing to God. Our awareness elevates, and we strive to rid ourselves of the thoughts, actions, and habits that do not reflect our love for God.

Bible Study: 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.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16

Prayer: God, we ask forgiveness for thinking of ourselves first. Please teach us how to walk humbly with you. We desire a spiritual transformation in our lives, and invite you into our lives. We pray for the Holy Spirit to teach and lead us to live righteously. 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.

Forever Love

There are very few individuals that can give or receive forever love. Relationships form much to quickly because we are desperate for the wrong person. God tells us that His love is everlasting; yet, we place Him in the position to be next in line.

Who can love us like God? Loneliness is more than a state of mind, it is the reality of many who confess their belief in God. Why is it that we can have a Heavenly Father along with an entire spiritual team, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the angels and still despair?

The answer: We desire someone who cannot provide the love and nurturing of our soul. Only God can fulfill our spiritual needs and He patiently waits to give us everlasting love.

Our emotions were given as a blessing of expression, not to replace our cognitive abilities. We rely too much on our feelings for guidance. “Follow your heart” only applies to a relationship with God. He will lead you in the right direction that ends in perfection. No, we are not perfect, but God is, which means we do not have to suffer negative consequences when we trust and obey.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming. Psalm 27:8

The “Everlasting Love” of God never fails. Do not miss out on the greatest love experience from your Heavenly Father. Give God what He rightfully deserves: Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

Did you forget about Jeremiah 29:11? God has plans for us! First, get in sync with God by loving Him as Jesus commanded and your life will change. How will it change? If we do our part (human effort) then God will always fulfill His plans for us (Divine intervention).

God, we admit that you have not been first and foremost in our hearts. We ask forgiveness for putting you last with our love and attention. Our souls are empty without you. We recommit our hearts to you and we can’t wait to receive your everlasting love. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen!

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021