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.

Sabbath Devotional: Living with Faith, Hope, and Gratitude

Life in the 1970s in a small Texas town was tough. There was a significant disparity between the financially wealthy and the rest of us. Poverty transcended all barriers; there were only two classes of people, the rich and the poor.

But, we also belonged to a church family who looked out for each other. Most of us had very little, yet, we were happy. Our faith in God was strong. We prayed continuously and were confident that God would answer. Our joy was evident because we always knew that God would give us our essential needs (Matthew 6). In addition, every Sabbath after lunch, we passed out literature in our assigned areas. Yes, those times are precious memories.

We had great faith as we prayed, prepared, and looked forward to Jesus coming again. 

Fast forward to the 21st century, and many believers are feeling anxious, worried, overwhelmed, depressed, and hopeless. What brought about the change?

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. Luke 17:12-13. The men with leprosy heard of the great Messiah who healed those with many illnesses and raised the dead. When they saw Jesus, all ten men used their loud voices to ask Him for mercy.

Jesus commanded them to go and show themselves to the priest, which took unwavering faith. Remember that lepers were outcasts and not allowed to mix with other people. All ten obeyed Jesus’ command to, “Go.” Because of their faith and obedience, they received healing from the dreadful disease that excluded them from society. 

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God he fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16. Jesus healed ten lepers, yet only one returned to say, “Thank you.”

In this story, the desire to receive healing was reflected by their desperation. But even more importantly, they recognized Jesus and ten men loudly asked Him for mercy. When Jesus told them to go to the priests, they didn’t say, “Jesus, we are not allowed to go into the city, nor can we go into the synagogue.” The lepers faithfully obeyed Jesus’ command, and received healing. But only one of the ten had a grateful heart. And it is gratitude that caused him to turn around to thank Jesus.

Why was the man’s ethnicity of being a Samaritan emphasized? Because the Jews had no interactions with the unbelieving and unrighteous Samaritans. Even so, he did not care about society’s restrictions. The healed man took another giant leap of faith and went back to Jesus to say, “Thank you.”

Most believers of today acknowledge the deity of God, our Creator. Yet, we are so distracted by our circumstances that our faith is almost nonexistent. “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. 

Our outlook is bleak when we enter the season of darkness [hardships, trials, and sorrows], nor do we focus on the fact that God always keeps His promises. 

What happens when we accumulate wealth? Due to financial prosperity, we begin to forget where the prosperity comes from. We take our eyes off Him and start looking at our wealth. We begin to worship the tangible things instead of the Creator. Alexis, contributor

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

We have adapted and conformed to the “self-help” mindset of the world. As we try to figure out the solutions, we are desperate, but our desperation is not for Jesus.

The busyness of our lifestyles has prevented us from having an up-close and personal relationship with God. Simply put, we do not have time to put God first.

Although our faults are many, we can change our current way of thinking, acting, and living. Jesus paid a high price for us. He kept his promise to die for our sins. And now Jesus is still serving us by being our Heavenly Intercessor, presenting us as faultless before God when we confess and repent of our sins.

Always put God first! When we possess a spirit of gratitude, we recognize every blessing, great or small, and we readily thank God for His never-ending grace and mercies.

This is our blessed hope: Jesus promises us that He is coming again!

12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:12-13, 20

Bible Study: Matthew 6, and Revelation 22

God, we are so caught up in life’s circumstances that we have lost our faith, hope, and total belief in you. We ask forgiveness for focusing on ourselves. We acknowledge that without your love, grace, and mercy, we would be hopeless. Please give us the strength to change and to put you first. We ask for a renewal of our commitment as we faithfully serve you and prepare for the Second Coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. 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.  

Lost in Translation? Happy Sabbath!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man or woman of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.…2 Timothy 3:16-17 BSB

Did you know that the Bible was translated into English? If you speak another language, then you are familiar with the phrase, “Lost in translation.” Many words in American English have double-meanings or a play on words, “No pun intended.”

The Bible is not complicated. It takes a spiritual mind in Christ Jesus to understand the “Voice of God.” To explain this concept, think about babies. They have the innate ability to recognize their mothers through their five senses. And I thought babies would always remember their fathers, but this proved to be inaccurate with fathers who shaved their facial hair. The babies did not recognize them and cried as if they were looking at a stranger. Of course, those who sought to prove this hypothesis carefully manipulated the experiment with controlled factors, the fathers were not allowed to speak. Certainly, the babies would have recognized their father’s voices.

For us to recognize our Heavenly Father’s voice, we always require Divine intervention when studying God’s Word–the Holy Bible. Before studying the Bible, pray for forgiveness of sins and ask for the Holy Spirit to give you a correct understanding of the scriptures. Also, ask God to provide you with the wisdom to apply the Word of God to your life. If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 AMP

Because we are on a learning curve throughout our lifetime, we can seek a higher level of knowledge from those who are anointed and appointed to minister to mass congregations. Even so, we can attend church services, listen to sermons and study the Bible without experiencing a spiritual transformation. It is not enough to study the Bible. We must also apply it to our lives. Yes, God has anointed many individuals to preach the Word of God, but all who say that Jesus is their Lord and Savior must search the Bible and receive the knowledge to think, act, and live holy, righteous lives. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV

With the Holy Spirit as our teacher, we will always gain truth when studying biblical principles.

It is true! We may feel overwhelmed when searching the Internet for spiritual guidance through sermons. Who do we listen to? How do we know they are preaching the truth? The Apostle Paul answers those questions: They must preach about Christ!

Because of his love for God, many are familiar with Evangelist Billy Graham, who passed on February 21, 2018. Every sermon that he preached, regardless of the subject matter, always included Jesus and biblical scriptures. He never preached about gaining material wealth, and if he spoke on anxiety, worry, and depression, he explained the reason behind the feelings, “your relationship with Jesus is lacking depth, and commitment.”

I do not promote pastors, ministers, or speakers of any particular denomination or religion. God is no respecter of persons. He does not have favorites based on the denomination of the church or social, educational, and financial statuses. We must pray for spiritual discernment before listening to any sermon and studying the Bible, so we have the correct understanding of the Word of God. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.… John 10:27-28 BSB

Many preach with other motives: It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. Philippians 1:15. Because it is impossible for us to know other people’s motives, we can use the Apostle Paul’s message: Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely. … Philippians 1:17. Again, Paul gives us the defining answer, they must preach about Christ! The subject of the sermon may vary; even so, Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

Every one of us has a spiritual job to fulfill: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20. To receive eternal life, we must have a personal relationship with Christ that grows stronger and deeper every day. When we are in love with God, we excitedly spread the message of His saving grace to others.

Please know that studying the Bible is not an option! The Bible is the Voice of God! To know who God is we must have knowledge of His character, expectations, and promises. Do not be concerned about being lost in translation! When we pray for understanding, God will never allow the scriptures to be confusing. Our Teacher, the Holy Spirit is always ready and available to provide us with the ability to grasp the meaning of God’s Words.

We are blessed to have the most powerful technology available to read and hear the Word of God in many languages. Even for those who live in remote areas or in countries where the Bible is prohibited, and the media is controlled, remember that the angels are God’s messengers. If you are without a Bible, pray and ask God to give you a Bible. “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Bible Study: 2 Timothy 3

God, we thank you for the Bible, your Holy Word. Please forgive us of our sins. We pray for spiritual discernement and wisdom as we seek knowledge through the study of your Word. Our desire is to have a deeper relationship with you as we prepare for Eternal life. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. 

With God, We Can Overcome!

Happy Sabbath!

Are you familiar with this quip? “Nothing beats a failure, but a try” The problem with witty sayings or one-liners is they promote self-reliance. And then, when we fail, we become downtrodden and discouraged.

In studying the Bible, we cannot find scriptures that resemble the witty, one-liners that we frequently hear and attempt to incorporate into our daily lives. One of the most significant proclamations of defeat is, “I’m trying to change.” Yes, human effort is required along with God’s Divine Intervention. Even so, it is not choosing either human effort or divine intervention. We must decide, pray, and make a covenant with God to be faithful and obey by following all of His commandments. Our relationship with God is one of total dependency on God.

So let’s say that you have a habit that you have “been trying to stop.” Let’s use anger as our example. You have attended Anger Management classes or read self-help books, and watched many videos on curtailing anger, yet, you still have a vicious anger management problem. 

The root of the problem is your spiritual relationship with God, and no other book but the Bible will instruct you to live holy and righteously. So you may think, but God gave us anger as an emotion. Yes, He did! Imagine that we did not have anger, then we would have complete tolerance for human trafficking, child molestation, rape, scams, embezzlement, social injustices, and other heinous crimes. God did not give us anger to lash out at other individuals. We were given anger, so we will feel like rubbing alcohol is being poured on an open wound when evil manifests itself without boundaries. 

I encourage you to think very seriously about the habits and character traits that you are “trying to get rid of.” Many modern sermons include “inclusivity,” if we just believe that God exists, we are guaranteed eternal life. But we know the scriptures do not support this false teaching. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

The Word of God is definitive in the habits and traits that will exclude us from our heavenly reward:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 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 right. 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

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

God is aware of humanity’s limitation to try but fail without His help. Do your part by confessing and repenting of the sinful habits and traits that will keep you from being an “Overcomer.” It is possible to live holy:

    1. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    2. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
    3. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5
    4. And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
    5. I can (and will) do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Saints of the Most-High God, rely on God for the spiritual transformation required to change your undesirable habits/traits. When tempted, begin to pray out loud, remove yourself from the temptation, and continue to pray for strength. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Bible Study: Psalm 37, Revelation 21 and 22

God, thank you for creating the Sabbath to enjoy physical, mental, emotional rest and spiritual renewal. You have given us 24 hours to shut out all secular activities and time to focus on growing closer to you. We admit that we need spiritual refreshment every day in our earthly journey. Please forgive us for our sins. We ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to seek you above all else. We pray for your strength and power to rid ourselves of ungodly habits and to live holy and acceptable lives. 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.

Happy Sabbath

With God, we will overcome!

Are you familiar with this quip? “Nothing beats a failure, but a try” The problem with witty sayings or one-liners is they promote self-reliance. And then, when we fail, we become downtrodden and discouraged.

In studying the Bible, we cannot find scriptures that resemble the witty, one-liners that we frequently hear and attempt to incorporate into our daily lives. One of the most significant proclamations of defeat is, “I’m trying to change.” Yes, human effort is required along with God’s Divine Intervention. Even so, it is not choosing either human effort or divine intervention. We must decide, pray, and make a covenant with God to be faithful and obey by following all of His commandments. Our relationship with God is one of total dependency on God.

So let’s say that you have a habit that you have “been trying to stop.” Let’s use anger as our example. You have attended Anger Management classes or read self-help books, and watched many videos on curtailing anger, yet, you still have a vicious anger management problem. 

The root of the problem is your spiritual relationship with God, and no other book but the Bible will instruct you to live holy and righteously. So you may think, but God gave us anger as an emotion. Yes, He did! Imagine that we did not have anger, then we would have complete tolerance for human trafficking, child molestation, rape, scams, embezzlement, social injustices, and other heinous crimes. God did not give us anger to lash out at other individuals. We were given anger, so we will feel like rubbing alcohol is being poured on an open wound when evil manifests itself without boundaries. 

I encourage you to think very seriously about the habits and character traits that you are “trying to get rid of.” Many modern sermons include “inclusivity,” if we just believe that God exists, we are guaranteed eternal life. But we know the scriptures do not support this false teaching. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

The Word of God is definitive in the habits and traits that will exclude us from our heavenly reward:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 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 right. 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

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

God is aware of humanity’s limitation to try but fail without His help. Do your part by confessing and repenting of the sinful habits and traits that will keep you from being an “Overcomer.” It is possible to live holy:

    1. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    2. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
    3. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5
    4. And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
    5. I can (and will) do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Saints of the Most-High God, rely on God for the spiritual transformation required to change your undesirable habits/traits. When tempted, begin to pray out loud, remove yourself from the temptation, and continue to pray for strength. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Bible Study: Psalm 37, Revelation 21 and 22

God, thank you for creating the Sabbath to enjoy physical, mental, emotional rest and spiritual renewal. You have given us 24 hours to shut out all secular activities and time to focus on growing closer to you. We admit that we need spiritual refreshment every day in our earthly journey. Please forgive us for our sins. We ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to seek you above all else. We pray for your strength and power to rid ourselves of ungodly habits and to live holy and acceptable lives. 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.

Reaching Out-Sabbath Devotional

We are in difficult times, yet many continue to live lavish lifestyles while others are homeless and hungry. The great divide between “those who have and those who have not” continues to grow.

Black Friday (2020) hit a new record with consumers spending $9.0 billion, an increase of 21.6% year over year (online sales hit $7.4 billion on Black Friday in 2019), according to Adobe Analytics data. It was the second-largest online spending day in U.S. history, coming in behind Cyber Monday 2019. abcnews.go.com

The spending will continue throughout the holiday season while many families wonder how long they will have housing and live off minimal food.

As believers, we have a responsibility to take care of those in need.

    1. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27
    2. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? 1 John 3:17
    3. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? James 2:16

To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we benefit others. https://law.utk.edu/

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16, Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Matthew 14: 13-17

It is difficult to grasp the concept that Jesus’ disciples were selfish and faithless. Although Jesus was the perfect role model who consistently helped others, they still maintained the “looking out for number one” mindset. Remember, the disciples possessed the power to perform miracles, yet their true character was revealed when they told Jesus to send the people away to fend for themselves. Their response to Jesus’ command to feed the multitude, “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Matthew 14:17.

The root of the problem is simple: We do not love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, so it is impossible to love others. Nor can we build our faith in God through self-reliance. We may give the 10% that God requires, Malachi 3:8-15, but God requires more from those He has blessed with wealth. Our definition of wealth is not God’s definition of wealth. When we have all of our necessities, our abundance of money is to provide for others.

Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:9-11 NLT

Make a change this holiday season. All believers have a divine purpose to bless others. Our unselfish giving to those in need results in an increase of love for God and others. The innate selfish spirit and hardened heart begins to melt away as we become full of compassion and the desire to minister to those who are unable to provide for themselves. Decide to be content with what you have and commit to sharing your financial resources.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25: 34-40

God, we confess that we have hardened hearts and clenched fists concerning our money. We ask forgiveness for the selfish spirit that has controlled us for a long time. We desire to change and fulfill our purpose in life to alleviate the burdens of those in need. We pray for your blessings as we continue to do your will. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

God’s Love for Humanity: The Bond of Family

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

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

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

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

We are required to embrace the concept of all humanity as one family: “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” 37, Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “Matthew 22:36-39.

Deal-Breaker

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

Spiritual Deal-Breaker

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

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

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

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20

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

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

Spiritual Deal-Breaker

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

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

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

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

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

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

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

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

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

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

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

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

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

Do not look at your circumstances!

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

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

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

Divine Intervention: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

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

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

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

Love God, Love Others, and Love yourself!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith brings the Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

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

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

Faith brings Victory

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

Faith brings Joy

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

Faith brings Peace and Contentment

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

Faith brings Provisions

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

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

Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory

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

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

Happy Sabbath-Your Divine Purpose

Are you aware that each of us who has joined the Army of God has a Divine purpose? Without exception, yes, we do. 

When God called Jeremiah, he was young and fearful. Yet, as only our Heavenly Father can, God not only reassured him that He would be with him at all times, God also promised young Jeremiah that He would tell him what to say.

The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah. Jeremiah’s Call and First Visions. Jeremiah 1:2

4 The Lord gave me this message: 5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.” 8 “And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!” Jeremiah 1:4-9

In 2015, I injured my left knee, which left me in an immobilizer and on crutches. I was on vacation in another state and limited to very few activities. When the Emergency Room physician came in to speak to me about the extent of the injury, he inquired as to why I was visiting Upstate, New York. I explained that I used to live there and was on vacation to see friends. He stated, “Have a great time, but I need you do me a favor, as soon as you return to Texas please make an urgent appointment with an Orthopedic Dr.”

Little did I realize, the Ortho consult would reveal information that would significantly impact my life. After looking at numerous knee x-rays, the Orthopedic surgeon began to inquire if I had previous problems with my knees. I gave him the history of experiencing bilateral knee pain while standing for long periods. His next words were like a hammer striking a nail that would not go down into the wood, “Compared to your age, I have never seen damage like this, what do you do for a living?” To which I replied, “This is my 37th year as a Nurse.” And then He delivered the final blow, “Well, Sonya, your career as a nurse is over!”

As I struggled to comprehend the seriousness of his statement, my voice quivered when I asked, “What do you mean?” As we reviewed my x-rays, the Doctor explained that my knees were bone-on-bone. The cartilage that cushions the knee joint was worn away from the many years of delivering patient care, and I needed total replacements in both knees. I left the Doctors office with a customized knee brace and for three months focused on the healing process as I endured the rigors of aquatic physical therapy.

After seeking a second and third opinion, which confirmed my diagnosis, I gradually accepted that walking on sand, grass, uneven surfaces, riding a bike, and climbing up and down steps was over. My love of roller-coaster rides came to a halt due to the jerking motions that could cause further damage to my knees. Still, I worked for two more years in a non-clinical setting that did not involve patient care. But in 2017, my knee gave way, and I sustained a fall with injuries, causing retirement from active nursing in 2017.

I remained on an emotional roller-coaster. I had devoted my life to caring for those in need, using every opportunity to share the love of Jesus. My heart was heavy. Every day I thought about the fact that I could not function as a nurse. In my sorrow, I prayed and asked God what He wanted me to do? It was then that God revealed His miraculous plans for my life. While cleaning out a file drawer, I found a sermon that I delivered in 2007, titled, Feed My Sheep. Little did I realize that 10 years later, I would begin sharing the good news that Jesus loves us, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, and that Jesus is coming again to online readers on a global level. Mainly due to my limited tech skills.

God paved the way to facilitate my recovery by improving by health. I attended a seminar on using a plant-based diet to reverse Diabetes. Not only did I lose weight, I no longer required anti-diabetic medication. My lifestyle has completely changed allowing me to achieve an optimal level of health. Although my physical activity is restricted, I can walk one-mile and I rejoice that I have been delivered from the chronic pain that I suffered from. I eagerly await God’s promises of a physical transformation in which I will receive new knees that will never grow old.

I am sharing my testimony to encourage others. God revealed His Divine purpose for my life when I was suffering from the agony of defeat. Praise God! Hallelujah! When God ordains your purpose, nothing can prevent it from coming to fruition. Pray and ask God to reveal His Divine purpose for your life. Just as He told Jeremiah, I am with you, and I will tell you what to say, God is with us.

The Great Commission

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 1

God, thank you for the Sabbath. We ask you to reveal your Divine purpose for our lives. Please give us the courage to overcome our fears as we fulfill your plans for our lives. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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