It Takes Courage for the Journey

SHOUT the Cry of Victory 30 Days of Prayer Day 13

One of the hardest things that you will ever do is maintain the courage to keep your covenant vow with God. You will be tested by Satan, who will use your closest friends, family, and your desires to test your convictions to serve God. Our desires indicate whether or not we are serving God with unwavering faith, trust, and obedience. Often we fall into the temptations of sin, still, you must pray and stand against the deceptions of spiritual wickedness. Human Effort + Divine Intervention = A Victorious Outcome! 

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Yesterday, I reached the crossroads of Obedience and Disobedience. God has spoken to me through my Pastor and several other individuals to stop all communication with an individual who no longer served God and did not have my best interest in mind. You know what? I prayed and asked God to give me the courage and strength to completely sever this relationship. God answered my prayer immediately. It happened yesterday. The relationship is over!

What made the difference? Divine intervention! God knows that I love Him with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Before the 30 days of Prayer, I identified deficits in my character that required change. I prayed for spiritual growth and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Yes, God reached down from heaven and manifested His power to eliminate a huge problem that I struggled with for a long time.

“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

We can agree that life is tough! Even so, obedience to God places us in the position to receive the blessings of peace and inner joy. When we do our part: Having courage [standing our ground] against all deceptions [people, places, and things] that Satan uses to lead us down the “Road of Disobedience,” then our Warrior God steps in, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14.

Choose to always obey God! Our reward of eternal life depends on the humility to be an obedient servant of the Most-High God.

Scripture: But Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the LORD’s salvation, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.” Exodus 14:13

Prayer: God, we ask for forgiveness of the sin of disobedience. We desire to serve you wholeheartedly. Please help us have the courage to give up the people and the desires that separate us from you. Thank you for your divine intervention. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson

The Skin Controversy

  1. Last night, I watched a believer defend his right to tattoo his body. He stated, ” You are looking at the outside of my body, but God knows my heart.”

God’s answer: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9

Documented history: The ancient Greeks and Romans used tattooing to penalize slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war. While decorative tattooing was looked down upon, pagan religious tattooing was accepted and practiced in Egypt and Syria.

God’s answer: Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

2. Recently, I looked through my google photos, and found some uploaded pics from the 1980s where the sides and back of my head was buzz cropped–shaved. It was fashionable back then and now head shaving for women is readily accepted. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

God’s answer: But if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 1 Corinthians 11:15

3. The many breathtaking circular designs that skilled barbers design in your head are also pagan practices signifying worship of other gods.

God’s answer: In Leviticus chapter 19, God gave instructions on not conforming to pagan hairstyles which signified worship of other deities–pagan gods or goddesses.

4. Assimilation: the process of taking in and fully understanding information or ideas. We have readily adapted to many worldly practices, and most of us do not have a complete understanding of their historical meaning. Believers, why do we have a dislike for studying the Bible?

God’s answer: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. Hosea 4:6

5. We have downgraded the holy standards of God because we do not desire to fully commit ourselves to God. The Bible [Old and New Testaments] reveal God’s righteousness. Fact: Many believers do not believe in the Old Testament. I can assure you that if we studied the first five books of the Bible (Genesis-Deuteronomy), we would view God with a greater level of reverence and honor. 

God’s answer: God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? Isaiah 55:11

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:16

My personal decision is to surrender and follow Jesus until my last breath. I have not lived a naive life. During my rebellious period, I explored all that the world has to offer. It is my desire to have eternal life by giving up habits, people, places, and things. Whatever God requires me to do, I will do it. 

Jesus said: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” John 10:27-30

Jesus always faced controversy and death-threats for speaking the truth: Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. John 10:31; They got up, drove him out of town, and brought him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl him over the cliff. Luke 4:29. Never once did our Lord and Savior give in to the majority opinion nor was He swayed to accept the temptations of this world.

Certainly, we have a choice to faithfully follow God’s standards of righteousness or to follow our own desires and attempt to incorporate them as a New Age Christianity. 

God’s answer: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22:11

Bible Study: John 10

Prayer: God, we ask for forgiveness for blending our unrighteousness with your holiness. It is our desire to love and serve you with our hearts, souls, and minds. Please teach us to live holy and acceptable lives that are pleasing to you. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus that we may have eternal life. 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.

Sabbath Blessings

As we watch the condition of our world rapidly decline, we can refer to the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy.

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Our relationship with God determines our destiny. Either we will choose eternal life by total surrender and submission to God, or we will choose the final death by seeking after worldly pleasures.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

Let the Shepherd Lead

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Bible Study: Psalms 23 and 27

God, thank you for giving your Son, Jesus to die for us that we may have eternal life. Jesus, we thank you for your great sacrifice and for being our Shepherd. 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.



100% Commitment Required

Can you imagine falling in love with your soulmate? The excitement and feelings from being in a love relationship with another person are second only to our love relationship with Jesus Christ. But as time passes, your “soulmate” is not as enthusiastic and appears emotionally detached. You ask, “Are you okay?” to which he or she may blame it on feeling tired or involvement in a stressful situation. Usually, soon after that conversation, you receive the sad news that things are not working out, they are not ready for a serious relationship.

How did their feelings change so fast? Why didn’t you see it coming? The Red Flags were evident. Because of your commitment and ability to give unconditional love, you were blinded. Unfortunately, you were the only one who gave 100% commitment, and now you are dealing with the heartbreak of a love no more, and the stages of grief that accompany a broken heart. Many of us know this story quite well. Even so, “He heals the brokenhearted, and bind up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 

When we enter into a relationship with God, we are saved from sin through Jesus Christ. We may not realize that it takes 100% total commitment to worship and serve God. Still, God’s standards have no leeway or a gray area.

Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14.

Listen, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Deuteronomy 6:4

We are depressed, anxious, and worried because our perception of God differs from who God says He is. We give to God the time that we think He deserves. Most of us would never believe that we do not give God 100% commitment. Red Flags: How often are we studying the Bible or communicating with God through prayer? When do we give time or money to help those in need?

We do not see ourselves as desperate people who need God for our existence. Our mindset of self-sufficiency and independence becomes evident in times of prosperity. Those are the times we smile, laugh, and have joy because all-is-well. Yes, we are thrilled in the good times as we proclaim that “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” 

What prevents us from being committed to our love relationship?

We worship many idols: Self, jobs, material things, pleasure-seeking activities, people, etc. These are the distractions that consume our time and indicate who or what is the priority in our lives. But God being the loving Father that He is, takes action to redirect our focus. Yes, it is God who reminds us that we need Him.

Our true perception of God is revealed when the bitter trials and seasons of darkness invade our peaceful existence. Do we proclaim that God is good? Are we thanking God for His grace and mercies during challenging times? Does adversity make us wipe the dust off from our Bible to search for God’s promises to deliver us? “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. Are these the times that we fall on bended knees with fervent prayer?

The “I Am” requires wholehearted commitment: And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

We cannot have an emotional roller-coaster [based on the high and low times] relationship with God. Whether we are in good times or stormy trials, we must stay committed to our Jealous God by giving Him our whole heart. God sets the standard for the level of commitment that He is willing to accept. Our priority is God because He is the Lord alone.

There is a sweet peace that is always present when our heart is 100% committed to God. We have the advantage that God will never leave us or forsake us. He remains 100% committed to humanity. God created us from love, in His image. We are the recipients of Jesus’ blood sacrifice, and God’s gifts of grace, mercy, and provisions. And for this, God deserves our everything!

And if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Bible Study: Deuteronomy 6

God, we say thank you for setting the standard for serving you. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. We desire to give you 100% commitment from today forward. 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.

Made in His Image: Eliminating Racism

As believers, we have many advantages. God has given us spiritual insight, which allows us to view and live from a deeper perspective based on His love. The earth is filled with beauty and diversity. Nature is full of flowers and trees of various colors, shapes, and sizes that we admire. Landscape photography and art remain a high point of interest for most individuals.

But then a different perspective arises when the diversity is evident among humanity. We love and appreciate the animal kingdom’s various species, but we separate and segregate human beings based on outward appearance, social, and economic status. 

Biases and prejudice against one another are historically documented throughout the Bible.

    1. Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married, for he had married an Ethiopian woman. Numbers 12:1
    2. The Samaritan woman said to him, you are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink for Jews do not associate with Samaritans? John 4:9
    3. Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” Acts 10:28

Many individuals claim that they love God, yet they “dislike” other individuals based on race, ethnicity, social, and economic status. More surprising are the “believers” who harbor hate against their brother or sister or intentionally ignore racism because they feel it is not their responsibility to speak out against society’s injustice. Yes, it is our responsibility!

    1. Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’s cause, Isaiah 1:17.
    2. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8.

Biases and prejudice are clearly against the harmonious relationships that God intended for us to have with each other. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. 1 John 4:20. God has also made it clear that He will not condone hatred among human beings. Our hearts may be full of dark secrets, but we cannot hide our true feelings from God. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? 1 Corinthians 6:9

Because we tend to overlook certain scriptures, God addresses the age-old issue of racism in Acts, the 10th chapter. Then Peter began to speak: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” Acts 10:34-35. 

It is time for us to declare “zero tolerance” for the war of humans against humans based on the diversity that God established. Yes, God is the Master Artist who was pleased by His creativity (read Genesis 1). Love for others is a command, not an option. The Amplified version of 1 Corinthians 13:1 states: If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction].

What change can one individual make? With 7.9 billion people in the world, one plus one adds up. We are not a box of Crayola crayons. We must cease using color adjectives to describe others. We can say, “The man in the blue shirt” instead of verbalizing “the black or white man.”

Pray and search your heart for eternal life deal-breakers of prejudice, biases, and the “isms”. Please know that in the New Heaven and New Earth, sin will not exist. We are not allowed to define sin: God defines dislike for one another as hatred. Diversity is not an issue of learning or faking acceptance of differences. It is loving and honoring God who created all of humanity in His image. If God was pleased with His creation, do we have a choice? 

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11

Bible Study: 1 John 4

God, we ask forgiveness for not loving one another as you have commanded. It is our desire to do our part in demonstrating that you created all of humanity in your image. 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.

Letting Go of the DIY Mindset

Documentaries that tell the stories of the way of life outside of modern cities are fascinating. The villages in the most remote areas of a country portray the resilience of the human spirit and the unlimited capabilities of the mind. Although the people survive with minimal resources and life is harsh, one crucial factor stands out. They realize their dependency on each other.

When studying the Creation, we become aware that God never intended for us to be alone, functioning in isolation. “Then the Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18. The DIY, do-it-yourself mindset produces a lot of burdens and stress that are self-inflicted. God’s plan was not the current trend of looking out for number one. We were never meant to endure loneliness, which is the root of depression, anxiety, and worries that have escalated to pandemic levels.

Challenge the current trend of being self-contained, and totally independent of others. Isolating yourself or your family does not lead to a spiritual self-actualization (because that status is not achievable).

In other words, self-actualization can generally be thought of as the full realization of one’s creative, intellectual, and social potential through internal drive (versus for external rewards like money, status, or power). Since self-actualization is based on leveraging one’s abilities to reach their potential, it is a very individual process and will probably vary significantly from person to person.

We defeat God’s purpose for our lives when we follow our thoughts and ways.“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”  Isaiah 55:8. Please know that self-seeking behaviors and the pursuit of independence are not the keys to having a success story. Financial gain is useless when you are alone without human companionship, which should be limited to those who can have healthy relationships. Having a spirit of selfishness wreaks havoc on our happiness and peace of mind. But we can rid ourselves of the empty lives that result from the DIY Mindset.

We have many God-given gifts. The family extends beyond the biological barriers. Look for a food co-op, volunteer for churches and non-profits, attend virtual church services, or learn a new hobby or craft. People need each other. Recently, I located in a new city in Florida where everything is within walking distance. On my daily walk, I always get the chance to speak to someone. Although I have an outgoing personality, I do not have a social circle yet. So, technology is helping with that issue. Joining a couple of local FB pages keeps me informed of events and the needs of others in my community.

Jesus was human, yet, divine. His best friends were Mary, Martha, and Lazurus. When Jesus arrived at the home of his friends after Lazarus’ death, we are told, “Jesus wept.” John 11:35. This verse is profound because it provides us with biblical proof that Christ possessed human emotions. Despite the persecuting circumstances, He did not isolate from others. Jesus’ heart was tender and full of love for everyone. Still, Jesus did not stay in areas where rejection and hostility were prevalent. The scriptures tell us that He and the disciples left cities that refused to accept his ministry. 

 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture Psalm 100:3

From a spiritual perspective, the scriptures compare us to sheep. Were you aware that sheep cannot live without the shepherd? They are entirely dependent on the shepherd for everything. They require constant care and watching over. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11. Jesus paid a high price for us that we can live happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives. 

I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me… John 10:14. Allow Jesus, our Shepherd, to lead your life. He knows what it feels like to be alone. Yes, when you dedicate your life to serve and please God, you may have to experience some “alone” times. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. John 14:16. 

Pray for a change of your current DIY mindset. Allow God to provide you with a new life, which includes bonding with people who love Him, others, and themselves and, who help those in need.

Bible Study: John 11

God, you know our emotional needs. Yet, we come, asking for the fulfilling life that you created us to have. Please reveal your divine purpose, and open the doors for the opportunities to help others. In Jesus’ Worthy 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 Guaranteed Mood Stabilizer

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Our minds are distracted by our circumstances and events that are happening around us. Many of us have forgotten about the reward of eternal life and the Second Coming of Jesus.

The Contemporary English Version says “and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought:” Philippians 2:5. Jesus always thought of pleasing God, and He knew how to please God because He loved God. He made it his purpose to worship His Father and to think, speak, and act to please God.

We can have complete peace whether we are in the valley lows or mountain highs. But we have to choose God and think about life from a spiritual perspective. Our moods and emotions should represent that we serve a loving and merciful God who provides for our every need.

I continue to travel throughout the world virtually. A documentary featured a country where there is great wealth. The narrator asked the wealthy stockbroker, “If you have accomplished everything that life could provide why do you worship an unseen God?” His response, “All of these things can disappear at any time. I cannot imagine my life without doing my part to have peace, which is only available on a spiritual level.”

Do not get caught up in thinking about what you do not have! When our thoughts are in sync with God, we praise and thank Him for all the things that God has blessed us with.

Other people know how to respond to their God. So it’s what you know that makes you worship. Sometimes you’re not feeling anything. So it’s what you know about the One Who bought you back from sin that governs your behavior. So worship is knowing Who God is, learning about God. And the more you learn Him and obey Him is the more you yield to Him. You want to respond to Him a certain way, in singing, in praying and in clapping, in meditating, in dancing, in having devotion. Those are the types of things you do unto your God. Every religion has some form of worship. So when we say lift your hands, we mean to give God what He desires and deserves. – Bishop Jackie McCullough

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

Bible Study: Philippians 4

God, we have lost our focus and purpose for serving you. We have allowed ourselves to become fixated on the circumstances surrounding us. Please help us to redirect our focus on you as we prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

You Should Do It!

In the summer of 2001, I lived in the Catskill mountains for three months, working as a camp nurse. One day, I had some extra time and went to the Arts and Crafts lodge to look at the girls’ projects. It was then that I met a fascinating person, Matt, the Art Counselor. The young man shared his background and how he pursued a dream that left him estranged from his wealthy family. Matt was from California, a self-proclaimed hippie who was vegan, an activist, and did not use drugs or alcohol. Because of his long, sun-bleached blond hair, most people thought of him as a beach bum and avoided contact with someone they perceived as looking for a handout.

Matt invited me to sit down and continued sharing his story. As a young child, he began to draw landscapes and animals. Years later, one day at the beach, a beautiful young woman sat looking at the water with a sad expression, which prompted him to sketch the contrast of beauty and grief. Although hesitant, he walked over and handed her the picture. Because the drawing reflected the sadness of her soul, she encouraged him to pursue his talent. Matt shared that hearing her positive words was the catalyst to starting his own business.

Then the focus turned to me, “If I had money to start a business what would it be?” I laughed, stating that would not be possible. But Matt was persistent. He told me to think about something that I was very good at and develop my talent into a business. It took me a minute to look beyond my creative abilities, and finally, I mentioned that I had tutored several of my classmates while in nursing school. And that was the motivation to begin my educational tutoring business for nursing students and nursing program graduates struggling with their classes and those who failed the licensure exam. 

God has given each of us spiritual and natural gifts that remain unexplored for various reasons. Meeting Matt was an eye-opening experience. He insisted that discovering my purpose would add a new dimension to my life. All of us have dreams because God gave us the ability to dream. One of the significant obstacles in pursuing our goals is that we share them with the wrong people who discourage us with toxic words.

Yes, it was hard work to learn how to develop a business and marketing plan. The research revealed many tutoring competitors. How could I compete with the established tutors? That question almost stopped me from moving forward. But I prayed for guidance, and God answered my prayer. All of the tutoring companies were in brick-and-mortar locations. My niche was that I would travel to the clients at the closest bookstore or library and include the mileage in the contractual fee. I also tutored virtually via the Messenger app. After twelve years of successfully helping others to become Registered Nurses, I fulfilled my goal to give back to the nursing profession. Did I mention that I was in my mid-forties when I pursued my dream as an entrepreneur? I started my business with $500 and God’s blessing of approval. He said yes!

Our relationship with God has the potential for unlimited growth. The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, “Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. Isaiah 65:1. God is available to us at any time of the day or night. We spend our time getting to know people for possible relationships, which may or may not work out. Please remember, we have a guaranteed relationship with God when we do our part because He can never fail us.

Whoever said, “Life is hard, and then you die” did not have a relationship with the Trinity Godhead, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. God did not create us to live empty, meaningless lives, nor is He the “Punisher” that Satan portrays Him to be. God created a beautiful world complete with vibrant colors, oceans, and natural wonders that should bring us to our knees in praise and worship. So, if we are created in God’s image, then He has blessed us with spiritual gifts and creative talents. Our lives will always involve struggle. But as long as we have breath, we can move forward, to build and to rebuild.

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

Present your plans to God in prayer. When our desires align with His plans, we see miracles unfold, and our dreams come to fruition. Talk to God first, and ask Him to direct you to the right people who will offer positive feedback and realistic direction to pursue your goals. You should do it!

Bible Study: Acts 16 tells us about Lydia, a wealthy woman from selling purple cloth. Remember that most women did not have the opportunity to become entrepreneurs in biblical times.

God, we admit that we are sharing our dreams and goals with everyone except you. Please reveal the path for our lives and bring the right people into our lives that we may achieve the plans you have for us. 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.