Fresh Hope – 2nd July 2020

Galatians 4:7, ‘…you are no longer a slave, but a son’. 

Slavery is essentially the act of being made to work by compulsion. 

Almost every ancient and economic civilization, throughout history, has sadly used slavery as a means to gain economic prosperity. 

Slavery meant that people could pay for their debts. You didn’t file for bankruptcy. You just worked as a slave in exchange for freedom from what you owed. 

But something happened – Jesus came.  

Jesus came to abolish slavery, both spiritually and economically. 

Historically speaking, as the power of the Roman empire (slave driven) began to decline, Christianity began to grow. 

Long story short, a slow transformation in society began to take place. Society began to change its heart around slavery and people who were once slaves, began to own their own property, and learn their own crafts to have their own means of making money. 

The economy began to change from one of slavery to citizenship. 

The church actually shifted things from a pagan/slavery model into a new economic model. 

Creativity was born. Ownership and freedom was born. 

Sadly, it did not stay like this. Division birthed a new system of slavery, yet again. 

The heart of God is for His people to be free. 

Jesus paid the ultimate price so slavery, could be exchanged for sonship. 

Freedom from being a spiritual slave means: 
– We don’t work to pay off our debts/sins/wrong doings. 

– We don’t work FOR our freedom. We work FROM our freedom.

 – We have the ability to take ownership of things. We have the privilege of being stewards. 

– We have the privilege of being creative and developing our gifts. 

Unconsciously believing you still are a slave to God means we:

 – Exhaust ourselves trying to earn our way to freedom. 

– We don’t have ownership of anything. We believe we haven’t been given any authority to steward anything. 

– We aren’t free to explore, get creative, operate in our gifts, and be our true selves. 

– We don’t use the authority we have.

 – We don’t access the resources we have. 

No only did Jesus free us from spiritual slavery. It gets better. We have been made SONS. 

Romans 8:15, ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.’ 

As sons, we have been made ‘heirs’ (Romans 8:17). That means that not only are we freed from our debts, but we are receivers of reward and special authority. 

A true revelation of this has radical implications in every area of our lives. 

You are no longer a slave, you are a son. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2020

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’, Matthew 6:19-21. 

Jesus talked about money a lot. It was one of the topics he talked most about. Why? Because he knew the power it could hold over one’s life. 

When Jesus councils us to not store up treasures for ourselves, does he mean we shouldn’t save and should just give all our money away? No. Jesus’ message was more about what you’re spending your life working towards. Is your pursuit of money ultimately for earthly, temporary goods that can be easily stolen and taken? Or is your pursuit of money second to the pursuit of Jesus? Is your money under the Lord, or is money the Lord? 

Jesus’ point in the scripture you just read, is that right now, here on earth, we have an opportunity to build for our future. I’m not talking 20, 30, 50 years down the line. I’m talking about your ETERNAL future. 

Rewards in heaven are a real thing. There is a rewards system in heaven. You will be given treasures according to how you lived on earth. You will live with your heavenly reward for not just 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years, but for ETERNITY. What could be a better investment than investing into your eternal situation?! No wonder the Bible tells us it is better to give than receive (Acts 20:35)!

We have a very short, brief window on Earth to invest, invest and invest and to give, give, give, in order to live eternally in the reward of our sacrifice! 

Matthew 6:24 says, ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’.

Again, Jesus is not condemning money, He is condemning it as an idol in our life. He is condemning the love of money. He is condemning money having a hold on you, instead of you having a hold on money. 

Make sure you are making a good investment decision.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th June 2020

Recently I saw an America’s Got Talent audition of a man called Archie Williams who had been wrongly imprisoned for 37 years. Despite his innocence, he was sentenced to 80 years imprisonment for multiple crimes he didn’t commit. After 37 years, DNA proved he was innocent and he was freed.

During his audition he said that in prison he prayed and he sang, and that’s how he got peace. He said: “Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison but I never let my mind go to prison.”

His story reminded me of Joseph, who was also wrongly imprisoned. A couple of things struck me most about Joseph and Archie’s stories of glory through suffering.

 1. They didn’t let their minds go to prison

When wrongly accused of anything, big or small, it can be easy for us to get defensive. Aggression can build and bitterness can start to grow. Bitterness can easily start unnoticed by others but the unaddressed hurt quickly becomes a catalyst for our own bad decisions. If Archie had grown bitter, his life could have looked very different and he might not be walking free today. If Joseph had grown bitter and sought revenge against his brothers, he might never have had the opportunity to save his family and fulfil his Godly purpose. 

2. They stayed with God

Archie needed peace in a situation that was unfair and that he didn’t understand. He knew that praying was what was needed for his peace. 

Philippians 4:6 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Joseph became a successful man in prison because it was obvious God was with him. His actions and demeanour remained that of a man walking with God and he was promoted and trusted. Despite the situation, he didn’t let negative feelings transform his character and derail him from his purpose. Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’

Archie’s audition won over the judges and the nation. His humility was so apparent. What impacted me was, when asked how he felt about being out of prison, he said “I’m still trying to digest the freedom I have right now.” 

Because he had been imprisoned, he remained overwhelmed by the freedom in which he now lives. In truth, we all live in that same freedom. Because we have not experienced physical incarceration, we don’t recognise it. We can, however, let ourselves become imprisoned by worries, decisions or circumstances. These things can stop us living, they can trap us without us even being consciously aware of it.

Galatians 3:13 (MSG) Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.

Our freedom is a lot to be grateful for. Let go of anything that’s trapping you, and live the free life Jesus died for us to have.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2020



If you’re reading this today and feel frustrated and uncomfortable at the confines of this current season, then I encourage you to read on and get ready to embrace change.

Did you know that a lobster can only grow by shedding its protective shell and growing a larger one to expand into?

How often do we all find that the very thing in our lives that protects us most, can end up being the very thing that stops us from growing and achieving greater things! This is a great picture for us…in order to grow, we have to go through a season of shedding our security blanket.
Lobsters only shed their shell because of discomfort. They grow too big on the inside, become uncomfortable, and so make the change. However, that same Lobster becomes very vulnerable once its shell has been shed, it’s often the reason that we don’t grow. We don’t feel it’s sensible to expose ourselves to a weakened position, but if the lobster doesn’t take the risk, its shell eventually kills it!


Be careful that you don’t confuse the current restrictive shell that you’re in believing that it was from God, whilst failing to see that it’s from a previous season. This can make you feel that it’s where we should live forever; but the life of faith is one of advancement and growth and that which was previously correct for us may now be restricting us. God always has new miraculous provision for you today. It’s a new season that you’re coming into.

In Luke 17:33 Jesus said ‘Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.’

The life of faith is a life of stepping out and taking risks. Be prepared to lay down your old life today in order to come into the real freedom of a new and much bigger one. You won’t be disappointed!


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2020

Did you know that you weren’t an accident? 

Did you know that you were born on purpose and for a purpose?

You may not have been planned by your earthly parents, but you were certainly planned by God. My parents were told that they wouldn’t be able to have children. I came along six years later. A miracle. God obviously wanted me born. I have a purpose to fulfil. AND so do YOU. 

God has had His hand on your life every day up until now…you may never have stopped to think about that. You may never have had any regard for God until today. He’s not fazed by that. He’s watched over you, protected you and He’s been with you, even when you didn’t realise it. 

You are not here today, reading this by accident. It’s part of God’s plan for your life. Your life may have been one of struggle and strife, but you made it! It doesn’t matter how much you messed up, or how those bad circumstances have affected you, because God has a beautiful plan for your future if you allow Him in. He’s a gentleman. He doesn’t force His way into anyone’s life. He waits to be invited. 

You can buy a new car, or a new kitchen appliance and ignore the manufacturer’s instructions. It will soon stop working, or even blow up. That’s like us, when we ignore our Maker’s instructions for our lives, we can get broken or lost or in a mess. 

Today, stop and thank God that He has been with you (even though you may not have known).

– Thank Him that He has a plan for your life (even though you may not yet know what it is).

-Ask Him to help you live your best life yet.

 -Invite Him in to be the Leader and Lord.

 -Ask for forgiveness for your past mistakes and mess ups. 

-Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. 

He has some great things in store for you. You were born ON PURPOSE. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th June 2020

The Aspen is a deciduous tree found in the northern hemisphere. Unusually for a deciduous tree it thrives in places that are normally reserved for coniferous forests. The Aspen tree has some features that make it able to survive where few other deciduous trees can.

Aspen’s grow in groves of many trees but within each grove all the trees are in fact connected by their root system. Each tree in a grove is actually part of the same tree, they are all shoots from the same interconnected mass of roots.

This gives the Aspen tree some unique attributes. It can survive forest fires and storms. The trees may burn or be felled but the root system simply sends up a new shoot to replace the damaged trees. Each individual tree may only live between 40 to 150 years but the whole root can survive for thousands of years. There is a grove in the USA that scientists believe is 80,000 years old, making it the oldest living thing on the planet.

The Aspen’s root system enables the tree to survive in conditions and through traumas that other trees cannot. The secret to that ability is it hidden underground interconnection.

In John 15:5 Jesus says ‘I am the vine and you are the branches’. Jesus is painting a picture of what it is like to be a child of God. He is explaining that through him we are not only connected to him, but to the root. The root is the source of all the nutrients that we need to survive. The root also gives us stability and an anchor to hold firm to in a storm. That root is God.

As we are all branches of the same vine, then not only are we connected to Jesus and the root but also through him to each other. Some of us are old branches, gnarled and rough to the touch whilst others are new fresh shoots, but nevertheless we are all connected to the same vine.

The fact that we can be so connected helps us, like the Aspen tree, survive through the storms in our lives. We can draw our strength, our hope, our joy and our salvation from our connection to Jesus and to each other. Jesus urges us to remain in him and he will remain in us. Through that invisible interconnection, our lives will ‘bear much fruit’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th June 2020

The word, ‘worship’ comes from the word, ‘worth’. This means we worship what we value. What you deem worthy is what you will worship. 

You were born to worship. It is in your DNA. As natural as it is to eat, so it is natural for you to worship. Why are you a worshipper? Because you were created to LOVE. You worship what you love. 

The big question is: what are you worshipping? We all worship something, we can’t help it. 

When you love something, you make sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifice is easy, sometimes it is hard. The point is that all through history, worship is connected to sacrifice. Love is connected to sacrifice. 

So if you want to know what you worship, look at what you will make sacrifices for. You could make sacrifices for good things like your job, or your family, but the question is, where does God fit amongst these things? Is He after? Is He somewhere in the middle, or is He worshipped ABOVE these things? 

Frankly, when we worship the wrong things, it is called idolatry. Yes, even good things can become idols. Your spouse can become an idol, your kids, your job, your church, your ministry, people’s opinions. 

All immortality flows from idolatry. What you worship, you end up obeying. What you worship, you end up becoming. Be careful what you make sacrifices for, and the order of your sacrifice. When your worship is disordered, your life becomes disordered. 

Ironically, when your sacrifice is in order, and is entirely fixed on ‘one thing’ (Psalm 27:4), and your ‘seeking first’ to worship God (Matthew 6:33), your life comes into order. 

Check the order of your sacrifice. Check the order of your worship. 

Romans 12:1, reminds us that in light of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we in turn sacrifice our own lives (note, we don’t just sacrifice our Sundays, we sacrifice our LIFE), as an act of worship. ‘…By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2020

Could there be a more challenging scripture for today than that of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18?

‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’. 
1. REJOICE ALWAYS  – Not just when things are going well. Have great joy and delight ALWAYS. 


2. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING – That means praying non-stop!

3. GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES – When your circumstances aren’t your preferred circumstances, thank Him through it. 

These are incredibly uncomfortable and confronting scriptures for many of us. 

Was Paul, the author, totally out of touch with the realities of life and hardship? No. Quite the opposite. He went through more trials than many of us probably ever will (2 Corinthians 11-25). 

Many of us want to know what the will of God for our lives is. Well, here is it: rejoice always, pray non-stop, give thanks always. There is the place to start. ‘For this is the will of God for you’. 

We can rejoice always because our joy is not tied up in circumstance. It is tied up in the cross. We can pray non-stop because prayer is not and should not be exclusive to an occasion or an event. Prayer is all day, every day, constant communication and relationship with God. We can give thanks no matter the situation because through Jesus we ALWAYS have something to be thankful for. 

These actions may seem idealistic, impossible or even ridiculous, but perhaps that is exactly why they are in fact the most powerful weapons you could use right now. 

In the words of a true worshipper, David in Psalm 34:1, ‘I will bless the LORD AT ALL TIMES; His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth’. 

Rejoice, pray, give thanks, repeat!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2020

Does this season of your life feel wasted? What feels like a wasted season right now could become your greatest season, if you choose to put in the work.


Imagine waking up today, looking at your physique and being disappointed that you don’t have as many muscles as you’d like. You then ask yourself, ‘why is that?’ After a few seconds of pondering you realise it’s because you haven’t worked out as much as you should have.


Now think about a farmer; you would call him crazy if he went out into his field one afternoon to find no crops. You then ask him if he remembered to sow some seed, to which he replies, ‘You know what, I forgot that part!’


The principle here is that you cannot expect to receive a harvest in one season if you failed to sow the seeds in the previous season.


Therefore the question I want to pose to us both today is: ‘what work are we putting in during this season of our lives that is going to produce results in the time to come?’ I want to say it again, what may seem like a wasted time in your life right now could become the greatest time in your life.

Maybe you want to see your friendships thrive. Use this opportunity to invest into them. Make that call, send that text, arrange that FaceTime.

Maybe there’s a skill that you’ve been wanting to develop. Read that book, watch that tutorial, listen to that podcast. Don’t just step into the future, create it.

Today, make a decision to turn this season around and work it to your advantage. Sow the seeds so that you can reap the harvest, and when you look back on the first half of 2020, you won’t see a time that was lost, you’ll see a time that was well spent.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2020

The winds of adversity have been beating on the world for several weeks now and there have been many casualties in so many ways. As we enter a brand new week with all of its challenges, and of course its opportunities, I want to encourage you to stay strong as I remind you of just 4 verses from Psalm 92.


12-15 ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’
Draw strength today from these simple yet profound words… ‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…’

  1. You can cut it, but you can’t kill it! The minerals and nutrients most trees need to survive are found on the surface, just below the bark. When you cut them, they die. But not so with the palm tree. Its life comes from within, so it flourishes even under attack.

2. It will bend, but it won’t break. Tropical winds can blow most trees away, but not the palm tree. The stronger the wind, the further it bends, sometimes all the way to the ground. Yet when the storm ceases, it straightens up again and is actually stronger in the place where it bent. What a picture! We were made to bend, but not break, because God gives us the strength to endure.

3. Its depth always exceeds its height. While the roots of the average tree go only a metre or so under the ground, the palm tree’s roots can go down hundreds of metres in search of water. Psalm 42:1-2 ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…’ When you put your roots down deep in your relationship with God, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get blown around, but you’ll certainly never get blown away.

Joshua 1:7-9 ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2020

How many of you look at people’s shoes?

Some may wear the wrong colour for their outfit, some may wear some that are too big or too small, some people may wear really old ones that have gone out of style, some may have new ones every week…


I wonder what shoes you are wearing today?
Our purpose in life is a lot like shoes – God has the perfect fit for each of us.
Have you ever thought someone’s shoes were totally unsuitable for their age or stage of life? How many little girls loved to dress in ‘Mommy’s shoes’, yet obviously we wouldn’t allow them to wear them for school or even outside, they may fall and really hurt themselves. How many little boys have wanted to wear ‘daddy’s work boots’, yet again, only for ‘dressing up’.

What are your shoes like today? Are they suitable for you? You see, wearing the right shoes, and walking in the purposes of God for YOUR life is a perfect fit. You will go where you’re supposed to go, be who you’re supposed to be and fulfil the purpose that GOD has for you. One size does not fit all when it comes to God’s purposes for us.

We each have a different one. Yes, we are all created to love God and love people and bring others to know Him, but in doing that, we have each been designed specifically and beautifully unique. We all have the same mission, but a different part of it.


I love the story of David when he was going to fight Goliath. You can read about it in 1 Samuel 17 vs 38-40. King Saul wanted David to wear his armour; the offer came with good intentions and right motives, yet it was completely wrong for David. He had to keep his ‘shepherd boy’ shoes on and fight Goliath as he knew best, with a sling and some stones, not with some huge heavy armour.


You may like other people’s shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t mean they are right for you. Walk with the shoes on that God has given you to wear. Other’s shoes will be too big, too small, won’t fit, will hurt you, cause you to stumble, not be able to run and you will be ineffective in them, just like David knew he would be in Saul’s armour. Your shoes may not be as ‘flashy’ as someone else’s. I’m sure David was tempted by the offer of the King’s armour, but just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
You never see athletes swapping shoes. No, they have a specific pair reserved for them and them only, ready to run their OWN race!


If you don’t know what shoes you’re supposed to wear, ask God, He will help you – and if you’re trying to wear someone else’s, get out of them quick and into your own. For that’s where you will be most effective… and everyone will say “WOW, look at their shoes” and like David, you too will be a hero.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th June 2020


In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He ate nothing for 40 days and during this time, was tempted by the devil.

Although we may not be wandering around the desert, there are times in all of our lives where we find ourselves in the wilderness. The time we’re living in right now had certainly brought about uncertainty and nervousness.

Maybe you’re waiting on God for an answer to prayer or a promise from Him. The wilderness can feel like a lonely and uncertain place.

When Jesus was in the wilderness, He did things that we can learn from:

1) He clung to God’s word

40 days is a long time to wait. No matter how long your wilderness season lasts, God’s word never expires. When the devil tempted Jesus, he fired back at him with scripture.

See, when you’re feeling lost, having scripture to draw on is vital. Psalm 119, verse 1 says ‘I have hidden your word in my heart’; in your moments of desperation, there’s no time to look verses up.

2) He resisted temptation

This one is tough. Absolutely none of us are above temptation.
Jesus was shown ‘all the kingdoms of the world’ by the devil. It was of course, all an illusion.

When you’re waiting on God, you will often be faced with a quick fix, or an easy way out. The longest route out of trouble often comes in the form of a shortcut. If it looks too good to be true, or you know it isn’t God, flee.

3) He endured

Jesus’ resistance and obedience brought great reward.
In verse 14 it says ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him.’

Did you catch that? God got the glory. Jesus was faithful and he came out of the wilderness ‘in the power of the Spirit.’ Not only did He see great things happen, following his time there but He was more powerful and effective than ever.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th June 2020

Some years ago when we bought a new fridge freezer, not only was I surprised to find that you had to have it plumbed into the water mains, but also that you had to fit a special water filter to the pipe work — something that no-one ever gets to see.


The filter system provides perfectly filtered water from the water dispenser at any time of  day or night – no more continually filling a water filter jug several times a day!


Every six months, a warning light appears on the front of the fridge to let you know that it’s time to change the filter. The filters are not only expensive, but changing them requires effort and time. I’m probably just the same as everyone else, in that I wait for the warning light to annoy me sufficiently before I make the change. This is usually about a month at least after the light comes on. 

Purity is something that you not only have to give attention to when you get a warning signal from the Holy Spirit, but it’s something that you have to actively work on and fight for within yourself on a daily basis. 

I have discovered that one of the greatest ways of maintaining a pure life is to be accountable to others that you respect around you. 
The people that I’m talking about will be usually further ahead and carry a greater level of maturity than you, although they will not always be older than you. 

Accountability operates like a filtration system. If you’re unsure about something, or if you find yourself in a difficult position that may compromise you, then by talking it over with a trusted friend you are in effect passing your thoughts through their filtration system of wisdom and sound advice. 

The benefit from being accountable is that you get shielded from making unwise decisions, and the decisions you do make are pure because of the process. 


Accountability also means that you get warned when others watch you going head long into an unwise decision or disaster. 
Don’t go it alone today and end up spending the rest of your life regretting the poor choices you’ve made, instead select some great people in your life to help filter out your impurities.

Proverbs 4:5-6 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2020

Philippians 4:19, ‘…For I have learnt to be content in whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:19).

Let’s look at the context of this scripture – Paul was writing this letter to the church in Macedonia. Paul was not on his sun-lounger, drink in hand, sun on face, telling people to ‘be content’. He wrote this letter from prison. And it would not have been the first time he was imprisoned either.

‘…I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have travelled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm’ (2 Corinthians 11).

After Paul had endured all this, still his words, ‘I have learnt to be content in whatever the circumstances’ suddenly takes on a different meaning. Paul is not calling us to be content while life is ‘good’ or even ‘okay’. He is calling us to be satisfied when life is a challenge. He is calling us to be content now in lockdown, in the middle of 2020!

This doesn’t mean we stop praying and believing for more, it simply means our circumstances do not need to determine our level of happiness and satisfaction. Our happenings do not need to have a hold on us because we have strength in something beyond our happenings. We have strength in Christ. It is in Christ that we find contentment. It is not in the absence of a virus, or the presence of people, or abundance of finances. It is in God that we find contentment in EVERY situation and season.

If your strength and contentment is found only when you are in control, know the future, are back at work, and are around people, then you are in for a scary ride, because life doesn’t always guarantee those things. But if you can find strength in an unchanging, good God, then you will find contentment in whatever the circumstances.

Did Paul just have this understanding and ability to be content land in his lap? No, the verse says, he LEARNT to be content. We won’t get this perfect, we will have days where we struggle, but let us have the posture of LEARNING to be content in whatever we are facing at the moment.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2020

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’.

Love is the essential ingredient in all we do. We can do a good thing, but if the love is missing, it is pointless, useless and ineffective.

Love makes a powerful combo, when teamed with truth. In fact, truth and love must go hand in hand with each other. I love this quote from Timothy Keller, ‘Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical,unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace’.

Let’s look at the Bible – it reveals a realistic, sometimes unflattering picture of who we are. The Bible takes you by the scruff of the neck at times and addresses you. What we read in the scriptures challenges the core of who we are, but we know it is really the road to liberation. We cannot resist this power that truth has to blow the lid off and turn the light on to issues in our life. Equally, Jesus came with ‘truth bombs’, but he delivered them in love. His mission was to deliver truth, but with an unmatched affirmation that could heal the deepest wounds and hurts of your life.

Loving to speak the truth is different to speaking the truth in love.

Truth without love ruins unity, and love without truth gives the illusion of unity but actually stops the growth. The solution is GRACE – the experience of Jesus’ grace makes it possible to practice the two most important skills in the Christian walk: forgiveness and repentance.

Speaking the truth in love requires emotional humility and emotional wealth – a fundamental inner joy and confidence – this can only come from God… both his example and his empowering grace allow us to be this.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2020

After more than 13 weeks in lock down, we have all been subjected to what can only be described as an exceptional set of circumstances. Living in each other’s pockets has been both an unexpected blessing and an unexpected strain at times. 

Spending so much time under one roof, with little opportunity for any outlet, has proved very challenging for many families as well as those living alone. I’m sure that you will have noticed that while emotions are running high, we are more prone than ever to do and say things that would not normally be an issue. 
By way of an MOT during this time, here are ten reasons why relationships fail:

  1. Communication breaks down. 
  2. Truth is violated 
  3. Integrity is forsaken
  4. Time isn’t invested 
  5. Risks aren’t taken (not social distancing risks I might add)
  6. Control rises to the top
  7. Trust is broken
  8. Self-interest is the rule
  9. Manipulation is allowed
  10. God is ignored 

How well did you do? Before you lose heart because you feel like you’ve failed, here are just three values that I find helpful in my daily thinking:

  • Become a good listener. In the book of James chapter 1 v 19, he writes… ‘be quick to listen and slow to speak.’ Sometimes the greatest gift that you can give to others, is to listen with not just your ears, but with your heart. Just ‘being there’ for someone, even if it’s just on their doorstep or on the end of the phone is enough. 
  • Speak the truth in love. Nobody likes to be corrected, but when you’re heading down the wrong road or settling for less than your potential, a true friend will have the courage to tell you. If you truly care about someone then you will make time to speak the truth in love even though it may cost you. 
  • Always believe the best. Love sometimes sees you at your worst, but never forgets your best. Love will often see you as far more wonderful than you know that you really are, but is able to see past your faults and failings. 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”. Love doesn’t sweep things under the carpet, but it does see beyond the dirt on the carpet. 

Whatever relationship challenges you are facing today, let’s be mindful that if we can learn to overcome the challenges in this season we will have learnt to overcome them in any season!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2020

I was thinking about the story from the Bible in Matthew chapter 7 about the wise and the foolish builders. One built his house upon the rock, the other on the sand. Growing up in Sunday school, we regularly sang a song about the wise and foolish builders.

Along with many actions and sound effects, it told the exact story and that was that when the storm and the wind and waves came along, the house on the rock stood firm and the house on the sand fell flat. Matthew 7 teaches us that if our lives aren’t built on God’s word then we are like the foolish builder.

 You and I have to make sure our lives are built firmly, with great, solid foundations. For surely, life’s wind and waves and storms WILL come and what will be left? Hopefully we will still be standing firm. 

When my life is built on prayer, God’s word and a relationship with Him, then even when I’m tested (and we all will be) my life will still stand. My husband always says that what we learn in the light, we have to practise in the dark. Many people base their lives on feelings. This is too dangerous. For life isn’t always ‘happy’ and things don’t always go as we would want. But, when we instead build our lives on what GOD says, and not what I feel, that’s a firm foundation. When I listen to what He says and not what social media tells me, or the news media, then I am building the right foundation. 

God wants to build something great in you. Storms will come and storms will pass. You will remain standing… IF you have taken the time to build some great foundations. 

As children you may remember the story of the three little pigs…the same story as the Bible really. The wolf came and blew down the house of the homes that were built of straw. Yet, those that had been built with bricks, were able to stand when the wolf came. 

The enemy of our souls, the devil himself, may want to take you out. He may want to blow our house down with a big crash! BUT… he can’t if your foundation is strong. 
Check it today. Ask God to help you. Do something important that will last you forever. 

Pastor Gillian
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th June 2020

A few years ago, I watched a movie titled the Life of Pi. In it, a young boy is shipwrecked and finds himself lost at sea sharing a small lifeboat with some wild animals, one of them being a tiger.

Faced with dehydration yet surrounded by miles of water around him, the boy doesn’t drink any of it. He knows that although he faces certain death unless he can find something to drink, he would die sooner if he drank the sea water, and so waits for rain.
He was thirsty, yet surrounded by the very thing he was craving. He could touch it, feel the cool waves lapping on his skin under the hot sun, but hidden inside the water was salt that would kill him from the inside.

What are you thirsty for today? I, like many people, have been yearning for news of things settling down, and news is available everywhere you look. Information, both verified and unverified, and opinions are an unyielding torrent on social media, news channels, the sources are endless. But Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Guarding your heart and mind is especially difficult when you wake up to the heart-breaking news of the horrific killing of an unarmed man by police officers in America, and the resulting polarising protests demanding that they, and other perpetrators be brought to justice.


The assumption in the scripture is that we are going to act when it says “everything you do flows from it”, but what action do you take? How do you empathise with the hurt of another person, and make yourself vulnerable enough to feel their pain whilst protecting your heart and your mind? How do you let their hurt touch you enough so that you can feel enough compassion to become passionate, but remain rational? Proverbs 4 is an encouragement to get wisdom, and understanding; to allow things to touch you, and through God’s Word, discern which is the salty water, and which is the fresh, living water.

Let your prayer be that God gives us the willpower, strength and perseverance to come out healthier and stronger in our minds and relationships as we seek His wisdom and understanding.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th June 2020

When I was 18 and got my first proper job I remember looking into getting a mortgage on a small terrace house. I then decided against putting all my money into a house but should enjoy being young and so I got a motorbike. 10 years later, I got married and I remember wishing I’d gone ahead and invested in that house because I would own half a house that would have significantly increased in value! 

In this unusual time where it feels like our lives have been put on hold, there is an opportunity for reflection. You may be thinking like I was, ‘what have I been investing in?’ ‘What should I now invest in?’


Let me encourage you with this thought from the parable of the talents found in Matthews gospel chapter 25. 
Just to summarise the story, a master is going away and entrusts to three servants 5, 2 and 1 talent respectively. Then after a long absence returns to find that two of them have doubled their master’s money, but one (out of fear) buries it. His master is delighted with the two and very angry and punishes the latter. 

If you’re like me, when you hear this familiar parable, you hope that firstly you get trusted with the larger portion, but then secondly you manage to increase it. What’s interesting though is that we often overlook the fact that none of them actually got to keep the talents but had to hand them back. They weren’t theirs and never would be. What actually was said to the faithful servants was ‘Come and share in your master’s happiness!’

This was the ultimate reward not the talents. Therefore maybe in this life you haven’t been given the most, don’t worry, just be faithful with what you have, stop worrying about the size, and make sure you invest wisely. 

Okay, now here’s some math. Did you know that 1p invested in eternity is worth an awful lot more than £15billion invested today here in this very temporary world?
Also this is odd but 1p invested eternally is actually equal to £15billion invested eternally.

Because anything multiplied by infinity is infinity. 
Houses, cars and holidays are great, building a business or an organisation is fulfilling, but not necessarily eternal.

When you keep being faithful to God’s call on your life, when you invest in the community, feed and clothe people, when you continue to serve your local church, helping to man the spiritual life boat by helping to pull the drowning to safety, it’s eternal and you will reap a reward that will never perish.

Keep on serving in the church, keep on investing in people and remember: your pennies in eternity far outweigh any cost or value in today’s currency! 


Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2020

If you have ever purchased a real leather item of clothing, you would have noticed a removable tag that reads ‘genuine leather’ on the piece. This implies that the item is not made of imitation leather or a plastic material, that looks like leather, or “pleather” as I like to call it, but is the real deal. There is nothing like an authentic leather item – the quality, the smell, and the feel. On the contrary, a fake leather item, won’t last as long, can smell toxic and just doesn’t have the same feel. 

God hasn’t called us to be “pleather” Christians – doing the right thing, looking the right way, but without a genuine love.  Fake smells toxic, doesn’t last long and just doesn’t feel the same. 

A simple value, but one that scripture speaks about over and over is that of ‘sincerity’. Romans 12:9 says, ‘love must be sincere’. 1 Peter 1:22, ‘…fervently love one another from the heart’. 1 Timothy 1:15 says, ‘The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith’.

One way to tell the difference between a real diamond and a counterfeit diamond is how it responds under the intensity of heat. Diamonds are one of the strongest materials on the planet and therefore they will be resistant to such heat. On a real diamond, heat will disperse quickly and the diamond won’t be affected by the change in temperature, on a fake, it will crack and break. A sincere person can withstand the pressure of trials and circumstance as their character and motive is genuine. 

If we are going to change the world, people need to feel that we are the real deal. Fake is toxic and doesn’t last. Before you do something good, don’t just do it, ask God for a heart of sincere love as you go and do it.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2020

We’re not even half way through 2020 and this year has already been like no other. The year kicked off with the Australian bush fires, we’ve then launched into a global pandemic, and now another race-driven murder weighs heavy on our hearts.  I have seen and heard many people wishing 2020 away, waiting for 2021 where they can ‘start over’. It’s interesting how people desperately need to feel comfortable in order to believe life is good and they are good. It’s interesting how much we struggle with discomfort and want to run from challenge. The Bible contradicts this notion encouraging us to in fact ‘consider it PURE JOY whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2). Why? Because tough times produce something in us! Like the purification of a diamond that is only achieved by fire, so we too produce something invaluable under heat and pressure. There is fruit only after the pruning. 

As crazy as it sounds, we shouldn’t wish the pressure and pruning away. As overwhelming as it is, let’s lean into what God is saying and doing amongst His people. Let’s suck the marrow out of the discomfort, so we can bear the fruit. Let’s embrace the heat, so we can produce a diamond. 

2020 has been wake up call, after wake up call, after wake up call – if you’ve allowed it to be. The saddest thing would be to let this year pass, and have learnt or gained nothing. There are lessons for all of humanity here, and there are lessons for you personally here. 

God is shedding light in the dark areas of our culture where the enemy has prospered. God is asking us to not turn away any longer. 2020 is an invitation. An invitation for all of us to humble ourselves and listen, to understand, to grow and to step into our divine calling and privilege of proclaiming freedom for the captives. 

‘He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations…
…You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice….’ (Isaiah 61).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2020

A well known medical Doctor writes: “unresloved emotional pain wreaks havoc on your imune system, cardiac function, hormone levels and other physical functions”. He goes on to say, “we must make peace with our past, because our life may literally depend on it”.


Challenging words!

Here are four thoughts in order to help you deal with your past:

1- reframe it. Ask yourself, how did it make me stronger, what did I learn from it, what do I know now that I didn’t back then?

2- break the chains of shame. Shame isn’t feeling bad over what you’ve done, it’s feeling ashamed of who you are. It’s lethal. When God created you in His image He said, “this is very good”. (Genesis 1 v 31)

3-stop the constant dripping of regret. Stop punishing yourself with the ‘if onlys’. In the Bible David said these words, “Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven…whom the Lord does not consider guilty…” (Psalm 32 v 1-2) If you’ve opened your heart to God, and sought His forgiveness, then you have to not only receive His forgiveness, you have to forgive yourself. 

4 -move from grief to gain. Healing takes time, so expect some anger, fear and sadness. Don’t disown them and pretend that they don’t exist, they are all part of the healing, however, don’t adopt them either! You have to move on. You can’t move backwards into your future. The future that God has for you is ahead and contains more happiness than any past you can remember. 

Psalm 25:7-11 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. 

Isaiah 43:25 ‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2020

Unfortunately as human beings, we have the tendency to dwell on negative things. If someone is ill that can become our entire focus. If money is tight and things are difficult we can easily focus on that. If someone has been mean to us, we make it a huge mountain in our lives. I have challenged myself many times this week to get my eyes off situations and on to Jesus. 

I was fascinated to read a surprising study from the university of California, whereby its researchers discovered that the feeling of ‘awe’ can actually counteract dangerous and chronic illnesses. 

The kinds of awe that they studied included people’s responses to nature and beauty, listening to inspiring music and viewing great works of art. 
These ‘awesome’ responses stimulated hormonal messengers that tell our immune systems to work harder and thus produce emotions that are associated with good health.


Whilst we have all known for a long time that a healthy diet, adequate sleep and healthy exercise bolster our body’s defence mechanism, this study is one of the first of its kind to state ‘the effects of a sense of awe’ promote positive emotions in the context of total wellbeing. 

Being awestruck is of course nothing new to a Christian.
Being a follower of Jesus cannot fail to bring us daily to a place of joy, contentment, love, compassion, amazement and wonder. But to receive those wonderful blessings we have to put ourselves in a place to receive. 

Psalm 121 vs 1-2 “I lift my eyes to the mountains, does my help come from there? no it comes from God”Psalm. 61 vs 2. “When my heart is overwhelmed (with stuff) lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

However, we have to be willing to be led there. 
Let’s never lose sight of how awesome God is and all that He has created for our benefit. 

Let’s never forget His faithfulness and His never ending kindness to us. 


Let’s never lose sight of how “awesome” it is, to get into His presence. What a privilege!


He knew exactly what He was doing when He inbuilt within us a sense of awe for all that He has done. 
Take your eyes off ‘your mountain’ and take a fresh look today at something that God has blessed you with and once again be ‘awestruck’.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th June 2020

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll have been faced with feelings of overwhelm at times. 

What can I say? What shouldn’t I say? Maybe you have big decisions to make about your life and business, since the impact of the pandemic. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that the world is having an effect on your world. 

No matter who you are or what your circumstances look like and how fast things are moving around you, our God is the same. His word tells us to be still. 

Don’t allow your fear to freeze you into inaction. That’s exactly what the enemy wants.

There is nothing that we can’t overcome when we turn to him. James 1:5 says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

‭‭

 Change is uncomfortable but God already knows what you need. 

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th June 2020

We all have rituals. It’s what makes up every day of our lives, they include cleaning your teeth, feeding yourself, your thought life, what you read and watch, where you go, people you do life with. The daily rituals of our lives make up a narrative that displays what we really believe, irrespective of what we say. 95% of our lives are generally unchanging day to day ‘walking the dog’ rituals.

The old testament is full of rituals. Law after law of do’s and don’ts, list after list of names and endless routines for the sacrifices, offerings and festivals of God’s chosen people.

As a modern day liberal Christian there’s a danger in thinking that Christ came to set us free from all this Law, but actually Jesus said, he didn’t come to abolish but to fulfil the law! All those rituals the Israelites were commanded to fulfil were there to help them break their ingrained pattern of Egyptian idolatry. To break the narrative of their previous slave lives and to create a new cultural identity. It’s a massive undertaking. Our biblical rituals (reading the bible, prayer, fasting, tithing) do not in any way earn salvation (forgiveness of sins) but they massively help us to break the idolatrous culture we have grown up and live in, and so helps us live in a different realm. The film Karate Kid has a great example of the power of rituals. 

The young hero Danny LaRusso is getting bullied so approaches Mr Miyagi (Karate expert) to learn to fight. But for weeks he doesn’t train him but has him doing mundane tasks such as painting his fence and washing his car.  He’s instructed very specifically on how to ritualistically complete the tasks. Using very deliberate repetitive movements, to wax on, wax off, when washing the car over and over. When Danny finally says he has had enough and wants to learn to fight, Mr Miyagi throws a punch and Danny blocks it without even thinking, using the ‘Wax off’ learned movement! His boring mundane ritual (that many push away because they have an unhealthy liberal Christian attitude that Jesus came so they could please themselves) was training his reactions so that when danger and difficulty comes, his natural  ‘wax off’ instinct serves him well. We must get an appetite for the seemingly mundane in order to live in the extraordinary! 

What are your rituals? What great habits do you have that you perpetually repeat day after day,  constantly reenforcing the positive reality of you really are, a child of the living God?

It’s not being religious, it’s not earning brownie points; it’s maintaining behaviours to position you in truth, they’re strengthening your inner posture daily so when difficulty comes ‘wax off!’ If you want your life to grow, if you are bored of the same old problems and want some new ones, assess what’s making up your day that creates your reality, good or bad.

Position good healthy habits to help maintain you in the constant reality of the grace of God. You’ll be amazed how differently you react when trouble then comes… ‘Wax off!’


Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2020

The Devil will do whatever it takes to stop you from walking into all that God has for you. Pride is one of the subtle strategies of the enemy to delay your growth, shift your focus, slow you down, and hold you back from receiving and producing fruit! 

Pride is dangerous! Some of the greatest men and women of God throughout history, with once powerful ministries, have quickly come to the end of fruitfulness, because of their pride. Even if you are doing a good thing, it is important to have regular heart checks. Pride comes right before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Don’t treat pride lightly!

Pride is actually a characteristic of the enemy and not a trait in our God-given design. Look at Lucifer, the Devil himself. He was an angel made for worship. His purpose was to magnify God, but his desire shifted to himself. He then wanted to become the one being worshipped! Pride was the very thing to rock heaven (Ezekial 28).  

God would be foolish to entrust a prideful heart with more. God knows that such character cannot sustain a greater gift, more blessing, and produce  fruit. On the contrary, God can do amazing things with a humble heart. With humility comes honour (Proverbs 18:12), wisdom and grace (the ability to do what you have to). In a position of humility, you will always be fruitful, growing, and moving into greater things. As Proverbs 11:2 says, ‘when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom’. Why do we become wise when we are humble? Because we have positioned ourselves to learn, we are teachable, and soft-hearted toward the voice of the Lord. 

Quick heart check: Am I open to correction? Am I teachable? Do I judge others, often thinking I am better than them? Am I self-focused most of the time? Do I honour authority (even if I don’t agree with them)? Do I struggle to say sorry? Do I struggle to associate with people of low position? 

If you have an area of pride, then you are sadly missing out on the more that God has for you. But there is hope in surrender! James 4:10 says, ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up’. 

Jesus is the ultimate picture of humility and whom we are called to imitate:

‘…Who, being in very nature God,
 did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
 he humbled himself
  by becoming obedient to death—
  even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
 and gave him the name that is above every name (Phillipians 2:6-9).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2020

God is unlike anything or anybody. 

Humans can only understand something, by building upon what they already know. In the words of A.W Towzer, ‘we learn by using what we already know as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown’. Hence why in scripture, the authors often attempt to describe God by saying He is “like” something that we already humanly know. Even Jesus Himself used metaphors and stories over and over again, in order for the human mind to comprehend how the kingdom of God works. 

At present, our understanding of God, no matter how many years we have been a Christian, is finite in comparison to the great nature of who God really is. This is actually a very reassuring thought. 

God is creator. We are His created. To reduce all of God down to our level of understanding would be to make him as powerful as us. How comforting it is to know that my mind cannot fully fathom Him, because He is far bigger than me, and thus I can rest in the mystery of His almighty, sovereign nature. If He weren’t a mystery, then He would be no bigger than me. 

Yes we are made in the image of God, but scripture didn’t say, ‘The EXACT image’ of God. Just like a painting reflects the attributes and the mind and heart of the artist, but isn’t the artist itself, so we as people reflect the mind and heart of God, but are not God – and thank God for that! 

Often we want a God we can manage and control. But don’t try and reduce God to manageable terms. Rest in the mystery of His magnitude. One of the great paradoxes of God is that we can know Him so personally and intimately, yet so much of His ways still remain a mystery. In the words of Frederick W. Faber, 

​‘Darkness to the intellect

​But sunshine to the heart.’ 

In other words, there are aspects of God that the mere human mind cannot understand completely and rationally, only a heart can receive in faith, and then experience the love of God. 

In the gospel we see the helplessness of the human mind in understanding the mystery of God. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 teaches that God can be known only as the Holy Spirit works in a hungry heart. 

‘For to us God revealed them (deep thoughts) through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God’. 

So stay hungry to understand more of God, let the Holy Spirit enlighten you on the ways of God, as you partner with Him. Equally, rest in the reality that you never will know it all – and that is the beauty of His mystery.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2020

During this time of isolation, how many of you have thought (be honest), “I’m wasting my life, time is passing me by, I have too much life to live, than sit around and do nothing”?

My friend, you shouldn’t just be doing nothing. I remember many years ago, when our main church building was being built. For years, we saw no building going up, yet, there was a lot of preparation going on that wasn’t seen. Mineshafts were being filled. Ground was being prepared, surveys were being done and then the most important of all the things, were the foundations.


Yet I just wanted to see the building built! How many times have you thought recently, not only “what is going on?” But also, “I’m wasting time!” Don’t be impatient to see the rest of your life take place. I’m in my 50s, I could easily think these thoughts. You may be a lot older than me and thinking “I don’t have lots of time to waste.”

My friend, recognise what God is doing in the now. God wants you to use this time to make some adjustments down deep. He has some work to do on you that no one else may see. He wants to create some great foundations in your life.


Maybe some that weren’t there before. These things take time. When the building goes up, it will be beautiful. (And it is). But it won’t go up successfully unless the foundations are right. Remember the higher the build, the deeper the foundation. If you want to see and experience something new and fresh and something you’ve never seen or experienced before, then you’ve got to do something that you’ve not done before.

You’ve got to let God do some ‘foundation’ work and not see it as wasted time at all.
So get ready – because God always brings something better and bigger out of a difficult situation and out of a time of preparation. Don’t sit around bored or as if ‘nothing’ is happening.


Get on it! IF you use this time to prepare right, you will realise the best IS YET to come. No time is wasted. It’s all in the plan!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2020

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

A few years ago at the Special Olympics, the competitors lined up to run the 100-metre dash. Everyone took off, but as they rounded the corner one of the runners fell badly and was left in tears, knowing that the race for them was over. Suddenly all the others stopped, came back, helped him up, then locked arms and walked across the finish line together. It was an unforgettable moment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

What made the Special Olympic runners all stop and come back when perhaps in the regular Olympics they would have just all kept going? Was it not because they realised that they all had weaknesses? They knew that it could have been anyone of them lying there on the track, so they reached out to him. In a very real sense, all the runners won the race that day.

During this current time of crisis, I pray that we will have all had a wake up call to help us appreciate once more, that it is more important to help each other win, than it is to just be a winner myself. In fact, God is more interested in how much we are lifting others up, than He is in just putting me on a podium. I pray that our new normal will be more about running together, stopping daily to lift and encourage each, and treating people with respect that they deserve — that way we all become winners in life.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th May 2020

I’m a person that likes to know what’s going to happen. I like to be prepared. I’d ideally like to know in advance what will happen next so I can be fully ready and tackle it to the best of my ability. In some circumstances this can be a good trait, however in life, it’s not always. 

I love how the words in the Bible challenge us when we don’t know we need to be challenged.
Recently, I was reading Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar created a golden image and commanded all men to worship it—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship anyone but God. As punishment for their defiance, they were cast into the fiery furnace.


If I were one of them, I’d think God was going to rescue me but I’d want to know how. I’d probably be staring into the furnace working out whether something was going to swoop in and save me, if the furnace was going to suddenly become cold or if Nebuchadnezzar was going to change his mind. 
Daniel 3: 17 (NIV) If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.


Daniel 3:17 confirms their faith. They know God is going to deliver them. They stand affirming this to the man who is about to kill them.
The bit that gets me is the start of verse 18. ‘But even if he does not.’
It takes a lot of courage to be staring into the fiery furnace but then saying ‘BUT EVEN IF’ He doesn’t do what we are believing for, we still trust him.


They believed that God was going to deliver them one way or another. Either they’d get their earthly miracle and be saved from the furnace, or they’d be delivered home to God. One way or another, they believed God would deliver them from this situation.


Jesus guaranteed our rescue by stepping into the fire himself. He faced our choices and took our pain, and always trusted in God’s will. “Not my will, but yours be done.”


While we’d rather avoid suffering and the unknown, God promises to bless us and others through it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire unharmed and as a result, Nebuchadenezzar believed; “for no other God can save in this way” (Daniel 3:29).


We might not understand what’s going on right now, things might not have gone the way we planned, we might not see where the story is heading but we do know that there will always be blessings as a result.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th May 2020

In James 3:13, we learn that there are two kinds of wisdom – heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom. Both operate very differently and have different outcomes. 

Earthly wisdom is decision making at the world’s standards – which is actually foolishness to God (1 Cor 1:20). The world’s wisdom is often based on whatever appeases the desires of the flesh – whatever feels good, and is most self-gratifying, which obviously is not always a good life compass.  

On the contrary, heavenly wisdom is out of this world – literally! It sees further down the line, it sees the bigger picture, and has a better outcome. It comes from God as we partner with Him. It puts God first, rather than self. The fruit is not destruction, but life and peace. It is limitless in outcome and sometimes seems irrational. 

King Solomon had the opportunity to ask for whatever his heart desired and he asked for wisdom.

God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honour, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honour, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:11). 

What an example of how wisdom ushers in a life of success, peace and fruitfulness! As we seek first the kingdom, all the rest is added. Put another way, as we seek Godly wisdom first, ironically a successful life is a bi-product. 

Wisdom is more precious than jewels (Proverbs 8:11), yet the Bible says that if we ask for it, God will give it to us…and not just a bit… GENEROUSLY! ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’ (James 1:5).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2020

‘Authority: the power or right to give orders, and make decisions.’

Perhaps our immediate response upon reading this definition of authority is to picture a person of control, someone abusing their power, someone restricting and restraining from freedom and happiness.

Unfortunately many of us struggle with the idea of authority and hold negative connotations towards the word and idea. This is not uncommon for people of this generation.

Historically, many a time, authority has been oppressive, and sometimes abusive. Consequently, we have a generation today that has mostly rebelled against the idea of authority. It is believed that freedom and independence are achieved by breaking away from those who try to govern over us. When we are able to make our own choices, unrestrained by anyone or anything, then we think we are most free. This is wrong. Becoming a slave to your own feelings, ideas and opinions is quite the opposite of freedom. Your allegiance has simply shifted from an all-knowing, all-loving, all-protecting God, to your finite, limited self. How scary.

Authority is essential in the life of the believer, both the authority of God and of certain people. Instead, we have a people today who are disrespectful (culturally and broadly speaking) to the law/government/police. We have children exercising power over their parents in the home. We have women trying to assert themselves above men. We have teachers desperately trying to behaviour manage their students, and we have a cultural mentality of ‘let’s break free from the controlling government’. In whatever sphere there has been a historical abuse of authority, today there is a generational uprising of people rebelling and suppressing that authority in the quest to find identity and freedom. Sadly, their efforts are fruitless as true freedom and identity is found in our submission to HEALTHY and BIBLICAL authority.

The Bible speaks a lot about the value of authority in our lives. Not the kind of authority like we may have seen been abused in the past. The Bible has a different picture of what authority should look like. God has actually designed authority for our blessing and protection. Authority over us equals covering for us. When authority is abused, it hurts those under authority. In such cases, God ultimately will judge the abuser. But when it is exercised properly, authority blesses and protects those under it. Authority does not imply superiority. ‘Coming under’ authority or ‘subjection’ to authority doesn’t make us weak. It puts us in a powerful, protected position of freedom. If subjection means inferiority, then it would mean that Jesus Christ is inferior to the Father, which is heresy!

So what DOES biblical authority look like? Being in a position of authority means that you have a responsibility and a level of accountability. Those in authority have the weighty call of serving, leading and loving their people toward what is best for THEM. Ultimately, the people in these positions of authority must give an account to God on how well they did this. If they used their position and power for their own advantage, rather than blessing and protecting those in and under their care, then they have God to face for that one!

Some positions of authority that God tells us to honour in our lives, as we come under their covering:

– The word of God / God

– Our Parents

– Our leaders (both Christian and non-Christian)

– Our pastors

Here are rewards that are promised to those who submit to the healthy authority in their life:

Things will be well with you (Ephesians 6:2–3).

You will have a long life (Ephesians 6:1–3).

You will bring delight to the Lord (Colossians 3:20).

You will bring joy to your authorities (Hebrews 13:17).

You will receive God’s reward (Colossians 3:18–24).

You will be given clear direction (Proverbs 6:20–22).

You will be protected from evil people (Proverbs 6:23–24).

You will gain discernment (Proverbs 15:5).

You will receive praise from your authorities (I Peter 2:13–14).

You will escape the destruction of pride (I Timothy 6:2–4).

You will receive the grace God gives to the humble (I Peter 5:5–7).

Now who doesn’t want all that!?

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2020

Part two – Life is too short to be average (Continued from yesterday)


The Bible says that Daniel had an excellent spirit, and he stood out among his peers because God was with him (Daniel 5:14, 6:3).
A spirit of excellence will cause people to notice that there is something different about you, because you are living to fulfil God’s purpose in your life.


The fourth principle for success is to choose the people you let into your life. Your friends will influence your future. It’s better to walk alone at times, rather than walk with the wrong people. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ 

The fifth principle is persistence. You cannot succeed without persistence. Persistence can be defined as courage under pressure. I’ve found that it’s impossible to be courageous without fear. Fear gives birth to a courage that says “I won’t quit.”
 Remember: no one succeeds all of the time. You can’t live a significant life without living a persistent life. 

More or less everything in my life that has had any lasting value has been birthed out of a long hard slog. I call it the ‘God plod!’.


The sixth way for living a life of purpose is to have high values. Values are standards that you live by. They produce character, and character is how you act when no one is watching. Character means spending time alone with God, letting Him guide you and refine for your dreams and desires. 
My values come from the Bible. A long time ago I made up my mind that the most important thing in my life was to live for an audience of one – Jesus. 

My declaration today is this: ‘God’s power works in me every day, and I can excel at what He has called me to do if I will simply lay down my life and trust Him’.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2020

Life is too short to be average – Part one of two parts. 

The world is filled with amazing people, but sadly most of us settle for being average. Living an average life is not annasset, as it simply means that you never reach your full potential. 


I believe that there are six principles that will help you maximise your ability to be more than average. 


First, you must discover God’s purpose for your life — you were born for a reason. You were not just born to make a living, you were born to make a life. There’s something that God needed done that required you. 

Second, you must develop a passion. Passion comes from purpose. When you discover your purpose in life, there’s a sense of passion that will follow. Martin Luther King Jr. became a leader long before his great speech… ‘I have a dream…’ and his dream came out of his passion.

He became a leader in a small church of 200 people when he spoke of his death threat on his life. He told his wife, “I’ve got a passion. Someone’s got to do something, and I’m willing to do it. If it kills me I’ll do it.” You wont change the world if you try to protect your life. Jesus said, “if you cling to your life, you’ll lose it; but if you give it up for me, you’ll find it.”


The third most critical thing for developing excellence is to make a plan for your life. Plan beyond what you’re doing right now. Find something that’s bigger than you. Don’t just make your plan; work your plan. Then discipline yourself to follow it. Pursue your dream with a passion to please God—you were born to make a difference. 

Maybe part of my story will help someone today…
I was just turning 20 when I felt that God was calling me to a very different life than the one I’d imagined. I was passionate about becoming a top chef in London and had already spent two years in training and was now climbing that ladder. I sensed that God was asking me to surrender all of that and to give my life to becoming the pastor of a church! I was shocked, as this was something that was never even on my radar. I just knew that I’d heard clearly from God.

Then came the crunch…would I follow through? In much the same way that I’d spent two years training as a chef, I now felt I would need to train for Pastoring at a Bible school. This took me so much out of my comfort zone, that I felt sick at the prospect of leaving home, and not least of all the girl that I knew I would marry.


I drove three hours for that first interview at Bible School, and got rejected there and then due to being considered too young! That was it, I drove home feeling elated that I wouldn’t have to go through with it. Twelve months later I was back again, and this time with a passion and a plan that it was now or never. I was accepted on the course and went home to tell my parents, my girlfried and my employer that I was leaving. The following two years came and went and two weeks later we got married.
I had followed the call, the passion, and the plan, and was now ready to completly change the direction of my life for ever. It would be five years before I became the full time Pastor of the now named Champions Church.

The last 30 years have been a roller coaster of incredible highs and lows, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything. I was doing what I was born to do — make a difference!


You will also have to make some tough choices in order for your life to count. They won’t be the same as mine, but nevertheless they will take the same kind of courage to do so. 

Here is my declaration today: ‘My life has a purpose and I will not settle for less than what God has for me.’

Would you like to make it yours too?

Part two tomorrow. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2020

 

I am a firm believer in trust. I’m a firm believer in faith. I’m a firm believer in not doubting. My Bible tells me. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11 vs 6) I’d like to say, I never doubt and I never waiver in my faith. 

So… let’s be honest, sometimes when we do have doubts or questions, we wonder why? And then feel ‘bad’ or ‘guilty’ for doubting.

 I was reminded this week about Jesus. In Luke 22 vs 39-44, just before He went to the cross, Jesus took Himself away to a solitary place and He asked His Father this…“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” He was saying, “if there’s any other way” – in other words, “do I really have to die on a cross, the cruelest of deaths? Is this really Your will God?”

He was scared, He had doubts, fears even. We know that, because it goes on to say that He was anxious, so anxious that he sweat blood. (Vs 44) Now, I know He was going to the cross, something too hard to even begin to imagine (it makes our troubles seem like nothing) but if Jesus had a momentary lapse of faith, then how much more are you and I going to?


He addressed His concern to the Father. It says an angel ‘strengthened’ Him (vs 43) then He went on to pray some more. 
I think we all beat ourselves up if we doubt or get concerned or ask “why” questions. Don’t, it’s part of human life and we are indeed human. I am not perfect and neither are you. 
I love what Jesus says in full in vs 42 “…yet not my will, but Yours be done.”
Let’s get to that place of saying “okay God, I trust You, let Your will be done in my life.”

If you have concerns or questions, address them to the Father – just like Jesus Himself did. Get into His presence, because it is there He will surely help and encourage you. It is there you will find His peace. It is there in times of uncertainty, that you will receive strength. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd May 2020

In the last few weeks, we have been teaching our son to ride his bike without stabilisers.  I say ‘we’ but it’s been mainly my husband, a keen cyclist; whilst I look on and cheer.  I must say, sometimes it has not been easy to watch – especially when Zachary’s fallen off and he cries, but my husband assures me that he’s looking out for him and a few grazes on his knee are part of the learning process.  Soon he’ll be skilled and will enjoy cycling more. 

It reminds me of how we are experiencing this new season, a season that is filled with uncertainty. I’m sure I speak for most when I say our lives have taken a complete turn in the last few weeks because of this pandemic and it seems like our stabilizers have been taken away from us.  Simple things we used to take for granted like going to the supermarket, visiting friends and family, going to work, college, school or church have suddenly changed.  The routines we had and things that perhaps made us who we are, are no longer relevant.  Some are in a place of constant worry; what is tomorrow going to bring?  Is my job or source of income going to be secure? When is life going to get back to ‘normal’ again?  We all have asked ourselves at least one of those questions at some point in recent weeks.

I am reminded of what we have a loving Father in Heaven, who’s always got our back.  Like Zachary, we may lose our balance a few times, fall and even cry, but one thing he knows is that “daddy is right behind me and he will catch me when I fall.”

God promises us this in the following verses 

Isaiah 41:10 “I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Deuteronomy 31: 6 “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 or forsake you.”

Even after several falls, our son will be able to balance on his own and cycle independently.  That is how we will also come out of this season.  When we balance our lives but adding Faith and Trust in God through a relationship with Him, the process becomes bearable.  It will become a season of great strength and we will come out of it stronger and bolder than we have ever been. 

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st May 2020

Without a doubt, Corona has swept in and totally interrupted all of our lives to some degree. It has cut in and shut down our usual routines and systems. Interruption can really shake us. At the very least it can be uncomfortable. It contradicts our usual flow, order and natural need for control.

Sometimes, and I would dare to say, often times, the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate on what is convenient to us. Yes He works within our schedules, but often He interrupts them. Are we open to such interruptions?

Many of us hunger for God to break through in our lives, many of us desire to be ‘used’ by God, and yet we are so determined to get through our daily schedule and personal agenda no matter what! We pack our calendars so full that we leave little room for interruption from God. We get to the end of the day and wonder why we haven’t heard from God, or been aware of what He is saying or doing. Could it be because we aren’t living open to interruption? We are so focused on our to-do list that we haven’t been aware of God’s gentle prompts and opportunities.

Do we see the interruptions of God in our day as an inconvenience, rather than an invitation?

Perhaps we encounter someone with a need, and we process our encounter with them as a delay to our day rather than recognising that we were just given an opportunity to allow God to work through us.

If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, he was often on his way somewhere and about his plans for the day when he was then ‘delayed’ by someone in need. What was Jesus’ response? Well, he saw the delay as an opportunity to partner with God and then perform a miracle. Interruptions are often the avenues for miracles. The disciples many a time watched people interrupting their planned agenda for the day and rather than Jesus rushing them away, he stopped and engaged with the opportunity to partner with God. Jesus recognised ‘delays’ as the very purpose for which they were there.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to-do lists. I love order. I love productivity plans and fulfilled schedules. And I still think those things have a place, BUT let us be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the day, and let us be flexible to where and when God may interrupt our day-to-day comings and goings. Let us be Spirit driven, not agenda driven people. God is always inviting us into a partnership with Him.

Often we imagine God will fantastically and supernaturally lead us to a person in need, but if you look at the life of Jesus, often, it was simply Jesus and his disciples going about their very normal day and then having very normal interruptions where a need would then present itself and Jesus would step in as the solution.

As Jesus followed the gentle nudgings of God, he would be ready to minister according to the need that arose. When a need pops up in our lives, we don’t need a booming audible voice of God to tell us to do something. As people of God, walking with the Spirit, we recognise a need, and we get to be a solution to the problem.

We get to be inconveniently interrupted, and we are open to that. We get to put aside our agenda for a moment and do the work of God.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th May 2020

Your heart is possibly the most important thing about you! I’m not talking about the organ beating inside your chest, I’m talking about the heart as your centre of hidden emotional-intellectual-moral activity.

Your heart plans, makes commitments, desires and decides. It is your inner forum where decisions are made after deliberation. It is where a person engages in self-talk.

The Bible says that while people focus on outward appearance, God is searching our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10).

Our words create our world, and our words echo what’s going on in our heart. It all starts with the heart.

PROTECT IT against bitterness, GUARD IT against attitudes, CHECK IT against the Bible, EDUCATE IT by filling it with God’s word (Proverbs 22:17-18), and OPEN IT to what is good!

Fight for a healthy heart. ‘Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life’ (Proverbs 4:23).

Before we start trying to make modifications to our life from the outside, let’s start with the inside. Let’s start with the condition of our heart.

Consider, what does our inner world look like? Our outer world manifests what started in our inner world. A healthy heart springs out to a healthy life.

I wonder what our lives would be like if we invested as much time on our heart as we did outward appearance. Studies show that on average we spend about 30 minutes a day getting ready. 30 minutes, ensuring we look outwardly presentable. Imagine if we took just half that time, each day, to examine our hearts and inner world? Our outer world would truly be transformed! The Bible speaks many times about self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28-32, 2 Corinthians 13:5, James 1:23-25, Lamentations 3:40).

Busy lives often keep us from facing the issues of our heart and inner world. As many of us are now in self-isolation, with perhaps some extra time on our hands, let’s use this season to process and consider the rooms of our heart. Many of you have been re-decorating, clearing out lofts, and cupboards lately. Maybe it is time to do a bit of that kind of work on our heart, and consequently – life. What needs to go? What needs to be re-built? What needs to have a break? What needs to grow? Once you have identified it, put in some practical steps to see it happen. It is time to work on some private matters, so when we go public, we are better than ever!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th May 2020

One of my favourite quotes is by Friedrich Nietzsche who said “He whose life has a why, can bear almost any how!”

Basically when there is a purpose behind the pain you are going through, it’s bearable. The pain of child birth is made bearable by a baby, the pain of studying is made bearable by passing those exams. 

But the opposite is also true, when your suffering has no purpose, it’s unbearable! Such as illness or loss of a loved one. In this current season where there seems to be so much fear and suffering, it can feel like ‘what possible ‘why’ can there be for this loss?’ and it may be unbearable.

The key is to (by faith) attach purpose to whatever it is we’re suffering. The story of how Doubting Thomas got his name can help. 

Imagine how confusing and disheartening it was for Thomas when first Jesus dies but then reappears to the other 11 without him there. Thomas must have felt, ‘this is Jesus? He knows all things, he knew I wouldn’t be there, couldn’t he have come two hours later when I was back?’ ‘I don’t understand, I’m hurting so I refuse to believe!’

Then when he finally sees Jesus, he worships him to which Jesus replies:
John 20:29 “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We aren’t called to understand, we’re called to believe.

It’s difficult, I know, but when you’re in pain and confused, when you feel like everyone’s at the party except you, and it’s impossible to see how this loss could ever be worked for the good, stop and say to yourself, ‘hang on! This is an opportunity to believe without seeing!’ ‘I don’t understand, but this is an opportunity to be ‘really blessed!’

In this strange season we find ourselves in, remember: ‘he whose life has a ‘why’, can bear almost any ‘how’!’ Let’s always, no matter how things look, remember Jesus Christ is our why, and no one who puts their hope in him will be disappointed. We’ll never know all the answers, we just need to keep believing in the reason and put our hope in Him! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2020


It was a defining moment when Joshua said to Israel, ‘…choose for yourselves …as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24v15)

First, in our lives, defining moments usually come as a surprise and happen during a time of crisis. The crisis that we are facing right now is likely to be one of them. There will be other times too, like times of personal failure, taking an unpopular stand, suffering without complaining, being asked to forgive or making a hard choice. Sometimes, defining moments occur when we don’t see them for what they are. It’s only afterwards, as we look back, that we understand their importance. Either way, they define who we are.

Secondly, defining moments show others who we are. During these times we will let go of any pretence and let our guard down, revealing the real me. Our image means nothing, neither does our connections, or any type of spin that we put on something to make us appear better than we really are. Whatever is truly going on inside us is revealed to everyone. If you’re a leader, defining moments tell the people following you who you really are, what you stand for, and why you’re leading.

Thirdly, defining moments determine who we will become. You’ll never be the same person after a defining moment. That’s because defining moments aren’t normal or usual, and what is normal doesn’t work in these times. Defining moments are like a crossroads in our lives, they give us the opportunity to turn, change direction, and seek a new destination. They present options and opportunities. In these moments, we must choose. The choice we make will define us.

Be careful in these unusual and uncertain times that you make the right choices — they will define your life either for the better or for the worse.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2020

God is for community, He is for being together. God never designed us to be alone. In the book of Genesis, right at the start of the Bible, He declares over Adam “it is not good for man to be alone” (Chapter 2 vs 18). He is a God who designed community. A Community of people who together, though we may be different, are all important to each other. 

Romans 12 vs 4 & 5 says “for just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members don’t all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though we are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

You see, I’m better with two feet and both of my ears and my arms and so in the same way, we as the body of Christ, you and I, are better together. 

Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking that you are better alone, you’re not. The Church is God’s idea, we are His bride, He is passionate about us. 

Why is it good to be in a great Church Community? Here’s a few reasons…

Galatians 6 vs 2 says “carry each other’s burdens and by doing so, you will FULFIL the law of Christ.” We need to be there for each other, in good times and bad. You may not have natural family relationships that are good or strong, or they may not be there at all, but when you have a Church family, they are your community who will love and care for you…we love and care for each other.

 
Psalm 133 v 1 says “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.” It’s GOOD to be together. It does something for you in your heart and spirit. It builds you up and helps you to become the person God created you to be. If that wasn’t so, it wouldn’t be so clear in the Word of God. 

Matthew 18 vs 2  says “For where two or three are gathered in MY name, there I AM in the midst “This is a clear indication, that when you are together, God is there! And where God’s presence is, then His power is there also…and then, take note…anything is possible!

So in this time of forced ‘isolation’, do everything YOU CAN to get into a online Church community – -a support network of God’s Church. 

Join in Life groups & prayer meetings and online Bible Studies & Sunday services …and soon we will be back together ‘in the flesh’ and the community of God’s Church will have been strengthened in the process and we will come out better for it. 

LIFE IS BETTER TOGETHER.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th May 2020

One lesson I believe we can all learn from this unprecedented time of ‘lock down’ is that we are (or at least should be) our ‘brothers keeper!’


We live in a very independent society that struggles to give up individual liberty for the sake of others. There is a very common secular train of thought that goes ‘you can do anything you want as long as you don’t harm others ’ but this current pandemic has, by enforcing social distancing, made all of us act on behalf of others, to take a certain responsibility for ‘your brother’, so to say. 
I am talking about the government’s message ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives!’ but actually I want to encourage all of you who follow Jesus to continue in your hearts and attitudes to be your brother’s and sister‘a keepers! To stand in the gap, and be prepared to take responsibility for others not just for yourself.


In Genesis 4, God enquires of Cain ‘where is your brother Abel?’ Cain having recently killed his brother out of jealousy responds with the words ‘I don’t know! Am I my brother’s keeper?’ 

Cain’s words have come to symbolize people’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellow human beings. The story of the Gospel is that Jesus took responsibility for ‘his brothers’ shortcomings (that’s all of ours) so that we can live in the wide open spaces of God’s goodness. But this is on the condition that we too are prepared to extend that grace to our fellow brothers and sisters, that we would in some way take on responsibility for them.


One of the easiest ways to duck this responsibility and exclaim in a loud voice ‘’am I my brother’s keeper!?’ is criticism. We live in a very critical culture where rather than take any responsibility or ownership for issues, criticism places the responsibility for them firmly on the shoulders of anyone else. Criticism is the opposite of taking responsibility, the opposite of being your brother’s keeper!


This is why Jesus taught ‘behaviours of grace’ like, ‘turn the other cheek’ ‘Go the extra mile’ and ‘love your enemies.’ He taught these at length not for the sake of our enemies but to help us to break the learned pattern of behaviour of always looking out for our own personal justices and freedoms, but instead to allow God’s ultimate justice and freedom to reign and bring peace into our lives. 
I encourage you, take responsibility today, don’t judge, look for ways to love and look out for your fellow brothers and sisters! 

Galatians 5:13-14 | NIV You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th May 2020

Continuing with our verse-by-verse study of Psalm 23, today we reach the last verse of this chapter.

Quick recap; David expresses in verse 1 how he knows the Lord to be his personal shepherd and because of that he is looked after. He understood that the Lord would lead him to what he needed and provided ultimate peace for the soul (Verse 2 & 3).

In verse 4, David explains how through the mountain-tops and valleys, the shepherd (God) leads him through both. Because of this, he does not need to fear. There is covering and protection in staying close and following the lead of the shepherd. This includes correction.

Verse 5 – even in the midst of struggles, the goodness of God stands. Joy, refreshment, provision, and gladness is still available throughout trials and it is important to remember this as we walk through the dark times.

Let’s finish with verse 6 – ‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’.

Mercy represents steadfast love. The goodness of God and His love follows us. We follow the shepherd, goodness and love follows us! Some of us are searching for goodness and love, and all we need to do is follow God, and those things will then follow us!

As long as we are seated at the table, our cups are always overflowing… God is always our provider…David had the expectation that this was for him ALL THE DAYS of his life. Not just in some seasons, But ALL the days of His life. God does not have a limit on His love and goodness.

‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ – house of the Lord, means ‘presence of the Lord’. As we LIVE and abide in the presence of our Lord, all the days of our life, blessing follows and it doesn’t end. It starts here and now on Earth and follows us into Heaven!

In reflecting on the beauty of this chapter, I hope that you can read it in a whole new light. There really is no other way to do life than walking with our shepherd, Jesus. Regardless of the highs and lows that we walk through, there is blessing, protecting, provision and covering in staying close to Him, and being seated at his table.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th May 2020

A group of businessmen went to a remote mountain retreat for a weekend of leadership training. Expecting graphs, statistics and pep talks, they were completely surprised when their boss, Mr Clarkson, asked them to trade their laptops for spades. “I want you to dig a ditch one meter wide and half a meter deep around the perimeter of my cabin”, he said. And with those words, he disappeared inside it.

At first, nobody said anything. But soon their silence turned into questioning. Then they started arguing about the exacting measurement which they felt didn’t really matter too much. They complained about having risen to the top of the corporate ladder, only to be forced to do manual labour.

Finally, John turned to the others in the group and said, “who cares why he told us to do it – let’s just do it and let’s do it with a good attitude. With those words, the cabin door flew open and the boss reappeared. “Gentlemen”, he said, as he grabbed John’s hand, “I’d like you to meet your new vice-president.”

There are three things that we can learn from this story today:

1-When God doesn’t explain something fully, it’s because you don’t need the details.


2-When God doesn’t speak, it’s because He’s watching, waiting and working things out.


3-When He tests you on one level, it’s because He’s getting ready to take you to the next.

So don’t question what He’s doing today…just obey Him!

Deuteronomy 8:2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th May 2020

Are you fearful? Anxious? Worried? It’s possible that during the past several weeks, these emotions have played a role in your life.
Maybe you’re worried about finance, anxious about your safety, fearful of what the future holds for you and your family.


Today I want to turn your attention to what I believe is an antidote to your anxiety, and that is, going for a walk. Now hear me out…this is far more than a ‘the fresh air will do you good’ kind of encouragement. I actually believe that peace and assurance can be found in you simply stepping outside and making the following observation.


When Jesus addressed the subject of worry, in the space of just ten Bible verses, He used the words ‘do not worry’ three times. (That’s a high level of emphasis!). But not only was that His instruction, He then gave us an exercise.
He said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.“ He then turns our attention to another part of nature. “See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon (the richest man to ever live) in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.”


Then He poses a rhetorical question, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” The answer to that is yes friend, you are far more valuable to God than the birds and the flowers.


So what is Jesus getting at? The next time you start to feel fearful, anxious or worried, or even before those emotions try to work their way in, go for a walk. And while you’re on that walk, observe the birds and the flowers. Notice how the birds’ every need (who doesn’t have a savings account) is met. Notice how the flowers, who’ve never passed exams or held down a job look so incredibly stunning. And then ask yourself this: ‘If that is how God looks after them, despite them not being as valuable to Him as I, how much more will He look after me, who is of far greater value to Him?’


Today, allow fear, worry and anxiety to lose their grip over your life as you understand that what God creates, He takes care of.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2020

Over the past few weeks our dear friend, Thembinkosi has been in Intensive Care with Covid-19. Sadly, he passed away last night (9thMay). Over the time he was fighting the virus, we prayed relentlessly for him. We all had such faith that he would get up off that hospital bed and yet again share another testimony about the goodness of God. 

Thembinkosi was a husband. He was a father to two boys, Timothy (15), and Titus (12). And he was a friend to many. He was always full of hope, a joyful smile and a word of encouragement. He loved God with all his heart and soul. He was the kind of person that touched your heart and stirred your faith. 

When we got word that this mighty man of faith had passed away, we were all heartbroken. God was meant to heal this man of God. It’s a massive blow. 

Right now it is easy to think, ‘God failed us’, but I don’t think He has. Ultimately, death has not won. Death has been destroyed. This is why God sent His son. Thembinkosi is now healed and has now entered into eternal life. He is in heaven (soon to be joined by us). 

God hasn’t let us down. He made a way. Sometimes He makes a way in this life, on earth. Sometimes, He makes the way in Heaven. 

We prayed with everything we had and the healing didn’t happen. The testimony we imagined didn’t happen, and we don’t know why. But we cannot afford to question the goodness of God in this moment. The nature of God is not defined by our circumstance. Remember, if we understood God completely, we would be as big as God. We have to learn to live with the mystery and the “WHY?”. I believe that God will honour the faith we had for Thembinkosi’s healing. 

Yes, not having him hurts, but can you imagine how much he is loving Heaven right now? He would be in his element, fist pumping in praise! 

In the end, we did get a testimony from Thembinkosi. His life was the powerful testimony. He lived surrendered to God. He held a posture of humility and gratitude. He knew what this life was really all about – eternity. 

I’m reminded yet again of how fleeting and brief life is for us all, in comparison to the weight of eternity. REALITY CHECK: Life is not about life. It is about where we are heading. Life is just the practice, the dress rehearsal, the entrée. The real game, the real show, the main meal, is Heaven. 

Just like Thembinkosi, we must live this life with our whole hearts, with joy, with unbridled passion, with deep gratitude, honouring and encouraging others at any opportunity we get. Let’s live light, free from offence and pettiness, because eternity is what really counts. 

As Thembinkosi would have it, let’s process his death through the lenses of eternity, knowing full well he is home with Jesus and we will meet again. 

We’re in this grief together. That is the beauty of being in community. Let’s live in light of eternity, and do everything we can to support his wife, Queen and their boys in the meantime. 

‘A Go Fund Me’ page has been created in honour of Thembinkosi, and in support of his family. We would love them to be financially covered and blessed during this challenging time. Please find the link here

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2020

God’s timing is perfect! He is never late, nor early. We operate in time, God doesn’t.  Whenever I have been impatient about something happening, I always look back after the event and think “wow, God was spot on!”  Of course He was, He’s God. 

In Mark chapter 5 we read about a man called Jairus who came to Jesus because his daughter was sick and I mean, very sick. He pleaded with Jesus to go with him… in verse 24 it says that Jesus did.
However, en route, Jesus is distracted by a desperate woman who has been ill for 12 years. Her situation was hopeless and she was helpless.  Let me stop right there and tell you that Jesus is attracted to helpless & hopeless situations! So He heals the woman…awesome.  But then is late for the little girl and when He gets there, she is already dead. Was Jesus late, or was He right on time?


In our thoughts and thinking, He was late but to God, absolutely not. 
You see, Jesus can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it and with whoever He wants to do it with.  

So my friend, never question the timing of God. Just trust. 

It says that people were wailing and crying and telling Him He was too late (vs 40). It also says that “Jesus put them out!”   He wanted no unbelievers around when there was a miracle to do.  

Today, be a person of trust. Be a person of faith.   And when you are tempted to think God has got His timing wrong, be reminded of this account and listen to the words of Jesus (in verse 36) to those who were worried and afraid “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

God has never got it wrong yet and He never will.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th May 2020

Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, a day where we celebrate Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender and the end of World War 2. It marks the end of a period of fear and hardship for many families who had been living under the constant threat of death, and a day of hope, that news of the illness or death of loved ones would finally cease.


Today again, in the middle of a different battle, we hope to hear news that a cure for the Coronavirus has been found, so our lives can go back to normal, as we’re tired of living under the fear of losing loved ones, and hardship for many families who have lost their livelihoods once again.


The fear of pain, or loss, or death is not something you can run away from, but rather something, with God’s help, you can overcome. Living a life afraid of what might happen is not living.


In the first ten verses of the book of Ruth in The Bible, we read a tragic story of a married couple and their two kids whose story starts in a famine. Faced with severe lack and hardship, they make the brave decision to relocate their family in order to find food and shelter somewhere else.
The man’s decision to move his family from everything and everyone they knew and loved was an attempt to run away from what he saw as certain death. An attempt to run away from everything that caused him sleepless nights and made him afraid of losing his livelihood and his family. Unfortunately, when they arrive at their destination, the man dies, and never gets to enjoy the good things he had anticipated.
His running away in fear, and arrival in a different place alone was not enough to sustain him. That’s not to say that if they had stayed, he would have survived, but he defined his life not by the abundance or lack he was experiencing, but by fear.

The body’s response to fear is to produce adrenaline, which helps you to react much quicker, to run faster, and to fight harder than you could have done. All of which are reactions to help us during this time in our lives.

In Matthew 19:26, Jesus reassured us that whatever may seem impossible with men is possible with God. Ask God to help you overcome and turn your fears to your advantage until you have your victory day.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th May 2020

‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.’

In continuing with our mini-study on Psalm 23, we are going to look at verse 5 today. 

When David speaks of a ‘table’, this represents food, feasting, blessing and provision. 

David, in the valley, envisioned that rich table before him. He knew God as his provider even in the darkest of valleys. 

It is so important for us as we walk through the valley, to have a vision, and rehearse the promises of God for our life. 

‘In the presence of my enemies’ – God isn’t there just when the enemies are gone, when the conflict is over, or when the virus is over. God is providing for you and wants you to enjoy His goodness IN THE MIDST of trouble, hardship, trials and ‘your enemies’. 

God’s goodness doesn’t mean the absence of enemies, in means IN the presence of enemies God’s blessings are manifest!

Are we able to enjoy the goodness of God NOW? Or are we waiting for everything to be perfect? 

‘You PREPARE a table’  – Preparation speaks of thought, effort, care, a going before us. God goes before us in provision and fulfilled promises, as we walk through the valley. 

‘You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over’ – In the east, people frequently anointed their visitors with oil or perfume and gave them a cup of choice wine, which would constantly be filled ‘until it ran over’. The overfilled cup showed that as long as they would abide in the presence of their host, they had an abundance of everything. This beautifully links with Verse 1 of Psalm 23 where David says, ‘I lack nothing’. As long as we are in the presence of our shepherd, all our needs are met, plus more. 

The anointing of oil was to show love and respect, and was also used as refreshment. Oil is symbolic of gladness. Even in the valley, you are anointed with gladness, you are refreshed, and loved! 

Oil is also used to protect. I recently discovered that shepherds actually use oil on a sheep’s head to protect them from a certain type of fly that can go through the sheep’s eye and into their brain!

What a powerful picture of how the oil of God covers our minds from those thoughts that attempt to take ground!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th May 2020

Recently I have been taking you on a mini-study of Psalm 23. So far, we have done a verse-by-verse break down of the following:

‘The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…’

If you have missed any of the studies, please feel free to go back and read them!

Today we will be focusing on the second half of verse 4,

‘your rod and your staff, they comfort me’.

The rod and the staff were tools of a shepherd.

The rod was a tool for protection, to defend the sheep from potential predators.

The staff was a tool for correction, gently pulling any straying sheep back into line and into the right direction.

When we submit to the leading of the shepherd, we come under his rod and staff, which offer us protection from predators, and correction.

We should welcome the correction of God into our lives. His staff is what keeps us from wandering off into danger zones, and his rod protects us from predators. They lead us to the green pastures that we want.

So why does David talk about the correction of the shepherd here, in the valley? Well, perhaps it is because it is the in the dark times that we can be most open to compromising – it is when we start questioning our shepherd.

When you are a child, your parents correct you when you misbehave, or ‘behave out of line’. Parents do this because the child’s misbehaviour is not in line with the values of the parents or what the family represents. It is loving, protecting, and a source of security for the child to be disciplined.

For example, ‘We the Smith family do not throw tantrums at the table, so we are correcting you so you come into line with what we as a family are about!’

Likewise, when we step out of line as children of God, there is security in knowing that God, by His Holy Spirit, pulls us back saying, ‘hey, as children of God, we do not behave like that. I love you enough to correct you. My correction will get you to where you want to go.’

In the valleys of life, welcome the boundaries and corrective rod of God. They will protect you. When you feel the Holy Spirit say, ‘hmmm that’s not what my son/daughter does’, take that as a reminder of who you really are.

There is protection in the correction!

As David said, His correction actually COMFORTS you. It gives you security because you know He cares enough about you to correct you.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th May 2020

One of the great mysteries of the universe concerns the much loved, or hated Avocado. Yes, before you ask, it’s a fruit — or more technically a single seeded berry! The avocado contains more potassium than a banana and is one of very few fruits that contain totally digestible protein – 4 grams per avocado.

Need to ripen your avocado? Sit it in your fruit bowl with apples and bananas – hey presto.

Now for the mystery…how to keep it from turning black once it’s been cut?

There are so many theories out there, some of which work, but my only point today is to mention that the ‘stone’ or seed inside is what actually keeps it fresh.

At the very heart of this amazing fruit is a large throwaway, dull-looking seed that once removed will ensure that your avocado goes black within minutes.

This led me to think about what is going on inside of you today.

Jesus said that your heart is the determining factor for whether you live a good or bad life.

Luke 6:43-45 ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’

Keeping your heart pure and clean is one of the greatest ways of living a blessed and productive life.

If you store up bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart then it will eventually destroy your life.

If your daily focus is only on bad things then your life will suffer.

If you are consumed with watching pornography you will end up a very unhappy person with no ability to form proper healthy relationships, let alone be satisfied within marriage.

Your heart needs to be taken care of both physically and spiritually for you to remain in good health.

If you find yourself in outbursts of anger and fits of rage then it will be a sign that you need to deal with the issues deep inside your heart.

Today, don’t fool yourself in the same way that you try to fool others into thinking that you’re good when actually you know that you’re bad on the inside.

Confess your faults and turn from your sins.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to keep you pure and fresh, lest you become like the humble avocado that’s turning black because its heart has been removed.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th May 2020

How’s your fear factor today?

Do you find like myself, that if fear is going to attack, it will usually be in the middle of the night?

Fear is very crafty, in that it knocks on your door when you are most vulnerable. When all alone and in the dark is when it will normally raise its ugly head.

It is especially true right now that many are reporting that the fear of catching the coronavirus is terrifying them. Maybe that’s exactly what is happening with you. At times, fear is nothing to be afraid of as it masquerades in the form of a lie that something is terribly wrong, when in reality there is nothing wrong. However, there are times like now that fear is simply pointing to something that really does exist and really is of great concern to everyone all over the world, yet its strategy is to bring you down to your lowest level and bind you with sheer panic and terror.

Whatever guise your fear may come in today, be sure of this one rock solid thing — God has got you covered!

There is nothing quite like the power of speaking out and repeating the verses and chewing on the Bible — this helps to stay focused in faith and overcome the fear that we all may face right now.

Why not join me today in starting the day with some incredible yet simple confessions from the Bible that will change the fear factor? Be warned, nothing may change in the outside world, but what will change is what’s going on in your inside world. Remember, your biggest enemy is often your inner-me.

The Bible records the words ‘fear not’ 365 times —that’s one for every day of the year. Have you ever stopped to ask why God continually has to remind us to fear not? Is it not because we fear so much?

Whatever it may be, here are just a few verses that will encourage us all to stay strong today. Here we go…lets do this together:

Psalm 91:1-7 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Psalm 118:6-7 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 20:4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’

Deuteronomy 31:6 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.’

Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’

2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

DO NOT FEAR!

Let’s each take these verses with us throughout the day.

We stand together — in Jesus’ name.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd May 2020

Easter wasn’t too long ago.  The two days that are most remembered are Good Friday, the day that Jesus died and Easter Sunday, the day that He rose. 
But what about the day in between?  What about the Saturday?

The Saturday would have been very quiet. People who knew and loved Jesus would have been mourning, maybe even fearful, wondering what on earth just happened? 

Before He died, He promised them that He would rise again on the third day. They had to cling to that promise, maybe some of them did, maybe some didn’t.  

Saturday is the day between the fear and the promise and that requires FAITH. 

I believe we are experiencing a ‘Saturday’ right now.  In between what has happened that has caused people to fear and what we are hoping and believing for.  

We can’t afford to keep looking back and around in fear, we have to believe the promises of God and be in a position of faith.  
If Good Friday had been a stand-alone day, it would have been the worst day in history… but it wasn’t, it was quickly followed by Sunday, which made those two days, the greatest days in history. 
If we only think Friday, fear, Friday, fear, we are missing out on living by faith which will lead to the promise. 

Yes, something may have happened that you’re not sure about, or you don’t understand and it may seem like “where has God gone?”

What do you think the disciples were thinking about on Good Friday? The one they knew and loved had gone!

Maybe some of you are in fear over health or finances or family. God wants you to be in a place of FAITH.  

Don’t let your home be a place of fear right now, instead be a cultivator of faith. 

Cling onto the promises of God that say 

“I will never leave you or forsake you”

“Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”

“God works all things out together for good, to those He loves and are called according to His purpose”

My friend, it may be Saturday right now, but Sunday is coming!

“Saturday was silent, surely it was tough  

But since when has the impossible, ever stopped You?”

God wants you to know Sunday is coming. 

You’re in that waiting time for the miracle… 

They may not have been certain about the Resurrection, but Jesus promised them and He always keeps His promises.  

 If God has promised you something… it will surely come to pass. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st May 2020

More than ever today, prayer should be seen as huge privilege—a privilege God has freely given to us because He wants to spend time with us. Here is the truth about prayer…God wants to hear from you! 
Now of course, prayer by its very nature often carries with it a burden; if you are praying for someone that is fighting off the coronavirus, you will have a burden for them that is driving you to your knees. However, prayer should not be a burden but more so a privilege. 

Jesus died to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God, and when we surrender our lives to God we have a personal relationship with Him. In fact, we only have access to God through prayer because of what Jesus did for us in His death and resurrection. He opened the way for us once and for all to come freely to Him. 

Central to any relationship is communication. Whether it’s a father that never talks to his children, or a married couple that never speak to each other, it’s a recipe for a relationship breakdown. The reality is that a father will always be related to his son or daughter and vice versa, but the question is will you be in relationship with them and they with you?


At a far greater spiritual level, our relationship with God involves communication; not just a brief hello, but a much deeper level of sharing our cares, concerns and requests with Him. Prayer is a daily, ongoing, and developing walk with God. 
To put it simplistically, prayer is talking with and listening to God – it’s a two way street just like any other relationship. 

God could of course simply do everything on His own. He could make every problem go away, sort all your burdens out, and then just shower you with everything you need exactly at the time you need it…so why doesn’t He? Because that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a completely one-sided acquaintance. All that we would need to do is give Him a nod to acknowledge His existence each morning and then leave the rest to Him. 

God has given us the privilege of prayer so that we will have a moment by moment friendship and relationship with Him that is deeper than any human relationship we could ever have. When we understand that, every human relationship goes to a whole new level too. 

There are some things that my children have asked me for over the years that I haven’t been able to supply — I’m limited and flawed as a father. But then there are times when I’ve sorted things straight away, because it’s within my means and power to do so. Often my phone will ring and the voice on the other end is saying, “Dad…can you…?” The truth is that any Dad LOVES to be asked for things, or asked to do things by his children. It’s what makes the relationship work. Then there are times that I will ask things of my children (usually internet related) and they are happy to help. Once again it makes for great relationships. 

At other times, maybe I will need to talk to them about something or give them advice or encouragement —and so it is with God. He wants you to not only communicate with Him as a child to a father, but He also wants to communicate with you. 

Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer by His own example…
Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 

Today, I encourage you to engage with God in the privilege of prayer. 


Did you charge your phone today? Of course you did! You remembered to do it because it was important and you needed it to get you through the day. 

Did you pray today? Are you praying throughout today? You have, and you will, when you come to the understanding that you need a spiritual re-charge not only at the start of my day but throughout everyday as day to day life drains me. 

Be a person of prayer. Be a person that’s plugged into the power of God. 

1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th April 2020

Do you ever find your mind drifting back to situations that have already happened? Mine does. I’ll be doing something mundane and find my mind replaying old memories. Sometimes, they’ll be situations that I wished had ended differently. Things that were difficult or that have made me sad.

When something like that happened to me this week, I found myself thinking of a person who was no longer in my world and asking God, ‘why?’ And as I carried on with my mundane task – my skincare routine, if you’re curious – I felt the Holy Spirit whisper something to me: “If I have removed something, I will bring restoration.”

I stopped in my tracks. I feel like although that thought is not particularly new, it was profound for that moment.

  2 Corinthians 10:5 says, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’

Thinking over negative situations over and over is actually called ‘ruminating’ and research shows that it can have a negative impact on us – which is no surprise. That is not God’s desire for us.

That verse in Corinthians teaches us how to break that cycle. God wants us to be free and when we release those struggles to Him and bring our thoughts in line with His word, not only do we experience the peace that God has for us but we learn more of His nature.

Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to negativity at the moment. You can choose how much of it you consume. If you find yourself stuck in that cycle, I pray that as you capture your thoughts, you’ll experience breakthrough today.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th April 2020

I have been taking you through a study of Psalm 23. Last week we looked at verses one and two, yesterday verse 3. Today we are looking at the first part of verse 4. There is a lot in verse 4 so we will save the second half for next week. 

Let’s take a look… 

‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.’

Here the psalm suddenly starts to get dark. It has been all green pastures and still waters up until now. This is a picture of the journey of life – it’s not always mountaintops, life includes dark valleys. The question is: are we following the shepherd (God) in both? 

Unlike green pastures, a valley is hedged in. You feel surrounded. How maybe some of you are feeling now. 

BUT…notice that David says, we WALK THROUGH the valley. We don’t camp in the valley. We walk through it and out of it with our eyes on our shepherd. 

‘Shadow of death’ – It isn’t necessarily death itself we are walking through; it is just the shadow of death. Death is now just a shadow, it lacks substance. It has lost its power through Jesus. A shadow of a dog cannot bite, a shadow of a sword cannot kill, and a shadow of death cannot destroy. 

‘I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ – as long as you are aware that your shepherd is with you, and you are walking in His presence, this knowledge should eliminate fear from your life. 

I recently went on a walk with a dog and its owner. I love dogs, so I was watching this dog’s behaviour very closely. As the master and the dog were walking, every five seconds or so the dog would glance up at the face of the master – checking for direction or instruction. He would look forward, then back up at the master’s face, over and over. The dog was in tune with itsowner. Ready and waiting to do whatever he said. 

What a picture of how we are to walk with our shepherd. Walking closely, watching closely, in tune to His instruction and direction. He leads, we follow, and together we walk through both the mountain tops and the valleys.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2020

Last week, we unpacked verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 23. 

To briefly summarise, we learnt that God is metaphorically described as a shepherd many times in scripture. This is because he plays a similar role in our lives (if we allow Him to). He leads, guides, heals, tends and cares for us – His ‘sheep’. 

We learnt that when we understand the Lord as MY (personal) shepherd, we lack nothing because ALL our needs are met by Him. 

We read how it is the shepherd’s role to lead us to what we need and as we submit to this leadership, we find what we need and we find rest for our soul. 

Today we are focusing on verse 3: ‘He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness. For His name’s sake’.

Let’s focus on the word, ‘restores’. This word speaks of regaining something that was lost. 

It is in a place of rest (found by following the shepherd), that we regain what we lost. 

The shepherd leads in two ways – beside quiet waters, as we have read previously – so he leads me to rest, but he also leads me to ‘paths of righteousness’, which speaks of morals. The shepherd leads us to rest AND to right living! 

Many of us may feel exhausted, and depleted. Your soul drained. Perhaps it is worth considering if you have been leading yourself. Perhaps you have gone down a path that your shepherd isn’t leading you down. It is not a path of rest, because it is a path you have forged in your own self-effort. Perhaps it is time to submit to the leadership of a loving shepherd, so your soul can be restored, you can find rest, and be in right living! 

Remember, your shepherd knows what you need and where to get it! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2020

Clark’s Botanicals is a high end skin care cream which features in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications. It has made its creator, Francesco Clark, an incredibly successful multi millionaire businessman! 

He started to create the skin care products after a crippling spinal cord injury from a swimming pool diving accident had left him a paraplegic. With his spinal cord severed not only was he unable to ever walk again, but unable to sweat, causing severe skin issues. After working with his father, a doctor, to create a naturally formulated cream that finally cleared up his complaint, his mother and sister soon started to use the cream and the idea to start selling it online began. 

Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand verses in the Bible such as James 1:2 ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds’, as they more than suggest some kind of benefit in trials and hardship.


The very meaning of life to most people is all about avoiding negative situations, while trying to steer towards positive ones. The problem with this is that Jesus didn’t come so we could have an easy life, but a full life! 


I truly believe we would actually appreciate the trials of this life a lot more if only we embraced difficult circumstances and looked for the opportunities that come by them, rather fighting against them all the time.


During this time of isolation, life for all has changed us all, to the point whereby in a recent poll only 9% of people want their lives to return to normal! That tells us one thing for sure — this current crisis has helped us to press reset and there’s no going back. 

Whatever your struggle may be today, just like Francesco Clark, there is an opportunity if we change the way we think about the situation to actually make the most out of it. 
I do believe that history will record that some of the greatest and most meaningful changes will come out of one of the greatest challenges of our time. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 


Fix your eyes on Him today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2020

Have you ever thought about the word ‘reset’?
It applies to many different things in life and our homes even. For instance, if we have a power cut in our house, we have a digital clock on our oven that has to be reset. If some damaging spam virus thingy attaches itself to a computer or electronic device, it can affect that device negatively and often the way to deal with it, is to reset. Sometimes we are warned that our passwords on confidential documents or banking may get compromised and we have to reset. The most regular one and most annoying in our house is when the Wi-Fi connection drops and we have to reset things like the TV for instance.

Maybe, just maybe,  we are in a time right now where God wants to reset you? The word reset means to set again. It was once set, but due to something, it now needs to be re-set. 

Maybe, just maybe you’ve had a power cut, you’ve lost your connection with Almighty God, maybe you never had one in the first place. You need to take this time to be RE-SET.  

Maybe your life has gone a little bit crazy; maybe something that wasn’t good has attached itself to your life. Like bitterness or unforgiveness or sin? Maybe this time is a great time to RE-SET. 

Maybe, just maybe, you’ve lost strong connection with an Almighty God or maybe your signal is very low and unpredictable. Maybe it’s because the busyness of life crowded out your relationship, or ‘stuff’ took over and sucked the very life from your connection.
My friends, take this time to RE-SET your connection with God.

When we leave this current situation, (hopefully soon) we will have missed a fantastic opportunity if we come out of it the same way we went in. The best time to work on yourself is right now. The best time to RE-SET is right now. The best time to correct or improve or revive or develop your relationship with Almighty God is right now.
I hope that you are making every effort to come out of this time, renewed, strengthened and RE-SET ready for what the future holds. 

My clock may have been a few seconds or minutes out, it needed that power cut! My computer had become infected with all types of rubbish, it needed that wake up call! My wi-fi needed looking into, was it powerful enough to supply the demand we put on it? 

My friends, good things come out of difficult places. RE-SET!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th April 2020

A lock can be a very useful thing. We use them to protect what is precious to us, our homes and our possessions. It is designed to keep something in or keep something out, to prevent movement or access. However, a lock is not so good if you don’t have the key.

Fear is a lock, a very strong and powerful one.

Fear stops us in our tracks, we freeze. It prevents us from moving forward, it stops us from changing, keeps us in our comfort zone and sometimes keeps us where we do not want or need to be. Fear of the unknown or indeed fear of what we think we know. Fear of change; fear of sickness; fear of financial problems; fear of embarrassment or fear of rejection. 

Fear is a lock that holds us exactly where we are and that is not always where God wants us to be.

God knows how strong fear is in the human heart, that is why so many times in the Bible God says ‘Do not be afraid’.

Just one example is found in Luke’s Gospel.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.’ (Luke 1: 28 – 29)

‘Do not be afraid’, and not just because an angel has just appeared in her room! As a teenage girl she is being asked by God to not only bear the Son of God but also to accept the bitterness, rejection, shame, social stigma and being a family outcast that being an unmarried mother at that time would have brought. God knew that fear would stop Mary in her tracks. She could not take this on with fear in her heart.

So what are you afraid of right now? Facing your boss; sickness; financial ruin; death? What is fear preventing you from doing? Asking forgiveness; stepping out into something that God has called you to do; fulfilling a promise; breaking an addiction; asking Jesus to be the Lord and leader of your life?

If fear is a lock, then Jesus is the key.

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27).

Unlock fear with the peace of Jesus and step out into what God has for you. Hear what God says to us today ‘do not be afraid’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd April 2020

Yesterday I started a verse by verse break down of Psalm 23. Today we will unpack verse 2. 

V2: ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters’. 

‘He makes’ – A sheep doesn’t know what it needs. A good shepherd recognises when the sheep need a rest and makes them rest. 

Equally, sometimes we don’t know what we need, and God provides for us what we most need, when we need it. 

‘To lie down in green pastures’ – A good shepherd knows the best places for his sheep to get rest. God faithfully takes us there. 

Interestingly, sheep do not lie/rest unless all conditions are in place. Because they are timid, they won’t rest if they are afraid. Because they are social, they won’t rest if there is friction in the flock. They won’t rest if there are flies/parasites. They won’t lie if they are anxious about food or hungry. 

Similarly, our soul does not rest if we are afraid. Our soul is restless if there is friction in an area of our life. We don’t rest if there is a virus. We don’t rest if we are worried about our next meal, or finances. 

BUT when we know God as ‘my shepherd’ (see yesterday’s Fresh Hope!), we know that He deals with the fear, friction, flies and famine! 

A lot of our fear and worry issues come down to the question of, ‘do I know God as MY shepherd?’ 

‘He leads me beside quiet waters’ – As a shepherd does, he LEADS. The thing with all leadership though, is that you have to submit to leadership to be covered by it. You don’t come under the covering if you aren’t following the leader. There is protection in following the lead of the shepherd – more on this in another Fresh Hope! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd April 2020

I want to write a series of Fresh Hopes, breaking down Psalm 23. 

Today we will start with verse 1. 

‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing’. 

‘The Lord is my shepherd’ – this is the declaration. 

‘I lack nothing’ – this is the result of the declaration.  

Let’s take a look at the word, SHEPHERD. 

God is metaphorically described many times in scripture as being a shepherd, and we the sheep. 

Why? 

Well, In Israel, the job of a shepherd would have been one of the lowest jobs of the time. Consistent with Jesus being born in a manger, this is again a reminder to us, that while God is the almighty creator of the universe, He also stoops down low to care for us. 

A shepherd’s job included; feeding the flock, guiding them, governing them, defending them, handling them, healing them, tending to them and caring for them. David knew this because he himself was a shepherd! 

A shepherd actually lived WITH the sheep. 

Likewise, God isn’t far off. He is among us. He is up close and personal in our lives. God as our shepherd, provides for us, He governs and guides us, He defends us, He handles and heals us, He tends to us and cares for us. 

Notice the use of the word, ‘MY’ in verse 1. ‘MY SHEPHERD’ – David knew God in a personal sense. It was not, ‘The Lord is a shepherd, or ‘the shepherd’ or even ‘our shepherd’. It is ‘MY shepherd’. 

We too should understand God as our personal shepherd. 

Let’s look at us as the sheep. A sheep isn’t a wild animal. Sheep were purchased and owned. They were of great value and bought at a price. 

Likewise, we are like sheep, belonging to our shepherd, bought at a great price, valued, and dependant on our shepherd for survival. 

Finally, the second phrase of the first verse, ‘I lack nothing’ this implies that in light of God being my shepherd, I do not want. Every need is met. ALL my needs are supplied in God – my personal shepherd. 

Stay tuned for more unpacking of Psalm 23! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2020

There’s a story that I love in Matthew’s gospel, found in the New Testament of The Bible, where Jesus describes two types of people – one wise and the other one foolish.


The wise man had built his house on a rock, the foolish man had built his house on sand. One day a storm arose and beat against both houses; you guessed it, causing the house with its foundation on the rock to withstand the storm, and causing the house with its foundation on the sand to come crashing down.


I want us to notice how both houses experienced a storm. Neither one was exempt. And although neither were exempt, both were exposed.
You see, none of us will go through life without facing ‘storms.’ In fact, we’re all in one right now, and the structures of our lives are being tested. What a storm will do to us all is reveal our foundations. It will expose what our lives are being built on.


By telling this story, I guess Jesus was wanting to pose a question to us: ‘What is your life being built on?’ Is it being built on temporary things, is it being built on unstable foundations, or is it being built on something sure and solid?


My friend, that sure and solid foundation being spoken of here is Jesus. He is the rock on which you can build your life. He loves you, He is for you, and He wants to make Himself available to you today.


He doesn’t promise you a problem-free life. A life without difficulty, challenges or storms, but rather His message to you is, ‘if you’ll build your life on me, we can withstand the storms of life together, and more than that, we can thrive in this life together.’


Do you feel as though your life is shaking? Have you been building a life for yourself only to realise the foundation is all wrong? Jesus Christ is the Rock and let me assure you, you can put your trust in Him.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2020

As we come into week five of lockdown, and with the uncertainty looming as to what the future may look like, I encourage you today to stop looking in the same places for your supply.

 
Globally, we are all faced with the very same challenge, whilst at the same time we are all faced with very different challenges too. Each person, each household, each nation and each day can look very different to that of my neighbours. 

In the Old Testament (1 Kings 17) we have the story recorded of Elijah who was announcing to the nation that there would be a drought. A drought that no one knew when it would end. A drought that meant that the normal way of living would be very different in the weeks to come. It was a time of uncertainty for all. No one was exempt. It would take years to get back to normal.

 
For Elijah, as a believer in God, and an outstanding man of faith, he had to be determined to be flexible in his faith. In other words, he couldn’t just presume upon God to perform the same miracles of provision for him day after day. Each day and each season of his new normal would require him to be flexible. Not flexible in terms of wavering in his faith, but flexible in terms of understanding that God can provide in very different ways through very different means on any given day. 

How many of you are right now are worried because you only ever see your supply and your security coming from your employer, or from your same old customers, if you are in business?
When the famine kicked in, Elijah was led by God to go and drink from a brook. At that very same spot God would also deliver to him ‘meals on wings’ every night as ravens would drop by with fresh meat supplies! 

He may well have thought that this was the way it was going to be for the duration of the drought —not so. A short time later he was commanded to move on to an unfamiliar place from where he would get supplies from a poor widow – hardly encouraging when she had very little herself.


Are you doubting today that God can not only send you supply, but that He can also send you to where the supply is? Be careful that during this time that you are so rigid that you can’t see God doing anything different from what you’ve seen Him do before. Inflexibility in faith can break you. 

There is no normal with God. Everyday is a new normal. Don’t keep expecting God to turn up as He did last week or last year. He wants to open your eyes to see what He wants to do in and through today even though you’ve never seen it done this way before. 

The result of Elijah obeying God’s call to go to the widow for supplies, not only resulted in his provision, but in the never-ending provision for the widow and her son too. The little that she had never ran dry during the whole of the famine. 
Don’t keep trying to box God in today. He will break out and do something new today if you will simply listen to His voice and heed what He is telling you to do, after all, God specialises in things that are impossible. 
Trust Him today…He’ll not let you down. 

1 Kings 17:14-16 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.”’ She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2020

The next few lines are an excerpt from a ‘fresh hope’ that I wrote in 2014. Yes 2014…


I drove to the office this morning, much of the route is narrow roads and streets where you need to give way to oncoming traffic. On three separate occasions today, I pulled in to the side to let the oncoming car pass and on three occasions, neither driver acknowledged the fact, waved, smiled or said “thank you” through the glass. What is it with some people and their manners? It’s almost like it’s their right to drive on and yours to stop. I find myself getting annoyed with such people.

 Unfortunately, a lot of society is not about putting others first, it’s just about ME ME ME. We seem to have lost the art of being thankful and courteous and mindful of others. I find it when I go into a store and speak to the person behind the counter and ask them how they are? Some people look at me strangely, and others will say “you’re the first customer today that has asked me how I am.” Come on friends, I know we’re all busy, but let’s not lose sight of being helpful and courteous to others. Let’s change the culture that society is putting onto us and let’s swing that pendulum back to one of being friendly and thankful.”

As I write today…April 17th 2020…I believe a shift is happening. Due to the current situation, we have been taking daily walks and everyone I meet I speak to and they speak back in a very friendly manner. Whilst queuing at the supermarket, we are having friendly words with complete strangers.
As we come outside to clap for the NHS on a Thursday evening, we are speaking to neighbours, who we have never ever spoken to before. I read about people taking care packages to others in the church who are in need, I read about people raising money to support each other and good causes, I see people taking time for OTHERS and I love it. I read an article today that said only 9% of the UK public want to go back to normal. God is causing a shift to happen and it’s great. 

Let’s start a new normal, a better normal, a kinder normal and let God be glorified through it all 
Romans 12 v 10 “Be kindly affectionate towards one another, in honour give preference to one another.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th April 2020

In this unusual time of isolation, our routine can be lost and our minds can start to play tricks, paranoia can set in and we can start to wonder if anyone misses us. I’m sure we all agree, when you hear someone say ‘I don’t care what people think’ what they really are saying is, ‘I really care what people think but I wish I didn’t.’ 

In reality, what we think people think of us transforms how we feel about ourselves. What’s also true, and not helpful, is the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. This often means the people closest to us, those who know us the best, the good and the bad, whose opinions we actually care most about, can make us feel less valued about ourselves. 

If your self worth is based on what people think of you, (even your most loved ones) you’re in trouble. But here’s some great news, God doesn’t judge, act or think like the world does, and God thinks incredibly highly of each one of us! 


Firstly, He gave his only son as a sacrifice to reconcile us back to him. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, that means your actual worth is that of God himself! Think about it? You are truly priceless. Let your ego go through the roof.


Secondly, as it says in John 1:12 ‘to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’. He thinks of you as his child. This is true, familiarity breeds contempt, except when it comes to children. Marriage is very conditional. You make an effort to maintain and nurture it, you only have to forget an anniversary to realise how conditional marriage is. Children on the other hand, have our unconditional affections! There is no ‘familiarity breeding contempt’, only love upon love. And no matter what you have messed up, God sees you as His child with unconditional acceptance and love! 


Thirdly, however you may feel about how you look, you are created in the very image of God as it reads in Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”. You are literally God’s gift to mankind. You may want to make changes to how you look, but God doesn’t, He created you and knitted you together in your mother’s womb, he’s intimate with our innermost being and thoughts. He desires to be in a relationship with you. 

However you are feeling about yourself today, in whatever kind of isolation you may be experiencing, know that God’s thoughts are always on you; He couldn’t value you more highly, you are the pinnacle of His creation and He desires to know you deeper. Seek Him today.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th April 2020

Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ (‭NIV‬‬) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”
‭‭
Easier said than done, you may think. And you’d be right. We’re in a time where people are faced with a lot of fear and confusion. It can be unsettling when even those who usually have ‘the answers’ seem unsure.

I want to remind you today that it’s okay to close your eyes and let go, even if only for a few moments. For many of us, we find ourselves with the luxury of time – something that many of us complained about not having enough of. So devote some of that time to being still.

Stillness and quiet can sometimes feel daunting – especially when there’s something that we want to distract ourselves from. But it’s often in those moments where God can reveal things to us.

When you begin to feel overwhelmed, remember that nothing that is happening around you is a surprise to God. Allow Him to do something in you.

Replace your struggle with renewed trust today.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th April 2020

This week I received some heartbreaking news. I found out that my Uncle, who has had cancer for a number of years, must now move to a hospice where he will spend the last of his days (however long that may be). Only in his 50s, and leaving behind my two young cousins who I’m very close with, this is a lot to come to terms with. It’s horrible and painful. 

I also had some good news. For years, we have been praying that he would come into a personal relationship with God. This week I received the news that he has accepted Jesus as His Lord and saviour! 

As grim as the reality of cancer is, I have never been more thankful for the HIGHER reality of the cross. Yes, the overwhelming practicalities and statistics of Corona, (and cancer), stare us in the face, but the greater reality is the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross has the final word. Death does not. Jesus paid the price… and He didn’t just pay the price and then stay on the cross, defeated by death. He then rose from the cross. He literally conquered the grave. Death is no longer final for us. 

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how people process death without the truth of the gospel to steady their hearts and ease their minds. Life is short. Life is fragile. I’m thankful that there is an assurance and hope that is far bigger us… it is bigger than our failures, it’s above our social constructs (that we assumed so secure), it is above our sickness, and even above our death. 

One thing is certain for all of us, at some point, we will face death. It is foolish to not consider where we will stand on the edge of eternity. It is foolish not to consider our standing with God. 

Thanks to the power of the cross, I will see my Uncle again. Thanks to the power of the cross, I will still believe in the healing hand of God to restore his body. Thanks to the power of the cross, I don’t fear death. Thanks to the power of the cross, I have a hope. I hope you do too.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2020

Seeing is not believing. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel still saw radical signs and wonders from God, yet they still died in the wilderness of unbelief. Satan and his angels have seen God and yet they remain demons and devils and don’t trust Him. The Bible tells us that faith doesn’t come from seeing, it comes from believing. Hebrews says in 11:1, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (ESV). Jesus himself said, ‘blessed are those who believe without seeing me.’ 

We don’t live by what we see or feel, we live by what we have heard God say. If God says that He is trustworthy, that is what we believe, not our feelings. We shouldn’t need to see a miracle to have faith for who God is. We relentlessly believe what God has said – this is how faith works. 

This can be challenging for our minds to get around, as it is a foreign concept for one to believe something that they have not yet seen, or don’t feel. We live in a feelings led society, where ‘if I’m feeling it, it must be true’. This is not how God operates. God’s kingdom operates on the currency of faith – the ability to believe the word of God, despite what we see or feel. 

We are seeing a lot of negative news at the moment. We are feeling a lot of fear at the moment. But in the midst of it, can we be people of faith? People who believe in that which we cannot see. People who believe in the word of God, above all else.

Do not let the state of the world determine the degree of your faith. Let the word of God set the tone. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2020

Dear Friends, 


Many people in Champions Church and thousands across the world send monthly support to help tens of orphaned children in Rwanda and across the world. All of this is done through COMPASSION UK.


For less than £30 per month, we are able to clothe, feed and educate each child, as well as placing each of them in a good family. The sponsored child also attends a local church each Sunday where they are cared for spiritually by the local congregation. 


Please watch the short video below to see the impact that children and families have in sending their love and prayers back to you at this time.


If you would like to consider supporting a child in this way then please contact us for more information by simply messaging us at the email address here: connect@championschurch.org.uk


Thank you,
PM. 

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2020

In the book of Daniel chapter 3 , we read about three young guys, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego.  

They were thrown into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t worship any other god but our God, the one true God. Notice it says in verse 19 that the King heated it seven times hotter than normal…imagine that!! AND they had their hands and feet tied.  There was no getting out of that.  But they did.   

You see, however hot the fire and however much your ‘hands are tied’, God is always with us. Maybe you feel right now that there is no way out and you feel helpless because your hands are tied.  Verse 24 says ‘Wasn’t there only 3 people that we tied and threw into the fire? So who is the fourth walking round? He looks like a son of the gods.’
Yes, it was Jesus in the fire with them.  

They not only came out alive, it says they weren’t burned, their hair wasn’t singed, their clothes weren’t scorched and they didn’t even smell like fire! That is a miracle my friends right there. You know you only have to cook a meal and you will smell like the dinner you just cooked!


Whatever fire you may be facing right now, remember you are not alone.  God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  
It goes on to say in verse 30 that they got promoted. When you go through a trial and you stay faithful, you’d better believe that you will get a promotion from God, because He blesses the faithful. When you stand up for God, when you remain true to His word, remember this…fire will not touch you and God Himself will bless you.  
So be reminded today that there is another in the fire and He’s standing with you right now… and you will come out of it UNHARMED.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th April 2020

I’ve heard a quote from the film ‘Ace in the Hole’ (disclaimer: I’ve never seen it): ‘Bad news sells best, because good news is no news.’

Now more than ever, this is all our news channels feature. Fear and anxiety are flooding people’s minds because they are constantly bombarded with bad news and uncertainty.

Perhaps it would be undignified for the news to report on people enjoying the sunshine or taking the time to connect with old friends, new friends or those somewhere in between. However it is our duty as Christians to share the hope of Jesus with everyone in our world.

We may be divided physically but we are unified in Jesus.
We stand steadfast on His Word.
We stand united in His promises.

Jesus carried the weight of sin, fear and darkness all the way to the cross. And there, he uttered the three words that shattered the world as it was.
‘It is finished.’

His work on Earth was done. The saviour of the world, successfully saved the world.

Whatever it is that you are facing today, it is finished.

He defeated the evil that was, that is and that is to come. Those three words put the devil in his place. Those three words broke through the darkness.

This is the good news of Easter. This is the time we celebrate the freedom we have (John 8:36), the unconditional love we experience (1 John 4:10) and the peace that only Jesus can bring (John 14:27).

Share the good news, because good news IS newsworthy.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th April 2020

Understandably most of our talk and attention is on the current crisis. Can we just fast-forward for a moment? This virus will pass, and when it does we will able to gather again for church services! Perhaps after experiencing church online, from the comfort of your sofa, new questions will arise, like, ‘why do we even need to physically gather for church meetings?’

I would like to point out a few reasons why physically meeting together is so important. (Please note, I am absolutely NOT suggesting we meet up before the government allows us to. Until we are told otherwise, let us honour each other, and the government by staying at home!). 

What is the value in meeting together?:

1. Some things aren’t just taught, they are caught. Online teaching is a wonderful tool, but there is nothing like being in the room. God is not bound by the walls of a building, but equally some things are imparted through the ‘laying on of hands’, or by being present in the atmosphere (Acts 8:14–19). 

2. Quite simply, God says so. And whenever God tells us to do something, it is for our goodand blessing follows! God tells us in His Word to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). 

3. Corporate worship (worshiping together) is powerful. 

Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.’ (Matthew 18:20). There is a place for private worship, and there is a place for public worship. When we are all physically together, it reminds us that we are not alone, and that we stand as one part of many. An army. We build each other up in our togetherness. 

4. We grow more when we are around others. 

Being around people is good for our character. A rough rock only becomes smooth by rubbing up against other rocks. When we ‘rub up’ or get near other people it smoothes out our character. At present, we don’t exactly Facetime the people that irritate us. But this is exactly the problem. While we are comfortable we aren’t being sharpened. When we are around others, our rough edges are smoothed out. 

5. You cannot fully out work your calling. You are called to be the church (YOU are the church, not a building or meeting), and you are also called to serve the church (serve one another). You absolutely serve the church/one another outside of the four walls of a building or meeting, but gathering together also provides the opportunity to connect in person, build one another up, encourage one another in God and bring something to the table. Church meetings are like the family dinner where we feast, connect and get full before we go about our lives, operating as the church in the community. 

So please isolate in the meantime, but let’s anticipate the day when we can all get back together again, and see the value in it like never before!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th April 2020

It is in times like these where we should turn to the Bible to see how biblical characters handled similar circumstances. 

I recently listened to a podcast by Bill Johnson where he outlined different famines in scripture and the unique responses of people involved. 

Let’s start with Isaac. In Genesis 26 we see that famine hit the land. People were worried, scared, scrambling and holding onto whatever they could. Similar to what we see happening at Tesco at the moment! 

Yet scripture tells us that during this desperate time Isaac ‘sowed in the land’. This is the equivalent of opening up a new business venture while the whole country is losing their jobs during a health crisis! It seemed ridiculous and untimely. Well, welcome to the kingdom of God! 

You see, Isaac saw the famine with a different set of eyes. He was making some future investments for himself. 

As the narrative unfolds, we see that Isaac reaped greatly from his investment during the famine. 

Note, that this wasn’t about generosity (giving to others). This particular story is about investing in your personal self today, for the reaped reward tomorrow. Isaac’s strategy was actually a business and financial act of faith. 

Today, in the midst of a crisis, let’s take the Isaac approach. 

Use this season to invest when it seems like we should be grabbing and holding on to what we can. Sow as an act of faith! You will eat the seed you sow today, tomorrow. Invest in your business, invest in yourself… read a book to challenge you, take up an online course, create a fitness routine … do something for YOU in this time… sow some seeds, that you may reap the reward tomorrow! 

There are many more examples of how biblical characters handled crisis, but let me end with one more example. In Acts 11, famine again was faced in the land. When the church heard of this, the very first thing that they did was take up an offering. How counter cultural! Everyone else was grabbing and keeping, and the church’s response was an offering! 

Generosity towards others in times of personal need should be the mark of the church (the church is you and me by the way, not just a meeting on a Sunday). 

As the church in Acts silenced the voice of the famine, let us now silence the power of this virus and sow aggressively into people’s lives! In the midst of a crisis, let’s be found being radically obedient. The seeds of generosity you sow in these times are powerful. They are power-packed with harvest. The seeds you sow in this current climate are once in a lifetime kind of seeds. Don’t sow sparingly. Act in the opposite spirit, even if your feelings are saying something different.

‘Compassion for one another silenced the voice’ (Nehemiah 5).  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2020

The first 11 verses of Matthew 21 describe Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.  We now celebrate this occasion as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Good Friday. A large crowd of people cheered Jesus as He made His way into the city, throwing palm branches and their coats in front of Him to create a makeshift red carpet.

In all the euphoria of the event, a lot of people would have joined in the carnival atmosphere just to say they were part of that extraordinary event, without knowing much of Jesus. 

Jesus was the centre of attention, but the centre of His attention was the task ahead of Him. He was completely aware of the crucifixion that was to come a few days later.

The days between the jubilation and the judgement must have been difficult for Him. He was surrounded by friends who were close to Him, but who didn’t understand why He had to go through the suffering. In the midst of the crowds, He must have felt so isolated and alone, culminating in His passionate cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in Matthew 27v46.

A huge number of people around the world are in isolation in their homes at the moment, in a global attempt to save lives from a virus. Just as no-one was unaware of the events of that week in Jerusalem, no-one is unaware of the pandemic gripping the world.

Jesus went through isolation, pain and judgement so that we could find hope in times of trouble. 

He endured death so that by His resurrection, we can know that there is life. We have the assurance that although we may be bombarded by stories of death, He is alive. And through His victory, we are made free.

Easter is a time to celebrate what Jesus did on the cross. Take a moment to reassure someone and share joy this Easter.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th April 2020

You will likely have heard it said in one form or another that your input determines your output. In other words, what you put into your life will effect what comes out of your life.


Many of us right now have more time to fill than we’ve had in a long time, which means we have more opportunities to input into our own lives and the lives of those around us.


It is possibly more vital now than ever before that we ensure we are filling our lives with good things in order that good things flow out of us.


I heard this analogy recently; imagine you’re holding a bowl of water and someone walks by and knocks you, resulting in the water spilling out of the bowl. It would be understandable to blame the person who knocked you for the water being spilled, however the real reason that the water was spilled was because the water was in the bowl to begin with. What am I saying?


It’s easy to blame what is happening around us for the way you and I respond, but the truth is, whatever is spilling out of us had to be inside of us to begin with.
So what do we do? We must always, now especially so, be intentional about our input. Ask yourself, ‘what am I feeding my soul?’
Here are some things that I find helpful: reading my Bible and talking to God, exercising and reading books, FaceTiming with friends who are going to lift my spirits…you may be able to list other examples too.


The key is, that you and I are inputting the right things into our lives, so that when life knocks into us, which it will, the right things spill out.


Today I want to encourage you to check your input – you and those around you will be better for it!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2020

There is a very short verse in the Bible, short, but loaded with meaning found in Philippians 4:5 – ‘The Lord is at hand’.

I often whisper this verse to myself when I’m in an uncertain situation and I need reassurance of God’s presence.

Surely our greatest comfort on this side of eternity is the Lord’s constant presence with us. He is literally right there with us, all the time. Yet there are times, especially when things are difficult, that we struggle to feel, or connect with His presence. Life might not be going the way we want it, especially now when the world is so uncertain of what tomorrow will bring. So many are distressed and gripped with fear and anxiety, and people are battling for their lives or grieving for loved ones, some do not know how they will feed their families in the next few weeks. The world is desperate. When we find our prayers may not be answered the way we had hoped for, and we can start to feel as if God has abandoned us. But he is still right there, whether we feel it or not.

Five years ago, I went through the biggest challenge of my life when we sadly lost our first child Ethan after a 7-week battle in a neo-natal unit. Ethan was born preterm, and after he passed, my heart was torn to pieces. I could feel the pain in my heart as if it was being cut through with a saw. I felt so many emotions; grief, anger, disappointment, anxiety, fear and had so many questions that needed answers. I remember feeling like that was also the end of my life, I could not imagine myself smiling again or ever being happy again because the hurt I felt was so intense. I was desperate for the quiet times I spent alone, hoping to find God in those quiet moments, and for Him to bring some sort of answers and comfort, yet I struggled to find Him.

In those times when grief and loss overcome us, God can be so close, yet we struggle to see Him. We struggle and fail to hear His voice at that time. This can happen so easily in times of sickness or times of distress. But in the midst of our distress, in the midst of the storm, He is the still small voice. Our spiritual eyes need some time to get used to an unexpected set of circumstances. It may take time before we realise His closeness. But, take heart, the Lord is always at hand.

I encourage you friend to take this time to spend time in God’s presence. Just find a quiet space and read His word, put on some worship music, make yourself available to Him, get to know him more. His presence is uplifting, it brings perfect peace and gives a firm assurance that no matter what is going on, He is in control. And when God is in control we can rest.

I look back at how life has been restored in the past, how since then I have experienced my best days such as the birth of our son who is now five years old and await the precious gift that I carry. God has not only restored but replaced happiness with joy, pure joy that only He can give!

This too shall pass.

 Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd April 2020

I want you to think about how quickly God can turn a situation around. 

One day Joseph was in a pit, the next day he was running someone’s household. One day he was in a prison cell, the next day in charge of everything and living in a palace. 


Right now we are all part of a story. What does a story have? It has pages. God wants to turn the page of your life right now. The current page may have doubts on it or concerns or questions… But the page is about to turn and the future is bright with hope. 


It doesn’t matter what today looks like, tomorrow can be different. 
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12 vs 2) Yes, He’s your author and He only ever writes a GREAT story. 

God couldn’t make the switch with Joseph from slave to palace as long as he had a slave mentality. It says in Genesis 41 v 14 that he got ready to meet the king, so he had a shave, got out of his jail-cell clothes and put on palace clothes. You have to have a great expectation that tomorrow is going to be different. The only thing that Joseph had was faith in GOD that He wouldn’t let him down. He’d been in that cell for years. Imagine that, day in, day out.  

Yet his hope in God was alive and well. The only assurance that me and you have right now is faith.  
Faith that God won’t let us down.  

He had no idea why he was being sent for, after years of being in that cell…but his expectation urged him to PUT ON ‘palace’ clothes. He was about to meet the King. He was dressed for where he was going, not for where he was

So raise your expectation today…because God is about to turn your page. You had better be wearing the right clothes.  

Proverbs 23 v 18. Your future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd April 2020

Isolation is not a bad thing. Apart from the obvious fact that social distancing is preventing other people from getting ill, it has personal benefits too. 

Yes, the human spirit needs social interaction, and people, and community, but sometimes we also need to just get away and isolate. 

Jesus had to isolate many times in his ministry. He understood that it was in getting alone that He could be ‘re-filled’ to go out again, more powerful and more effective than if He hadn’t isolated. 

For the first time ever, the world has had to stop and has been forced to rest.  Yes, it isn’t under ideal circumstances, but let’s not waste this opportunity. Make the most of this once in a lifetime moment to process things that you have been sweeping under the rug. Deal with personal issues that the business of life has kept you from facing. Sit alone with God and ask him to speak. Spend the extra time exploring the scriptures at a deeper level. Have a phone conversation with someone you have been putting off talking to. Re-evaluate your priorities. Process your plans for the future. Give your soul the rest it needs. 

It is okay to be bored. In fact, creativity, brain repair, and healthy emotional processing actually stem from boredom and those ‘nothing’ moments! This crisis could actually be a catalyst for some healing in our lives! 

Hurried and clogged-up schedules had become the normal pace of life and it is time to stop and do some work on the more simple and meaningful parts of our lives and hearts. 

Like a caterpillar self-isolates in its cocoon before returning to the world as a beautiful butterfly, may we to emerge from this crisis, better than when we started!  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st April 2020

Let’s be real, at present, if we haven’t lost our job, we know someone who has. It is a scary time in regards to the future of our finances for many of us. But if we cannot stand on the truths of God during a crisis, when can we?

1. God is well aware of the importance of money in our lives. Jesus talked about money a lot. He is not embarrassed of it or ashamed of it. Money isn’t a bad thing. Money is actually good, but our attitude and approach toward it can be bad and dangerous. This is why Jesus wasn’t taboo in talking of the topic. In fact, money sits at third place in the lineup of topics that Jesus spoke most about! 11 of the 39 parables talk about money! Jesus was well aware that money had the potential to consume our lives. It has incredible influence over our day-to- day job, our thoughts, our worries, our fears, our freedom, and our big decisions and our small decisions.  Don’t think that Jesus is not aware or doesn’t care about your present financial situation. He does. He knows it is important and a big part of your life. 

2. Some of your deepest heart issues will be revealed in your attitude and approach toward money. If you have trust issues with God, this will manifest in how you handle your money. If you truly believe that He is true to His word, and He is looking after you, then you can rest assured that whatever tomorrow holds, God is your provider. 

Matthew 6:25-27, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’

For many of us in the first world, we never thought the words ‘do not worry about what you will eat’, would ever apply to us! But here we are today scrambling for food on the shop shelves! 

Now is the time to put into practise the essence of our faith. Do we really believe that God will give us what we need? 

3.   God is the master restorer. 

God specialises in restoration. He is able to bring back what has been taken from you and restore it ten fold. Zoom out and think big picture. Today may be challenging, but recall that God promises to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). So if things aren’t good yet, He is not done yet! 

All through scripture God has redeemed and restored that which has been taken from His people. ‘I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten’ (Joel 2:25).  

Many of the most successful people on the planet have soaring success post crisis. The answer is that they had an attitude where they learnt from their mistakes, and rebuilt from the ground up, with a resilient spirit – the spirit of an overcomer. As children of God, the nature of an overcomer is in our DNA. 

Romans 8:37, ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us’.

1 John 5:4, ‘For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world’.

James 1:12. ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life’. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st March 2020

Less than one hundred days into the year 2020, no-one would have imagined at the start of the year that in order to save and protect yourself and those around you, we’d all have to stay away from each other.

It may start to feel like the world is falling into an abyss with no end in sight, and the threat that’s greater than the Coronavirus to the wellbeing of thousands of families is the anxiety, stress and fear of losing their livelihoods, family members and friends.

The pandemic has the potential to kill you spiritually and mentally without even coming close to you physically. As we remain isolated in our homes, only allowed to travel to stock up on the essentials, there is one essential part of our lives that we shouldn’t neglect.

Isolation in our homes should not become isolation from God. Only by remaining connected to Him can we raise our faith as a shield around us.

His Word is as relevant, as alive, as powerful, and as unchanged today as it has been throughout the ages.

It is reassuring and comforting to know that God did not make a promise to a small group of people in the past, but to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus in times of trouble.

And when you call on Him, He promises to give you peace which can’t be understood in the midst of anxiety and distress.

To restore joy where there is sadness and weeping.

To restore a sense of security when the path ahead is dark because He is a lamp to guide our feet.

To reassure us in knowing that whatever was meant for evil, He will turn it for good.

Psalms 94:17-19 says

“If the Lord had not been my help, I would soon have dwelt in [the land of] silence. If I say, “My foot has slipped,” Your compassion and loving kindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me.”

Jesus knows what you need even before you ask Him, and He is always close enough to reach out for you when you feel like you’re sinking. 

Hope is still here.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th March 2020

It goes without saying that we are all living in a very different world right now. There is no one out there that can quote ‘…the last time we went through this.’

This is a first for everyone that’s alive right now. It’s unsettling for many and scary for most, but it is also a season of great opportunity.

Life may not go back to ‘normal’ for quite some time, so we have to be determined not to waste this season, but instead to make it count. Everyone of us is gifted with the opportunity of being able to read, learn, study, pray, love, clean, sort and not least of all, think and dream. When was the last time that you were gifted with the time to do all the things that you’ve been moaning about for years. Your theme song has been has forever been…‘I would do that, but I just don’t have time’ – well now you have!

Get up, get dressed and get ready to go to work without leaving the house!

Imagine a bank credits your account each morning with £86,400. It’s carries over no balance from day to day. At midnight, the account resets to another £86,400 and deletes whatever part of the previous day’s balance that you failed to use. There’s no guarantee you will ever be given another £86,400. If that were the case, what would you do? Draw out every last pound of course!

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Each morning you are given a gift that is credited to your life of 86,400 seconds.

Every night, what you have failed to use is lost.

Time carries over no balance from day to day. Time allows no overdraft and you cannot hold on to what you did not use the day before.

If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

I challenge you today to take a long hard look at your life in this unique season and ask yourself, what am I going to do with my time?

How and where do you spend it?

How much time am I wasting?

How much time am I spending just on me?

How much time am I investing in others?

How much time am I spending with God?

Everything in life has to to have a balance to it, but I’m sure that you will agree that it’s hardly a balanced life sitting in front of a TV every day.

Wake up; we only have one life to live!

Make an important decision today to not waste another minute.

There’s an old saying that says ‘time waits for no man’.

Write that book, dream that dream, make that call, clean out that junk, read those books, cook that recipe, love your children, learn something new, throw out that clutter, bag up those unwanted clothes, pray those prayers, listen to podcasts, study the Bible, love on others, send messages daily, believe in yourself and No.1 put Jesus first in all that you do.

Today has already been partly spent —what are you going to do today with the rest of your 86,400 seconds?

Make your life count.

Don’t delay.

Make a decision to come out of this crisis different than how you entered it.

This will soon be over.

Take courage my friend.

Be a world changer, but if not, be a home changer.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2020


What happens when you feel like giving up? When you feel like you’ve tried and tried and prayed and prayed, but you can’t see much happening or you can’t see anything happening. 

Here’s something to help. In Matthew 7 vs 7-12,  Jesus teaches about prayer.  

Why? Not only to help us, but to teach us that there are different levels to praying .

It tells us to ask and it will be given, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened to us. 

I can ask you for something and hopefully you’ll give it to me (if I ask nicely and say please).  That’s like prayer sometimes, we can just ask and we immediately receive.  I love those sorts of prayers!

Then there’s the word ‘seek’. It’s like playing the game hide and seek. You won’t find the person straight away (unless you cheat), you have to put a little effort in to find them. 

That’s like prayer sometimes, you don’t always see the answer straight away. You have to seek a little.  Put some time and energy in. 

Then there’s ‘knock’, which speaks about persistence.  

There’s a story in Luke 18 about a lady who was persistent with a judge because she wanted mercy. It says she went to his house and kept knocking and knocking till she got her answer.  It tells us that he didn’t answer her because he liked her, no in fact it tells us he didn’t fear God or people, but he eventually answered her request because she was annoying and persisting and she wouldn’t go away. 

Notice what it says in verse 1 “Jesus told them this story so that they could see it was important to pray and not give up.” So Jesus told them this story to teach them about how important it is to persist in prayer!

So…

before you feel like giving up, have you tried all three?

ASK – SEEK – KNOCK 

Because if something is worth anything, then it’s worth praying for, waiting for and fighting for. 

I like to think like this…

P
U
S

Pray Until Something Happens

Pastor Gillian
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th March 2020


In four days, a quarter of the year will have passed. I wonder how this 2020 is shaping up for you? You could be celebrating or you could be struggling, in this current season. It very much depends on your circumstances.


Last month, I received some bad news. It was completely unexpected. You could say I was momentarily blindsided by the news affecting a loved one. Of all the things anticipated for 2020, this had not been on my radar.

One morning I woke up with a real heaviness in my heart. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt like this and can only describe a pain that gripped me like ‘grief’. As I sat in my usual spot praying that morning I simply said ‘Lord, I feel so sad…’
As I prayed, I was reminded of Psalm 42:11‘Why my soul are you downcast – why so disturbed within me?’
Reading on, I found treasure and light for my soul – ‘Put your Hope in God’

I had read those words so many times before but right there, that morning, those words flooded my heart and lifted the heaviness that I had been carrying.


I had a decision to make there and then, just as the word instructed me to. At that point I didn’t understand the situation and I still had no answers for the future, other than one; to shift my eyes from the problem and to fix my eyes onto Jesus –  He could and would fill my heart with hope.

Today, if your heart is weighed down with exhaustion, worries, the problems of this season, I urge you to do one thing. Change your position, shift your gaze and choose today to put your hope in Jesus. You can move from a place of being downcast and hopeless, to a place of being hope- filled.
Hope is Here. Hope is found in Jesus. 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th March 2020

Yesterday, I shared a few ideas around arising to the occasion during this current crisis and shining our light as the church. The top tips continue below.  Let’s see this season out, carrying strength, peace, power, sensibility, and love in the process! 

5. Look for opportunity. 

Leaders see problems as opportunities. There is a once in a lifetime opportunity here for us right now. There is an appetite now for answers, and spirituality. People don’t need hype, they need hope. 

This is a moment, a window, where we can build trust with people. How we hold ourselves and carry ourselves during this will determine our relationship with them in the future…people are watching. You can build credibility with people by how you manage yourself through it. This will pass.

6. Be ready

Be ready to answer tough questions, be sharp and discerning – look for opportunities to love and serve others, guard your mind, be watchful, be vigilant, be realistic, don’t just be positive, be hope driven (hope means you know there IS a God looking after you, not you wish/fingers crossed there is a God looking after you). 

7. As you isolate  

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of negative things we could focus on right now, but for the sake of our mental health, we must focus on the once in a lifetime opportunities this situation also brings with it. As you physically isolate don’t just sit around watching screens for hours a day. Take the isolation as an opportunity to rest well, reflect, think deeply, process, having meaningful phone conversations with people, be creative, pray, do those things you never thought you would get the time to do, send a care package to someone. Use this time as well as you can. Take the unique opportunities that this crisis brings. 

NOW IS YOUR TIME!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th March 2020

Every social construct that we have built has come to a halt. The entire world has essentially shut down. 

As people who know God and trust God, it is possible for us to not only be fearless, but also rise to the occasion. 

This is our time as the Church to show some leadership in this crisis.  

The church was born for this hour. YOU were born for this hour. We can pray for God to intervene, but equally we are the hands and feet of God, and WE are the light.  We as the Church have a special grace and calling at this moment to step up and SHINE. This is an opportunity that we may never get again. 

People are literally being brought to their knees. People by the mass are losing everything they ever trusted. People are literally desperate for peace, protection and hope – now is our time to strike! Do not let this opportunity go. 

Matthew 5:14-16, ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’. 

This scripture is proof that WE are actually the light. We are the light TO POINT to GOD. That means that there is a mandate on us as the church in this hour to lead well. 

So what does shining actually mean? . . . 

1. Lead not react

The thing with leadership is that you feel everything everyone else does, but our response must be different. Reaction is to stockpile, to self-preserve and think only of self. 

Leadership is not reacting, it is responding. It is leading people to light in the midst of panic. It is putting others first in crisis. 

Our job as leaders in society is not to panic, it is to respond. 

2. Embrace sacrifice, not selfishness

The best leaders show sacrifice in times of crisis, not selfishness. 

Crisis will reveal what people are really made of. Crisis will either show the worst of people or the best of people. 

As the church, let it show the best of us. Let us show people what we are really made of – love, hope, sacrifice and generosity. 

3. Get wise counsel. 

Watch what is giving you your information. 

Some media is unhelpful at the moment. 

Watch your headspace. For your mental health, the worst possible combination is being in isolation and reading some of the things on social media. Be careful and smart. 

More than anything at this time we should be plugging into the word of God. We need the word of God at the forefront of our mind. 

4. Get your spiritual lenses on. 

Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness (Eph 6:12)… what if this whole thing isn’t actually just about a virus? What if this whole thing is about a Spirit of Fear getting a hold of people? 

Consider what is going on spiritually at the moment. Discern the times we are in from a spiritual perspective. Ask yourself: what is God doing in the midst of all this? I don’t believe sickness is from God, but He will use it to get people on their knees. Is it time for humanity to consider their lives and priorities?

To be continued on tomorrow’s Fresh Hope! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2020

The job of the News reader is to read news. The job of the media is to report on the news. The job of the politician is to lead the country as best as they can in the light of the news. You will more than likely know all that there is to know about the coronavirus through these various means. We all know how bad it is out there right now. Our hearts truly go out to those that have lost loved ones or those that are suffering.

My job is not to do their Job. My job is to be ahope dealer


In doing my job, I want you to put on your God glasses today. Get God’s perspective. The glasses you wear have the ability to change what you see. Change what you see today by looking through the lens of God’s word -The Bible. 

Question: How many of you for years have been saying to yourself, “If only I could press pause on my life, If only I could get out of the rat race, if only I could spend more time at home looking after the kids?” Well here is your wish come true!
With the measures that have been put in place and with a lockdown this week, the reality is that the whole world has been gifted with a huge pause button that’s been pressed for us. Hidden in this crisis is a gift. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to re-set your life right now. Here is a gift to help you re-discover who you are and what’s important in your life. It’s an opportunity to sit down and think. Think about your priorities and where your life is going. 
You are gifted right now with a once in a life time opportunity to do meaningful things with your children and family. You now have the chance to ask yourself ‘what do I really believe?’ ‘Where is my faith in all of this right now?’


You are being gifted with the opportunity and the desire to read the Bible and to pray like never before. This is truly a gift to discover, rediscover and draw close to Jesus.
 
Friends, this pause button will soon disappear, and it won’t just be PLAY that will be pressed, but it will be FAST FORWARD. Make sure that you never go back to how you once were before. Get your life back on track in this season. 
I’m asking you to make Psalm 91 your lens through which you see the world right now. Pick up your Bible and turn to it.
V3 says ‘…that surely he will save me from the deadly pestilence( a fatal epidemic disease’) – This is no surprise to God. 
V5 ‘..You will not fear the terror of night, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, or the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you’. 
Get God’s perspective today and put on those faith glasses. 

If you need a Bible then simply reach out and request one by going to connect@championschurch.org.uk

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2020

Matthew 14:22-33 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’


Whatever you feed, will ultimately grow. Feed your children and they will grow. Feed a plant and it will grow. Feed your dog and yes, it will grow. In fact, the more you feed something, the more it grows.

Get this — Feed your fear and it will grow!

Right now there is very little else to fill your mind with other than the fear that is being dished up daily. Hour after hour, you are being served such massive portions of fear that it’s spreading into everything you do and everything you say.

The word Corona means ‘crown’ and it’s definitely doing its job in more ways than one, as it seeks to be King over your life.

When Peter asked Jesus if he could walk on water, he was simply told “COME”. But then he was distracted by what he saw and what he felt going on around him. It caused him to lose his balance, his footing and his faith. The moment that he allowed fear to feed him, it grew to the point of overwhelming his faith.

Friend, right now don’t let fear cause you to lose the faith or the footing that you started with. You were so full of faith…and then you allowed outward circumstances to become king. Dethrone your fear right now by staying focused on walking forward on God’s word.

Instead of feeding every hour on the latest news, start to worship, get into God’s word. Stand on it. Believe it. Respond by trusting it. Ask yourself right now: what am I feeding myself with today?

Fear makes you sink.

Faith makes you rise.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2020

Dear friends at Champions,

Since our government has enforced a ban on the majority of public gatherings in social settings, we are honouring their decision by closing our Church building on Sunday.

Our service will be available online via our App, Website and YouTube channel ‪from 10:30am on Sunday‬, so let’s utilise this opportunity to enjoy Church in our homes.

For the foreseeable future, all of our services will be online. As it has already been said, our church buildings may temporarily close, but the Church will never close.

All 4 Nights of Hope will be live streamed from nightsofhope.com

Keep on checking the app, to receive regular updates at this time.

We love you, are praying for you and look forward to seeing you soon.

Hope is still here!

Take care,
Pastors Mark and Gillian Burchell

Fresh Hope – 20th March 2020

Remember playing hide and seek? Hide your eyes and count to ten while everyone rushes off to hide. ‘Coming, ready or not’. Hiding in a cupboard or under the bed, so still, frightened to breathe, hoping not to be discovered. 

I for one have spent a great deal of time in my life playing hide and seek with God. Holding my breath and hoping he won’t spot me in the cupboard under the stairs. 

The first question that God asks humanity is ‘Where are you?’. In Genesis 3:9 we see that Adam and Eve have eaten from the fruit that God commanded them not to eat. They are afraid and ashamed because they are naked, they hide themselves from God. He is walking in the garden and can’t find them, He calls out ‘where are you?’. God has been asking that same question since that moment – where are you?

I am pretty certain that every one of us has been naked at some point. However, Adam and Eve’s nakedness was about more than the lack of clothes. Adam and Eve were suddenly aware that they were vulnerable and weak; that they were less than perfect; ashamed of themselves and what they had done; afraid of God’s reaction and hiding themselves away. I am also pretty certain that most, if not all of us have felt like that at some point.

There are times in all our lives when we feel naked, less than perfect; afraid, vulnerable and ashamed. 

Even then God still calls out to us ‘where are you?’. Just like Adam and Eve we try to hide from God. Perhaps unintentionally in the busyness of our lives. Or maybe intentionally, because we don’t want to do what He is asking of us.

The whole story of the Bible from that point on is about God’s incredible love for us and his search to find us. If in Genesis we see the first three words that God spoke to humanity at the other end of the story there are three more words that God speaks in form of Jesus ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).

What was ‘finished’? His search for us was over. He came down to earth so that we can know him and he paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can be reunited with God. Nothing we have done or can ever do will separate us from the love of God again.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th March 2020

Sharing the gospel with the unsaved starts long before we talk to them about God. It starts long before we have an invitation to church. Sharing the gospel starts in ourselves. 

The world are watching YOU. Your community is desperate for ‘another way’ and some answers. 

Here are some real practical ways you can demonstrate the kingdom of God in small ways, that speak loudly: 

– Watch your attitude toward money. Why? Because money has a hold on people. When you manage your money differently, it is obvious, because it tells them, ‘money doesn’t have a hold on me, I have found something of greater value. My security is in something more secure’. Do not get a reputation for being stingy! 

– Be yourself. Don’t put on a Christian front. Be fully yourself, alive in God.

– Be ready. We don’t have all the answers, but be as prepared as you can be. I recently asked some non-Christian friends for their honest thoughts and questions around Christianity. Their responses were: 

‘If God exists, why do people suffer?’ 

‘Why in church do they pass the collection plate around for money?’

‘If God is an all forgiving God, then why doesn’t He just forgive us at the judgement gate when we see that He is real and we ask for forgiveness?’ 

Why does God allow some people to have children, who are horrible parents, and then people who would be wonderful parents can’t get pregnant? 

Why does God allow awful deaths? 

These are the real questions that people have around our faith. We need to be prepared with a response. 1 Peter 3:15 says, ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’  

A few others… 

– Be grateful 

– Honour and acknowledge people from bottom to the top of the work place.  

– Don’t gossip. 

– Have a Spirit of excellence in what you do. 

– Operate with integrity in all areas. 

– Be solution based, not problem focused. 

Operating in these ways is totally counter-culture. They are very practical, and sometimes difficult, but send a strong message about the heart of God to a community looking for answers. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th March 2020

Many of us desire to change the culture that we are in for the better. We want to leave our mark, make our lives count, and point people to Jesus. As right and noble as this desire is, it is often achieved by very practical, understated means. 

If we are going to be a people who bring heaven to earth, shift a culture, and change the world, then here are seven very practical things that we need to be equipped with: 

1. Have a fresh word in your spirit. You cannot expect to stand, let alone come against an ungodly culture, without a fresh word from God burning in you. Your head and heart need to be strong, and DAILY aligned with truth. Practically and personallyspeaking, I recently joined an online theology course that has enabled me to go to new depths in my understanding of scripture. I also keep my Bible in my car and every morning before I walk into the workplace, I read one scripture that I can meditate on throughout the day. You do not have to do these things. My point is there must be practical effort and intention as to how we keep a fresh word in us in order to come against cultures that aren’t from God and usher in kingdom culture. 

2. Prayer. Prayer can do far more than you can. Prayer is partnering with God on cultural issues. Prayer cuts through the physical limitations and deals with things on a spiritual level. Prayer can do far more in a heart of a person or work place environment than we can image. Prayer shifts things around us and in us. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our battle isn’t always against the issues we are facing on the surface; our battle is often a spiritual issue. Dealing with a snake by setting a mouse trip is ineffective and exhausting. Recognise what the real issue is and deal with it using the correct weapon – Prayer! 

3. Don’t be afraid of standing out from the crowd. If you are going to change a culture, you need to care less about what they think. You can’t use their definition of normal to define your standard of normal and acceptable. If you carry the same spirit, you cannot bring a new spirit. Having fresh eyes, carrying a pioneering spirit, seeing something that others don’t see will feel lonely at times, but that is the price you pay for being the person to bring in what is needed or missing in an environment. You will feel like the only one at times, but look at the most innovative, progressive people in history. What allowed them to change the world was the fact that they were the only ones, they weren’t afraid to buck the norm, be different, and go against the crowd. Keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the crowd. 

4.  Razor sharp vision. Have specific and intentional vision for why you are where you are. Understand your overarching purpose and call for being there. Every day remind yourself what your greater purpose is in your job or community. Don’t waste a day. Use it well. Be strict – cut out anything that doesn’t fall in line with the purpose and reason for why God has you in a particular culture. Keep your mandate and mission at the forefront of your head, heart and day. 

5. Have healthy, regular input. As you give everything you have to serving the culture you are in, which can be exhausting especially if you are going against the grain. You need input from people who can fill your tank and fuel your fire. Find mentors, leaders, friends, and a community who ‘get you’. People who understand your mission, recognise what is on your life, and encourage you in your weak times. Have people remind you what you are about. Find people who are one step ahead of you and glean all you can. 

6. Walk in humility and love. People are not experiments. We don’t use the unsaved as a personal project for ourselves. We serve people because we love them because God does, and we want them to know that. You cannot love people if you are too busy judging them. You cannot serve people well if you are so busy thinking you are better than them. You cannot change a culture if you are too good to get down on your knees and serve them. Your degree of influence in someone’s life is directly related to the level at which you honour and love them. After being a teacher for nearly 10 years, and probably having had a few thousand students sit in my classroom by now, I can tell you one thing for sure, people do not care what you have to say, unless they know you care. If you are going to change the world, it starts with a posture of humility and love. 

Tomorrow, I will share some very practical tools on demonstrating the kingdom of God in the workplace!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th March 2020

On the inside of every person is a God-given gift that the world needs. Maybe that gift will serve millions, maybe it will serve a handful, but either way, you have something to contribute.


Don’t believe the lie that nobody wants to hear what you have to say, and certainly don’t believe the lie that the world would be a better place without you. Friend, you are of great value and can add value to whatever environment you find yourself in!


Whether it’s the classroom, the workplace, the home, these are all places that can be made better because of you.

Now, of course, we shouldn’t assert ourselves in a brash sort-of-way, but should approach every opportunity with humility.

I’m sure like me, you’ve encountered people who light up a room when they step into it. They don’t take from the atmosphere, they add to it. Particularly in the unique times we currently find ourselves in, our world needs people like this. People who add value, people who add perspective. Those who contribute joy and hope to any given scenario.

Today, don’t shy away, but be confident that you have something to contribute, and that your contribution can have a positive impact on the lives of those around you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2020



Sometimes the most helpful advice when starting out in a fast is of a very basic and practical nature.

For most people, fasting is foreign and therefore we don’t know what to expect in terms of physical occurrences. Many turn back after the first day, simply because they don’t think they are cut out for this type of thing.

One of the most basic needs of the human body is of course for food – take that away and the body goes into meltdown.

The first thing that was said of Jesus after he had been on a prolonged fast was …he was hungry!

Matthew 4:2 After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Yes…the first thing that you will feel is ravenous. Even a piece of dry bread will be to die for. It’s normal.

Here are just a few simple guidelines on fasting that will help you on your journey, be it the first fast or hundredth you’ve been on:

– Fasting without being combined with prayer is little more than dieting. Set aside a few moments each day in prayer when you would normally be eating. Find a quiet room at home or go for a walk in your lunch break at work in order to pray.

– There will be days when your energy is sapped and you can’t focus on prayer. Don’t condemn yourself- Jesus sees your sacrifice.

– Fasting is like spring cleaning for the body – drink as much water as possible each day. I normally get a headache on the first 1-2 days of fasting; If you do it’s usually a sign that you needed to fast! Headaches come from burning off the toxins that have been stored up in your body. It’s also your body craving the caffeine that you normally give it daily. After three days, the headaches will usually disappear.

– Whenever you fast for at least three days, your digestive system shuts down and takes a well-earned rest. Some feel sluggish and can’t sleep and yes you’ll feel hungry, but after those initial days, if you’ll keep drinking plenty of water and juices, you’ll come out the other side into an amazing ‘sweet place’. You’ll begin to find a deeper relationship with God than you’ve ever known before and the thoughts of food and eating will take a back seat.

-Remember: if you’re already feeling like giving up, you’re not alone in this. There are lots of people right now joining together in this spiritual fast.

Whatever you’ve decided to fast during this next few days, push through and you’ll see a breakthrough.

Ezra 8:23 …So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Why not join us over the next 10 days in praying and fasting for four Nights of Hope – Thursday 26th- Sunday 29th March?

For more info go to nightsofhope.com

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2020

At one of the entrances to our local mall there are five doors, one is an automatic door that is on a sensor, so it just opens and the other four, you have to physically open. This week when I visited, I was shocked to see people queueing to get through the door that was already open, no one was attempting to try the other doors, so I made a quick decision to bypass the queue and go right to another door and open it. It’s not rocket science!
‘How funny’, I thought, ‘that people would rather queue and wait for the door that’s open, than apply a little bit of effort and open one themselves!’
You see, not every door that you encounter will be open; sometimes you have to apply a little bit of effort to walk through.


The four guys who wanted to get their paralysed friend to see Jesus, had to get into the house with a lot of effort, because when they arrived, the place was full, it was heaving and they couldn’t even get through the door.. so did they give up? NO. Did they wait and queue? NO. They made a plan, climbed up to the roof, took off some tiles, lowered their friend through the roof (just imagine!) and got the miracle from Jesus. What a load of effort they put in, instead of a load of excuses. 

Why is it that we want doors to open all by themselves? Wouldn’t that be lovely, if that happened all of the time? No my friend, you have to apply a little bit of effort, a little bit of pressure, a little bit of time spent in prayer, maybe fasting, to get that door open. So don’t give up when it’s closed. Just because it’s closed, doesn’t mean to say it was locked. Why would you queue with a lot of other people, who are going to hold you up, when you can just walk right through? Today let’s not be lazy, but let’s continue to try a few doors. Let’s see them open in prayer.

As we approach this season of prayer and fasting as a church, let’s see that same resilience that those four men had to get their friend to Jesus. Today my friend, that door that you thought was locked, is probably not. It may just be shut…and you can see it open by prayer. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th March 2020

With all that’s going on around us at the moment, it’s easy to be feeling unsettled and overwhelmed.

Here are three verses of scripture that I hope will inspire you as you draw closer to God and experience His peace.

Isaiah 26:3 | “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
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God promises us peace in exchange for our trust. Steadfast means to be ‘firm’ and ‘unwavering’. So cut out distractions. Make a decision to take God at His word and stay focused on His promises.

1 Peter 5:7| “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

To ‘cast’ means to ‘throw’. So name your troubles and give them to the one who can really change them. If you throw a ball, it’s out of your hands. So when you let go of your anxieties, don’t go and pick them up again.

Philippians 4:6&7 | “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

These are such powerful verses because it shows how practical we can be in experiencing God’s peace. When we do pray, give thanks and bring our requests to God, an exchange takes place.

Be encouraged today. We don’t have to beg for God’s peace, it’s already there for the taking. Whether we declare and walk in it is our choice.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.


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Fresh Hope – 12th March 2020

To set a precedent, is to set to a new standard. It is to put forth something that has never been put forth before.

You as a human being alive and breathing today are called to set a precedent on this planet. There is no one else on earth like you right now. There is no one else on earth that can do what you can do. 

Let’s start at the most basic level – your DNA. No one else in the world, even family, will have the same combination of chromosomes as you. No one on earth has or ever will have the same fingerprint as you. The shape of your ear is totally unique to you. Out of 7.53 billion people on the planet, the pattern of your iris is unique to you, as is your tongue and your walk! 

Now let’s look at your personality. No one else has had the exact same experiences that you have had. No one else therefore has the exact same collection of knowledge as you. 

Every individual is unique in the existence of the world. 

I believe our physical uniqueness is a sign and expression of our spiritual uniqueness and significance. Just as we have a unique fingerprint, we are called to leave a spiritual fingerprint on this world, that only we can offer. 

I’m not sure why then we watch and copy others so closely. I’m not sure why we imitate the behaviour of those around us. I’m not sure why we are copying the ideas, strategies and the creativity of what has already been done. Surely, in ourselves we have something to bring that only we can bring? Surely, if we are going to set a precedent that will leave a legacy, then we need to be fully ourselves?!

Coupled with this, let me also mention that you have the Holy Spirit in you. The Holy Spirit is essentially the mind and heart of God. He is operating in you 24/7, giving you wisdom, inspiration, solving problems, and guiding you into success! Can you see how powerful you are as a unique individual, carrying something that only you can bring to the table, and then injected with the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Your full expression is limited only by your mind. 

We should be confident in our individuality. We should be confident in our uniqueness. We should be confident in our ideas. We do not need to imitate, we only need to emanate! 

There is a quote, ‘the glory of God, is man fully alive’. In other words, God is most glorified in you when you are most yourself. You operating in the fullness of your unique personality, gifting, passion, and calling, is you fully alive and God fully glorified! Imitation dilutes the gift that you are.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th March 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 (Corona virus) has sent the world into an embarrassing panic. I sympathise with the fact that lives have been lost, and vulnerable people (babies, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems), are susceptible to contracting the virus, IF they came in contact with it. 

However, more than the virus, the most frightening situation is the physiological state of the world. Something is wrong when shop shelves are stripped bare of one of humanity’s most mundane items – toilet paper! Yes, the stuff that wipes our bottoms! People are fighting over the white rolls, even pulling knives on one another for it, and at the very least, stockpiling it in their homes. All in case they are unable to leave their house due to Coronavirus! This is what fear does… It sends people to do crazy, irrational things! 

I believe, at its core, the reaction from the world is actually an issue of identity. When I say, ‘identity issue’, I mean that people have forgotten (or don’t know) to whom they belong. Fear is a lack of knowing God or trusting in God.

When you forget who your Dad is…when you forget who your God is… When you forget who is looking after you, it is easy for fear to take governance over your life. Here is what happens when fear takes over: 

You become irrational. Your sense of rational perspective is the first to go. 

Put aside the fear mongering headlines of the media. Let’s get some perspective: 

IF you do contact the virus, only 5% of the cases are critical. 

On the same day that 108 people in China died of Coronavirus, 26,283 people died of cancer, 24,641 people died of heart issues, 4,300 people died of diabetes, and suicide took 28 times more lives than the virus did! 

Christian or not, let’s use our brains and not take what the media says as gospel. The Bible is the higher reality and the higher truth in our lives. We stand on the word of God, not the word of the world. 

I will tell you what IS scary, that people live just one media report away from chaos, panic, and self-preservation. 

Crowds or headlines cannot pull our lives. Our minds and headspace must be rooted in the truth of God. 

Romans 2:12, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’.  

You isolateFear will cause you to disconnect from others. It will cause you to lock yourself up from the world. It cripples your lifestyle and ability to have influence and make an impact. Rather than going out to change the world (as you have been called), fear shrinks your world down to the four walls of your home.  God has called us to walk in boldness and confidence, exercising authority over sickness. 

You fight for the crumbs … or in this case, toilet paper. As your world has become smaller, and self-preservation becomes your priority, you take whatever you can get. You will fight fiercely for whatever, fearful that you will go without…even toilet paper! You become desperate for paper that wipes poo! Now I can see why the prodigal son became desperate for a job cleaning up pig poo (Luke 15). He had forgotten about his Dad. He had forgotten who was looking after him! 

God has called us to live BIG lives, strong in faith, and generous in heart. Jesus set the standard of generosity when He gave His life for us. Meanwhile, we have people so afraid of lack that with a trolley full of toilet paper, they still cannot spare one pack for someone in need! 

It is time to show the world how it is to live fearlessly! We must trust that God, as our loving father, and as He says in Psalm 91, ‘will cover us and save us from the deadly pestilence’. His promise to us is that He is a refuge of safety.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2020

No matter how good we are, no matter how hard we try, and now matter how right we do things, be sure of this one thing…you will get offended! 
It’s never a case of if, but when, and before long (if it’s not already happened) you will also cause an offence.


I can’t think of one time in my life when I have woken up and thought, today is the day when I’m going to offend someone. I’ve never gone out of my way to offend, but I do know that I have offended quite a lot of people along the way. 
How do you offend people when you don’t set out to do so? My answer is simple—you can’t be alive and not offend anyone!  It’s inevitable. It happens to everyone and it happens as part of life. 


If you’ve been offended recently then take courage from the Bible…
Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: it is impossible that things that cause people to be offended won’t come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 


Now that we know that we can’t protect ourselves from being offended, we have to prepare ourselves for when we are offended. 


Here are my thoughts…
-Chose not to carry the offence.
-Let go of the offence by quickly forgiving. 
-Don’t go around telling other people that you are offended, otherwise they too will become part of the offence. 

The golden rule is this: always be big enough to overlook an offence, but if you can’t deal with it successfully internally, then deal with it externally by privately addressing the offence with the person directly in a gracious and loving manner in order to resolve it.


Most of the time, offences come through simple misunderstandings, or by being misquoted or intentions being misconstrued.


None of these things are intentional, just inevitable. However, take special note of anyone that sets out to intentionally cause offence, be sure to stay well away from such a person. 

Don’t be an offence maker – just improve yourself in being an offence taker

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2020


How you treat people can have a great impact on the degree of blessings and favour from God that you will experience.

You may have people in your life who have done you great wrong. You may feel as though your whole life has been stolen away by someone else; but if you choose to forgive them, you can overcome that pain and difficulty with love.

Many years ago, I had to go through the most severe trial of my life. For many months the pain of a broken relationship filled my every waking thought. People took sides, and decided that I was at fault, leaving them no option but to walk away.

I made a decision to not fight back, retaliate or to justify myself in front of others, even though that would have made me come out on top, as people would see that I was not to blame.

Instead, I decided to let God stand for me as I made a choice to forgive those involved; I also made a choice to ask for forgiveness from those that assumed that I had done wrong, as I wanted to have a clear conscience before them and God.

To be honest, it took months for me to get over the pain. I didn’t ‘feel’ like forgiving, but made a choice every morning to pray for each person involved to be blessed.

The more I prayed for them, the more I got released from the pain.

Today I am free, even though I walk with a ‘limp’ because of the experience. This non-physical limp helps me to appreciate that life and relationships are often fragile and need to be handled with prayer. As someone once said…’never trust a leader without a limp’. It simply means that they have had to battle through some stuff.

Romans 12:17-18 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2020

How many of you are people who are always looking back?  Looking back to the good old days or even the bad old days. 

There’s something very important about not looking back. In Genesis 19, Lot and his family were instructed not to look back. Because of all the wickedness, God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God promised to save Lot and his family as long as they didn’t look back.  Vs 17 “As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”


The problem was that Lot’s wife couldn’t resist looking back at what she had left behind and she turned into a pillar of salt. It killed her. Maybe she cared more about the past and what she was leaving behind, than about the future and all God had in store for her.  What a shame.  She missed it!


In Luke 17 vs 31-33, Jesus tells them to not look back either and He refers to Lot’s wife On that day, let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve his possessions. Likewise, let no one in the field return for anything he has left behind.   Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.…”
There’s a big importance here in keeping your eyes forward!

You can’t do anything about the past, you only have the present and hopefully the future. The only thing that is promised is the NOW. 
You can lose your future by looking back.  Lot’s wife did. Stop it!


If your memories are bigger than your dreams you have a problem. If your old life is more important than your new one, then there’s something you haven’t grasped. If your old thoughts are more powerful than your new thoughts, then you need to change your thinking.  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Romans 12 vs 2. 

Yes, by all means use the past as a learning curve for the future, but don’t keep going back to it.  
Frank Lloyd Wright the famous architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum was asked, when he was over 80 years old, which was his favourite creation?  “The next one” he said. 

Three things to remember:
-Don’t be someone who trades in their future and lives only with regrets.


-It takes strength and determination to let go of the past. 

– If we keep looking back at yesterday, maybe it’s time we started doing something significant today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 6th March 2020

In an episode of the Simpsons (the animated sitcom about an American working class family) Homer Simpson, the father, is mixing in equal parts vodka and mayonnaise, preparing it to gulp down. His wife Marge suggests it’s not a good idea because of the consequences, to which Homer replies, “That’s a problem for future Homer!” Then after drinking the concoction says “Man, I don’t envy that guy!”

It’s funny because to us it’s a ridiculous notion that Homer is so ignorant that not for one minute does he think that he will end up becoming future Homer and have to deal with the consequence of his actions.  

Who of us would ever act so foolishly to gratify the flesh in the moment, completely ignorant of the future fall out? In reality, many of our daily decisions can have negative future fallout, it’s just that we tend not to verbalise sympathy for that future person who has to pick up the pieces. Whether it’s poor diet, addictions or some area of sin, we choose to satisfy the now at the expense of future self.

On the other hand, successful people all have one thing in common, the ability to delay gratification in exchange for future profit. They do the exact opposite of Homer by forgoing the now to bless the future. It’s actually called sacrifice, and if you read the Bible, it’s the theme throughout, from the story of Cain and Abel to Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice. 

Sacrifice means to trade with your future self, to forgo something today to increase the likelihood of some kind of gain in the future. Like a farmer sowing seed or a student working hard to get a favourable exam result. Sacrifice is a step of faith based on the belief in attaining something you can’t yet see.

I encourage you today to analyse every area of your life, from your diet, your use of finances to what you give your time and passions to. Firstly assess where do you gratify cravings without any thought of consequence, what bad habits (no matter how small) do you have that create or are adding to future problems? And secondly,  where are you trading with the future, stepping out in faith to create a larger life? What areas could you consciously make braver decisions to be a blessing to future Homer and not a curse? What are you sowing in order to reap? What are you speculating in order to accumulate? 

When you start to live a life of sacrifice as opposed to consumption, you’ll be amazed how quickly you start to enjoy the abundance those choices yield!

Proverbs 11:24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th March 2020

Last year in a Moscow airport there was a tragic accident when an Aeroflot Russian plane made an emergency landing having just taken off. Before all passengers could be evacuated, the jet burst into flames killing 41 of 78 passengers on board.

One survivor, Mikhail Savchenko said he didn’t know what to make of his fellow passengers actions when it was found that some of the 37 survivors had held up the evacuation of the plane by first getting their luggage from overhead storage. 

He said “I do not know what to say about people who ran out with bags, God is their judge. But I really want to ask them not to persecute them, I am sure that it is very hard for them now.”

“I do not think that at least one person in this burning hell coolly and deliberately dragged suitcases.

“I do not know how the psyche works in such situations, [that is] a question for the experts.”

It’s uncomfortable reading, how is it possible that we as humans could choose to grab luggage, keep hold of personal possession at the expense of another’s life? Who could possibly do that and how could you live with yourself after? I feel this is a real challenge to all of us who are followers of Jesus but aren’t prepared to submit every area of life to him.

The reality is, we live out our lives as if on an aeroplane that will eventually be evacuated. And it’s vital that during the flight the passengers come to know the reason for the flight, to put their HOPE in Jesus Christ! But the challenge to us is this…is our personal possession (our luggage, the baggage we carry on a daily basis) the number one thing in our lives or is it getting people off the plane safely?

Are we carrying things around in our lives today we really should get rid of; maybe areas of sin we are struggling in, maybe hurt you just can’t forgive or maybe you’re just not prepared to trust God with your finances and refuse to trust Him in your giving? 

I plead with you today, let go of your luggage, write it off, forgive, repent! Our destination has everything we could hope for already prepared, there is no need for us to take anything other than as many passengers as possible! 

At Champions Church, on the 26th – 29th March there will be four amazing nights of hope, where people will get to hear about the life changing HOPE that is a relationship with Jesus! I encourage you today, pray for the passengers in your life and invite them to join you in March for a life changing night!

Hebrews 12:1-2 | NIV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th March 2020

Why is it important to God that we give? Surely as the creator of the universe, who can speak anything into being in an instant, He really doesn’t need us to be giving? Is He greedy? Does He want us to suffer? 

Of course not. 

There is one thing that God cannot make happen. He cannot make us love Him. He by choice has given us a gift called “free-will”… this means we have a choice as to if we love Him. If someone can’t freely choose to love someone, it’s not really love. It’s not love if God has to force us to love Him. 

Giving is a form of loving. It’s a free choice. We have the choice to give. When we give it’s an expression of our love for God. So really, when God asks us to give, it’s not our money He is after, He is after our heart. 

The seed you sowed yesterday is the harvest you are reaping today. The majority of Jesus’ parables were told using nature as a metaphor for kingdom principals. We get that a farmer has to invest seeds into the ground, in order to reap a crop in due season. Our money is the same, and anything else for that matter. Where we invest, is where we reap (2 Corinthians 9:6). 

The degree of seed we sow, is the degree of the harvest we reap. This means that even in times of struggle and challenge, we need to sow in order to secure our future. Giving when you are in need, when you don’t feel like it, when it’s inconvenient, is necessary in order to change the economic level of your life. Your short-term sacrifice, promises to reap reward. You can convince yourself otherwise, but it’s kingdom reality. Your circumstance can persuade you otherwise, but the word of God stands. 

Wealth is not determined by what you have, it’s about how you give. Can you love God in every season? 

Loving God freely is giving in all seasons. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2020

Being wealthy isn’t about the accumulation of money. Wealth is more than riches. Wealth is more about a mindset. Wealth is about understanding who God is and who you are in relation to Him. 

I recently read these definitions of wealth in Kris Vallotton’s book, ‘Poverty, Riches, and Wealth’ – a book on moving from a life of lack into true kingdom abundance. I think they are fantastic descriptions of wealth: 

• Wealth is the ability (resources, strength, wisdom) to create positive outcomes in the midst of lack, poverty and/or emptiness.

• Wealth is light in the darkness, healing in sickness, prosperity in poverty, wholeness in brokenness, favour in obscurity, love for the unlovely, beauty for ashes, and victors among victims.

 • Wealth is a “can-do” attitude, a “more than enough” mindset and a “nothing is impossible” belief system. 

• Wealth is radical generosity, extraordinary compassion, sacrificial giving and profound humility. 

• Wealth is always thankful and never jealous. 

It’s very difficult to operate in these above points (in wealth), if you don’t understand your God. When you have a revelation that your God is creator of all things, supplier of all things, a God of not “just enough”, but more than enough, a miraculous provider, and loving and generous beyond our comprehension, then you start to live differently. 

You suddenly see poverty and lack as an opportunity for God to break through and display His true nature. 

You become aware of things that aren’t God’s design for mankind and you command order – pray for healing, desire beauty for ashes, victory for victims. 

Instead of feeling like a situation is impossible and nothing can be done, you have faith that God “can do”. 

You don’t worry about running out. You are able to live open handed and give big because you’re a direct heir to God’s unlimited resources (this includes, but is not limited to money – it’s also access to unlimited wisdom, gifts, peace etc). 

You are able to celebrate others wholeheartedly because you understand that God has more than enough for you too. 

You don’t need to boast or draw attention to what you have because you have nothing to prove to people. You are very sure of who you already are in God. 

If you’ve grown up around lack and poverty, it requires a fresh revelation of God’s nature to really shift your mindset around wealth. It’s very difficult to live in an ‘abundance mindset’ if most of your life was surrounded by “not enough”, stress about money, grabbing what you could, fear of tomorrow, parents with negative attitudes towards people with wealth, or perhaps a religious mindset that poverty somehow made you more holy. These experiences can breed deeply ingrained mentalities. It creates people who are afraid to receive good things, people who live for money, people who are afraid of being too generous, or people who give “just enough”, people who are comfortable living in lack, looking for what they can grab, not what they can give. 

If you want to stay there, you can, but God has so much for you! A wealth mindset will change your life and generations to follow. Don’t live like a pauper when you’re actually a prince. Understand the wealth you have access to as a child of God. It’s time to live in abundance and it starts with the knowledge of who God really is! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2020

Faith is like a muscle —the more you use it the stronger it becomes. 

The opposite is also true — the less you use it the weaker it becomes, or shall we say the weaker you become in faith. 


Faith is also like a bridge—its the very thing that enables me to get from where I am to where I want to go. Now, if you don’t want to go anywhere or make anything of your life then you don’t need faith; you can do that all by yourself! 


Faith is for those that understand that they need to completely rely on God, and with such faith want to push through and make a difference.
Faith is the very substance of things that you want to see changed in your life time. 


Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’.
Ask yourself…do I have faith?


Here are some signs that will help you to know whether you have faith in God or not:
1) Whenever you face your daily problems and the only person to trust in is yourself —it’s a sign. 


2) Whenever you face obstacles, crisis, drama and dilemmas, and your confidence is only in the people around you to sort it — it’s a sign.


3) Whenever you are faced with a financial crisis and you only ever reach for your credit card—it’s a sign. 


4) Whenever you are sick and the first thought is the Doctor —it’s a sign.


5) Whenever you don’t know what to do and the first thing you do is to pick up the phone and ask six people for advice —it’s a sign.


Jesus never told people to have just plain faith in someone – but faith in God


Matthew 9:27-31 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. 


Today, I encourage you to build your faith muscle by stepping out in total trust that God will come through for you – do it right now by simply praying this prayer…
‘Lord Jesus, I bring my need to you right now. I ask you to help me by providing a miracle for me. I can’t sort this on my own, so I turn to you with complete confidence that you can hear me and that you can answer my prayer.  In Jesus name. Amen.’


And remember: all things are possible, only believe

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th February 2020

I heard a great quote this week from Bishop TD Jakes. He said “anyone can worship when things are going well, but only a real believer will worship when things aren’t.”


That’s so true.  When things suit you and are going well, then it’s easy to worship isn’t it? 
But when things aren’t going well? When someone is sick, you’ve lost your job, your marriage is all over the place, your children are not behaving as you’d like, you’ve lost a loved one, that’s when what is really in you, will come out. 
You see God wants us to have such a relationship of trust and love with him that WHATEVER is going on, I still have a heart to worship and say “thank you Jesus, you are good.”

Worship isn’t just about ‘doing’ it in Church when the mood takes us and we get carried along with everyone else. Worship is about what you do when you have an audience of one. Just you and God.  
God sees you, He hears you, He knows your thoughts and He knows your attitude.

I love the story of Jonah, but the bit I particularly love is when he is in the belly of the fish and he thinks he is just about to die (well who wouldn’t?!) when all is dark and he is extremely fearful, what does he do? He worships. It was that worship and repentance that God saw and acted upon. He got that fish to spit him out onto dry land. We all know that Jonah came out better, when he could have died bitter.  

So today, desire that relationship with God that says “no matter what, I will worship.”
God always responds to a worshipper. He can’t help it. He can change your situation in an instant because of worship.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th February 2020

Has it ever happened to you that you’ve offered to help someone, that you saw a situation that needed someone to do something, then after all your efforts, you find you are being criticised for going out of your way, or not doing it the way other people would have done it?

Something as simple as offering a seat to a lady or older person results in you getting a stern lecture because it has been misinterpreted as being patronising.  Such a situation can be frustrating, and demotivating, and can result in a feeling of resentment and dejection, and an unwillingness to help other people in the future. The hurt from the criticism of that selfless action sticks with you and becomes a scar that you are willing to show to anyone who asks.

When David fought Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, his task for the day was not to fight, let alone kill a giant. That was a job for soldiers, and it was made very clear he was not one. His job on the day was to deliver food to his brothers then return to look after his father’s sheep, but he goes out of his way to offer to fight the giant.

First, his brothers criticised him, then Goliath insulted him by asking if he was a dog that David should come at him with sticks.

If David had been offended and turned back because of what his brothers or Goliath had said to him, history would have been rewritten. David would not have been introduced to the king. He would not have been remembered as the giant slayer. People would not have sung about him in the next chapter about how Saul had slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.

There are certain doors that will open in your life only when you offer to do above and beyond what is asked of you, and take no offence when the same people you are helping show no appreciation of your efforts. Colossians 3 verse 23-24 says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Be encouraged to do good, and watch what God will do in your life.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2020

The enemy is after marriages. Marriage is designed to be a picture of the love of Jesus for His bride – the church (that’s you and me). As you can imagine, the enemy will do whatever it takes to sabotage this powerful picture. 

I believe one of the greatest demonstrations of God in society is healthy marriages. If the world can see healthy marriages, they can see God. One of the most generationally and socially powerful things we can do – is not heal the sick, give away everything, have a powerful ministry, it is in fact to have a healthy marriage. 

Two ways the enemy is working to dilute marriage is: 1. Causing us to question the origin of marriage. 2. Causing us to become discouraged about marriage. 

If you can question the origin of something, you can question its design and purpose. If we didn’t originate from God, thenwe no longer have a purpose in God, here’s why the enemy shifts the origin of mankind to “coming from monkeys”. Likewise, if the origin of marriage wasn’t God, then we don’t need to uphold God’s intent for marriage. Suddenly our ideas become warped, as origin is in question.

You may have heard grim statistics like ‘one out of two marriages end in divorce’. As a result many people have lost faith in marriage. They’re fearful of marriage. They’ve been scared off. And these statistics simply aren’t true! Statistics actually show that 72% of people who get married are still married to that one person. It’s never come close to 50%! 

Yes marriage requires discomfort, compromise and challenge, but this is good for you! This is the nature of covenant relationships. This should be welcomed into our lives. Marriage is a sharpening tool for our character (Proverbs 27:17). Marriage is supposed to work like this! Marriage makes you better. We shouldn’t be scared of it. 

Marriage is central to our success as a person, as a society and as a Christian demonstrating the gospel. (I’m not saying that if you are single you are not successful!). 

Let’s celebrate marriage and honour marriage for the gift that it is. Don’t lose hope in God’s model and design. Find people who can breathe life into your marriage – people who can encourage you, model healthy, fun and Godly marriage for you. People who believe in your marriage! 

God has given you everything you need to succeed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2020

Tonight I arrived at the airport for my flight. Travelling solo, I carefully checked my boarding pass to ensure I was heading to the correct boarding gate – number 20. I arrived at gate 20 and the waiting seats were totally empty. Not a staff member or person in sight, and the desk was roped off. Immediately I thought that I had got the gate number wrong. I frantically checked the screen with the boarding times and flights, and then my ticket, and then the screen again … 

How often in life to we need the reassurance of others, the reassurance of the crowd, before we believe we are doing the right thing? How often do we use the crowd as our compass and measuring stick? 

A mark of a true leader is their ability to stand alone knowing what’s right, without the crowd having to convince them or make them feel good about their choice. They stick to truth despite the circumstance. 

Human nature at its core fears exclusion and loneliness. It’s in our DNA to seek out approval, inclusion and acceptance in our community and crowd, but it should never be at the price of compromising on truth. 

We are fully approved, included and already accepted by God – the one whose opinion matters. So to stand solo is really not standing solo at all. To make a maybe lonely stand for truth, and what is right, is a stand maybe not backed by the crowd, but backed by Heaven.

More than ever we need the voice of God to be louder than the voice of the crowd in our lives. Be careful that you’re not looking to the crowd for direction. Don’t go by what is “popular”. History will tell you that just because there is mass approval, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Don’t be afraid to stand solo for truth. Don’t look to the crowd to define your truth. 

To be able to stand for truth, you actually have to know the truth, otherwise you’re definitely just following the crowd! Know the truth and stand on it with confidence. 

Despite my self-doubt, I was right. I was at the correct gate. I was just the first one to arrive. 20 minutes later, and the waiting area was filled with people! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2020

If you look back on your life, I am almost certain that you can think about a time when a word you heard, read or saw made a difference.

It may have been a long and terrible day, your little one wrapped their arms around you and said: “I love you”.  Or a time when you made a mistake at work that made you feel so down and a friendly co-worker reached out and said: “it could happen to anyone”. Maybe it was a simple occurrence, like you’re walking down the street and a phrase on someone’s T-shirt caught your attention and touched your heart which happened to me a few weeks ago. 

The words we see, hear or read can indeed transform our lives forever. That’s why the Bible emphasizes repeatedly the power of words.

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply and how good is a timely word!”

– Proverbs 15:23

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

– Proverbs 25:11

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of discipleship, to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.”

– Isaiah 50:4

Words are powerful! In our fast-paced, ever-changing world we have the privilege to use our words in many ways to impact the lives of others. We have the technology to express words in new ways and reach more people. We can talk to a friend in need through text. And we can send an email to a distant relative or use social media to encourage absolute strangers on the internet! We can use the word of God to really transform the lives of people we know and those we may never meet.

In the last few weeks we have seen how words spoken have had an impact over people’s lives, sadly the impact has been so negative to the point of people feeling they are not able to face this life anymore. We can destroy friendships or relationships that we spend years building instantly with a few words.  We can also use our words to completely turn around someone’s day.  It is my prayer that the latter is true for us, that we are found to be those people who speak words that are life-giving and encouraging to others.  

Now if you think about that, ask yourself this: how are you using your words and the platforms you use to express them? If you are not completely satisfied with your word-score on this question, then look around you today and find someone you can touch with your words.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2020

There are one of three ways that you can live your life today. 

You can be either a risk-taker, a caretaker or an undertaker.


Many people want to live out their lives by minimising the risk. They only feel happy if they can do things by having everything sorted first — a play it safe mentality. That’s completely understandable and necessary at times; but if you always only live life like that, you will find that it becomes counter productive in that you lose the passion for doing things and you end up just being a caretaker of your life.


The caretaker kind of person basically takes care of the present to make sure that everything is carefully thought through and water tight, yet has no dream for the future. 


The undertaker only looks back at the good old days and speaks of what used to happen; you tell stories of past achievements without releasing that you have no new material to speak of. 


Yet, the risk-taker boldly marches into the future and dreams of making a better tomorrow. They live life on the edge, they attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. 

All three have their own themes…
The risk-taker – God is doing a new thing.


The caretaker – I hope nothing unusual happens today. 

The undertaker just looks around and says “what happened?”


God is the greatest risk taker of all – He risked having His son, Jesus, die on the cross for those who may or may not accept and love Him. 
Romans 5:7-8 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 


The person that takes risks walks by faith and not by sight. He doesn’t worry about what he sees as obstacles in the natural, but believes that the God of the supernatural will meet everyone that is willing to step out and take risks. 


I dare you to be a risk-taker for God today. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2020

Your question this morning may be “why can’t I be happy?”

Someone once said “the road to happiness is always under construction” but if you have decided you’re not going to be happy then you won’t be. We trade in (even without realising we’re trading) happiness, for moaning, complaining and negativity. 

The moment you slip into one of those three, is the moment you just traded in some of your happiness. If happiness is dependant on happenings only, then none of us will always be happy, because things don’t always go right. There has to be something far deeper than that. 

However, the minute we allow feelings and thoughts to enter our head like “why cant I be happy? I’ll never be happy, everyone else is happy but me.” You’ve just slipped closer towards unhappiness because you made a trade. 
You may lean towards the negative because of parents, or the way you were brought up. You may lean towards it because you’re not positioned correctly now ie. you’re associating with the wrong people and you’re not in a great church. 

You may lean towards the negative because you have a bad attitude about people around you being happy and life “isn’t fair”. Whatever the reason for your negativity, CHANGE IT. You may not be in charge of circumstances, but you can choose how you react to them. 


Don’t live ‘under circumstances’. My Bible tells me I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. (see Ephesians 2 vs 6) which means the circumstances of life are actually under my feet as I am seated with Christ. What a beautiful thought. 

So today, change your thoughts from “why cant I be happy?” To “God wants me happy, blessed and to live a life to the full and today I am going to walk out that truth”.

Go on, I encourage you, don’t just read that sentence, speak it out!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2020

It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting your life on hold while waiting for answers, years can be spent in a holding pattern, waiting on God for breakthroughs, maybe in your health or a relationship issue. 

I want to encourage you today to ask yourself ‘in relation to this issue, what direction am I heading in?’ Basically, what are you bringing to the table by way of an answer, no matter how small?

Let me give you an example of how just small steps in the right direction can transform how you feel about the situation. There were two men – one seriously obese, struggling with depression and low self esteem, the other is super fit, playing sport daily, a picture of physical health. 
Two months pass and our overweight man has finally decided to stopped smoking and drinking, changed eating habits and walks daily. He’s already fitting into clothes he hasn’t worn for years and he feels great!

Our super fit guy has suffered a slight injury, and unable to exercise has spent most of his time in the house comfort eating, he’s put on a little weight and his skinny jeans are a little too skinny, his self esteem is at a low.


Both our men are still in reality at opposite ends of the fitness scale, but as the direction for both has changed, how they feel about their circumstances is transformed! Your direction transforms how you feel about your circumstance! 

This is great news! It means whatever is going on in your holding pattern today, wherever you feel stuck, you don’t need a genie to magic up a long awaited answer, but by making a decision to at least move in the right direction, shuffling little by little forward, you’ll soon start to feel differently about the issue!

The best set of circumstances in the world cannot guarantee happiness, but going in the right direction guarantees peace! 

Think about your life today; are you waiting on God for answers, do you feel it’s difficult to move on with life until certain situations are resolved? I want to encourage you today, get moving, make a decision, do something to begin. Do what you can no matter how small.

It may well not bring overnight success but it can bring overnight peace. 

Proverbs 15:16 | NIV Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2020

I’m currently sitting in Doha, waiting for a flight to Australia. 

Looking around there’s people wearing masks, protecting themselves from potentially coming into contact with the Coronavirus. News headlines tell me that in the last 24 hours alone, there have been 5,000 new cases of the virus in China. 

And I must admit, reading the headlines and seeing everyone around me wearing masks, it’s got me questioning myself, ‘maybe I should be doing the same?’. 

While I’ve taken precautions and used wisdom, we have to be careful not to let fear win over faith. 

When the Devil operates, he is showy, loud, fear breeding. He wants all our senses to be engaged – seeing masks, hearing reports, feeling fear. 

On the contrary, God works by faith, which is often NOT by sight. Faith is about trust in the character of God. 

2 Corinthians 5:17,

‘For we live by believing and not by seeing’. 

The challenge to us is, ‘what’s our first reaction to bad news?’ 

Do we instantly jump to fear, worry and panic? Or do we have greater faith? Do we truly believe the words of Psalm 91, ‘…He will save you from the deadly pestilence…He will be your shield …you will not fear the plague…He will command His angle to protect you’…. OR do the media headlines move us more?

We either believe we are covered by the protecting blood of the cross or we don’t. Sometimes it takes real life circumstances to surface where our faith levels are really at. 

Be aware that the enemy works hard to breed fear in people. Be aware that it takes courage and trust in God to operate by faith. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2020

Did you know that God is referenced to be holy more times in the Bible than He is referenced being love? Of course God is love, but equally, perhaps even more so, He is Holy. 

Could we live up to God’s standard of holy? No, but thank God for Jesus by whom we are brought to God’s standard. 

This doesn’t mean God hates sin any less than He did before Jesus’ death. God isn’t less Holy today than He was pre-Jesus’ death.

God still hates sin today. Not because He wants us to follow rules, but because He made us and knows that sin violates our design. Fun, for a bit maybe, but the Bible says that the fruit of sin is ultimately death (not necessarily literally death, but lack of life in relationships, emotions, mind, heart etc). 

Holy isn’t a fun word. Our generation especially struggles with the reality that sin has consequences. An emphasis on God being gracious and loving is more palatable, and true, but let us not forget that God is also holy. We need to view God through the lenses of both love AND holiness. 

God is grieved by sin. We should live with a sensitivity to honour God and the price He paid so we no longer need ties to sin. 

At salvation we receive the Holy Spirit…and He LIVES and walks with us as we live out our everyday Christianity. 

If we are sensitive to His nudgings, we will feel when something is grieving Him. After all, He is the HOLY Spirit. 

Be careful not to project your version of God onto Him. God is not defined by you. He is self-defining, and He defines Himself as Holy. That means there’s something in us as Christians, who respect God’s hatred for sin and trust His intentions toward us. And God in His goodness has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us and protect us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2020

What’s life if not the accumulation of the choices we make? In Deuteronomy 30 it says we all make a choice, life or death? It seems like a no brainer, who would choose death? In reality, the majority. Here’s just one example of two young men where the first chooses death and the other life. 

Both our guys are at the age where hormones are surging and all of a sudden the female form is everything. There’s two choices: to be disciplined and keep away from temptation, or instant gratification in the form of pornography.

Our first guy makes his choice and too easily accesses explicit images online leaving nothing to the imagination. Photoshopped, unrealistically perfected images that are difficult to unsee flood the mind. Instant gratification is soon replaced by instant guilt which creates a barrier of shame in his relationship with God. This then serves to make it easier to compromise moving forward and aided by the natural release of powerful hormones in the brain, very difficult to break habits are quickly formed. Not just a life of guilt follows but problems being intimate with any future partner are formed. The number one reason for intimacy difficulties in marriage is pornography. Failed relationships add to the catalogue of issues resulting from choosing death, this along with a life of guilt seem to mark out the whole of this person’s life. 

John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy

Now the second has chosen life, with the same temptations and hormones, he makes effort to keep himself as far from any temptation as possible, he’s set apart not just for his future partner but for God. It’s not easy but it’s much easier in the long run than having to deal with the fallout of addiction and guilt of pornography. He makes wise decisions to be disciplined and to keep away from certain materials, making tough calls to sacrifice and not watch the same programmes that all his friends seem to have no issue with watching. A choice is made every day not to leer at girls and to have a disciplined mind.


In time, a relationship comes along and it begins in the best way; intimacy and closeness haven’t been compromised by the effects that come from indulging the senses with inappropriate images. A healthy fruitful partnership is formed as they serve God side by side for life! 

This is just one example of the choices we make, for some it may be poor use of money, chasing wrong relationships or substance abuse. You may feel it’s too late, that you’ve already chosen death, God is faithful and uses all things together for the good of those who love him. Repent today, make a decision to change bad habits, and little by little start making the choices that lead to life! 


John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully. 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2020



In the early 1900’s, cotton farmers in Alabama were facing the extinction of their crops. A tiny insect called the Boll weevil had migrated from Mexico and was eating its way through the cotton plantation.

The farmers tried everything they could to get rid of the infestation. They even tried to exterminate it with all kinds of new chemicals, but all to no avail. All they could do was to sit back and watch it happen.

As the darkest days for all the farmers lay ahead, one of them came up with an idea. He said, “instead of planting our normal cotton crops, let’s plant peanuts.” Everyone thought he was crazy; they knew they couldn’t even make a living from them, or so they thought.

However, as they went ahead with the peanut plan, they soon realised that the Boll weevils didn’t like the taste of them, and instead, the crops took off in a way they had never seen. Each of the farmers were now making more in a month than what they had previously done in a whole year before. In fact, many of the farmers never went back to the cotton trade again. They stuck with the peanuts.

At the time, everything for the farmers seemed bleak, but amazingly God used even the Boll weevil to bless them and bring them into a new level of prosperity.

Right now you maybe facing a setback, but God is really positioning you for a comeback. My encouragement to you is to stay in faith and God will turn things around. He works in mysterious ways. What may seem like that its sent to destroy you, God can use to bring about something far greater in your life.

Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones today.

We find in the Old Testament, the account of Isaac living in a double famine; not just one famine, but one right after another causing the land to be desolate. He could have just sat there and complained about his circumstances, but instead we read…

Genesis 26:12-14 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

Whenever I’ve hit a financial crisis, I’ve learnt that its not time to moan and complain but its a time to sow even more.

Whatever is going on in your life today, make a decision not to be intimidated by lack, but to see that God is going to bring about your deliverance through it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 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.’


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2020

Everyone wants success. Success comes by knowing God’s Word and applying it to our lives. Joshua 1 vs 8 says “meditate on the Word of God day and night and then you will be successful in whatever you do.” Notice ‘and then’ – the principal followed by the promise. 

You’ll only know God’s word, if you read God’s word. ‘Why will this make me successful?’, you may ask…


The Bible gives us everything we need for life.  
It tells us how much God loves us and that He has a great plan for our lives. 
It tells me that even when I feel the opposite, I can trust in His word.  


It tells me that even when I feel like everyone is against me, He is for me. It tells me principals for life including marriage, parenting, business and money. It talks about forgiveness and healing.  
It talks about salvation and restoration. 
The Bible covers everything!

When I walk in the truth of God’s word EVERY DAY, I WILL be successful. But if I don’t read it, then I won’t know it. 


Romans 10 v 17 says that faith comes by hearing (reading) the word of God. Even if I’m in a situation right now that is not good, I can take the word of God, believe it and apply it. That in turn will give me faith. It’s better to walk in faith, than doubt. 

A double minded man (see James ch 1) will receive nothing.  
And when I am faith-filled and when I trust God, THEN I will live a successful life. 
Take God’s word today. Read it. Apply it. Love it. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2020

There are three types of love described in the Greek language.

The first is Phileo.

This describes brotherly or sisterly love; the love of friendship and companionship; the affection between two friends.

Secondly is Eros.

This describes romantic love (this needs no explanation).

Thirdly, there is Agape.

This is described as the selfless love of one person for another. It is this description of love that best describes the love of God or Christ for humanity. 
Jesus demonstrated this love when he gave up his life willingly for humanity He stood in each of our place and took on the punishment and judgement that was rightfully due to us. His sacrifice demonstrated the love he was calling his disciples and his future followers to demonstrate.

John 13:12-17
Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus was so close to death when he spoke these words. Fully God and fully man, Jesus knew full well what was awaiting him after his last meal. His last few hours of freedom were spent with people that would soon abandon him. Yet, with this knowledge what was his response? He wrapped a towel around his waist, bent down, assumed the posture of a servant, and washed the feet of, a betrayer (Judas), a denier (Peter), and 10 Deserters (the remaining disciples)
John 13:7 – Jesus said ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 
Jesus wanted his friends to understand and experience first hand the love of agape ‘I love you more than I love myself, and I do not demand anything from you.’ A love lavished upon them when they least deserved it. A love undeserved.


Later, most, but sadly not all, would look back and understand what Jesus was saying as he washed and rinsed their feet.
‘I forgive you in advance for your upcoming, epic fail. Though it will surprise you, remember that it does not surprise me. My love will still be here when you return.’

Today, I want to remind you that you are loved! Even on our worst day, God the Father is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son who demonstrates a relentless love that pursues us and unashamedly declares love for us. We ALL need this kind of unconditional, audacious love! It is a love available to us all when we accept Jesus and come into a relationship with him. The experience of this love and sharing it with others, has the power to change our lives and those around us. Ultimately, this love has the power to transform our world. 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2020


We all have a story. The fact that you are sitting and reading this means that you have experiences completely unique to you.

It is human nature to want to present the best sides of ourselves. It can be tempting to hide our struggles because we want to be perceived in a particular way.

A challenge for all of us today is to be our authentic selves, flaws and all. The Bible says that where we are weak, God is our strength. Your struggles could encourage someone else today.

That redundancy that you overcame? It may push someone experiencing unemployment to their breakthrough.

Those children that you prayed so hard for? They may just show other couples God’s faithfulness.

Your past mistakes and how God changed your life may show someone the way out of their sin.

You never know whose faith can be lifted by your story. The greats that we read about in the Bible faced major struggles and made huge mistakes – God still uses their stories to encourage us today, on our own journey.

‭‭‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬ ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”’

‬‬Never be ashamed of your testimony. God can use it in the most amazing ways. Nothing is wasted.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2020


At one point or another we will all come face to face with disappointment. Disappointment is a product of unmet expectation, delayed dreams and hope deferred. It can be a real painful pang deep in our hearts and comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe that promotion you’ve been working toward for years wasn’t offered to you, perhaps a loved one is ill and you are still waiting on healing, maybe someone you care about didn’t come through like you wanted them to, you let down yourself, or there is a promise from God that He seems to have forgotten. 

Disappointment is a reality of life, but it is so important that we learn how to overcome it before we find it taking root in our hearts and turning into depression, resentment or rebellion. 

So how can we deal with disappointment? 

1. Acknowledge it! Don’t deny your feelings of disappointment by covering them up and ignoring them. Recognise them and share them with God. Even David a mighty warrior and ‘a man after God’s own heart’ said, ‘My eyes fail, looking for my God’ (Psalm 69:2–3). Why would God include someone expressing their disappointment in Him, in scripture? I believe God is secure enough to let us know that disappointment is part of the Christian life and acknowledging it and expressing it to God is part of processing it. 

2. Choose joy! If ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’ (Psalm 28:7) then that means the level of my strength is determined by my level of my joy. Happiness is to do with happenings, which changes all the time. Joy is choice. The level at which we believe God loves us, cannot be determined by our circumstance, it needs always to be defined by the finished work of cross! That is our reference point and reminder, and source of joy. 1 Thessalonians 16 – 18 says, ‘be joyful always’. ‘Always’ implies always – good times and bad!

3. Surrender! Nothing feels quite as good as just letting go. Coming to the end of yourself so God can carry you in the pain. Habakkuk knew what it was to surrender to God and choose joy. When it was revealed that his country would be destroyed, he concluded: 

‘Though the fig tree not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Saviour’ (Habakkuk 3:17-18). 

Find hope today that truth reigns over your feelings. Trust the nature and goodness of God, despite what your feelings and circumstance tell you. 

Proverbs 3:5 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2020



Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.

Every supermarket nowadays has a very basic range of products in order to appeal to shoppers that want or need to purchase goods at the lowest possible value.

We are all aware of entry level ranges that carry labels like ‘smart price’, ‘basics’ or ‘value range’.

Those special labels that we have come to recognise, help us to identify quality at affordable prices, knowing that there is not going to be anything of a better value than this. The supermarket branding is telling us that this is the lowest we can go. There is no need to search for a bargain, as this is it!

As we search in life for what is of great value today, we have to come to a point of understanding that there is a very basic entry level to which we can go and no lower. If we go any lower in the way we conduct ourselves, then we have passed the point of being effective and helping anyone out there today.

The basics of our faith can be displayed at the very least in three areas…our Mouth, our Mind and our Moods.

The labels on the value range of our faith have got to be displayed in us being trustworthy, having integrity, and living honestly.

If you are living below the very basics of who we are, then we are living below the ‘spiritual poverty line’. You cannot live any lower than that and profess to be a Christian.

Stop blaming everyone else for your mouth, mind and mood. The only way others can influence you is by you allowing them to.

One translation of the above verse, says…’ like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who has no rule over his spirit’.

Its time to get back to basics and start taking rule over your own life.

Stop telling half truths which are really lies. Stop compromising your stance on things which really means you are afraid to be counted. Stop making lame excuses for being late, stop being in a mood and ripping into someone with your tongue again.

Your values have been compromised and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Ask God to forgive you right now, and then ask Him to fill you with His power so that you can be an overcomer. Now start to live a life that is worthy of Gods calling on you.

You can’t do it alone but WITH God all things are possible.

Colossians 1:10 … live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2020

Discipline and routine is good. It develops character, creates the momentum for consistency, and brings order into our lives. 

Be careful with routine though. Routine risks us coming into a place of ‘just going through the motions’. 

How often do we give out of routine, or complacency, forgetting the ‘why’ behind what we are doing? In our routines we can become comfortable and complacent.  

If we are simply routine in giving – giving of money, time, energy, it no longer becomes a sacrifice for us. Our routine of giving is just something to ease our conscience, not something that costs us something, not a true sacrifice. 

The purpose of sacrifice is to transform us, not to ease our conscience. Our giving, our sacrifices, should be done with reason, not just routine.  God falls on sacrifice – that which we give him, that which has cost us something. When something truly costs us, it is challenging and uncomfortable. This is good. 

Be careful in your relationships that they are no longer void of costing you something. Our relationships should be causing us to sacrifice –our comfort, our time, our effort, our money (this does not mean you should be in draining, compromising or damaging relationships). Don’t just look for relationships that squeeze into your routine and comfortable bubble. God is moved by relationships that cost us something. 

God is moved by sacrifice. When giving challenges us, it is transforming us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2020

Do you remember your first encounter with Jesus? 
The word ‘encounter’ simply means to ‘run into’. When we ‘run into God’, that is the best thing that can happen to us. 
We need those encounters, because only an encounter with God can transform us and give us purpose and direction like no other.


Sometimes when life has beaten us down, we are worn out, or just tired of being disappointed, it can be hard for us to seek in those times or remember those times we have already had… Those times when we experienced God in a fresh and real way. 

Through His faithfulness in my own life, there are a couple of things I have learned about God encounters: 

  1. Don’t fear the encounter.

We often fear what we don’t understand. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1 v 7) 
Don’t worry that God isn’t going to show up. You will encounter Him. We spend more of our time worrying about life than actually living life. The recipe for God’s peace is clear.  Do not worry about anything. Pray about everything. Tell Him what you need. Thank Him for what He’s already done. (Philippians 4v6).


2. The promises He gives us are true 

God promises that He will always be with you and will never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31 v 8). Sometimes it can be really easy to forget the living presence of Jesus in our lives because we can get complacent or we can make excuses to not spend time with Jesus. We can easily forget what God has done for us. His word is full of promises, it’s when we spend time in His presence that He reveals those and speaks those promises to us. 

Let us all be patient between those God Encounters, expectant of future ones, and thankful for the miracles He’s already done in our lives. God Encounters often will come at the perfect time and often in ways in which we don’t fully understand. God chooses us all, but it is only those who respond and are available to that call that really encounter Him. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we available for Him?” 

Let’s start spending time with Jesus and His Word and as you do that, you will encounter Him… and those moments have the potential to be life-changing. 


Natalie Bloxwich

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2020

Sometimes we can be presented with a chance to share something important and it’s up to us to seize the opportunity. 

I love the perseverance of Paul in Acts 20:7-12.

Paul was speaking to the people of Troas but he wasn’t going to be there long so took the opportunity to use the time to the fullest and kept talking until midnight. 

However, the late-night talking and dim lighting got a bit too much for a man named Eutychus, who nodded off and fell out of a third storey window. 

Verse 9 (NIV) says ‘he was picked up dead.’

Not ideal for Paul during his message.

However, Paul went outside, threw his arms around Eutychus and he came back to life. The chapter then goes on to say that they all went back inside, had supper and Paul carried on telling faith stories until dawn.

Paul quite literally talked someone to death, rose them from the dead, took them back inside and carried on talking.

Paul had something important to say.

Sometimes we can feel like Paul. Sometimes we can feel like when we are sharing the good news to people in our world that it falls on deaf ears. It can be disheartening when the person we keep inviting to church doesn’t come. But Paul didn’t get disheartened by the death in the middle of his message. 

In verse 12, it says ‘the people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.’

Paul’s perseverance in sharing the Word of God resulted in people leaving greatly comforted, not annoyed that he’d (momentarily) bored someone to death. 

God didn’t punish Eutychus for not listening; his life was restored and he was given another opportunity. 

Like God perseveres with us, we should continue to persevere with others. Continue to encourage people with Godly words. Continue to invite people to church. 

Nights of Hope are approaching; it’s the perfect opportunity for lives and hope to be restored.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2020

Afford yourself the luxury of having time to think.

Busy-ness is what seems to give us our identity.

When asked how you are, the standard answer always seems to be ‘busy thanks, how are you?’ … ‘I’m busy too, really busy.’

It’s as if the 21st century has inbred a sense of failure or weakness into us, if we are not constantly busy.

Being busy seems to be a way of hiding the real me. It’s a way of saying ‘I’m really needed’, ‘I’m important’, ‘I haven’t got a minute’, ‘I have a full diary.’ ‘I’m successful.’

Is it possible that you are a busy fool? Or maybe you are pretending to be so busy so that you don’t come across as unsuccessful, without any purpose.

One of the tensions in our house is trying to get my wife to sit down for a few minutes. Her standard reply is one of two things: “there’s too much to do” or “ “I feel guilty if I stop and sit down.”

My standard reply always goes like this: “if you feel guilty about stopping, then you have a problem.”

Every one of us needs to be guilt free when it comes down to making time to think.

Without thinking time, you lose your way in life.

Without thinking time, things get out of proportion.

Without thinking time, you lose perspective.

Without thinking time, you lose sight of God.

Without thinking time, you are prone to make wrong choices.

Dedicate a chair in your home as a thinking chair and stop seeing that ceasing from work is wrong and start to see that thinking is a necessary form of work that helps keep our lives on track.

Thinking punctuates our lives and gives them greater meaning and effectiveness. Sit down today and allow yourself a little luxury thinking time.

Proverbs 23v7 ‘As a man thinks… so is he.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2020

Life can throw us some unexpected curveballs. Things can be different to how you imagined, prayed or planned. 

Perhaps we are living in the product of our poor choices, and it’s not good.  BUT there is ALWAYS hope with God. 

Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’. 

If you love God, and if you have been called (which you have), then God is working whatever situation you are in for good. 

God doesn’t just have a plan A and if that doesn’t work, then we are stuffed. God has a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and a plan D… and He can work the plan D to be as brilliant as plan A!

Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection was never plan A, as glorious as all that was… that was plan B. Plan A was walking closely with God in the Garden of Eden, in perfect unity and relationship, but sin brought plan B into motion, and God in His goodness made a way where perfect unity and relationship with God was possible again. 

God is bigger than you. His grace and abilities far outweighs the worst choices or situations you could possibly make for yourself. He works all things for good. So if things aren’t good yet, God isn’t done yet. 

Yes they’re consequences to actions, but with a repentant and surrendered heart, there is nothing God cannot move, shake, transform and remake. 

Instead of focusing on what has gone wrong, or what could go wrong, focus on what God can make right. Focus on the impossible that God can pull off, not just despite the bad, but actually USING the bad and the ugly, turning it into something good and beautiful! God said he will turn ALL THINGS for good…not some things…ALL THINGS!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2020

Did you know that 90% of our communication with one another is done not through words, butbody language? 

Actions literally speak louder than words. 

People will notice what you do, more than what you say. They will hear your words, but follow your actions. 

Our actions are constantly communicating something. 

In our relationships we are saying something through our actions. If we say someone is important to us, but rarely make time for them, what we are actually communicating is that they are not that important to us. If we say we are available to someone, but don’t bother replying to their messages, we are really saying that they are not that important. If we say we value a friendship but forget important dates, and are never giving, then we are communicating that they aren’t worth it to us. If we are arriving late to appointments with people, we are communicating that we don’t respect them enough to honour their time. Our actions can seem small and insignificant, but constantly communicate loud and clear messages. 

We have all failed in communicating what we really want to. This isn’t to shame anyone. 

This Christmas just gone, the Queen gave her annual Christmas Day speech. Her overarching message, was ‘small steps not giant leaps bring about the most lasting change’. We crave the big, dramatic leaps of life – but it is in the small steps, the small choices, that bring about the most meaningful changes. The most lasting change is in the seemingly insignificant honouring of someone’s time, a thank you message, a reply or response, an honouring gift on a special date or just for no reason, an unexpected phone call to see how someone is going, listening carefully, following up on someone who has told you they are struggling. These small gestures make for a lasting difference. We want to change the world, but it starts with the small things we are already communicating. 

1 John 3:18 says, ‘…let us not love in word or talk, but in action and deed’. James 2:17 says, ‘…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead’ and ‘be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’.  

God is not looking for big, grand, noble acts from us, He is looking for the ongoing, daily personal sacrifice, and honouring of others. Jesus shines through how we do relationships. A transformed city (a big change), starts with valuing people in the small and seemingly insignificant things (small steps). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2020

Pearls of wisdom for a Monday morning …

  • Upgrade to the size of your future
  • Don’t read your child’s school report as though it were a prophecy. 
  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen —Sir Winston Churchill
  • The most significant achievement of our age is not that man stood on the moon, but that God, through Jesus walked upon the earth —Astronaut James Irwin.
  • We stand tallest when we are on our knees. 
  • Stop everyday and look at the size of God. 
  • The future belongs to those that see possibilities before it becomes obvious. 
  • Giving is the highest level of living. 
  • Our confidence is not in answered prayer, but in the fact that God hears us. 
  • When your output is more than your input then your upkeep becomes your downfall
  • When Jesus said ‘ I am with you always..’ He didn’t make a promise, He stated a fact. 

And finally…If at first you don’t succeed – you’re normal.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2020

Moses’ mother hid him in a basket because she didn’t want him to die.  That basket signified a lot of things, but one thing it shows us about his mother is that she was a defender. When God has a special plan or purpose, defend it.When God shows you something precious, defend it. When you see the significance you have in God, defend it. 

The Bible tells me that Satan comes to steal and kill and destroy.  (John 10 vs 10). Would we willingly leave our front door open for robbers to come and help themselves? Of course not! So why do we let the enemy steal from us?


Our joy – at the first sign of trouble or difficulty it goes out the window. Our peace – when we take our focus off God and not onto God, we lose peace. Our faith – when we start to let doubts in and don’t keep trusting His word.  


You may have played the part of a defender in sport, you are there to stop the opposing team (the enemy) score a goal.  A defender has to be switched on and diligent.  Not with their focus elsewhere or asleep.

The Bible says “we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2 vs 11)

Watch out my friend.  Be alert today.  Don’t get robbed of your joy, your destiny or your purpose.  
Be a DEFENDER.   Do whatever you can, with whatever you have, to defend the life of God in you and those around you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st January 2020

In the last few years I have come across the term ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out). FOMO has probably been around since the fall of mankind, but the term has become more widely used over the last ten years. With the rise of the internet and social media, people’s feelings of anxiety have skyrocketed. Many feel they are missing out, they are being left out and their lives are not as wonderful and fulfilling as those of others. Comparison is the thief of joy and it brings nothing but feelings of anxiety, resentment and inner distress.

I remember reading about J.D. Rockefeller. He was an American billionaire, back in the early 1900’s. During an interview, his response to the question, “How much money is enough?” was “Just a little bit more.” Although he originally set out to make $100,000, but then discovered he had an insatiable desire to keep increasing his wealth. It was never enough to satisfy him.

We can learn from this in our current struggles with FOMO, powerfully fanned into flames in our social media age. We might think, “If only I had what these other people have, then I would feel happy”. But this is a lie.

Amazingly, long before the invention of internet, we find the answer to this problem in the Bible. Paul was able to share from his own experience of life, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation’ (Philippians 4:11-12). And the ‘secret’ to being content is a principle which applies to all situations always.

It is not having what we want which makes us content. Only appreciating what we already have can do that. Therefore, Paul was content, whether he had a lot or a little. And we can be like that too, when we thank God for what we already have. This applies not only to money but to friends, social life, marriage, relationships – every sphere of life. The miracle is that, when we thank God and appreciate what we already have, it suddenly becomes enough.

In this life we have Jesus with us always, in all circumstances, in all places. In our future life we will have heaven with Him. It is ours to enjoy forever. Whatever the world has to offer, it cannot compete with God. So, I believe that is impossible for us, as God’s children, to ‘miss out’.

My prayer for us all, especially the younger generation is that when we feel unhappy or discontent we choose to thank God for what He has already given us and for what He has promised us.  Matthew 16: 31-32 tells us: Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2020

Change is hard. My husband and I recently moved house and the stress was over the top. We had a two-week period of living at my parents and don’t get me wrong, it was pretty good because we had delicious meals, washing, ironing all done for us. But it was change.

The challenge came when we had to sort the shower schedule for the morning, with six people needing to use the bathroom all before 7am it was a crazy schedule. 

For quite a while, I couldn’t find my favourite jumper or my hairbrush. Oh, and my toothbrush? I just gave up looking for it and bought another one.

Having recently moved areas, it meant that I was no longer on auto pilot and I had to get used to a new journey to and from work. I spent a lot of energy trying to find a new direction and when there was traffic, I had to find an alternative route. 

Moving house has been overwhelming. 

On a daily basis we are all going through changes…

Relationships change.

Locations change.

Jobs change.

Our bodies change.

We change.

During our season of change, it’s taught me that life is fragile, uncertain and temporary but something that lasts forever is God.

“For I, the Lord, do not change”

Malachi 3:6


Whether you are moving house, changing job or experiencing a change in your relationships, we can always trust in God. He doesn’t change. 

Through my season of change this verse from Isaiah 40:8 really stood out to me

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our god will stand forever.”

We can find comfort in God, his plans are unshakeable, his word is dependable. 

You can trust Him to carry you through anything you face today. 


Psalm 46:1

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” 

Things may continue to change around us but no matter what changes we face, we must not fear. We must turn to our rock and anchor our unchanging God whose promises remain forever. 

I trust this devotion motivates you to draw closer to God during a change in your life.

Gabby Clarke

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2020

In the story of the calling of the first disciples we see a check list that can help us assess our lives and see if we’re missing anything that could be causing a lack of growth or frustration in our walk with Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11 | NIV One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Firstly they met Jesus! If you are reading this today as a follower of Jesus you can tick it off, if not I encourage you today to invite him into your life. 

Secondly he taught them. Every week we get great teaching in our churches on a Sunday, maybe a podcast or daily devotion like this one, also whenever we open our bibles in a set aside time, tick. 


Thirdly he performed a miracle! I’m sure most followers reading this can look at some point in your life where God has brought a miraculous provision or answer you’ve been looking for, tick. And again, if not, he is faithful and wants to meet our needs so I encourage you to today, give your needs over to him.

 
Fourthly, he called them! We have all been called to follow him, to live our lives in a relationship with God our maker through his son Jesus Christ, tick. 

So far so good, but finally is the tick box we easily over look. It’s finishes with vs11:
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Often I believe we struggle because despite being able to tick off meeting Jesus, having great teaching, seeing him act in our lives and being called, we can struggle to take the final step to fully lay down our lives and follow him. I encourage you today put all your eggs in the one basket today and surrender to him in every area of life, as 1 Peter2:6 says ‘the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2020

On the evening before my 20th birthday I remember praying, asking God to bless the years of my twenties. Tonight is the eve of my 30th birthday and it feels like just yesterday that I prayed that prayer. Ten years have flown, and from the other side I can definitely say that God really has given me a blessed decade!  

I appreciate that people much older than thirty, with a lot more life experience than me, may be reading this, but I do think I have learnt a few lessons from my twenties. After all, it was in my twenties that I graduated university, started my career, taught hundreds of people, travelled to nearly thirty countries, got married, and moved to the other side of the world. Safe to say, in all of that I have learnt a thing or two.

So here are thirty lessons from my twenties. Some of them may seem like cliché comments, but they are not. I have carefully selected them from first-hand experiences: 

Lesson #1: The principals of God always stand (it may take years for you to see the fruit, but you will see it!). Always go God’s way. 

Lesson #2: Find mentors and models in every season. 

Lesson #3: Feelings don’t always tell the truth. Let the word of God be your standard of truth. 

Lesson #4: Love people. Aside from God, people are the most precious thing you have. You will never regret loving people too much. 

Lesson #5: Travel, experiences, nice things are fun, but don’t totally satisfy, and are not what life is about. 

Lesson #6: Leaders are people, who we honour, but like you, they are also imperfect. Leaders are not God. 

Lesson #7: No church is perfect, but she is still beautiful and Jesus still died for her. You need the church and the church needs you! 

Lesson #8: You reap what you sow. Where you invest and sacrifice is where you reap reward. 

Lesson #9: Have a vision for every area of your life. 

Lesson #10: Life goes quickly. Spend your time well. 

Lesson #11God loves you more than you know. He knows more than you know. 

Lesson #12Hunger for wisdom (the way God does things). 

Lesson #13Look after your body. Your health is precious. 

Lesson #14People all over the world are the same. All of humanity hungers for the same core things – to be loved and valued. 

Lesson #15Ask lots of questions. 

Lesson #16Don’t push your way into opportunity. Be faithful, and let God open doors. 

Lesson #17: Don’t take life too seriously. Have fun. Get over petty things. Regularly ask yourself, ‘in light of eternity, will this matter?’

Lesson #18Worry will rob you. 

Lesson #19Thankfulness will protect you. 

Lesson #20Being busy is not something to be proud of. 

Lesson #21God will use everything. 

Lesson #22The degree to which you honour people, is the degree to which you will have influence over them. 

Lesson #23Sometimes God has something else planned. 

Lesson #24The best things in life are not instant and easy. They require vision, persistence, patience, and help from God. 

Lesson #25: Live to give, not to get. 

Lesson #26: Love people through their flaws. 

Lesson #27: Work hard to keep your heart in a good place. 

Lesson #28: What is popular, isn’t always right. 

Lesson #29: Your attitude will take you further than your ability. 

Lesson #30: Your words are seeds. Careful what you are sowing, because it will start growing! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2020

My mother-in-law had a new washing machine delivered, and my promise was to install it for her.

I was a little pushed for time, but she was eager to get it in place, so I popped in with a few tools one lunchtime.

I secured the water pipes, connected the electric supply and carefully pushed the new machine into a very tight spot underneath the kitchen units.

Everything was seeming to work fine, as I quickly tested it to make sure that the power and water supply were all as they should be. Job done.

For the next three days, I had calls from her telling me that something wasn’t right and that every time the machine went into its spin cycle, the whole kitchen would shake.

Like a Doctor, I asked her over the phone all about the symptoms and advised her about overloading it and anything else that I thought may be the cause.

Eventually, I decided to go back, take the washer out and start again.

It turned out that it was completely my fault.  I had overlooked the fact that I should have taken the very long transportation bolts that come with a brand new washer to hold the drum secure during delivery.

The bolts meant that there was no flexibility in the drum when spinning, so would violently vibrate, potentially damaging everything around it.

As much as it pained me to realise that I could have badly damaged the machine, I also realised that it was a great life lesson too.

Sometimes in our lives we have to acknowledge that we are being held back by the things that have never been removed during transportation.

I love the story in the Bible about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; but then in the very next breath Jesus says…’take off his grave cloths and let him go.’

It wasn’t enough just to be brought back to life, until the bandages that held him tight in death were unravelled.

How many of us today have felt the effects, not of bandages but of bondages that have wrapped around us during transportation?

Unkind words spoken over our lives, bitterness about our past, unforgiveness over a broken relationship – the list goes on and on but what is true is that not only do these things hold us back, they also affect everything and everyone else around us. When we behave this way, we cause a ripple effect of negativity wherever we go.

We were not created to be restricted by our hang-ups, but to be set free to do what we were created to do by God.

Today, take a brief step back, in order to go forwards.

Ask yourself: what is it in my past that is causing me to behave in such a way today?

Identify the problem and then ask Jesus to be the solution. Allow Him access into your private world so that He can take off your grave clothes and let you go.

Be free.
John 8:36 ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2020

Have you ever met a double minded person? Of course you have. People who say one thing and do another; people who are ‘yes’ one day and ‘no’ the next. 

The Bible teaches in James 1 that we are not to be doubleminded, because if we are, we will receive nothing. This is what it says about being double-minded in prayer. Verses 6 & 7  “but when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.. that person should not expect to receive anything for the Lord”

  That’s a challenge to each one of us. How many of us have been in a prayer meeting, praying for someone who needs a miracle, then as we get onto the car park, our speech doesn’t match up to our ‘faith filled ‘ prayer?  “What a shame for that person etc, they are so sick, there’s no hope etc”.Or maybe you’ve asked God to meet your need and one minute you’re believing in prayer for a miracle, the next you’re speaking the opposite. 
Be careful.  The Word of God teaches we will receive NOTHING if we are like that.  

I noticed something this week just a few verses earlier in vs 2-4…(you should always read the context of the verses).
It says we should consider it joy when we face trials of many kinds, because it will produce perseverance…THEN it goes on to say about not being double minded.  


I wonder why?  It’s because when we face trials and difficulties it’s easy to get into two trains of thought…Will God or won’t He? Faith v doubt. Yes God can v maybe He can’t? Is He with me or not?

Today, be single minded. Even if you’re going through a trial. Be true to the courage of your convictions and what you know to be true. Stand firm on the promises of God. If you don’t believe it, don’t pray it. For a double minded person will receive nothing.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24 January 2020

How would you empty a lake? One bucketful at a time!

It sounds very simple, but in practice, it’s very easy to be cynical or show contempt for the little things in life, especially ones that don’t seem to provide big, immediate results.

In Luke 13 verses 6 to 8, Jesus tells a parable of a man who went through a vineyard he owned, and when he didn’t find fruit on one of the trees, demanded to have it cut down. The gardener instead asks to be given a year where he promises to consciously take better care of the tree in the hope that it would produce some fruit and thereby save it.

This gardener is a lot like us. He was in charge of the garden, but hadn’t been concerned with tending to the tree because his attention was focused on other trees that bore good fruit.

It’s well known that the best hardwood comes from slow growing trees. Each year, they grow new leaves, knowing full well that the leaves will grow and eventually fall off, but that knowledge doesn’t make them stop the process.

As we grow, we also go through seasons where we’re looking vibrant, full of life, and growth is evident to everyone looking at us.

Then seasons come where from the outside, it looks like you’re down and out, as if you’ve thrown in the towel.

Throughout the different seasons, the tree remains rooted in the same place.

Wherever you find yourself today, the dry season is not the time to give up and move away from the things God has spoken to you to do. He allows you to develop through slow processes, but you have to remain consistent in your prayer life, and faith that not only is God growing you, but He is preparing you for greater things to come.

As Napoleon Hill said, “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2020

We have a generation on our hands that is hungry for success and significance. Where previous generations may have been content with a more ‘simple life’, we desire the big, the ambitious, the best. 

While the desire for success is absolutely from God, we must consider what our measuring stick is. What are we defining as success? Are we holding ourselves to a standard that actually is not from God? 

God wants us to be successful, or another word – fruitful. In fact, Jesus hated anything that was not bearing fruit. If God has created something, He has designed it to carry life and reproduce/bare fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22). Why? Because it was bearing leaves, it had the appearance of life, it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it wasn’t actually producing fruit. God doesn’t want us to have the appearance of fruitfulness (religion), but actually just be a bunch of leaves. He wants success to be a real part of our lives, because of who we are connected to. We should be producing fruit as we are a branch connected to the true vine (Jesus), John 15:1-8. 

So what is this true success then? What should be our focus? To find out what God defines as true success, let us look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. 

FACT: Three men were given different amounts of money in which they were told to increase. (This was a common way of investment for masters of servants in the context of this scripture). 

POINT: There is no point comparing to the person next to you, because despite what you may think, God doesn’t actually operate on fairness. He gives each of us something different based on what He believes we can handle. 

FACT: The third man returned exactly what God gave him. 

Point: Don’t think you can just give back to God what you started with. He wants to see increase in your life. 

FACT: Even one talent was a lot. 

POINT: Just because the person next to you may have more, doesn’t mean you haven’t already been given a lot in life. 

FACT: They had to give an account to the master, with what they did with their money. 

POINT: We will have to give an account to God on what we did with our life. 

FACT: The master congratulated them on being ‘good and faithful’ not once mentioning the amount of money that they made. 

POINT: God is not looking for numbers, or titles (things we may define as success), He is looking for character, heart and stewardship of whatever we have been given. 

‘Well done good and faithful servant’ is the definition of success. To hear God say to us at the end of our life, ‘well done good and faithful servant’, you were faithful with what you were given – you stewarded your marriage well, your relationships well, your mouth and words, your job, your money, your body – whatever you were given, you were faithful and managed it well’. THAT IS SUCCESS! 

It isn’t about the amount. It isn’t about the numbers. It isn’t all the facts and stats that is going to interest God. What God is looking for is – WHATEVER He gave me, I was faithful with it.  

At the end of your life, you want to ask yourself:  Did I do what God said to do? – Did I use whatever I got given? – Was outcome my focus or stewardship? – Did I hear Him say, ‘well done, good and faithful servant?’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2020


You may be aware of the fires currently raging in Australia. 1400 homes destroyed, 28 lives lost, 25.2 million acres of environment burnt to a crisp, killing 1billion animals. And with no sign of slowing down, these fires are predicted to continue into April. 

I personally know people who have experienced significant loss because of these fires. I also have friends who are fighting the fires, or rescuing whatever wildlife remains. Yesterday my Dad was photographing some of the most devastated areas. He commented on how silent the environment was – deep ash covering the earth,cblack poles for trees, and no sounds of blowing leaves or tweeting birds. Any remaining animals are starving as they root around for some remains to feed on. 

Amidst the dire situation, there is some hope. There are some seeds that are actually only activated by fire. Their species require fire for the seeds to sprout. The fire melts the resin on the outside of the seed. These cones/fruits can only open to release their seeds after the heat of a fire has physically melted the resin. More than 60 plant species, never before recorded in some parks, have flourished since the fires. Plants that were under threat before the fire, are now germinating prolifically. 

I wonder what new life is available amidst the fires of our lives. Even after absolute loss and devastation, there is a hope. In fact there is a new life and fruit in us that only a fire can produce. We may be burnt, we may feel completely devastated, but even after the flames, there is life that would have otherwise never existed if it were not for the burn. Your devastation now has unlocked something new. It can be easy to focus on the significant and heartbreaking loss, and the loss must be acknowledged and grieved, but what if God is able to bring about something new because of it? 

There are many occasions in the scripture where Jesus bought life after death. Jesus raised people from dead (John 11:1-44), even His life is a testament to life after death (Mark 16:6), and WE have the promise of life after death (John 11:25-26). 

When Jesus is involved, new life is an absolute. He removes the painful sting of loss, by providing a hope, a sprouting seed, while we stand in the ash (1 Corinthians 15:55). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st January 2020

If you’ve ever been made a promise, you will probably know that the level of expectation you have that that promise will be fulfilled is determined by the level of trust you have in the one who made it.


For instance, if someone with a not-so-great reputation makes me a promise, I will have my doubts that they will keep to it. But if a long-time friend who I have grown to know and trust makes me a promise, I can almost be certain that they’ll be true to their word.


All that to say this… a promise is something that you could argue against. What cannot be argued is a proven principle.


The Bible is full of proven principles, that if abided by can lead to you experiencing a better way of life. One of these principles is recorded in 2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭and it says this; “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
Now you may not believe in God and therefore you might switch off at the inclusion of a Bible verse. However, this here is not a promise to be argued, but rather a proven principle to be applied.


Just ask any farmer, whether a believer in God or not, and they will tell you that the principle of sowing and reaping is a law of life. It is what it is. It works.


Ask any gym-goer, and they will tell you, what they put in determines what they get out.
I believe that God is the One who set this principle in motion, so that we might have a key to experiencing a blessed life. But the ball is in your court… how are you going to sow your words, your time, your money? Will it be sparingly or will it be generously? Because the harvest that you experience in your life of any one of these things will be determined by the level in which you give.

The choice is yours and the choice is mine… at what level do I want to reap? Once you decide that, you know what to do next.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2020



It was not until we moved house several years ago that I had to learn a new skill…that of lighting a real fire.

It looked pretty simple to me, and I couldn’t wait for the winter nights to draw in, so that we could have our very own coal fire. It would bring back so many fond memories from when I was a child. A few pieces of newspaper, a pile of tinder wood and then finally the logs and coal – what could be difficult about that?

Several failed attempts later, I sought the advice of an experienced coal merchant that I knew. I soon learnt that it was all about having thoroughly ‘seasoned’ wood to start the fire, otherwise you would actually be putting the fire out more than getting it going.

I’d never heard of seasoned wood before, but soon gathered that it was wood that had stood outside in all weathers for at least 18months and then kept really dry before use. Seasoning wood effectively ensures that the sap is dried out and the wood is crisp and dry.

Since I learnt that lesson, I’ve never had a bad fire since, well that was until last week when it dropped particularly cold one night, and I threw some unseasoned wood on the fire to get it going in a rush and hey presto…it went out!

Ever wondered why your life seems to just smoulder and continually keep going out? Take a look at the people that you’re surrounding yourself with and that will be your biggest clue.

They all look much the same, just like pieces of wood, but if they are not well seasoned they are simply going to dampen the most positive spirit around.

Ask yourself at the start of this day: ‘how many people around me are unseasoned, damp-spirited people that keep causing my passion to die?’

Finding the right people can sometimes take time, as they often all look the same, but when you find the right ones you will see such a difference; that passion, that vision, that dream, that fire burning in you will be ignited and become red hot.

Ask God to send well seasoned people into your life in 2020 and then be willing to bring them close to you. One of those people may be right under your nose everyday, but you’ve never noticed them in the wood pile.

Don’t just align yourself with the newest friends on the block, they haven’t yet been seasoned, and could well put your fire out, instead embrace those whose lives are lived with passion, and you’ll soon discover the effect they have on you.

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th January 2020

Have you ever heard the phrase “you don’t get because you don’t ask”? Well, guess what? It’s true! You won’t get more dinner if you don’t ask for seconds, you won’t get a discount in a store if you don’t try, you won’t get a refund if you don’t return the item and ask for one and sometimes as a Mom, you may not get a hug if you don’t ask for one!
We have to go through life asking- think about it.   Several times a day, we are asking.  “Please do this, please go there, please can I have this”. Our lives are made up of ASK.

There are three levels in the Bible; they are ASK, SEEK, KNOCK.

 You’ll find them in Matthew 7 v 7. “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”


Ask is entry level – bring your requests and ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. 
Seek is the next level – like in the game “hide and seek’ – you have to make time to actively seeking and not giving up until you find.

 Knock is the persistent higher level – keep knocking until the door gets answered.  

There are times when my praying has been all three. That’s how it works.  Jesus is obviously happy with all three, as He taught us that way.  
Is it okay to keep bothering God with my request? Absolutely.  Do I need to not give up after one ask? Absolutely. Is it ok to get earnest and persistent? Absolutely.  

Some answers may come after one ask…that’s great and it’s refreshing. But if everything was like that, we wouldn’t learn persistence and patience and God’s timing.  

Today, be someone who ASKS.  Not someone who doesn’t receive because they didn’t.  

Pastor Gillian
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2020

Recently I read an online newspaper article about a young 26 year old woman with a PhD and a great job in a laboratory who according to the article took her own life because of bullying. A tragic and more and more common story. There were hundreds of comments left by people online, and they all pretty much said the same thing, ‘the bullies must be held to account’ ‘we must eradicate bullying from society’ basically they were all saying the issue in the story and society at large is bullying, and if we could just stop them then what a better place the world would be. 

This is the predicament in today’s culture. Trying to make life better by removing any adverse situations rather than looking at the real issue. The problem with this thought process is if you remove all adverse scenarios you will have no life left. Bullying is an awful human tendency, but the reality is if you get rid of all the bullies you would need to eradicate the human race. If you have ever made a cheap joke at someone’s expense then you’ve bullied, and if you’ve ever been made to feel uncomfortable then you’ve been bullied. 

The real issue in life is simple, we don’t really know who we are! We don’t realise just how incredibly important and immeasurably precious we are. If only this girl knew the truth of how she was loved and what hope there was in a relationship with her maker in heaven, she would not have even contemplated what she did. 
In Johns gospel we read the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet, what’s interesting is the 2 verses before he begins to serve.


John 13:3-4 | NIV3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 

Jesus lived his life 100% from the knowledge of who he was! He served and gave himself, not to earn or receive anything, but from the secure knowledge that he was the son of God! I want to encourage you today in what ever season you find yourself, live from the safety of knowing you are a child of God! Understand circumstances can be tough, and as long as you’re alive you will have tough circumstances, don’t live a frustrated life trying to create a perfect environment, but instead wrap a towel around your waste and in the knowledge you were chosen before the creation of the world, serve and live in freedom!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2020

‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him’ (Psalm 34:8). 

When David invites the reader of this Psalm to see that God is good, using language like ‘taste and see’, we can learn several things: 

1. Tasting and seeing are experiential, not intellectual. Relationship with God isn’t always rational or intellectual, it is something that is to be interacted with and experienced. The goodness of God isn’t just an idea. It is something for us to experience.

 2. Tasting is a test. David invites us to call God out on His word. If God promises us that He is good, let’s put it to the test and see that He is good. Let’s test taste, and expect His goodness. 

3. When we taste something it is a sample of something more. When we experience the goodness of God, it is only a taste of something more. We have only had a sample of all there is to Him and His goodness. 

4. Tasting and seeing are personal experiences. I cannot taste for you, and you cannot taste for me. You cannot see for me, and I cannot see for you. David has called us to have a personal experience of the goodness of God in our lives, not just see others experience the goodness of others. He has something for you that only you can taste. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th January 2020

There seems to be a popular idea that ‘hustling’ or being busy and stressed is necessary in order to achieve. Juggling plates, missing sleep, living off of coffee, and calling it ‘hard work’ is the new normal, and sometimes even celebrated as an esteemed quality.  

In Jesus’ ministry on earth, I never read of Him being in a hurry. In fact, much of his effectiveness and fruitfulness was a direct result of being UNHURRIED. He stopped on many of his journeys to pause and talk, heal and deliver people. Equally, there were times where he stopped listening to the demands of people, as valid as they may have been, to get away to the quiet place with the Father (Mark 1:35-39). Jesus didn’t hustle. What he did do was ALIGN. He aligned to the voice of the Father. When God said, ‘stop’, he stopped. When God said, ‘get away’, Jesus got away. The voice of God was His primary priority, regardless of whatever else was pulling on Him. 

Our lives would be far more productive and fruitful, if we pursued the voice of the Father, rest, time in ‘the secret place’, and alignment, rather than ‘hustle’ to the point of exhaustion. 

Alignment means to ‘place in a straight line’. In order for you to make something straight, you have to align it up against something perfectly straight as the standard. To rule a straight line in a book, you need a ruler to align your pencil. To hang a picture on the wall straight, you need a spirit level as the standard as to which we measure the frame to. Our lives need alignment and the voice of God does this for us. 

When our schedules and energy levels are in shambles, we must question, ‘what are we aligning ourselves against?’. Is it the voice of God, or is it the demands of people and life? Our lives should be pulled into the alignment of His priorities for us then ‘He will make our paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th January 2020

There are over 7 billion people that occupy this world today, and yet you are totally unique. 
You have a unique purpose and destiny that is distinct from anyone else who has ever lived. 

You can have a dream, a plan, a role and a vision that will make a contribution to humanity. 
Have the courage to be uniquely you! 

Don’t just settle for an easy life, that requires no effort on your part; I know it’s much easier and far less stressful to be mediocre and to blend in. 
Everything within you at times says don’t make waves, just swim with the tide and go with the flow. 


No courage is required just to be normal, but all that does is neutralise what God has planned for your life. 


Being courageous doesn’t mean you will never doubt or afraid, quite the opposite; the one who has courage pushes through the fear and keeps moving forward toward the goal that you were created for. 


Destiny is not only a destination, but a process taking place within you.


You need to see yourself doing what you were born for, before you actually do it.


Long before you get married you need to see yourself at the altar. 


You need to get educated, if you are dreaming of that degree. 


You need to see yourself as the supervisor before you get the title; but if you don’t behave like a supervisor you will never become one, even if you do get the badge. 


If you believe you are called to be a communicator then start to prepare a short message that you can try out on the dog or even a tree before being let lose with a bunch of human beings.

 
If you are to become the musician that you believe you are called to be, then don’t wait for the stage. Become skilful with your headphones on, shut away in your bedroom, while all of your friends are out partying or watching TV. 


A surgeon is only able to pick up and use the instruments that are already clean and at hand in the operating theatre. In the same way today, God is looking to use those that are prepared, clean and ready to be used.


In 1982, I waved goodbye to my career in order to go to Bible college for two years. I did so in the belief that God was calling me to pastor the church, and therefore needed to train for the future. I didn’t want to get the point whereby God was ready for me to step into that role, but I was not ready myself. 


Do I recommend that everyone does the same? Of course not, but I do recommend that you do everything you possibly can to become the best in the field that you are called to be in. 

Did you know that if you read and study a particular subject for just one hour a day for seven years you will become an international expert in that field?

Instead of just praying the prayer…’Lord use me today’, why not change it to…’Lord make me usable today’.


My prayer for you is that you will have the courage and determination to make a difference by being prepared for who God intended you to be. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2020



Once a young guy observed a man in his eighties planting an apple orchard. The old man lovingly and painstakingly prepared the soil, planted the tiny saplings and watered them. After watching for a while, the young man said,”you don’t expect to eat apples from those trees do you?” “No”, the old man replied, “but somebody will”.

As I get older the more a realise that my actions today will either help or hinder all those that are following on behind me. How often do we have an attitude that just wants to please ourselves. We live in a day whereby it seems like for most people that as long as it’s not hurting anyone else then it’s ok for me to do it. When you think about it, it’s totally a backwards way of living. What we should be saying is …”how can ensure that what I’m doing today is going to help everyone else around me and behind me”.

The decisions, plans and even the culture you are building into your life and that of your family can literally shape the generations to come.

Living a life of integrity may seem like old fashioned nowadays, but anything less will always come back to bite you.

When you serve people and influence them positively you literally create a chain of impact that can outlive you.

Some people want to put restrictions on themselves according their talent, intelligence, or experience. Others worry about their age. But with God, one person can always make a difference, regardless of circumstances or situation.

When Jesus fed the five thousand, a little boy provided the food for the miracle. When Noah was six hundred years old he provided a boat for the miracle.

You’re never too old or too young to make a difference, and it’s never too late to start.

Make a difference today and change a generation tomorrow.


Pastor Mark
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2020

2 Kings 4  1-7 

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you give God a space to fill. Elisha the prophet asked the widow what she had… her reply was “nothing”.

Many times we feel we have nothing, when in fact we all have a little “something”. 

She then went on to say: “except a little oil in a jar.”.

Notice what happens; he told her to collect some empty jars and not just a few. When God wants to do a miracle, he doesn’t just want to do something small, He will however respond in accordance to your faith   

Believe for a little, and you’ll get a little. 

He filled exactly what she gave him to fill and all of that out of her “nothing”.

Give God what you have and watch it multiply!  

Her supply was not in her husband (he had died) – her supply was not from anywhere apart from God.  

Today, trust Him again. Be obedient to what He asked of you, and watch Him do a miracle with what you bring.

God doesn’t just match what you give Him, HE MULTIPLIES that which you bring.  

Pastor Gillian
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th January 2020

At times in life, things can get complicated. Scheduled gets busy. To-do lists get long. Diaries fill up. We overcommit to things. A straightforward project produces an unexpected problem.

At the top of the year, let’s begin to notice the moments where we’re being pulled in many directions and learn to get on top of it.

We can take our cue from Jesus himself who was often known to break away from the crowd to be alone with God.

Start the day right

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Start the day in conversation with God and entrust your day to Him, before you take in everything else that’s going on in the world around you.

Let the Word encourage you

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Even five minutes in God’s word can give you a fresh perspective and a renewed hope.

Make prayer a priority

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

If we’re honest with ourselves, one of the hardest things to do when life gets hectic or we feel overwhelmed is make proper time for prayer. The Bible never says that prayer ought to be complex. Write down what God has done already and thank Him, then tell Him what you need.

Switch off and embrace the silence

Being still and silent is profoundly simple but biblically powerful too. Just sitting in God’s presence is enough to renew our strength but we have to make time. It’s amazing what God can tell us, if only we’d be quiet enough to hear His voice.

I hope that these few things help you to unplug this year and draw nearer to God.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV
‬‬

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.


Fresh Hope – 9th January 2020

In John 12:25 Jesus says, ‘The person who loves his life and pampers himself will miss true life! But the one who detaches his life from this world and abandons himself to me, will find true life and enjoy it forever!’ (John 12:25). 

By ‘detach from his life’ does Jesus mean he wants us to quit our jobs, sell our homes and flee to the forest? Definitely not! This scripture is a matter of challenging our priorities. 

As many of us ‘reset’ for a new year, review the year gone, where we are at now, and cultivate new goals and ambitions in alignment with where we want to be, let us ask ourselves: 

What are we building towards? What really matters to us? Who does our life belong to? Is our life about our own feeble plans and goals, or God’s plan for us? 

A life built on pleasuring and pampering self is futile and ultimate completely unsatisfying. It is also a waste of a precious life. A life surrendered, a life ‘let go’ to God is fruitful and ultimately fulfilling. 

Abandoning yourself to God is scary, but like a bird spreading its wings and leaving its nest, it is also freeing. 

As you look forward to the year ahead, consider the plans that you perhaps need to ‘abandon’ to God. 

In Ephesians 1:2, Paul speaks of Jesus imparting ‘total wellbeing into our lives’ or in another word, ‘peace’ into our lives… But it isn’t a worldly peace. It is more than just a feeling of tranquility. Hebrew peace (as in the context of this scripture) is referring to a steady heart and complete wellbeing in soul, and mind. 

Ephesians 1 goes on to talk about how God has a plan for us. 

If you were to highlight key words in Ephesians, you would find words and phrases like (Passion Translation): Spiritual blessing, chose us, riches of grace, plan of His heart, redemptions promises, unfailing purpose, destiny, future inheritance. 

Ephesians wasn’t written to people who weren’t Christians yet, these words were for devoted Christians, people following Christ already – there was more for them. God had big plans for them. Equally, He has an inheritance for you. He has chosen you, has a destiny and future for you. There are ‘redemption promises’ and ‘riches of grace’ for you to tap into in 2020!

There is more for you on the other side of letting go.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th January 2020

In Psalm 133, unity is described as being like ‘precious oil’. The thing about precious oil in this context is that it would have smelt really good. Unity carries a spiritual fragrance. When the world looks at the church and sees a picture of unity in diversity – the smell is beautiful and attractive. 

Being a Christian and growing up in the church, you get used to the sweet smell of unity. It becomes normal. I’m not saying the church is completing protected and void from any kind of division, but when a culture of unity is promoted it becomes the standard – building alongside different people, and overlooking silly differences for a greater cause. 

Substitute God’s model of unity, and I have been shocked at times at how quickly people outside a ‘unity mentality’, can get offended over petty matters, are quick to cut off relationships, ‘unfollow’ if someone challenges what they consider right, or struggle to work with people who are different. God’s love changes how we do relationships, confrontation and boundaries. 

There is beauty in diversity operating in unity. Imagine trying to create a powerful car that was only made of only steering wheels? Impossible! Imagine a functioning body of only hands? Impossible! Power and function comes through diversity working together! 

We don’t tolerate different kinds of people, we celebrate the differences because we couldn’t actually function without them. Diversity is necessary and healthy. 

On its own a car brake is interesting, but has no power. On its own a steering wheel has great potential, but has no power. On its own, an engine is a great concept, but it has no power. 

On our own, we have no power. Without being unified with those different to us, we lack power and purpose. Our purpose is found in our connection and function with others. One part is not better than the other. To reach my fullest potential, I need you, and equally you need me to reach yours!

Although it isn’t very fashionable to talk about the Devil, he does exist and he is on a sneaky mission to bring division to relationships. We can think a person is bringing division, but actually it is the distracting work of the enemy. Remember that we are not in a flesh and blood battle, but a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12).  If your words or actions aren’t promoting love, celebrating people who are different, and carrying the fragrance of unity, think about whose work you are advancing.

Let unity be one of the highest values we esteem in our lives and in the church!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th January 2020


Just because you have all kinds of thoughts going through your head today( you don’t have to think them. Let them pass through!

Just because you feel that it’s not going to be a good year, you don’t have to live out the year governed by your feelings.

Just because you started the day wrong, it doesn’t mean that you have to punish yourself for the rest of the day. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.

Maybe someone spoke something negative over your life yesterday – remember that they don’t have the final say today.

Did you wake up in a bad mood this morning? Remember: it’s only a mood, talk yourself out of it.

Got a difficult meeting today? Remember that it’s not the end of the world, no matter how bad it may turn out.

Centuries ago whenever a city was being built it always started in the same way; a plot of land was identified only when a source of water was found within its boundaries.

The spring of water was the life of the city, and as the walls went up the people were secured from outside attack. They knew that if all else failed, they would have a constant supply of water from within. There was never a need to go outside for sustenance.

Today, it can be just the same for you and I.

If you are already defeated from within, then you will always be defeated from without.
If you have all that you need from within, no matter what comes against you, you can defeat it because of your inner source.

The power of these thoughts are only realised when you know the one who has the living water to give to you.

John 7:37-38 ‘Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

Today, if you find yourself searching outside for the answers to life, then turn to the one who can fill you and sustain you with living water from within.
You’ll be amazed at how life can take on a whole new meaning by drinking from the source of living water.

He is the source, the force and the course of everything.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2020



What you do today matters.

What you say today matters.

Someone’s life may be dependant on what you do and say today.

Be a difference maker.

I have to admit that one of the low points in my life happened a couple of years ago.  

Gillian had been asking me for some time to go to Dudley Market to get the batteries replaced in a couple of our watches that had been lying around for months.

The guy we had used for years was always pleasant and was known for his ‘while you wait’ service, let alone being cheaper than anywhere else.

On the afternoon that I managed to get to him, I noticed that he was not his normal self. He seemed to have lost his spark and his usual smile had disappeared. As he tended to my watches, I asked him what was wrong. He simply looked up, smiled and carried on. I felt compelled to persist with him, and so I repeated the words twice more. As he handed over the watches in a small bag I asked him what had happened for him to look so sad.

Reluctantly he leaned across his work table and told me that it was family problems. He went on to explain that illness that had not only taken his mother in law, but was now about to take his mother.

I offered him my condolences and asked him if I could add his name and that of his mom to my daily prayer list. He agreed, and in doing so his face seemed to brighten and a smile broke out.

Four days later he took his own life.

I asked myself many questions as to why I didn’t say and do more on that day, but whatever answers I came up with could not change the tragedy that I had been so close to possibly doing something about a few days earlier.

My story I’m sure can be repeated in different ways by thousands today all over the world. The truth is we all have missed opportunities to save precious people’s lives.

Today is a not only a new day, but for many the first working week of a brand new year. It is my hope and prayer today that my story can inspire you to join me in understanding that what we say and what we do matters.

Let’s go all out in 2020 to be difference makers and not just people with good intentions, which, if we’re honest, is an excuse for doing nothing.

Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2020

Recently I was sitting in a traffic jam with my husband, we had driven that same way, maybe for 35 years – the same duel carriageway, going the same way at the same speed. Yet on this occasion we had to unusually stop due to traffic. I looked around at the homes in my view and I noticed threehouses that I had never seen before.  I was amazed! I said “I have never seen that before, yet must have driven past it hundreds of times.”


Recently, I watched one of my favourite christmas movies (that I watch every year) and yet saw something different that  I hadn’t seen in the 20 or so times I watched it before. 

I want to challenge you at the start of a brand new year, to read the Bible again. I have just finished reading it through in one year and seen things I had never seen before. I want to challenge you to take a ‘familiar’ passage, one that you think you may know everything about and re-read it.  Challenge yourself to be open and ask God to reveal something new to you again. 


God’s word is new every day. It will speak to you in different situations about different things. It has NOW words and it reveals life to those who read it. Take a moment to do something usual and let it turn into something ‘un’ usual. Linger for a moment, follow His leading… you will be refreshed.  


Psalm 23.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters.  He refreshes my soul.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd January 2020

Perhaps it is the Christmas break, perhaps it is just the ticking over of the clock and sounding out of Big Ben at midnight, signalling in another new year. For whatever reason, this is often a time for reflection, for planning and making resolutions. Resolutions, that if you are like me, you have probably already broken!

When Adam and Eve were faced with the ultimate New Year, the beginning of creation, God had set out very carefully the world that they were to live in. 

‘and the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2:9).

God had provided a world that was both beautiful and fruitful, that provided all they needed. Including a close and personal relationship with God (He walked in the garden in the cool of the day). However, it was a world that had choice at its centre. In the middle of the garden were two trees, one leading to life and the other leading to knowledge of good and evil.

Now knowledge of itself is not a bad thing, but this knowledge speaks of our human belief that we know better than God, that we can be self-reliant and have all the answers. The serpent says ‘you will be like God’. Adam and Eve chose not to obey God and that is often our downfall.  

Resolutions should really be called choices. Choices about how we are going to change from this moment forward. We are faced with the choices at the centre of our ‘garden’, that is the world God has placed us in, every moment of every day. It is a beautiful world that has all we need, but at its centre is choice.

The other tree at the centre of the garden, the tree of life, was not forbidden by God. It reminds me of another Scripture, Deuteronomy 30:19 ‘I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life’.

I pray that each choice I make today will be to obey God and choose Jesus who is the ‘life the truth and the way’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd January 2020

Our technology-centered world is making it increasingly difficult for us to learn how to be patient. Social media gives us immediate feedback. Anyone, anywhere in the world can be contacted in a matter of seconds. Anything can be delivered: food, flowers, furniture, and fashion. Instant answers to all questions are available on Google.  

The diagnosis of ADD in children has skyrocketed in the last decade, and adults are equally finding it increasingly difficult to focus. 

Studies have shown that if an Internet video or advert doesn’t ‘grab’ a viewer in the first two seconds, the viewer doesn’t have time to watch the rest and scrolls right on past it. 

Patience is something that has to be developed and grown. Hopefully from an early age we start learning the discomfort, yet essential quality of being patient. When your parents don’t give you whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it – this was good for us! The ability to say no to instant gratification and keep your focus on something bigger and better is essential to our maturity. 

Today we have fewer waits in our daily lives, but it is also giving us less patience for other things. 

Why do we need patience? Because most good things take time. Most things that provide instant gratification, also only offer fleeting satisfaction. Think about it – your phone lighting up with a new message, your pizza order arriving, that quick fling with someone you know isn’t right for you. Most things that offer lasting satisfaction, take time, effort and a whole lot of patience… Working towards a healthy body, a meaningful friendship, waiting to have sex, a lasting marriage, saving for a house, raising a child – these are deeply fulfilling experiences of which we were made for, at the end of being patiently focused. 

God’s way of doing things is contrary to the way the world is doing things. God isn’t driven by the need for ‘things to happen quickly’ and He is not a quick fix, feel-good-instantly God. God is more interested in us developing a strong character. A strong character includes the ability to be patient. 

Are we willing to wait? Are we willing to wait for the right spouse? Are we willing to delay gratification for something better? Are willing to wait for God to speak? Are we willing to wait through the processes that God needs to take us through? 

Perhaps you are waiting for breakthrough on some things, and perhaps God is just waiting for you to wait! 

Galatians 6:9, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’. 

Romans 12:12, ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’. 

Psalm 37:7, ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2020

A couple of years ago I purchased an expensive, beautiful houseplant. It has been fairly low maintenance until recently when I noticed it starting to lean awkwardly to the side. 

The plant had grown so much that it needed to be repotted into a larger pot with more supportive soil. 

I had to uproot the plant in order to get it reestablished in a new pot. This plant is now sitting in my bathroom looking rather brown, and if I’m honest with myself, I think it could be on its way out.  Why? Because I ripped it from its roots. I took it from where it was established and being fed, and broke its system of security! 

It is much the same with us. When we are not rooted and grounded, we quickly die. 

Maybe we aren’t rooted in God – our security is found in other things that can’t nourish us. The Bible calls us to ‘be rooted and established in love’ (Ephesians 3:17).  

Or perhaps we aren’t rooted in a church community and so we aren’t experiencing the nourishing encouragement of others. 

A root system is about connection. It is the connection of the plant to the soil – that which offers it nourishment. We should be deeply rooted (connected) to people and to God if we are to flourish and thrive. 

The Bible speaks of tree/person that is plugged into a source of nourishment – the word of God. 

‘Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers’ (Psalm 1). 

We all desire to produce fruit and prosper. The key is being grounded, rooted, established and connected to God, and the right people. 

‘Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught’ (Colossians 2:7).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st December 2019

In the late nineties, a sense of excited panic gripped much of the world as the year 2000 approached. The fear of computer systems crashing because of the Y2K bug bolstered the anticipation of a new era after the big crash, of pandemonium, lawlessness, and the beginning of the end of the world as we knew it. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Sadly, since that huge anti-climax, the sense of excitement preparing for the new year has been replaced by a predictable comparison of the fireworks displays around the world.

In 1 Samuel 17, a young shepherd boy named David was sent on a dull errand, to deliver cheese and sandwiches to his brothers who were, as it turned out, not fighting a war. A giant soldier from the enemy camp mocked and challenged them morning and evening for 40 days, but they cowered in fear. The sense of excitement and anticipation David’s brothers had when they joined the ranks of soldiers marching to battle had been replaced by a dull existence eating sandwiches camped out in tents.

David overturned the dull mission he started out on, and ended up killing the giant, because of the vision he saw for his future. The vision of a promotion from a shepherd messenger to the king’s son-in-law propelled him more than the fear of Goliath, or the negativity that was coming from his brothers held him back.

What exciting, audacious goals have you set for you to testify about God’s power in your life in the ‘20s we’re about to enter?

Like David, when the vision you have in front of you becomes clearer and more important than how you started, what surrounds you and what is behind you, God’s Word is the only power you’ll need to move forward.

Your success in your relationships, finances, health, emotions is not going to be determined by how well you’ve been trained to fight, but by the value you see in what you are fighting for.

Who you are, and what you have is enough! God never made anyone inadequate! David had to go to find some stones after he accepted Goliath’s challenge, so remember as we enter this new year, take on what God puts on your heart, and as Philippians 4:19 says, He will provide what you need, when you have a need for it.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th December 2019

TODAY we will form opinions of people.


TODAY people will form opinions about us. 


If we’re honest, we often don’t like the opinions people form about us, but in reality, those opinions are not without a reason. Opinions aren’t random. If you don’t believe me, ask why you have formed an opinion of someone else? Is it not based on what you have seen, perceived, or heard about that very person?


Now admittedly, we can form wrong opinions of others because we judged them wrongly or decided to base an opinion on hearsay, a lie or mere gossip.


I wonder…can you change what people’s opinions are of you?
The answer is yes!


Take for instance, the opinion that you are stingy rather than generous. How did people form that opinion? The answer is simple…you are stingy!
In one sense, people’s thoughts about us don’t matter and yet they do. Their opinions are really a gauge to let you know how you come across to them. 

Over the 35 years of our marriage, both Gillian and myself have at times said things to each other that we have later regretted. 
One such conversation would go something like this…”When you said that you hurt me” to which the reply came back, “but I didn’t say it like you heard it”…to which the reply comes back…”I can’t help how I heard it, but you can help how you said it!”
As painful as those conversations are, there is a great truth contained in them – you can’t help how you hear things, but you can help how you say things. 


If people have formed a wrong opinion of you, don’t be too harsh with them as they have based it on what they saw, heard and perceived about you. On the brink of a brand new year, take a moment to listen to yourself in an unguarded moment — you may be surprised to find that you don’t like how you come across either. 


Always be humble enough to admit that you got it wrong and be willing to change; you may be the last person to see the change, but others will soon spot it and be happy to review their opinions of you. 

As this year’s Christmastime soon comes to a conclusion, ask yourself, what would you like to be known for and then give yourself a personality makeover. If you think you’re perfect, ask a close friend to tell you the truth. 

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,but an enemy multiplies kisses. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th December 2019

In Luke 2, we read the story of the birth of Jesus and in the same chapter (vs 41-52) we also read some 12 years on when Jesus went to the temple with his parents and they lost him!

His parents were in relationship with him (obviously) yet still managed to lose him. Notice how and where they lost him…by observing customs and traditions. It was their custom to go to the temple for the feast. They were busy doing what they had to do and even though what they were doing was good, they still lost him. We need to all make sure that Jesus does not get lost in our customs or traditions…the way we always do things, even though they seem good…we have to be careful, because we can still forget Him in the midst of our busyness. 

In verse 44 it says “they presumed he was with them” – presumption is the sin of over- familiarity. They thought he was with them. Presumption is dangerous, it can lead to many mistakes and upsets. Notice it took them one day to lose him and three days to find him! I love what Jesus says back to his parents (v 49) “ I wasn’t lost, I was here in my Father’s House” In other words, I wasn’t lost, you were. Jesus is always near, if we feel He isn’t, guess who moved? 


As one year comes to a close and another begins, make sure Jesus is close, make sure your customs and traditions and busyness haven’t got in the way of Him being in your life and working in your life. 


Don’t presume He is with you… make sure He is. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th December 2019

Maybe you are pulling up to the end of the year feeling exhausted, and a bit battered and bruised. We can all reflect on the year that has been and undoubtedly recall moments that weren’t easy. Days that were not planned on January 1st 2019. Days where you needed God – empty tank days and desperate days. 

We can reach the end of a year and feel like we are ready to kiss it goodbye and start with a January 1st clean slate. But like the January 1st before it, the New Year promises a year of both highlights and lowlights – this is the reality of real life, and the life that Jesus told us we would experience. What is important is how we walk out every season – our attitude and approach. Psychologists have concluded that our quality of life is more about our attitude and approach amidst difficulties, than it is the difficulties that we encounter. 

So what should be our approach?

Firstly, God promises us that we should not be fearful about the future. He tells us not to worry about ANYTHING (Matthew 6:25). 

God has plans for you this year. And they are plans to allow you to fly (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises that as we trust Him in 2020, He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Consider His goodness towards you in 2019. His faithfulness. His voice in the dark times, the fact that you are alive today with another year of lessons under your belt. Reflect on the times that God showed new mercy and grace to you. Be grateful that the best is yet to come.

Before we brush an entire year under the mat because of burn-out, struggles or disappointments let us continue to be prayerful for the future, and so thankful for the year that has been (Philippians 4:6-7). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living. E

Fresh Hope – 26th December 2019

The Christmas spirit can motivate us to be generous, and while this most definitely isn’t a bad thing, our giving should include and extend beyond the festive feels. The Holy Spirit invites us into a lifestyle of generosity. 

Being made in the image of God, who is unfathomably generous, it is in our nature to be people who are open handed and open hearted. Does God want us to give everything away? No! He blesses us for us sometimes, and He also blesses us so we can be a blessing to others. That is the beauty of walking with the Holy Spirit – we discern day-by-day, opportunity-by-opportunity what is for us to partner with Him on. 

When we talk about generosity, it isn’t just referring to just giving away money. Generosity with finances is certainly something God calls us to, but equally He invites us to be generous with encouragement, the honouring of others, with time, and talent. 

A person with a generous spirit will actively, and attentively look out for the needs and genuine interests of others. They will eagerly look for an opportunity to display generosity. At the heart of generosity is a desire to honour God, and honour people…And not that we just do it for this – but naturally there is a blessing and fruitfulness when we do give. Why? Because generosity is a sacrifice, and God is drawn to sacrifice. His fire and favour rests on sacrifice. 

A closed hand cannot give out, and it also cannot receive. A closed hand cannot sow, and it cannot reap. But as God opens His hands and heart towards us, we too can open our hands and heart towards others – yes, Christmas time is a great time to do this, but also beyond. 

In Acts 2 we read of a church family where miracles, signs and wonders were a regular part of the church culture. 

Acts 2:43, ‘Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done…’

As the church witnessed the generous hand and heart of God, it overflowed into their personal lives. Acts 2:45, ‘They sold their possessions and their goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need’. The power of God is evident here because Jesus became much more important to them than their possessions. The person next to them who was in need became much more important than what they had. They lived attentive to the needs of others. 

In the spirit of Christmas, and in living a life that is Spirit-led, consider the sacrifices you can make in 2020 in order to display greater levels of generosity – is it offering your time and talent? Giving money? Spending time with someone that isn’t ‘easy’? Thinking of yourself less and developing an awareness of others more? 

If you’re struggling to maintain a generous lifestyle, then first discover the generosity of God toward you and you will find it difficult to not emulate His goodness.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th December 2019

TODAY in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2 v 11)

Happy Christmas!

As we celebrate on this very special day, just take a few moments to THINK and to THANK right now. 

Think about the fact that no human birth could have born a saviour to us. That would be no different to you or I standing up today at the Christmas lunch table, stating that God had made us the saviour of the world. It is simply something we cannot do, as we too are in need of a saviour — a drowning man cannot save another drowning man. 


God had a special plan. He would choose an ordinary woman and do something extraordinary through her. 

The Virgin birth is central to the Christmas message, not because it makes a nice scene in a nativity play, but because it was the only way God could send His son into the world. 


Jesus had to arrive a different way, a way in which He would not just be another human being unable to save anyone, but someone that bypassed the sinful bloodline that each one of us carries since the fall of mankind. 


Jesus, born of a virgin, was not the product of an earthy father, but of God, His Heavenly Father.
…Luke 1:34-35 ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 

Jesus was no ordinary man, prophet, god or a deluded person believing himself to be a saviour; He was born in such a way that excluded him from being born in sin, whilst at the same time including him in the human race in order to come down to our level. 

You may well ask: how on earth could that ever happen?
That’s exactly the question that Mary asked…
‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ (Luke 1 v 34).


The answer came back…’for nothing is impossible with God’. (Luke 1 v 37)
As we think and thank on this Christmas Day, let’s never lose sight of the awe and wonder of the Virgin birth – it’s the only way our Saviour could have arrived.
…and remember, whatever impossibilities you may be facing today — with God, all things are possible.
Pause for a moment right now and thank God for the wonder of Christmas. 

Have a magnificent ‘Saviours’ day. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th December 2019

When the Angel Gabriel delivered the news to Mary and Joseph, he told them that the name of their baby was to be Jesus. There were no other names suitable for this special baby, He had to be named Jesus —why?


The name Jesus means ‘God saves’. When the Angel announced the name, he also wanted everyone to be quite clear as to why…’for He will save His people from their sins’. The message didn’t just stop there though, as just a few verses later into the Christmas story, the Angel further announces that He will be called or known as Emmanuel.

Everyone of us is named one thing and called another from time to time. Jesus was no exception; what He would be called and known for was more than just the name Jesus, as Emmanuel means ‘God with us’.


Can you imagine the breathtaking news that this day brought – not only is the world getting a saviour, but this saviour was to be God in the flesh. God so wanted to come down to our level that He came as Himself in the form of Jesus. WOW!
Today, the same is still as true as it was then, in that every Christmas that comes and goes is yet again a reminder that God is with us. Maybe you only ever think of God as somewhere out there, someone that exists, but cannot be personally known. Jesus’ arrival changed all that in that He made it possible to be known, yes, personally known.


His arrival into Bethlehem is actually an open invitation for you to come to Him and allow Him into your life. Jesus is the ‘knowable’ God. 
The Inn keeper is one of the best known characters in the nativity play, as he was the fella that said ‘no room’. Don’t be like him today as you get caught up in the busy-ness of Christmas, but be like the shepherds that put their own lives on hold just to come and see.

Take a look at Jesus this Christmas – after all, it’s His birthday that we are celebrating. 
Maybe the last words of the old carol, ‘in the bleak mid winter’ will help you in making that decision today…
What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give Him my heart. 

May I take this opportunity today to personally invite you to the very special family CHRISTMAS EVE service tonight at 6pm. (Doors and coffee shop open at 5pm). Ample offsite overflow parking is available.
I look forward to seeing you.  

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd December 2019

I heard someone say recently, ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’


I’m sure you know this to be true. If you’ve ever had someone correct you, or even encourage you, it is always received better when you know the person’s motive to be pure.


This Christmas, at every opportunity, show people how much you care. Maybe you can’t do so through a gift, but we all have words. Use what you do have to communicate your care for the people in your world.


One of the lessons that my Dad has taught me is that people don’t remember so much what you say to them as much as they remember how you make them feel.


I don’t want to see others as a means to offload everything happening in my life, but rather I want to be the one extending a listening ear, giving people the time of day, letting them know that they matter.


And when the time comes for a difficult conversation with a loved one, or a moment for me to share from the knowledge or experience I may have, people are fully aware, this comes from someone who cares.


Do people know how much you care? Do they feel better after spending time with you?


This holiday season, don’t show people how much you know, show them how much you care!
I pray this Christmas is your best one yet.

Caleb Burchell
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st December 2019

This week I have been thinking about the shepherds from the Christmas story, you can read about them in Luke chapter 2. The King of the Universe, the one who made the Heavens and the earth and everything in it, arrived on planet earth in the form of a human baby and the first people he wanted to know about it were shepherds! Not kings or ‘special’ VIPs but shepherds. They were on the lowest rung of the social ladder, they would have been paid very poorly for their work and they would have lived a very humble life…and yet God chose them to announce His birth to and they were invited to be the very first to meet the KING of KINGS himself.  

That gives me hope. However unworthy you may feel today, God wants you to know that you matter so much, He wants to have an encounter with you.  

I love what verse 19  says “and Mary pondered all these things in her heart” – what things? The fact that she too from a humble background had been chosen to give birth to the Saviour of the World and maybe also that the first visitors that God in Heaven had chosen were lowly shepherds. She must have had great anticipation that this was going to be a very special season because of a very special Son.  How precious is that?

I pray that in this very busy season of Christmas, you will make time for an encounter with God yourself. One that will make you sing out “Glory to God in the Highest” and one that as you come out of Christmas, will make YOU ponder all these things in your heart. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th December 2019

As we approach this Christmas time, think about what you’re putting value on, because it determines whether you will end up feeling disappointed or encouraged. As we fast approach 2020, let’s be aware again that whatever we put value on will determine whether the year is a triumphant success or again a disappointing let down.

In 2 King 17:15, we read ‘They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.’

Whatever you value in life, attaches a value or meaning to your own self worth. If all you dream about and work towards is for example holidays, you will feel good or bad dependant on that. Ultimately when the very temporary holiday is over, you feel empty.
Here’s some great words to help us approach Christmas and 2020:

John 1:9-12 | NIV
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

The more we learn to put our value on Jesus, the more worth we feel in ourselves! As it states ‘children of God!’

Our family and friends are great blessings, but they aren’t the meaning of life; if your children are your sole focus, you will forever be disappointed and will end up feeling worthless.

Houses, jobs and holidays are great as well. But if they are your primary dream of 2020, you will judge 2020 based on these and ultimately end up struggling for meaning as you become as worthless as the idols you pursue.

Today in all the busy Christmas preparations and excitement, let’s focus on these words of Jesus in John 6:35 ‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Let’s realign our hearts today, let’s not put our hope in creation but the creator, let’s not seek blessings but the one who blesses.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Let’s make sure today we choose to give our primary attention and value to Jesus, and in doing so we will become of all value ‘children of God’.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th December 2019

James 3:11&12, ‘Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sister, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs, Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water’. 

There is something to be said for purity. The more pure a diamond, the greater its worth. The more pure the water, the more healthy it is to drink.  A lifestyle that is both salt and fresh water is not only impure, but also impossible. It is either pure or it is not. Our lives are either salt water or fresh water. God is not after perfection, but if your lifestyle isn’t a picture of purity, perhaps there are some things at the source (the heart) that need to be checked. 

Christians can full into the trap of trying to muster up pure behaviour. This isn’t sustainable. It is like pouring salty water into a glass and then distilling that glass of water into purity before finally enjoying drinking it. How exhausting. You are better off going to the source of the water coming out the tap, and bringing that into a place of purity so you can enjoy endless glasses of pure behaviour because the source is in a healthy, pure place! 

You cannot have a life where fresh, pure water is flowing if your heart is in a salty place. 

Some of us arewondering why we can’t love people. Yet in our heart, we are judging others all the time. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. You cannot love people if you are too busy judging them! 

Some of us may be struggling with promoting others, but it’s because we are too busy promoting ourselves to have the time to look out for others. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring! 

Some of us may be struggling to have influence over people, but in our heart we aren’t prepared to serve under people. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. 

Some of us are struggling to speak positively about people and life, yet in our hearts we are harbouring negative attitudes and slander against people. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. 

If you feel like your life is in conflict to what you really desire, check the health of the water source of your life – your heart. If you heart is in an unhealthy, salty position, don’t expect fresh and pure water/ behaviour to flow out. It is impossible – it is either one or the other.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th December 2019

The beauty of family is that we are not bound together because we all see eye-to-eye on everything. What binds us together is that we are family. It is love that connects us, not agreement on everything. 

There’s nothing like a federal election to bring out the vocal opinions and passionate viewpoints of people. Our convictions come from our deeply rooted belief systems, so it can be easy to get offended or take it personally when someone challenges what we hold so closely. Our immediate reaction is to disconnect with people when they voice their conflicting values and priorities. 

One of the greatest challenges of this generation is that we can so easily cut off, ‘unfollow’, or ‘block’, people who we disagree with. This is not a healthy way to relate to people. To be able to listen, disagree, and still maintain a loving, respectful relationship is a mark of maturity and a sign that love surpasses all. 

Confrontation, different belief systems and challenging discussions, are not only possible, but also healthy. Our personal world will become very small if we only surround ourselves with opinions and people that make us feel comfortable and never challenge us to think another way. We should in fact seek to understand where people who are different to us are coming from. We do not have to agree, but an attempt to understand and hold honouring conversation is good.   

Consider the grace shown towards you by an all-knowing God. I’m sure he could easily look at our ideas at times and think, ‘Pfft! She has no idea what she is talking about! How small-minded and ridiculous! How dare she have that perspective after everything I have done! What ignorance!’. But in His grace and love, He remains connected to us and seeks out relationship with us above all. He doesn’t dishonour, block or unfollow us because of our beliefs. Why? Because agreement on ideas isn’t what he is primarily after. Relationship and connection is what He is after. Likewise, as the church, we should model the same heart. 

When we feel that people are ignorant, watch that we don’t: 
-Demonise people we disagree with.

 – Create an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. 

– Spiritualise the demeaning of those with different persuasions. 

In today’s political climate where tension and emotions are high and different views and contrasting opinions are vocalised, let the church be a picture of a family marked by grace and kindness, regardless of political stand points. Be aware of your thoughts and words. Watch what you partner with in conversations and over social media. Remember, the enemy will take any opportunity to bring division in God’s family.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th December 2019



One of my childhood memories of the Christmas season was centred around a huge fitted cupboard in my sisters bedroom.

The cupboard, known as the ‘big cupboard’, was built across the whole width of the far side of the room. It came up from the floor to about three feet in height and had two hinged lids that could be folded right back against the wall. We would spend hours pulling out old stuff from that cupboard, in order to make space for the incoming toys, cars, games and puzzles that myself, my brother and sister hoped would be coming out way that Christmas.

We ended up rarely throwing anything away as the old stuff seemed to have more of a magical attraction than the new after it had spent a year or two hidden away from sight.

Many a boring Saturday throughout the year would be spent propping open the lid and digging deep to see what we could find that had long since been forgotten. Toys and games from many a Christmas past were often bought back to life and played with just as if we’d never seen them before. If ever there was a childhood treasure chest then that simple cupboard would be one of them.

The big cupboard reminds be so much of the hidden treasures contained in the Bible; no matter how old they are, they are able to bring something fresh and alive to us, know matter how many times that we may have read them before.

I have personally read through the Bible many times over the last 30 years, but no matter when I read it, there is always something new to inspire, teach and transform me on any given day. Sometimes it feels like that I have never read it before as its pages take a hold of me just as if they were freshly written that day.
Digging deep into the Bible means that you have to set aside some time each day to uncover the hidden treasures that God has placed within its pages just for your own benefit and blessing.

I have acquired so many books over the years and I’ll often have about three on the go all at the same time; yet when they have been read once I rarely read a book a second time.

The Bible is unique in that you can go back to it time and time again and discover pearls of wisdom and truth, and more importantly discover the living Jesus on every page.

The Christ of Christmas is just as real today as when he first stepped into this world 2000 years ago.

Make a decision today to lift the lid on the Bible and find real life, fresh hope, inspiration and wisdom on its pages – it’s Gods treasure chest to you every day.

Luke 2:16-19 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th December 2019

I’m sure that we will all take part in a Christmas quiz or two over the next couple of weeks. In fact, our family Christmas parties rarely go by without a pretty well organised quiz, even though they usually end up with heated arguments over the right answers!


While you’re getting yourself in the Christmas quiz mood, here’s a question…
What was the very first words that God spoke in the Bible?


Answer: Let there be light.
It’s one of the biggest clues to the very nature of God in that He doesn’t want you to be in the dark.  There’s also a little more to it than meets the eye too; the word translated light from the original text is the word ‘order’, and the word for dark came from the word meaning ‘chaos’.
Think about it for a moment…the first thing that God wanted for this world was to light it up so that the chaos could be bought to order.  In fact740 years before Jesus came to earth, we read these words…


Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 
Now, if we skip to the New Testament, we find the fulfilment of that promise…


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8 v 12 
Have you ever wondered why, when everything seems to working in your life just fine, that there’s still a longing for something more?


Have you ever wondered why in a very brightly lit world why you feel as if you’re in the dark?
Maybe you would describe your existence like this…’everything is working, but there’s just something missing’.


That something is what Jesus called the ‘light of life’. He said that if you find it you will never walk in darkness again. WOW!


That, my friend is the greatest gift that anyone could ever possibly give you—to step out of the dark and walk in the light from this moment forward. 


I’m sure that we’ve all been in a power cut from time to time. What’s the first thing that you reach for? A candle? A torch? The light from your phone? The truth is that everything comes to a standstill until the power comes back on. Whilst it’s off, your life is disorientated and even quite fearful, yet just one light can dispel the darkness.
Having the ‘light of life’ means that your life comes alive and you begin to see clearly where you’re going for the first time; Your life comes ALIVE.  


My question to you during this Christmas season is simply this: Have you got it? Have you found it? Or is life just one big puzzle?
When a popular town plans a date to have its Christmas lights switched on, it usually invites a celebrity to do so.
The one most important thing that you could do today is to invite the greatest person that ever walked the earth to switch your light on so that you will never walk in darkness again and in doing so this Christmas will become the most meaningful ever and 2020 will be like no other. 
Everything changes when the light goes on.
Invite Jesus into your life right now.  He’s just waiting for you to ask.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th December 2019

Make sure you’re listening!… that’s something we’re all familiar with I’m sure.  Those ladies with husbands… you know they can hear you, but they’re not listening, those parents with children, you know they can hear you, but you also know they’re not listening. I’m sure you all know exactly what I mean. 

It’s also easy to get distracted.  When someone is talking to me, I always try to make a point to focus and listen to them and not get distracted.  I’m sure we’ve all encountered or been that person, who asks a question, but then doesn’t listen to the answer…and how about that person who you’re talking to, but they’re on their mobile device and don’t even look up at you.. don’t be that person!
But what about when God wants to speak to you and you’re so distracted that you don’t hear? Some of us can be so busy we miss out on those special moments in life, because we don’t hear what we are supposed to. 


Recently, I was on a train with my daughter, we were so busy chatting, that we didn’t hear the announcer say “the next station is…”.  Oh my word, we missed our stop and had to go to the next station. That was so inconvenient, as my husband was waiting to pick us up and had to drive to the next station!

How often do we miss God’s instructions for our lives, because we are simply not listening.. and then we end up in completely the wrong place because we didn’t hear?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to go to the wrong stop, to take a detour. I don’t want to be that person, who is so focused on stuff that doesn’t matter, that I miss the things that do. 
Tune your heart to the Holy Spirit today.  
Make sure you’re listening… and even in the busy-ness of this season, don’t miss out on His instructions. He has some great places to lead you to. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th December 2019

In the gospel of Luke we have this story of Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42 | NIV
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is a great example of how we can be so easily distracted, even with serving and doing the right thing, that we miss the point of what it’s all about!

As we approach Christmas this year,with all its busyness I want to encourage you to stop! Right now stop and take your time. Turn your attention to who this season is all about! Sit at his feet like Mary, stop worrying about so many things. Make sure that in all the chaos of family, friends and Christmas preparations that we don’t lose focus of the true reason for the season!

I have often been disappointed around this time of year, we build up our expectations, we spend money we don’t have for this one off occasion and so often it’s a let down. Not quite Christmassy enough, or maybe people haven’t appreciated our efforts enough. 

The opposite of disappointment is appointment. So to be diss-appointed means to be taken out of an appointment, removed from a position you felt you should have. Mary’s position that she chose was at the feet of Jesus and I love what Jesus said about her choice, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Whatever your holidays are like this year be sure to put yourself at the feet of who the holiday is for, choose what is better, don’t get disappointed this Christmas, but start today as you mean to go on, at the feet of Jesus – it is the one position no one can take from you! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th December 2019

It’s not always easy to trust, when you can’t see the outcome.

A lot of the time, walking with God is a case of
moving one step at a time, trusting that what you’re doing is right.

When I was younger, I used to love watching a programme called Art Attack. There was a segment on the show called ‘Big Art Attack’, where the presenter would create a masterpiece in a very large area, such as a warehouse or a field. He would collect seemingly random items and place them together. From the ground, the masterpiece wouldn’t make much sense. However, when the camera zoomed out, he would have made something like a peacock or a juggling clown.

It used to be frustrating, trying to guess what
these small items, carefully positioned, were eventually going to become.

Life can be much like this. Sometimes, where we
found ourselves or what God asks us to do just doesn’t make sense to us. Our life is made up of many small elements; different relationships, conversations, challenges and victories. It can all feel a little bit random.

Remember today that God sees beginning to end. Not only that but He has a purpose for every experience. You may find yourself asking ‘why?’. When we’re ‘zoomed in’ to our lives and living the day-to-day, we can’t always understand what is going on around us.

Be encouraged that when you ‘zoom out’ and look at your life from Heaven’s perspective, God has been creating a beautiful masterpiece, all along.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

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Fresh Hope – 11th December 2019

Recently, I was driving along and must admit, I wasn’t entirely paying attention – I was just eager to get out of the traffic and get to my destination as quickly as possible. As the traffic lights turned green and I pulled off, I realised that my car has slowed right down and had started to beep loudly!

In a flash, my thoughts had raced to the worst case scenario – “I’ve broken down and I’m going to have to be rescued.” “I’m going to miss this appointment.” “This is going to cost me a fortune.” But as I looked to see which warning light was flashing, I realised my handbrake was still on! I simply released it and off I went.

Often in life, this is how we react to stressful situations. Something doesn’t ‘feel right’ – as in our peace is gone or we’re in a state of stress. Then the ‘beeping’ starts — which usually manifests itself in worry and anxious thoughts and trying to figure out what’s going on. Then, when we take a moment, we may reflect and realise what is happening. And that is the point where God can come along and set us free…or release that handbrake!

Imagine if I’d sat at those traffic lights for another hour, waiting for the RAC, only for them to come along and release my handbrake! What a waste of time and resource. Yet, that’s how we approach our circumstances at times and we find ourselves unable to accelerate.

Let me remind you today that whatever you are facing, you already have the victory and God wants to take your burden.

Matthew 11:28 says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ He wants to take those things from you that you’ve taken up yourself.

So take a moment to surrender today and stop driving with your handbrake on. You’ll be in for a much smoother journey.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th December 2019

How often in life do we miss out on something wonderful because we are completely ignorant of it – sometimes by choice? I can personally think of many times where I have chosen to remain ignorant and missed out because I haven’t taken time to explore and discover. I’ve settled for the easy and comfortable option. I didn’t bother reading reviews, checking offers, ensuring the deadlines, researching what the Bible really means in its true context. Rather than seeking out truth, I have passively been feed ideas from media and others sources, allowing these means to form my opinions. Ignorance and choosing to not seek out knowledge is dangerous. 

I recently considered how people who are not interested in the Christian faith probably don’t understand God and Christianity simply because perhaps they have never truly been curious or interested enough in it. Maybe if they had a genuine interest, taken the time to consider life’s deeper questions, and truly explored, then I imagine relationship with God might be very hard for them to deny or resist.

In short, when we choose not to explore and learn we actually miss out on something wonderful! Some people would rather remain as they are, then actively seek out and discover something that would change their life. 

Ignorance leaves you where you are – comfortable and small. Seeking out knowledge and understanding propels you forward and opens up your world. 

Proverbs, the book of wisdom, speaks over and over about the importance of having a hunger to learn more, and gain wisdom and understanding. 

‘An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge’, Proverbs 18:15. 

‘A man of knowledge enhances his might’, Proverbs 24:5. 

‘Blessed is the one who gets understanding’, Proverbs 3:3. 

We should have a curious heart, hungry to learn, eager to search out truth, knowledge and answers. 

Part of ‘loving the Lord with your mind’ (Luke 10:27), is using it to gain wisdom and understanding, and refusing to remain ignorant! Imagine the rich reward that waits on the other side of understanding! 

There is more for all of us than what we know now! Ask God those big questions, seek out the answers, research the wisdom of God on topics, speak to experienced people. Grow in wisdom and understanding and develop a love for learning!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th December 2019

The king of kings, the saviour of the world, was born not in a palace, not in a castle, not with a big, grand royal announcement, but in… a barn. Surrounded by animals. With the smell of poo and hay in the air. This is how the most precious and powerful person of all time entered this world. Jesus was birthed into a mess. But even his birth was a prophetic statement about who he was. 

Jesus came as a humble servant. He was king, but He came as a man to serve. He wasn’t after a platform, a stage or grand entrance. He came as a representation of you and me – born perhaps in unexpected and humble circumstances, but called. He also came as a representation of God – a God who isn’t afraid to get involved in our mess. 

The first lesson we can gain from Jesus’ birth situation is: 1. Don’t ignore the assuming. This could be those unassuming people around you, or perhaps it is yourself! God loves to use the most unassuming and humble people and situations to do the most powerful things. We are trained to have our attention taken by the shining, sparkling, perfected aspects of our society, but that is not where God was found. He was found in a pile of hay in a random town. Don’t assume that the greatest gifts in life are going to come from perfect places. They could come from something very ordinary or even messy. 

The second lesson we can gain from Jesus’ birth situation is: 2. Be prepared for mess. Mary had agreed to carry the saviour of the world, taking on all the drama and judgment that would have come along with it too. You think God would have at least rewarded her with a really nice place to birth the saviour…not a barn! Surely God could have pulled off something a little less messy? Buuut God had a message in all this. Beautiful things are birthed in mess. The perfect, clean-cut circumstances around your life aren’t what determines the value of who you are and what God has for you. Messy life circumstances don’t change who you are! 

Jesus is no less the messiah based on where He was born. 

This Christmas, if your life feels a little messy, perfect! Consider what God may be birthing through it all. 

I think God was so intentional about Jesus’ birth being in a mess. I think there is part of all of us that can connect with a God who comes to meet humanity in a mess.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th December 2019

Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever got to a place of feeling you’ve hit rock bottom? If so, don’t despair, there is hope!


In  Luke 15 vs 11-32 we read the story of two brothers; one decided that he knew best, took his share of his father’s inheritance and off he went and blew the whole lot on riotous living.  
He was so desperate and hungry that he ended up with a job feeding pigs. It was there in the ‘pig muck’ that he came to his senses.  Whilst he was at the lowest of the low, he had two choices. Do I stay where I am and blame God? Or do I admit that I was wrong, made a wrong choice and messed up and go back to my father?

Fortunately, we are told “he came to his senses” (vs 17) and went back home.  He decided that even the servants in his Dad’s house would be eating better than him. 

Two things to notice about His Dad. 1. He let him go willingly. That’s like God with us – He lets us make our own choices, even when he knows they are wrong for us. It’s called free will. 

2. He welcomed him back with open arms, no judgement, just grace and mercy…gave him the best clothes and threw a party! That’s like our God.  He just wants us to come to our senses and often he will allow a ‘pig muck’ experience into our lives so that we will realise it. 


If you’re in the muck today, good. It’s an opportunity to make a new decision, a new choice.  The right decision, the right choice. It was the muck that made this guy see what he needed to see. 
Final thought: never be too proud to go back home. It’s where you belong.  God is only a prayer away. 

Pastor Gillian
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th December 2019


Matthew 6:34 says ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

It’s completely normal to worry but it is not something that God wants you to live with.

At the beginning of this busy season, it is quite possible that you have already thought ahead to how the next few weeks are going to pan out.

If you are anything like me, you plan your days and make a note of things that you need to get done. There will definitely be things on your list that you would rather avoid.

Don’t allow worry to spoil the day that God has for you. We can live in the peace that no matter what, God goes before us. We can’t go ahead in time to make sure that everything will be okay… but He can. Matthew 6:34 is a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient for every single
day of our lives. He has everything that we need ready for us, if only we will ask. So replace your worry with prayer.

Today, I encourage you to take your day and invite God in. It may be something that we only do in passing but God is in the detail and cares about even seemingly insignificant things. Worry does not add one second to our lives but when we hand our cares to God, He steps in to
do what we can’t.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th December 2019

I’d love to be free from pain.
I’m not physically ill.
I don’t have a broken bone or have arthritis.
I’m not taking medication for anything. 
The pain I feel is therefore nothing to do with my physical body, but is something that is part and parcel of living a life for God. 
The pain I’m describing is not exclusively mine as it belongs to us all.


None of us ever sign up to follow Jesus because we are attracted to pain, but often because we want to live a life free from pain, however, the pain I speak of is the unavoidable and inevitable pain of the daily trials that we all face. 
I came to a conclusion many years ago that ‘there will always be a problem’.
It’s not a faithless statement, but it is a realistic statement that helps us gain a proper perspective on what it’s like to live a daily life for God. 

1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful and fiery trial that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 


How many of us are so surprised when we find a painful trial sprung upon us?
Yet the Bible is advising us that we shouldn’t be – in fact, it’s actually teaching us that trials are our friends and not our enemies.


By virtue of the fact that this verse says that we shouldn’t think that ‘something strange is happening to us’ when we go through trials, indicates that we should embrace difficulties as character makers, rather character breakers


My friends today, if you are in the middle of pain because of a trial that you are facing, then don’t dismay, but understand that every Christian is in just the same boat.


Our trials will be different and will come at different times and seasons in our lives, but be assured of this, they are not a sign that God has left you, but is right there holding your hand to bring you out the other side a better and stronger person for it. 


James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th December 2019

Christmas time evokes all sorts of feelings and emotions for us. For some it is the most special time of the year – family, food and friends. For others, the painful realities of their lives are highlighted – lonely, broke, another year of no progress, perhaps forced celebrations with people who we don’t particularly enjoy, or maybe the deep pain of losing a loved one.  

Yet perhaps the festive season has a purpose in forcing us to face such emotions! It highlights that yes, we have needs, yet we equally have a more overwhelming hope. As beautiful as the gifts may be, delicious as the food is, and as frantic as the retail hype is, Christmas is actually about remembering that in our consuming situations and emotions, a hope was birthed for us! Jesus was gifted to us! 

I recently heard a heart-breaking comment made that the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, is ‘just a myth’ and the real meaning of Christmas is about time with family and friends. Aside from this comment being historically inaccurate (we won’t go into it), I found it saddening that someone could live in this broken world without a hope in something beyond us! Yes family and friends are a beautiful aspect of the festive season and should be thoroughly enjoyed, but what if you don’t have family or friends? Or what if your family and friends fail you? What then is your hope? 

Without a strong hope, our soul (mind and emotions) are tossed to and fro by the storms of life. Hebrews 6:19 says, ‘Hope is the anchor to our soul’. The surest hope we have is in Jesus. He is our security this Christmas. 

Yes – make amazing dinners this Christmas, yes – enjoy time with those who are precious to you, yes – buy presents and share, but as wonderful as these things are, don’t neglect to remember the hope that was given to you, and don’t forget topass it on, for this is the real meaning of Christmas!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd December 2019

We don’t date God. He isn’t an event, an occasion, the walk-in centre at the hospital when we find ourselves in desperate trouble. In His grace, He will make Himself available to us at an event, an occasion or when we find ourselves in desperate trouble, but this isn’t God’s full intent for our lives. 

I’m sure we all know of people who claim to never believe in God, but when they find themselves in a time of great desperation, it’s Him they turn to, praying, and asking Him to intervene. Then once on their feet again, they forget about Him, cracking on with their own, self-sufficient lives. 

From the beginning of creation, God’s intent for us has been that we would ‘be one with Him’. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve shared in perfect relationship with God. Sin then broke this union, putting up barrier between God and man. Jesus then restored that union. Today we live in perfect union with Christ. Romans 6:5 says, ‘we are permanently grafted into Him’. 

Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues of plants are joined so as to continue their growth together. A bud is taken from one plant and grown onto the ‘root plant’ of another. The result is two plants that appear as one plant. 

When you are unified with something, it is impossible to make that something an occasion, or an event. Union means you are tied to that thing. To be in ‘union’, means ‘to be joined together’. It doesn’t leave you, you don’t leave it. He doesn’t leave you, you don’t leave Him. You are grafted. 

We don’t go to church to meet God, we met Him at salvation and He never left us. Our lives should be an ongoing conversation with Him, an ongoing acknowledgement that He is always with us! 

In Galatians 5:16, we are encouraged to ‘walk in the Spirit’. This means to walk – go about the mundane day-to-day activities of our lives, acknowledging the voice and presence of God. 

As long as we treat God as a date – someone we pick up and drop off, making no commitment, is as long as we will not fully experience the intimacy and fullness of relationship that is available to us! 

God is not a feel-good fix on the side of our lives. He truly is the centre, the source, the ‘root plant’ of our lives.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd December 2019



Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.

Every supermarket nowadays has a very basic range of products in order to appeal to shoppers that want or need to purchase goods at the lowest possible value.

We are all aware of entry level ranges that carry labels like ‘smart price’, ‘basics’ or ‘value range’.

Those special labels that we have come to recognise, help us to identify quality at affordable prices, knowing that there is not going to be anything of a better value than this. The supermarket branding is telling us that this is the lowest we can go. There is no need to search for a bargain, as this is it!

As we search in life for what is of great value today, we have to come to a point of understanding that there is a very basic entry level to which we can go and no lower. If we go any lower in the way we conduct ourselves, then we have passed the point of being effective and helping anyone out there today.

The basics of our faith can be displayed at the very least in three areas…our Mouth, our Mind and our Moods.

You may well be able…but can I ask…are you stable?

Are you depend- able?

Are you reli-able?

The labels on the value range of our faith have got to be displayed in us being trustworthy, having integrity, and living honestly.

If you are living below the the very basics of who we are, then we are living below the ‘spiritual poverty line’. You cannot live any lower than that and profess to be a Christian.

Stop blaming everyone else for your mouth, mind and mood. The only way others can influence you is by you allowing them to.

One translation of the above verse, says…’like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who has no rule over his spirit.’

It’s time to get back to basics and start taking rule over your own life.

Stop telling half truths which are really lies. Stop compromising your stance on things which really means you are afraid to be counted. Stop making lame excuses for being late, being in a mood and ripping into someone with your tongue again.

Your values have been compromised and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Ask God to forgive you right now and start to live a life that worthy of God’s calling on you once again.

Colossians 1:10 … live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th November 2019

I love the book of Daniel.  It’s full of wonderful truths and teaching. I was reading it again this week and was encouraged by the account of the three guys Meschach, Shadrach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to a foreign god. 

Sometimes we find ourselves in a ‘fire’ unexpectedly, (which means we didn’t expect it) , it came from nowhere and yet other times we know that maybe,  through our brave decisions, we will be walking into a fire. That’s what happened to these three – they knew the consequences and yet still stood up for their God. 

I love what it says in verses 24-25 of Daniel 3. “Then the King leapt to his feet in amazement, and said “weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw in the fire? Look! I see four men walking around!”
There was another in the fire

Verse 27 “they saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor singed a single hair on their head, their robes weren’t scorched and they didn’t even smell like fire!” 

They were not harmed
When you go through a difficulty, a storm, or even a FIRE, you won’t be alone AND it won’t harm you. 

It says they weren’t burned, singed or even smelt like fire! That in itself is amazing, you only have to be around cooking and you know how your clothes can smell.   They’d been in a furnace that was so hot, it immediately killed the guards that put them in there and yet they not only weren’t harmed, they didn’t even smell like fire! When you go through it, make sure you don’t smell like bitterness or anger or disappointment or sadness… make sure you only smell like Jesus.  
Remember, Jesus is always with you and He will protect you,  “you will not be harmed.”

When they came out, everyone around praised their God; God wants be glorified through your fire.  
Give Him thanks today that He is always with you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th November 2019

As an adult, the word Christmas normally becomes linked with the need for preparation. We prepare our homes, gifts or meals in the anticipation of Christmas Day, often not really thinking about much after the Christmas season. 

But what if the Christmas season wasn’t the end goal, but the starting line? 

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, prophesying: “I baptise you with water but one more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worth to untie”. John humbly and obediently served in preparation for Jesus. 

But before John, there was Elizabeth. Elizabeth was barren for many years until her miracle was fulfilled and she got her baby – John. 

Luke 1:36-38 And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren and here she is six months pregnant, nothing is impossible with God.

Before John prophesied, Elizabeth prophesied.

Before John showed humility, Elizabeth showed humility.

Before John prepared the way for the Lord, Elizabeth prepared him. 

Elizabeth showed John what it was like to live a life of faith and of grace and of power, no matter what her circumstances were. She was barren for years but still served and still worshiped God until her miracle came to pass. 

The way she lived her life had influence which had a knock-on effect. It cascaded further. When we live glorifying Jesus, there is always a cascade – think about the person that first invited you to church and the person that invited them and so on. 

Elizabeth prepared the way for John. 

John prepared the way for Jesus.

As we prepare for the Christmas season, consider who we are preparing for. Are we serving with a gracious heart? Are we loving people harder? Are we sharing the real reason for Christmas and inviting people to church? That invite could be the reason for someone opening their heart to Jesus and sharing Him with their circle. 

Consider the cascade effect.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2019

One of the greatest desires of the human heart is to be part of a team. We want a squad of champions around us!

I’ve never met an emotionally healthy person who doesn’t want friends or that sense of family. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’d really like to figure out this tough situation all on my own without love and support please.”

God designed us to crave community. As a teacher I once underwent some training on how to recognise if our students have been groomed for radicalisation. When you get to the essence of the radicalisation of young people, it is really a young person looking for a sense of belonging. They want to be a part of something, even if it is a distorted version of community. It is the same with gang culture. At our very essence we are not designed to do life on our own – we crave being a part of something. 

We need team mates, community, people encouraging us, leading us, showing us the way, and in turn, we are wired to want to invest into others, and make a difference for someone else. 

A few years ago I was in church service in America. It was just a week before Christmas and the pastor asked any single mothers who wouldn’t be having Christmas unless God provides to stand up. All across the congregation single mothers stood up. Without any force from the pastor, more than half of the church (of about 1000 people), pulled out their wallets and went over to the standing single Mums, and handed them piles upon piles of cash. As the sobbing mothers took the offerings, I was overwhelmed with this powerful picture of community. It was such a profound moment for me. This was a true picture of family and community. Actively looking after each other, a heart to meet each other’s needs, and championing them in life. We are designed to figure out life with other people.

What is the opposite of teammates? Competitors. 

Competition with those around us violates our God-given design. We aren’t made to ride solo and be in it for ourselves. We aren’t made to win and make ourselves look good so others feel bad, we are made to inspire, to lead and encourage others to win in life too!

There is life-changing power in a community where we look after one another’s needs instead of merely thinking about our own!

In the spirit of the early church, ‘may we meet together and share everything we have’ (Acts 2:44).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th November 2019

At the start of the year I wrote a list of personal goals. I split the goals into categories: spiritual, health/fitness, relationships, financial etc. 

I recently reviewed the list of goals and was pleased to find that a lot of the goals had been achieved. Things that seemed like huge mountains at the beginning of the year really seemed quite trivial and attainable reviewing them on the other side of the year. 

I have already started considering what I might put on my 2020 goals list. While I don’t think our lives should be totally goal driven, I think it is important to have a sense of intentionality in what we are doing with our time and where we are going. 

Time is the only non-renewable resource we have. Once gone, we never get it again. There isn’t an unlimited supply of it. It really is precious. 

I believe one of the key characteristics of someone stewarding their time well is someone who doesn’t just let life happen, but carefully considers it and acts with intentionality and purpose. 

We may be facing overwhelming situations at the moment. You may feel like you are in survival mode and don’t really have the capacity for goal setting, but I believe God honours us and our goals when we commit our plans to Him and present specific requests to Him, even when we are just getting by one day at a time. 

Can I encourage you to pray over the last leg of the year for God to give you some fresh perspective, some fresh hope, some fresh ideas for the new year?

Practically speaking, if you are a looking for some handles on how to improve your use of time and operate with more intentionality, consider: 

What do I need to stop worrying about that is out of my control? 

What do I need to start including in my day that feeds my soul? 

Who do I need to unfollow – in life or on social media? 

When is the last time I got lost in the wonder of the word? 

What consumes too much of my head or heart space that is unhealthy? 

When is the last time I did something for my husband, friend or work mate – just to see them smile? 

What did I do today to prioritise my health (mind, body and soul)? 

When is the last time I did something for the first time? 

What can I start today to make a positive impact on my future? (saving, investing, reading or writing).

God always has something new for you, and His desire is to see you walk into 2020 with a fresh sense of faith for your future. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th November 2019



We’ve all heard the saying ‘it’s out of my hands’, meaning there is nothing more I can do about it now…I’ve done all I can.

This is never more true than in the parable taught in these few verses of the Bible….

Mark 4:26-28… ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.


Notice the ONLY involvement that the man had was that he scattered or sowed the seed. Once the seed left his hands it was literally ‘out of his hands’.

While he slept it grew.

While he worked it grew.

Whether he watched the seed or watched the TV it still grew.

Even if he forgot all about it…it still grew.

If he’d have hung onto the seed in his pocket, then the seed would still have been just seed today.

His ONLY part in this whole process was to SOW the seed…job done.

Several years ago, in an ancient part of Israel, an earthenware pot was discovered. It was believed to be around 2000 years old.

Inside the pot was a handful of seeds.

As an experiment, the seeds were placed in soil and exposed to the sunlight. To everyone’s amazement they began to behave in exactly the same way as they would have done two centuries earlier. They grew into perfectly healthy plants.

Everything you have right now is in seed form, but if you refuse to sow it you’ll never reap a harvest.

Love is a seed. Generosity is a seed. Kindness is a seed. Money is a seed.

You’ll never be short of anything in life if you learn to sow seeds.

Once it’s out of your hands, it’s into God’s hands.

Don’t have everything you need right now? Sow a seed today and watch it become the harvest that you need. 

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2019

One of the things that you notice whilst driving in the USA is that on the motorway (freeway) they have a carpool lane, which is called the HOV lane, it stands for ‘high occupancy vehicle’. 

It means that if you have two or more passengers, then you can use this lane and avoid the traffic jams. Genius! 

It’s especially helpful in cities and built up areas during peak hours where the traffic is really busy,  It’s there to encourage people to travel together rather than solo in their car. One thing I noticed on my recent trip, is the relief we experienced when we could use the HOV lane and speed past the rest of the traffic!

However,  another observation I made is that some people were happy to sit in the traffic jam when they could’ve used the lane, in other words they had more than two passengers in the car, but for some reason didn’t want to get to where they were going quickly! Why would you want to sit in a traffic jam and waste valuable time, when you could get to your destination a lot quicker?Because you have the very thing that you need to get you there, and that is the right amount of passengers.

God has given us everything we need to get to our destination quickly, directly and efficiently.

The children of Israel were given the option and opportunity to get to the promised land in approximately 11 days,  however due to their decisions and attitudes, they wasted valuable time when they could have got to their destination a lot quicker. It actually took them 40 years and some of them never got there at all.

Whilst being a passenger in the fast lane,  I looked at people in the traffic jam who could have been in our lane, and thought why… why would you not want to move over?

I wonder if God has the same feelings about us? Why would you make a journey last so long when you could get there a lot quicker? We have the tools we need, we can get the wisdom we need and we have the very one we need on our side. God himself.  

One final thought.The high occupancy vehicle lane is there to enable people who travel together, to get there a lot quicker. When you travel with the right people, you too can experience the same.  Life is better together.  Get moving!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2019

How do you respond to Jesus?

In a short section of Mark’s Gospel, there are a series of well-known events in which we see a range of responses from those who had contact with Jesus.

Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4:41) ‘They were terrified and asked each other, “who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!”’

Jesus then sends the ‘legion’ of demons into the herd of pigs (Mark 5:18) ‘Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region’, but in hearing the cured man’s testimony ‘all the people were amazed’.

Jesus then heals the woman who had been subject to bleeding (Mark 5: 33) ‘Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.’

We move swiftly to the raising from the dead of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:39) ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep. But they laughed at him’. However, when she was raised from the dead (Mark 6:42) ‘At this, they were completely astonished’.

From here Jesus returns to his home town and preaches in the synagogue (Mark 6:3) ‘And they took offence at him’.

Clearly when confronted with the wisdom, power and authority of God in the human shape of Jesus, people who had the benefit of actually meeting him face to face had a range of responses from laughter and ridicule; astonishment and awe; hiding from the truth to fear; and those that took offence.

It seems that things have not really changed that much, I am sure we all meet those same responses as we carry God’s message and Jesus inside us into our daily lives. Jesus actually tells us that this will be the case. In Matthew chapter 10 he sends out the Disciples and tells them what they will face and that not all who they speak to will hear and accept the message of the Gospel.

We can’t change other people’s reactions – all we can do is faithfully witness to what we have seen and heard. The rest is in God’s hands. The one thing we can control is ourselves, so the question to ponder is how do I respond to Jesus?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2019

I love the sense of expectation as we approach Christmas. Our children are definitely excited at the thought of something ‘good’ coming their way.


I wonder what you are believing and trusting God for today. Is your attitude one that declares ‘I am in preparation for something…’ or ‘God is going to get something to me and I need to be ready’ or that He will indeed deliver ‘even at the eleventh hour’?


I am reminded of Mary, a young teenage girl whose life was changed forever when she discovered that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus! Whatever her doubts and questions, her response can guide us as to what we can do when faced with the unexpected.
Luke 1:30 The angel said to her ‘Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favour with God.’ 


I believe whilst growing up, Mary would have heard and been told of countless stories of how time and time again God had favoured, honoured and rescued His people, the nation of Israel, how He guided and directed them. His favour had rested on kings and prophets, but also how he had singled out a young shepherd boy, David, Gideon, a reluctant warrior, Ruth a young woman who had lost everything and had an uncertain future but resolved to be faithful to Naomi. Stories of a God who favoured people that others would have overlooked – placing a value on a person’s heart and character instead of their position, stature and strength. 

In that moment Mary understood what Psalm 119:68 declares ‘You are God and what you do is good.’
She did not fully understand but she was determined in her heart to trust Him.
The future, though exciting, is not without its uncertainties and we will encounter situations and often question how and when God will work something out.

Whatever your situation today, know that there is a God who favours you and who longs to demonstrate His faithfulness and committment to you. You may not understand Him or the way that He works nor all that He does, but you can make a decision today to choose to trust Him.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2019

I’m sure you don’t need me to point this out, but much of our lives, if not all of them, are spent with people. With that in mind, I want to spend as much time as I can with the right kind of people.

The truth is, we don’t have control over who we spend all of our time with. Maybe you’re working with people who you wouldn’t have handpicked… maybe you’re living with people who you wouldn’t have handpicked! But when it comes to the moments we can control, as somebody once said, ‘get around people who celebrate you, not those who tolerate you.’
There are times when I have been around people who have taken from me instead of adding to me, and if you’re not careful, like me, you can grow accustomed to this kind of interaction, concluding that this is just how life rolls…

Maybe today is the day you take back control of your time and who you’re spending it with. Give yourself permission to hang around people who make much of your strengths and little of your weaknesses. I once heard someone say, ‘if people can’t make room for my mistakes, they shouldn’t be with me.’I need those kinds of friends! You need those kinds of friends!

Now if you’re wondering, how do I get these kinds of friends?You become that kind of friend. It starts with me and it starts with you.

Let’s make much of people’s strengths and little of their weaknesses. Let’s be those who create room for others’ mistakes and celebrate rather than tolerate.

As I said to begin with, not all of our lives will be spent with people who bring addition to us, so let’s be sure to create moments with those who do.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th November 2019

Aside from our relationship with God, the most precious thing we have on earth is each other. Investing into our relationships with each other is one of the greatest investments you can make. 

The definition of investment is: ‘the act of putting moneyefforttime, etc. into something to make a profit’. Investing is essentially putting in some hard work and sacrifice in order to reap a greater reward. 

I’m not suggesting that we make an effort with people so that we can selfishly gain something, but I am suggesting that there IS something precious to be gained in investing in relationships. 

Relationship is the essence of what God is all about. He shares in perfect relationship with the trinity (Colossians 2:9), He desires personal relationship with humanity (Genesis 1:26), He then made mankind relational in nature, stating that it ‘is not good for man to be alone’ (Genesis 2), and so passionate was His intent for relationship with us that He then made the ultimate investment in sending His only son to die for us (John 3:16). 

We may feel lonely. We may feel like we are seen, but not truly known. We may feel like we are in a crowd, but don’t have true connection. May I propose that if you have people around you, but are struggling in feeling like you don’t have true friendship and relationship, that you consider the following:

 1. Get off screens, and get into real life. 

Social media can be great for surface level networking and creative inspiration, but it is not an appropriate source of genuine connection. We were made for relationship, and the hours spent observing the lives of others, is time you could have spent having real talk, coffee, and connection with someone. 

A recent study proved that on average people are spending at least two hours a day on social media. Over the span of a lifetime, that equals to 6 years and 8 months! For TV, it equated to 8 years and 4 months. That is a total of 14 years of our precious life in front of a screen! Yes, in the colder months, we can have the tendency to hibernate, but consider that for our mental health and fruitfulness of earth, we need genuine connection with people!

 2. Be vulnerable and real. You will not feel fully connected until you feel fully known. Put up a front that people might love, but your true self will never feel loved. You will not be getting the connection, encouragement and relationship that you actually desire and need. Be honest and real with the right people. There is no other way to do life.

 3. Make an investment. Consider how much of your time is consumed pursuing things for selfish gain.  Consider how much of your money you spend on people. Consider how often your language is encouraging toward others. Consider how much effort YOU make for them. What you sow, you reap. Harsh perhaps, but don’t expect a harvest of deep, meaningful friendships, when your investments have been few. Any relationship is built on the grounds of sacrifice. If you want beautiful friendships, it is going to cost you. The greater the investment, the greater the return. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th November 2019

Perfectionism is not from God! The roots of perfectionism are found in religion, which is essentially our attempt to please God through self-effort and striving. It’s performance – where our worth is tied up in the degree of our work. Jesus came to abolish perfection through works (Matthew 5:17)!

Perfectionism will offer you no rest. It will push you to work harder, do more, accomplish more, perform better, and then maybe you will achievea sense of worthiness… but truth is, you never will. Perfectionism is a lie. 

When Jesus proclaimed that He was rest for the weary soul, He was declaring that He was rest for a performing perfectionist (Matthew 11:28-30). 

He is rest from: – Working for approval- The need to achieve for praise- Performing for value – Accomplishing for acknowledgement – Striving for recognition 

Paul reminds us that our wholeness, freedom and true life is not found through us, but through the FINISHED WORK and the gift of grace of our good God (Ephesians 2:8,9). 

God’s approval with us is not based on our works, therefore if His opinion of us is the most valuable in our life, then our works should not be our driving force for a sense of worthiness. 

It doesn’t mean we are the worst version of ourselves – lazy, selfish, and doing a half-hearted job of everything. Infact,  the opposite! We work, serve, and pursue excellence because of His approval towards us, His kindness towards us, His love towards us, and His grace towards us has empowered us! Grace actually enables us to do more than a spirit of perfectionism ever could. 

Working from a place of rest (knowing Jesus finished our need to work for approval) looks like: – Working from love, not for love. – Working from acceptance, not for it – Working from approval, not for it – Working from identity, rather than for it. 

Say no to perfection, and yes to grace!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2019

1 Peter 4:15-16
‘If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name’

We could well find ourselves asking the question: what is a meddler?
Is there such a thing in the 21st century?

Why is it in the same category as murderers, thieves and criminals?
Whatever it is, it must be bad.

Here we go…
A meddler is a busy body; someone who interferes with or concerns themselves with something that is none of their business.
It’s basically a word that sends out a loud and clear message: mind your own business.

I have to admit, I don’t think that I’ve heard anyone ever talk about this in such a serious way, so why would the Bible make it out to be such an offensive thing and list it amongst criminal activity?

Is it not because you have your own life to live and take responsibility for, and therefore to use up your energy trying to poke your nose into everyone else’s business is like playing God with other people’s lives?

God is wanting to send us a clear message that what other people do with their lives should never take away your focus from what you’ve been called to do.

A modern day classic illustration would be found in the realm of social media.
Right now we are able to view people’s pictures, where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We can see what they’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner and who they eating it with. We become party to their party and to top it all we’re even invited to comment.

Self-esteem nowadays is subject to how many ‘likes’ we get on our statuses, and if it’s less than ten, our whole world crumbles around us.

People’s lives have never been made so accessible to so many.
We can spend hours everyday trawling social media to find out the latest gossip and info on anyone’s life that we so wish. We can’t go to sleep at night without mentally rearranging everyone’s life first.
Is it any wonder that meddling is such a modern day curse?

We are using up so much of our energy to internally fight over why they shouldn’t have said that to that person, and why Paul shouldn’t be dating Lucy, and why that selfie is so unflattering.

Just think how free you could be become to use your energy and focus doing good with your own life, if you’d simply mind your own business?

Murderers, thieves and criminals have one thing in common in that they are all facing a prison sentence.
Sadly, being a meddler is just the same; you are chaining yourself as you meddle with so many people’s lives that you are no longer free to sort yourself out.

When was the last time that you consciously stopped trying to live everyone else’s life for them and took care of your own?
The only time we should engage in other people’s lives in this way should be for the common good – to lift them, to care of them, to support them and to pray for them.

Meddling is a meaningless and energy-sapping mental distraction. Stop playing God and be content to practice leadership on your own life.
Make a conscious effort today to pull away from meddling, and use all that freed up time to make your own life count for the good of others.

Freedom!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2019

 

You will only fully realise the potential of something when you let it go.

Too often we want to hold onto things, not realising that we will never see what we were meant to see, if we hold on.

 

A seed will only reach its full potential when it is sown. It will never do anything in your pocket.

When a farmer sows a seed, he doesn’t have a funeral for it – he has great expectation for it. So let it go.  Don’t be scared.

When you release your finances into God’s Kingdom, don’t be scared, don’t be fearful.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 Maybe you have a dream, an idea, and maybe you’re held back by worry or lack of self-esteem, or belief in yourself… let it go, let those fears and concerns leave you and step out. Have great expectation that what you believe for, will come to pass.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its ull potential.

 Maybe you’ve been hurt by someone and you’re not allowing yourself to love again, let that hurt go. Let those feelings of “it will never be any different” right out of your mind. God created us all to love and be loved.  It is in the letting go, that you can be confident that God will replace your fears with something much more special.

 Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 Maybe you’re holding onto unforgiveness, maybe you feel that it’s well deserved to feel that way. The only person that you’re hurting right now, is yourself.  God wants to set you free form that. Unforgiveness leads to hurt and bitterness and even sickness. When you let unforgiveness go, God will swap it for a wonderful peace.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 You see, when I let go of what I’m not supposed to hold onto, there is a divine exchange.

 What should you be letting go of today?

Don’t concern yourself with the letting go, don’t mourn over it.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its  full potential.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2019

I love maps, especially detailed Ordnance Survey maps. Not only do they give me a great overview of where I am, where I am trying to get to but also all the little details on the way. Turn left here; turn right there; there will be a steep hill; a river to cross; marshy ground; a cliff edge; everything I need to know in order to have a safe journey and get to my destination.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a map for life? So that at every turn, at every moment of decision we could simply look down and there would be the answer, the right direction.

The reason maps are so detailed is because someone has been there before and seen the roads, the lie of the land, how high the mountains are, how dense the forest.

The problem is that you and your life are unique, no one has ever lived your life, no one has ever had to make the decisions that you have to make today. How could there be a map?

The other issue with maps is that your destination has to be on the map otherwise it is useless. Again your life is unique, God has a plan for us and we know our destination is eternity, but that plan can be revealed step by step ‘A lantern to my feet’ – not a huge search light.

What we need is a compass. A compass always points north. No matter where you are, how dark, how lost, how dense the forest, how steep the mountain, a compass will always point you in the right direction. If you know your destination then all you have to do is keep a careful eye on the compass and at every turn you will know which is the right way.

The word of God is a compass for your life.

Reading the word of God, hearing the word of God and thinking about the word of God gives us a clear set of principles by which to live, applying those principles daily always takes us in the right direction. The problem is that we stop looking at the compass and try to find our own way, we stop applying the principles that God has given us and we soon get lost.

The great news is that it is never too late to pick up the compass. No matter where you are or how far you have gone off course, the compass of God’s word will take you back in the right direction.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019

 

I recently pulled a muscle in my neck. Doesn’t sound too bad, although with a stiff neck you soon realize your neck is responsible for you being able to see properly, move properly, and interact with people and the tasks of life. An immovable neck makes for a challenging day.

The Bible actually talks about having a stiff neck! It is used figuratively in both the Old and New Testament, the word, ‘stiff-necked’ means ‘stubborn’, ‘not to be led’. This would have been a family idea to the Jews. You see, ox was the most useful and common animal. It was used for agricultural purposes (Judges 14:18, 1 Corinthians 9:9).

A ploughman would guide his ox with a pole upon the neck. He would use the pole to keep the ox straight, preventing it from deviating. If an ox was hard to control or stubborn it was ‘hard of neck’. Hence, the figure of speech is used in scripture to describe the stubborn heart of people toward the guidance of God (Exodus 32:9, 33:3, Deuteronomy 9:6, 2 Chronicles 36:13, Jeremiah 17:23).

In the Old Testament, Pharaoh was famously stubborn (Exodus 7:13-14), but his stiffened-neck did him and his nation no good. Stubbornness was also displayed by the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, who rebelled against God over and over, turning away from his love and protection.

The enemy will use a ‘stiff-neck’ or pride to hold you back. It is simply the decision to go your own way. Humility is what will keep you fruitful in life. Pride is saying ‘my way is better than God’s way’ – what a scary position to be in.

Just as I experienced a lack of full function and perspective in my physically stiffened neck, so also in the spiritual, pride and stubbornness will limit your perspective and mobility.

What keeps you agile, growing, healthy and free, is a soft and tender heart. A soft heart is sensitive to the voice and ‘guiding pole’ of the Lord.

Be aware of areas where you may have ‘stiffened’ your approach to God. Humble yourself toward his voice and ways for your life. Be easily led by His voice.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019

For years I tried to make myself like other people that I felt had it all together and whom I perceived to be popular.

I went through about five personality changes in order to be liked, ranging from becoming one of God’s clowns to becoming Mr. Serious. I was so like one particular person when I spoke, that it was difficult to tell one from the other. All of this was to no avail. I decided to drop the act and become who I was supposed to be – ME.

It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to be who you really are, but it’s worth every bit of the pain.

Why do we work so hard to not be vulnerable?

Why are we so afraid to be who we really are?

Maybe it’s because of the past we’ve come from or the pain of rejection that we’ve experienced? Both of these and many other life experiences teach us to be the masters of disguise.

Is it possible that you think that if people knew who you really were, no one would love you?

Look at the energy we spend hiding our vulnerability to protect ourselves from people that often don’t even matter!

After becoming me, I realised that people actually loved me and accepted me for who I was, far more than when I was doing my best impression of others.

Give yourself permission today to take off the mask and be who God created you to be.

You were born an original — don’t die a copy.

1 Corinthians 15:10 ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 12th November 2019

On my wedding day, my Dad gifted me with the most beautiful Tiffany and Co. pearl earrings and necklace. As stunning as the generous gift was, the way in which a pearl is cultivated is far less glamorous.

Pearls are made by oysters and freshwater mussels as a natural defence against an irritant such as a parasite entering their shell or damage to their fragile body!

That’s right! One of the most beautiful details of creation was formed under irritation!

Give a child anything he or she wants, whenever they want it and we all know that the adult they become will most likely be one of entitlement, and lacking in character. Why? Because the child has faced no irritation, it has been kept comfortable – it has got whatever it has wanted, whenever it has wanted it.

Irritation is good for us. It shapes us. One of the greatest dangers in becoming ‘comfortable’ in life is that our character, personhood, and faith, is no longer irritated, challenged and susceptible to beautiful growth. 

Pearls are what develop in the trenches of life, not the mountaintops. YOU develop in the trenches and pain of life. Giving thanks and praise during pain is not pain avoidance – it is acknowledging your pain and praising still. It is essential for your mental health, and the cultivation of ‘pearls’ of immense value in you.

‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’ (James 1:2-4).

‘More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope’ (Romans 5:3).

 ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:10).

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us’ (Romans 8:18).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2019

I’ve met quite a few older people over the years that consistently behaved like they were children.

 

Everything about them told me that they were old — their hair, their skin, their health, their teeth and their habits. But something was happening inside of them that revealed a very different story; they had just never grown up.

 

Now there are some great attributes to being childlike; Jesus spoke about having childlike faith; Having a great sense of fun is also a great childlike quality. However, there is a vast difference between child-like and child-ish.

 

Childish people show all the signs of growing old, but they also show all the signs of never growing up.

 

They still think like a child, speak like a child and behave like a child.

 

Put them in a room with adults and what comes out of their mouths would make you think that you were back at primary school.

 

Today I challenge you to listen to yourself speak and see if you can hear child-ish language coming to the forefront of all that you are saying.

 

(Before you justify your behaviour, it’s important to know that there are plenty of young people and teenagers out there that are incredibly mature and changing the world as we speak).

 

Are you still thinking immaturely?

 

Are you still behaving as if you were a stroppy child?

 

Are you still talking baby talk?

 

If so, it’s time to take more than baby steps, it’s time to take radical steps in order to grow up.

 

The Bible puts the emphasis of our growth fairly and squarely on our own shoulders….

 

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

 

It’s time to put your childish behaviour behind you.

 

Don’t just grow old…grow up, and if necessary, get help.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2019

1 Samuel 17 vs 37 – “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will certainly rescue me form the hand of the giant Philistine.” 

The same David that had victory against the lion and the bear, is the same David that had victory against the giant Goliath.

His previous victory was not only recorded in 1 Samuel 17 vs 37, it was recorded in his mind.

 Someone once said “write your failures in the sand and write your victories in stone.”

I’m sure you’ve all had a day at the beach, whereby you’ve spent hours creating some castle masterpiece, moat and the works, or writing your names and declaring love in the sand. But, as sure as can be, that masterpiece will be gone as soon as the tide comes in.

That’s how we should deal with failure. Understand that forgiveness from God, means it has gone forever and we should not keep recalling it.

Too many people write their failures in stone. No, don’t do that.  Write them in sand.

Victories however, should be written in stone.  Firmly in your mind. So the next time you are faced with a similar situation, you can recall the victory you had and it will give you faith to take on the next one.

David, when faced with the giant Goliath, thought to himself, “I’ve done this with similar, I can do it again”. “God helped me before, He will help.”

Today, recall your victories, write them down and remind yourselves of the never ending faithfulness of God.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th November 2019

I love period action movies, The Last Samurai, 300, Troy, even Apocalypto, all firm favourites. Stories of gallant heroes, outnumbered and surrounded, but because of unflinching dedication to a cause, fighting to the death for God and country. That’s one of the reasons I love reading the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Bible. They contain fascinating historical accounts of the conquests of kings and villains, depositions and rebellions, each chapter is a blockbuster in its own right. But just like modern life, interwoven in this tapestry of valour, are threads of lack of faith, fear, and doubt.

 

In 2 Chronicles Chapter 29, King Hezekiah set out to restore and rededicate the temple where they had previously worshipped God. He instructs the priests to prepare themselves, and recruits some help for them from the Levites in anticipation of the work ahead.

But later in verse 34, “it turned out that the Levites had been more responsible in making sure they were properly consecrated than the priests had been”

 

This made me stop and think. Daily, we each conquer battles, for some, that battle is just getting out of bed and facing the world. For others, it’s going through another day without falling back into debt, addiction or depression. Maybe your battle is one you’ve never shared, and that has become another battle, the fear of someone finding out.

But during these battles, how often do we ask someone to pray with us, believing for a miracle, then it turns out that the person we’ve confided in has more faith than we do?

Hebrews 11 verse 6 says simply that when you ask God for something, ask with faith that you will receive it, and then act like you believe you’ll get what you prayed for, and overcome whatever challenge you’re facing.

 

As we approach Remembrance Sunday where we commemorate the contribution of the fallen so we can be free today, take a moment to reflect on the battles Jesus has brought you through, and let your faith rise, and let your actions reflect your renewed faith that you will overcome.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2019

If you ever visit an iconic landmark or property such as the Vatican, Buckingham palace or 10 Downing Street, you will always find guards at the door. Why guards at the doors and not the walls? Because doors are a place of access. What you allow to pass through the doors is what you give a degree of authority too. Allow the wrong thing to pass through the doors, and the result could be devastating.

In Exodus 12:13 they applied blood to the doorways. Why did they apply blood to the doorways and not the walls? Because the doorways represented a place of authority and access. They were seeking protection over their family, via the blood (representative of Jesus’ blood) on a place of access in their lives.

We also have doors and gates on our lives. What do we give permission to enter? What goes in? What goes out? Are we vigilantly guarding?

The doorway of our life is our mind. We should actively be applying the blood of Jesus to our thought lives. No, this does not mean we get blood and physically put it on our doorways! It is instead a matter of considering our thoughts before they pass the doorways of our life. Are the thoughts we partner with in alignment with the price Jesus paid for on the cross?  Does our thinking come from the perspective of what was purchased for us on the cross/the blood of Jesus? If they are thoughts that don’t align with the price Jesus paid, we should probably be stopping them at the door. If the thoughts knocking aren’t thoughts rooted in freedom, wholeness, victory, and provision, turn them away!

The gateway to your life is your mind. The enemy has no legal authority to touch you, unless you open the door, and grant Him access.Watch out, He will go after your thought life. Apply the blood. Guard your gateway!

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th November 2019

Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us that ‘we will receive power’ (Acts 1:8). Either this was a promise or not! Therefore the Christian life should be marked by power!

Even the name ‘Holy Spirit’ can weird people out. As a result, often He is pushed aside or boxed in. Yet the greatest minister of the gospel – the greatest preacher, and teacher on earth is the Holy Spirit! True transformation is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Everything else is simply behaviour modification which cannot be sustained like a heart transformation through the Holy Spirit can.

This should stir in us a hunger for an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Reigning in life starts with how we manage our internal world. There is a responsibility for us to allow the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our personal lives. Revival is essentially bringing what is dead to life. It is up to us to DAILY allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us so we can go out in power.

If your relationship with God seems lifeless, if you feel your Christian walk is lacking in power, invite the Holy Spirit in.
The Christian life was never supposed to be a boring, well-presented routine. The early church was actually birthed out of the fiery power of the Holy Spirit!

Don’t be a cardboard Christian – the form is there, it looks good on the outside, but the substance is missing. It looks like ‘the form of godliness’, but is missing the fire so to speak (2 Timothy 3:5). Don’t be luke warm – half in and half out. Jesus isn’t an add on to your life, He IS your life! (Revelation 3:16).

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you have the capacity to change this city. What are you doing with what God has given you? Don’t settle for the crumbs, hunger for all that He has for you! The Holy Spirit works through desire and hunger!

Emma Burchell

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th November 2019

Earlier this year I decided to do something with the empty void that was our garden. I wanted to transform it into a great space for us as a family to be together during the long hot British summer that was just around the corner. I’m an optimist.

 

So I got a few quotes done for decking etc and realised it was going to cost a lot of money, which we didn’t really have. Then we went on our usual Easter holiday to St Ives, which with three children is never cheap.

 

One day we were visiting a beach and I was feeling a little heavy thinking about our finances, how much the holiday was costing and how I was going to struggle to afford any garden work. When we got back to the car I‘d got a parking ticket for £60! There wasn’t even a cheaper option if you paid it early! I was really fed up and it just added to my financial angst. Then I thought of the verse Romans 8.28 ‘God works all things for the good of those who love him!’ And I thought ‘how could this verse ever be true for this situation?’ So I irritatingly prayed “God how could you ‘work for the good’ a parking fine?”

 

Then suddenly I had a conviction rise inside of me, and in that very moment I decided to make the £60 fine an absolute bargain! I chose to make it the trigger for me to decide to transform the whole garden myself and save myself a whole lot of money!

 

Immediately I was on the internet sourcing and ordering materials. The week we got back I was underway and after three tough weeks, I was over the moon to have a great looking garden with decking, planters, benches and even ‘up lighters’ for effect.

 

I sat back and thought what an absolute bargain for £60!

 

There may be situations in your life you just don’t understand, seasons of loss where you feel no possible good could come from it. I truly believe in everything we go through, whether our own doing or not, we get to choose whether it becomes an absolute waste or an incredible bargain! To stand up and not allow the situation to dictate to us, but to make a decision to make it an opportunity, not to be a victim but to choose to be a victor!

 

Seek Him today. It’s our choice on what we call the things that happen, every complaint is a decision to lose out, every praise (in spite of circumstances) is a decision to win. Use all things to motivate you to put Jesus at the centre, making the most of where you are and what you have!

 

Luke Cartwright

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2019

Some time ago, a guy walked up to me and told me that he felt that I had stopped using a gift that God had given me.

 

At first, I was taken back and even pretty annoyed that someone who was not really even in my life had spoken to me like this, but after a time I started to mull over the sentiment of his words.

His approach had been made with kindness and humility, and therefore I felt that his assessment should at least be given some consideration.

Of course, not everyone that speaks into your life should be given the time of day, otherwise we’d be all be taken off track by some very weird and unwise characters that are around but something about this guy’s message to me rang true, and as I pondered it for a few days, I began to see that it was actually something sent to help me rather than harm me.

Messengers come in all shapes and sizes, and at first glance some people can look nothing like ideal material to give you a much needed jolt. However, even a quick flick through the Bible will reveal that this was often the case. Interestingly, on the flip side, the one guy that you would think ‘looked the part’ and had the credibility to speak into Jesus’ life, was dismissed with the words ‘get behind me Satan’. Those words were spoken by Jesus to one of his closest disciples, namely Peter.

We can, without knowing it, let the gifts that God has given us lie dormant and unused.

 

How are those gifts brought back to life, we may well ask?

 

Is it not sometimes by someone willing to be honest with us, leading us to stir ourselves once again in that department?

 

At this time of the year, we start to buy logs ready for our open fire in the lounge. It’s such a great centrepiece for any home, but the truth is if you walk out of the room and forget about it, the fire can start to die down and eventually die out. For every winter evening that we get to sit in front of the fire, I have to work at keeping it alive by fanning it back into flame and keeping it well stocked.

 

I’ve realised afresh this week that when I don’t keep my gift alive I am actually depriving many people from receiving what God has for them through me.

 

Maybe like me, you need a gentle reminder today to ‘fan into flame’ the gift that is within you.

 

2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2019

Psalm 103 9-13

He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour his anger forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the Heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.  

Do you have a problem letting go?

I’m amazed at how many people let small things have a big impact on their lives.  Some of the offences and wrongs that we hang onto are so small in the grand scheme of things and yet we waste our energy ‘stewing’ over things.

I heard someone say recently, ‘will this matter this time next week? If the answer is no, let it go.’

”Oh” you may say, “it will matter”. Okay, let’s go back then to the verses at the start of this devotion…

He (GOD HIMSELF) doesn’t treat us our sins deserve, or harbour anger.

He removes our sin FAR from us because of His great love FOR us.

If God can do it, why am I different?

If God can forgive me and you for every wrong thought, action, word or motive, then what makes me bigger than God?

It’s time my friend to let it go.

Give it to God, not to several other people.

If you can’t let it go, the Bible teaches us that the person we need to speak with is the person who offended us and only them.  (See Matthew 18 v 15)

Today, be thankful for what God did for you and apply the same grace.

There’s a beautiful promise that will come to your life when you do.  (Matthew 6 vs 14-15)

 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2019

Life sometimes feels like you are walking on a rickety shaky bridge, unsteady and unsure if in the next step you will hold up or everything around you will collapse.

Whatever you are facing or believing for, know that God is faithful and will show Himself to be more than enough in that area of your life. I have learned this lesson in many ways in various areas of my life, but this doesn’t make the shaky bridges I encounter look any sturdier. No matter how much experience I have gained in crossing rickety bridges, each new one I face always seems like the one that isn’t going to hold. This is why it’s so important to reflect upon all of the other shaky bridges that God has safely led you across. This is my favourite Bible verse for doing this is: Psalm 9:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”.

If you are in that season of crossing the bridge, you must take a step out on to the bridge and believe that the same God who has carried you through so many other life trials is more than enough to carry you through this one. Keep focusing your thoughts back onto God. Be fully dependent upon Him to keep this rickety bridge secure. Your job is to keep walking and trust that God truly is in control, no matter what you feel.

As you meditate on God’s prior faithfulness, you lift up your shield of faith to block the enemy’s taunts that bring about fear in you. God tells us in Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st October 2019

From the moment we are born, we have to let go. We are let go from our umbilical chord, which connects us to our mother. We soon reach an age where we have to let go of being at home with our parents all day, and go to school. After those years, we let go of that era and move into the next – a working career. At one point we let go of living at home, and for some, have our own children, which we also have to learn to let go of.

Notice that in all these life examples of letting go (and there are many more) there are two common trends:

1. Letting go is a healthy part of growing up. Imagine a 40-Year-old man still at home with his mother drinking milk from a bottle, never having gone to school, because he was never ‘let go’.
2. You cannot move into the new season, unless there is a letting go of the present season. New ground correlates with letting go of old ground.

It is the same principle in our spiritual lives. We cannot move into the next thing that God has for us, unless we let go of something that we are comfortable with now. If we are still hanging onto something from an old season – old relationships, old habits and attitudes, old hang-ups and offences, old ways of doing things, it makes it very difficult for God to usher us into our next stage.

Letting go is about surrender. The degree to which you surrender, is the degree to which God is able to use you and move you into the new.

Matthew 16:25 says, ‘For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep’.

Surrender is a letting go of your agenda, letting go of what you think is best, letting go of yourcomfort, plans, ideals, your attitudes and issues, unhealthy relationships, and instead positioning yourself in a new, perhaps vulnerable space where God can grow and use you.

This tells me that the Christian life is not about seeking comfort. The opposite in fact. Letting go is rarely easy, fun, and comfortable. It is always a challenge, stretching and painful, but totally necessary if we intend on reaching our fullest potential. Letting go is a heart position of, ‘God, I trust that your ways are better than mine. So have your way with me!’.

Despite the initial challenge we all face in letting go, when we finally reach a point of surrender, we will find that it is actually quite freeing! And as promised, a catalyst for reaching your potential and finding life as God meant it for you!

‘Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2019

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Imagine how unhappy a fish would be if he based his value on his ability to hunt like he saw the lion hunting. Imagine how joyless a lion would be if he based his worth on his ability to hold his breath underwater like a fish. Imagine what a failure a giraffe would feel like, if he based his value on his ability to squeeze into an ant-hole.The problem is that we as humans do this. We look at someone else – someone with a completely different design, and wonder why we can’t do what they are able to do. Despite all being humans, we each have completely different designs, in order to fulfill a unique purpose for God.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12, Paul uses the metaphor of the body. The church makes up one body, but there are many parts to that one body. Each part is unique and has its own design, function and role. Each part needs the other to function in its own purpose. Imagine the toe feeling inadequate and worthless, trying to act as a brain. Or imagine the brain trying to function as a hand. It just isn’t going to work, and you will have a very unhappy brain and toe, because they aren’t functioning in their place of purpose, and ultimately the body will shut down – everyone loses out because parts of the body weren’t being themselves.

We are the body of Christ. When we aren’t being ourselves, playing our part, you lose out, and we lose out. When we compare our function, lives, gifts and abilities to another part of the body, not only do we forfeit the role God has for us to play, which then has detrimental effects on the whole body, we ourselves feel worthless, purposeless and unhappy. What part of the body are we looking at and wondering why we aren’t them?

There are 7.7 billion people currently on the planet. You are the only you of those 7.7 billion people. No one else has your eye-patterns, DNA, personality, stories, and fingerprints. God needs YOU. We need YOU. Only you can bring what YOU offer.

A krill looks like a prawn or shrimp. Tiny, perhaps insignificant – especially next to its predator – a whale. Yet krill is one of the most abundant and successful species on the planet. The total mass of all the earth’s krill is greater than any other species on earth. Next to a whale, a single krill looks like nothing, but together, krill weighs more than all the whales on earth! You may feel like a simple krill next to someone with a whale of abilities, gifts and profile, but you are part of successful team, known as the body of Christ. You play your part in contributing to the weight of influence on this earth.

You have a responsibility as an individual krill, a member of the body, as the only one in almost eight billion people, to take ownership for your unique life, and role. We need you to play your part. We need you to stay in your own line, focused on your unique journey with God, and His specific mandate to you as an individual.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2019

For the most part, correction has a bad connotation attached to it.

Naturally speaking, we as humans don’t enjoy being corrected.

Some of us may immediately reject correction, either by ignoring it or becoming defensive about the issue at hand. Others of us may put on a brave face, hearing what is being said, only to walk away feeling upset by what we’ve just heard.

 

I’m sure most, if not all of us can agree that we’d much prefer to hear encouragement than we would correction… but I wonder what would happen if you and I changed correction’s connotation?

 

Let’s think about sports for a moment.

If a coach is constantly in a player’s ear, it is typically an indication that they see great potential within him or her. If the coach did not see a future for that player within their team, they would likely not invest much of themselves into them.

When a coach sees potential in someone, they will not be afraid to call them out when they’re not at their best so as to ensure that they keep moving towards their best.

 

A player should see correction as a compliment, and so should we.

 

I think we would grow more and grow faster if we didn’t hide from correction but instead welcomed it.

 

I have found in my own life that some of my biggest moments of growth have actually come not as a result of encouragement, but of correction.

 

Today, if you find a boss, a spouse, a friend, a leader, a parent correcting you, don’t put up a defence system, but instead, open up your heart, your mind and your ears to hear what they’re saying and then make the necessary changes as a result.

I’m not saying that what you hear won’t initially hurt, but if you allow it to, it can eventually help.

 

Approach your everyday life with a desire to get better as well as an understanding that if I’m going to grow, I must run towards potentially difficult conversations and not away from them.

 

Let’s endeavour together to change correction’s connotation.

 

Bring it on!

 

 

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2019

Did you know that there is one question that God will never ask you?

He will never ask you the question…’can you’.

But there is one question that God will often ask you, and that is…’will you’.

There’s a world of difference between the two, as one is connected to your ability whilst the other is connected to your availability.

The reason He will never ask ‘can you’, is because He knows what you can and cannot do, so the only thing left to ask is…’will you’.

Think about it for a moment: why would God ask you to do what He knows you cannot do?

If He commands me to do it, then it must be within my power and ability to do so.

Here’s a great story that Jesus told to highlight this very issue…

Matthew 21:28-31 ‘What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” ‘“I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. ‘Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go. ‘Which of the two did what his father wanted?’ ‘The first,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

How often do we make excuses as to why we cannot do what God is asking of us? There is only one issue here, and it’s not can you or can’t you, but will you or won’t you. It’s a simple question of obedience.

Maybe you’ve said NO in the past, just like the one son that we just read about; if so, change your mind, and say YES!

There are people’s lives right now that can only be reached by your YES.

They are depending on you.

If you will…you can!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2019

Why do people blame God for them not being where they want to be?

You see, I could sit on my backside all my life, not get any education or never go to work and then blame God that I’m not a multi-millionaire. A simple illustration to show that if I’m not where I want to be in life, it’s not God’s fault.
It’s true that we don’t all have the same start and the same opportunities. Yet when we are all old enough to make our own decisions, then that’s where we have to make some right choices.
The people of Israel took over 40 years to get to the promised land, when it should have actually taken them 11 days.  Was that God’s fault ? No, it was a result of them moaning, groaning and complaining against God and their leader Moses.
When we are in a situation that we maybe don’t like, be careful what your attitude and words are like. We don’t want to go round and round and round, when we could actually reach the place that God has for us much quicker.
They were people who got frustrated. They didn’t trust God when they should have been trusting Him and they blamed Moses for doing the very thing that God had told him to do!
Maybe you’re in a place right now you don’t understand… instead of blaming God, stand back for a moment and ask God to show you and teach you His ways.

The Bible tells me that His ways and thoughts are far higher than mine anyway (Isaiah 55 vs 8-9), so that’s why sometimes I don’t understand – that’s where trust comes in.

Don’t be like the people of Israel – most of them never even got to receive God’s promise for their lives. How sad is that?

God placed the opportunity right in front of them to be in the promised land in 11 days and yet they missed it.
So the next time you think you’re not where you want to be, look at the choices and decisions you’re making, look at the people who are around you and the attitude that you’re choosing; take a ‘check up from the neck up’.

Don’t miss out on your future. It is bright with hope.  Stay close to Jesus. He will lead you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2019

My wife loves a good murder mystery on television. I’m not so bothered, so I often end up walking in and watching from half way through. As I’m watching I’m trying to play catch up, trying to grasp the whole picture from what I am seeing, but it’s no good, I can’t make sense of it, having missed the main plot.

This is a great picture of the world in which we live. You just have to open up the newspaper to see the increasing confusion, people struggling to work out the plot of life, what’s it about and where is it going? There’s more and more misguided ideas about sexuality and gender as the world seems to be trying to make its own plot line. 

Even as Christians we can struggle, trying to work out what we should be doing, what’s our calling?  How does it fit in with work and family life, and how does this get prioritised along side the church? This creates stress in our lives, as we try to achieve some kind of balance that just doesn’t feel right and ends up pleasing no one.

The reality is that we too, just like the world, struggle when we fail to live with the bigger picture, fail to understand the plot of the mystery of life and the absolute truth of what it really is all about! Jesus Christ is ‘the way the truth and the life!’

He created us with a plan written for us before we were even born!

Ephesians 1:4 ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.’

  • He stepped into the world He created in order that by His grace we could receive His spirit to guide us into truth!

1 Corinthians 2:12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

No matter how difficult life may seem at times we are certain that when we finally see him face to face all questions and confusion will cease and like the ending of a great murder mystery, we will all go. “…ahhhh! Now it makes sense!” 

Let’s not have to wait for this life to end to get the plot, that it’s all for Him and about Him. Look to Him today, see the bigger picture, trust and have faith.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2019

The Bible frequently talks about fighting the good fight of faith.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith…

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…

At first glance, it almost sounds contradictory in that faith suggests that we just trust God, yet fighting suggests that we have to get involved.

The best way of understanding this is to see that often we will be called upon to fight wit hour faith. In other words, we don’t just sit back and pray a little prayer and hope for the best, no, we battle in prayer with great faith believing that God will come through for us.

When you have no resources, no opportunities, no solutions of your own, nowhere else to turn, it’s at that point that you’re in a battle, and you are forced to trust in God’s ability to provide and meet you in your time of great need.

If nothing went wrong in life, then we wouldn’t need daily to trust God.

We all live in a world contaminated by human sin and depravity; a world of temptation and disappointment. Sometimes it’s easy to have faith when everything is going great, but courageous faith is forged only when it’s tested.

Today, don’t just sit back with a mindset that says ‘whatever will be will be’, NO – fight the good fight of faith and battle over the things that matter most to you.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd October 2019

 

The Bible talks about how life is not a destination, but a journey home. Much like a car journey home, we are driving towards our true home – ‘for we have no city here on earth to be our permanent home, but we seek the city that is destined to come’ (Hebrews 13:14).

 

Driving in our car (life) toward our heavenly home (heaven), we experience dead ends, stop signs, go signs, crashes, lane changes, GPS breakdowns, mountaintops, and bogs. We can get robbed and burnt, towed off, have to undergo serious repairs or maybe just a regular clean and polish now and then. We swerve.  We overtake others, and then others overtake us at times.  Sometimes the road ahead is straight and clear, other times it is winding or jammed. Sometimes it’s a clear day, then other times you cant see out your windscreen. Sometimes we’re waiting for things to heat up, other times we are waiting for things to cool down. Sometimes the road is a tight squeeze, other times it is spacious and free. There are times where you are on your own. Other times you are taking people with you. Fuel levels run low, or you may have missed the turn. You may feel old and used, and the day of driving out the show room sparkling and new, is just a distant memory. You may be a distracted driver, or maybe a passenger is guiding you. You may have had to pull over because you are falling asleep at the wheel, or maybe you need to read the manual again because things aren’t working. Whatever state your car, life, is in, whatever state you are in, you are heading in the direction of Heaven – our true home and ultimate destination. The journey is temporary.

We all have our own ride. We all have our own car experiences, but whatever our circumstances along the road, our God can intervene. He can step in as our driver. He can reroute us from a dead end. He is with us in the lane changes, the mountaintops, and the breakdowns. He gives us a new car when the old one is burnt, and repairs the small parts of us that need work. He’s really good at cleaning and polishing us up. He’s the master of restoration and making old things new. He makes a way in the jams, and by His Holy Spirit, He fills up our fuel tank and guides us like the perfect GPS.  His manual, the Bible, is there to remind us how things work. He pulls us over when we aren’t doing what is good for us, and sets us straight again. What an assurance we have in God!

Rest assured that in this wild ride of life God is with you on your journey towards the prize (Philippians 3:14). Remember that it is only a journey, and not the destination.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd October 2019

We know God can do anything. He is God! But what are some things that God will never do?

Five things God will never do:  

1. God will never contradict His word.

God can move in all sorts of ways, but His motivation will never contradict the word of God. When the Holy Spirit speaks, it always compliments the Bible. Hebrews 6:18 says, ‘It is impossible for God to lie!’

Yes, He may ask you to do something that is apparently crazy, but it would never negate or oppose scripture.

2. God will never change His mind on us.  

We will make mistakes, we will fail at some point, but God’s love towards us is steadfast. His love is not conditional, it is unconditional love. In the words of 1 Corinthians 1:9, ‘God is faithful’. It is impossible for our behaviour to dictate God’s affection for us. His mind is made up – He loves us!

3. God will never ask you to do something that isn’t good for you.

When God prompts us to do something, say something, change something, it is always for our benefit. God is a safe place. We can trust Him. No matter how uncomfortable what He asks of us may make us, at the end of the day, it is good for us. We must trust His nature. His heart is always to bring us into freedom! Now who wouldn’t want that? He is always working on something good for us! (Romans 8:28).

4. God will never look on outward appearance.

Our world, and minds are trained to fixate on what we see on the outside. We live in an appearance-driven world. The kingdom of God is upside down and inside out! While man focus on appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God is interested in what your motives are. He wants to know what you will choose when no one knows, except Him. He will choose the person you disregarded. He will promote the person at the bottom of the pack, why? Because He isn’t driven by the external.

5. God will never override your free will.
It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were given the choice as to which trees to eat from! God put a tree in the garden that they were told not to eat from. Why put the tree in the garden if you don’t want someone to eat from it? The answer is because God never wanted to remove their ability to choose. If so, he would be a controlling father and we would be robots. What gives our relationship power is the fact that we chose it! This makes you a very powerful person. Choose wisely. God in his goodness has given us the freedom to choose and will never force us into something.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2019

We spend our lives listening to other people’s conversations.

Sometimes we like what we hear and sometimes we don’t.

How many times to we find ourselves judging people by their speech and by their actions, but when it comes to us we continually justify our speech, thoughts and our intentions as if we were above and beyond the very same rule that we apply to others?

The best way to live life has got to be found in the words of Jesus… ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7 v 1-5)

As of today, take up the challenge to judge yourself first and foremost and in doing so you will have far less time to judge anyone else.

At the end of the day, the most important thing about our lives is to make sure that we are behaving, thinking and being right in our attitude towards God and people.

The next time that you want to judge someone else, firstly apply the same ‘criteria’ to your own life; not only will you find yourself with more friends, you will become a much more likeable person into the bargain. And if you ever keep wondering why people keep judging you, then now you know – ‘For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2019

 

I’m sure when you were at school or Sunday school, you would have sung the song

 “I am H A P P Y, I am H A P P Y, I know I am, I’m sure I am” etc.

Today, you may have woken up feeling happy or maybe otherwise. 

For most people, happiness depends on happenings… “If the sun is shining, I’ll be happy… 

If the children behave, I’ll be happy…. when I get a week off work, I’ll be happy, 

when I get paid, I’ll be happy…when I feel well, I’ll be happy.” 

 

If we let happenings determine our happiness, then most of the time we won’t be, because life isn’t always like that. 

 

There’s something far greater than happiness and it’s called JOY. 

Joy isn’t dependent on happenings.  Joy is dependent on my relationship with God, which means that however great the storm, however hard my circumstances, I can still be joyful, because I have an assurance of God’s peace and that He is always with me. 

 

“Why does God want me to be joyful in hard times?” You may ask… 

The Bible teaches that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8 vs 10).

In other words, when I am joyful, I am strong.  

God wants us to be joyful, so that we can be strong.  

Maybe you don’t feel very strong today? 

Maybe you have lost your joy.  

 

How do I get it back?

You’ll get it back by being thankful (in all circumstances). 

You’ll get it back by prayer and a relationship with God.  

You’ll get it back through worship and praise.  

Take your focus off yourself and your circumstances and put it firmly onto God.  

 

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for THIS is God’s will for your life.”

 

God wants you to be strong today…whatever you are facing.  

Focus on Jesus. Focus on His joy.   

 

Pastor Gillian 

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living. 

 

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2019

Fearless. That’s the theme for Mankind Conference that starts today. I was wondering about this phrase, and thinking, ‘when do we start to fear?’ When I throw Zachary into the air, he squeals with delight and after I catch him, demands more, even though he was clearly scared whilst in the air. Spiders, wasps, bees, heights, nothing scares a child until they see how other people react to them. So, when do we learn to fear? When do we start to let our fears overcome the joy of knowing that we have a Father who will catch us?

 

Failure, if you allow it, can demotivate you, and cause you to become afraid of failure itself. It can cripple you so much that the thought of trying gives you palpitations, that’s easy to understand.

But success too, can become a slow poison that stops you achieving more because you become afraid of losing the success you have achieved. You stop trying for more because perhaps you’ve become accustomed to the familiar and it has become comfortable.

 

So whether it’s the fear of starting something new or fear of trying again because you’ve failed, or the fear of losing what you have, being afraid is something that can affect us all

1 Corinthians 10:13 says that whatever might be tempting you to be afraid, someone has been through it before, and God will always make a way for you to go through it.

 Psalm 91 is a great place to start to learn a new vocabulary. The vocabulary of a victor, a champion, a child of the living God. It’s time to unlearn the fears we have learnt from our past, and from others, and time to learn the fearless nature of Jesus, the lion of Judah. Time to stop focusing more, but less on those fears and become… fearless.

 

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2019

‘With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially towards those who may try your patience’ (Ephesians 4:2 TPT).

There is a popular mentality that anything that doesn’t feel good, or you don’t like, you should just be bold enough to walk away from. I recently read a quote, ‘Walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. It’s your life. Do what makes you happy’.

Whilst you should definitely not entertain any abusive or unhealthy relationship, God actually calls us to press into those people that test our patience, rather than just run away and do what makes us feel happy. Seeking ‘happy’ is not realistic. There will always be testing external circumstances and people, therefore truth (God’s word) must triumph over the pursuit of feeling of ‘happy’. The Bible promises that life will give us “bad vibes”. We are called to walk through them, steward them, and profit from them!

When Ephesians speaks of having a ‘generous love’, the Aramaic word for generous literally means, “stretching”. Paul calls us to demonstrate gentleness ESPECIALLY towards those who may test our patience. He wants a people who rise above what is comfortable.

Security in God is not marked with loudly voicing our opinions in a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. True strength is marked with our ability to operate out of tender humility and quiet patience.  It is the ability to extend gentleness and generosity beyond what we feel comfortable with.  

May we be people who stretch ourselves in giving generously, especially to those who test us. As we approach the last couple of months leading up to Christmas, consider how you can give in a manner that challenges the boundaries of what you find comfortable. Consider how you can give to those who you find challenging. Seek out opportunities for ‘stretching’ generosity.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2019

To be entitled means believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Yes, as children of God we are given special blessings. We are favoured, loved and have an inheritance in God. But these things have nothing to do with what we inherently deserve. We inherently deserve condemnation. Blessing, which God promises us, has to do with what we have inherited (been given) from God, through Jesus. Viewing what we have as a gift from God, rather than something we have earnt, changes our hearts. We live grateful, humbled, and thankful, rather than entitled, proud and self-righteous.

In Romans 12:3, Paul says, ‘I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem’.

Paul isn’t telling us to think less of ourselves, he is urging us to see ourselves for who we really are – people who are saved and blessed by grace alone, and are continually in need of God! When we see ourselves in this light, who we really are, it is impossible to be full of pride and entitlement.

Millennials’ (of which I am one), have been handed many of the things the previous generation worked for their entire life. The character that previous generations built under dedication, commitment and resilience is missing in this generation, simply because we have been ‘gifted’, rather than growing under the sharpening experience of endurance. This is not always a bad thing, but there is a danger in that a sense of entitlement can creep in.

Christian entitlement is when we forget the price Jesus paid to gift us with something we will never have to pay for. When we forget how he endured for us, when we forget the source of our freedom, we live entitled.

Entitlement is ‘self-interest’ driven. On the contrary, the kingdom of God is ‘others’ focused. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). Why? Because we remember who was humbled for us.

Instead of seeing what you aren’t getting, focusing on what you should be getting, and complaining for not having what you believe you deserve, start thinking about others. What can you do for someone else? Focus on how you can be a blessing, rather than focusing on getting a blessing. Instead of being the first to get jealous, be the first to celebrate. Instead of being the first to complain, be the first to say a compliment. Instead of being the first to take, be the first to give!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2019

 

Sometimes it’s more difficult to stop doing something than it is to start.

There’s nothing worse than getting up everyday to do something that’s not working.

Maybe you’ve got emotionally attached to what you’re doing and are afraid to let go?

Maybe you’re hoping that tomorrow will bring about different results?

Are you flogging a dead horse?

Is what you’re trying to accomplish outside of your gifting and therefore will never work?

Maybe what you’re trying to resuscitate every day is not meant to be alive right now?

Are you just clinging on to what you’ve always done for fear that people may think you’re a quitter if you let go of it?

Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again whilst hoping for different results.

There comes a day when we have to put a time frame on something and realise that if it doesn’t change by then, we’re going to call it a day.

Need some help to do so?

Luke 13:6-9 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” ‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’

Many years ago, we were hiring a venue to hold our church services in. For months, the numbers of people just got less and less and the services got harder and harder.

Eventually I had to make the difficult decision to quit on the venue and go back to the old Chapel where we had come from.

It was one of the best decisions I had ever made in those early days.

Going back helped us to go forward.

Admitting something is not working is really the best way of kickstarting a fruitful and successful future.

It’s wonderful to be faithful in doing something year after year with little results – it takes courage to do so; congratulations – but the bottom line is this: are you faithfully fruitful?

If not, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re doing and why you are doing it. Don’t be afraid to make the tough decision of going back to go forwards.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2019

Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer.

 

He was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and since has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.

 

One day he was seen walking around the city square, staring at a huge block of marble. He would look at it from one angle and then from another.

 

As a crowd gathered to see what the commotion was all about, a person shouted out to him and enquired what he was going to sculpt.

 

“A horse” he replied.

 

“How on earth are you going to produce a horse from such a huge rugged block of solid stone?” asked the person.

 

“Simple”, he said…”I’ll just knock off everything that doesn’t look like a horse!”

 

…and sure enough, little by little, with great patience and skill, a magnificent horse appeared after many hours of work.

 

Is it possible today that when you look at your own life, you only ever see the rough edges?

 

Inside of you right now is a dream that God has placed within your heart, however, we have to appreciate that for every success there has to be a process.

Everyday as you surrender your life to God, He is in the process of knocking off the rough edges and removing everything that doesn’t look like Jesus, so that you can become all that He intended for your life. 

It’s a lengthy and painstaking process, but knowing that God is the master craftsman means that He will produce a masterpiece out of your chipped, cracked and broken life.

Each time you feel that you’re going through a challenging time, each time that you feel bad about the way that you are, each time that have to say sorry for doing and saying something wrong, remember that the master is at work on your life.

If you never feel challenged about anything in your life or never feel that you’ve let yourself, others or God down, then that’s the time to worry….you’ve become unworkable.

Remember: that every beautiful diamond was once a piece of rock that was put under tremendous heat and pressure.

Allow The Holy Spirit today to work on your rough edges and make something beautiful out of your life.

Psalm 139:23-24 MSG

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2019

Life is a journey, a journey signifies moving from one place to the next.

On that journey, you can choose which way to go.

 Each day you will make similar repetitive journeys. Have you stopped to think that each day you make that choice of which way to go to work, to school, to college, to the shops?

 In that plan of A to B you can choose how you will get there. You may choose the shortest route or the fastest route, the quietest route, the most scenic route.  You know where you’re going, but along the way you are making the choice.

For instance, some people will go to Cornwall on the south coast of England and from where I live, we can get there in around 4 hours via the motorway.

Some people however, will choose the scenic route which can take 12-14 hours.

Some people will stop at a Starbucks, others will choose to wait for a Costa and others will take a flask of tea.

You see there are choices that you make along your journey that are yours .

God has a plan for your life. The quickest and best route is to follow His navigation system and to listen to His instructions. “Take a break”. “Follow this route”.  “Avoid a traffic accident”. God is full of instructions along the way.

We have to be open to listen and willing to receive His advice.

No, we don’t actually know best!

 Our choices, our attitudes, our relationships will also affect our journey.

 My father nearly died many years ago, God literally raised him from death’s door and he went on to live another 11 years.

I remember saying “it’s not my Dad’s time to go” – and through a series of miracles it became apparent that it wasn’t.  I decided in prayer, that we weren’t going to ‘stop’ there, but I would ask God to intervene and let him continue his journey…and He did, for another 11 years.

 Too many of us are content to settle for where we are now, or are not too bothered where life will take us.

God has many things for you to experience, He has a destiny for you to fulfill.

Don’t settle for where you are today. Push higher and harder for greater things.

Walk through the storm… don’t camp in the valley of the shadow of death.

 Keep moving. Keep praying. Keep moving life forward. Follow His instructions.

 For where you are now, is not where you are going.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th October 2019

I love a gadget. I think that most of us do. The majority of us probably have a ‘smart assistant’ in our home or office now. Why get up to switch my lights on, when Alexa can do it for me?

I know people who rely completely on their digital calendar. If you ask where they’re meant to be at a particular time, they don’t know unless their phone tells them.

There are things that have been invented that make our lives easier. They save us precious time.

However, there are some things that there just aren’t shortcuts for. Sometimes, the long way is the only way. Take the farmer for example. They sow…and then they wait. That’s it. Sure, there are tools and machinery that make harvest time easier but nothing but time will make those crops grow.

In Ecclesiastes 3, we learn that there is ‘a time for everything’. Maybe you’re in a situation right now that you wish you could fast track your way out of.

Let me encourage you with Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

‭‭

Everything that God has for you ‭is worth waiting for. There are things that He wants to build into your character that won’t come overnight. Be encouraged today; persevere, so that you will lack nothing.

 

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2019

Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2-6). She was a prostitute of the Canaanite city of Jericho, who found favour with God. She is also in the lineage from which Jesus was born!

Many writers have tried to prove that Rahab was different from the ‘harlot’ described in the Bible. Perhaps it is a hard pill to swallow – A prostitute in the genealogy of Jesus. But we cannot distort her story, in order to stomach the reality that salvation is not based on human goodness. Jesus not only came to save the sinners, but he also was born from sinners! Rahab was a sinful woman, who was saved by God and used by God!

Joshua sent two spies into the land they wanted to conquer. Rahab in her wisdom and trust in God, hosted these spies, protected and covered them, eventually allowing the spies to feed back information that caused the city to be taken for good. Rahab and her family were spared because of her act of faith toward the spies.

Despite her past, Rahab’s ultimate conclusion was, ‘For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below’ (Joshua 2:11). It was this change of heart, this faith – coupled with the actions prompted by faith – that saved her and her family.

Paul esteems Rahab for her faith, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31). 

When we come to Christ, our past no longer matters. Rahab was a radical woman. She did what it took to protect her family, and facilitate the will of God.

Perhaps God is not after a perfectly behaved people, but people who are determined to stand for Him and facilitate His will no matter what! Rahab wasn’t passive. She didn’t just stand still and let things happen to her, she was proactive and attentive. She trusted God, but actioned her faith too.

Rahab proved that an ordinary person is part of God’s plan. Yes, she was a woman, yes, she was a prostitute, yes, she was considered to be ‘on the wrong side of tracks’ and was socially excluded, but God used her to help His people.

Maybe you can relate to Rahab. You feel like the outcast – the unfit Christian. The less-than-holy person. Or maybe you know a Rahab. Don’t exclude yourself from God’s plans for your life. There is favour for your family, and generations to follow. God is not after a squeaky-clean past, He is after sold-out followers, who are prepared to action their faith.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2019

It is okay to be enduring something. To endure means ‘to suffer patiently’. Most of us don’t enjoy suffering. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can. Most of us struggle to endure too. We don’t want to wait patiently, we want to get something as quickly as we can! 

 

 Our brains naturally lean towards what is easiest; hard work is a challenge that requires intentional willpower and work. Suffering through bad traffic, an awkward conversation, a dark and cold winter, an intense workout, a difficult marriage, financial struggle, or draining job is hardly enjoyable. But what if the purpose of life isn’t always for it to be ‘enjoyable’? God is always good. God never brings bad, BUT sometimes He allows us to walk through struggles because it produces something incredible!  

 

John 16:33 warned us that troubles are a guarantee. God is not here to remove all troubles from us, he is here to walk us THROUGH troubles, producing something beautiful in us along the way.  

 

Please note, I’m not suggesting that we accept things that are downright from the enemy, or things that are within our power to change, I’m talking about challenging life situations that make you really uncomfortable, and are out of your control.  

 

Sounds crazy, but a mature Christian will welcome an opportunity to undergo endurance, because the profit of endurance is great (Romans 5:3-4).  

 

When you consider most worthwhile things, they never come without a degree of endurance – patient suffering. A fine wine, financial stability, a healthy family, a fit body, deep friendships. Everything of an excellent standard takes time, careful work, commitment and dedication to the challenge...including you. Sometimes your character needs to undergo the pruning process of life.  Endurance is necessary for you.  

 

You may be enduring in some area of your life right now. It might be really uncomfortable BUT know that as you walk it out, God is doing something marvellous in you. He is producing something. You may not know when and how it will end, but keep on walking it out, stay faithful, dedicated and committed. It is okay to be patiently suffering.  

 Emma Burchell 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2019

My friend was sharing with me recently about how they’ve started to accumulate a large number of ‘air miles’ with a particular airline, and because of that, they have now been able to start unlocking benefits with that company.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of air miles, they are simply what you gather each time you fly with an airline, and the more you fly, the more likely you are to be able to trade in your air miles for certain benefits. Such as: upgrades, access to lounge areas at the airport, and possibly even free flights.

Did you know, that like an airline has benefits, so too does God have benefits?

In Psalm 103, found in the Old Testament of The Bible, the writer David is reminding himself of the benefits that come with knowing God.

Knowing God and putting your faith in Him brings about benefits, as does flying with the same airline over a long period of time. But there’s a difference…

With an airline company, I have to work my way up in order to unlock different benefits along the way. But in a moment of putting my faith in Jesus, I have every life-changing benefit at my disposal.

David describes these benefits for us:

“…who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalms‬ ‭103:3-5‬)

 

And these are to name just a few…

Imagine choosing to fly with an airline for the very first time, and when you arrive at the airport, they inform you that you’ve been upgraded to first class. Simply because they want to and are so glad that you’ve chosen to fly with them.

In a much more significant way, this is the kind of exchange that takes place when you choose to put your faith in Jesus. I have access to a forgiver, a healer, a redeemer and a satisfier in accordance with Psalm 103. And the amazing part is that I didn’t have to earn it or work my way up to it, I simply believed in Jesus and then received the benefits that come with that relationship.

If you want to unlock the benefits that come with knowing Jesus and experience them for yourself, you can, by simply believing that Jesus is who He says He is and has done what He says He has done…

It’s an offer I couldn’t refuse, and maybe today you feel the same way.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

If this has stirred something within you, why not delve a little deeper? Head to the ‘Messages’ tab within the Champions Church app and search ‘Don’t Forget To Remember’ to watch the full-length message.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2019

Criticism will either crush you or energize you.

As soon as I’ve been criticised, I simply get alone and ask myself one simple question: what should I learn from what has just been said to me or about me?

My thinking is this: whatever truth I gain from the conversation can be used to help me to become a better person.

The same wind that threatens the chicken, lifts the wings of the eagle above the storm.

If you’re facing criticism today, consider these things carefully:

Is it constructive or destructive?

Is is gentle or judgmental ?

Is it to make me look bad and my critics look good?

Is it done discretely in private or publicly in order to damage my reputation?

Sometimes you just have to smile through criticism as you discern the spirit behind the words.

It’s hard for any of us to receive criticism, so keep your attitude about your critic in check. Remember, bitterness will do more to damage you than any criticism levelled against you would ever do.

If you’re facing criticism today, take another look at how Jesus handled it, and ask Him to help you to do the same.

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2019

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s his season, it’s her season.”

What does that mean? It means that things are going well for that person right now. You’ve heard it said of a football club or a business… “they are having a great season.” 

That may be good (and it is) but seasons are made up of days…

And it’s what you do in those days that will determine your season.

What YOU do today will help determine the season that you will have.

The choices and decisions you make, the way you act and behave.

For example, the farmer will be planting, the athlete will be training, the wise husband will be treating his wife well, the student will be studying, the business owner will be strategising.

 Seasons are important…but DAYS are equally as important.

 Did you know that there will come a season for the very reason of your life?

God saw a problem in this world and He had you born to sort it!

You were born on purpose, for a reason. 

So what you do today IS important. Those ‘great’ things are often basic and simple, YET very important to your season.

Today be a…

Pray-er. Make sure today you find yourself communicating with the one who made you.

Giver Be generous. Generous people will always prosper

Learner. Be a reader of God’s word. Get Godly wisdom and truth into your life.

Worshipper. Be someone who is thankful in every situation. Knowing that in good days and bad, God is always good.

Planner. Have a vision and a dream and go after it.

Lover. When you show love to people, you’ll receive it back.

You see, your season will be made up of the constant things that you put into your life daily.

Make them good. Make them purposeful.

Today is your day. Go after it!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2019

Imagine embarking on a journey, a long walk, a hike up a hill, or a trek up a mountain. After a few miles or hours along the route you stop because of exhaustion or thirst or discouragement.

You perceive the end to be too far ahead and the task to complete the journey is overwhelming.

Imagine doing that and realising sometime later (once you had been rescued perhaps),  that had you gone just a little further, the beautiful view, the purpose of your journey, the prize or reward had been just around the corner!

If you are anything like me, you would wish that maybe you had had a few pointers along the way to say ‘keep going’ , or ‘not long now’, very much along the lines of when children on a car journey are

asking ‘are we there yet?’, in the hope that the destination is in sight.

Life is an incredible journey with ‘twists and turns’ ‘highs and lows’ and few guarantees in-between.

The Bible (life’s manual) shows us that there is a God who keeps his promises, and who guarantees to guide us in life.

He also reassures us that when we set out on a journey looking for him, there is a certainty that we will find him.

Jeremiah 29 v12-14 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you”, declares the Lord.

Perhaps you are searching and looking for answers to the meaning of life.

Maybe you are already on a journey that inspires you to pursue your God-given potential .

No matter where you find yourself today, you have the assurance that there is a God who wants to be found.

He does not hide himself from you, but longs to reveal himself to you.

God went to great lengths to make a way for each one of us to come to know Him…through His son Jesus and He is committed to fulfil that promise

So, whether you are running fast on an adventure with God, or slowly climbing in pursuit,  hold on to the promise that your efforts are soon to be rewarded, your prize is near…Him.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2019

Yesterday we looked at the source of trials. Today we are focusing on one cause of trials – the devil. While I don’t like to give the enemy attention that he doesn’t deserve (I would much rather focus on God!), truth is that is he is real, and on a mission against us. When we live with an understanding of how he operates, it is easier for us to recognise him. While there is not a demon under every bush, so to speak, the Bible makes it clear that the enemy does come to ‘kill, steal, and destroy’ (John 10:10). That means that anything that is not bringing life, abundance, or building something, is not from God!

The Bible describes the devil in several different ways:

– Like a thief (John 10:10) – ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy’. . . The word ‘thief’ comes from the word, kléptō, meaning ‘to take, steal secretively’.

Imagine a pick-pocketer – Some of their strategies are that they steal by bumping, sending in their children as a distraction, or playing games to convince you to give money away … the devil is a master thief. Watch what he is taking from you when he knocks you. Watch what he is taking from you when you are distracted. Watch what he is trying to convince you to give away.  

The Bible also describes him as being:

Like a fowler (Someone who takes and kills birds for food). Psalm 91:3 – Satan may come against us like a fowler. The fowler is always quiet and secretive, never wanting to reveal his presence. 
Like an angel of light! 2 Corinthians 11:14 – He can come appearing glorious, good, and attractive, but with the intention to destroy!

  – Like a lion. Peter tells us Satan can come against us like a roaring lion, loud and full of intimidation.

1 Peter 5:8, ‘Be sober (clear-minded), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, …’

For Christians, Satan is a lion who may roar but has been de-fanged at the cross (Colossians 2:15). Yet the sound of his roar – his deceptive lies – are still potent and he has the power to devour souls and rob Christians of effectiveness.

He isn’t just looking to lick or nibble on his prey; he wants to devour!

We don’t live our lives devil-focused, we live it Jesus focused, but there is a war that rages for your soul and we have to be alert. The devil hates that you are a child of God and will do ANYTHING to rob you…His mission is to rob you of joy, peace, favour, confidence… and he does this ‘Klepto’ style! Be sharp! Stay discerning!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2019

When trials inevitably come, we must understand the source of the struggle. When we understand the source, we can fight the battle effectively!

Imagine going into battle, fighting with a toothbrush? Or imagine going in to fight something, and instead just falling asleep on the ground? Or imagine kicking and punching, using all your energy on something that you already killed? You need to know your battle in order to handle it properly!

Trials generally have three sources:

1. Life – God is always good, but bad things do happen. Thankfully God will use all things, turning a mess into a miracle. He will use life circumstances to increase you. God will use ugly situations as an opportunity to test your faith and stretch your capacity. Ask yourself, is God teaching me something here? For example, maybe I shouldn’t be running from that person that tests my patience and instead press into God, open to what He wants to teach me through the difficult person! After all, how do sharp rocks become smooth? By rubbing and knocking up against each other over time!

2. Me – If you have made a bad decision that contradicts the safety boundaries offered in the word of God, then you will find yourself in a tough situation at some point as you have violated your own design! Not because God wants ‘pay back’ or vengeance on you, but simply because He gave you protective measures in the first place that you rejected. It is like telling a child not to touch the hot stove. When the child does touch the hot stove and burns himself, it is not the revenge of the parent that causes the burn and pain, it is the rebellion and disobedience of the child stepping outside of the will and protection of the parent. Hence why we should LOVE the principles of God! If you are in a trial, ask yourself, have I got myself into this mess because of my poor choices that don’t align with the heart of God, and therefore I need to repent? Everything can be restored! God is gracious and always waiting for you!

3. The devil – He wants to destroy you and will use any means, including people to try and accomplish his mission (to kill, steal, and destroy). (We will look more at this in tomorrow’s Fresh Hope!)

 

Once you have recognised the source of your trial, you can then choose the most appropriate weapon.

Just to name a few:

Prayer and communion
Praise and worship
Repentance
Community
The presence of God.
A word from God.
The word of God.

Discerning the source of your trials is the key to responding to them appropriately. Not everything is the devil. Sometimes you have to steward the battle, sometimes you have to repent because you have caused the battle, and other times you have to wage war on the enemy!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2019

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting watching a huge thunderstorm; as it passed over, rain poured, lightning flashed every few seconds and thunder rolled around the sky almost continuously. It was an awesome sight and sound.

It is easy to see why in ancient times people believed that thunderstorms were the gods fighting in the heavens, such is the power on display. Of course we now know that it is all to do with warm and cold air clashing, not the gods!

In 1 Kings 19, the Bible describes how Elijah is running for his life and he hides in a cave. God tells him to stand on the mountain because God himself is going to pass by.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.’ 

So God was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire but He was in the gentle whisper.

How often are we looking for God in the dramatic, in the spectacular or in the huge miracle, when he is actually right in front of us in the small, in the quiet, even in the mundane? How often are we praying for the huge leap when God is actually in the very next step?

Of course God is quite capable of doing the spectacular but so often He works in the small things. Today, make a point of looking for God in the small, in the seemingly everyday things. Perhaps take a moment to be still and listen because His voice is just a gentle whisper. Maybe what you hear will be all you need to know.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th September 2019

If we’re honest we place great value on WHAT we do.

We also view other people’s lives though their accomplishments, whether great or small.

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is an old saying, but in reality that’s the gauge that we mostly use. We take a look at someone’s outward actions and we make up our minds about them on that basis.

However, God has different way of knowing what a person is really like, and for that He probes below the surface.

He is not so much interested in WHAT a person does as to WHY a person does what he or she does.

An act of kindness on the outside can actually be something quite different when the motive beneath it is laid bare.

Maybe it has its roots in pride or selfish ambition?

Could it be that what we do for others is merely for recognition in the hope that someone is watching, or are we driven by the guilt of our past failings in the hope that we can somehow cancel them out by our outward performance?

Solomon in his wisdom said it like this…

‘All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord’ —Proverbs 16 v 2

Your motive for doing what you do is actually more important than doing the thing itself.

Anytime that we do anything that conjures up the feeling that ‘I will look good if I do this’, can always be traced back to a pride issue that needs to be dealt with.

The greatest step that anyone can take on the road to success is a step down from self importance and walk a path of humility.

Before you start out today ask yourself one simple question: why am I doing what I am doing?

When our motives are right, everything else will fall into place.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2019

Psalm 67 vs 8-12

Praise God, all you people, let the sound of His praise be heard. He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you O God tested us, you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads, we went through fire and water… but You brought us to a place of abundance.  

 

Whatever you’re going through in your life remember this:

  1. A) You’re going through it, so keep moving.
  2. B) God can bring some great things out of a bad situation.

 I look over situations that I see as ‘storms’ and I put much prayer into them…

Then after a short time, I stand back and look amazed at the wonderful things that God does through those difficulties.  Things that seemed impossible. He can bring beauty out of ashes.

 No hard time is ever wasted.

Look at those verses again… “we were in prison, men rode over our heads, we went through fire and water… BUT YOU brought us to a place of abundance.”

When you pray, God is working. You may not see immediate results yourself, but be sure of this, HE IS WORKING… and He will bring you to a place of abundance.

He often takes prayer requests from years ago and somehow weaves those answers now into situations that you never thought possible.  God’s timing is perfect. His plan is perfect.

Keep praying.  Keep thankful. Keep trusting.

 “For in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2019

How many times have you made a snap decision based on your feelings? I know that I have. Spontaneity can be a wonderful thing but sometimes, throwing caution to the wind can have consequences. We all have the occasional off day.

Sometimes, when our prayers aren’t answered how we expected them to be, we spend time trying to figure out why. It’s easy to think that maybe God just didn’t feel like giving us what we asked for and we should try harder to convince Him, next time.

We serve an amazing God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every single thing that He does for us is out of His love for us which never changes.

Isaiah 55:8 says ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.’

God created us with emotions and the ability to feel. However, we don’t need to try to appeal to God’s feelings. We don’t need to convince Him that we are worthy, or to listen to us. We don’t always understand God’s ways but He is never careless with His children.

The more we seek Him, the more we learn His character and the better we know His character, the stronger our faith and trust in Him grows.

We can approach God in the confidence that the way He feels about us never changes, He always acts in our best interest (even if it doesn’t come packaged as we expected) and He never has an off day.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2019

In 1 James 2, we are encouraged to consider it a joy to face trials! How is this seriously possible?

If you speak to a successful businessman or woman, they will tell you that a problem is actually an opportunity. As cliché as this sounds, it is this mindset that makes someone a success. They see setbacks as an opportunity to learn a lesson, which is invaluable to them, OR they see a setback as an opportunity to get better!

Too many of us are thrown off by a problem, failure or setback. If we truly believe that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28), then problems shouldn’t scare us. They really are opportunities for God to break in. We should embrace them.

Part of being a ‘hope-filled’ person is knowing that there are multiple possibilities and potentialities in any given situation, and we can keep on trying until we find success.

This means that we must enjoy the journey to success, not just struggle to the destination. There is a beauty in confidently using failure us a tool toward the mountaintop of victory.

Look at Thomas Edison, he tried about 1000 times before succeeding and inventing the light bulb. When asked about his failures he said, ‘I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work!’. Failure to Thomas was an opportunity to gain knowledge, and one step closer to his ultimate success. He valued and embraced the process of setbacks.

Deliberately and intentionally look for possibilities in every situation, rather than just jumping straight into the negative mindset. The more you practice this, the more of a habit and instinctively it will come to you when you face a challenge.

Luke 1:37, ‘For with God, nothing will be impossible’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2019

I decided to keep a ‘thankful journal’ for one whole year. For an entire year, every night, I wrote down everything I was thankful for from that day. After a few months, something remarkable started happening. I started approaching my days, intentionally looking for things to be thankful for in order to write it in my journal at night. My brain actually switched to focus on what I had, rather than what I lacked.

It is easy to focus on the few things that are missing in your life, rather than fully appreciating all the things you DO have in your life.

God is attracted to a grateful heart. He seeks to bless a grateful heart.

Research on the effects of gratitude on our biology shows how being thankful increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to problem-solve. It also improves our overall health.

You may work with quite negative people, people who are always ‘hard done by’, victims, whiny, easily envious. Not only are these attitudes draining on the relationships around them, they are damaging on the brain and the life of the person who is carrying them!

Psalm 107 says, ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is GOOD’. Again, 1 Chronicles 16 says, ‘Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!’

Notice that seeing the goodness of God, goes hand-in-hand with gratitude. God is good. That alone is enough to be very thankful! That is why when circumstances aren’t good, we STILL have reason to be thankful, ‘give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I encourage you to write a list of everything that you are thankful for, and then another list of everything you are praying for. You will probably find that the things that are consuming most of your mind (the prayer list), is in fact far shorter than the list of things you have to be grateful for!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th September 2019

I heard someone recently place relationships into two categories.

You have ‘drains’ and you have ‘gains.’

‘Drains’ being those relationships that take from you. Possibly people that you’re mentoring, pouring into, or maybe even just difficult people in your world.

Once you’ve completed your time with them, you’re aware that you’ve given out (this can either be for positive or negative reasons).

‘Gains’ are those relationships that top up your tank. They’re the people who always add to your life. They encourage you, they build you up, maybe they even challenge you, but ultimately you leave their presence better than when you stepped into it.

In life, you will have the opportunity to have relationships that are both ‘drains’ and ‘gains.’ ‘Gains’ are the most attractive type of relationships, however depending on what you want to achieve with your life, I would say that both are necessary.

You don’t just want people who are adding to you, but you want people who you are adding to also.

However, I would suggest that ‘gains’ are the type of relationships many of us are less intentional about.

Much of our lives are spent giving out, so when was the last time you got around someone who was good for your soul?

I write this having just met a friend for coffee. We both are responsible for leading people as part of our work, however when we get together, we can be relaxed, informal, and simply enjoy one another’s company. I can’t speak for his experience, but whenever I get the chance to hang out, I always leave better for it.

It’s a relationship that I ‘gain’ from, topping up my relational tank, so that I’m better equipped to add value to others.

What I’ve realised for myself however, is that unless I’m intentional about being with these types of people, they don’t just fill up my calendar. I have to be the initiator.

It can seem like the selfless thing to constantly keep giving out, however unless you have points of refuelling, very soon you’ll have little or nothing left to give. Possessing relationships that provide ‘gains’ is in fact a selfless act, not a selfish one.

Can I encourage you today to take a moment to observe the rhythm of your life, and be intentional about striking a healthy balance between the ‘drains’ and the ‘gains’ in your relational world.

You and everyone around you will be better for it.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2019

Good morning?

You hoped so, but then you decided to get out of bed.

Bad morning?

Shouted at the kids, took it out on the dog, found your work shirt in the ironing basket, late for the school run, no time for breakfast and it’s still only 8am.

Here’s the good news …things can only get better.

Fresh Hope is here to lift you, encourage you, help you, direct you, teach you and give you a God perspective.

History records for us how ancient cities were always built around a constant flow of water.
They’d figured out that no matter what battles they’d face on the outside, they could survive and even thrive because they had their own supply and would never die of thirst.

No matter how long you live, there will always be a problem. Once one problem is solved, before too long, another will rise up. If you don’t build your life around an inner supply then you will always fall at the first attack.

Taking care of the externals is what we do most in life, but without taking care of our inner selves we will have no resources to draw from each day; let’s face it, driving a nice car doesn’t help you one bit in a day of trouble.

When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 9, He asked her for a drink, and then replied with these words…”Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus is like having living, thirst-quenching water springing up within you so that at any time and in any circumstance, He can be an everlasting source of hope to you.

Do you have some battles that you are facing right now that you feel want to take you down? Then draw inner strength from Jesus with the words of this old song…

‘Got any rivers you think are impossible?
Got any mountains you can not tunnel through?
God specialises in things thought impossible
And He can do what no other can do.’

However your day has started out, stop right now and give it over to God, by simply calling on His name.

He may not get rid of your problem, but He’ll certainly give you the inner strength to get through it.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2019

Tough times don’t last – tough people do.  I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before.

It is true.  Tough times, difficulties, storms, will indeed pass. It’s during those times, that if YOU’RE strong, then you will remain steadfast. 

Most Saturdays, you will find me on my knees cleaning our bathroom floor. Last week I thought to myself, “this hurts my knees!” . Maybe I’m getting older, maybe I forgot to put down a mat to kneel on.. either way, it hurt!  I reminded myself, that if I wanted a great job done, hurt or not, then I needed to be on my knees to do a good job and get a great result.

I was reminded of prayer.  It may not be always comfortable on your knees, you may not feel like it, you may not think you have time for it, you may feel that a ‘quick’ prayer will do. However, like my floor, if you want a good job accomplished sometimes you have to get on those knees, however it may hurt.

When you apply Godly principles to your life, whatever season you’re in, then when those tough times come, you will remain steadfast.

When you need to see a breakthrough in prayer.. push that little bit harder, get uncomfortable if you have to. Because it is in those times that something like gold will be produced in you.

Do you need to see some great results today? Do you need to outlast the storm? Get on your knees before God… He will meet you there.

 Pastor Gillian

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2019

Decisions, decisions! Life is filled with decisions. Some are easy decisions such as should you have the salad or the prime rib? Maybe not so easy for  some, yet some  are more  serous decisions  whether  job  related,  relationship  decisions. It seems a week never goes by without needing to make at least one important choice.

Consider the decisions before you right now.  Who are you turning to for guidance? Wouldn’t it be nice to have an arrow pointing us in the right direction, especially if we are in the danger of making a wrong turn? According to God’s Word, we have exactly that. When we truly desire to walk the path God sets us on, and we earnestly seek his voice, he promises to lead us in the right direction. God’s ever present  Spirit is right  with you, ready to guide you and put you  back on the path each time  you wander off.

When you need to make a decision it’s a smart move to seek God’s will on the matter. After all, God is infinitely wise, knows the future perfectly, and loves you beyond comprehension. Where better to go for advice?

Isaiah 30:21 tells us “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” This  does not  necessarily mean an audible voice  but  when  you allow God to  guide  your life, you  gain discernment or an inclination within you that recognises  the right  path  for  you.

The bible tells us the first step is to pray. Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the starting point for every decision and every endeavour for God’s help and guidance, it tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The second step is analysing, all the while seeking counsel from God’s word and God’s people. James 1.5 enjoins us to ask God for wisdom, quite clearly showing that God does expect us to apply our mind as well as our prayers in making decisions. James 1:5 –“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”

Finally when you have sought God and wise counsel and feel His peace, step out in faith. Decide! Do it! Don’t get stuck in gridlock awaiting signs. Trust Him!

Today make that decision  to  ask  for  His wisdom, to  be led by  Him  path that  is best  suited to  fulfil His plan and purpose  for  your life. Be obedient and fully trusting of him.

 Christine Mudenha
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2019

A key to breakthrough is praise. Praise isn’t a cute little song, like you might hear on the radio. Praise is powerful. Praise is a spiritual exchange. When we feel like the enemy is coming against us, our weapon of choice should be praise and worship. Why? Praise is GOD focused, not Devil focused. It is a reminder to you, and to the enemy that over all circumstances and feelings, God has the final victory! …and you will sing it out!

Israel won the battle of Jericho through worship. Chronicles 20 tells how King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah into battle with singing. His frontline guys didn’t have swords and spears, they had a song! They were singers! Jehoshaphat conquered with a choir! He understood that a spiritual song breaks something beyond the physical.

Acts 16 records how Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi. That night Paul and Silas sat with their feet in the chains and sang songs of praise. The prison doors were flung open, and the jailer was saved!

What is your go-to weapon in times of struggle? Is it complaining, gossip, pain-numbers, and blame? Let it be praise.

David also understood this truth. In Psalm 68:1-2 he says, ‘When God is lifted high in praise, His enemies are scattered’. It is not cursing and rebuking the Devil that causes him to flee, it is in fact PRAISE. If your problem is getting you Devil focused, shift your focus to the strength and ability of our victorious God through song.

As the lyrics in Bethany Wohre’s song, ‘Victory is Yours’ declares:

Our fight is with weapons unseen
Your enemies crash to their knees
As we rise up in worship
When trials unleash like a flood
The battle belongs to our God
As we cry out in worship…

What hell meant to break me has failed
Now nothing will silence my praise
I will cry out in worship
The walls of the prison will shake
The chain-breaking King will rise to save
As we cry out in worship’

Isaiah 42:10-13

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2019

On September 10th, 2019, at Apple’s keynote event, they announced the upgraded systems of Apple products. Within just 10 minutes of the event kicking off, Apple had over 500,000 viewers, and at the live stream’s peak, when new iPhones were being shown off, Apple reached 1.875 million viewers. The opening quote of the presentation: Give people tools, and they will do wonderful things’.

This quote was one of Steve Jobs’ core beliefs – that ‘technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they are basically good and smart’.

A tool is just a tool. It is the application of the tool, by the tool user, that brings about the wonderful result. The real wonder of the tool is in us and our ability to use it.

There are spiritual tools gifted to us by God. And yes there are tools for everything we could possibly face. There are tools to fix relational problems, tools for parenting, tools for healing, tools for peace, tools for money management, and tools for breakthrough and success in every area of life.

God doesn’t ask us to do something, without equipping us with the specific tool to get the job done. But God needs someone to use the tool. The tool itself doesn’t get the job done, it is the person behind the tool. It is YOU applying the tool.

When God asked Moses to lead the Israelites across the Red Sea, He gave him the tools to do the job, the knowledge needed to do the job, and the ability to do the job. God didn’t just lead Moses to the Red Sea and tell him, “Okay Moses, here’s the Red Sea. I want you to cross it but it’s totally up to you to figure out how.”

Apply God’s word, and apply his wisdom to your life. Apply the tools and with them we will do wonderful things!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th September 2019

This morning I am going to show my age by referring to a song called ‘Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac on their classic 1973 album Rumours. Now the song is a secular song about the breakup of a relationship but there are some very telling lyrics in it.

‘If I could I would give you my world, but how can I if you won’t take it from me?’

Revelation 3:20 ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me’.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks- He will not force His way in but He does stand and wait.

There is a very famous painting called ‘Light of the World’ that depicts Jesus holding a lamp standing outside a door. That door has no handle on the outside, the only handle is on the inside. This painting depicts a truth; you have to open the door from the inside to let Jesus in.

We are so often guilty, not just of not opening the door to Jesus, but also of closing the door in His face and then holding it shut. Perhaps we are scared of meeting Him face to face either because of who He is, or what He might ask of us. Sometimes we don’t open the door because it would be too inconvenient to let Him in just at the moment. ‘Perhaps tomorrow or next week I will let Him in.’

Am I too comfortable in my sin, my ways, my relationships, my life? As the Fleetwood Mac song says ‘you can go your own way’ or you can open the door and go Jesus’ way.

How differently would we react if this was not a metaphorical door? What if this evening whilst you were sitting down to dinner there was a knock at the door and when you opened it Jesus was actually standing there asking to come in to eat with you. Put yourself there, how would that change us, how would it change our perspective?

God has a whole world that He created for us, a life He wants us to experience and He wants to give us that world, that life. But how can He if we won’t take it from Him?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2019

Centuries ago, wine was stored in leather wineskins rather than bottles. When the wineskins were new, they were soft and pliable, but as they aged they became hardened and couldn’t expand without cracking. If new wine was poured in an old wineskin, the container would burst and the wine would be lost.

When Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge their visions, He reminded them, ” You can’t put new wine into old wineskins”( Matthew 9 v 17). He was saying that you cannot have a larger life if you have a restricted mind or attitude.

 You may class yourself as young right now, but beware, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your thinking hasn’t already got old and hardened.

 It may be right now that you’ve already developed a mindset that says that you’ll never do anything successful or enjoy the good things in life that you used to dream of.

 Today, I encourage you to stretch your faith and vision and get rid of that old restrictive thinking that’s holding you back from all that God has got for your life.

 Start making room in your thinking for what God has in store for you. You must conceive in your mind and heart before you can receive it.

 Ask yourself a simple question: if God poured a dream into your life today would it just quickly disappear through the cracks of your old attitude?

 The key today is to allow your heart to become pliable and supple again to all of the great things that God has in store for you. He’s never short on ideas for your life, but you may be short on space to contain them.

Expect God’s favour to help you break out the rut that you’re in and expect to excel in whatever you do. Let your stinking thinking go today!

 Open your heart at the start of this new day and become supple again in the hands of the master.

Expect great things from God…attempt great things for God.

Pastor Mark

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2019

I’m sure you know about the life of Noah..the ark… the flood… the wiping out of all mankind and the saving of Noah and his family and all of the animals. It’s all recorded in the book of Genesis. 

As I am writing this now, people in different parts of the world are experiencing category 5 hurricanes, which bring death and devastation to all around. I can’t imagine what that must be like.  Think about Noah going through that, only even worse. EVERYTHING was wiped out around him.  Noah had just witnessed the drowning of all mankind.

 In Genesis 8 it tells us that after Noah had gone through this experience, which is very hard to imagine, he worshipped. He’d shut his ears to the wailing of the people and he kept his focus on God.  Some days that’s hard.   To take our minds off what is going on around us and to focus on God alone.  Noah was thankful that he had been saved, but I’m sure he was in a place of not understanding what had just happened.

We will often find ourselves in a place like that. A place of confusion or sadness. A place of questions and storms, yet sometimes you have to just shut the door,  shut out the noise and worship.

We all come from different circumstances and situations.  We have to learn everyday that we should shut out the world and all its distractions and “in all circumstances thank God”  (1 Thessalonians 5 v 18)

Be a worshipper in a storm, through a storm and after a storm.

God has everything in control. He is looking for your heart and attitude when things aren’t going great.

He wants you to shut the door, take time to just be with Him.  That’s where you will find peace, that’s where you will get your focus back.

Noah didn’t really know what had just happened and neither do we sometimes. It’s in the presence of God that we find answers and peace and strength to move on with the plan of God for our lives.

When you do that, something wonderful happens.

When God saw Noah’s worship, He said “never again will I flood the earth, never again will I curse the ground, never again will I destroy every living creature, as long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Are you waiting for a powerful promise? Get into worship. 

It’s amazing what follows someone who shuts out the world and concentrates on the one who made it.  

 

Pastor Gillian
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2019

Nothing that is happening in your life right now, good or bad, is a surprise to God. We spend a lot of our time being either blind-sided or pleasantly surprised by our circumstances.

This year has not looked the way that I thought it would…at all. I’ve found myself asking God ‘why?’ on more than one occasion. Yet I’ve had to remind myself that He knows what He’s doing.

Two things that I want you to remember are: 1) God does not exist within our perception of space and time – He sees everything beginning to end and 2) He always has a plan.

We can often find ourselves tossed and turned by the waves. This is one of the reasons that our alone time with Him is so important. Even if it’s just five minutes in the loo at work (trust me, I’ve been there). In those moments of turbulence, God is steady. He never changes. He isn’t phased by what’s going on in your world, so when external factors cause you turmoil, remember Psalm 91:1-6:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Three things that will lead you into victory:

  1. Prayer – be specific… but even if a sigh is all you have, God still knows what you need.
  2. Praise – worship breaks chains. There’s a reason the worshippers were sent ahead during a battle, in the Bible.
  3. Promises  – find a verse of Scripture and speak it out throughout your day.

Spoiler alert: you win. Walk in that knowledge today. You are not a victim, you are a victor.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2019

A few months ago on a trip to Belgium, we were trying to find a nice coffee shop. Google Maps had got us to the right street and we noticed a pretty shop front on the other side of the road. Naturally, we stopped to take a photo.

Google Maps was showing we were really close to the coffee shop so we continued to walk down the road. However, quite quickly, it looked as though we had gone past our desired destination. We turned around but found ourselves looking at the pretty shop front on the opposite side of the road. We must have gone too far back.

After a few times up and down the street and back-roads, each time being greeted by that same shop on the other side of the road, we decided that maybe the coffee shop we were looking for had closed down.

At this point, we turned around. We turned to see the shop directly opposite the pretty one that kept taking our attention, was the coffee shop we had been looking for.

Every time we walked back up the street, habit meant that we focused on the thing we had seen before, the place we had been before with no prevail. Our focus became the familiar. Our habit became to look across the road and feel defeated.

The regularity of that routine meant that our eyes were drawn to the familiar and we missed exactly what we were looking for.

Have you ever been so consumed with routine that you miss the thing that you are asking for God to show you?

The story of the Good Samaritan begins with two religious folk who are so busy with their lives, so focused on where they are going, they miss the severity of the man on the side of the road.

We have to live the ordinary every day; we have ordinary tasks and ordinary routines. We can become so focused on the familiar that we become blind to the things around us.

‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us’ John 1:14.

Jesus came into our ordinary world. He spent time with ordinary people, listening to their everyday problems. The extraordinary came into an ordinary world.

If we are living in the ordinary, we need to find Jesus there. By nature, He is with us in our everyday lives so it’s up to us to seek the extraordinary in our everyday life.

Be still. Look around. What is God trying to show you in your daily routine today?

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2019

Intentionality means ‘to be deliberate or act on purpose’.

The opposite of being intentional is to be complacent, and indifferent. It is to ‘go with the flow’, holding the attitude of ‘whatever will be will be’. It is to live without a clear goal or purpose in mind.

The problem with this attitude, as ‘easy-going’ as it may seem, is that pretty quickly life gets a hold of you, rather than you having a hold on life. Being unintentional leads to distraction, wasted time, and arrival at a place that you didn’t plan to be in…simply because you had no plan in the first place!

Of course we can’t always control life, but God has given us clear direction on EVERY possible area of life according to His word.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, ‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time… Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is’.

To live out our purpose means living intentionally. There is a responsibility on us to steward whatever is in our hands. Part of stewardship is to have a plan, purpose and some intentionality in handling what we have been given.

Are we intentional in how we manage our money, our health, our relationships, our job, our prayers, our marriage, and the people we work with? Do we approach these things with a clear mission in mind? Do we know where we are heading with these things? Or do we just let these things happen?

I would encourage you to take some time, even just once a year, to sit down and ask yourself some intentional questions, to encourage intentional living:

-Who has God put around me at work? How can I be intentional in showing them the love of God?

– What has God blessed me with? How can I now go and intentionally bless others?

– What is my mind constantly dwelling on? How can I be more intentional in my thought life, rather than just letting thoughts run wild in my head?

– Am I intentional and choice with my words or does my mouth just free-flow?

– Where am I going with my study of the Bible? Do I have a plan or am I just floating from scripture to scripture?

– Who are my friends? Who is having the most influence on me at the moment? How can I be intentional about choosing the right people to be in my life?

– Am I specific in my prayers? Or do I just ask for general roundabout things?

– Do I actively prioritise the health of my soul, or do I just let life happen as my body and heart tries to keep up? What do I need to put in my calendar so my health is a priority and I’m intentional in looking after it?

When God made you, He had a plan, He was intentional with His plan and design in creating you (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us now live our lives with the intentionality we were designed to carry.  

Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

 

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2019

Sunday church is not the purpose of the Christian life. Sunday church is the vital training ground for the game… The game being the rest of the week – ‘real life’ in the ‘real world’. We were not saved to sit in a comfortable bubble of like-minded people, never engaging with the people Jesus died for. We were saved AND then commissioned to GO OUT and change the world. This is not a mandate for just some Christians with a ‘special gift’ with people who are non-Christians, but this is the call of ALL Christians (Matthew 28:19-20).

So what does it look like to be a Christian when we are not at church, but when we are at work and ‘in the world’? What does it look like to be a Christian in an office where people think differently, maybe even despise your belief system?

Navigating the waters of ‘the real world’ can be a challenge, but one that we are none-the-less called to.

To be an effective Christian in the workplace, here are some thoughts:

  1. Be authentic. You can’t be something you are not for long. People who see you day in and day out, good days and bad days, will get to know who you really are. You can’tput on a ‘Jesus front’, and sustain it if it hasn’t really happened in you! Focus less on performing, and more on genuinely growing in God (through His word and relationship with Him), so you are effortlessly portraying what He has done in your heart, mind, attitudes.
  1. Love people. People can sense your motives. They know if there is a hidden agenda. They also know if you genuinely care. We aren’t about saving souls for brownie points, we are about saving souls because God loves them, and we love them. Thankfully a genuine love for people isn’t something that has to be forced out. It comes through praying for them, and then catching God’s heart for them. We then find ourselves showing kindness, care, consideration, honour, and respect as an overflow.
  1. Watch your small choices. People will watch how you do the small things and equate it with Jesus. They will watch your attitude, how you speak of others, how you handle your money, your relational priorities, your time management, and the way you carry out tasks in the work place. They will quickly spot when something is counter-culture and observe the fruit of your life. If you bring in a negative atmosphere, if you are stingy with money, participate in gossip, use people, and your work ethic is not one of excellence and integrity, don’t be surprised if people lose respect for you and your faith.
  1. Remember God is with you. You aren’t alone. You are co-working with God (1 Corinthians 3:9). You aren’t just working FOR God, you are working WITH God. You are in it together, to get a job done. Let that reality take off the pressure, and instead embrace ‘being in the world’ as being an adventure and partnership with God.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2019

Is there anything worse than walking into a room full of people that are all chatting away to each other, but when you arrive they all go silent?

They each look up simultaneously for a brief moment, and then go back to their conversations.

They said nothing, but to you they said everything.

Of course, there are lots of worse things than that, but we all have to admit that that’s a fairly difficult pill to swallow.

The thought that you are nothing more than an inconvenience or even an annoyance to everyone else’s perfect lives is pretty degrading and even damaging.

Now we’re not asking to be the centre of attention, because for some that could actually be just as bad as being ignored, but what we really crave is to be accepted for who we are.

We don’t expect to be a conversation stopper because we are so important, but we would like to be included and accepted in the conversation.

Life can be cruel and so can people.

Today, I would ask you to consider the name of just one person that not only accepts you, but acknowledges you and even wants you to be a vital part of his world – that one name is Jesus.

Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples had messed up big time.

After spending three years with Jesus, he then, when coming face to face with the crucifixion, decided to run; but not only run, he would leave a trail of denial and profanity in his tracks, as he turned on the only one that had been his closest friend.

As he hid from Jesus’ haunting words that had previously announced that he would deny him three times before the night was out, he wept and saw no possible way back.

Fast forward now to the day of the resurrection.

An angel announces that Jesus wants a meeting with his disciples in Galilee, but knew that Peter would no longer feel worthy of being included. (Too right, you say…after all, he really showed his true colours)

But that’s not how Jesus does life.

Instead of beating people down further, he lifts people up higher, yes, even after they treat him with utter contempt.

Look at the Angels invitation closely…

Mark 16:6-7 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

The one that had made a right hash of things got a special mention on the invitation…and so do you.

Feeling dreadful that you haven’t lived up to the name Christian?

Lost faith?

Denied Jesus?

Bad language issues crept back in?

Anger problems?

Jesus says to you today…let’s meet. You are included in my plan.

Today if you only understand one thing, then understand that Jesus sees beyond our failings and includes us in his conversation.

Proverbs 16v24

…for though the righteous fall seven times, the Lord will lift him up.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2019

I’m not sure if you have a dog – if you do, you’ll know exactly what I mean…

Our chocolate Labrador Snoop is a great lover of food. I mean any sort of food, anytime, anywhere.

It’s amazing, that we have kept his weight under control. He loves food!

When I’m eating, he comes and tries to sit at my feet, or gives me those gorgeous brown ‘puppy dog eyes’ that say “please can I have some.” If my husband sees him, he’ll send him packing… however I can’t resist that longing look. I may at first say NO, but then I give in.  

 It reminds me of the story of the persistent widow in

 Luke 18 vs 1-5. 

Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’

 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”

She kept coming and asking, he kept saying ‘NO’, however, due to her persistency he gave in!

 Notice what verse 1 says 

 “Jesus told them this story, to teach them it was necessary to pray and not to quit”

If you’re waiting for an answer, if you’re believing for a miracle, if you’re believing for a breakthrough,don’t let the enemy send you packing and tell you to give up. 

If we weren’t meant to be persistent like the widow, why would Jesus have told us to be?

Some of us give up too easily – at the first hurdle or at the first ’no’.

Don’t be like that!

Be like my dog.

Be like Jesus taught us to be.

Persistent.

 Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2019

Driving to work one day on the motorway, I was forced to move to the inner lane by two police cars taking up the middle and outside lanes. They had their sirens wailing, and blue lights flashing making it impossible to miss them, and you had to move out of the way.

Behind the two police cars were a secure prison transfer van flanked by another police car alongside it, and two more police cars behind those.

What was quite remarkable was the number of police cars it took to surround the prison van and ensure that it had a clear stretch of road ahead of it and alongside it, and it could travel without having a siren itself. This got me thinking. Who were they transporting, and why was this individual or group of people so important, they needed such a noisy police escort? I’ve been overtaken by police cars countless times without thinking much of it, but there was obviously someone significantly important or high risk in the van they justified all the fuss.

I thought about breaking from the norm that everyone else was following and doing something to stand out but that wouldn’t have ended well for me, so I stayed in the slow lane.

There are times when deciding to stay quietly out of the way along with everyone else is a good decision, but there are times when you need to step out and reach for a reward that pushes you out of your current situation. To make a bold decision that challenges the long-held beliefs around you.

In Luke 18:35-43, a blind man received his sight because he first saw a way out of his situation (blindness) and stepped out in faith. Like the transfer van surrounded by police cars that made traffic move out of the way, Jesus was surrounded by people who could see him with their eyes but could not see the reward He carried.

We’ve all got something that we need God to help us with in our lives, better health, rebuild a relationship with family, a parent, child, sibling; a friend who used to be close, but things went sour; finances to help us get out of a hole we may be in, perhaps a better job. There’s probably something in your life that you’ve accepted as it is, and because of past failures in changing that situation, are now okay to sit on the side lines.

What stopped me from getting in the way of the police convoy was a fear that my life would never be the same if I did that

What stopped the blind man from staying out of Jesus’s way was a fear that his life would always remain the same.

Make the decision to call on Jesus today, and He will give you a new vision, and a reward for your courage.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2019

On a recent trip to Greece we ventured on a guided tour to a near by waterfall attraction. Mid-way through our tour guide explaining the features of the surroundings, in broken English, he told us to “take off shoes”, and pointed to a narrow tunnel with water running through it. We followed his instructions, taking off our shoes, trailing behind his enthusiastic guidance into this dark tunnel. 

Anxiety quickly kicked in. It was one way. Totally dark. Narrow. And there was no end in sight. You could only hear the sound of water running over your bare feet. 

For someone who has a fear of rising water levels in enclosed spaces, everything in me wanted to turn around. But there were people behind me. The traumatic walk through the tunnel of doom, went on and on and on for about 300 metres!

The moment peace came was when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the end of was near. The hope of getting out was possible.

Hope is important. 

In the 1950s, an experiment was performed on rats. It was discovered that they could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water for only about 15 minutes in order to stay alive. After that, they would give up and sink. But when the swimming rats were rescued briefly and then put back in the water, they managed to swim for up to 60 hours. How is that possible? It was concluded that it was because the rescued rats were given hope – the hope that they would be rescued. This hope empowered them to keep on swimming!

When the human spirit has no hope, when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, we sink into anxiety and depression.

Imagine not knowing if and when your dreams would be fulfilled. Imagine feeling like you are the only one in control of your future. Imagine not knowing if you will ever have enough. Imagine not knowing if there is more for you. Imagine not knowing what happens after death. Imagine not knowing if there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel you are in.  

Sadly this is exactly how many people live. They have no sure and certain hope. Their hope is in things that can be gone or have gone in an instant – people, money, themselves. No wonder anxiety levels are sky high! 

The story should be different for Christ followers – we have a sure hope. Regardless of the tunnel we are in, we see the light at the end and this gives us the courage and peace to keep moving on.

Romans 15:13, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’

Hope is not wishful thinking. It’s the assurance of fulfilled promise. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Guaranteed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2019

You can be book-smart, world-smart, have degrees up to the eyeballs, but lack wisdom. Godly wisdom (God’s perspective on life), can only be gained through relationship with Him, and His word. Worldly wisdom can be impressive, it can get you far in life, but it is bound to a human level. It is limited. Godly wisdom, however, is unlimited. It is ultimate. It is all knowing. It is timeless and will transform you and generations following you when applied. It is also available to you right now.

The rewards of Godly wisdom are:

Peace – ‘But the one who listens to wisdom, will live undisturbed in heavenly peace’ Proverbs 1:33.

Success –  ‘Only if you accept my advice and hide it within will you succeed’, Proverbs 2:1.

A full life – ‘If you want a long and satisfying life, never forget the things that I’ve taught you. Follow closely every truth that I’ve given you. Then you will have a full, rewarding life’, Proverbs 3:1-2.

Protection –  ‘For the Lord has a hidden store-house of wisdom made accessible to his godly lovers, He becomes your personal bodyguard as you follow his ways, protecting and guarding you as you choose what is right…If you choose good counsel, divine design will watch over you and understanding will protect you from making poor choices’ Proverbs 2:7-8 & 11.

Empowerment – ‘…You will discover all that is just, proper, and fair, and be empowered to make the right decisions as you walk into your destiny’ (Proverbs 2:9)

Just to name a few.

Wisdom can offer you all the above. But here is the catch: you have to want it. You are only influenced by that which you have value for. If you have no value for it, no desire to seek it out, you will not find it. Wisdom only has power in your life when you actively look for it, treasure it, and esteem it.

‘My child, will you treasure my wisdom? Then, and only then, will you acquire it…train you heart to listen…open your spirit wide’ (Proverbs 2:1-2).

People will spend thousands on health insurance, just for peace of mind, that if anything goes wrong, they are covered. People also spend thousands on university degrees, in an attempt to have a successful and fulfilling life. These things aren’t wrong. But why do people struggle to pick up the word of God when it is guaranteed to offer you greater reward, success, protection, and empowerment in all its wisdom?

Christians don’t pursue truth to be boring people, bound by rules. Quite the opposite. We pursue truth, because the wisdom of God promises to bring peace, success, life-fulfillment, and protection.

Let your heart hunger to know the perspective of God. Seek out His wisdom. God is generous in his impartation of wisdom on an open and ready heart.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd September 2019

“His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” was what people had to say about Paul, a hugely influential figure in the Bible.

23% of the New Testament has been attributed to Paul, who was also responsible for bringing the Christian message to Europe for the first time. Paul was a big player, but when it came to public speaking, people were happy to take him or leave him.

To add to Paul’s potential complex, he had a teammate named Apollos who was a very eloquent speaker. (Side note – your character will be tested when you’re alongside someone who’s gifted in an area in which you lack…

Can I encourage you to celebrate those people and not despise them? After all, as someone once said, ‘if everybody on a team is gifted in the same way, then the majority of that team are unnecessary.’)

However, it seems as though Paul didn’t have a complex about this, but rather he realised, ‘what I don’t have is just as important as what I do have.’

Paul’s writings influence millions of people still to this day, but we have to ask ourselves: if he’d have spoken it, would we have the opportunity to read it? Maybe it’s because he couldn’t speak like his colleague Apollos, that he ended up writing the way he did.

I think if you asked Paul today, he would tell you that he’s glad he was an unimpressive communicator. Because what people identified as his lack led him to discover his God-given gift. And ultimately it’s that gift that created for him a lasting legacy.

Today, instead of resenting what you don’t have, I wonder what could happen if you embraced what you do have…

Celebrate the Apollos’ in your world, look to improve in areas that you can, but learn to love who you’ve been created to be and not lose sleep over what you lack.

Maybe you too could leave a legacy that goes beyond the life you live.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2019

Prayer shouldn’t be a burden but a privilege – a privilege God has freely given to us because He wants to spend time with us.

 Jesus died to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God, and when we give our lives to Him, we have a personal relationship with Him. In fact, we only have access to God because of what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection.

Isaiah 59:1-2 Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

He opened the way for us once and for all to come freely to Him.

 Central to any relationship is communication. A father that never talks to his children, or a married couple that never speak to each other is a recipe for defeat in any relationship.

 In a far greater way, our relationship with God involves communication – not just a brief hello, but a much deeper level of sharing our cares, concerns and requests with Him.

Prayer is simply talking with God; It’s a two way street just like any other relationship.

God, could of course, simply do everything on his own. He could make every problem go away, sort all of your burdens out, and then just shower you with everything you need exactly at the time you need it-so why doesn’t He? Because that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a completely mechanical and robotic one-sided acquaintance.

God has given us the privilege of prayer so that we will have a moment by moment friendship and relationship with Him.

 There are some things that my children have asked me for over the years that I haven’t been able to supply, but then there are times when I’ve sorted things straight away.

Often my phone will ring and the voice on the other end is saying, “Dad…can you…?!” The truth is that any Dad loves to be asked for things or to do things for his children. It’s the stuff of great relationships.

 

At other times the call comes from me to my children. Maybe I need to talk to them about something or give them some information; and so it is with God, He wants you to not only communicate with Him, but He also wants to communicate with you.

 Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer by His own example when we are told that He got up very early in the morning, while it was still dark, to pray…

 

 Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

 

Today, I encourage you engage with God in the privilege of prayer. Speak to Him daily about everything. 

Remember: if it matters to you, it matters to Him.

 

1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.

 Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

You can join us for prayer every week at Champions:

 Men – Tuesdays at 6am.

 Ladies – Thursdays at 9am.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st August 2019

Atmosphere is very important. I can immediately walk into a place and know whether or not I’m going to like it.  It can be a restaurant, a shop, even a hotel room.

 

Did you know that YOU can set an atmosphere? By your attitude, your face, your spirit.

We have often said as parents that our children will not dictate the atmosphere of our home. When they are in a ‘mood’ or don’t get their own way or stuff makes them feel ‘down’, then the atmosphere can be changed into something negative.

You may have children like that. You may have a spouse like that. You may be like that.

 

There’s another saying in our house, “If Mom’s happy, everyone’s happy”.

That’s a lot of responsibility on me! However it’s very true.

I, like you, can set the atmosphere in my house big time.

 

Over the years I’ve learnt this: we are carriers.  When our heart is good, our face is good, our spirit is good and our whole countenance is good.  Our heart sets the atmosphere.

When things aren’t as I’d like them, is my heart good?

When things and circumstances are not good, is my heart still good?

When I feel sad or even discouraged, is my heart still good?

 

When my prayer life and my walk with God is right, then my heart will be right and then the atmosphere will be right.

 

Be an atmosphere changer for the better.

Walk into a room and carry the presence of God with you and it can suddenly change supernaturally.

 

In your work place, in your home, be the person who everyone loves to encounter because YOU are an atmosphere changer.

 

Be one for the better.

 

Pastor Gillian

 

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th August 2019

Two weeks ago I missed a train by just five seconds! I had been waiting 40 minutes for the train to arrive and then they switched platforms on me in the last few minutes. I noticed too late. As I realised what had happened, I saw my train pending on the other side. I run up the stairs and to the other side of the tracks. My hand almost touched the door’s button as the train moved off, leaving me to cancel the tour I had planned upon arrival at my destination. Not what I had planned.

Another example of derailed plans… one week later and we were holidaying in France when my husband had a severe reaction to a mosquito bite! We thought we better get to A&E before the spreading bite went septic. For a doctor to issue a prescription of antibiotics would take less than five minutes, but we were left in the waiting room from 10pm to 4am! With no one speaking a word of English in a French hospital, communicating only via Google translate, the wait got very frustrating. Not what we had planned.

These two relatively minor set backs really are a bleep compared to the metaphorical missed trains and waiting rooms of life that many people are sitting in. Some people have been waiting for loved ones to come back, their bodies to get healed, break-through in finances, or for the arrival of a spouse or baby for years. Some people feel they have ‘missed the boat’ of opportunity in life and it’s too late. Time doesn’t feel on their side. Their life plans seemed to be derailed.

The good news is that God is beyond time. He is not bound by it. While we orchestrate our lives on man-made calendars, and clocks, and compare our stages of our life to the happenings of those around us, God is working in accordance to with the season of our hearts, coupled with His divine perspective. He sees what we don’t. Hence why it doesn’t always make sense to us. Sometimes time eventually explains to us what He was/is doing, other times we just have to trust in His good nature. God wants us to operate in the currency of faith, and trust. Knowing that he is perfectly good and faithful to us. God can do what takes months, in minutes. God can do what we think should be done now, later, yet never too late, because He knows what we need.

When we don’t have the answers for why our desires and God’s promises aren’t unfolding now, we must trust in the reality that God is FOR US. He is our loving Dad, with only our best interests at heart. Our job is to trust Him.

I ended up getting on the next train. I ended up getting on the next tour. I ended up having a day better than I could have planned. My husband ended up getting his prescription, and we ended up having a fabulous holiday, barely remembering the frustration of the waiting room.

What may feel like a forever season, is not a forever season. Things will change at some point, you will get on the right train, you will leave the waiting room… and God will work all things together (Romans 8:28). In the meantime, steward your heart and steward your wait.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2019

Let’s talk about sin!

When we become a Christian, scripture says that we are a ‘new creation’, meaning we are free from our sinful nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Christ you are made holy (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:22). You are seen as pure (Titus 2:4), and free from sin (Romans 6:7, 18, 22).

The Bible doesn’t lie. There is no middle ground. Either we are free from sin, or we are not. Either we are a new creation as the Bible tells us, or we are not. Either we are made righteous and holy, or we are not.

So why is there still sin? Why do Christians still sin if God promises us that we are a new creation?

I would like to propose that God has not done a half-working in us, but perhaps we are yet to come to the full-revelation of what God has done in us.

What you believe, you empower. If you believe you are still an old creation, don’t be surprised if you are still acting like one!

There are numerous verses in the Bible that present sin as a ‘personality’, an independent power, as not just actions we do, but an entity we engage with.

FACT: The two most prevalent Greek words used for sin are hamartano (Verb), and hamartia (noun). In the book of Romans, for example, the verb is used only twice; the noun however is used 46 times!

Romans 7, proves that sin is more than just missing the mark. It is a force that exists outside of us trying to influence us.

If Jesus conquered the sin in us, and it is still evident in our lives, perhaps it because we have let the very thing Jesus delivered us from, still have a say in our life. Sin is still in the world, it comes from the outside (noun), and challenges us with desires that are no longer in our new nature. When we believe these lies that is when we give into them and produce sin (verb).

Remember that sin is deceitful, not defining. Sin doesn’t define you, Jesus has already done that. Knowing not every desire you feel is yours makes dealing with the deceit of sin much easier.

Be aware that there is an enemy fighting for your identity. When you are aware of truth, it is easy to recognise a lie. The enemy will work hard at getting you to question the reality of what God has made you at salvation. Wash your mind in the word of God. Use it as the sword it is (Ephesians 6). Stop fighting yourself, and instead declare what over yourself what God has already fought and brought for you! You are pure because you have been purified in Christ (Titus 2:14). Let your behaviour come into alignment with this reality.

‘Your fundamental desire is for Him, not sin’ Mark Greenwood.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th August 2019

Here’s some load lightening encouraging words for us all: we have all thoroughly, comprehensively, exceedingly failed and come up short and always will when it comes to being right with God.

Romans 3:23| NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!

Romans 6:23 | NIV
For the wages of sin is death!

It can seem unfair that there’s nothing we can do about the fact that we are born into sin as a result of the curse from Adam! How is it fair his actions thousands of years ago meant that sin entered the world and no matter how hard you try you fall short of the glory of God?

But then the great news is that the opposite is also true. Just as all are cursed by Adam all are set free by Jesus.

Romans 3:24 ‘and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’

Romans 6:23 ‘but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

The biggest trap we can fall into as Christians is religion that seems to suggest that we can and should achieve some kind of acceptance of our own merit once we are saved and that we do gain some kind of self-righteousness.

It’s not true! We will always 100% need to completely rely upon his grace.

In Galatians 3, Paul starts off with the strong words ‘you foolish Galatians!’ Then goes onto explain, in verse 2 and 3…

‘2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?’

What Paul is telling us here is that what Christ has begun he will finish! We can’t finish what he begun but just as we’re saved by grace through faith so we must live in grace by faith! Read this today and don’t feel a failure because you’re still not perfect, but accept his grace that is all sufficient and that you are a beautiful work in progress!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th August 2019

The older I get, the more I realise that to have a title is really nothing.

To have a position is something, but the way you live your life is everything.

For me personally, I have made a vow that my preaching must never be better than my living.

Title and position only ever carries weight if it matches your life.

You can say things to people til you’re blue in the face, but no one will ever buy into what you say if you’re a hypocrite.

You can wear the biggest badge or have a huge sign on your office door that informs people of your title or role but that will never hold sway with people that don’t believe your life..

1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Make it your daily prayer and ambition in life to let your mouth and your ministry line up with the reality of your private life.

Basically…we practice daily what we preach – all the rest is religious froth.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2019

Some time back I spoke at our church on two evenings about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many people turned up and have since spoken of the impact of those two nights.

One of the things that was highlighted was that many people seek the more ‘spectacular’ gifts of the Holy Spirit of which there are nine mentioned in the Bible; included in the nine are the gift of miracles, the gift of healing and the gift of faith, However, the Bible doesn’t just stop there as it says there are different ‘kinds’ of gifts.

It surprises many when to hear that amongst those ‘other kinds of gifts’ are administration, encouragement, mercy, serving and giving.

I’m sure that you’ll agree that these other gifts hardly seem like supernatural, spiritual or spectacular as on face value they seem to be pretty standard things that anyone would do.

The point is this: how many of us today are feeling that we don’t possess a spiritual gift because we don’t do spectacular things and yet we daily do mundane yet meaningful and significant things?

Did you realise that encouragement was a spiritual gift?

What about serving others? A person who serves at our weekly soup kitchen is using their spiritual gift.

Showing mercy to other seems a pretty basic thing to do for any Christian, yet here we find that a person that does so is actually moving in a spiritual gift.

Being in a position to be ‘over and above’ generous, is given to some as a spiritual gift. They may think of themselves as just doing what they love to do, and yet here we find that it’s a gift that God has blessed them with.

I would encourage today not just to look for the spectacular, but look to serve God and others in whatever area you find your gift in.

Take time out to pray about, discover and discern what gift God has blessed you with…then use it!

Remember an unopened gift is worthless.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2019

You may be aware that when we obey, it always brings blessing.  

You may be a parent, then you will know that to be true!

Whenever God asks us to do something, it’s always so that we in turn will be blessed.   

When we are asked to give, it’s so that we can receive.

When we are asked to forgive someone, it’s so that we will actually be blessed, because we have let go of that unforgiveness.

When we are asked to love and encourage, it’s so that we in turn will receive many blessings back into our lives.

 

But what about when God asks us to do something that’s difficult? 

Then obedience isn’t as easy. 

Unless, we have learnt the principal that ‘God wants to bless me when I obey’. 

 

In the book of Genesis, we read the story of Abraham. 

God had promised him a child, even though he was old in years. Yet, God still fulfilled His promise and Abraham’s dream and blessed him with a son Isaac. 

 

When you read through the story, you will find that God tested Abraham. 

He asked him to take his son, (the one that he had been believing for and dreaming of) and take him up the mountain where he would sacrifice him.  

WOW, that’s an incredibly difficult, almost impossible thing to do. 

But I want you to notice what happened. 

In Genesis 22 1-3. It says that after God had spoken to him, the very next morning, Abraham got up early and started on his journey up the mountain. 

 

If ever there was a day to stay in bed, this was surely it! 

If ever there was a day to have several extra cups of coffee, this was it.  

If ever there was a day that Abraham wanted to talk to someone else first and get their opinion, then this was surely it. 

BUT NO. It says ‘he got up early and started out.’ 

Abraham knew that despite the difficult, almost impossible task, he was going to obey. 

 

I’m sure you know the end of the story.  

Isaac wasn’t in fact sacrificed, because God provided a ram instead AND Abraham was tremendously blessed. 

Why? 

Because my friends, obedience, even though it’s hard, ALWAYS BRINGS BLESSING.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd August 2019

Nobody likes to wait!

 

When I think back over my life, I’ve wanted everything NOW. However, the reality is that I’ve had to wait for everything.

 

Without waiting, we are doomed to failure, or at the very least we are doomed to become unbearable. We will simply grow up with the very same entitlement mentality that we see in our culture today.

 

If you’re in a waiting season right now, then know that you are normal and that it is necessary. So before you throw in the towel, lose your mind or walk away from your dream, learn to appreciate that waiting is the principal part of living a life of faith.

 

In fact, if you refuse to wait, you will find yourself trying to force things to happen, and the only thing that will happen is that you either abort your dream or at the very least delay it as you have to go round again. The important lessons that you need to learn come only through waiting.

 

So why do we have to wait?

 

  1. For your protection – God wants to keep you from destroying yourself by wanting everything too early. Just because you think you are ready, doesn’t mean that you are.
  2. For your preparation – while you are waiting, God is fixing you. If He allowed you to have everything you wanted right now, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.
  3. For your production – waiting has the power to produce in you the character that you will need for when He releases into you all that he has for you.

 

‘Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now’

 

If you’ll simply wait it out, God will simply work it out. When God moves it will be worth the wait.

 

 

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

Thought that you’d be married by now?

 

Thought that you’d be further on by now?

 

Thought that you’d have that degree by now?

 

Thought that you’d have money by now?

 

Remember: a waiting man or woman is someone that hasn’t given up.

 

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings and rise up close to God like eagles rising toward the sun; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

If this has stirred something within you, why not delve a little deeper? Head to the ‘Messages’ tab within the Champions Church app and search ‘Hate To Wait’ to watch the full-length message from Pastor Mark.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2019

When you become a Christian, you don’t kiss goodbye to your brains. How you steward your mind  as a Christian is vital.

Your mind is most healthy when in alignment with the word of God.

Your mind should be daily renewed into the reality and truth of who you have become in Christ.

‘… Be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). This scripture is proof that what you think is directly linked to how you behave. Want to change your life? It doesn’t start with behaviour and self-modification – it starts with what you believe in your head!

When your mind is fed on the word of God, embedded with scripture and truth, it is very easy to pick up on lies. Look at airport security. When you walk through the arch, if you are carrying metal, it will trigger off. Something illegal has approached a boundary. Should a weapon pass, harm could be done. The arch is sensitive to anything illegitimate and picks up on what should not be passed through.

A renewed mind, will quickly detect a lie when it attempts to get into a headspace. It is sensitive to anything illegitimate and illegal. It works as a protection barrier for your life. The word of God is its standard and before an action, temptation, or lie can violate your body or life, your mind, renewed by Scripture, will filter it, and signal that what is at the boundary should not be allowed in because it will bring death instead of life.

Who is responsible for the renewal process? You are. You are responsible for what you allow in based on your knowledge, gained through the word of God. This is why reading the Bible is important!

Often times when people find their lives in a mess, it can be traced back to a simple thought pattern or belief system that they allowed to get into their thinking. Sometimes these thought patterns are even passed on generationally, as at no point has there been a renewal of mind, or gaining of wisdom and truth.

You could have 10,000 pounds in your pocket, but if you don’t know it is there, you have no knowledge of it, so you aren’t going to be able to use it. You can only use what you know you have. If you have no knowledge of the word of God, how can you use it? Jesus said, ‘…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Yes the truth is there, yes it will set you free, but you have to KNOW it first.

The huge epidemic this generation is facing around poor mental health is evidence in itself that our minds matter. We must be intentional with what we are feeding our heads with. We have a responsibility to steward our minds in truth in order to be able to have strong lives.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ (Luke 10:27).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st August 2019

I recently went to see the remake of ‘The Lion King’ at the cinemas and cried the whole way through. The first time I saw the film I was four years old. I then saw the stage show on Broadway in New York, and then years later in London on the West End. Every time, it evokes such an emotional response in me. I can’t help but see such an obvious correlation between the storyline and our relationship with God.  

 

If for some reason, you have never seen ‘The Lion King’, allow me to briefly summarise the plot for you (spoiler alert!).  

The African kingdom is healthy and thriving with the wise and noble Mufasa ruling as king. Simba, Mufasa’s son, is destined to be king, but his evil Uncle Scar and his little hyena helpers ensure that Mufasa is killed while saving Simba’s life. Unbeknown to Scar, Simba is still alive, but he is lost. Simba doesn’t know who he is. He has been told life should be lived for self and has therefore avoided facing the reality of his role and calling as king. It is not until he is reminded through the Baboon, Rafiki, that he is the son of a king, that he then has a fresh revelation of who he is, and then takes his rightful place as king, redeeming and restoring the destroyed kingdom.  

 

Knowing our true identity is perhaps the most powerful understanding we can come to as Christians.  

Just as Scar and his demons challenged Simba on who he really was upon his return to Pride Rock, similar words were said to Jesus by the devil in the desert, challenging him to throw himself off a rock, ‘IF he really were the son of God’ (Matthew 4:6).  

 

Why did the Devil challenge Jesus’ sonship and identity? Because if he could get Jesus to second-guess who he was, he could get Jesus to second-guess his authority. You have all spiritual authority as a follower of Christ (Matthew 28:18), the only way the enemy can convince you to not use it, is if he can get you to second guess your identity as a child of the King of Kings. Once you are questioning your sonship, you question your authority.  

 

As Rafiki pointed Simba to the truth of who he was, so the Holy Spirit gently nudges us back to the reality of who we are – that we have the DNA of power and authority (Jesus) in us. Jesus died in our place, so that we can carry a kingdom responsibly to restore that which is desolate, and operate as kings.  

 

Adult Simba: Father? 

 

Mufasa’s ghost: [appears among the stars] Simba, you have forgotten me. 

 

Adult Simba: No. How could I? 

 

Mufasa’s ghost: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life. 

 

Adult Simba: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be. 

 

Mufasa’s Ghost: [Now fully formed in the sky] Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king. Remember who you are. 

  

Sometimes we get jealous because we don’t remember who we are. Sometimes we get worried because we don’t remember who we are. Sometimes we don’t operate in the signs, wonders and miracles that Jesus said we would, because we have forgotten who we are. Sometimes we second-guess our future, and ourselves because we have forgotten who we are! See how important knowing your identity is?

 

If you are a lion but believe you are a hog, you will think and act like a hog(Simba was so confused about who he was, he was a vegetarian lion at one point!) What you believe about yourself you empower. Remember who you are. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you so you can walk in the fullness of your identity as the son or daughter of a king! Stepping up to your royal responsibility!  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th August 2019

Imagine if someone had the money and technology to go back in time to the dawn of civilisation and leave a Ferrari as a secret surprise for someone outside their cave? I know random!

They would be truly amazed. The materials, the colours and design! They would never have seen anything like it. But after a while, the novelty would wear off and they would struggle to work out what exactly the point of it is? What should they do with it? Maybe they would use it as a storage facility?

They would never in a million years (well 6 thousand at least) realise just what the Ferrari could do! Never guessing there’s an internal combustion engine that could propel the car to speeds of 200 miles per hour!

This is a great picture of our lives and the difficulty in grasping just how amazing we are and the possibilities.

Society is more and more confused, they know the Ferrari (life) is amazing but just can’t quite work out what it’s for? Where did it came from and where is it going? So they start trying to utilise it completely incorrectly, like a caveman using a Ferrari as a storage unit or glorified caravan, the world has watered life down to a series of random events over billions of years!

It is vital we grasp there is a design to us that is to glorify God! Here are 3 areas to help us to use our Ferrari as intended:

Owner’s manual – knowledge

The caveman has no knowledge about the car. Ignorance leads him to believe that millions of years of high pressure on natural materials has produced the car. We must regularly read the owner’s manual to our lives – the Bible!
Ephesians 2:10 | NIV
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Fuel – The Holy Spirit

Even if cavemen knew the truth about the car, they haven’t got fuel! We were created to run on the fuel of the Holy Spirit!

John 3:5 | NIV
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

Race track – the Church

Cavemen had no roads. The environment we were created to live in is with people. The Church is God’s design for us to do life together and make the most of this amazing life.

Hebrews 10:24-25 | NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

You are amazing! Believe it, take responsibility for it and make the most of this ‘once in a life time’ opportunity we have been given!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2019

Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to function properly, it helps us create calcium to form and strengthen our bones. However, vitamin D is something that we have to get from our daily diet and from sunlight, we don’t make it within our bodies. Without sufficient vitamin D, our bones get weaker and it can lead to conditions like rickets. Thankfully, just getting a few minutes of sunlight on your skin every day is usually enough.

The grace of God is very much like vitamin D.

There is nothing we can do to earn the grace of God, we can’t ‘manufacture’ it ourselves, no matter how hard we work. It is a free gift, nothing that we can do, think or say will change God’s grace towards us. It is free to us but comes at a great price to God, the price was paid by Jesus on the cross. It is free but certainly not cheap.

To stay spiritually ‘healthy’ we need a dose of God’s grace every day. Thankfully we are told that firstly, God’s grace ‘is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9) in order to stand strong against the trials and tribulations of this life. Secondly, that it is new and fresh every morning (Lamentations 3, 22-23). Every day we start with a clean slate and a new ‘dose’ of His mercy and grace.

We rely on God’s grace. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness’. Through his grace our human weaknesses are not important, God can use us to do amazing things despite our weakness (Philippians 4:13). But apart from His grace we can do nothing.

Just as sunlight is a gift of God’s creation, so His grace is a gift of God’s love – we need them both to be healthy.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2019

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament (Bible in one year). When you read it this way, you have to read the hard bits as well as the ‘nice’ bits. There are so many favourite passages of mine in the OT, that I find myself going to them regularly. They are a wealth of truth. Like the book of Ruth and Esther, like the accounts of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the stories of Joseph and Abraham, the leadership lessons from Moses…I have preached on these many times.

However, what I have found fascinating in this season, is the accounts of the many (seemingly hundreds) of kings that are recorded. David who was a great King after God’s own heart, yet he himself failed at one point. Hezekiah, a king who did what was right in the eyes of God and Solomon who when he could have asked for anything, asked for wisdom to lead the people and in return God blessed him mightily. “because you have asked for this, I will bless you more than you can imagine “ – see 1 Kings 3 v 11-14.
Some of the kings recorded, I’ve never really heard of, yet an underlying and exciting truth runs through them all. Some of them worshipped foreign gods and led wicked lives. Others pulled down those altars to foreign gods and led the people to worship the one and only true God. Those who did the latter were tremendously blessed. God was on their side and they won many victories. Those who didn’t, were taken out and God had the last say!

We may not be living in OT times, but the truth remains firmly the same. When you honour God, when you stand for what is right, God will surely bless you. When you don’t, mark my words, God will always have the last say.
On my journey through the OT, you would have heard me physically shouting out “yes” at times when I read such exciting truths of people who stood for God getting blessed and winning exceptional victories.

God’s word is rich.
It will bless your soul.
Make sure you take time to read it every day.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th August 2019

We live in times where we hear so much about human rights but very little on human responsibilities! Society is desperately trying to make life as fair as possible by levelling every playing field whether based on gender or race, the problem though is it places emphasis on what people are entitled to rather than what their obligations should be to each other.

You could argue the very purpose of life is to take responsibility for what you can.

The bible doesn’t talk about our rights, in fact it makes it clear ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ and that the wages of that sin is death! So the only right we have is to be punished! But the gift of God is eternal life. So we’re treated much better than we deserve and get called the children of God! If you believe this, you really can’t complain at the hand life has dealt you.

When Jesus said ‘love your enemies’ it wasn’t for the sake of your enemies, but for your sake. When Jesus said ‘turn the other cheek’, again, it wasn’t for the sake of the aggressor but the person being slapped!

Essentially, Jesus was teaching us not to be a victim, where bad things ‘happen to us’, but instead take responsibility in the circumstances and so choose to be a victor and remain in the grace of God that wiped our slates clean.

So when bad things happen, learn to turn the other cheek, don’t blame, or fight back but look to take advantage of the difficulty! Instead of joining in the ‘tit for tat’ rules of life, look for the unexpected gift that could come from the difficulty (love the enemy) rather than complaining and becoming a victim! Take responsibility for the events by looking to see why the slap came your way. Did you do something? Is this person struggling and needs help rather than being slapped back?

We live in crazy times, people don’t know who they are and have no understanding of a bigger plan for their lives other than what’s in front of them. If you’re a follower of Jesus and so believe by faith he gave his life as a ransom so you could live in wide open spaces of forgiveness, it means you are freed from playing by the same rules as the world. You’re a child of the living God and a co-heir with Christ to inherit everything. We have a duty to protect that reality, to take responsibility for your life and live in freedom.

Be encouraged today, stand up straight and push your shoulders back, be brave and take responsibility. Be the best you for your sake, your family’s and the wider community.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2019

There are several times in our lives, when how something looks isn’t necessarily how it actually is. Living our lives dictated by how something appears can stop blessings and lessons, if we don’t overcome that habit.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, for instance…

1)…when you fall into the trap of comparison.

We live in an age where it is all too easy to compare our behind-the-scenes with the highlights reels of someone else’s life. That person that has a sparkling existence is facing their own personal battle. Don’t be disheartened because others appear to have what you may want.

2…when you’re being obedient.

In The Bible, before King David became a king, he was just a boy, doing as he was told. When he took Goliath on and went on to defeat him, he didn’t look like the obvious choice. Yet he was God’s choice. When you are living out your calling, not everyone will understand. When God has chosen you, that won’t matter.

3…when you’re waiting for your miracle.

In Genesis, we read the account of Noah and the Flood. You probably haven’t thought too much about how scary the great flood was but imagine relentless rain for 40 days and 40 nights and looking out to see the same thing, day after day. When we are waiting for our breakthrough, we may find ourselves in circumstances that have been the same for a long time. If Noah had been become impatient and left the ark before the water had left the Earth, he’d have drowned. Remember: the flood and the ark preserved Noah and his family; its purpose was never to destroy them. When you find yourself in a flood, wait on God.

Remember, God sees beginning to end in all seasons and situations. Don’t lose heart, when things don’t appear to be going as you had hoped. Take heart and know that God is working things out for your good.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th August 2019

Are you holy? It is not a word that we often associate with ourselves. We use it in connection with Jesus; God; prophets;great men and women of God, but what about you?

Peter in his first Letter says that we are a ‘royal priesthoodand holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9) and he calls us to be holy ‘just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, “Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1: 15-16)

Jesus himself calls us to be like him, like God – in fact in Matthew 5:8 he says ‘be perfect therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect’ – now that is a challenge.

The word holy simply means set apart, set apart for God.

Paul in Romans 12 says ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world’. In other words be set apart from the things of this world that would drag us back to sin.

When we say yes to Jesus, Paul tells us that we are a ‘new creation’, the old has gone (2 Corinthians 5:17). We receive the Holy Spirit and through that we are set apart for God, we are different from those who are still to find this truth. The action of Holy Spirit working within us means that we want to act differently and have different priorities. We are by definition holy.

Yes, we will all fall back and stumble (probably every day!)but the grace of God is new and fresh every morning. We should be striving to be different, to be set apart, from the secular world around us.

So the challenge for us all today is: how are we going to be set apart? In our thoughts, our actions, our words. How will we be holy today?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 13th August 2019

The definition of cynicism is ‘an attitude of suspicion where you believe the future is bleak and that people are acting only out of self interest. An example of cynicism is when you always think the worst and have a hard time seeing the good in anyone’.

The Bible is full of cynical people. People like Job, who struggled with pessimism in his pain (Job 3), and Jonah showed a cynical attitude toward the people of Nineveh (Jonah 4), or Nathanael who said ‘Nothing good could come from Nazareth’ (John 1:45).

Unfortunately a cynical attitude can be found even among Christians. It is usually a response to hurt or disappointment.

A cynical attitude does not produce fruit, hope or love. Here is what a cynical attitude attracts:

  1. The bad. You attract what you focus on! If you focus on only the bad, you magnify it in your life. You miss the good. Instead, our minds should be focused on ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about