It’s an Urgent Matter: Please Talk to God

The quest for simpler lifestyles to achieve peace and tranquility in the busyness of our lives is at an all-time high. Most of us routinely practice precautions to safeguard our physical safety. Businesses are paying attention to the increase of consumers making healthy choices regarding nutritional foods and purchasing clothing and equipment for physical exercise. And Psychologists continue to recommend guarding our mental and emotional health by using stress-reducing techniques and staying clear of toxic relationships.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

We are moving in the right direction, except for improving our spiritual health. When hardships, significant life events, or seasons of darkness overwhelm us, we still do not invite God to be our First-Responder. Prayer must be our immediate “911” call. We carry too many burdens when we fail to cast our cares on Jesus. Without consistent prayer, our faith depletes, and anxiety and worries consume our thoughts. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Matthew 6:27

Prayer is our connection to God, the source of our strength. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. Jesus warns us that we can do nothing without him.

The only way to stay connected to the vine is through continuous prayer. We can pray anytime of the day and night to optimize our spiritual health by growing closer to God. Remember, prayer is our lifeline. Make the commitment to have a strong bond with God. Prayer is the only way we can receive life-giving nourishment from the Vine–Jesus Christ.

“Just have a little talk with Jesus and tell him all about your troubles. He will hear the faintest cry, He will answer by and by.”

Happy Sabbath!

Bible Study: 1 Thessalonians 5

God, we desire to build our relationship with you and to improve our spiritual health. We thank you for the Sabbath, your gift to humanity. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson

It’s Getting Way Too Complicated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23

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

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

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

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

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

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

God, we ask you for the Holy Spirit to give us discernment to recognize truth from false teachings. And we also ask you to give us the courage and strength to serve you with our whole heart. Thank you for your unconditional love, grace, and mercy. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Still Have Concerns and Worries?

Accepting Jesus as our personal Savior brings responsibilities to maintain the relationship between God and ourselves. Our covenant with God requires us to believe that He is Omniscient–All Knowing and Omnipotent–All Powerful. God told Moses, “Tell them, ‘I AM’ sent you.”

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. God is a keeper of His promises. God does not require us to carry the burdens of life without His divine intervention. We dishonor God with our doubts and unbelief. God expects us to keep our part of the covenant by faithfully trusting and waiting on Him in good or challenging times.

We are to live a life by faith and purpose-driven with the intent to serve God and others.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6.

In His mercy, God made a covenant with Noah to cleanse the earth of humanity’s wickedness. “Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.” Genesis 7:6. Although Noah was mid-life, he was faithful and demonstrated complete obedience by building the ark according to God’s instructions.

In comparison to biblical times, we have an easy life. We perceive our lives as unbearable because we do not want to experience the suffering of trials and sorrows. God will allow what is needed for us to experience complete dependence on Him. Our covenant with God is a vow for us to “believe in Him, and to patiently wait until He brings us victoriously through our challenges.”

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

Bible study: Genesis chapters 5-9

Prayer: God, we ask for forgiveness for responding to our suffering by worrying. It is our desire to completely trust you with our lives. Thank you for the Sabbath and your daily gifts of grace and mercy. We ask for the strength and courage today to faithfully serve you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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

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.  

Loving God and the Sabbath

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

Happy Sabbath!

With heartfelt gratitude for a loving God that anticipated humanity’s every need, I invite you to say a simple prayer, “Thank you God for the Sabbath.”

For 24 hours,  we can say goodbye to the routine concerns of everyday life.  Remember the Sabbath day, the day God rested on, and our precious gift to receive spiritual renewal and mental, emotional, and physical rest.

I have been a Sabbath keeper since the age of 15. You may think that my parents enforced Sabbath-keeping, so the choice was not mine. Not so. They were religious, but did not keep the Sabbath. At 15, I became an emancipated teenager who loved God and made the commitment to give my whole heart to our Heavenly Father by doing what my friends did not understand, honoring the fourth commandment.

When I studied the story of the Creation, I knew that I had to keep the Sabbath. Yes, I had to pray and do research to understand Genesis 1:5, And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day., to fully understand the Sabbath begins at sunset Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. Even so, I felt the need for commitment and obedience to God, which outweighed the need for complete understanding. Deep down, I knew that I was pleasing God by keeping the seventh-day Sabbath.

Many human-made theories attempt to disprove the seventh-day Sabbath. But when I look at how humanity has disregarded and messed up God’s plan for us, I choose God and His plan for my life. There are many worries that I don’t suffer from; burnout, depression, or the accelerated aging process. My gifts for total obedience to God are inner joy and peace. Times that I begin to concentrate on the circumstances instead of praying for divine intervention, God reminds me that He is waiting for me to come to Him through prayer.

The Sabbath provides a weekly spiritual boost and the reinforcement that we need to stay connected to God. Spending 24 hours focused on the Creator and His blessings have great rewards, such as praying for strength (and receiving strength immediately) when faced with temptation, trials, and tribulations. Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24. I readily admit my dependence on God. Desiring the love and nurturing that only God can give builds my faith and trust, and deepens my relationship with my Father.

I have been asked what are the secular things that I put on hold on the Sabbath.

My Sabbath don’ts: No social media or unnecessary phone conversations. There is nothing that I discuss or resolve that I should have taken care of the other six days of the week: no cooking or any housework. Cleaning, and laundry are completed during the week. And, meals for the Sabbath are cooked on preparation day, Friday before sunset. There are no financial transactions for buying or selling, nor do I purchase restaurant food. All of my favorite online design games or pleasure-seeking activities are placed on hold.

My agenda is geared for spiritual growth and development. For me, the Sabbath is not a ritual or a list of things I cannot do. With love in my heart, it is a day that I dedicate all of my time to God. I love to sing to God. My praise and worship also includes a prayer for the Holy Spirit to anoint me like those on the Day of Pentecost, found in Acts chapter 2. Enjoying nature is a must on the Sabbath! We can witness the mighty power and creativity of our Heavenly Father when we seek out the beauty of His wonderful world.

There is no disagreement that “Life is tough!” After six days of sensory overload, reading, and hearing the worsening conditions that plague our earth, social injustice, and civil unrest, I eagerly await sunset every Friday. I have already tried living as a stubborn, self-seeking, and disobedient person, but I quickly learned that suffering from negative consequences is not for me.

Jesus already told us, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. here on Earth you will have many trials in sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Because we make a covenant that is a total commitment to God, we trust that His way is perfect. Another reason for devout Sabbath-keeping to stay in sync with God.

Jesus replied, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Matthew 22:37. There were times that I have gotten off track by loving the people, places, and things that only provided temporary relief from the hardships that I faced. Thankfully, I no longer make frivilous decisions. Since I have decided to go all the way with God, my perspective has changed, but the struggle to do the right thing remains.

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15

It takes our everything to serve the Lord. The battle to die daily to our sinful desires will always be our greatest challenge. Still, Jesus promised, And be sure of this I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20, last part. God’s promises are never-failing!

Trust God with your heart, don’t think about the “why” of His commandments. Just obey and do what God requires. “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” Revelation 22:12. Never forget!  Jesus is coming soon, and so is our forever life in a perfect New Heaven and New Earth where all will keep the seventh-day Sabbath.

Bible Study: Exodus 20

God, thank you for giving us 24 hours of relief from the cares of this world. Please help us to realize that your plans supersede any plans that we can make for ourselves. We commit to obedience and living a faith-based life. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

The Source of Peace

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2 NIV

Trusting God with your life is the only way to have peace. Do you have a worry-free life? I encourage you to increase your communication with our Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit is available to comfort us when we reach out to God in prayer. There is never a time that any of our prayers remain unanswered. God loves when we remember Him through our prayers, praise, and worship.

Happy Sabbath!

Bible Study: Exodus 20:8-11, Psalm 91

God, we thank you for loving us and for the privilege of Prayer. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2021

Sunset today, Palm Bay, Florida