All Things New and Beautiful

by Christina Rose

“Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.”  2 Corinthians 5:17 TPT

The Christmas season was upon us; I sat in the rocker by the fireplace, enjoying the peace of early dawn while the twinkling lights of the San Francisco skyline appeared on the horizon. My first baby was due to arrive any day and my thoughts went to Mary, who, many years ago, was about to give birth to Jesus. A season of waiting and laboring would be rewarded with a new baby to make all things new and beautiful.

Another season of waiting and laboring happened at Christmas two years later when my second daughter arrived. Again we were blessed with all things in our life made new and beautiful. Seasons of great blessing can often begin with waiting and laboring.

A monarch butterfly starts life as a hungry caterpillar that hatches from an egg. It feeds off leaves until large enough to molt and shed its skin. It then hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins itself into a cocoon called a chrysalis (a Greek word for gold). Inside the protective case, the caterpillar radically transforms and then emerges as a butterfly or moth.

Creation is often preceded by a quiet time of seclusion, stillness and patience while the creator is at work. He knows when the time is right to call forth his new creation, even though the wait may seem long to us. Recently, I was in a place thousands of miles away from my home. My daughters are now grown, and I was tucked away in a tiny penthouse with a view of the Rockies. I nestled among fluffy white comforters and pillows by the fireplace to study Scripture, pray, write, and hear from God.

In my opinion, a new door was taking too long to open.

One day I prayed, “God, you’ve done great things for me before, why not now?”  I felt him answer, “Yes, I have done great things for you, and now I want you to do a great thing for me. Trust me for every thought, every word, every act, everything. And just as I sent David and Joseph out to do great things for me once they learned to trust me in the dark places, I will send you out to do great things for me.” As I pondered this, I drifted off to sleep. 

In my dream my white comforter became a white cocoon from which I emerged with giant, beautiful blue butterfly wings streaked with gold and began flying over the earth. The sense of freedom was powerful.  As the dream ended, I was left with the feeling of exhilaration and excitement that something new and beautiful was about to happen.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV

Great changes upon the world at this time are forcing many into seclusion and isolation. People are turning to faith as the physical world is shaken.  Evangelists and prophets are rising up and thousands are coming to Christ.  Like the caterpillars who are permanently changed, God is at work in us, radically transforming us into the image of Christ. We must trust that God, the supreme Father of all creation, is at work, and his timing is perfect. We must have faith that God is in control and loves us all so much. He is creating a world with all things new and beautiful.

“Look! I am creating entirely new heavens and a new earth! They will be so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore! As you wait for the reality of what I am creating, be filled with joy and unending gladness!
    Look! I am ready to create Jerusalem as a source of sheer joy, and her people, an absolute delight
!.”  Isaiah 43:18-19 TPT

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker with the John Maxwell Team. She is a DAR whose patriot ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.  

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina appeals to heaven for hope and freedom just as her patriot ancestors did hundreds of years ago. She is a contributor to the Arise to Peace Daily Devotional and a frequent blogger for Arise Daily Devos.

Join the conversation: Is God taking a long time opening a door for you? How do you manage the wait?

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Black Holes and God’s Rescue Plan

by Patti Richter

Midway Island is home to the albatross. Along with other birds, fish, and marine animals, these creatures are threatened by massive swirls of non-biodegradable refuse that collects in this area of the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, countless young albatrosses die on the island due to ingesting plastic.

That’s just one terrible consequence of garbage patches at sea; and most of us share the blame since we can’t seem to live without plastic. It’s everywhere.

Since man has stewardship of the earth, it’s hard to be optimistic about our pollution problem. Besides control and clean-up efforts, we can hope to find future uses of recyclable material—highways paved with microplastic asphalt maybe? But our trash issues go beyond land and sea.

A long trail of debris fills the earth’s orbit: broken satellites, spent rocket parts, and more space-age rubble. Just one Chinese anti-satellite weapon test added some 150,000 pieces to the not-so-heavenly junk pile. Scientists have considered using harpoons, nets, magnets, and other devices to tackle galactic clutter.

Further out in this galaxy there’s a black hole estimated to be more than four million times the size of our sun. By its strong gravitational pull, it traps celestial body parts within reach—possibly including fiery remains of collapsed stars.  

So, instead of thinking of black holes as big scary things, we could view them as God’s vacuum cleaners. Surely, like sharks and other things we want to avoid, they serve a useful purpose. According to scientists, black holes might serve to hold galaxies together.

Preserving the heavens and the earth is ultimately beyond man’s ability. The natural elements are God’s, after all, “created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16 NIV). Yet God showed his concern for man’s greater pollution problem—sin, which leads to eternal death. Like a black hole, sin is too strong for us to resist on our own.

God’s rescue plan for us is summed up in John 3:16-17 (NIV), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… to save the world through him.” And this good news includes temporal help as well. The apostle Paul wrote, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NIV). In Christ, we’re “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).  

While we anticipate a new heaven and a new earth with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4 NIV), at present we live with the effects of sin everywhere—like plastic debris. And though the world’s morally toxic atmosphere works against our faith, God is faithful to provide all we need for godly living.

He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world. 2 Peter 1:4 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: How has God “cleaned up” your life?

Irreversible

by Julie Zine Coleman

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

Some changes cannot be undone.

One of the science concepts I taught my fifth graders every year was the difference between a physical change and a chemical change. One is reversable and one is permanent. A physical change is a change in the state of matter. Applying heat to ice will melt it to liquid and eventually turn it into gas. But no matter in what state we find it, water remains H2O.

A chemical change is quite different. Heat actually causes a chemical break down of the bonds that hold atoms in a molecule together. They then rearrange to form new molecules that are completely different substances. For instance, the eggs you mix into cake batter, when baked, become something different. You can’t unbake a cake and retrieve those eggs again. What they were no longer exists. An irreversible molecular change has occurred.

There is another kind of irrevocable change: the transformation that God works in us at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

Just as a new substance has new properties, what once was true about us is true no longer. Where there was only death, now there is life (Ephesians 2:1). The Holy Spirit has come to permanently dwell in us as a guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13). Our status has gone from condemned to free, from people who once walked in the flesh now walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-2). Once alienated from God, we have now been permanently adopted into His family (Ephesians 1:5). Our spiritual blindness has been irrevocably altered to an ability to see and understand spiritual truth (Romans 8:5-6). We have been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13, Philippians 3:20).   

And again, just as in chemistry, where a substance cannot change itself (heat is responsible for any transformation), the transformation that happened at our salvation was nothing we could do ourselves. It was something only God could do for us.  

The best news of all: God’s changes are permanent. We didn’t make it happen, and we cannot undo what He has done. We can rest in His work with confidence. Like most children that grew up in Christian homes, I prayed every night for Jesus to come into my heart, just in case the last prayer didn’t take. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood it was God’s doing: He was already there.

Every other religion bases a relationship with God on what they DO. But followers of Christ trust in what God has DONE. Jesus told His followers: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

Do you worry that you can out-sin the grace of God? That somehow you can undo His work in you and change yourself back into what you were before He healed you? Lean into what you know He has already accomplished in you. Trust that His work is sufficient to save. We didn’t do it, and we cannot undo it. He has made us new.

The change is unalterable.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What of God’s changes mean the most to you?

Hidden Labels

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

You’re the God who sees me!” Genesis 16:13 MSG

I often get frustrated when my daughter is trying to teach me some new technological gizmo that I can’t seem to grasp. I find myself pulling out the dumb label I keep tucked inside my shirt and plastering it across my chest in neon letters.

Wearing this label, I feel justified that I can’t learn anything new; it’s just who I am – “the way God made me.”

But Cricket doesn’t buy it. “Mom,” she says in an unsympathetic tone, “quit playing dumb. I know you’re not. You can get this. Now stop hiding behind the ‘old dog’ mask and concentrate on this ‘new trick.’”

We often rely on labels to clarify our identity. If we’re not sure who we really are – or maybe don’t like who we really are – perhaps we can hide behind a label that reflects who we wish we were.

We look into a mirror and see an image, but not the same image Papa God sees when He looks at us. Our vision and self-perception have been jaded by labels we’ve received our entire lives. We still wear labels that were callously glued onto our backs from childhood, stamps like klutzy, stupid, not good enough, or fatty-fatty-two-by-four, can’t fit through the bathroom door (my personal nemesis).

And then there are other labels we’ve assigned ourselves as we’ve grown up, like airhead, idiot, loser, or damaged goods.

 These negative labels erode our confidence and work subtly, beneath the surface, to make us feel worthless. The internal damage is often reflected externally in our posture or countenance. We may slump our shoulders, hang our heads, or keep our eyes downcast.

We wear these destructive labels so long we eventually get used to them and aren’t even aware of their presence. Or power. Our thinking is shaped by them, which then subconsciously modifies our behavior to fit our label. It becomes a vicious cycle.

As a fashion-conscious teen, I carefully cut the Tommy label off a pair of worn-out, hand-me-down jeans and sewed it onto my Kmart specials. That label kept me in style for several peer-impressing years.

Labels can build us up or tear us down. Some women wear a chic label proudly, or maybe trendy, wealthy, or politically correct. Others work hard to earn labels like professional, successful, efficient, intelligent, or competent. Still others become known by their beliefs as pro-life, godly, activist, or conservative.

 It’s up to us which labels we choose to wear.

I often wonder if the apostle Peter saw himself sporting a Liar label or one that boldly proclaimed: Rock.

Would Rahab’s label say Slut … or Redeemed?

When all was said and done, did Naomi consider herself Bitter… or Restored?

And how about Saul: Christian-killer, whose label flipped to Paul: Greatest Evangelist of All Time?

So tell me, what labels do you have tucked inside your shirt? Do you hide them so well that nobody knows they’re there but you? I’ve got news for you, sister: Someone else knows, and He isn’t buying it either. Matter of fact, I don’t think Papa God puts much stock in our labels. He doesn’t even notice the stickers we’ve plastered all over ourselves.

When we invite Jesus into our hearts and ask Him to fill us with His love, all God sees when He looks at us is the gentle, sweet, and beautiful reflection of His Son.

Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 CEV

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Hidden Labels – insight from @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Momsaddresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: What labels do you choose to wear? Do they reflect the way God sees you?

The New You in the New Year

by Pamela Christian @plchristian

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a hew creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

Breaking a pattern is not an easy task. Patterns in our lives are developed as we repeatedly experience a certain sequence of events. Because patterns are so familiar, we are not usually conscious of them until something crashes against it to expose it for what it is.

For me, as a young woman seeking to find the love of my life, the pattern was feeling attracted to men who were very much like my dad. On the surface such a quest might seem admirable. However, my dad was abusive, alcoholic, and unfaithful. Because of my experience growing up in this environment and knowing none other, it was familiar to me. So, without any objective thought, I found myself attracted to men who were also abusive, alcoholic and unfaithful.

It wasn’t until I experienced the heartbreak of a third chaotic relationship that I realized I was the one bringing this heartache upon myself. My reality was illuminated with Proverbs 11:15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (NKJ). I finally realized I needed wise counsel to help me break this destructive pattern.

It took three years, but I gained a proper self-identity through learning my value in Christ. I learned we all seek to operate in the familiar, which can be a good thing, but in many cases is harmful. The transformation of my life through wise counsel has been gloriously overwhelming.

I learned each of us are made in the image of God, yet every one is unique. It’s similar to the facets of a diamond: every individual is yet another facet of Him, with our unique splendor and His radiance shining through us.

Once I learned we are uniquely created, God revealed yet another pattern—the pattern of comparing myself to others. I’d habitually compared myself to other women, which always resulted in dissatisfaction. Whether it was age, weight, style, career, or relationships, whenever I compared myself to others, I always concluded they had “it” better than I.

The proverbial light bulb lit up as I realized since we are each unique, there is no comparison! How can one unique being be compared to another unique being? It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The tenth commandment is “Thou shall not covet.” When I realized comparing myself to others was a form of covetousness I was taken back. Making comparisons had become a pattern of life without any conscious thought. Comparisons were habitual. To break this pattern the wise counsel of Scripture came to bear.

Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others as better than himself” (NKJ).

1 Corinthian 15:58 “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (NKJ).

Galatians 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (NKJ).

Having learned the importance of examining patterns, and understanding our unique beauty and purpose in God’s plan through faith in Christ, not only have I been set free to become all God has created me to be, I cherish helping others discover the freedom for which they long.

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The New You in the New Year – encouragement from @PLChristian on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam christianAbout the author: For over twenty years Pamela Christian has compassionately helped people discover and live in, life-giving truth. She is an award-winning author, radio and television host, keynote speaker, and award-winning blogger. She is ordained and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the HSBN International Fellowship of Ministries Apostolic Center, holds a certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, is a member of the International Society of Women in Apologetics, and a Board Member with Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Pam is available to speak for your Revive Your Life!: Rest for Your Anxious Heart (Faith to Live By Book 3) by [Christian, Pamela]church/organization.

Pam’s book, Revive Your Life! Rest for Your Anxious Heart, will help you to discover life’s meaning and purpose, and enable you to step into a reformation that will change the world for the better. The significant impact you long to make is possible. You can become all you were meant to be.

Join the conversation: What unhealthy patterns have you recognized in yourself? How did you discover them?

Feeling Out of Your Element

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10 ESV

Deep sea creatures are fascinating, and they have a story to tell.

If I could overcome my raging claustrophobia long enough to enter a submarine, I’d travel beneath the sea to observe giant squid, octopi, and lantern fish in their own habitat. I believe they have a lot in common with us Jesus-followers.

Creatures that dwell in the deep sea are perfectly designed to survive in their surroundings. (Like us, when we become new creatures in Christ.)

They have large eyes especially designed to see in the dark, lightless depths. So, too, do followers of Jesus have eyes designed to see in dark, lightless places. Like Father Damien, a priest who volunteered to work, and eventually to die, on the Kalaupapa leper colony in Hawaii. He did not see disease; he saw human beings who craved the loving touch of God.

Deep sea dwellers are designed to glow in the dark – they have their own inner light that shines in the depths where no sunlight penetrates. So, shines the light of Jesus-lovers. Consider Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who hid Jews from the Nazis and was eventually captured and imprisoned with her sister in a concentration camp (Ravensbruck). She was able to shine the light of Christ even there. Her sister, Betsy, died at Ravensbruck, but not before she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Sea creatures are beautiful and graceful when they are in their element. They were designed to live surrounded by deep saltwater that exerts immense pressure and helps to give these creatures their form and flow. Followers of Christ are meant to abide in Him, our Living Water, and when we do follow Him into the deep heart of God, it is in the immense pressure we experience from outside sources that we find our actual form and flow. We cease to flop about on the surface of spirituality or deflate and rot on the shore gasping to breathe air we’re not equipped to utilize.

Out of their element, stranded or washed up on shore, deep sea creatures are ghastly, odiferous, and subject to quick death. So do we, apart from life in Christ, become distortions of our intended design, continually given over to death of the soul, spirit, and eternal life.

Feeling out of your element? You are. You were meant to dive deep, to travel deep, to dwell deep—salt, water, light…it’s in your re-born DNA. If you are in Christ, you are a new creature according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. You must discover your new element – which is only found in Christ.

Feeling the pressure of life in Christ? You were made for the pressure. It will shape you, support you, and free you. You were designed to inhale water—Living Water.

Go ahead! Dive into the heart of God. There’s nothing to fear. It’s what you were made to do.

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Feeling Out of Your Element – @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Are you under pressure right now?

Mended With Gold

by Amy Williams @free2Bfearless

I broke my favorite mug the other day. I’d finished my morning coffee and set my mug on the precarious stack of paper next to my desk. I had to set it there because my desk was covered in projects and folders and protein bar wrappers. And before I knew what was happening, my beloved mug slid off and shattered on the wood floor.

The mug had been a gift from my best friend. She had one just like it. Handmade. Ceramic. Dark blue. And when she left for England, where she lived for three years, we would send each other pictures of our matching mugs whenever we were lonely. No matter where I go, no matter where I lived, I always took that mug with me. And just like that—because of my own actions no less—the mug was in pieces. What once had a use was now useless. What once had value was now worthless.

As I gathered up the fragmented pieces of my favorite mug, I couldn’t help but compare it to my life. Many times, I’ve felt like my life has been broken into pieces, mostly due to my own poor choices. Some of the consequences of those choices rise up and taunt me on a daily basis. I’ve disappointed people who were counting on me. I’ve hurt people I love. I haven’t been there for the people who needed me when they needed me. If it were up to me, my life would be jagged pieces on the floor—shattered and scattered by my own hand.

But it’s not up to me.

When I was seven years old, I decided to believe what Jesus said about Himself and about me, and from that point on, I’ve been one of His many works in progress. Since that day, I have been on a journey with Him where He is keeping His promise from 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I hadn’t heard about Kintsugi until a handful of years ago in a random Pinterest post during a pinning binge (you know, you’ve done it too). Kintsugi, which is roughly translated “mended with gold,” is a Japanese pottery technique where the pieces of broken cups or pots are rejoined using gold lacquer. It’s gorgeous work. Instead of an old broken pot, now you have something beautiful. Something new. Kintsugi takes a broken vessel that had lost its inherent worth and makes it more valuable than it had been before—not because it was broken but because of how it was pieced back together.

Sound familiar?

We all have broken pieces. We all have scars and wounds, whether we let the world see them or not. But you can’t hide your broken pieces from Jesus. He knows each one, and He offers redemption for each scar. Only He is big enough to take the broken pieces of your life and turn them into something beautiful that can be used to help others. That is the true worth of your scars and broken pieces. Not that you have them—but how God can redeem them for His glory.

What broken pieces are you hiding today? What scars are you afraid to reveal? Don’t let the enemy convince you that your brokenness has made you worthless. Listen to Jesus, the Master Potter, who is able to take your broken life and make it new and whole again.

As for me and my favorite mug, I’m going to go find some gold lacquer. Because that old piece of handmade pottery still has lots of new stories to tell.

…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6 NIV

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Mended With Gold – encouragement from A.C.Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williamsAbout the author: A.C. Williams is an author-preneur who weaves fantastic tales about #AmericanSamurai and #SpaceCowboys, and she’s passionate about helping writers master the art of storytelling. A quirky, coffee-drinking, cat-loving thirty-something, she’s on Finding Firefliesa mission to help authors overcome fear and live victorious. Join her adventures on social media (@free2bfearless) and visit her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: How has brokenness been a part of your spiritual journey?

TRANSFORMED!

by Fran Caffey Sandin

“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5: 17 NASB).

 Humpback whales cavorting in a feeding frenzy, soaring bald eagles, and a brown bear with two cubs climbing on the shoreline rocks were among the many wildlife sightings on our Alaska Dream Cruise. A small ship with 40 passengers sailing from Ketchikan to Sitka stopped for a brief tour of Thorne Bay. The small town of 473 currently featured seasonal residents plus those employed in the Forest Service and public education. Our tour guide explained its colorful history.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s Thorne Bay was the largest logging camp in North America and boasted 1500 residents at its peak. During that time, the city outgrew the sanitation plant from the early days, so they built a new one. The city wanted to sell the old site. Some adventurous members of a local church decided the location was great for the right price, so they bid on the property and won.

Today, the lovely Church at Thorne Bay is a beacon of light overlaying an old sewage dump. Isn’t that a perfect picture of what Jesus does for us when His blood covers our sins? Thinking about the comparison just made me smile. Jesus covered the stench of our sin with the beautiful fragrance of his holiness. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

During our trip, my husband and I met Roxy, a lovely, vivacious brunette who had majored in media and communications in college. After graduation, she moved to Hollywood to become an actress.

She did. But God had more in store for her. Her eyes sparkled as she related a life-changing encounter. On a movie set, she met a couple who asked two simple questions, “Do you believe the Bible?  Do you believe Jesus is who He said He is?” Startled at first, she began meditating about the questions. In younger years she had attended church but had never seriously considered the claims of Jesus. She enjoyed the social gatherings but never really knew Jesus in her heart.

After meeting the couple, she began reading her Bible, confessing her sins, and received Jesus as her personal Savior. She asked Him to help her start a new life. Acknowledging her anger and controlling ways, she contemplated the words of Jesus. God began to change her. She developed a desire to serve others, rather than to be served. As a result, she sold or gave away most of her belongings and moved to Alaska to work at a Bed & Breakfast. Unfortunately, a short time later the B&B closed.

She prayed and asked the Lord. “What do I do now?” His promptings led her to a large, beautiful house where Roxy took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. Her heart pounding as she waited, a kind woman opened the door and listened when Roxy explained that she needed a place to work. Roxy did not know the lady was a founding member of the Alaska Dream Cruise line, but God did.

Roxy left with a sigh of relief and a spring in her step. The lady, a believer, offered her a job as an on-board steward—to serve meals, clean rooms, and do other chores. Roxy obeyed God’s nudges and He provided. She is excited and happy for me to write her story because she wants to share her joy.  In her own words, “I have been transformed!”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit’s power to conform us to becoming more like Jesus. Thank you that our old thoughts, ways, and habits turn completely around when we take His words seriously and apply them to our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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TRANSFORMED! – insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What are evidences in your life that God is transforming you?

A Fresh Start

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!  2 Corinthians 5:17, CSB

By noon today I was wishing I could have a do-over.

Because I woke up late, I was running behind all morning. Then, because I was running late, I didn’t go to God’s Word first to soften my heart and settle my soul before interacting with others. It was all downhill from there. As a result, I spoke a harsh word, instead of letting gentleness flow out of me. And I found myself complaining instead of seeing the best in a situation.

“God, is there any hope for me?” I prayed.

It’s a good thing that the God of Heaven is a God of fresh starts and new beginnings.

Second Corinthians 5:17 tells me that the past is forgotten and everything is new when I am in Christ. That doesn’t just mean I become “new” when I initially come to Christ and surrender my life to Him. It means I can experience new beginnings every day – every time that I blow it. Every time that I see the need to start over. Every time I want to make it right with Him again.

Because we are human, we still sin. Even when we love God and set out to do what’s right, we still mess things up at times. Yet, a new start awaits. It’s available for the asking.

“God, create a clean heart for me…” David prayed in Psalm 51:10, after a pretty disastrous series of events that included lusting after a married woman, committing adultery with her, murdering her husband, and then continuing in his deception to save his image as king. Yet, as his sin found him out, this broken man cried out to God:
“Renew a steadfast spirit within me….Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit” (verses 10-12 CSB).

King David asked for a new start after messing up big time. And God, in His mercy, gave him one. When you and I ask God for a fresh start, He gives one to us, too. And He makes everything new. Everything. Our minds– to think pure thoughts. Our bodies – to live purely once again. Our mouths – to speak words that heal, not wound. Our hearts – to seek after a path that is straight and right.

Do you need a new beginning today? Would a fresh start put a fresh wind in your sails? Then ask God for a fresh start and a new beginning, as David did, and watch Him create a new you, right before your eyes.

Lord, please cleanse my heart and give me a fresh start in You. Make me new and spotless in Your eyes once again.

TWEETABLE
A Fresh Start – thoughts when your day needs a new beginning from @CindyMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the Author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold) and When You’re Running on EmptyFor more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your marriage, parenting, or walk with God, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts.is written for women who are dealing with wounds from the unresolved issues in their past. Readers will find gracious, biblical counsel on how and where to finally find healing and peace.

Join the conversation: What do you wish you could do over?

 

 “I hate change!”

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

I sat surrounded by piles of full cardboard boxes and wondered what on earth I’d done. I’d agreed to this move. It was a decision my husband and I made in unity, after fifty billion prayers and discussions. Yet in this moment, I questioned our decision to move four thousand miles away to America.

I was home with our youngest son, who was four at the time. There was great delight in his world. He had this empty house to play in, and three enormous cardboard boxes his big brother had built into an airplane, complete with wings and windows.

Everyone else was out, leaving me at home to unpack boxes.  I began to feel overwhelmed by questions which pushed their way to the front of my mind. “Why are you here? Are you crazy? This is too much for you!”

I flopped on the couch. “You’re right! It is too much. What was I thinking?”

Moving across the Atlantic Ocean was an opportunity too good to pass up. It was a good idea, in fact it was a great idea. But today it seemed questionable. You see, the people here drive on the wrong side of the road, and they also walk down the wrong side of corridors and staircases! They use funny money and talk in nonsensical phrases with an unusual cadence. They don’t use “tins” they use “cans”, and I can’t find a single swede, which is my favourite vegetable.

I was alone in the house with my sweet child—whose penchant for intellectual conversation had yet to develop. I had no friends and was cut off from family until our Internet connection was accessible. I couldn’t go to a local coffee shop to check my email because that would mean driving my new American car with a steering wheel on the wrong side!

It took two years before I finally recognized my problem.  We needed to repaint the inside of our home. There were swatches painted on almost every wall, and we’d finally narrowed it down to “greenish.”

So, why couldn’t I call the painters to get the project started? The day came when it dawned on me; what I feared was change.

Change.

Fear of change had been secretly impacting my life for many years.

For too long I’d allowed fear to sidle up to me and whisper nonsense in my ear. I’d let it tell me change was bad, difficult and filled with painful challenges. It was time to send this six-lettered beast on its way!

God says this about change:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

To act on God’s will, I need to have my mind changed. If I want to be more like Jesus, I need to think differently from how I am right now, and He will use that “renewing of my mind” to change me. It became clear to me: change is a beautiful and powerful thing. It enables us to live the way Jesus called us to live. In fact, our life with Him begins with a wonderful change: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

I don’t say, “I hate change” anymore because change has led me further into the freedom only Jesus can give. Change is making me more like my King. How about you?

TWEETABLE
 “I hate change!” Honest insight from Sharon Tedford, @61Things, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Sharon’s book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Readers will be drawn into a deeper personal experience with God and learn how to stand on the truth of a Heavenly Father who loves them. 

Join the conversation: How do you deal with change?