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?

Hunting for Easter

by Patti Richter

“There is no Easter Bunny!”

I lowered my head in disappointment after an older friend informed five-year-old me that Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny were made-up figures for children. I needed to grow up.

At least my belief in God remained safely anchored to religious tradition. As a child I enjoyed the spiritual nurture and foundation our church provided. But my faith was something like a cellophane-wrapped basket of candy eggs—unopened. I hadn’t yet tasted the goodness of God.  

Eventually I outgrew Easter baskets and became too teen-smart to accept religious tenets at face-value. Though faith offered some motivation for good behavior and a sprinkle of hope for life after death, I wondered if religion was all a ruse. Doubts entered my wide-open mind and vacant heart, and I became vulnerable to the most attractive suitor—the world.

Wanting God on my own terms, I resisted the notion that I needed to be “saved,” as one perceptive classmate suggested. Wasn’t I good enough for God? And isn’t goodness all that He requires?

Though I could not yet see my need for redemption, something kept me hunting for Easter. As a high-school senior, I bought a paperback New Testament and began reading the Gospel of Matthew with great interest—until school activities waylaid my progress. In college the next year, I joined a Bible study, and my hard-shelled defense began to crack.

The stone rolled away for me when I finally heard and agreed with the apostle Paul’s words, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV). In confessing myself a sinner, I found the Savior.

I’ve enjoyed a long spiritual journey to discover the riches of God in Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3 NIV). But, like a selfish child, I tend to keep my basket of blessings to myself instead of sharing with others.

At Easter, churches typically welcome a greater number of worshipers, including spiritual seekers. Will I go out of my way to greet those who seem out of their comfort zone? Some visitors may be off-putting by their too worldly or wayward appearance. I’ll need to remember that I was once lost, and that believers may have viewed me as hard to approach.

Thankfully, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 NIV). Like an earthly parent who points a confused child in the direction of the prize egg, God, in his mercy, has shown us the way to himself.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. –Romans 5:8 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: Where are you in your spiritual journey?

Resolving a Spiritual Disconnect

by Patti Richter

You know you have a problem when Amazon can’t find your house.  

We were not surprised at this difficulty since GPS wasn’t yet showing our new street address. Meanwhile, we tried to guide delivery drivers by phone. “You’re getting close,” I said to one exasperated man. “Just backtrack a few miles east and then turn south at the ice-cream shop,” I added. We never saw or heard from him again.

We finally resorted to giving drivers the address of a farm across the road: “Find this driveway and turn the opposite way.”

High-tech gurus warned us a few years ago that using navigational tools would eventually diminish our natural capacity to find our way in the world, geographically.  Based on my personal experience of perhaps a dozen people who couldn’t locate us with directions such as north and south, I’m convinced this regression has happened sooner than expected.

Our location frustration reminded me of a spiritual condition I’ve observed too often. Some who believe in God—or at least want to believe—complain they are not on his radar. They feel disconnected from receiving any personal benefit or help from above.

Lacking favor with God is a valid concern, and there’s an early example of this in the story of Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve. Cain was “downcast” after God accepted his brother Abel’s sacrifice of a sheep while rejecting his own, non-blood, sacrifice. Even so, the Lord encouraged Cain: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Doing well means approaching God on His terms. What He wants from us is our trust.

Psalm 139 is a profession of faith in an intimate God. He knows our exact location, “when I sit down and when I rise up,” our current “path,” and “even before a word” is formed by our tongue (vv. 2 – 4 ESV).

This psalm is credited to David, who God chose as King of Israel to replace Saul, who did not trust God. Like Cain, Saul did not heed God’s commands and chose to seek approval on his own terms, by offering a sacrifice to Him. But God did not want an external act of “obedience.” He wanted Saul to trust Him enough to obey what He had told him to do. God rejected Saul as king (1 Samuel 15:22 – 23).

When it comes to finding God, we need to abandon our personal ideas and assumptions about trying to be good enough to win his favor or what we might sacrifice to be on good terms with him. We need only look to Christ, “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29 ESV), who “once for all… put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26 ESV).  

The opportunity to know God is available to “whoever believes in [his only Son]” (John 3:16 ESV). “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 ESV). God wants us to trust in His way to salvation. We can never work our way into a relationship with Him.

Many people wait for God to show up and make himself known to them, yet God has already delivered to us the gift of his Son. He wants us to believe in Him and enter into a relationship of trust.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 ESV

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Resolving a Spiritual Disconnect – encouragement from author Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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: What helps you to trust in God?

The Lay-Away Coat

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

In the “old days,” back in 1966, there was something available at stores called “lay-away.” You could put a down payment on an item and pay over time. Of course, you didn’t receive the item until you paid in full.

If you are smiling a knowing grin, you are revealing your age, and it’s most likely as old as I am. But in those days when I worked part-time for very little pay and went to high school, I loved the lay-away plan.

One day as I shopped at our local department store, I fell in love with a red coat that was gorgeous and expensive. Only by paying my hard-earned five dollars each week did I have any hope of wearing such a fabulous coat.

Finally, the coat was mine, and I wore it for the first time to our high school’s championship water polo game. While there, I met Larry through a mutual friend. Eventually that meeting blossomed into marriage three years later. While we dated, God used Larry to draw me to Christ. Yes, missionary dating!

After we were married, Larry told me he was immediately attracted to the rich-looking red coat I wore when we met. He thought I was rich. Underneath, I wore the inexpensive clothes I’d bought at a discount store. But the red coat did the trick.

I love this story because it reminds me that every Christian is wearing a spiritual coat paid for by Jesus’ blood-red death on the cross. It’s called a “robe of righteousness.”

Isaiah 61:10 gives a sense of our joy thinking of this: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

And after we arrive in heaven, Revelation 7:9-10 tells us our robes will be white because of our purity: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

As I speak to women at speaking events about this righteous robe, I often ask them to close their eyes and envision their righteous robe and what it looks like and how they feel. Some envision different colors. Red, purple, and white are the most popular colors. They might describe different fabrics: silk or velvet or trimmed in fur. Some describe they feel peaceful, empowered or loved.

Can you sense your righteous robe wrapped around you? You received this robe as a free gift because of Jesus’s death and resurrection. You don’t even have to pay $5.00 a week on lay-away for it. It is immediately yours at your point of salvation.

…I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.  Philippians 3:8-10 NASB

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The lay-away coat from God – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is the author of more than 50 books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series.A popular women’s speaker, she has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. She lives in SouthernAt the Heart of Friendship by [Miller, Kathy Collard] California and loves to encourage women to know their value in Christ. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com, www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor, or on Instagram: @kathycollardmiller.

The Ladder to Grace

by Sheri Schofield

The photographer I hired to do our daughter’s wedding was a long-time acquaintance. I felt it was time to mention Jesus, so I shared an event with him and told how God had helped us. Before I could go any further, the man said, “Sheri, I don’t believe there is a God. But if there is, he will be happy to get me when I die, because I’m such a good person!”

I looked at him thoughtfully. He was only saying what most unbelievers think. Many say that they have lived good lives. Oh, they’ve blown it a few times, but overall, they’re pretty good people.

“Friend,” I said with a little smile, “you’re like someone who has built a beautiful house. It is gorgeous in every way. When you are finished, you look around in satisfaction. You even have a high wall around the property for privacy. You love that house! But what you don’t realize is that the land on which you have built is a toxic waste dump.”

The man looked at me in shock. I doubt anyone had ever spoken like that to him before. That isn’t done in his world!

“You can stay in your house if you wish, but you will perish if you do. The only way out is a ladder standing against the wall. That ladder is Jesus. But you will have to leave everything behind in order to escape, for everything in your house is contaminated.”

“Each one of us is born in a toxic waste dump called sin. We are contaminated from birth. We build our lives, build our homes and careers, and many never discover that they are dying in sin until they are dead. It’s too late to get out of the dump then.

“God is completely holy. Heaven is uncontaminated. God does not allow anyone or anything into his heaven that is poisoned by sin. The only way we can enter heaven is to ask God to forgive our sins and accept Jesus as the One who saves us from sin. We leave all our self-righteous, contaminated self behind when we come to Jesus. The Holy Spirit washes us clean from sin and sets his seal on our hearts, kind of like a brand. That brand stays with us for eternity and declares to God that we belong to his Son, Jesus.”

All the good works that we did before Christ count as nothing in God’s eyes. Isaiah 64:6 (NLT) tells us, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” We cannot earn heaven by good deeds. However, good deeds flow out of us after we give our lives to Christ. We do them not to gain God’s favor, but to show our love for him. Those good deeds are the ones that count.

My friend has not yet come to know Jesus as his Savior. But I know that every time we meet, he is reminded that he is building on a toxic waste dump. Surprisingly, he is intrigued by what I said to him, and he remains my friend. Every time we meet, I pray that he will climb that ladder out of the trap in which he lives.

The ladder is there for everyone who is caught in the toxic waste dump of sin.

“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4,5 (NLT)

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The Ladder to Grace – thoughts and encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the conversation: When did you realize that you needed Jesus? What drove you to trust in Him?