Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy. Exodus 8:11
It was reported that our former first lady, Melania Trump visits the spa on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day. There is a common thread among humanity, we require love and attention. Life is harsh! Whether one is wealthy or impoverished, hungry or full, no one is spared from the vicissitudes–a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant–of life.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
What makes the difference to having and living everyday with peace and inner joy is our response to the never-ending struggles. If we are seeking solace or answers from nature, spas, yoga, meditation, sleep apps or deep-breathing exercises then we are relying on alternative therapies instead of God, our Creator.
Throughout the Bible, God instructs us to remember. Why? We look at our reflection once or twice a day and quickly forget what we visualized. In fact, we can look in the mirror in the morning and by the evening when we look again, we may not even recognize the image we see. It is the fleeting moments that affect us but we don’t have the ability to grasp or control them.
So, we embrace the hardships and the rigors in our lives as if they were newborn babies. And then the bitter fruits of doubt, discouragement, anxiety, worries, and depression take root, and begin to flourish.
Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. Isaiah 40:28
Omniscience–all knowing is a quality that only God possesses. The Creator of humanity was fully aware that we would have a poor memory of who He is when our trials hit. Yes, God knows how easily we become overwhelmed. Hence the reason, He created us with the desire to seek Him for love and attention. But God does not force us, contrary to what Satan wants us to believe, we are not enslaved. We have the freewill of choice to serve God or not to serve Him.
If we say, yes to God then He provides us with the knowledge to be overcomers.
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, and he watches over you very carefully]. 1 Peter 5:7 AMP
God expects us to acknowledge, remember, and obey His commandments everyday. For 24 hours from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, our Creator gives us the solution to overcoming the ruggedness of life by spending one-to-one time with Him. We receive a much-needed break by observing the Sabbath. 24 hours of God-time erases the stress from the vicissitudes that burden us from the other six days of the week.
We have our Creator who says, “Remember the [seventh day Sabbath] to keep it holy,” and I will commune with you and re-energize, refresh, and strengthen your soul. We have God’s Spiritual Spa available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where He sends our Comforter, the Holy Spirit to dwell with us. But the Sabbath is Holy! It is our prime time to devote one complete day to our Creator. All we have to do is obey and shut out the issues that trouble us the other six days of the week.
Membership in God’s Spa gives us free access to the Spiritual Team of God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, the Holy Spirit and the countless army of angels who never sleep or grow weary. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components must have daily communion with God to function properly. We should worship God everyday, but He set aside and designated the Sabbath, 24 hours as Holy.
Our perception of God along with our definition of holiness impacts our desire to obey the fourth commandment. Serving God is up close and personal. I decided that I would stop following humanity’s strategies to obtain peace, contentment, and inner joy a very long time ago.
We cannot compete with God! If we believe that we were created in the image of God then we should bow down and worship Him with faith, trust, and obedience. It is when we fail to obey by immediately communicating with God in prayer that our emotions escalate, and we worry as the unbelievers do.
God has given us a membership with unlimited access to His Spiritual Spa. Our membership was paid by the precious blood of Jesus who sacrificed His life that we may have redemption. He is alive and serves as our Heavenly Intercessor soon to come again for the faithful. So go ahead, take your daily visits and enjoy your weekly sabbaticals in the only spa that provides communion with the Trinity Godhead.
Jesus told us exactly what He would provide for us, “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Prayer: Even so, come Lord Jesus is our prayer. God, our Father we love you. It is our desire to embrace the membership to your Spiritual Spa paid by the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the Sabbath and for loving us. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
© 2021 Sonya Johnson Ruiz, Steps 2 your Spiritual Success
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness, and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Isaiah 32:17-18 ESV
Because of our sinful nature, we easily gravitate toward and exist in chaos and confusion. Our lives are full of anxieties and worries, which leave us stressed out and overwhelmed. The peace that God promises to all believers escapes us because we tolerate the source of disorder–we are the reason for the chaos in our lives.
Disorder and dissension among believers have always existed. Hence, one of the reasons that the Apostle Paul addressed his letter to the Christian Church in Philippi.
2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. Philippians 4:2-3 NLT.
Chaos defeats God’s purpose for our lives, which is to enjoy His peace. Without peace, we are unable to witness and spread the message of salvation to others. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16
Serving God guarantees us that we will have peace. The challenge: If you lack peace, then you must acknowledge that you are the root of the problem. You may say, “No way, am I the problem. It’s my circumstances, my job, family members, etc.” Even so, God says that you are the reason that you do not have peace.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13
Now we will explore the reason that we are the source of not having God’s peace. The third person of the Trinity Godhead, the Holy Spirit, is not a part of our existence. Because many do not understand the purpose and power of the Holy Spirit, they never pray and ask to be filled, guided, or comforted by the Holy Spirit. There are some concepts that God expects us to accept and believe without further explanation. We believe because He says so. After all, He is God.
Again the apostle Paul tells us that we receive the Fruit of the Spirit when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
Long-suffering: having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.
If we, pray daily for the Holy Spirit to be an active part of our lives, then we will possess the Fruit of the Spirit, which includes the fruit of long-suffering. Let’s recall our denial: You may say, “No way, am I the problem. It’s my circumstances, my job, family members, etc.”
So when we become annoyed, upset, unsettled, disturbed, troubled, anxious, and angry, God tells us: No Holy Spirit=No Fruit of the Spirit! Now we must humble ourselves, acknowledge, confess, and repent to God that we are the root of the problem.
God, we confess, repent, and ask forgiveness for the strife that we have caused in our lives. We ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can truly enjoy the peace that comes from serving you, the Lord of Peace. Please provide us with the strength to overcome all distractions and challenge chaos and confusion with prayer, praise, and long-suffering. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen!
Happy Sabbath! Live as victorious overcomers every day through the power of the Holy Spirit!
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.
When we plan a vacation, we choose a refreshing but serene location or an urban city that offers shopping, restaurants, and excitement. But the ultimate goal is to get away from the busyness and struggle of our routine lives. Only if it were that simple to leave our challenges and never look back, even if we leave everything behind and choose new beginnings, we will face obstacles.
The greatest obstacle facing the multiple generations that co-exist in this world: Possessing Peace of mind!
I watched a movie that documented a young man who decided that nature was his best friend. So, he left his job, took his life savings and power tools to live alone. Choosing a perfect mountainous spot was easily done due to his previous hiking expeditions. He could live off the land in a cabin that he built without running water or electricity. All was well for many years. But unfortunately, one day, he mistakenly ate poisonous berries and suffered a slow and painful death. Months later, he was found at the base of a tree with his journal in hand. Although his daily journal entries indicated that he was “living in paradise” and was extremely happy, because of one mistake, he documented that his lapse in judgment cost him his life. “I mistakenly have eaten berries that must contain a neurotoxin because I have lost all ability to move my legs. You will find me dead.” Indeed this was a heart-wrenching real-life account of someone who met a premature death—never thinking that his pursuit of peace through isolation would eliminate much-needed medical help.
Even so, as I reflected on this young man’s life, I realize that he possessed inner joy and achieved his definition of peace of mind. It is difficult to imagine that someone would find happiness in isolation from all human contact, hunt and gather food, and live without utilities. And that is why most individuals should not be unhappy. We have so many things (needs and wants) in our lives that we are miserable.
We are self-medicating with anti-depressants, anti-anxiety prescription medications, CBD, feel-good drugs, alcohol, food, excessive spending habits, and the list goes on and on. Our minds are constantly in motion because we are always chasing something. I remember the first time I watched a self-help podcast that recommended taking a pen and paper and making a list of the things you required to sustain your life. And then, make a list of the things you desired, compare the two lists, and tear up the list of desires. The action of tearing up the paper reinforced the elimination of the stressful desires that prevented having peace of mind.
My first list was not a list. I had everything that I needed. When I looked at the list of desires, I asked myself, “Why?” Is this what is destroying my peace of mind? Self is our greatest obstacle! Possessing Peace is not based on the process of elimination. No God, No peace. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
During this pandemic, I have been able to realign my mindset to be in sync with God. My list of priorities has gone through a significant renovation. Faith and trust in God have replaced the destructive habit of self-reliance. Gratitude has replaced the greed for needless things.
The holiday season should not be one of sorrow. Yes, we are in another tumultuous wave of illness and death from the Coronavirus. But I encourage you to make a list of the blessings that you have received from God this year, this month, and today. Acknowledge the unconditional love of God: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
It is possible to overcome the most significant challenge facing the multiple generations that co-exist in this world: “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
Allow God to enter your life as your Heavenly Father. Believe and receive His promises, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:33-34
God, we ask for your help to overcome the obstacle of ourselves. The desire for needless things plagues our minds. We are seeking peace from everything else, including a location change. Yes, we have failed to realize that peace is a gift from you. Please show us how to increase our faith and trust in you. We thank you for your love, grace, and mercies of this new day. Thank you for hearing and answering this 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.
The difference between a good book and a great book is that the writer could completely pull-in and immerse the readers into the plot. Yes, reading a great book produces anticipation, excitement, and eagerness to know how the story will end. An exceptional book will cause the reader to rearrange their priorities and to have many sleepless nights.
There are many genres of books categorized under Fiction or Nonfiction. With an endless array of books available, even the most discriminating reader can remain devoted to their endless choices of page-turners. Even so, there is a significant difference between reading and studying. Unless you desire to know an individual’s life story or learn alternate ways to live, or seek to improve yourself by gaining new skills, you are most likely reading for entertainment.
The category of Fiction causes us to embrace, “Something invented by the imagination or feigned-pretense” – Merriam-Webster. Fiction goes beyond the reality of pain, sorrows, and harshness in our lives. Prose is a form of written language that usually exhibits a natural flow of speech and grammatical structure. Fictional prose provides comfort by appearing to give the option of possessing a spectacular life. And many times, this is where we get in trouble. With the continual reading of make-believe stories, the line becomes blurred, and our desires soon escalate to chase after a fantasy lifestyle or tangible things based on desire.
Books are not the only venue that offers a fantasy side of life: Mind-altering substances, night-clubs, casinos, the party life, the failure to desire a job, extreme risk-taking, addiction to games, and doing absolutely nothing but living to have fun and good times, are out of sync with reality. This list is not all-inclusive but includes popular activities and lifestyles that prevail in 2020. Because these behaviors and habits have the potential for addiction, they are dangerous and destructive. In a short time, the individual ends up with a burned-out mind and body. Focusing on pleasure-seeking activities never has and never will give one the ability to live a peaceful and productive life.
Do we give up on having fun? We are supposed to incorporate fun into our lives. Even so, we should choose activities that enhance our level of optimal wellness. There is nothing better than having a good laugh or enjoying our favorite hobby, watching our sports team, and spending good times with friends and family, etc. God gifted us with the ability to have well-balanced lives. A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22.
Who among us loves to struggle? I would love for every day to be a peaceful day. And, I am still striving to reach this point in my spiritual walk with God: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, … James 1:2 NIV. Yes, I will be the first to admit, when the tsunami of trials and tribulations hits, I feel my optimism taking a downward turn. Then I begin to pray, but it is also the time that I begin to cry. I had to do some real soul-searching. Am I crying because of the hardship, or am I crying because I am overjoyed that Jehovah-Jireh will work it all out for His glory and His good?
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28.
From yesterday’s Devotional, The Decision to Have Peace, we realize that we must endure the process of change to have peace. And we do not get to choose which character trait, behavior, or habit that needs to change. Our character should reflect the Character of Christ. Relationships are based on God’s command to separate ourselves from unbelievers for a very good reason. It is the believer that will always have to compromise when we are unequally yoked. Unbelievers have no desire to have eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. If the birthday celebration is held in the club, it does not matter that you will drink a non-alcoholic beverage. Does this scripture describe who we are? “‘Jesus replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV. Only the Lord of peace can provide us with the ability to live a faith-based and peaceful life, free from all burdens, anxieties, and worries. Our love, faith, trust, and obedience to God take us to a higher level in our spiritual walk. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:11.
The pursuit of peace requires active participation. The Bible is not a fictional book that we can casually read. The diligent study, commitment to memory, and applying the scriptures to our lives along with faith and obedience provides the foundation for spiritual transformation. Pursuing peace is getting rid of our worldly desires, and people, places, and things. Make a December resolution by developing a list of the who, what, and where you are willing to give up for God. Petition God to bless you with the gift of peace. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Loving God with everything we have enables us to enjoy the perfect peace that only God can give. Petitioning God by praying and asking Him to grant peace in your life (Human effort) gives God the “go-ahead” to unleash His power (Divine Intervention).
But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you, says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3
God, we present our list of the people, places, and things that prevent us from obeying you and receiving the abundant gift of peace. We desire to serve you completely because we love you and acknowledge there is no other God but You. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer of petition for peace. We ask this prayer 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 author’s written permission.
The desire to have peace continues to be an ongoing struggle in most of our lives. To achieve peace is challenging because it always involves change. If you are willing to commit to rid yourself of all chaos, you are ready to move forward.
The first step to embracing peace is identifying the people, places, and things that directly cause chaos in your life. Since many factors contribute to the lack of peace, we will begin with two categories:
- Structure and Self-Control
- The Interpersonal Skills of Relationships
The chaos in our lives most often falls within these two areas. From embracing counterproductive behaviors and habits to inviting people into our lives who lack the knowledge and skills to nurture healthy relationships, we will never enjoy our gift of peace without the intentional elimination of the root of the problem.
For those of us who have lawns to maintain, we have an ongoing battle with eliminating weeds. There is a characteristic that all weeds share; they have the strength to grow aggressively with the intent to destroy.
Weeds are harmful in many ways. The damages caused by them are as under: 1. Reduction in crop yield:- Weeds compete with crops for water, nutrients, and light. Being hardy and vigorous in growth habits, they grow faster than crops and consume a large amount of water and nutrients, thus causing heavy losses in yields. http://oer.nios.ac.in/wiki/index.php/Damages_caused_by_Weeds
Like weeds, there are non-productive behaviors that grow deep roots within us. We do not understand why we are overwhelmed, nor can we determine why we cannot accomplish our goals. Our relationship problems worsen because one or both individuals lack the necessary character traits to unconditionally love each other. We usually acknowledge that there is a problem, but we tend to blame external factors or other people.
Self-Control and Structure require:
- Discipline-defined as training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way, which produces positive outcomes.
- Organizational skills-Being organized means you manage your time and energy well and accomplish all your assigned tasks.
Relationships require the Healthy Characteristics of :
Trust, Communication, Patience, Empathy, Affection and Interest, Flexibility, Appreciation, Room for Growth, Respect, Reciprocity, Healthy Conflict Resolution, Individuality and Boundaries, and Openness and Honesty. https://www.psychologytoday.com
Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit. Excerpt from, Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life
There is an app that promotes itself as “The #1 App for Meditation and Sleep.” So, what happens if there is an outage or blackout? And for only $14.99 a month or $69.99 annual payment, you can “Join the millions experiencing better sleep, lower stress, and less anxiety.” Please know that I have nothing against relaxing music, which I listen to all of the time.
But if we only pull out the top of the weed, the root remains buried deep into the ground. Peace requires active participation. We need to identify the source that prevents us from having inner peace and institute the process of change. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3. To enjoy true peace requires that we acknowledge and accept that peace is a gift from God. Therefore God becomes a vital part of our spiritual growth and development.
Changing our habits requires Divine intervention, structure, self-control, and learning new interpersonal skills. Nothing is impossible with God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV.
Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Living as a Victorious Overcomer.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
God, we have tried many ways to get rid of our anxieties and our worries. We admit that we need your help. Please forgive us of our sins, and give us peace. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.
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.