Your Value: Priceless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© In the Vastness poem written by Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020

The Waterfalls of Abundant Love

There is a game that we used to play as children, dodge ball. It was usually the same child who had quick reactions and excellent eyesight that remained the unbeatable champion. But just when their overconfidence peaked and they entered the next game smiling with the facial expression of “you already know that I’m the winner,” the ball-thrower changed.

This was a new thrower with unknown skills but demonstrated that he or she could look in one direction and throw the ball in another direction. I remember when the reigning champion was the second person out of the game. We were silent from the shock for a quick minute, and then as children react, we started laughing and teasing the overconfident losing champion. Well, he became angry and walked away, filled with disbelief.

And then, a couple of players were show-offs and would catch the ball and toss it back to the thrower to showcase their skills. We decided to vote to make the rule that catching the ball would be considered an automatic out, which put an immediate stop to ball-catching.

But I would like to focus on the most amazing children in the game. They were the ones who would sacrifice for those of us who lacked the skills to dodge the ball, knowing that we would have been the first ones out. These good-hearted kids would intentionally jump in front of us and get hit with the ball so that we could play a few minutes longer.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

It makes me wonder, was the ability to put others first an innate characteristic, present at birth, or a learned behavior?

The children who willingly sacrificed have most likely matured into the servants of our societies. They are the ones who rescued the baby birds that had fallen from their nests, shared their school lunches, or helped to clean the house without being asked. Their love and compassion for others flowed like a waterfall that never stops. 

Who are they now? They are the volunteers, the missionaries, the ministers, the essential workers, the philanthropists, and that one neighborhood mother and father who have an open-door for all, and most importantly, many are the disciples of Jesus Christ. The list of positions of servitude can go on and on.

We do know that society’s servants and the disciples of Christ share a common trait; they possess the characteristic of abundant love. They have caring and compassionate hearts, which causes them to seek out those who are broken from being hit too many times from the balls of hardships.

If individuals who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, are wholeheartedly committed to helping humanity, how much more as Believers should we be doing to alleviate suffering? But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17.¬†The answer is simple: we really do not love God.

Have you considered that if we were fulfilling our Divine purpose of spreading the message of Jesus Christ (The Great Commission, Matthew 28) and sharing our time and money that our societal problems would not have escalated to epidemic proportions? Not only would the hopeless have hope through the salvation of Jesus, the conditions of poverty, homelessness, and disease transmission would be under control. And just maybe, by now, we would be living in the perfect and sinless New Heaven and New Earth.

There is a song that has the lyrics, “If I can help somebody along the way then my living will not be in vain.”

And Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:35-40 NIV, 

35 ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'” 40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”

Saints of God, we have been commissioned to make disciples and help those in need. But, first and foremost, we must obey the greatest commandment: 36 “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

Oh, friend, do you love Jesus? Because when we love God, and Jesus Christ, His Son, we possess the abundant love and compassion that flows like the great Niagara Falls. 

In this season of lockdowns, shelter-in-place, social distancing, and facemasks, renew your relationship with God and return to your first love. Commit to helping some one in need, use social media for witnessing by posting encouraging scriptures, and use your financial resources to support the many community churches that need money because they are alleviating others’ suffering. Do not give to prosperity seeking non-profit organizations or because you seek a taxable deduction to offset projected tax liabilities owed to the government. Give to those who are fulfilling the scriptures to love God, and to love others.

Pray and ask God to reveal your Divine purpose as you prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.¬†His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ Matthew 25:23

Bible Reading: Matthew 25

God, we ask for forgiveness for not caring about the suffering of those in need. Please reveal to us your divine purpose for our lives. 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.  

Niagara Falls

God’s Love for Humanity: The Bond of Family

Long before the pandemic, I have traveled throughout the world, even to the most remote places. And all of my travels were possible because of technology. Yes, I am an enthusiastic virtual traveler. The authentic and pure beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me. But there is something else that places me in awe of God, our Creator: the uniqueness and diversity of human beings.

Because we only have a close estimate of the world’s population, I would venture to say we are closer to 8 billion people. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…Genesis 1:26 BSB.¬†The thought of almost 8 billion people with a unique set of fingerprints and outward appearances that differ as the flowers speak of the phenomenal love of God. Have you considered that every human being possesses DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid: a long molecule that contains our unique genetic code, which is God-created and God-designed? And it is DNA, the cord that connects all human beings as one family.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we immediately become part of the family of God, which is all-inclusive. There are character traits that Believers must possess:

    1. And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:10-12 BSB
    2. Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4
    3. Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
    4. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5: 22-23
    5. If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

We are required to embrace the concept of all humanity as one family: “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.

Deal-Breaker

Have you ever been excited about buying something, and then you found out there was a catch to it? Cable companies are notorious for using the hook of an offered price, maybe $99 a month, but with the list of taxes, and fees the monthly rate actually turns out to be $129 a month. Gimmicks are certainly one of the easiest ways to convince a potential customer to spend more money than planned or if you immediately recognize what is going on, you can say no thank you. Still, the deceit is a deal-breaker!

Spiritual Deal-Breaker

Anger, holding grudges, and disliking others for any reason excludes us from being a Believer and part of the Family of God. When we embrace and practice unforgiveness, prejudices, biases, racism, and the principle of exclusion based on cultural and family traditions, social and economic status, religious differences, negative experiences, or personal choice, we are not obeying the commandments of God. Sadly, many who say they love God will miss out on the reward of Eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth because of their “dislike” for others.

Hate is a strong word that most do not embrace. We use the phrase, “I just dislike her, him, or them” to minimize and support our bitter fruit of hate. What does God say about love and hate for others?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44

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

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

God has no-compromise guidelines for our relationship with Him and with others. The first four, 1-4, commandments of the Ten Commandments describe what our relationship with God looks like, and the second set of commandments, 5-10, describe the way to live right with other people. Accepting that God created all human beings, regardless of the human-made labels of race, ethnicity, and nationality, requires that we abide by all of His commandments, which are based on unconditional love for God and one other.

Spiritual Deal-Breaker

In many homes, unconditional love and forgiveness are not present, which provides the foundation for disunity, friction, and unhealthy relationships among biological family members. The causes may be unstable marriages, parental favoritism, privileges given to male children over female children, sibling rivalry, and physical, mental, and emotional abuse, along with many other reasons.

Even so, we do not have to end up where we started. When we decide to become a Believer, the Holy Spirit helps us discard our previous ungodly behaviors.¬†And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 2 Corinthians 5:17.¬†To become a part of God’s family requires for us to possess the qualities that are pleasing to God. Our life-long journey is to strive toward spiritual perfection, which means that we live holy and acceptable lives.

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

If you are in a dysfunctional family relationship, then pray and take action. First, pray and ask God if you are the problem. It takes more than one person to argue and to be involved in verbal sparring. A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11

A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22. Do you smile, laugh, and say positive words? Believers should not have negative thoughts, verbalize harsh words, or be constant complainers. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. God has exceptionally high expectations of our character, Galatians 5:22-23, and how we treat others. Unconditional love empowers us to always treat each other with kindness and gentleness. We are to possess and represent the Character of Christ, so the world can see that being part of the family of God includes having a loving disposition, even under the most severe circumstances.

If you refer to the introductory paragraph, you will recall that I spoke about being a virtual traveler. However, it is my nursing career that provided the opportunity to interact and befriend individuals from diverse backgrounds. Yes, I am fully aware that cultural restrictions exist, and many individuals do not enjoy the freedom of making decisions to place themselves into the best situation. And this is the confidence that we have before Him: If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14. Even so, this is when we exercise our faith and watch for the powerful Divine Intervention of our Heavenly Father.

There are always benefits to serving God. He is forever faithful!¬†Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26.¬†Never feel that you do not have the option to leave an unhealthy relationship. God loves you. He is your Jehovah-Jireh, always providing.¬†‚ÄúI am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

When we accept Jesus Christ, we willingly place ourselves in the care of God, our Heavenly Father. First, affirm that you are part of the family of believers in the Most-High God. If you are in an unhealthy family environment, then take action. Pray as never before! God does not require us to stay in abusive situations. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24

Think about this concept; there are close to 8 billion people in this world. Not only are there countless believers present in every continent and country, but God also has legions of messenger angels that can represent themselves in human form. Pray, believe, and wait for God to demonstrate His mighty power to deliver you. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

Daniel was delivered from the lion’s den: Daniel Saved from the Lions

18 Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no musicians were brought before him. Also, his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” 23 Now, the king was exceedingly glad for him and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury was found on him because he believed in his God.

Do not look at your circumstances!

And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6. 

Human Effort:¬†Submission to God requires humility and obedience, which are absolute requirements to be a part of God’s Family. We must take an active role in eliminating all unrighteousness from our lives.¬†Make sure that no one repays evil for evil. Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Human Effort: Serving God always means that we have to relinquish the things that prevent us from having an up-close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. Giving up the obstacles of people, places, and things allows us to enjoy God’s perfect peace. Living righteously, and loving others with unconditional love, prepares us for the perfect life in the New Heaven and the New Earth where only perfect love will abide.

Divine Intervention: 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

“Oh, how He loves you and me. He gave His life on Calvary, oh how He loves you, oh how He loves me. Oh, how He loves you and me.”

God, we thank you for creating the institution of family. We also thank you for the privilege of being your children and part of the family of Believers. We ask you to forgive us of the sins of hatred and all prejudice. Please help us realize that we share a common bond regardless of the world’s labels based on race, religion, creed, or color. We ask you to teach us how to love unconditionally and to get rid of bitterness, strife, and malice. It is our desire to have eternal life. Thank you for the Sabbath and the opportunity to deepen our relationship with you by putting all secular activities aside for 24 hours. 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.  

Love God, Love Others, and Love yourself!

Praise the Lord! Psalm 34

1 I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
2 I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord

12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!

21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Pray and Wait on the Lord! God made us and He knows the plans that He has for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith brings the Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

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

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

Faith brings Victory

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

Faith brings Joy

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

Faith brings Peace and Contentment

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.¬†We do not have to feel anxious or worried. Our commitment to serve God includes living a peaceful life as long as we fulfill His Divine purpose for our lives.

Faith brings Provisions

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

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

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

God, we want to thank you for being our Heavenly Father who continues to provide for us even when we forget to thank you. Please forgive us for our doubt and unbelief. Thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercies. We commit to building our faith and trust in you by praying and patiently waiting for you to provide and resolve our problems. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

God’s Love for Humanity: The Legacy of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Love: The Creation of Human Beings

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

According to Genesis 1, God said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even the Apostle Paul says that marriage is a mystery:

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

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

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

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

We belong to God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Letting Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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