God’s Plan for Something New

Have you experienced loss within the past sixteen months? What are some recent or lingering changes or losses [death and dying are the exceptions]you are still facing? Two losses, which really hit hard during the pandemic are the loss of our jobs and relationships. And yes, our reaction to grief is huge and rightly so because we face financial instability and/or the abrupt change in the status of “us” becoming “me.”

We may view our loss as the end of our dreams or as new beginnings. Our perception of the change determines whether or not we will move forward to pursue new and exciting opportunities for growth. If we view ourselves as having great potential, then we may cry, but we will take baby steps [some individuals can take giant leaps] to pursue another path. Still, we cannot utilize a cookie-cutter approach to rebuilding our lives. Every situation is unique, along with various factors that determine the strategies to move forward.

Identify your resources:

  1. God: Always approach Our Heavenly Father–Jehovah Jireh when the “Restart” button is pushed. Daily we must pray, God, not my will, but Your will be done. When we give God permission to initiate His plans for us, remember that we may endure hardships at any point in our lives. Because God knows the beginning to the end, we must trust His process. Admit in your prayers that you are not feeling your best, yet, you fully trust Him.
  2. Study the biblical stories of victory: When defeat appears to be our only option, trust that God has you in His hands. God delivered the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt, opened and closed the Red Sea, destroying Pharoah and his army [Exodus 14], David, a shepherd boy, took Goliath down with a slingshot [1 Samuel 17], and Joshua marched around Jericho [Joshua 6]. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Spiritual Support: Speaking to your pastor, a prayer warrior, community resources leader, or even joining a support group is vital to prevent depression or hopelessness.
  4. Family and friends: Identify the friends and family who you can trust to provide emotional and/or financial support during the transitional period. Do not isolate. Satan can present our challenges as overwhelming or cause us to see ourselves as victims. Often the break-up or unemployment is not our fault. Someone else made the choice that would change our lives. Still, we must not harbor or allow negative emotions to overtake us, or we will never move forward. Live one day at a time.
  5. Pray for God to reveal your spiritual gifts, talents, and develop hobbies.
  6. Research and identify your community resources.

There is another scenario that I must mention: What if you are without friends or family you can present your situation too, or you do not have a church home? Seek God in prayer, and thank Him for sustaining you. Establish a daily schedule. Get out of the bed or off the sofa. Go outside at least once a day for a walk. We may live alone, but God is always near.

Whether we are the only person in our home, have children, or extended family members living with us, never forget, our Father cares. God says He knows the number of hairs on our head. It is our trials and sorrows that build our faith. No, it does not feel good. Even so, God knows our circumstances before they happen. Trust Him to see you through.

Bible study: Matthew 6

Prayer: God, we are not feeling our best right now and we pray that you will comfort us and reveal your plans for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

©2021 Sonya Johnson

Living Pain-free

As a nurse, I have administered thousands of narcotic and non-narcotic medications to alleviate my patient’s physical pain. But I realize, even with all of the advancements in the healthcare arena, we cannot medicate to stop the distress of emotional pain.

Emotional pain damages the psyche leaving scars that not even therapeutic intervention can heal. In 2021, the statistics of those who suffer from mental health conditions surpass the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Even so, God knew we would need His Divine Intervention. Hence, the reason God gave us specific instructions and promises in the Holy Bible to give Him our painful burdens. God lovingly waits for our prayer to release our pain, struggles, and challenges.

One of the names of God is Jehovah Rapha, meaning “The God Who Heals.” God promises to make us completely whole. When God heals, there is no “Emotional Scar Tissue.” Do you believe? Then pray this prayer of faith until you receive His healing touch. Pray for the courage to claim the victory in Jesus’ name, and move forward as a new creature in Christ.

Link to God’s promises for healing. https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/healing-bible-verses/

©2021 Sonya Johnson

The Prayer of Faith

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” 1 Kings 17:1

When I read the story of the prophet Elijah praying for rain to stop for three years, I asked myself, “Who was this man of exceeding faith, and how can I become faithful like he was?”

Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain, and the earth began to yield its crops. James 5:17-18

So let’s go to the scriptures to see what God has to say about us having the capability to have Elijah’s solid and unwavering faith.

    1. Our faith pleases God: 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
    2. Stay in the will of God: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
    3. Ask and receive: “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” John 16:23
    4. Get rid of a disorganized lifestyle: Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10
    5. Patiently wait for God’s answer: Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14
    6. Obey His commands: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:46

Having faith over fear remains a challenge for most believers. The disciples who were in constant physical contact with Jesus, the Son of God also struggled with their faith. We have our own agendas and plans which are contrary to God’s plans, which prevents total faith and trust in God.

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26

    1. Fear prevents us from having solid and unrelenting faith in God: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
    2. God is Omnipotent: Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
    3. Pray often, but do not fixate on yourself: Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
    4. God knows, and He cares: Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

Bible Study: 1 Kings 17 and James 5

Prayer: God, we are weary because our faith is weak. We are ready to have rock-solid faith like Elijah. Please teach us to take one day at a time in our spiritual growth. We desire to live faith-based lives by trusting you with all of our hearts. 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.

Just Say Yes

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” John 5:6

Jesus is waiting for our faith-based answer of ” Yes.” Whatever is going on in your life, He was aware before it happened. It’s time for us to rely on God in every situation. “Is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Trust God

God, we are saying, yes. We give you every burden, every situation, and every hardship to You. And we will faithfully wait until you bring victory. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

The Desire to Have a Higher Quality of Life

Here’s to our Health!

We can agree that each day brings its challenges. As we struggle to resolve yesterday’s problems, tomorrow arrives, bringing with it additional hardships. Will it ever end? Not really, but we do have an option. What changes can we make to improve our quality of life?

First, we must take a deep look at our priorities and goals. Our lifestyle and pursuits indicate the hierarchy of what we consider to be important. Every individual has unique interests, and that’s okay. If fashion is our first love, then our focus will be on the latest trends. We will have a strong desire to pursue a glam lifestyle with a room-size closet full of clothing and accessories.

Our choices are always indicators of our priorities.

How did we react to purchasing during the pandemic? “In the U.S., consumers spent $211.5 billion during the second quarter on e-commerce, up 31.8% quarter-over-quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.” https://www.jpmorgan.com/solutions/cib/research/covid-spending-habits

Without discipline and self-control, our desires escalate, and we never reach the point of saturation–we are unable to stop ourselves from the spending frenzy, nor do we embrace the concept of “enough is enough.” It is the pursuit of our “wants” that drives innovative ideas and the war between businesses to fight for a competitive edge. Supply and demand is a powerful force, meet the consumer’s demands or face declining sales with the possibility of bankruptcy.

And voicing our demands works quite well. Consumers spent more than 900 billion dollars online during the pandemic in 2020. And our expenditures were well beyond purchasing essential items. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/06/consumers-spent-900-billion-more-online-in-2020-mastercard-report-says.html

How did we end up compromising our quality of life?

We are stressed because our pursuit of happiness depends on the acquisition of tangible items—the habit of seeking self-satisfaction is driven by the opinions of others. Convincing the consumer that we cannot live without upgrades is the foundation for successful marketing and advertising. We are spending billions on personal desires. The price is costly. Our mental and emotional health has plummeted. Depression, anxiety, and constant worries prevent any chance of possessing the beauty of having peace and inner joy.

Even so, we have a growing number of people who are concerned about their frazzled lifestyle and poor quality of life. They have developed a plan of escape. The decision to opt out of the stress and emptiness from pursuing things is on the rise. Yes, we have a diverse population of individuals who have opted-in to live the country life, van life, and tiny-home life. While some may see this as unrealistic or an easy way out, it takes inner strength and hard work to make a plan, sell your material/tangible items, and distance yourself from mainstream society.

When I experienced a significant life event last year, I begin to reflect on the quality of my 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. Yes, I had to start life over, but something did not feel right. I begin to pray for a change in my environment. Six months later, God answered my prayer. The change that I prayed for was in my immediate future. The landlord notified me that he was selling the property.

Alone, I drove a 20-foot U-haul truck 1500 miles, which resulted in living on the road for four days. The further south, I traveled the hotter the temperatures and the more frequent the rainstorms. Although my overnight stays were at hotels, the move from Texas to Florida required creative solutions. For 12 hours a day, I lived out of a truck. During the daytime hours, I had to GPS local supermarkets to replenish my food and ice to keep my essential food items cool.

The days were long. I looked forward to the rest stops to walk and take short naps. Replenished, I pushed toward my goal. Still, it was the most incredible experience to enjoy the scenic ride, complete with witnessing the beauty that still exists on the planet Earth. It was a tough, and tiring journey, but I did it! The decision to have a higher quality of life forced me to rethink my priorities, and I took active steps to pursue my dream.

In Genesis chapter 1, God provides us with a complete description of Creation. God made a perfect, beautiful home for the first married couple with all types of animals to care for and an abundance of flowers and trees. Does that prove that God desires for us to have a peaceful and joyful existence?

We are promised a reward to live in the New Heaven and New Earth when we are faithful to God. Until Jesus comes again, we can have a higher quality of life. It was not God’s original plan for us to live in the noise and busyness of the concrete jungle where trees and flowers are nonexistent. We have a greater appreciation of our Creator when we can contemplate on His goodness in a peaceful and beautiful environment with sunshine and fresh air where you can hear the birds sing and commune with Him in nature.

Pray for change and the strength to improve the quality of your life. But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Bible Study: Genesis 1

God, we need your help to change. Our desires have prevented us from having peace and joy. We admit that our lives are out of control. Please reveal to us how to live a peaceful and productive life. 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.

Trust God With Your Life

We live in a world that promotes self-achievements. We are bombarded with social media videos that say, “Go for it! Follow your dreams.” Look at me, I did it, and for only $295, I will teach you how to be successful and wealthy.”

But God says, “For I know the plans I have for you…” Jeremiah 29:11.

Obedience and faith in God remove all doubt. Renounce the trending worldview to trust in yourself.

Trusting God with your life requires Faith, Obedience, and Patience.

Remember these two things:

1. God is always right. Yes!

2. Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27. No, God. Sorry, we forget.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Bible Study: Psalm 27

Prayer: God, we ask forgiveness for our forgetfulness. We were temporarily persuaded that we could solve our problems, and now our minds and lives are in chaos. God, we desperately need you to remove the confusion from our disobedience. We commit to obey and will wait for your divine intervention. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

Biblical Truths and Fake News

My testimony is that I have lived through many life-changing events. Not only did 2020 and 2021 bring a ruthless pathogen to humanity, at 62 y/o, my status changed from married to single. And in January of this year, God told me to move to a city in Florida where I have no friends or family. Did God forsake me? No!

The events that happened in my life resulted in a much closer relationship with God. The peace that God gives is priceless. 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. God always answers our prayers. And His answer will always be above and beyond our expectations.

“Lord, I want my faith in you to increase” was my prayer. Not only can I enjoy my new life, but I also have time to have an in-depth study of the Bible every day. I am truly amazed by the treasure map that God has given to us. If you desire a complete understanding of who God is and how we can transform into becoming holy and acceptable to God, pray for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and diligently study the Word of God.

Fact: Through consistent prayer and studying, Satan is defeated. We also gain the confidence of knowing who we are [children of God], and learn to completely depend on God. Our Heavenly Father has promised to never forsake us. Even when we fall deep into sin, all we have to do is confess, repent, and ask for forgiveness. God’s grace and mercies provide us with new beginnings.

Truth: We have the hope and assurance that God will always be faithful. It is up to us to obey. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Truth: God forgives all of our sins and throws them into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

Fake News: Satan will be forgiven if he only asks God for forgiveness. Revelation 20:9

Truth: God can heal you from all past emotional, mental, and physical abuse. Jeremiah 32:27, Psalm 147:3

Fake News: You will need therapy for the rest of your life. Mark 9:29, Psalm 147:3, Luke 17:11-19

Truth: Satan easily deceives us when we do not pray and study the Bible.

Truth: A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11

Bible Study: Ephesians 6:10-18

God, we thank you for giving us the Bible. Please forgive our sins and fill us with your Holy Spirit. We desire to know who you are and to live righteously. 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 Big Chop

The Big Chop is part 1 of a series to identify and eliminate external and internal factors that distract us and keep us from achieving spiritual growth and maturity.

Have you ever consoled yourself by asking, “I am a good person, why are all of these bad things happening to me?” Since each of us is as unique as our fingerprints, so are our circumstances. Many internal and external factors influence the challenges in our lives. Because there are variables, we will approach these factors because they impact our spiritual relationship with God.

Looking at the external factors is demanding and takes honesty. We must take a stand and possess the willingness to identify the people, places, and things that are causing chaos and lack of growth and maturity in our lives. Let’s look at the most influential external factor, the people that we have invited into our intimate social circle. The New American Standard Bible tells us: Do not be mismatched with unbelievers; for what do righteousness and lawlessness share together, or what does light have in common with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Many who who say they are believers have the character of unbelievers. How is that possible? Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Galatians 5:24. They acknowledge that there is God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, but they live for self easily giving into the things that please themselves.

The Apostle Paul identifies the most pertinent underlying external factor that deters (hinders) us from following God: You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? Galatians 5:7. Without a doubt, the people we share our innermost thoughts, laugh, and hang out with can influence us to think, act, and live outside of God’s established boundaries.

Serving God is not easy: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.…James 1:2-3

It will be difficult to make a list of the friends or family that God requires us to distance ourselves from. But I can assure you that if your prayer is to “let God’s will be done in your life,” then God is going to take action if we do not. No, none of us have arrived or reached spiritual perfection. But God is a protective and jealous Father. He will not allow the enemy to destroy our peace and joy.

God reveals His instructions and guides us through the Bible, which is His Voice.

  1. Love Unconditionally: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:5-7
  2. Possess Righteous characters: 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
  3. Pray for one another: Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17

No matter how hard it appears, we must perform the process of elimination. It is not a matter of ceasing all contact, and not speaking to the individuals because of anger, hurt, or unforgiveness. If those are our underlying reasons, then we are sinning against God and the persons. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 1 John 4:20.

God desires that we are healthy and happy! Remember that God would never place people in our lives that would prevent us from having His peace, love, and joy. As painful as the process is, God expects us to be obedient to His way and will. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8

Yes, at the beginning, you will miss them. Still, we must put God first! God requires that we love Him enough to eliminate all external factors that prevent our relationship with Him from maturing. Our spiritual journey is tough! 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. Yet, we are not alone!

From personal experience, I admit that I am a hardheaded believer. So God got tired of the back-and-forth, and He did the big chop on my friend/family lists. Now I have a small circle of friends and family–spiritual sisters who pray, study God’s Holy Word, talk about the goodness of God, and support each other with laughter and words of encouragement.

Have faith and trust in your Heavenly Father who reminds us: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. God will place the people in your life that know how to love, laugh, and pray. Our wellness and being made whole spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically is His concern. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” Johns 5:6

If we only understood the love of God, The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3, then we would fully understand who we are and who we belong to, a most loving Heavenly Father.

Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 13

God, we come to you broken, wounded, and battered. Without you, we do not have any goodness within us. We ask you to heal our fragile hearts and perform the big chop on the external factors that bring us down. We love you. 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.