It’s Getting Way Too Complicated

Many individuals are verbalizing that they are overwhelmed from trying to serve God. What makes us become discouraged in our spiritual journey? Has God made it impossible to serve him, according to His requirements? I have noticed that many preachers, pastors, teachers, and believers promote a “philosophical” approach to serving God. Following trends and prevailing schools of thought always get us into trouble.

God gave us the Bible, 66 books that we can study for ourselves. The Bible is our road map, spiritual mirror, reveals God’s character, His promises, and tells us the only way to salvation, which is through Jesus Christ. The Bible provides us with the victories and defeats of humanity along with the ever-present God always standing by to deliver us. Please remember to pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and to give you wisdom before studying the Word of God.

Secondly, we are bombarded with too many religious visual and audio messages. Check out the various social platforms. Countless messages tell us to do this or that, define our feelings, defend various interpretations of the truth, and promote methods to conquer your depression, anxiety, worries, etc. Yes, I watch sermons, listen to audiobooks on the great controversy between good and evil, and music that honors God. But I measure the content of the video against the Bible, and many teachings/music are not from God.

This is the dilemma for many of us who enjoy clean, fun-time on Spotify, YouTube, TikTok, etc. Social media videos can easily become an addiction. Where does the time go? Hours pass quickly when we are having fun. Establish a time-limit. You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. Exodus 34:14

Our love for God translates into spending time with God. Yes, I pray throughout my waking hours of the day and night. But I spend time alone worshipping God in prayer, praise and worship, and studying the Bible, which gives me the knowledge and courage to change, and build my relationship with Jesus Christ. Time with God is essential to establish a strong foundation in serving God.

1. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” Matthew 22:37

When we are in love, that person is the object of our attention and affection. Establish and maintain your relationship with Jesus by worshipping God through prayer, praise, listening to inspirational music, and studying the Bible.

2. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Like a little child who does or says the wrong thing, saying “I’m sorry” is the simple act of acknowledging wrongdoing. God tells us to confess our sins to Him. He knows if our repentance is genuine or fake.

3. 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

Yes, we must change our thoughts, behaviors, and actions to reflect the character of Christ. God never leaves us alone to handle life’s challenges. We have supernatural help through Christ. Still, it takes human effort plus divine intervention to live righteously.

4. So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves and change your garments.” Genesis 35:2

So, yesterday, I watched a video of a young believer who proclaimed that God spoke to her and revealed that her struggle in serving Him was due to her love of secular music that promotes sexual immorality. The comments that followed were vicious. But the most thought-provoking, “You Christians have to give up too much to serve God.” We cannot stand on the fence nor is there a gray area or a middle ground in serving God. Read Revelation 3:14-22 to become familiar with believers who want the worldly pleasures mixed in with serving God.

There is a recipe for making our relationship with God less complicated:

Add lots of love, heaping amounts of faith and trust, cups of obedience, and immeasurable patience. It takes courage to change!

Increase your time with God in prayer and studying, and decrease your time on social media or your other time-consuming habits. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the people and content that promotes the truth, which honors and glorifies God. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

God, we ask you for the Holy Spirit to give us discernment to recognize truth from false teachings. And we also ask you to give us the courage and strength to serve you with our whole heart. Thank you for your unconditional love, grace, and mercy. 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

It’s a One-way Street

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

God is loving, full of compassion, grace, and mercy. But God is also a God of “No Compromise.” “For I am the LORD, I change not…” Malachi 3:1.

God does not make adjustments in His laws, precepts, commandments, or requirements to live holy and acceptable lives. Righteousness by faith only comes through Jesus Christ. And yes, sanctification is a life-long process, which involves daily spiritual growth. The path that we must travel is narrow, winding, and upward. Because we are born with sinful natures, serving God requires human effort plus divine intervention. 

We must make a covenant with God that requires becoming a servant. Obedience is not an option. Our daily prayer, “God not my will, but your will be done” is trusting God completely with your life despite the circumstances. Still, without knowledge of the scriptures and fervent prayer, we cannot obey God, nor can we understand confession, repentance, and forgiveness, or overcome temptation.

The Bible is our spiritual mirror and our road map to maintain our journey on the one-way street leading to eternal life. How far would we travel without prayer to connect to the Power source to refresh and energize us for continuous travel?

Our spiritual journey is comparable to traveling down a one-way street. The expectation is that everyone is going in the same direction. There is no chance of becoming lost unless you turn to the right or the left.

There will be many distractions [the temptations of worldly pleasures] during the journey. Maintain your focus! To receive our reward of eternal life, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He will navigate us safely over the bumps, potholes, and debris caused by our trials, tribulations, and temptations. Trust Jesus with your life. He is our Spiritual GPS that provides error-free and no alternate route directions.

Bible Study: Exodus 8

God, we thank you for the guidance that we can receive any time of the day or night. Thank you for loving us. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Why Anger is Deadly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bible Study: James 1

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

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

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.

Desire Optimal Health? Put God First!

In our pursuit of physical health, we change our eating habits and increase movement through exercise. Not only does our body respond to the change, but our mental health also improves as we begin to view life from a different perspective.

Even so, for the believer, we must take additional action to achieve optimal health. Put God first! The desire to be at peak level requires that our spiritual relationship with God to be our #1 priority. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33.

The consequences of pursuing our plans without God’s approval and blessing results in anxiety, worries, depression, and low self-esteem. The Creation story shows us God’s meticulous planning for the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs before creating the first humans. Adam was created on day six to dwell in a home complete with the beauty of nature, animals, and food. Since the weather was a perfect temperature and rain did not exist, there was no need for clothing. 

In the beginning, Adam (and Eve) willingly accepted God’s plan and agreed to God’s conditions for them. Unfortunately, we continue in their footsteps to desire more than God has given to us. “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the LORD, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. Obedience to God becomes our only choice when we love God with all of our hearts, soul, and mind. There is no conflict. We acknowledge the deity of God and readily admit that our feeble plans can never supersede His plans.  

If we believe that God knows best then how do we transition from happy and healthy to anxious and worried? I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15

God has given us a fail-proof rhythm for our lives. The sequence of creation included six days of meaningful labor. God gave us the blueprint on how to maintain a healthy, happy, and productive existence. Following His plans always results in victorious outcomes. Through obedience, we make accomplishments that bring satisfaction and inner joy. Even God was pleased with the results of the creation. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good. Genesis 1:31

God’s Plan: Six days of effort and work to accomplish our earthly tasks. The seventh day: To cease, to stop what we normally do, and to focus completely on Him. 

On the seventh day, God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:2-3. And on the seventh day, Saturday-Sabbath, we STOP our labor and focus on our relationship with God. Keeping the Sabbath provides complete spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical renewal. God blessed and rested on the seventh day because He declared it holy. Faith says yes, I believe in God and trust His plans for my life. And because I love God and belong to him. I obey His commands.

When God rested on the seventh-day, Saturday, blessed and hallowed [to make holy; consecrate] it as the Sabbath, only Adam and Eve existed. Another false teaching is that the Sabbath was created for persons of Jewish descent. Challenge: Pray, and ask God to reveal to you through the Holy Spirit the importance of honoring and obeying His command to keep the Sabbath holy, Exodus 20:8-11. Remember that God is old-school. “For I am the LORD, I change not….” Malachi 3:6. The doctrines of new covenant churches have convinced many that the Sabbath was changed from the seventh day to Sunday, the first day. It is the human mind that is enmity against God. Satan has easily persuaded us that God has changed His commandments. 

What difference does the day make? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

I am going with God on obedience to keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. I have never found definitive proof in the Bible where God said, “Now that Jesus died for the remission of sin, and animal sacrifice is no longer required, I am also changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.” “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” … It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. 

Did Jesus obey God, His Father? And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8

Do you desire optimal health? Do you desire the ultimate reward of Eternal life? Stay connected to God!

How important is it for us to stay connected to God? I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. John 15:5 NIV. In every aspect of our existence, we have to “Put God first!”

Living in the imaginary gray area is created by a lukewarm commitment to God, which results in mental anguish and emotional turmoil. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… Joshua 24:15. The inner conflict between our desires versus God’s commands leaves us confused. A mind in turmoil impacts the ability to live a faith-based and purpose-driven life. Without commitment, we lose sight of our priorities. Our time is easily mismanaged as we struggle to finish essential tasks. Without the ability to focus clearly, we cannot complete our goals, which leads to self-esteem issues. We become anxious and worried as we watch our lives decline into chaos.

My past disobedience created the terrible condition of insomnia for many years. Yes, I attended church, and heard many sermons. I was not chasing after sinful pleasures. I believed in God, but my career was first as evidenced by the drive to pursue my plans and goals. The root of the problem: God was never first, which resulted in a superficial relationship. It is only those who claim to love God that challenge Him through disobedience. Yes, we believe in God but approach Him in a ritualistic manner, reciting the same hurried prayers and never taking the time to study the books of the Bible. Because we lack true spiritual transformation, we never understand who God, our Heavenly Father is. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Now that we have identified the problem, our solution is easy. The questions: Do I really love God? Am I willing to put God first by praying, “Not my will, but your will for my life?” Who is God? Daily and diligent study of the Bible is required to know who we serve. We are anxious and depressed because we read a few verses of our favorite chapter to get us through the tough times. From Genesis to Revelation, the “I Am” describes His character along with countless promises to take care of us. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27. 

Is there a relationship that can survive without active, ongoing communication? Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6. There are no shortcuts to establishing and maintaining a relationship with God. We must reconnect to the Vine, Jesus Christ, for complete deliverance from our mental anguish and emotional instability. The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27, Amplified version. Turning our lives over to God requires total commitment, faith, trust, and obedience. 

As we contemplate deeply on the blood sacrifice that was required for humanity’s redemption, we must ask ourselves, “What more can Jesus do for me?” It’s time to put God first! Living righteously brings peace: “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” Isaiah 32:17

Bible Study: John 14

God, we thank you for giving your only Son, Jesus, who died for us, was resurrected, and now serves as our Heavenly Intercessor. We ask forgiveness for not putting you first. Our lives are full of anxieties and worries because we have not fully committed to serving you. God, we need you. We desire to put you first. Thank you, Jesus, for your great sacrifice. We love you and ask this prayer in your Worthy 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.

The Great Deceiver

Before my employment with the New York State Division of Parole, I took many strenuous psychological tests. One of the deal-breaker tests was the Skills of Observation exam that was pass or fail. Being raised by a Christian mother who always paid attention to the activities of her eldest daughter gave me the advantage of learning her skills of observation. Even so, keen observation is a skill that demands continuous work. 

Why is it so easy for humanity to fall into sin? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor And set him over the works of Your hands. Hebrews 2:7

Do you believe that we have an enemy that seeks to attack us from within?

We must never forget that Satan was Lucifer. Although he is a fallen angel, he has the power to create chaos in every life of a believer. Many individuals blame Satan for their secret desires and believe that he can possess our minds because we are entirely helpless. Not so! No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

There is another false teaching: Satan has the power to read our minds. Only the three persons of the Trinity Godhead [God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit] are Omniscient–all-knowing. Humanity would be doomed if Satan and his evil angels could read our minds. Our Heavenly Father, who bent down, picked up dust, and created a perfect man in His image, would never give Satan the power of Omniscience to use for evil.

So, if that is truth, then how do we fall into the very temptations that we detest? We embrace the unholy and the ungodly things of this world because they are the deep, hidden desires of our hearts. Like Eve, we are deceived and fall into temptation because Satan and his angels have observed our behaviors. We read books that promote financial success, watch movies that contain profanity, justify adultery, believe in sex outside of marriage, and the people we have in our friendship circle are not praying and having Bible study with us.

There is an area where many believers fall hard and fast, being involved in unequally-yoked relationships. God created human beings from unconditional love. We have the innate ability and desire to give and receive love. But when we attempt to eliminate loneliness by any means necessary, we open ourselves to deception. 

And that great deceiver, Satan, is always ready to send the wolf in sheep’s clothing. You know, the smooth talkers who are skilled in saying the right words that are meaningless. They are the men and women whose outer appearance and spoken words reflect a good character. Still, Satan is using them to distract us, and to sin against God. Visual imagery is the most effective weapon that Satan uses to entice us intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Eve was not afraid of a beautiful serpent, an animal that she probably saw every day in the Garden of Eden. But this one was special, the serpent could speak. Eve was mesmerized as he told her the lie of deception, “…then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5.  Satan used all three components: Visual imagery, along with intellectual and emotional stimulation. He is still using the same old methods to make humanity doubt God, and we are continuously falling for Satan’s lies. If God said it, and we believe it, then do not engage in debates or verbal sparring concerning the Word of God. 

In 2021, we are the easy marks that the con-artists boast about. Satan preys on our weaknesses. Best-selling books and blockbuster movies are created by people who have the talents of developing imagery and writing scripts that easily pull us into the storyline, mentally and emotionally. If human beings can write songs and music that penetrates our soul and produces feelings that we were not aware of, please accept that we are no match for Satan. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

If you follow my blog, you know that I am old-school, but I am also a seeker of knowledge. Yes, I am tech-savvy (not an expert, still learning). It is true, I love social media; Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are three of my favorites. I also have a couple of online games that I enjoy.

But yesterday, I had a spiritually eye-opening experience. While I was caught up in having fun, the Holy Spirit gave me a deeper insight of the content that I was watching. Was this person promoting an ad for sexy designer clothing or  perfume while speaking about Jesus Christ? Some of the individuals that I was following under the label of #christiantiktok are sending mixed messages. Do we need to see an individual dressed in tight, suggestive clothing–both men and women–to say, “Jesus died for us?” Yes, Jesus did give His life for us, but we cannot use the cover of sexy and enticing to witness and spread the plan of salvation.

Although it was easy to hit the unfollow icon, not falling into temptation is impossible without God. Our Heavenly Father knows our weaknesses. He is aware that we are gullible [easily persuaded to believe something] because of the desires of our hearts. The year 2020 left many with broken spirits and caused them to see their lives as hopeless. With the adversities that we have faced, it doesn’t take much to give in to sin. Total dependence on God is necessary to sustain our spiritual, mental, and emotional strength.

Beware of your words! We are too transparent, disclosing feelings and situations that we should only tell to God. Even so, I would like to encourage you to stay prayed up! Decide to give God your all, your everything, and you will receive power! Satan is easily defeated when we stay connected to the source. We have come too far to lose our reward of eternal life. Prayer brings power, healing, and spiritual discernment {the ability to see situations through spiritual eyes].

Let Satan know, “You, are not in control of my life!” No more deception! We are soldiers in God’s Army, marching forward to God’s voice. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27. Hallelujah! We will not be deceived! 

Bible Study: Revelation chapters 21-22

God, we need you in every aspect of our lives. We are tired of being deceived because of broken spirits or the secret desires of our hearts. We pray to be filled with your Holy Spirit. Please give us discernment and the strength to walk away from all temptation. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, 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. 

Singing a New Song–The Benefit of Change

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Relationships are hard work! Still, against all odds with the people, places, and things that distract us, we can enter into a forever relationship with God. The decision is a freewill choice. God will never coerce us to serve him. But if we choose to have a relationship, we must do our part to grow our seed of faith. Faith requires giant leaps. Letting go of worldly influences that instill doubts and fears is a godly requirement. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6.

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

To serve God requires perseverance. Human effort is continuous action on our part in the Plan of Salvation. We must possess:

    1. Conviction
    2. Courage
    3. Commitment

Have you ever tried a new recipe and didn’t have the exact ingredients? You decided to substitute with items you had, and then your completed dish did not turn out as expected. With God, there are no substitutions. He tells us, “For I am the Lord, I change not….” Malachi 3:6. 

Reflect on your lifestyle. Are you giving your all to God?

I can recall changing the ingredients in the way that I served God. My love for secular music outweighed my commitment to God. The genre did not matter. I loved everything from Jazz to Classical to Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Reggae, and Country. If the words conveyed a message and the beat was in sync with the rhythm of my heart, I embraced the music with open arms.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

But God had other plans. A close sister-friend asked me a life-changing question, “Do you listen to gospel music?” My response was weak, “Yes, sometimes I do, but mainly on the Sabbath.” We were going for a girl’s day out, and before I started driving, she handed me a cassette tape. Yes, this was many moons ago. I remember the last song caused me to pull over because I had a “Day of Pentecost” experience.

From that day forward, I prayed for God to overcome the addiction that I had to secular music. Sin always has consequences. Although, I do not listen to secular music at home, it is impossible to avoid hearing songs that bring back memories. Still, it remains a struggle to resist the urge to sway to the worldly melodic sounds that used to be a significant part of my lifestyle. Because of my desire to have a deeper spiritual relationship, I was convicted to give up all music that does not honor God.

Many of the current songs that are under the label of Gospel/Christian, I cannot embrace. No, I cannot “Stomp” my way to heaven, nor will the feeble attempt of a gospel artist changing the lyrics to Prince’s song, “Purple Rain,” make me think of serving God. Music is so powerful that it can lift us out of hopelessness, soothe our emotional hurts, and decrease physical pain. But music can also influence us to turn away from God.

We can thank God for the gift of music which enhances our praise and worship to him. Certainly, music will be a part of our heavenly existence. Serving God requires continuous conviction, courage, and commitment. When the trials and sorrows are raging, or past losses consume our thoughts, the Holy Spirit will cause us to remember a song that reflects God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. Using our voice to sing praises and prayers is an act of worship that God will always honor.

Our desperation for a closer relationship with God and the desire to receive the gift of eternal life is worth every change we make. I invite you to change your life by getting rid of everything that does not glorify and honor God. You will be able to sing a new song that encourages you to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

Holy, Holy, Holy

I Love you, Lord

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Bow Down and Worship Him

Lord, Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary

Draw Me Nearer

My Soul Says Yes

Oh, Friend, Do you, Love Jesus?

Peace Be Still

Encourage Yourself

It is Well With My Soul 

No More Night

His Eye Is On the Sparrow, and I know He watches me. 

Bible Reading: John 14

Prayer: God, we ask you to give us a new song in our hearts, so we never forget your love and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. 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.

 

Stop! Do Not Cut the Cord!

In 1999, I was a student nurse preparing for a four-week clinical rotation in Labor and Delivery. The hospital recently incorporated two birthing rooms to which I was assigned under my nurse preceptor. My first patient was a young woman who was a runner and in peak condition. Her labor was under two hours, which caused expedited action from the nursing staff.

As I witnessed the birth of a baby, I felt like falling to my knees and praising God. But reality kept me from performing an action that would have expelled me from the nursing program. The infant cried loudly without any human assistance, and the umbilical cord was tied and cut. The life-line that provided oxygen, nutrients, and the removal of waste was no longer required. The baby’s internal organs immediately kick-started as she continued to exercise her lungs by crying loudly.

The expectation from my preceptor was that I would ask many questions regarding the labor and delivery process. But I was quiet. I could not speak. Through intense study, I was fully aware of the theoretical knowledge of pregnancy, labor, and the birthing process. What I was not prepared for was the awe that I felt inside for the mighty power of God. The birth of a baby is still the most supernatural miracle that I have ever witnessed. The beginning of a new life touches humanity deep into the core of our souls. King David proclaimed, “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well.” Psalm 139:14.

Human effort is required to stay connected to God.  Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. …” Genesis 1:26. “To be like us” is often misunderstood. Our Heavenly Father never intended for us to feel alone or to live with a survival instinct. We have an example. Three persons of the Godhead, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who are always unified and connected. The angels, heavenly messengers, know their purpose, and that is to serve God and humanity. It is unfortunate that humans created in the image of God readily cut the spiritual cord that connects us to our source of love, grace, mercies, and power.

How do we place ourselves in the predicament of being cut-off?

We cut off our spiritual source when we fail to pray, study the Bible, and spend time in praise and worship. We sever the cord by seeking to fulfill our selfish desires and ambitions. Without the strength and power from Jesus Christ, we easily fall into temptation. Because of sinful desires hidden deep within our hearts (the desires that we do not share with anyone) we disconnect from our Heavenly Father.

Unlike the infant, whose internal organs kick in to sustain life outside of the mother, our attempt to live outside of God brings anxiety, worry, depression, and hopelessness. Sin leads to complete separation from the Trinity Godhead. Jesus tells us the solution: Stay connected, or else we are empty and powerless!

Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me, you can do nothing.… John 15:4-5

Never forget: 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

God did not speak us into existence. If God, in all of His majesty, bent down and created Adam from the dust of the ground, then we should praise, worship, and never cut our spiritual cords to God, the source of life. Only God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit can provide us with the spiritual nutrients that flow continuously to keep us connected. Claim your victorious life by never cutting the cord!

Bible Study: John 15

God, we desire to connect to You, our source who loves and cares for us. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask 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.