Our Heavenly Father

The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. 1 John 3:1

We demonstrate our perception of God by the way we think, act, and live. Most of us express our gratitude for the mercies of a new day through prayer. But did we ask for God’s approval of our pending plans for today or the near future? We believe in God’s omnipotence, yet we exclude His divine Fatherly intervention by not praying for His will to be done in our lives. The exclusion may or may not be an oversight. When we fear that our desires will not receive His blessing then the exclusion is intentional.

Because of the desire for independence, our relationship with God becomes stagnant and unhealthy. Obedience is a requirement when serving God. Our status in the Father-child relationship with God was predetermined by God when He created humanity. We are not God’s equal. Just as children obey their earthly fathers, God also has the expectation that we honor and reverence Him through faith, trust, and obedience.

We know God is loving and desires the best for us. What is the underlying factor that prevents us from bonding with our Father-God?  The Father-child relationship is weakened by our lack of knowledge. Who are you, God? Moses tells us, “He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!” Deuteronomy 32:4 NLT. This one verse gives a complete description of God’s character. Have you ever wondered why many believers can smile and praise God, although their lives are turned upside down? They have a strong bond with God based on love, faith, trust, and obedience. Truly, He is their Father-God.

God speaks for himself by the many promises to His children, which are  unequaled. Who else can promise never-failing comfort and protection?

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

Despite our disobedience, God continually reaches out to us, always reassuring His wayward children. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. Our mindset changes from having worries and burdens to one of inner joy and peace when we give up our independence. Let the storms of hardship and the seasons of darkness come. Dependency on God provides us with His guidance and strength through adversity. Yes, Peace is knowing that God has you in His righteous right hand.

Bible reading: Psalm 91

Prayer: God, we confess our disobedience of possessing an independent mindset and excluding you from our spiritual journey. We acknowledge our sin and ask for forgiveness. We ask you to direct our steps on the path of righteousness that we may be prepared for the soon coming of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Muted and Silenced

Modern technology: It is has become a universal language that people from all over the world have become fluent in. Technology is a major part of our everyday lives, and it is often how we form opinions, communicate with others, and even explore new ideas. http://blogs.creighton.edu/cah17654/the-advancement-of-technology/

Cell phones, laptops, and televisions have permeated our lives and are the most common methods for passing the time or relaxing and relieving stress. We can change channels according to our preferences. download or delete apps that provide pertinent data or enjoy “just having fun” activities. Communication is global. Our options provide texting, face-timing, etc., to people in places we will never physically visit. Yes, our techy options are unlimited.

Two of my favorites are the ability to mute and silence. Mute is a feature that allows you to remove or prevent further posts or tweets from that person without unfollowing or blocking that account [and without the other person knowing they are muted]. Silence is simply the “no-sound” feature. Although we utilize these options according to our moods, to-do responsibilities for a particular day, or to take a break from over stimuli, the “mute and silence ” options are limited to inanimate objects.

We are powerless to mute the responsibilities and busyness that modern life demands from us. Nor can we mute or silence the negative thoughts, insecurities, fears, phobias, the inability to cope with life’s stressors, and the inability to move forward from the residual of past trauma. Fear, anxiety, and depression have gripped our minds pushing us further down into the abyss of of darkness.

The global prevalence of mental health issues is invasive and relentless. Over 47 million American adults suffer from a diagnosis of mental illness. In 2017, around 10.7% of the world population suffered from impaired mental health. We must realize that the statistics are based on individuals who have been diagnosed. Health care professionals admit that we have an unknown number of indigent individuals or those who can function and complete the robotic tasks of daily living with undiagnosed mental health conditions.

The Pursuit of Peace

“Just make it go away” is the desire of every individual who has to live with unpleasant memories or the increasing stressors of unknown life events. Our challenges are overwhelming and in desperation we have reached our limits. A google search for apps that promote growth of inner peace, calming fears, alleviating depression, and de-escalating anxiety are popular because we just can’t take it anymore.

But wait! We have another option: To leave it all behind–the pressures of mainstream and join the migration to a peaceful setting. We begin to research our options: Live on or off the grid, buy land, build a tiny home, grow organic veggies, renovate an RV and travel, and live where we control the pace of life.

For two years, I researched my options to leave it all behind. Surprisingly, I discovered that the nomadic lifestyle requires hard physical work, strong determination, and a stash of disposable income. Another factor is dealing with the hungry animals on the land who smell your aromatic food. In 2001, I was a camp nurse for 90 days in the Catskill mountains of New York. At sunset, we had to leave a big pot of various foods at the camp entrance to distract and feed the bears, which prevented them from entering our campsite with over 300 girls.

Muted and Silenced gone wrong

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Genesis 1:26. The problem is that we have forgotten that God created us with a spiritual umbilical cord–our soul. We may not understand that being made in the image of God comes with some intrinsic factors. Our genetic makeup was given to us by God, our Father. Just as a child is the reproduction of their parents, we have the physical, mental, emotional, and most importantly, the spiritual composition of God, Elohim, our Creator. We cannot break that connection. Even if we fail to serve God, the emptiness in our souls exists as we search for other options for completion.

Jesus, God incarnate, the Messiah, demonstrates that He was human and was not above the suffering caused by the vicissitudes of life. Yet, He surrendered by acknowledging “not my will but your will be done.” Jesus is our matchless role-model. He lived obediently by placing God was first and foremost in His short life of 33 years. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

Human, yet, Divine

  • Jesus wept. John 11:35
  • And He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, where He knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.…Luke 22:41-43
  • When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16
  • And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

It is presumptuous for us to attempt to analyze the emotions that Jesus manifested. We believe the historical facts from the Holy scriptures that Jesus was a human being when He lived on this earth. Do we ever think about the tremendous responsibility that Mary and Joseph had? They had to provide and raise Jesus–God’s Son from a baby until He grew into His purpose [Luke 2:41-52].  Yes, human arms held Jesus, Mary’s hands fed Jesus, she taught him the scriptures, and His Mother loved him.

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 NLT. At that point, Jesus was fully aware that He was the Son of God and the divine purpose of his life. Still, He was obedient to His earthly parents. We have a long earthly journey of surrender and obedience ahead of us if we want to possess peace from Jesus.

The Only Way to Possess Peace

We have muted and silenced Jesus! Many of us fail to study the Bible. We say we love Jesus, yet, we do not know who He is. How can we love or have a relationship with a stranger? The Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide us with four different perspectives of Jesus’ life. The conclusion: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We can stop frantically searching, purchasing, listening to musical apps, spoken words with an instrumental background, taking pills to go to sleep, pills to wake up…to gain the peace that only Jesus can provide. There are no levels or options of spiritual peace that can be achieved outside of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

“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.

Surrender by giving your heart to Jesus, Unmute spiritual ears and turn on the sound [to hear the voice of God]. It is the decision to enjoy the never-ending peace and contentment that remains even in the seasons of turmoil and darkness. 

The puzzle of my life was incomplete until I added the peace that comes from Jesus. Truly, our only option: Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Amen.

Bible Reading: John 14

Prayer: God, we admit that we are weary from living according to our own mindset. We desire a relationship with you and pray for the peace that only comes from you. Forgive us of our sins and strengthen us while we wait for your divine intervention. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of your Son, Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Love to Debate?

SHOUT THE CRY OF VICTORY 30 Days of Prayer DAY 3

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

Verbal sparring, debating, arguing, spats, and having the mindset, “I am going to say what’s on my mind, or always insisting on having the last word,” is strife. Strife is sin. But there is another category of believers who remain silent, but their thoughts are terrible. Before a word is on my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely. Psalm 139:4. Because God hears our thoughts, unspoken thoughts carry the same weight as spoken words.  

Have you noticed throughout the Bible that God provides instruction on the development of a Christ-like character? Yes, we must do our part [human effort] to achieve daily spiritual growth and transformation [Sanctification]. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us of the traits we possess when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual journey is based on Righteousness by Faith.

Most of us have been involved in a conflict; conflict resolution is utilized in most professional environments. But our conflict resolution differs because we answer to God, and He has specific biblical instructions on how to resolve or prevent controversy.

It is easy to become involved in verbal sparring. Some people love to argue, and it only takes one word to push their “Round One” button. Even so, having an argumentative spirit is not from God. Even worse, may God show us mercy if we are arguing over the Holy scriptures. Link for Bible verses on arguing: https://www.openbible.info/topics/arguing

When you are approached by an angry person (family, friend, coworker), simply walk away. We deserve respect even when we are wrong. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you calm down and pray for the individual. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2. If you are the subject of the argument, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your faults. It is a possibility that the other person is telling the truth. 

Anger is a powerful emotion that eliminates all rational thought processes.

  1. An angry person is too upset to listen or receive your apology. It is not the time to talk. When the situation allows, ask if the two of you can sit down and talk–do not wait until the next day! It takes a lot of negative energy to stay angry. Hopefully, they will calm down. Begin your conversation with, “You are right. I am sorry for ____________, apologize and ask for forgiveness, then ask God for forgiveness.
  2. If you are approached by someone who is not angry, make sure it is the right time and place to discuss the issue.
  3. What about false accusations? Lies are from the bitter fruits of jealousy and resentment, and anger. “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14

God’s Instruction on asking Him for forgiveness first:

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” Matthew 5:23-24

We cannot approach God first and ask for forgiveness before asking the other individual to forgive us. What happens when the person is unwilling to speak to you? We can use our cell phones to text, use FB messenger, or leave a voicemail. If you are on a blocked status, then accept that they have ended the relationship. Reconciling with an individual who desires to hold a grudge and remain angry is beyond our control. Still, we must pray for forgiveness and move forward.

Please keep this in mind: Our tone of voice may have conveyed our emotional state of being stressed. Every day we make intentional or unintentional mistakes, praise God for His mercy. Rid yourself of PRIDE! Give an apology even if the other person was wrong. Showing kindness and remaining humble produces the character that is pleasing to God. After all, we did commit to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

For clarification, I believe in zero tolerance for verbal abuse. If you are in an unhealthy and abusive relationship, “get out!” God did not create us in His image to become victims of abuse. What is unhealthy? Put-downs, profanity, sarcasm, being yelled at, and all disrespectful or condescending remarks that attack your self-worth.

Bible study: 2 Timothy 2

Prayer: God, we are often unaware of our displeasing character traits. We ask you to forgive us for having an argumentative spirit and for engaging in or provoking controversy. Please search our hearts and reveal our sins. We pray for the strength to leave situations of abuse. Teach us what true humility is according to your godly standards. We desire to live a peaceful and joyful life and to receive our reward of eternal life. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.  

Did you get your gift?

Not many of us would turn away a free, no-strings attached gift. Yet, we have let the distractions and hardships rob us of Jesus’ gift of peace. A peaceful, quiet setting away from chaos and confusion is how the world defines peace.

But the peace that Jesus gives, exists in the middle of the chaos and confusion. Our faith is the catalyst that propels our mind, soul, and body to accept the peace that passes human understanding. Go ahead, get your gift. Jesus promises when you receive His peace, you will live free from all worries and anxiety.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

God, we praise your name. Thank you, Jesus for giving us peace. Please forgive our doubt and unbelief. We pray in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

© 2021 Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Happy Sabbath God’s Spiritual Spa

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