Fresh Hope – 27th June 2017

The well known Bible character, Joseph, was 30 when he became governor of Egypt. He was 17 when he was sold into slavery. For 13 years he dealt with pain and confusion, maintained both his character and commitment to God, and allowed his trials to make him triumphant.

Jospeh didn’t simply forget what had happened to him by simply pretending that it didn’t, but took positive steps to prevent his past having a hold over his life and his future. God gave Joseph two sons: he named them Manasseh, which means ‘God has made me forget,’ and Ephraim, which means ‘God has made me twice fruitful in the land of my afflictions.’

God helped Joseph overcome the memory of his painful past by naming the things that he would see everyday as reminders of God’s goodness. Everyday that he saw his children, their very names spoke volumes. Forget, and be twice fruitful. The other option would have been to name them ‘remember your pain’ and ‘never move on.’

He still had the memory, but he prospered in spite of it. When you walk with God, the promise before you will be greater than the pain behind you.

Here are five principles that Joseph taught us to live by:

Don’t try to ignore or pretend it never happened. God will give you the grace to handle it, not deny it.

Believe that God will more than make up the time, relationships and opportunities you’ve lost.

List the people that have wronged you. Forgive them and release them to God in prayer. Now tear up that list.

Tell God that you are ready to start over again.

Don’t look back, but keep moving forward into all that God has for you.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th June 2017

When booking a holiday, you do your utmost to find the best possible destination with the budget you have. Why wouldn’t you?

It’s normal to presume the success and enjoyment of that holiday will be based on how good a destination and hotel you manage to book.

Have you ever though, been to a great destination and had amazing weather, but it still wasn’t the best holiday? Maybe the dynamics of the people you went with didn’t quite work, or you yourself were just not in a great place?

Having dreamed and planned the vacation for so long you come home really disappointed and regretting spending so much money on the trip.

How true in life that we can seek success in the best possible destination, i.e. new job, better car, but it doesn’t make us happy because it’s the same us in the new job or car.

‘Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.’

How true this saying is; we’re always looking for the next event to bring us closer but we never seem to arrive. Learn to enjoy and make the most of where you are. Stop focusing on a change in circumstance but a change in your soul!

Luke 17:20-21
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

People have always been waiting for some future event to right the world. We can stop waiting, because the kingdom of God is in our midst.

I encourage you today in whatever your need or future dream is, make sure you’re not missing out on what God has for you right now, today!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2017

The Bible teaches us that obedience brings blessing.
I’ve had to do some things this week that I didn’t feel like doing, or particularly want to do, but I knew that God was asking me to them.
I know that if God asks me to do something, even when I don’t understand it, He will bring blessing into my life because of it.
So thankfully, on both occasions I obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Deuteronomy 28 and verses 1 and 2 tell me that if I obey His commands and follow His ways, then all these blessings will come on me and overtake me.

Wow – if blessings come upon me and overtake me, that means I’m surrounded by blessing!

Blessing isn’t always about money. It can be beautiful sunshine, a good cup of coffee, seeing your children happy, meeting a new baby for the first time, seeing someone get well, getting a bargain from the shops, feeling a great sense of peace.

I want to live a life FULL of God’s blessings. Which means that each day I have to be sure I’m walking in His ways and doing what He asks of me.

It’s quite simple really, isn’t it?

Too many people don’t feel blessed. It’s sad.
God wants to bless us all.

For the best results, follow the maker’s instructions.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2017

EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES.

10 reasons why I don’t wash.

1. I was forced to as a child.

2. People who wash are hypocrites – they think they are cleaner than everybody else.

3. There are so many different kinds of soap, I can’t decide which one is best.

4. I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped.

5. I wash only on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.

6. None of my friends wash.

7. I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.

8. I can’t spare the time.

9. The bathroom is never warm enough.

10. People who make soap are only after your money.

Have you noticed that when we laugh, we become more open to receive something more serious?

Every day, people make lame excuses concerning just about everything. Most of them fortunately don’t have too many serious implications, but some do.

The decision as to whether or not you will step out and fully trust Jesus with the leadership of your life, is the most major and most life changing decision you will ever make. That decision changes everything from the quality of your life right now, to the forgiveness of your past sins, right through to where will you spend eternity.

For many people, they are just one excuse away from surrendering their lives to God, and in a funny sort of way, those excuses usually sound like one of those listed above as to ‘why I don’t wash’!

Isn’t it time today to stop being so underwhelmed by God and allow HI’m to defeat every excuse you have with His very real love that He has for you right now?

Defeat your excuses – decide to follow Jesus.

Jeremiah 31:3 ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2017

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

Here are 10 things from my own journey that fear causes.

Fear causes us to reduce the size of God and elevate the size and opinion of man.

Fear causes us to go in the wrong direction – usually backwards.

Fear causes us to stay quiet when we should speak up.

Fear causes us to be passive about an issue that that God has clearly broughy to our attention.

Fear causes us to seek a consensus of opinions, rather than really seeking the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Fear keeps us from engaging with the broken, the hurting, the misfits and the neglected in our community, because we fear they will mess up our lives.

Fear causes us to refuse to embrace change because we care more about being comfortable than being conformed to Christ.

Fear causes us to control things and take matters into our own hands rather than trusting God and trusting others.

Fear causes us to conceal our sin rather than confess our sin.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Fear causes us to seek the easy decision rather than the right one.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st June 2017

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;  through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24 v 3-4).

Like a house, our lives are built brick by brick.

If each brick is made of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, then that house will stand the test of time, however, if that house is built out of any old stuff then you know what’s about to happen. The first time a storm comes to your life, you will collapse and have to start building all over again.

Wisdom comes in many forms; I chose to live by the wisdom of the Bible every day, but I also glean wisdom, knowledge and understanding from people that have successfully built something with their lives. Why would you trust the sayings of someone that’s never built anything?

Here are a few wise sayings that will help you build a successful life…
The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss, it but that we aim too low and reach it – Michelangelo

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty -Sir Winston Churchill.

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people – Peter Marshall

A fool is quick to quarrel…Watch out for quarrellers. Proverbs 20 v 3

You’ve heard it said ‘strike while the iron is hot’, but why wait for the iron to be hot before you strike it…why not strike it until it gets hot -Reinhard Bonnke.

People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be – Pastor Jentezen Franklin.

A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but a certain set of attitudes.

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he were never found out.

The only sure way to avoid criticism, is to do nothing and be nothing.

The truth always outlives a lie.

Happiness relies on happenings, but real joy relies on a real Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2017

Since last Thursday evening, our lives have been turned upside down.

Early morning and late night phones calls have had to be exchanged.

Extra journeys at inconvient times have been made daily to ensure that life carried on as best as it could, even though to a much lesser degree than before.

Welcome to our world of having both a Mother-in-law and a mouse…or two.

My mother-in-law, Alice, had spotted the first one running across the carpet while she was reading in her lounge on Thursday afternoon. She is petrified of mice and although she could hardly speak on the phone through fear, we did get the message this was nothing more than a tiny little field mouse. To most a cuddly little thing that the cat plays with, but to Alice this was a giant rat.

For five days now, I and others, have had our lives disturbed and dictated to by this tiny little rodent that is cowered in some tiny space, probably laughing at how these huge humans are completely paralysed by its presence.

Rooms have been vacated, and on most days the house itself abandoned, as we have had temporarily housed and fed Alice for fear that she may have a nervous breakdown of sorts.

When you think of this whole scenario, you cannot help think how irrational this is – a tiny mouse takes control of a whole house and several people’s lives too.

How true it is though, that very small things can take over our thinking and create huge implications for our lives.

Little thoughts can be magnified in our minds and render us useless.

Little problems, once mulled over a few times can become insurmountable.

Little words spoken to us in jest can reside in our hearts for months at a time, and little actions that we perceive were personally done against us can bring us down and cause us to lose our way.

The wise words of Solomon make complete sense to everyone that feels the huge destructive weight of a very small problem. This is what he had to say…

Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

He noticed that it was the ‘little’ foxes that ruined the vine.

Often we can handle huge problems because we can identify them much more easily than the little ones that seem to run and hide when we try to tackle them.

What is it that is rendering your day useless? In reality it’s often such a small thing that really YOU should be chasing down and killing off with ease.

Ask yourself this question today: Will the seemingly mountainous problem that I’m facing today be a problem to me in a month or even a weeks time?

If the answer is no, then don’t even give it the attention it’s looking for right now.

Pick yourself up, get back on track and start to live your life again.

Let God be God in your life today and don’t give the devil credit for authority he doesn’t have.

Romans 8:31-39 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th June 2017

Romans 5:8 gives us a window into exactly how God loves people. In a matter of one verse we see the entire gospel (the good news of Jesus) on display.

The apostle Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The word I want to focus on contained within that verse is the word ‘died’. For those of you who are great students of the English language, and for the rest of us who just use Google, you will know that the word ‘died’ is a verb (a doing/action word).

I want us to notice how at the very centre of the demonstration of God’s love is action.

The Bible does not record that God demonstrates His love by telling us that He loves us, but by showing us He loves us.

You see, love cannot only be spoken, it has to be shown. And the way God’s love was shown was through sacrifice.

Now God already made the ultimate sacrifice by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that we don’t have to, but you and I have the opportunity to be sacrificial in someway on a daily basis…

Maybe it’s your time, or your talents, or your resource that you can sacrifice today. Whatever it may be, I want to encourage you to let your love lead to action.

Today, don’t just tell the people in your world that you love them, but do something to demonstrate that love.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2017

Here’s a few thoughts to encourage your Saturday.

1. It’s not what you feel, it’s what you know.

If we only ever did what we felt like, we wouldn’t do a lot. I don’t always feel like brushing my teeth, taking a shower or getting out of bed, but it’s what I know to be good and right.
Sometimes we may not feel like God is with us, but He is.
Sometimes we may not feel like He loves us, but He does.
We may not feel like there’s a purpose to our lives, but His purpose is perfect for our lives, as long as we remain faithful.

Don’t always go on feelings, they made lead you up the garden path.
Go on what you know is true.

2. If you don’t learn it, you wont know it.

There’s a saying that says ‘what you learn in the light, you can practise in the dark’. That is saying, that in good times, learn as much as you can, because when you’re in a dark situation, you may have to call on that which you know to be true, to help you through.
But if you haven’t learnt it, you wont know it.

3. Learning often comes the hard way.

Oh yes it does. How often have you said that to your children?
But learning stuff often comes when times are hard.
This is what I’ve learnt through my many years as a Christian. That when I’m going through a tough time, I ask God ‘what should I be learning from this?’ Then if I’m mature, I’ll be happy to be teachable and learn quickly. (If I’m immature, I won’t want to know).

Learning may often come the hard way, but learn we must, If we want to become champions in life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2017

I am convinced that resilience is a major key to achieving your destiny. The real test of who you are is measured by what it takes to discourage you. Some people talk a great game, but then buckle under the slightest pressure. Others function better under stress and pressure.
Pain, in any form is not nice, but it need not be debilitating, or even immobilising.

At 56, I’ve just decided to join my local gym. I’m just learning that body building is built on tearing down muscles through resistance, which sends the body’s healing systems into overdrive to repair and restore the weary muscles. It could well be that your current hurt is the secret to tomorrow’s strength.

There is one other important factor in this area of overcoming pain and hurt. That ingredient is having both the support and concern from and toward those around you. Significant relationships are what empower us to reach past our challenges and move beyond obstacles.

Children run with open arms to a Mom or Dad when they are afraid or hurt. Teenagers tend to hang around the house in order to send a coded message that they need support from you. Grown-ups seek mentors when trying to negotiate life’s challenges that come to us all.

It is in these significant relationships that we receive empowerment to bounce back.

I have personally had a life that was full of set backs, and naturally speaking I would have just given up, but with the support of people and the help of God I have turned each set back into a come back.

Champions Church is a place where you can find such great relationships with very ordinary, yet amazing people. Our Champion life groups exist all over the area with the aim that no one needs to do life alone. We continually make it out theme tune that ‘life is better together’.

If you are finding it hard to bounce back, then I encourage you to find your way to church on Sunday, where you will immediately feel at home as well as becoming part of a growing family.

You can also sign up to a local ‘Champion life group’ by attending Champions church this weekend at 9am or 11.30am.

I look forward to personally meeting you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2017

Jeremiah is one of God’s major spokesmen in the Bible. His role, like any other prophet, was to declare what God wanted to say to a person or to a group in any given situation.

In Jeremiah 20, he is sent to speak to the leader of the temple, and to tell him that he needed to set things straight in God’s house or else. Everyone was doing their own thing and totally disregarding the laws of God.

As Jeremiah brings this strong word, he is rejected and the following day is beaten and chained.

Now you would think that Jeremiah would be really made of strong stuff as he was used to delivering pretty harsh words to bring people back to God, but notice what he says after delivering such words…

Jeremiah 20:7-9 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

It’s what I call the pain of speaking out.

Speaking out on God’s behalf brings with it a very real sense of pain and even insult and reproach at times. You can make a lot of enemies as well as friends for saying what’s right.

Have you ever felt like giving up because your words are seemingly always met with disdain?

Do you feel that the cost of being a mouth piece in this generation is too high?

Jeremiah certainly wanted to just bury his head in the sand and say ‘enough is enough…I’m not opening my big mouth again.’

But no sooner had he said it when he described a feeling of God’s word being like ‘a fire shut up in his bones’. He couldn’t stay quiet, he had to speak out. That is exactly what God had called him to do with his life.

If you feel like quitting from time to time, then jooh the club…you’re normal.
Jeremiah was no different to you or I today. One day you feel like speaking up with boldness and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks and then the next you are totally sidelined with such forceful negativity that you just want to die.

Listen to his further thoughts about his life, after communicating exactly what God wanted him to say…

Jeremiah 20:14-18 Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, ‘A child is born to you – a son!’ May that man be like the towns the Lord overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon. For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged for ever. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?

My friends, take a lesson from Jeremiah’s book; if you speak up, you may well get shot down by others, and if not you may well want to shoot yourself down.

If you can identify with this today, then don’t dismay. They are just feelings, and they will come and they will go. God needs your voice.

Don’t be silenced – speak up!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th June 2017

As I write today, I should be a very happy and blessed man. The reason being is that I have ten trillion dollars sitting right beside me!

It’s actually just one note, and before you ask, its not fake.

It’s real alright, however there are just a couple of problems…it’s in Nigerian dollars, and so its value is not great, but even more to the point is that it’s no longer legal tender. Drat!

It looks impressive, but has no value simply because it can’t be spent today.

That one crisp note speaks volumes about our lives.

Let me ask you a question: are you valuable, but not current?

You can look great, sound great and have everyone falling at your feet, but if your life is not relating to this generation, you cannot be spent by God. You’re just like an ornament that gets everyone’s attention when they walk into the room, but apart from that, you have no usefulness.

You weren’t placed on this planet just to look pretty, but to serve the generation in which you’re alive.

You may be doing all the right things and can’t understand why you are getting little or no results. Could it be that your good intentions and methods are just too outdated?

People often ask the secret of why we have so many people coming to church each weekend. The answer is no secret, but it’s often a surprise to many when they hear what we believe may partly be the answer – BE CURRENT. In the time frame that you’re alive, if you don’t stay current, you will be left behind and lose your usefulness.

I used to love wearing flared jeans that used to drag on the floor. They were so cool and so current…ten years ago. Today if I wore them I’d simply have no respect in the ‘cool’ department.

In the early 1900s, a revival came to Wales. At that time, thousands were swept into the Churches as a spiritual awakening emptied the pubs and clubs.

More than 100 years later, those same packed churches lie dormant and even derelict. Its leaders cannot understand what went wrong, yet the answer is so simple. Because the revival mainly hit the welsh speaking churches, they believed that the welsh language should be revered and still be the only language spoken in those same places of worship. However as the generations came and went, less and less people spoke the welsh language and so the chutches rendered themselves ineffective and irrelevant.

Are you hanging onto what God did in your life in the past, yet have failed to recognise that He wants to do something new today?

I love what it says on king David’s epitaph…

Acts 13:36 ‘Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.’

The key was that he served God in HIS GENERATION.

The modern worship in our church admittedly doesn’t suit everyone, but it’s not meant to. I have to make sure that it’s current in the generation in which I’m serving.

New versions of the Bible may not suit those who prefer the ‘thees’ and the ‘thous’, but my question is not one of what suits me, but one of who does this relate to today?

There’s nothing so sad as being alive and yet living a life that no one understands.

Looking pretty…but cannot be spent?

Find out what God is doing today and simply join in.

Are you valuable and yet not current?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2017

Continuing from yesterday when we were looking at the life of Daniel, and what happens when we take time to set ourselves apart and really seek God…

4. You will get great favour.
Daniel got many lavish things thrown at his life because he heard from God and helped the King.

Lesson:There will be times that God’s favour is obviously on your life. Don’t be embarrassed by it, just embrace it and be thankful for it. God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11 v 6)

5. You can’t be touched.
Because of some nasty schemes, by some nasty people, Daniel got thrown into the lion’s den. But God shut the mouths of the lions.

Lesson: God will be your protector when you honour Him.

6. God will sort your enemy.
Daniel walked free from the lion’s den and his accusers got thrown in!

Lesson: its not your concern to worry about those who come against you. God will sort it. Every time.
Learn some lessons from Daniel, set yourselves apart to honour God with your life and just see what He will do.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th June 2017

Often there are situations in our lives that don’t seem to ‘shift’.

When Daniel in the Old Testament was faced with a dilemma, he decide to fast and pray. He didn’t want to do what the others did and eat the choice wine and food, he decided to set himself apart, because he was believing for a breakthrough.

Here’s some things that will happen when you do.

1. He came out better than the rest.
He only ate fruit and vegetables and he came out looking healthier and better than all the others. So much so, that everyone noticed. He not only looked better, it says his gift was 10 times better.

Here’s the lesson: when we give up something for God, we’ll come out better than those who didn’t. God always rewards sacrifice.

2. When you earnestly pray, God will answer.
When no one else got the answer to the need, Daniel did! He didn’t panic, stress or say “oh no, what are we going to do?” He just said “guys, we need to pray.”

Here’s the lesson: When you focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. When you focus on Jesus, you get the answer.

3. God reveals stuff to those who seek Him
Yes, Daniel received revelation and answers, all because He had taken time to pray and fast. In this instance, it was the answer to a weird dream that he urgently needed.

Here’s the lesson: when you take time seek God and pray, He will give you the answers you need.

Continued tomorrow….

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2017

We continue our journey from yesterday, as we look at more stories of how God prepared some of the greats in the Bible…

David was anointed king, but it took years of fight and flight to finally claim his God given throne. His faithfulness in the small things meant that he would be ready to step up to his destiny.

Daniel was an exile in Babylon, but was selected for the King’s court. He became the top ruler in the land, but first he had to be delivered from the mouths of the lions.

Peter made a grand proclamation of loyalty to Jesus, just hours before denying even knowing Him. After the resurrection, Peter gave up on the mission and went fishing, but Jesus found him and made him the leader of the first church.

Paul despised Jesus and all Christians. He set out with ferocity to destroy the people of faith, but Jesus met him and completely changed his heart. His passions were totally transformed and he became writer of two thirds of the the New Testament.

We could mention countless others, but we would have to conclude that painful experiences aren’t a mistake in God’s world, even if self inflicted by doubt and sin. Everything gets used by Him to usher us into the very reason for which we were created.

Many years ago, Erwin McManus, world renowned speaker and Pastor of Oasis church in LA, was helping serve behind the scenes at a Christian event organised by is wife. The event drew as many as 20,000 people. Erwin had been there all week and told this wife that he was too tired to go on the final night. After reasoning with her back and forth, she insisted that he should be there albeit under protest. On the way, he decided that he needed some new clothes for the event, so went to a store, but in the rush didn’t check the sizes and didn’t realise til he put them on later that they were all too big. All of a sudden, one of the main organisers came up to him and told him that the speaker for the evening had not been able to come, and felt that he was to ask him to speak. That night, Erwin Macmanus left his behind the scenes position and took to the stage in his oversized clothes to preach to thousands. What nobody knew that night is that the only crowd that he’d ever spoken to before was no more than 50 people.

Just imagine what would have happened, or not as the case may be, if he’d have not pushed through the pain!

God graciously weaves the strands of these experiences into something beautiful – if we’ll let Him.

*with special thanks to Sam Chand over the last 2 days, for insights from his book, ‘Leadership Pain’.

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2017

Throughout the Bible and church history, we see a clear pattern emerging of how God works with people. No matter how gifted they were, God humbled them before He used them.

The humbling process is invariably painful for us, but is completely necessary in order for us to become pliable in the hands of our Creator.

God’s methods may vary of course, but He always manages to get a person’s undistracted attention to teach the most fundamental lessons of trust.

Let’s take a look at a few such examples over the next two days together as we see how God moved in the lives of some of the Bible greats…

God told Noah to build a huge boat on dry ground. The deluge didn’t come for 120 years.Noah had to trust God while all the other people around thought he was crazy.

Abraham was promised that he would be the father of a great nation, but he remained infertile for 25 long years before he and his wife had their son.

Joseph had two dreams that his family would someday bow down to him. His brothers resented his arrogance and their father’s favouritism. He was sold into slavery and ended up betrayed and in a dungeon, But after 17 years, when God saw that the time was right, Joseph was ready to rescue two nations – Egypt and his family.

Moses grew up in the luxury of Pharaoh’s palace. When he realised that he was a Hebrew, he tried to defend a slave by killing an Egyptian. He spent 40 years in the backside of nowhere before becoming a mighty deliverer.

Elijah saw God perform one of the great miracles of the Bible, calling down fire from Heaves to consume the water drenched sacrifice on mount Carmel. He then destroyed 500 false prophets. However, he then became so fearful because of just one demonised woman named Jezebel, that he fled for his life and became deeply depressed. In the depths of his despair, God met him.

Please join me again tomorrow for more stories of how God prepared some of the Bible greats.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2017

Matthew (not his real name) had been married for five years when his marriage began to struggle.

He was a committed Christian and so he took his concerns to the Lord and asked him to supernaturally infiltrate his circumstances.

While searching the scriptures, Matthew was reminded of how God had given His life for him even when he didn’t deserve it. He knew God was asking him to love his wife in the same way he was loved by God – unconditionally and completely.

Matthew asked God to allow him to see his wife through the eyes of Jesus and after his time of praying, he started to notice a change. His wife was the same, his marriage was the same, but he was different. God’s voice had changed him. He saw his wife in a brand new way. 35 years later, this couple testified to the changing power of God’s word.

Often when things in our lives start to change for the better, we attribute the transformation to something other than God’s voice, as we assume that all our hard work has paid off, yet in reality, when we see things changing, we should consider that God has been moving on it all along.

If you’ve written off your situation, then start to pick up the pieces in prayer and allow God to have the final say in the matter. You never know, you may be surprised at the outcome.

One word from God can change your life forever.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th June 2017

Most of the time we don’t need to be told things for the first time, we just need to be reminded of things that we already know.

Think of a child being told to brush their teeth. They are literally told the same message hundreds of times during their formative years before it becomes part of their daily lives. They know what to do everyday, but just to be reminded.

Because my wife knows I can be forgetful, she will repeat the same things (much to my annoyance) every day. When I’m left to lock up the house, she will ask me if I’ve locked the house, even though we have been married for 33 years!

Living the Christian life is often one of being reminded about things, even more than receiving an amazing fresh revelation everyday.

As you read through Romans 12:10-12, 15-16 you will notice some very powerful reminders on how to live a great life.

I’ve broken the verses into 12 statements that you can easily take on board as you launch into this week…

1) Be devoted to one another in love.

2) Honour one another above yourselves (treat other people how you would like to be treated)

3) Never be lacking in zeal, (energy passion enthusiasm) but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.

4) Be joyful in hope, (happy about waiting).

5) Patient in affliction, (patient when things are not turning out right).

6) Faithful in prayer. (Never give up on believing).

7) Rejoice with those who rejoice; (be happy for others when things are going good).

8) Mourn with those who mourn. (Be compassionate with those when things are going bad).

9) Live in harmony with one another. (Don’t be the one singing out of tune).

10) Do not be proud.

11) Be willing to associate with people of low position (be a friend to the little man).

12 Do not be conceited. (Vain, egotistical and self centred).

We are all appalled again at the level of attack that our country has come under over the last few days. Let’s all make a decision today that we will fight back with love and by becoming the very best people that we can be.

Matthew 5:43-45 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…’
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2017

Almost 11 million people in the UK tuned in on Sunday night to watch the Ariana Grande ‘One Love Manchester’ concert.

Once again our beloved nation rose to its feet to overcome evil by doing something positive. Ariana Grande may not be your cup of tea, but at 23 she made a decision to not just sit back and do nothing and turned a massive negative into massive positive for the nation. People from around the globe tuned in to see how we would once again react to the demoralising and demonised religious maniacs that have tried once again to take us down.

In the midst of this, who would have thought that a young Justin Bieber, would become a humble spokesman for the living God.

Whilst the world has been focusing on the radicalisation of young men for evil, God was quietly preparing this particular young man to take the centre stage on Sunday in order to speak out that our GOD IS GOOD.

Some will have thought it nice, whilst others will have been shocked or even offended for him to speak about such things, but unbeknown to many, Justin Bieber has been going through a radical transformation all of his own…a transformation to Jesus. Yes, this kind of transformation is radical too, but instead of being filled with a message of hate, he is filled with a message of hope; it is a million miles in the opposite direction to what many are seeing on our streets as religious fanaticism.

Who would have thought a few years ago that this wayward 23 yr old would be given the platform to speak about a God of Love to millions? Yet we should not just brush it off as something easy to do in front of a watching and highly sensitive world. He CHOSE to stand up and be counted. All of his mentors would be proud of him and so should we. Who better to convey the message of the Bible than this pop icon himself?

The only question remains, is not one of do you agree, but one of where, when and in front of who, will you stand today?

You don’t need to be famous, in fact you can just be plain foolish by all accounts…but God so wants to use you today.

The question then is are you willing?

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th June 2017

The resurrection of Jesus is of course an astounding miracle…God raises His Son from the dead after being in a tomb for three days. It doesn’t get any better than this.

I then began to think to myself, ‘why after performing such a phenomenal miracle, would God chose to leave the holes in Jesus’ hands, created by the nails that were driven through as He was hung to the cross? Surely God could’ve amended that issue…?’

But I think God knew something when He made that very intentional decision, and that is, what your words cannot show people, your scars will.

It is possible that you yourself have some scars. Maybe you’ve been broken and life has dealt you some pretty tough blows. What you need to know is that God can heal you and God can resurrect you, but often He chooses to allow the scars to remain, so that other people may see Him through them.

You see, God is not always found in your success, but He’s often found in your scars.

It amazes me that the very thing we would hide away, God chose to put on display.

And today, you may be embarrassed or even ashamed of your brokenness, but I want to encourage you that God has a plan for your scars. It is through your brokenness that God wants to reveal Himself, it is through your hurt that God wants to give other people hope, it is through your scars that God wants to set other people free, that they might recognise, if God brought them through it, He can bring me through it too.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2017

Did you know that studies show that 85% of us are wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly. Can you believe that?!

Some of us wear shoes that aren’t the right ones for our outfit, some wear shoes that don’t suit us, or are bad for our feet and some of us wear shoes that went out of fashion with the ark.

Our purpose in life is a lot like our shoes.
Some of us are still wearing some that we wore many years ago and are afraid to try new ones.
Some of us only wear slippers, because they’re comfy and we only want to be comfortable.
Some of us only wear training shoes, because life is all about playing and maybe we don’t take anything too seriously.
Some of us only wear black lace-up brogues, because everything is too serious.
Some of us only wear flip-flops because life is like one big holiday, where we have no responsibilities.

God wants us to live a life that is not like the one we lived years ago. He has something new for us every day.

He wants us to get out of our comfort zone and experience new adventures with Him.
Some of us need to understand that God has a great work for us to do, and whilst its good to play, we also have to work hard.
Some of us need more fun in our lives and to stop being so serious all the time. Be more serious about God and less serious about yourself.
Some of us need to understand that the purpose God has called us to is great and we have a responsibility to fulfil it.
To run this race called life and run it effectively, you need to make sure your shoes are correct. What are yours like today?
‘So let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us RUN with perseverance the race marked out for us.’

Check your shoes today and maybe go out and get some new ones.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2017

One of my pet frustrations is with people that don’t text back. I just don’t understand how a person can completely ignore a message.

Now, there are those that text back immediately. There are those that text back later. There are those that text back within a week, and then there are those that don’t text back at all. (Maybe they didn’t get the text of course).

In my days of growing up, there were very limited ways in which to communicate with each other; most of the time it was by letter. If you remember those days then you will remember what it felt like to apply for a job or write a love letter, and then have to endure the long wait. Part of the excitement was in the waiting, but part of the major disappointment was in never receiving a reply. It made you feel worthless.

It’s just the same today, apart from the timing that is. Instead of waiting for days or weeks, we now have to wait for minutes or hours.

When I don’t get a text back, I’m prone to think thoughts like…’have I offended them…don’t they like me anymore…am I a nuisance…or worst still…am I so unimportant to them that I’m just worthy of being ditched altogether?’

The reality is, we have no idea what’s going on in their minds or their worlds for that matter, at the time. We are left either guessing or having to have the courage to ask point blank.

No matter how our way of life has dramatically changed over the years, thankfully God hasn’t. He still hears and He still answers.

The purpose of communicating with God in prayer, is not to ascertain whether or not He likes us, as judged by His immediate response or by His silence, but to bring us into a close relationship with HI’m. His silence brings about a more mature love as He draws us towards Himself, and is often more effective in doing so than an immediate ‘text back’.

Maybe some people are forgetful or just plain rude, but God never is. Your questions, prayers and concerns are immediately received and attended to…you just may not feel it at the time.

God is never too busy and He’s never too late – but He may not be early either.

Always remember when praying, that NO is an answer. WAIT is a much needed answer, and is often far more of a blessing long term than an immediate YES.

Feeling like you’re not getting a text back?

God is onto it right now…you may however have to sit tight for the answer.

It will be worth it.

Hebrews 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Philippians 4:5-7 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2017

A few days ago, I asked to see a young man. I sent the message via someone that knew him well, as I didn’t have a contact for him. My reason for seeing him was simply to ask him an important question.

It wasn’t many hours later that I was face-to-face with him, however I was concerned as to why he seemed really nervous. He immediately launched into the conversation by asking if he was in trouble or had done or said something wrong. It became obvious that he had been fearing the worst. It took me a few minutes to reassure him that is was merely an important question that I needed to ask him, and had no negative connotations aimed at him at all. He’d simply jumped to the conclusion that it must be bad news.

Interestingly, a couple of days later I had someone come and tell me that a couple wanted to come to my house to talk to myself and Gillian; I was now on the other side of being the slightly concerned and nervous one.

I was asking myself questions like…’why hadn’t they told me direct that they wanted to see us? Why the urgency? Why do they need to come to my home? What could possibly be so bad that they want to see us without warning?’

As I thought through any number of things that it could be, the very last thing on my list was that they could be bringing us good news.

As they arrived on the doorstep and were welcomed through to sit with us in the garden, it became apparent from their huge smiles that this was to be anything but bad news, in fact they were having their first baby, and wanted us to be among the first to know.

Throughout my life, I’ve come to realise how much time has been spent believing that I’m going to be on the receiving end of potential bad news that’s going to come my way. How many times have the kids been late coming home and I’ve believed the worst, or how many times has my phone rang late at night believing it to be bad news? It appears that we live in a world that has conditioned our minds to always think the worst.

One of God’s promises to you today is about this very thing…

Psalm 112:6-8 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

If you are one of those people that wakes and lives in fear of what’s lurking around the corner every day, then you need to hold this promise close to your heart every day and begin to believe for the best.

That visitor that is about to arrive on your doorstep, may well be bringing to some wonderful news.

Stop fearing what may be, and start enjoying the goodness of our God.

His promise is to give you a steadfast heart everyday, if you’ll simply place your trust in Him.

Today…is a to be a good day.

Today…is to be a GOD day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st May 2017

From time to time, we all face undeserved criticism. On occasions, it comes when we offer our best to the Lord and our good intentions are misunderstood or even ridiculed by those  who don’t get us.

One such event in the Bible, describes a woman who took a bottle of precious perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head as He reclined at the table. There is no record of any great results coming from this loving gesture. No lives were saved, no converts were made, and nothing measurable was obtained. Worse still, the woman was scolded for her actions by those sitting around the table. Her efforts were viewed as extravagant, unreasonable, and irresponsible. Jesus, however, thought otherwise. His commendation for this woman’s loving sacrifice was astonishing. In His mind, it deserved to be memorialized—He said, “What she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:13 NIV).

Do you sometimes wonder how much God is noticing our efforts to please Him? At times, some of our greatest sacrifices seem to bring nothing but misunderstanding or even criticism from our family and friends. Voices from others—and even from within our own heart—rise up to condemn us for godly choices that now seem to be incapacitating us.

Don’t worry, Jesus knows the depths of our soul, and sees and understands the torment we face. He hears the condemning voices of our accusers. When our sacrifices for Jesus make little sense to the selfish world around us, it’s God’s commendation that really matters and He will be your reward.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2017

In the Bible, Thomas is unfortunately known for being a doubter, stating in John 20…

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Then a week later Thomas exclaims;
“My Lord and my God!” to which Jesus replies;
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We often read this story from the point of view of being blessed as a Christian for believing in a God we can’t see, but let’s look at these verses from the point of view of being faithfully upbeat in our lives when potentially we’d have good reason to cry.

How often when in real need do we cry out as if the world is ending telling anyone who will listen? When Jesus (faithfully as always) performs a miracle we exclaim like Thomas ‘My Lord and my God!’

But Jesus says to us, ‘you say I’m Lord because of the answer, try being this buoyant and positive before you see the answer, then you’d be really blessed!’

I believe we would take so much more ground in our lives if we could learn to walk as if we’ve already won the victory especially when we can’t see it! It’s called faith!

Isaiah 54:1 (NIV) says “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate womanthan of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.

Living in this very logical world with the knowledge of a God who loves us, should make us positively very irrational at times. How irrational, and non-logical for a woman who’s barren to sing and shout because she’s going to have many children – at least wait until your pregnant, right?

No!

When struggling for answers that seem like impossibilities and when everyone else seems to have seen Jesus but you, believe and exclaim Jesus is Lord regardless!

Because…

“blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th May 2017

On Saturday, we read about having higher thoughts and trusting God’s higher ways.

I love to read about the Eagle…
– It can fly higher than any other bird
– Its wing span can reach 9 feet across
– It uses the stormy weather to soar higher
– It has an amazing view because of the height it reaches.

The Bible talks a lot about eagles and a lot about high places.

You’ll never see an eagle mixing with a chicken. Why? Because a chicken can’t get very far off the ground, but an eagle was made to fly high.
An eagle and a chicken were not meant to mix or mate.

Maybe one of the reasons you cant get very far off the ground, is that you’re mixing with chickens, when you should be mixing with eagles.
You’ll end up with the potential of an eagle, but starting to sound like, behave like and live like a chicken. How sad is that?

You have been created for a higher purpose, a higher way of thinking and you need to get to some higher places.

Jesus often went to some high places to pray. Why? Because there aren’t many people there, it’s never crowded and he needed that special place.
God often met with people in high places.

Did you know that whatever situation you find yourself in today, you have the opportunity to get to a higher place?
When you get there, you can behave like the eagle and USE the storm to help you soar.

Desire to go higher in your life today. Make some decisions that will help you get there. However hard they may be, they will certainly be worth it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2017

In the book of Isaiah chapter 55 and vs 8 & 9, it tells me that God’s ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than mine.
That reminds me that whatever way I may think is best, He has a better one and whatever my thoughts are, He wants me to think higher ones, because His are higher. He challenges me to raise my thinking.

When something doesn’t go the way that maybe you wanted it to, thank God, instead of blaming God and say “Thank you, your ways are higher than mine.”
God always has a plan…you just need to wait and trust Him.

Once I become a Christian, if my thinking stays the same, then my life will pretty much stay the same also. Your thinking has to change.
When faced with a situation, a difficulty, a crisis, we can often think like we have always done so. Yet my Bible teaches me there has to be a higher way – God’s way.
My first thoughts, may not always be God’s. Don’t always act on your first thoughts…ask God for His.
When something doesn’t go the way you’d planned, ask God for His thoughts. Ask for His wisdom, He will give it you.

If you’re a parent, your child may not see your ways or understand your thoughts on the parenting front. But you know they just have to trust you , even though they may not at first like it.
Today I say THANK GOD that He didn’t and doesn’t always agree to ‘MY WAY’ or allow me to be ‘boxed in’ by my own thoughts.
I’m thankful for the times things didn’t go as I had planned, because He had a far higher way to show me.

Start thinking higher thoughts today, start thinking God thoughts. Start trusting Him that His way is best.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2017

I pulled up early this morning at my local coffee shop. As I sat in the car for a few minutes, I watched a mom with her young family getting out of her car, trying her best to gather everyone together, whilst at the same time erecting the pushchair at the back of the car.

Eventually she managed to coordinate the whole family and made her way from the car park to the coffee shop. The stressful process caused her to lose her focus, and without thinking she left the driver’s door wide open.

Being the Good Samaritan, I found the family in the coffee shop and told her what she had done. What was interesting is that she had no idea why she would have done such a thing, however the answer was pretty simple – distraction.

Every day we can easily live distracted lives simply because of the sheer weight of our daily responsibilities.

Living a distracted life not only leads to losing focus in what is important, but equally it leads us to leave certain doors in our lives wide open.

A door left open attracts the attention of intruders.

Imagine for a moment that you get so busy that you let your guard down and the lines of what’s right and what’s wrong get blurred. Some people wouldn’t even dare take a paper clip from the office, but a person with blurred lines would not think twice of taking a whole ream of paper. That person has left the door open and allowed themselves to become what they vowed they never would.

Take an inventory on yourself today and ask what doors are you leaving dangerously open. You may well find yourself judging other people about the very things that you are now doing yourself…and you haven’t even noticed.

Don’t lose sight of what’s important today, just because you’ve been distracted by everyday things. You may not even be busy with work, you may have simply got busy watching too much TV! The effect can be just the same.

Take back control of your daily life and make sure you shut the door before someone steals it from you.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2017

We are living in a world without windows.

A world without windows is a world that no longer sees an unseen world beyond where we are.

We have so perfected ourselves, or so we think, that we don’t see the need for any supernatural intervention.

I’ve been at a conference for the last three days and just like a cinema, the auditorium had no windows.

Outside it was hot and sunny, but I had no concept of that because I was kept from seeing it. As all the delegates made for the fresh air at lunch time, I was stunned by the brilliance and heat of what had been there all morning. It was a shock on the eyes, and then on the body. It was real, so long as you stepped into it.

Today, don’t allow the conditioning of this world to get you to believe that there is no radiance of the supernatural power of God beyond where you are.

If you are sick…reach outside of your world and touch the healing power of Jesus.

If you need answers, step outside and open your eyes to His brilliance.

If you want to experience His love, open the doors of your life and feel the warmth of His love.

If you’re in a dark place right now where there seems to be no natural solution, don’t forget there is a whole new world beyond you.

God wants you to tap into it by faith right now.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th May 2017

Your mind is your most vulnerable organ in the body. It’s where all temptation begins. To reduce temptation, keep your mind occupied with God’s word and other good thoughts.

‘Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honourable.’ (Philippians 4:8)

You defeat bad thoughts by thinking of something better. This is the principle of replacement. You overcome evil with good.

The more you think about something, the stronger it takes hold of you, which is why the Bible teaches that we should “run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts . . . but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you feel. The more you focus on “I don’t want to do this,” the stronger it draws you in.

Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it — just hang up!

Many years ago I was in a room, and in a potentially compromising situation.
I was praying like mad for the Holy Spirit to help me, and for Him to speak to me. Then all of a sudden He gave me the simple solution with two very simple words…THE DOOR. All I had to do was walk over to the door and walk out of the room. If you keep putting yourself in the way of temptation, no wonder that you’re struggling.

This is one time it is okay to run away. Get up and turn off the television set. Walk away from a group that is gossiping. Leave the theatre in the middle of the movie.

Don’t compromise yourself any longer.

Stay pure.

Stay strong.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2017

Both the Bible and History record for us that Dagon was the national deity of the Philistines. He was huge and made of stone.

You are probably aware that the most famous Philistine was named Goliath. He was the guy that kept taunting the Israelites and was eventually taken down and killed by a young boy named David.

Goliath and the Philistines worshipped Dagon, and so revered him, that they had a temple built in order to house this god of stone.

One day, the Philistines captured the ark of God, which in the Old Testament was a special box that contained items that represented the presence of God (some of you will remember the movie…’Raiders of the Loat Ark’)and placed it beside Dagon in the purpose built temple. I’m pretty sure that they thought that this would be the safest place to store the box, maybe thinking that Dagon would kind of ‘baby sit’ the ark.

Little did they realise that the one thing you should never do, is underestimate the power of God’s presence.

During the first night, Dagon, the God made of stone, fell face down in front of the ark. The Philistines promptly stood Dagon back up and thought it was just a coincidence.

However,  the next night things got a whole lot worse. Dagon not only fell prostrate again, but this time his head and his hands were broken off. This was no longer a coincidence…it was plain scary!

When you are in the presence of God there will be times when you need to fall on your face and acknowledge His presence. And then there will be times that you need to surrender your head and your hands to Him.

Your head is your brain power.

Your hands are your brawn power.

Stuck for answers?

Lacking in strength?

Are you willing to surrender your head and your hands today? He’s right beside you now and is awaiting your response.

Whatever your response is, don’t be foolish like the Philistines that thought that the presence and power of God was just a myth. God is real and so is His presence.

Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never be the same again.

Psalm 16:11 In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

He wants to make a splash.

You can either fall forwards or you can fall backwards.

Choose today which one it will be.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd May 2017

Have you ever felt like sometimes you are under too much pressure and that you can’t cope anymore?

I’m sure from time to time, we all feel like that.

Today I was thinking about rubber elastic bands. When I open my desk drawer, there they are, all different shapes and sizes and really are quite useless…UNTIL…they are stretched.
Yes, that’s right, the only use for an elastic band is for it to be stretched – then it will reach its full potential.
It’s absolutely no use, until that time. It’s just taking up space and doing nothing of any significance.

It’s amazing what we can do when under pressure. It’s amazing what we can achieve when stretched.
I remind myself daily, that God is with me, helping me and He will give me everything I need to get through today.

So the next time you feel that stretch, or that pressure, change your thinking and say “This is where I can become all God wants and needs me to be.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th May 2017

I love the law of seed time and harvest. I love the fact that God loves a cheerful giver. I love that God blesses the generous. I love that whatever I sow, I will reap.

We all know that seed is useless in your pocket, it has to be sown. A farmer’s seed is useless in his shed, it has to be sown.

Here’s 4 reminders about sowing seed

1. There has to be a SEQUENCE.
Give to God first, then bless others. You have to make sure your giving to God takes first priority.
God blesses sequence.

2. Check the SOIL
The future of your seed is determined by your soil. Be careful where you sow. Ask a farmer, he will have put his seed into good soil.

3. There will be a SEASON.
There is always a season. A season for sowing and a season for reaping. There’s always a time to wait between the sowing and the reaping. Seed time and harvest. What comes between? ‘Time’.
Sometimes when we sow in a ‘crisis’ season, our seed can be magnified and will even have greater effect. Don’t withhold seed in a crisis season. Even more reason to sow.

4. Seed can be a SACRIFICE
Ask the farmer if he’d like to keep all of his crop back to eat, and he’d say “no, I can’t afford to. I have to sacrifice a portion of it to sow again.”
A sacrifice is that which costs us dearly and sometimes sowing can be just that.

Galatians 6 vs 7 “God cannot be mocked, a man WILL reap what he sows.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th May 2017

Have you ever felt as though you’re treading through deep waters? Have you ever felt as though you’re sinking in the waters of life, unable to rise up out of them?

Maybe you think that God is taking you into the deep so that you can drown. I want to suggest to you that He’s taking you there because He knows your enemies can’t swim.

Wherever you find yourself today, whether you’re enjoying the mountaintop views or whether you’re paddling for your life, know that God has you where He has you for a purpose.

God wants to take you to places you’ve never been before, to heights you’ve never experienced – but so often, we see God as the God of the destination, but fail to recognise He’s also the God of the detour. And that detour sometimes leads you into the deep.

It’s in those moments you have to realise that God has brought me here, not to punish me, but to protect me.

I want to encourage you today to remind yourself constantly that He is with me, He is for me, He will never leave me nor forsake me, and wherever my feet tread, God is right there by my side.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2017

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 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 Gods 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 – 17th May 2017

Several years ago, there was a new fad around whereby all ladies were encouraged to get their ‘colours done’. Women were being trained like there was no tomorrow, to become ‘colour advisors’ and then opening their homes so that you could go and get your ‘colour reading’. I have to say that I was very skeptical and initially saw it as a money making racket.

It wasn’t before too long that my wife insisted that she should go and have hers done, and off she went.

The idea was quite simple. You sat down in front of a mirror for an hour during which the host would drape every single colour known to man around your neck area and then show you in the mirror the different effects that each colour had on your complexion. Once your session was finished, you were told what your skin tone was and then presented with a plastic wallet containing swatches of all the colours that you could now wear.

When Gillian arrived home that night, she took me through the procedure and then ventured to empty half her wardrobe. Her new revelation meant that the colour of many of her clothes were not on her colour chart!

As I watched this exercise unfolding, I too became aware that what she had been told was true. Certain colours didn’t suit her skin tone, whereas others broughy her face alive.

You’ve guessed it…I ended up going myself too!

It was one of the most painful and uncomfortable nights of my life. Sitting in front of a mirror for a whole hour with a multitude of different coloured scarves around my neck. Yet, the revelation was amazing. I had wondered for years why certain clothes made me look completely washed out. I’d put it down to being tired, but in fact it was all to do with my skin tone.

The lady announced to me that my tone was winter and then gave me my trusty colour chart, which I still refer to to this day. No matter what I buy to wear nowadays, I know instinctively whether it’s going to suit me or not. The colour chart never lies.

Each of us have a different category of skin tone, and depending on your tone, it will decide for you what will and won’t suit you.

In much the same way, we all have a certain ‘skin tone’ when it comes to our gifts and talents. I could never figure out why I couldn’t succeed at doing certain things when others could do them quite naturally. I was forever frustrated at my lack of ability in certain areas. It became apparent that I was ‘wired’ for certain things, but outside of that I would never succeed. The key was to establish what gifts God had blessed me with, and then to be comfortable only in those areas in my life. I now realise that the things that I couldn’t succeed in and left me feeling frustrated, should be left to those that are blessed with those gifts and vice versa.

Don’t spend the rest of your life working on the things that you are useless at, as you’ll never make a go of them, instead, spend your time working on the things that suit your ‘colour tone’ and you’ll soon realise how effective you can become.

Right now, be honest with yourself as to what roles suit you best and what roles you are least likely to be good at.

The list should have no more than five things on it. Most people make the mistake of wanting to be brilliant at 25 things, but that’s not going to happen.

My colour chart is limited, but it’s meant to be. It tells me that my best colours are reds, blues and blacks, with a smattering of purple, grey and even yellow and one very specific brown.

Apart from that, I know it’s best to stay away from all others. They will never suit me…but they may look amazing on you.

From now on, wear what suits you most.

1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-6 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed…There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2017

My Grandfather got on the bus one day, in order to go to the markets in the city centre of Birmingham. As he settled in his seat for the 45 minute journey, he fell fast asleep. When he eventually woke up, he realised that he was on the way back home. He had completely missed the reason for getting on the bus in the first place.

In all of our lives, we have to be awake enough to realise when it’s time to ‘get off’, otherwise we will miss our destination.

If you’ve ever travelled on the London Underground, you will know that you have to be completely alert and follow the map on the inside of the carriage, otherwise you will end up in completely the wrong place. Sometimes that journey will involve getting off one train and getting on another. It may even involve changing platforms, which may well be on very different levels of the station.

Ready or not, your destination is fast approaching and you have to know how to read the signs, otherwise you WILL get left behind.

Here are some ways to help you recognise just what to do when it’s time to change trains on your fast moving life.

1. Don’t get stuck in a time or season of your life.

‘Yesterday’s excellence is today’s mediocrity and tomorrow’s failure’. People sometimes remain in yesterday, but God doesn’t stay there. God is doing something new in your life right now. The world of fashion and hairstyles teach us how inappropriate it is to stay in one season for too long!

2. Realise that change is supposed to happen.

When change happens people assume that something is wrong, but change is not just an indicator that something’s wrong. Change is supposed to happen, otherwise you will just get stuck in the same old rut.

3. Recognise change as an opportunity to grow.

One of the reasons change is supposed to happen, is for us to grow and transform. The metamorphosis of life develops our character and makes us strong. Changes in life bring about changes in you.

4. Stay positive about change.

When God was transitioning the Nation of Israel from slavery to the promised land, the greatest challenge He had was getting the people to think positively throughout the season of change. They grumbled about all of the changes and complained that nothing was like it used to be. Sound familiar?

If you keep your attitude positive, God will take you through the difficult transitions and bring you through to a better place.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th May 2017

I used to have a pet rabbit in a hutch in the garden. I felt guilty that this rabbit was in a little hutch, so decided to let him roam free in the garden. He destroyed the garden. So he went back in the hutch.

I remember thinking, ‘if only he would agree not to destroy the garden he could enjoy his freedom?’ But no, there was no reasoning with this rabbit, so he lived out a limited life in the hutch.

Psalm 32:9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

Here God is stating, a bit like me to my rabbit, don’t be stubborn and just carry on oblivious to the consequences of your actions, where the only way you can be tamed is by the ‘bit and bridle’ or the ‘hutch and circumstances’ of life.

The problem is we can cry out to God for our freedom or rescue and when it comes we carry on in the old way that got us into that mess in the first place. We want to dig around where we’ve been asked not to, and want to eat what’s not good for us and we end up in a hutch again and once more crying out for our freedom.

In Matthew 16:25 Jesus says “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

This is great advice to help us live outside of the hutch. The local church gives us the opportunity to ‘lose our life’ for HI’m by serving in relationship with those planted around us, rather than trying to save and hold onto our lives continuing to please ourselves.

God has so much for us, and wants us to enjoy the freedom of the garden, if we would just submit all areas of our lives to him.

God is asking you today, not to be stubborn like a horse or even the rabbit, and don’t miss out on the freedom that comes from submitting to HI’m. He loves us and has the most amazing, enormous garden for us to live in – don’t live out your existence in a hutch!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th May 2017

Acts 10:1-4 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’

Cornelius was hungry for God to touch his family.

He was a well respected man in authority, but knew where his authority ended and where God’s began.

He modelled for us his daily belief that when we come to the end of ourselves we come to the beginning of God.

Notice that his prayers ‘stacked up’ in Heaven before they received God’s attention and intervention.
Remember, nothing leaves Heaven until something leaves earth.
It’s almost like that your persistent daily prayer reaches a tipping point in Heaten and then when it does, get ready…God is about to move on your behalf.

If you stop praying for something after a short while, it shows the level of its importance to you and to God.

The things that really matter should become an ongoing daily prayer, accompanied by times of fasting. It’s those ‘important’ prayers that get Heaven’s attention.

In the mid 80’s, I felt compelled to pray for our tiny little church to have a full time pastor. I prayed daily for four years, seemingly without any answer. I started to take my prayer up a gear or two, and with boldness prayed for my request to happen before 1988 was out. Little did I realise that my prayers were being answered from the very beginning. Without me knowing it, God was preparing me to be the answer to my own prayers. I was appointed as the church’ first full time Pastor in 54 years. The month was December and the year was 1988.

Be encouraged to keep praying…make it your daily appointment with God.
Hebrews 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Hebrews 10:35-36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12 May 2017

Don’t you just love a project? Maybe you’re into DIY and you have a list of things that you want to get done around the house. Maybe you’re a student with a pressing deadline. Truth is, many of us get great satisfaction from looking at something and thinking ‘how can I improve that?’ There’s also something great about seeing something through to completion.

Often, we approach people in the same way that we approach DIY. We look at their brokenness or situation and think ‘I can fix that.’

The problem is that when things don’t go as planned, we can become frustrated with people for not turning out how expected them to be.

We’ve all heard stories of people who thought they could fix that leak and a flood and expensive bill later, they’ve had to hand it to an expert instead.

People aren’t projects. A challenge for today is not to try to fix or improve people but simply to love and understand them. This is where God really shines through you and He can fix those broken places in people that we love. Or even yourself.

He’s the only one who can truly make us whole. It may seem like the long way round but it’s much better to be worked on by the master craftsman, than a hobbyist.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2017

The Bible records the words ‘fear not’ 365 times…that’s once for every day of the year.

Have you ever stopped to ask why God continually had to remind us to fear not? Is it not because we fear so much?

What are you fearing today?

Whatever it may be, here are just a few verses that will encourage you to stand firm today…

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!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th May 2017

All great breakthroughs show up when you are at peace. Anxiety and worry will chase your blessings away. You only have two options in life; you can try to do everything yourself, or you can partner with God and allow Him to do things through you, for you, and with you.

If you are going to allow God to do it for you, then you don’t have to ‘camp’ on top of it mentally all of the time, trying to dissect it and figure it out. While you are doing that you are losing your peace and losing the faith that you had to see it through. Allowing God to have total control of our lives not only brings you to a place of peace, but also to a place of confidence that He will bring about the breakthrough that you so desperately need.

A few years ago, when we were part way through the building of our new church auditorium, we were hitting one frustrating road block after another. We were fast running out of cash and had been waiting for months for confirmation as to whether or not we would get a mortgage on the property. We were just nine days away from losing everything.

I’d done everything in my power that I knew to do and still nothing. One morning I received an email from the contractor to say that we would need £186,000 in just over a week or they would have to walk off site. As you can imaging this was enough to drive me to my knees one more time. That morning, I handed everything over to God once more, knowing that if He didn’t turn up fast then the whole project would die.

As always, God did come through for us and we were able to pay that invoice with three days to spare! God is the God of the miraculous breakthrough.

No matter how huge your problem may seem today, fully surrender it over to God and be at peace.

He’s rarely early, but He’s never late.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2017

God wants to be our partner throughout life.

Too often we are tempted to either carry the entire load ourselves or give everything to God and do nothing. God doesn’t like either strategy. Sometimes He moves before us, and sometimes He moves after us – but rarely does He move without us.

Without God…we cannot. Without us…God will not.

Now of course God can do anything He likes all by Himself, but He CHOOSES to use us in the process.

Throughout the pages of the Bible, time and time again we see God encouraging people to step out in faith, so that He can move with them. How many times have you and I desperately wanted God to step out ahead of us, so that we could simply follow in His footsteps? But that requires no faith.

Here are but a few examples of God waiting for us to step out in faith so that He can work with us…

Joshua 3:15-16 Now the Jordan is in flood all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah that is, the Dead Sea was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.

Mark 16:20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Matthew 10:8 Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Luke 9:1-2 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were ill.

If you are a believer in Jesus, God has given you His power and authority so that you can do mighty things in His name today. You just have to have the faith to step out today.

Waiting for God to move?

He’s waiting for you to move.

Step out today.

‘Attempt great things for God – expect great things from God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th May 2017

The story of David and Goliath is a pretty spectacular one, where we find two guys going head-to-head in battle. On the one hand, we have David, just a young man, and on the other hand we have Goliath, a giant of a human being.

For most, this was a no-contest. However, to everyone’s shock and surprise, David approaches the battlefront with five small stones and a slingshot in hand, and with one accurate shot, hits Goliath and kills him instantly.

David then goes on to add insult to injury and proceeds to stand above Goliath, take a sword and chop off his head…

I don’t mean to be graphic or gruesome, but I want to turn your attention to the sword that David used. This sword wasn’t David’s sword, nor was it one that he just happened to stumble across. The sword that David used to finish off his opponent was none other than Goliath’s sword.

The very sword that was intended to kill David was the very sword that David used to complete his fight against the enemy.

I don’t know what battles you may be currently faced with, I don’t know what might have come your way, intending to wipe you out and finish you off, but what I do know is that the very thing that was sent to destroy you, is the very thing that God is going to use to bring about victory in your life.

The Bible says that no weapon formed against me shall prosper, and I do believe that that very same weapon will become the weapon that God will use to slay whatever giants come against you in your life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th May 2017

I’m not a gardener. But I can usually recognise a weed.

Here’s a few things about weeds…

1. Sometimes they are very well disguised amongst the good stuff.
We can have things in our lives that are ‘weeds’…in other words, they really shouldn’t be there and we can disguise them well. Sometimes these traits can go unnoticed for ages, until someone really looks for them or a certain situation happens, and up they come.
Watch out for well disguised weeds. Keep checking on your life regularly.

2.  Sometimes they are very obvious.
You walk past a patch of garden, and that weed calls out to you loudly.
Just like in our own lives, we can walk around with massive planks sticking out of our eyes (see Matthew 7 vs 3) and everyone knows about them.
Deal with them quickly. DO NOT think it’s okay to leave them there.

3. Sometimes weeds pull up very easily.
Yes, because they really shouldn’t be there, some of them come up with very little force (I like those sort). And like in our own lives, once identified, some weeds can be dealt with quickly and painlessly.

4. Some weeds are hard work to get rid of.
We all know that sort. You need good sharp gardening tools and a pair of thick protective gloves.
Some weeds in your life will take patience, determination and force to get rid of. But be assured of this: once the gardener gets to work, those weeds have to go.

Tell God about every one (as if He didn’t already know!) and ask Him to deal with it.
Maybe for the stubborn ones, you will need a little help from someone else too. Prayer, support and even confession.

But be assured of this. The weed has to go. It isn’t mean to be there in your beautiful garden and it isn’t meant to be in your beautiful life.

Now, go and do some weeding!
Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th May 2017

There’s a story in the Bible about two brothers, Esau and Jacob who were born moments apart from one another. Esau came first, closely followed by Jacob. During these days, there was a lot of importance placed upon the first born child. They would receive a birthright that would enable them to become head of their family, take charge of the property and receive a double portion of inheritance.

One day, when they were both grown up, Esau came in from the open country to find his brother cooking some lentil stew at home. He asks Jacob for a bowl as he is extremely hungry. Jacob spies an opportunity and tells Esau that in order to get some lentil stew, he must first trade his birthright.

Out of desperation, Esau agrees and trades his birthright for a bowl of stew. It was a totally ridiculous trade, but when desperation enters the equation, it’s amazing what you’ll do…

In life, you too will be tempted to trade in the ultimate for the immediate.

The name ‘Jacob’ means ‘deceiver’, a term also used in the Bible to describe the devil. The devil wants to deceive and mislead you by selling you the lie that says the things of this world can satisfy you, but they can’t.

Let’s be people who choose lasting fulfilment over temporary satisfaction every time. And the only One who can give you that is Jesus. He is the only One who can quench your thirst. He’s everything you’ve been wanting and more.

Today, I want to encourage you through the help that only Jesus can offer – don’t make the trade.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 4th May 2017

PWhen you are so close to something, you will tend to do one of two things…

You will notice every minute detail – You notice all the flaws with your spouse, you notice only the problems with your children and you see all the things that are wrong with the place where you live.

But, the other side to this for some is that you will notice nothing – you don’t see the dirty wallpaper in the lounge, the untidy cupboard, your wife’s new hairdo or the fact that your garden is like a jungle and is making the neighbours mad.

Either one of these dilemmas is often the result of living life in isolation.

Isolation is having no one to bounce things off and no one to show you what you really cant see. Being accountable isn’t a popular word, as it means that you have to include others in things that you would prefer to be a loner about.

Just imagine how many people could have been saved from doing weird stuff, if they’d have simply invited one or two good people into their lives.

Now, having too many opinions is not good for you, as you end up not being able to make any kind of a decision; choosing wallpaper is never best done by a committee. However, there is also safety in a multitude of counsellors…Proverbs 11 v 14
‘Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.’

Having good people around you is maybe something that you’ve never had or never wanted, but it’s not only advisable, it’s totally necessary.

If you were thinking of buying a home in an area unknown to you, it would be foolish to go ahead without asking a few questions to a few people that live there. Yet, so often we move ahead into unknown territory with our very lives without seeking the counsel of good people around us.

I use a little saying with some of the guys closest to me in leadership, and it goes like this….’I’m not necessarily asking you to give me permission, but I’m asking you to give me perspective.’ In other words, if I’m determined that I should climb that mountain, don’t stop my plan but advise me as the best way to carry it out. That will of course mean at times, that their advice will cause you to completely rethink your plan, or even cancel it all together.

None of us have the answer alone, but together we have the answer.

If you don’t have good people in your life, then simply start by asking one or two to have a coffee with you when you most need help. They will not only help with your problem, they will help you gain more good friends.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd May 2017

We were entertaining special guests at our church a few weeks ago. They had flown in to speak for the weekend and we had just finished eating Sunday lunch together, so I dropped them back at the hotel so that they could have a quick rest before the next event that night.

As I was driving back home on my own, my wife phoned me and asked me to drop in to the local supermarket, as we urgently needed a few things for the next couple of days. We didn’t usually operate like that, but because of our busy schedule that weekend, we had not had time to shop.

As I dashed into the supermarket, I realised that a person that used to come to our church, was approaching from the right, and so we exchanged a quick hello and off we both went to shop. Several years earlier, this particular person had stood against when we started to build the new church, but thankfully we had both put it behind us and moved on.

It was not until I reached the cash till that I suddenly realised that I didn’t have my wallet with me. It suddenly dawned on me that I’d given it to my son in the restaurant so that he could pay the bill.

I quickly called Gillian and told her of my dilemma. In the mean time, an embarrassingly long queue had formed behind me, and was watching my frustration.

‘You’d better pray for a miracle’, Gillian said, as I made it clear that I would not come home without that shopping.

I let out a quick silent prayer, and there before my eyes was the person that I had bumped into earlier. Feeling prompted, I quickly walked over to them and explained my dilemma.
Within seconds, a credit card was being placed in the machine and my shopping was paid for. As I thanked the person and promised to be at their home later with the cash, they insisted that this was a gift and did not want any repayment at all.

Sometimes our miracles are hidden in the most unlikely places, with the most unlikely people.

It would have been so easy to have walked away and left my shopping at the till and returned home with nothing, but instead I chose to I believe that somewhere and somehow, God would supply my needs.

I wonder if you have written your problem off as a hopeless case just because you don’t see the miracle right in front of you, or have you decided that your impossibility is too big for God to handle?

Why not stop for a second right now and bring your request to God? Take your eyes off the problem, look up, and and wait for God to respond.

He’s more willing to provide, than you are willing to ask.

John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd May 2017

What can I do for God?

Today I have been reading Psalm 116 – (go on, read it).

It talks about all the great things that God has done for me.

“I love God, because He listened to me…I was up against it and didn’t know which way to turn, I cried out to Him to save my life.”

We’ve all been in this position – a time where we needed God to come through for us, a time where we needed rescuing, a time where we needed Him to save our lives.

“God is gracious – it is He who makes things right.”
Yes He does. Even when we don’t deserve it (which is usually all of the time) God is gracious and makes it right.

How many times have you been in a difficult position? Sometimes through your own mistake or sometimes through no fault of your own, yet God always comes through.

Vs 7 “Soul you have been rescued from death and eyes, you have been rescued from tears.”

Such richness of God’s mercy has come my way. Thank You.

When we get to verse 12, the psalmist writes… “what can I give back to God?”
Let’s face it, whatever we can do, seems pretty insignificant and useless compared to what He has done for us.

“…I will lift high His name, I will pray and I’ll complete what I promised Him I would do.”
Wow.
How can I repay God? What can I do for Him?

Pray, Praise & Serve.
Pray – live a life of communication with your Heavenly Father.
Praise – In every circumstance & situation.
Serve – honour Him with your life, live a life that is totally sold out to Him.

One of those final verses he writes continues by saying, “I’ll complete what I promised Him I’d do, and I’ll do it in the company of His people.”

We were not meant to do life alone, get in to a great church and serve with others.

Live a life like that today and you won’t go far wrong.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st May 2017

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.

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 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.

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 by his children. It’s the stuff of 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 v 35).

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

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 – 29th April 2017

How many of you today are waiting for an answer to prayer, a breakthrough, or a miracle?

There is a key word here…it’s called WAITING.

Sometimes God seems to ‘go quiet’ on His answers.
It’s at those times we have to REMAIN.

When you wait at the traffic lights, sometimes it’s a red and sometimes it’s an amber.
Often, when there are temporary road works in the street, especially during a quiet period and your lane is on red, you can look for the oncoming traffic and there is none and you wonder what is the point in waiting.
Sometimes early on a quiet Sunday morning, I’ve been tempted to ‘jump’ those lights, thinking it wouldn’t matter, because no one will even know. But, then the sensible in me kicks in, and I realise there is a reason I have to wait, even if I’ll never know the reason.

Sometimes, God ‘goes quiet’. It doesn’t mean He has left you or that He’s forgotten you, but it does mean you have to be patient.

DO NOT stop praying during those times, that’s exactly what the enemy would want, for you to give up on your dream and request, after a short period of time.

Anything that’s special, anything that’s important, is worth fighting for. Who knows, your breakthrough is probably just around the corner.

So today , don’t equate those quiet times as NO, just trust in the timing of God. It’s always perfect.
Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2017

Your thoughts can be previews of ‘coming attractions’, unless you do something about them.

When the enemy sets out to destroy you, he always starts with a thought.

Evil thoughts are not yours until you allow them to move in and rearrange the furniture. Left to ramble through your mind, a thought will attach itself to an incident in your past and feed on it, until it becomes like a tumour inside you.

Paul says “…Take captive every thought… To make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10v5).

Solomon said…”above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” (Proverbs 4 v 23).

Don’t give evil thoughts any ground in your head. Evict them before they weaken your commitment, and leave you in the Valley of despair.

When we clean the house, we tend to focus only on what others can see or inspect. Just imagine how much ‘mental’ junk we collect, because we think nobody sits in our heads examining our thoughts…but somebody does – God does! He knows your every thought.

Identify your wrong thoughts.

Address them as unwelcome guests.

Fill your mind with good thoughts.

Read the Bible daily, and let it wash your mind clean again.

Psalm 139:1-4 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2017

That chip on your shoulder could be heavier than you think.

The evidence that anger kills is growing every day. Dr Redford Williams says that the stress hormone cortisol, which fuels anger, literally tears blood vessels, causing damage to your arteries.

Continuous anger prevents the healing process from taking place, so once the damage is done, a single bout of rage can trigger a fatal heart attack.

Jesus said, “Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move, make things right. Do it now, otherwise an inevitable process starts working and continues until you have paid the last penny in pain and distress.” (Matthew 5 v 25-26)

Deal with the issue now before it costs you the race. Forgive! Even if the person who wronged you never admits it, or does not seem to suffer for what they’ve done, forgiving will set you free and enable you to move forward, and that’s what’s important.

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness. It’s the one power you always have over the person who hurt you. Abraham Lincoln said, “the best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” Forgiveness will put a spring in your spiritual step, and give you a second wind for the race of life.

Go ahead…forgive, and watch what happens.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th April 2017

In 1 Kings 18 is the familiar story of Elijah going up against the prophets of Baal. Here in verse 21, we read how before the action begins, Elijah addresses the people.

‘Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.’

This is a great question we should ask and answer ourselves every day.

The problem is, we can easily give the correct answer verbally ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ but then give the incorrect answer behaviourally by how we live and answer ‘my circumstances are Lord!’

For example, we can say ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ but then continually worry about finances, family or health issues. Then dwelling on our issues we look to tell anyone who will listen and we end up confessing that circumstances are Lord.

It’s perfectly natural to be affected by circumstances, but Baal is Lord of the perfectly natural and to worship Baal is to make your perfectly natural situation the most important thing in your life.

To have Jesus as Lord though is perfectly ‘supernatural’ and means despite circumstances, we’re confident and feel assured that the Creator of the universe is for us.

As I said though, this isn’t natural – it’s not our default or everyone would by nature follow God’s plan, but if by faith we seek Him in our lives every day and make intentional efforts to keep our hearts and minds on HI’m, we start to not only overcome our emotions following our circumstances but we start to enjoy the battle because we know we’ve already won.

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”But the people said nothing.

Don’t just say nothing today, but make a decision to declare, “the Lord is God and even if my circumstances don’t look great, they are just a temporary facade over the glorious reality of what God has for me!”

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2017

Success is usually given only at the end of great struggle!

If it came easily, everybody would have it. Lots of people procrastinate, hoping to find an easier way. But it doesn’t work. What ever it costs, it costs – there is no swapping of price tags.

The value of anything is determined by the price you pay for it. Furthermore, you won’t easily jeopardise something when you remember what it cost you.

What are you afraid of anyway? Failing? Your greatest concern should be the opposite – regretting that you didn’t even try.

Are you afraid of criticism? Face it, as you move upwards certain people will find your success offensive. If they do, that’s their problem – unless you make it yours by getting insecure or defensive.

We all want to be liked, but at some point you’ve got to ask yourself, “how much am I willing to lose in order to be accepted?”

Nehemiah cried out to his opposers…”I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Any time you defer to the opinions of people instead of the will of God, you’re stepping down.

Advancement often brings isolation and criticism. God may be grooming you right now for a new level of blessing by exposing you to both. Can you handle it? Not everybody can!

If you are determined not to be the kind of person that can sit on the sidelines while others play the game, then go for it. God will reward every step of faith and every sacrifice you make.

Luke 12:48…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th April 2017

‘Ride or Die’ is a term that is used in today’s society and it refers to a person who is with you no matter what, through both the good and the bad.

Maybe you can think of someone in your world who you would consider to be a Ride or Die kind of person, someone you know you can rely on, someone who’s going to stick by your side at all times.

Though we would think of this as a modern term, I want to suggest to you that we find the original Ride or Die all the way back in the Bible.

As we have just come out of Easter, maybe the story of God has been on your mind. The thought of Jesus hanging on a cross to bear the weight of the sins of humanity.
What’s amazing to me about this is that the Bible says if you were the only person on Earth, Jesus still would have done what He did just for you. Talk about a Ride or Die.

Before you even knew Him, before you even considered riding with Him, He died for you.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This is the sacrifice that was made and this was the price that was paid for you and for me.

I wonder whether today you would consider the reality of God’s love towards you and accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life that comes by believing in Him.

Jesus is the original and only true Ride or Die.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd April 2017

Recently, I was requested to go for some routine blood tests. They apparently are looking for eight different things. It’s all part of a well-woman health check. Things like cholesterol and diabetes are on the list to check for. They do that to help make my LIFE BETTER. Is there anything that needs correcting?

You may give blood each year to help someone in need or in a crisis. I remember my Dad several years ago, as he lay in hospital dying, receiving someone’s else’s blood, that helped save his life. Our daughter, after giving birth to our second grandson had to have a blood transfusion – again,  using someone’s blood that had been freely given to help a LIFE IN CRISIS.

Blood tests, may help better your life, or blood may help when in a crisis, but there’s only one person’s blood that can actually CHANGE YOUR LIFE and make it BRAND NEW.

We have just celebrated Easter. Jesus Christ died and gave His blood freely, so that you and I can know forgiveness of sins and have a totally brand new life.

Blood tests may hurt for five seconds, giving blood may be uncomfortable for a time, but the blood that He shed, didn’t only hurt, but it killed Him. And He did that freely for me and for you.

Think about the sacrifice and be thankful. Think about the sacrifice and make sure you make it personal to yourself, by accepting His forgiveness and the new life that He offers you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2017

The first black American to play major league baseball was Jackie Robinson. He faced insults and abuse in every stadium while trying to break through baseball’s colour barrier.

One day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed a foul and the fans turned on him. While they jeered, he just stood there at second base, humiliated. Suddenly, one of his teammates ran over, stood next to him, put his arm around him, and together they faced the crowd. Within seconds the fans grew quiet. Years later, when Robinson was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame he said, “it was the arm around my shoulder that day that saved my career and brought me to this moment.”

If God has truly lifted you, you will always reach back for others, it will be as natural to you as breathing.

Luke 22:31 “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”

In prosperity, our friends know us, but in adversity we know our friends. They are the ones who come to us when we are in a fix.

Are you a friend like that?

If you think you’ll ever need one – be one.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2017

Joe had worked for the same building contractor for over 20 years. One day he called Joe into the office and said, “I’m putting you in charge of the next house we build. I want you to order all the materials and oversee the job from the ground up. I’ll be out of the country for three months.”

As Joe studied the blueprints and checked the specifications, he thought,”why not cut a few corners, use less expensive materials and put the extra money in my pocket?” So he ordered second rate timber, inexpensive concrete, and cheap wiring.

When the house was finished, the contractor came to see it. After inspecting it, he turned to Joe, handed him the key and said, “I didn’t tell you this before, but this house is a gift from me to you in appreciation for all the years you have worked for me.” You can imagine Joe’s surprise, along with his concern that he had now built his own house with inferior materials.

Build well. The character you build today is the one you will live with tomorrow.

Today is another chance to build – make sure you do it right.
1 Corinthians 3:13-15. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th April 2017

If you are serious about growth, here are four things you must do:

1. Make a commitment to change. Most of us want things to get better without having to change anything. To grow, you must commit yourself to not only accepting change but to seeking it.

2. Focus on your strengths. Peter Drucker said, “the great mystery is not that people do things badly, but that they occasionally do things well.” One thing that requires no effort is incompetence, strength is always specific. Nobody ever commented that the great violinist, Jascha Heifetz couldn’t play the trumpet very well. If you try to be good at everything you will be good at nothing. God gave you specific gifts – find them and use them.

3. Put yourself in a growth environment. Certain fish grow to the size of their environment…so do people. Put them in a small aquarium and they remain small. Release them into the ocean and they grow to their intended size. If you spend time in the wrong place with the wrong crowd doing the wrong things you will never experience growth.

4. Learn to enjoy the journey. Most grand Masters of chess learn and relearn their moves over a period of 15 years before winning their first title. That’s almost a fifth of their lives. If you’re going to spend that much time doing something, you had better like it. If the destination appeals to you but you are not enjoying the journey, you would be wise to seek God’s guidance and make sure that you are heading in the right direction.

Proverbs 9:9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2017

When God calls you to do something, His call is confirmed in several ways:

1. You feel ‘moved’. There’s a moment of certainty when God puts His hand on you and nudges you towards a particular need, usually an unmet one.

2. It’s confirmed by others. People around you will discern that God is at work in your life; people that know you well will watch you and see when you’re at your best. They’ll say things like…’you shine when you do that.’

3. You’ll be gifted to do it. God’s call to your life will always come with His giftedness. You may not realise it at first, but you will start to feel His hand holding yours when you do what you were created to do. When you’re in your ‘calling’ you soar despite the obstacles.

4. You’ll see results. You’ll change things and touch lives. St.Patrick once had a dream of the people of Ireland calling him to walk among them. He responded and an entire nation began its journey towards Christianity.

You can’t live in someone’s else dream, you are called to have a dream for your own life. Sometimes your dream starts by helping others to fulfil theirs.

Remember: you are not so much asked to DECIDE what to do with your life, but to DISCERN what you are to do with your life.

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 – 17th April 2017

People will often treat you according to how you treat yourself; pelope will eventually speak about you according to how you speak about yourself too.

When God made man and woman, as recorded in the book of Genesis, He gave a huge thumbs up and stated that they were ‘very good’. He gave them His royal seal of approval.

Having a healthy self esteem is not pride, but it’s having a correct opinion of yourself as revealed in God’s word.

Your opinion of YOU will affect everything you do in life, not to mention its effect on how far you will go in life.

Stop and ask yourself today, ‘how do I really feel about myself?’

Before you answer, read these 10 principles to help correctly govern your life.

1. Never think or speak negatively about yourself – that puts you in disagreement with God

2. Work on your God-given strengths and learn to encourage yourself – for most of the time, nobody else will.

3. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. You’re unique, one of a kind, an original. So don’t settle for being a copy.

4. Focus on your potential, not your limitations.

5. Find what you like to do, do well, and strive to do it with excellence.

6. Have the courage to be different. Be a God pleaser and not a man pleaser.

7. Learn to handle criticism. Let it develop you instead of discourage you.

8. Determine your own worth instead of letting others do it for you. They’ll short change you.

9. Keep your shortcomings in perspective – you’re still a work in progress.

10. Focus daily on your greatest source of confidence – the God who lives in you.

Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th April 2017


Here are a few verses from James 5… “if anyone is in trouble, he should pray…if you’re happy, be thankful to God…if you’re sick, get the elders to pray for you.”

We should adopt a LIFESTYLE of prayer. In verse 17, it tells us how Elijah needed a couple of miracles, so he prayed, and God answered.

So these verses just about cover everything.

In trouble? Pray.
Happy? Pray.
Need healing? Pray.
Need a miracle? Pray.

I love how it says that we should give thanks when we are happy. Too many of us are pray-ers when we need something.
What about living a lifestyle of thankfulness when you dont need something?

When you wake, instead of thinking, “Lord I’m not looking forward to today, start with “thank you Lord that I’m alive.”That’s a prayer, but it’s a thankful one.

I like to be thankful as often as I can. I talk to the Lord often and say “Thank you.” For my food, for my coffee, for my family, for our church. You will often hear me saying “thank you Lord.” For all the good things that He is doing. For all the plans He has for me. For all the times He helps me. I could go on and on.

As a parent, we probably would like our children to talk to us more, how much does God love it, when you speak with Him?

I love this verse. I have quoted it many times “and the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (vs 16)
No matter how short or long your prayer maybe, even if it’s a “thank you”, your prayer is powerful and it’s effective enough to produce a harvest in your life.

Remember today whatever your situation, be a pray-er.
Because God answers prayer.
The strength of prayer is not in the one who prayed it, but the One to whom you pray.

THANK YOU JESUS.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2017

There are few things in life that come under the category of ‘top priority’; however, when they do, they tend to get our immediate attention.

A few years ago, I wrote an email to someone and got no response. A further two emails were sent and I received the same silent treatment. It was only after I headed the very same email up in huge capital letters that shouted out ‘read me and respond’ that eventually I received the answer I was looking for.

The Bible confuses many people, in that they don’t know where to start to look for the answers that they desperately want; there are so many things contained in the 66 books that it’s hardly surprising.

I went to catering college when I was 17. I’d done a little cooking at home and was fascinated by learning how to become a professional chef. In those first few classes, I was mesmerised as some of the greatest chefs taught us the most simple, basic and yet mind-blowing ways of creating classic dishes. I remember going home every night and telling my parents that I now knew how to make all those wonderful creations that everyone enjoyed.

As I tried out what I’d been taught, the end result was mouth-watering, yet the method was so simple when you knew how.

Finding out how to make sense of life is much the same. You need someone to help you.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are one of those people searching for the answers to your life, and that you want to look into the Bible to see what it has to say. Let’s imagine that you have no clue where to begin and would like some help.

Allow me then to take you to what is the most important information that you need to know and is classified as ‘TOP PRIORITY’.

Here it is…

1 Corinthians 15:3-6 …’For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have died’.

The most important information in the whole of the Bible is written here by a one time Christ hater and Christian persecutor and now says I’m passing this onto you as of ‘FIRST IMPORTANCE.’

As we enter this day known as Good Friday, I pray that your eyes will be opened to understand the greatest life-changing news of all time. News that will once and for all settle the issue of life and death and cure the basic scramble going on inside of you regarding the meaning of life.

His name is Jesus.

He died for your sins.

He was buried.

He rose from the dead, so that you could find life in His name.

Why not come and find out more this EASTER SUNDAY?

I will be bringing a special Easter message called ‘Evidence That Demands a Verdict’ at both our services – 9am and 11.30am.

You owe it to yourself to at least give yourself the opportunity to believe.

For more info check out or website – championschurch.org.uk

Happy Easter.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2017

As we draw closer to the day known historically as ‘Good Friday’, let’s take a few moments to think about the magnitude of what happened on the day that Jesus was crucified.

Throughout the whole Bible, no blood except the blood of Jesus was ever called ‘precious’. Millions of animals were slain for sacrifices used in the Old Testament, yet for all of that blood that was offered it was powerless to take away a person’s sin once and for all.

1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Imagine for a moment that you had a dining room table with a large stain in the middle of it. When visitors came round for a meal, you would more than likely cover the table with neatly ironed table cloth and cover the stain. The cloth would successfully cover, but could never take away the stain. Once the visitors were gone, the cloth would be washed and put away and the stain would be still there.

Just like that table, we all have stains in our lives that seemingly cannot be removed. We all tend to cover them in order to appear pretty perfect in front of others. It’s only when we are on our own that we allow our stains to be revealed.

In the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices made for sin had only the power to temporarily ‘cover’ people’s sins, but when Jesus was seen for the first time in public as a man, His relation John said…’Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1 v 29)

Jesus’ blood works not just to cover our sin, but is the only blood that can TAKE AWAY our sins once and for all. He gets right to the root of your problem and when you invite Him into your life and ask for His forgiveness, HE has the power to cleanse you from all sin and make you right with God. No wonder John was excited when he saw Jesus.

Why settle today for a life that keeps covering up your faults and past mistakes when you can come to Jesus and confess your sins, knowing that He will completely wash your sins away and give you a brand new life?

1 John 1:8-10 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th April 2017

One of the greatest questions of all time, would have to be along the lines of this one…’what do I have to do to do the work that God requires?’

The answer to that comes in many different forms, dependent on your belief system. Here are a few common responses…

Do more religious things

Help more people

Give more money

Serve in a community project

Pray more

The list really has no end to it.

All of these are usually very commendable things and would certainly never be frowned upon , yet we have a problem, in that Jesus never said that any of those things qualify for a correct response to such a huge question.

For centuries, people have felt that good works are the answer to this, yet that answer doesn’t even come close.

Here is what Jesus said in response to being asked this exact question by a group of individuals…

John 6:28-29 Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’

That’s it?! YES, the work that God requires is to BELIEVE.

Praying, serving, giving, loving and all other things come as a result of just one thing, and that is, BELIEVING.

Believing on and in the name of Jesus, is to do the very work that God requires and must come before all other things.

God made it so simple that everyone can do it.

At this very special time of Easter, I pray that you would come to a realisation that no amount of good works can earn you God’s love, in fact it’s impossible to receive this free gift by trying to ‘pay’ for it.

As we contemplate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ this coming weekend, ask yourself one simple question: do I believe?

That initial step of faith and trust in all that Jesus HAS done is what God is looking for, and is the very work that He requires.

All others things find their true meaning after this, but never before it.

Believe today and receive today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2017

Recently whilst helping to clear out a loft, I came across a china bowl.

It turned out to be what’s called ‘Nanking cargo’ china recovered from the wreckage of a Dutch cargo ship that had sank in the South China Sea in 1752 and was famously salvaged in 1984.

For 232 years it lay perfectly preserved under the sea before being recovered and sold at auction at Christie’s where the current owner had purchased it, it still showed the Christie’s badge and lot number.

This must be priceless you would think? Unfortunately no, for the simple reason that around 50,000 identical bowls had also survived from that wreckage.

You can get other china that’s chipped, tainted, not as old and doesn’t have the same amazing back story, but is worth immeasurably more for one simple reason. They’re a one off from a famous maker.

Guess where this is going?

You are, as you read this today, a ‘one off’ from a famous world renowned maker. You are priceless. You may be imperfect, chipped, not the most elegant to look at, you may not have the greatest back story etc… but you are a one off and so valuable that God gave His only Son to buy you at auction.

I hope your self esteem is rising as you read this, your self-worth should be going through the roof.

Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

What can we say other than ‘thank you Jesus!’ He’s done it, it’s over, the auction hammer has gone down and he’s paid up in full. There’s nothing we can add other than to believe and work out what it means in the day to day of life to have been truly saved from the depths. Let’s work that out together.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th April 2017

In the Bible we find a story about a woman who’s been faced with the same illness for 12 long years. During this time, she had seen many doctors and spent lots of money, but instead of getting better, she grew worse.

One day, she hears that Jesus has come to town and thinks to herself, ‘If I can just touch His clothes, I will be healed.’ Sure enough, she works her way through the crowd, manages to touch the edge of His garment and is instantly made whole.

It’s important to note that during her sickness, this woman had acted in an attempt to get better. She hadn’t just sat around, but she had explored many different options, hoping that as a result, her condition would change. However, there was just one problem…her aim was off.

Up until this point, she had aimed her action in the direction of her own resources, and at the abilities of the people around her, hoping they could make things better, but it didn’t work.

On the day we see this story recorded, yet again we see this woman step out and act. However this time, she had perfected her aim. She aimed her action not towards herself or the people around her, but towards Jesus. And it was in that moment, she found everything she had been searching for and more.

What are you putting your trust in today? Who are you relying on to turn your life around? Let me encourage you to aim your action in the direction of Jesus – the only One who is able to do for you what you cannot do for yourself… The only One who is able to bring true transformation to your life.

He’s everything you’ve been looking for and more.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th April 2017

In John 20, Jesus appears to His disciples having just risen from the dead. They were obviously overwhelmed by this visitation.
Thomas however, wasn’t there at that time, so when he was told later that day, he said “unless I see it for myself, I won’t believe.”

We can be like that. We can say we won’t believe until we see, yet we believe in gravity that we can’t see, yet we know it’s real. We believe in the wind, even though we can’t physically see it, but we can see its effects.
Many of us believe in Australia even though we’ve never been, because we know someone that has been there and so we believe them.

Later on in that chapter, Jesus says “blessed is the man who believes, even though he has not seen.” The correct translation of ‘blessed’ here is ‘makarios’ – which means ridiculously happy.

When you are praying for something that you have yet to see, keep believing that you will see it, because you will be blessed.
Your marriage may not be good right now, but you have to believe it will be, before you see it.
Your health may not be good right now, but believe for your healing before you actually see it.
Your situation may need a miracle…believe it can be different and you will see.

“Blessed is the man or woman who believes , but has not yet seen.”

God wants you to apply faith to your situation, to your prayer request.
Don’t ask God for one thing and start to believe another.

Don’t be like Thomas, be a BELIEVER…then you WILL see.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2017

There are three kinds of peace found in the Bible.

Each one relates to a different part of your life, yet Jesus willingly gives you all three, all at once, and without measure. In fact, as we saw yesterday, Jesus was crucified, and was raised back to life, in order to bring you the very best and most lasting peace that’s ever been on offer.

John 14:27 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.

The first kind of peace is the peace He LEAVES with you.

In other words, it stays. It doesn’t leave. It’s always there, even beneath the surface on your worst day.

We could call this peace..PEACE WITH GOD.

By asking Jesus for His forgiveness, He, in return gives you instant peace WITH God. That peace remains with you for the rest of your life as you follow Jesus.

Make your peace WITH God today.

The second kind of peace, is the peace He GIVES to you.

We could call this peace…the PEACE OF GOD.

This peace is the peace He sends to your life when you are on the right track. When you obey Him, you will sense this peace. When you do the right thing, you will sense this peace. If you’re going in the right direction for your life, you will sense this kind of peace. It’s the peace OF God.

You’ll soon know when it’s taken from you also. If you wander from the right path, disobey Him or do the wrong thing for your life, you will notice that this peace leaves you. It’s a kind of gauge to help you know when you are in God’s will. This peace will return as soon as you say sorry and get back on track.

Do you have the peace OF God today? If not, ask yourself why.

The third kind of peace, is PEACE WITH YOURSELF.

The Bible passage above says that Jesus gives peace…’not as the world gives.’

The world gives people temporary emotional lifts that make us feel great for a night, so long as we’ve had quite a bit to drink and that people all want to be your friend. The problem is that that kind of peace in yourself is short lived and always has to rely on outside circumstances to prop you up.

Knowing peace WITH YOURSELF means that no matter what day it is, and no matter what you have to face, Jesus gives you an overwhelming sense of well being from WITHIN.

His death on the cross was the payment that he had to make on your behalf, in order to smash the effects of sin and to make a way for all those that believe on His name to be set free.

Have you found peace with yourself? There’s only one way…be at peace with Him.

NO GOD – NO PEACE

KNOW GOD – KNOW PEACE.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th April 2017

If you are the parent of a young child or children, you will especially know the desire to find peace at the end of every day.

From the moment they’re awake, it’s a full on war against your peace. That’s not to say that your children are difficult or naughty, but, to have your whole day totally taken up with their needs, is enough to make you crave the moment they are lovingly tucked back up in bed, marking your survival of yet another day as a parent.

As you clear away the toys and the clutter before collapsing on the sofa, you let out that deep sigh that we all recognise as…’now let me have some peace.’

As we approach this Easter season, let me jump ahead and take you to the first hours after the resurrection.

It’s the Sunday night of the resurrection day, and the disciples have barricaded themselves in a small room for fear of their lives. They had been following Jesus for three years, and now that He’s been crucified, they were afraid that they too may be next in line.

Huddled together and remaining deathly quser, Jesus walks straight through the locked door and simply says…’peace be with you.’ (John 20 v 19 -29)

During this conversation, He repeats the very same phrase three times, giving you no doubt as to what the first result of His resurrection may mean to you – Peace.

Peace is only fully appreciated when you’ve had none for a few hours or in some cases, a lifetime.
The very same sigh that you feel at the end of your day as a parent, the very same sigh that you give off when getting home from a busy day at work, is the very same sigh that the disciples gave off when Jesus visited them that day and brought with Him the gift of peace.

He was saying, ‘calm down guys, everything going to be alright…I’m back!’

That night, the disciples’ fear turned to incredible joy as they saw the Lord.

If you’ve been wondering of late, ‘why it is that you can everything in life and yet still have no lasting peace?’; then look no further…the resurrected Jesus brings peace.

Is that what you would like for yourself this Easter time?

Then you are included by Jesus, no matter who you are.

The Easter message has never lost its power, even though 2000 years old. People by their millions are still finding peace, when they let Jesus walk in on their lives.

No matter how closed up your life may have been up until now, He will immediately walk right in and fill you with peace.

Simply believe on His name and invite in Him.

John 14:27 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 5th April 2017

Ever felt that the life you are trying to build is being taken apart by God?

Ever felt in this current season of your life that you seem to be being stripped of everything you have lived for?

Ever been scared to open the Bible, or pray, for fear that God would once again ask for yet again another part of your life to be surrendered to Him, knowing that there’s hardly anything left as it is?

There have been seasons in my own life when the only way I could describe them was to say that it felt like as if I was walking naked through a crowd, with no ability to cover myself up – nightmare! Embarrassed, confused and stripped of everything that I’d built in and around my life.

A couple of days ago, I visited a friend. He was excited to show me this garden that he’d been working on. As we walked from the front to the back of his house, he began to describe the massive plums that his trees would be bearing this year. You can imagine how surprised I was when we arrived in the back garden to find just four very small trees with just a few short branches on. In my mind, if you were going to produce massive plums, you would need a massive tree – but not so to him. He showed me the shoots that had been growing during the winter and that he had just that day cut right off.

It was the very action of pruning the tree that guaranteed the future success of the fruit. “The more I prune, the greater the size of the fruit later on”, he said.

I’d known this all along, but that day was a very clear reminder as to why God ‘prunes’ our lives.

Pruning is seasonal and is for greater growth.

Pruning seems painful at the time, but is necessary for a future harvest.

Pruning seems wrong when things can give an appearance of getting bigger. Yet, we must not be confused that the size of the fruit equates to the size of the tree. In fact, the opposite is true. Seemingly insignificant ‘small’ humble people can far outweigh those that are mighty in their own eyes.

Feeling cut back today?

Feeling stripped of everything right now?

Don’t dismay…God always prunes those He loves so that you will have a far more effective life.

Hebrews 12:5-11 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2017

Dropping off my mother-in-law’s shopping a few days ago, she announced to me that she thought she’d blown up the microwave.

“There were flames coming out of it”, she said, and upon further investigation she told me what she had done.

It turned out that she had taken two uncooked frozen Yorkshire puddings from the freezer and placed them in the microwave as per instructions. I asked if she had tried to cook them in the foil, but she knew not to do that.

Knowing that it would be unlikely that you could cook such a thing in the microwave, I asked to see the instructions that she had used. I was taken to the freezer and shown a loose bag of Yorkshire puddings with no original container in sight. Instead, there was a small piece of card containing instructions that she had cut out from the discarded box. She was right…the instructions clearly stated that you could cook them exactly as she had done so, however, on reading further I discovered the problem; the cut out instructions were from a box of frozen pizzas!!

It’s one thing to follow instructions, but it’s another to follow the right instructions.

You may well ask why things are always going up in smoke when you are seemingly doing everything that someone told you to do; my question to you is this: whose instructions are you following and what are they telling you to do?

Following instructions for anything in life is pretty simple, but in reality we all want a short cut that takes us from the first page to the last one without having to read the whole thing. If only my mother-in-law would have read the word ‘Pizza’ she would have saved herself a whole lot of trouble.

Following Jesus ultimately means that we agree to follow His instructions for our lives, yet we all tend to go through seasons of our lives where we stubbornly live as ‘know-it-alls’, believing that our way is the best and only way. In reality, we are walking into disaster – a disaster that we will probably end up blaming God for.

God’s word, the Bible, has the answer to everything you may be facing right now, however it can only be applied if you read it. The Holy Spirit doesn’t read the Bible for you, He can only remind you of what you’ve already read.

Wisdom for what to do at any given time is the result of storing God’s word up in your heart.

Start today afresh with these words to one of God’s chosen leaders…

Joshua 1:7-8 ‘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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd April 2017

A lobster can only grow by shedding its protective shell and growing a larger one to expand into.

This is a great picture for us that often 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 for their shells, become uncomfortable and so make the change. If a lobster had access to the NHS, it would never grow. As soon as it had any discomfort  it would visit the doctor, get some pain relief and counselling to help it live with the discomfort and would never have the courage or inclination to take the risk and shed that shell.

The lobster becomes vulnerable once its shell has been shed. That is often the reason we don’t grow – we don’t feel it’s sensible to expose ourselves to a weakened position. If the lobster doesn’t take the risk though , its shell eventually kills it.

If you’re reading this today and feeling frustrated and uncomfortable at the confines of your life, I encourage you to take a risk. Often, the thing in our life (the shell) that protects us most, brings provision and shelter, can be the thing stopping us from growing and achieving greater things.

What can also be confusing is that the current restrictive shell was a previously God-given miraculous provision from a previous season. This can make us feel it’s where we should live forever, but the life of faith is one of advancement and growth and what was previously correct for us may now be restricting us, and also God always has new miraculous provision for us.

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 an upside down existence and so I encourage you today to step out, take risks.  Be prepared to lay down your life in order to come into real life. You won’t be disappointed.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st April 2017

A favourite movie of ours is ‘The Fighting Temptations’ – you should see it, if you haven’t.

The title makes me think about how most days we are tempted – maybe it’s just to eat the whole box of cream cakes, but surely as the sun comes up each morning, we will get tempted.

Here’s some common misconceptions about temptation

1. “Temptation is sin.”

No it isn’t. Jesus Himself was tempted, yet without sin.

2. “I’m the only one struggling with this temptation.”

No you’re not. You’re not that special.

3. “There’s no way I can overcome this temptation.”

Yes there is, it’s called self control, discipline – know your Bible and remember the verse ‘He that is in me, is greater than he that is in the world.’

4. “I’m a very strong person, I’ll never get tempted or pulled down.”

Be careful; Jesus was tempted but not pulled down. The Bible teaches us “be careful so that you do not fall.”
How can I get stronger and withstand temptation?

Have a great relationship with God. (Jesus did)
Know your Bible. (Jesus did)
Be aware of the enemies schemes. Be wise. (Jesus was).

Take your lead from Him today and know that He is always with you and that whatever the temptation, you can withstand.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st March 2017

What is your crisis management plan? Sounds like a bit of an odd and heavy question for a Friday but bear with me.

When something happens to a brand or company that could potentially tarnish their reputation, a PR plan is in place to limit the damage.

When a bad day comes along, or a time that is testing you, here’s how you can manage your situation and come out stronger on the other side:

1) Know who to speak to

Who is the first person that you speak to in a ‘crisis’? The spiritual answer is obviously God but if we’re really honest with ourselves, that’s not always true.

I encourage you, go to Him first. Let Him work on your behalf. The sooner you hand your troubles over to Him, the sooner you can celebrate those answers to prayer.

2) Watch what you’re saying

The Bible says that ‘death and life are in the power of the tongue.’

You may not have the victory just yet but…speak it out. Every negative conversation, every harshly worded social media status, pushes us further from breakthrough.

3) Listen carefully

When a company is facing bad press or a PR disaster, the best thing that they can do is listen to the experts and do as they’re told.

In every situation and season of our lives, God wants to speak to us. In James 1, we learn that God gives wisdom generously. We can only receive it if we’re willing to pause and figure out what He is saying to us.

Whatever you are facing,  no matter how overwhelming it may seem, be encouraged today. You have the victory.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th March 2017

We can ask God for many things and then decide we don’t believe what we are asking for.
We can call out to Him for help and then think ‘is He actually going to help me anyway?’
God is always looking for a response from us. He’s looking for a response of faith and of belief in Him and of what we are asking for.

There are times when God asks something of us.
He is looking for our response to be positive.

When the angel visited Mary and told her that she was going to give birth to the Son of God there were three responses…

1. This is impossible. Her response was “I am a virgin”. In other words, she was saying, this is impossible.
God may ask something from you. Don’t think it’s impossible. Instead, believe that if that’s what God has asked then “All things are possible for him who believes” and “With God, all things are possible”

2. I’m not worthy. She wondered why she had been chosen to do this incredible thing that God was asking of her.
You may feel like that today, why would God choose me? Well He has, He does and He will. So remember, God has a great plan for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future”

3. It’s very improbable. I’m sure people around her thought this probably wouldn’t happen and she herself said “How can this be?” God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants and with whoever He wants.

Make sure you respond correctly today to God, because He wants to do something great with you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th March 2017

‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ is a well known proverb that can be difficult to understand.

It goes against the grain of believing in a God that’s a loving father to then be told that we should fear him.

What can help us to understand this is to put it alongside another well known verse in Matthew 6:24:

‘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.’

In the same way ‘you can’t serve two masters’, you can’t also ‘fear two masters!’ We can’t fear paying the bills as well as fear the all-sufficient and powerful God who is more than able to pay those bills. It doesn’t make sense – which one is right?

When we’re anxious about anything, it’s a declaration we fear man (or the consequence of needs not being met) more than God’s ability to meet those needs. We can’t fear both lack of provision and the God who is our provision.

Fear and anxiety though are a normal part of life – don’t ever feel guilty, it’s what we do with them that counts.

Philippians 4:6&7 helps 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.’

I encourage you at the beginning of every day, deal with your anxieties; don’t let them rob you of enjoying your days, but learn to hand them all over to God, then He will give you peace that is, contrary to your circumstances. This is called living by faith. This then allows God to ‘show off’ in our lives as He reveals His love for us in meeting every one of our needs and then some.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2017

In the Bay of Naples, there’s a jellyfish that loves to swallow a certain snail. But the snail has a hard shell, and the jellyfish can’t digest it. So the snail fastens itself to the inside of the jellyfish, and slowly begins to eat it. By the time the snail is fully grown, it has consumed the entire jellyfish. Now, the point is, a lot of the things we think we can handle finish up consuming us. Things like alcohol, worry, greed, or simply the aimlessness of our lives: there’s  a real killer.

Fred Smith, the author of Learning to Lead, once sent all his friends a letter with these three questions:

  1. Am I enjoying what I’m doing?
  2. Am I happy with where I’m going?
  3. Am I satisfied with what I’m becoming?

One of his friends, a top Wall Street broker, called him and said “When I read the question ‘Am I satisfied with what I’m becoming?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not!’ I’m tired of grabbing the Wall Street Journal first thing every morning like its my Bible. My life has no meaning outside of my investments, so, today I liquidated them all – I’m quitting! Tomorrow, I’m beginning a new life, and I want to thank you for giving me the courage to do it.”

Don’t end your life feeling empty, having your insides eaten away by  a quest for things that can’t satisfy. God has a wonderful plan for your life. (Jeremiah 29v11).

Get into His presence today and let Him tell you about it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th March 2017

Dr Alexander Maclaren attributed everything he knew to one habit: ‘spending an hour each day with God.’

Sometimes he allowed others into the room where he prayed, but they were never allowed to speak.

Maclaren would sit in a well worn armchair with his big Bible lying across his knees. Sometimes he’d read its pages, but mostly he’d just sit with his hand over his face. During that hour he wouldn’t read it as a student or study it for sermons; one of his assistants noted, “he read it like a child would read a letter from an absent father, or like someone deeply in love that was separated from their loved one”. To know God you must spend time with Him.

One night a famous orator recited the 23rd Psalm to a packed theatre and great applause. Afterwards he spotted a Pastor in the crowd from his local church. He called him up to the stage to say a few words, and to his surprise, he too read the 23rd Psalm. But when he was through, there was silence. People dried their tears all over the audience. Afterwards the great orator asked the Pastor why he thought that he had prompted such a powerful reaction. The Pastor simply said “the difference is, you know the 23rd Psalm, but I know the shepherd!”

Do you know Him?

Join me each day this week and I’ll tell you how you can.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th March 2017

I wonder how many of you today feel like you are limping through life? You know, life is hard, storms come, situations make us feel down, circumstances pressure us…etc etc
Life can sometimes make us feel like we are limping, when in fact we should be LEAPING.

Today I want to encourage you, that no matter what is going on in your life…
GOD IS FOR YOU . Yes that’s right, my Bible tells me that if God is for me, who can be against me? He’s on my side.

GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE. Yes He does, you may feel right now that you don’t know what it is – stop and ask Him to reveal it to you. He has a special plan, just for you. He made you unique and no one can do what He wants you to do, quite like you.

GOD IS WITH YOU. He’s your friend, your protector, your portion. You never need to be afraid, He (THE KING OF KINGS) is always with you. His word says, He will never leave me or forsake me.

HE WANTS TO PROSPER YOU. Yes, He wants every area of your life to be blessed. Your family, your health, your finances, your career, your relationships. When you acknowledge Him to be the Lord of your life, you can be assured that He has great favour and blessing for you.

So, stop limping today and rejoice in the great things that God has in store for YOU.
Thank Him and Believe His word over your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2017

There’s a story in the Bible where we see Jesus enter a town and there is met by a man whose daughter is at home, sick in bed. He pleads with Jesus to come to his house and heal his 12 year old girl.

Jesus agrees to go with the man and while He is on His way, a woman who has been faced with an illness for 12 straight years, comes up behind Him, touches the edge of His cloak and is instantly made well.

Jesus then proceeds to turn around and converse with this woman, and while doing so, hears the news that the little girl who was at home sick, is now dead. Nevertheless, Jesus continues on to the home, walks into the room where the dead girl is lying and raises her from the dead.

These are two outstanding miracles that we see recorded here, but I want you to see the order in which they take place…

We see two females in this story, one who is 12 years old and the other who has had a 12 year old issue. One represents the future generation, the other represents the present generation.

I believe here, Jesus wanted to send a message to you and I that says, ‘before I can resurrect the future, I first have to heal the present.’

You need to know that before God can bring your future back to life, you first need to let Him deal with whatever hurt or pain you’re dealing with at present.

What is it that you need to let go of today and allow God to heal, restore and redeem in your life? When you make a choice to hand over the discomfort of today, you can be assured that the resurrected God Himself is resurrecting your tomorrow.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2017

Do you have any idea how effective you could be if only you were totally committed? The difference between the masterful and the mediocre is focused effort. At 55, I’m convinced that my best days are still ahead of me, and am totally sold out to being all that God has designed and destined for my life.

How about you? When are you going to roll your sleeves up and get moving towards the purpose that God has for your life?

There’s a difference between talent and purpose. God calls you according to His purpose not according to your talent.

Romans 8:28 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’re just talented, but unaware that you are called, you’ll be happy to go anywhere and do anything, even if it de-rails your life.

Talent, like love, is sometimes blind. But if you’re conscious of your God-given purpose, then you will know there are some things you are not meant to do, because they may defeat God’s purpose for your life.

Knowing God’s given purpose for your life means that you will only focus on your talent if it relates to your purpose.

Think about it for a moment…every domestic appliance has been created to fulfil a specific purpose. Just imagine putting the dirty dishes into a washing machine just because it’s supposed to clean things. Disaster. It does clean things, but they are very specific things! They only clean things ‘according to their purpose’.

Instead of just asking God to bless whatever you are doing today, ask Him to reveal to you His purpose for your life.

Have you discovered God’s purpose for your life yet?

If not, get into His presence today and stay there until He reveals it to you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd March 2017

How do you handle correction? By taking offence? By hearing it as rejection? By getting defensive? All of us need people who’ll be honest with us because we’re easily blinded by our egos. When God sends someone to correct you, it’s because he loves you. He only does that to those He values. Listen: Hebrews 12:7-11 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

So how do you handle correction? By killing the messenger? By making sure that he or she never gets to you again? By giving in to self pity and saying, ‘people do not understand or appreciate me?’ Your life needs to be sharpened constantly, so stay close to those that God sends to you.

Accountable people always exhibit 4 qualities:

Vulnerability. They are capable of knowing when they are wrong and admitting it, even before they are confronted.

Teachability. They are willing to hear, quick to learn and always open to counsel

Availability. They are accessible. They don’t avoid you.

Honesty. They hate anything phoney and are committed to the truth no matter how much it hurts.

Pride and ego has to fall when you are willing to be make yourself accountable, so when God sends good people into your world that love you enough to challenge you, then try to be an open book…you’ll not regret it in the long run.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2017

Do you feel like you are in a hopeless situation today?

Is there no sign of change in the natural?

Remember, we serve a supernatural God.

What looks impossible with man is possible with God.

In the Bible, God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations, but in the natural this looked impossible. Both he and his wife were beyond child-bearing years. They had no reason to hope or believe that it would happen. They had nothing to go on in the natural, but one translation of this account says “hoping in spite of hopeless circumstances, he believed”.

…And the rest is history as we say. Abraham finally had a son, Isaac, and his son, Jacob, had 12 sons who became the original 12 tribes of Israel, whose descendants outnumbered the grains of sand on the sea shore.

Today, I encourage you to do what Abraham did and believe against all the odds. Keep believing. Keep praying. Keep moving forward. Don’t focus on the impossible circumstances but focus on the God who makes the impossible possible.

Keep looking through the eyes of faith because HE has blessing and victory in store for you.

Romans 4:18-21 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th March 2017

There is a common saying that goes ‘cart before the horse’ to suggest something is done back to front. Imagine how difficult it would be for a horse to be pushing a cart? Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle backwards? Unless you’re in a circus, it’s impossible.

This often is a picture of how we are in relation to God. We serve and live to please him, to achieve something? This is back to front, we should serve and obey because of what He has already done for us.

Life conditions us to work for what we get, work hard at school and get good grades. It makes perfect sense but this thinking hinders our walk with God where, thankfully, he treats us better than we deserve.

Jesus helps us in John 13 where he’s about to wash the disciples’ feet.

Jesus  knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

Here is a great example where Jesus ‘knew’ who he was in God ‘so he’ served. He didn’t serve to obtain who he was, or work it out.

How often do we serve etc because we’re working out who we are, where we’re meant to be, what’s our calling?

Life is a lot easier when we know who we are, not because of our strengths or what we have to offer, but because of his strength and what he has to offer, for us to be children of the living God.

I encourage you today to assess whether your bike’s back to front? Do you get frustrated and easily hurt by people as you try and serve God? It’s a sign we are trying to work towards something instead of from the assurance of knowing who we are, his children.

1 John 3
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th March 2017

1 John 5 v 14 says
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Have you ever tried to send a text message to someone and it says “message failed to send”? What a pain that is. Maybe the wifi connection is down or there is something the matter with yours or their phone.

I’m glad that when I come to God in prayer, my message never fails to send.

That’s right…every word spoken audibly or in my heart ALWAYS reaches the throne of God.
This verse says that He hears every prayer.

The next verse says:
And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.

So He not only hears me, He will answer too.

Sometimes my text messages go through, but the recipient doesn’t answer – that can be frustrating too. But not with God. He always answers.

His answer may be ‘yes’ or ‘wait’ or even ‘no’… but HE ALWAYS ANSWERS.

His network is never down, my prayer always gets through and the minute I pray, He’s working on the answer.

Get messaging today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2017

One of my favourite people in the Bible, is Zacchaeus. We meet him in the New Testament, whilst Jesus was passing through Jericho. Zacchaeus, being a guy of short stature, climbs up a tree to gain a better view of Jesus. Jesus spots him in the tree, and commands him to come down; Jesus is going to stay at his house today.

Why I love Zacchaeus is because in this moment, he had every odd stacked against him to meet Jesus. In fact, the words “passing through” indicate that Jesus did not even intend on stopping at all. However, he made a decision to step out of the crowd and make himself available to meet with Jesus.
I saw a great quote which reminded me of Zacchaeus: “Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.” Sometimes, we have to get out of the crowd and go the extra mile because that’s where the amazing stuff happens.

Maybe, you need to step out of the crowd to meet with Jesus. Find a space within your day, where you can step out and meet with Him. Make yourself ready and available to meet with God.
On the other hand, maybe today, you need to go the extra mile for someone else. Buy someone a coffee, send someone an encouraging text, do something kind for a stranger. I’m sure we can all think of times when someone has gone the extra mile for us, and how good that makes us feel. Without realising it, we can miss several opportunities a day to step out and do something for someone else.

If Zacchaeus hadn’t have stepped out on that day, he wouldn’t have met with Jesus and his life wouldn’t have been changed. Today, step out. Step out to meet with Jesus and step out to do something for someone else. Both, have the power to change your life and the lives of those around you.

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th March 2017

We all face different challenges and circumstances – it’s the nature of life isn’t it?

Whether you feel alone and isolated, like it’s the middle of the night and sunrise seems a lifetime away. Or maybe you’re having to face your worst fear and it’s the darkest time of your life.
Perhaps you’re walking through a valley in life, where you can’t see a way forward or maybe you’re climbing a mountain – and whilst the view may have improved, it’s a struggle to keep going up the incline.
Let me encourage you to trust in God’s unfailing love, and rest on His grace.

God is always with you, He never leaves you.
Remember that in Jesus, you will find all you need. He is our source and supply.
God is a light in our darkness.
His words provide light to see a way forward.
We have a hope in Jesus that means we do not need to fear.

When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he defeated the grave, which means He has won it all! Don’t forget that Jesus is all we need.
He is everything!

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2017

If you want your future to be bright, what you’re doing NOW matters.

Think about it. The decisions you make today will affect your tomorrow. The choices you make today will shape your tomorrow.

We are our choices.

Sometimes we can be in a place we don’t like. But if it’s God’s will for us we have to stick with it, because tomorrow can be different.
If I don’t like my weight or fitness level, I need to start making changes today, in order for tomorrow to be different.
If I don’t like my relationships today, if they’re not propelling me towards a greater future, then today I have to make some decisions to change them.

David was a great harp player. He was not only good but anointed. He found himself playing the harp for a demon possessed king, Saul. Yet all the time he was anointed for something far greater (to be a King himself) . He chose what God placed in front of him right then, allowed God to use him in that and in doing so, was getting ready for a greater future.

You see what we choose to do today, and how we choose to do it, WILL affect our future.

You may wonder why you are doing what you are doing today, yet what you do today will affect your tomorrow.

We all have an opportunity for a bright future, just choose wisely today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th March 2017

For Christmas, my Nan was given a 1000 piece puzzle. She recently told me how for the first six weeks, she had spent every single day working on it and was now nearing completion.

Myself and a few of my family went to see her one night and decided to help her finish it. In order to be of as much assistance as I could, I decided to adopt a method of picking up a piece, seeing if it fit, and if didn’t, putting it back down and repeating the process. I think I contributed two pieces during the 45 minutes we were there…

The reason I share with you that story is because I believe that many of us take that same approach with life. We identify that there is a missing piece on the inside of us, a gap, a hole, a feeling of emptiness. So we begin picking up different pieces, hoping that they will fill the void in our lives.

However, I want to save you a lot of time, energy, effort and resource by telling you that this missing piece on the inside of you is a God-shaped hole and only He can fill it.

Relationships can’t fill it, substances won’t do it, nothing in this world can eliminate that sense of emptiness, that lack of meaning and purpose that’s on the inside of you, apart from the One who created you – God Himself.

Today, make a choice to put down all of the pieces that were never intended to complete you and turn to God. He’s everything you’ve been looking for and more.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 11th March 2017

Whenever we come to God and come into His presence, we should do so with a great expectation.
Anyone who comes to God with an expectation, will never go away disappointed.

The blind man wanted his sight, he expected Jesus to do something about it and He did .
The woman with the issue of blood expected that Jesus could help her and He did. Jairus came to Jesus for help with his daughter…and guess what He did? He raised her from the dead.

Our expectation is always God’s invitation.

You expect and He will reply to your invite.
God will give the quickest RSVP ever.
He won’t have to think about it, check His calendar, or see if there’s anything else He’d rather be doing.
He’ll be right there.

What’s your expectation today ?
That God will speak to you as you spend time with Him?
That God is going to help you with your situation?
That God is going to do something new in your life?
That God’s will is about to be done?
That God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants and with whoever He wants?

You invite Him and He’ll be there.
You expect and God will not disappoint.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2017

A Chinese tour guide found himself in deep trouble and risked losing his job after he realised that he had forgotten his passport en route to the airport.

The coach they were all travelling on, had to be turned around resulting in all 30 tourists in his care turning up late for the flight.

When they did eventually arrive at the airport, the group were enraged when they were told that their pre-booked seats at the front of the plane had now all been given to other passengers, resulting in them having to be seated at the very back of the plane.

During the flight, the tour guide took the brunt of the group’s anger again and again, as they threatened to report him.

As the hours rolled by,  en route to their destination, he was forced to sit in silence as he thought about the cost of his actions to all of the group and ultimately to himself.

What no one could have known is that his ‘forgetfulness’ was actually a gift to the group that they could never have seen coming.

As the plane prepared for landing, it went off course and slammed into a mountain – killing almost all on board. The only people to survive the crash were 90% of the tour guide’s  group, including the tour guide himself. Changing their seats because of him, now meant that they literally owed their life to him. He turned from zero to hero in a few short hours.

Have you ever been annoyed at the inconvenience you have been put through simply because of someone else’s actions?

Have you ever wondered why the plans that you made were diverted by the seeming thoughtlessness of others?

Could it be that God saw what disaster was about to come your way, and took immediate action to inconvenience your steps in order to save you?

We may never know these things at the time, but one day we will look back and realise that my ‘detour’ was ordered by God.

When Joseph in the Bible was left for dead by his brothers, and then sold into slavery, he could never have known as his life was in free fall that his ‘set backs’ were actually sent to catapult him into one of the greatest ‘comebacks’ in history.

Feel like you are on a detour to nowhere right now? Believe today that your life is in HIS hands and He is taking you to exactly where you need to be.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2017

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. 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 – 8th March 2017

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Maybe you’ve woken up today with a plan. You  know exactly what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it and when you’re going to do it. Or, you’ve woken up today with no plan and nothing to do; you’re just going to see where the day takes you.

We can often get so wound up in ‘the plan’; in knowing what the next day, week or year holds. We want a plan for every area of our life and if we don’t know, or it doesn’t happen, that stresses or worries us. As humans, we get so consumed by knowing. I read Jeremiah 29:11 and asked God to give me a new perspective – what more can I learn from one of the most famous verses?

I was so drawn to the word KNOW – ‘For I KNOW the plans that I have for you’. It’s already common knowledge that God has a plan for us, but we never focus on how or when that plan was made.
God’s plan for your life isn’t something He creates day-by-day as you live your life. He doesn’t struggle to set out a path for you at the beginning of each new day. God KNOWS. He’s got it all sorted. Before you existed, before you were a thought in your parents’ minds – God knew the plan He had for you.

Today, don’t get caught up in ‘the plan’; don’t stress about not knowing – rest in the knowledge that God knows. And more than that He knows BEST – ‘plans to PROSPER you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE.’

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2017

In the book of Genesis, we see God creating the world over a six day period. He continually recognises that His work is good until we reach Genesis chapter 2, where God has identified one thing that is not good…that man is alone.

From the very beginning of time, it becomes evident that God’s intentions for humanity are not that they should do life alone, but together with other people.

Adam was in the most beautiful environment, surrounded by the most amazing scenery, and yet God wanted to send a clear message to him and to us: what is life without people to share it with?

You can have all the success, all the resource and be living the life you always dreamed of, but what does it count if you don’t have anyone to enjoy the journey with?

God knows what you need and He knows who you need. After all, He created you. God knows that in order for you to live the life that He created you to live, then you can’t be secluded, you must live surrounded.

Make a choice today to surround yourself with people who are going to take you closer to your destiny and the fulfilment of God’s plan for your life.

For life is not about what you do, it’s about who you do it with.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th March 2017

When each of our children were growing in the early stages of their lives, they each would complain of a similar type of pain that they were experiencing. When we took them to the Doctors, we would hear the familiar words…”these are simply growing pains.”

As we grow in life we cannot avoid pain, but what we can do, is identify it.

Craig Groeschel is Pastor of one of the largest churches in the world. What he has to say on the subject of pain is far too valuable to keep from sharing…

‘The longer I avoid a problem, the bigger it generally becomes. If I summon the courage to endure small amounts of pain and do what’s right early, I will avoid larger doses of pain later on.
Pain is part of progress. Anything that grows experiences some pain. If I avoid all pain, I’m avoiding growth.
Often the difference between where I am and where God wants me to be is the pain I’m unwilling to endure. Doing what’s right – no matter how difficult – is a rare trait. Most chose easy. We must always choose right over easy.
God is always faithful. Even when life is hard, God is working for our good. Pain teaches us to depend on Him. It purifies our motives. It keeps us humble and moves us to pray.’

‘We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey’ – Kenji Miyazawa

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th March 2017

Don’t ask me how I know that my dog Percy knows when it’s Wednesday, as I have no idea. He must have a calendar in his room, that he marks off every night with a Sharpie and says “yippee, it’s Wednesday tomorrow.”

We can have a different sequence of events in our home and yet he still knows it’s Wednesday.

‘What’s with a Wednesday?’, you ask?
Well Wednesday is the day I often take him to the office for a couple of hours to see the staff. It started when we first had him, so I took him to meet them all. It’s developed from there, now every week he cries on a Wednesday morning waiting to go. Because for him it’s exciting, he gets to see good people, have a little treat (often just leftover lunch) and yet he comes home happy, content for another week.

Today as I write this, it’s Wednesday, but it’s different.
I’m not going to the office, as I’m home preparing the message quietly for Sunday. So I haven’t got dressed in my ‘office’ clothes, I’m not following any normal Wednesday pattern, yet he’s still showing that ‘Wednesday’ reaction of excitement and anticipation because today he might be going!
As I sit here writing, he’s crying and trying to get to the front door. Because somehow, that dog knows it’s Wednesday.

As you read this, tomorrow is Sunday, the day when we should have the exact same anticipation and excitement of “get me to church.”

Make sure you have it…make sure your heart is right…and like Percy, don’t settle until you get there.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2017

Matthew 14:22…Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side…

More lessons from a storm (continued from yesterday)…

Trouble doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you. The disciples learned that Jesus may be out of sight, but He’s never out of touch. To ‘walk by faith, and not by sight’ means that sometimes you’ll walk in darkness without visible cues. Someone put it this way: ‘when you can’t trace His hand, you can trust His heart.’

When the disciples were being tossed around in the boat, Jesus was up on a mountain praying for them. He was totally aware of the problem and was working on the solution. Just because He’s not present, it doesn’t mean He’s not there.
Between the command to ‘go’ and your safe arrival on the other side, there’s often a crisis. Jesus commanded them to cross to the other shore, but before the trip was completed, their world experienced upheaval.

What’s buffeting your life today – loss, guilt, loneliness, financial pressure, illness, addiction, rejection?

Instead of sinking in fear, ride the waves by faith. Those very same waves will carry you quickly to exactly where you need to be.

‘We must embrace the pain, and burn it as fuel for our journey’ – Kenji Miyazawa
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2017

Matthew 14:22…Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side…

No sooner had the disciples followed Jesus’ instructions, then they found themselves in a huge storm.

When you find yourself in trouble, is the first thing that you think…’have I done something wrong…Perhaps I’ve missed God’s will and He’s punishing me?’

Yet, the disciples weren’t in a storm because they’d disobeyed God, but because they’d obeyed him.

At times you’ll find yourself in troubled waters because you did what was right, rather than what was popular, easy or selfish.

When that happens, here are some helpful lessons from the disciples’ experience:

Obedience doesn’t guarantee there will be no storms. The disciples had just been part of the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. Shouldn’t their faith have been strengthened, yet they forgot it completely when fear came knocking at the door. Jesus had told them that He would meet them at the other side of the lake, yet they forgot His miracle working power and His promise gave way to their fear.

Remember: sometimes God doesn’t SOLVE your problem, but He will SHOW UP in your problem.

Fear doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s just a reminder that you’re human, and, like the disciples you’ve forgotten who has the power and who’s in charge.

More lessons from the storm tomorrow, but in the mean time…

Trials turn to triumph when you know who’s holding your hand.

Trust Him again today.

No matter what.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st March 2017

Cripple him and you have a Sir Walter Scott.

Lock him in prison and you have a John Bunyan, author of Pilgrims Progress.

Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge and you have a George Washington.

Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln.

Subject him to bitter religious prejudice and you have a Disraeli.

Strike him down with infantile paralysis and you have a Franklyn D. Roosevelt.

Deafen him and you still have a genius composer called Beethoven.

Have him be born black in a society filled with racial discrimination and you have a Martin Luther King, Jr.

Persecute him for his faith and you have an Apostle Paul that wrote two thirds of the New Testament.

If that doesn’t challenge you, consider Benjamin Franklin: at 25, he founded America’s first library. At 31, he started its first fire department. At 36, he designed a heating stove that’s still in use today. At 45, he founded the nation’s first university. At 79, he invented bifocals. He had exactly two years of formal education and yet he wrote and spoke five languages.

As you start out into a brand new day today, ask yourself what excuse do you have for not trying?

And remember: what started out looking like it was really bad, God can turn it around for good, even to saving of many people’s lives.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th February 2017

One winter night, an old couple dashed into the lobby of a small Philadelphia hotel, hoping for a room. But the clerk said, “all the rooms are full.” As they started to leave he said, “would you be willing to sleep in my room? It’s not a suite, but I think you’ll be comfortable.”

At first they were reluctant, but he insisted, “don’t worry, I can sleep in the office.” So they accepted. The next morning when they were due to check out, the old gentleman said to the clerk, “thank you, you should be the manager of the best hotel in the country. Maybe some day I’ll build one for you.” The clerk simply smiled and thanked him.

Two years later, the clerk received a round-trip ticket to New York City and a letter thanking him for his kindness. The old couple were inviting him to come and visit them. Although he’d forgotten about the incident, he decided to accept their offer. When he arrived in New York, they took him to the corner of 34th street and 5th avenue. “That,” said the elderly gentleman, pointing to the magnificent skyscraper, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.” The clerk said, “you must be joking.” “I can assure you I’m not.” he said.

The old gentleman’s name was William Waldorf Astor. The hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria. The young clerk was George C. Bolt – its first manager.

Don’t forget to sow another seed of kindness today…you never can tell what your harvest will be.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2017

Some time ago my husband ran over a pigeon. It was very unfortunate. We approached slowly, we beeped the horn, but the pigeon wouldn’t move. Why? Because it wouldn’t let go of the item of food that it had found in the middle of the road. I covered my eyes ready and hoped that the pigeon had seen sense and moved. I heard the thud. Sad, I know.
That’s a lot like us. We refuse to let go of things, when really we should move on.
Often, it can be dangerous to hold onto things.

If there’s stuff in your life that you’re refusing to let go of, remember this, you’ll never move on until you do.

You may think that what you’re holding onto is worth it, but often it’s not.
We can actually damage our lives by keeping hold of it and don’t see the danger ahead.

May today be a day of letting go and unlike the pigeon, may you know a new found freedom when you do.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2017

Some of my favourite verses in the Bible are found in Matthew 6 where we see Jesus addressing people’s concerns such as, ‘what am I going to wear?’ and ‘what am I going to eat?’

What amazes me about the Bible is that although it was written over 2000 years ago, it still speaks to people’s situations today. We still have the same kind of worries and fears as those who Jesus was specifically speaking to in the book of Matthew.

Jesus responds to their concerns by turning their attention to birds and flowers… ‘I want you to consider the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them’. ‘Furthermore, think about the flowers of the field; they do not labour or spin, and yet you’ve never seen anything dressed as good as these.’

The reason Jesus uses such an illustration is to show us that we only have to look at creation to be reminded that God is a good God, that He’s a faithful God and that He’s a God who provides your every need.

He then goes on to say, ‘And how much more valuable are you than they?’

Jesus wants you to know that you are of far greater worth and value to Him than birds and flowers. And just as He ensures that their every need is met, so will He ensure that your every need is met too. You don’t have to worry, you don’t have to fear, you don’t have to be concerned, for the God of Heaven and Earth cares about what you care about and what matters to you, matters to Him…

You can rest assured today that He’s got your whole world in His hand.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2017

God’s personal word to you will be accompanied by a sense of assurance and peace.

When you sense God’s leading, ask yourself, ‘do I feel confident and peaceful about moving forwards or am I restless and unsure about the directions I have received?’

Can you honestly move forwards in confidence that you will not be betraying yourself?

Even when doing something that seems impossible, God’s peace will accompany your actions if it is His will. You may feel far from confident in your own ability, but you can grow in confidence in His.

Have you ever moved forward without the ‘green light’ of God’s peace? What were the results?

God has made His guidance system to us very simple – every one of us can easily follow it…

…when we obey God, we experience internal tranquility.

…when we step outside of His will, we feel uneasy.

Our God given peace will not be lost, but if something that we are doing or not doing isn’t pleasing to Him, peace will not rule in our hearts.

Keep it simple.

Peace or no peace?

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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 23rd February 2017

“I know God is speaking to me when, in spite of my initial struggle, an undeniable release and peace follows when I have obeyed His voice.
When I finally do the thing he has been nudging me to do, whether it’s letting something or someone go, or taking a step towards the unknown, there is a deep calm in my soul. Where my heart and mind were once filled with terrible angst, I am now filled with supernatural peace.” – Kathy Troccoli

The Greek word for peace in the Bible is the word ‘eirene’. It means to be exempt from rage and havoc of war, to be at rest and quietness.

This word is also used to describe peace between individuals. The peace that Jesus gives therefore is both external and internal.

The Holy Spirit lives within us to give us a continually peaceful assurance internally that directs us to make decisions that honour God, and also to guide our relationship with others.

When God wants to speak to you about something today, or confirm the rightness of a decision today, rest assured, He will give you His peace as a sign to move forwards. When you don’t sense His peace, take it as a sign to stay put.

John 14:27 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2017

Proverbs 3 vs 1-2 says “My Son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity..”

God’s teaching and commands are there for a reason.
Why? To bring us prosperity and a great long life.
We’d certainly like that, yet are not always eager to do what His word asks.

If there was a cream out there that promised to prolong our lives, or a power drink that promised us prosperity, we’d be drinking it by the gallon, or rubbing it all over every day.

Yet God’s word says simply this: obey my commands and the results will be the same.

In our society, people think they can please themselves with no thought for God or His word and yet expect to be blessed.
God’s rules are there for our blessing and our protection. He has the perfect plan for our lives.
If we choose to operate within that, then our lives WILL be blessed. If we choose to do the opposite, we do so at our own peril.

If you follow the Maker’s instructions, you’ll get perfect results every time.

Choose to follow God’s word today.
Choose to follow His road map for your life.
HE knows what He’s doing.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2017

Every organisation that is centred around people, has a lost property office, cupboard or at the very least, a cardboard box.

Accompanying this, is usually a book that records as an inventory, all lost items. It’s amazing how many things get left behind without anyone seemingly being bothered to chase them up. You do begin to wonder as to how an adult could go home and leave just one sock behind – at what point did they take it off and forget to put it back on?!

Then there’s valuable items that just sit there for months without being claimed, leaving you to believe that someone out there must be racking their brains as to where they might be.

Interestingly, the Bible records many lost items, which turn our thoughts as to why it would do so? The answer is simple…it’s a book devoted to lost people.
Just like a cookery book is designed to help us create fantastic dishes, and a car maintenance manual is designed to help us repair a car, then the Bible is a manual to show lost people how to be found. Found by God, that is.

In one part of the Bible (Luke 15) there are three things recorded as lost things. These three things are actually stories or parables told by Jesus to help us understand how important lost people are to him…

The lost coin – has no value unless placed in the hands of the one who can spend it…making it WORTHLESS.

The lost sheep – just wandering around without a shepherd…it’s AIMLESS.

The lost son – left to his own devices without a father…he’s RECKLESS or senseless.

Maybe that’s exactly how you feel?

The whole point of this story about ‘lostness’ is found in the closing words about the lost son…”But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”’

God is passionate about finding lost people; in fact the whole purpose of Him sending Jesus to the planet was to to save the lost.
I lost my car some years ago, or at least I thought I had. I parked it and left it for just five minutes and when I went back it was gone. Stolen? After several minutes, I realised that it was exactly where I had left it. My car wasn’t lost…I was. I’d simply forgotten where I’d parked it!

Have you ever asked where God is? Have you felt that His presence is no longer close?

The answer lies in that He is where you left Him. He’s not lost – you are!

The great news is that He is right now waiting for you to turn back to Him and be found.

He’s closer than the breath you breathe.

He’s only ever a prayer away.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2017

John chapter 10 v 11 says “I am the good shepherd.”

You may have noticed that the verse before, tells us that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. But verse 11 tells me that Jesus is my good Shepherd.

Sometimes we think that Jesus is a distracted shepherd, because maybe while I have stuff going on, Jesus is distracted by someone else’s stuff and therefore maybe He’s not giving me His best attention.

Then we think He’s a busy Shepherd, well that’s certainly true, He is busy, but He’s busy shepherding you.

Maybe you think Jesus is an absent Shepherd, because maybe you can’t feel His presence near, or you’re wondering where He’s gone in your situation? Let me tell you this: He’s gone nowhere. If you can’t feel Jesus, guess who moved?

Maybe you think that Jesus is a negligent Shepherd. Maybe He has got your situation wrong, maybe things would be different, if Jesus was not so negligent? Is that why everything doesn’t seem right at the moment? Has Jesus forgotten me?

Not at all! Jesus is a GOOD shepherd.
He’s neither absent or negligent or distracted.
Like every good shepherd (and He’s the perfect example) , He will give you His best loving attention at all times.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus that you are always good and that good things are coming my way.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2017

Psalm 103 “Bless the Lord O my soul, all my inmost being bless His Holy name.”

Sometimes we have to dig into our inmost being to worship.

You may not feel like it, or at times, dare I say, want to…but at those times, you need to dig deep and do it anyway.
Because this Psalm reminds us of why we should “…and forget not ALL of His benefits.”
He forgives all of your sin.
He heals all of your diseases – STOP…and thank Him right now.
He rescues your life from the pit -STOP…and thank Him for rescuing you.
He crowns you with love and compassion.
I love that “He crowns you”.
Think about this, not only does He rescue me, but He crowns me also.

As a parent, there are times when I’ve had to help lift my children out of a pit, but the last thing I want to do at those times, is crown them with love and compassion!
Not with God, He gets us out of a pit AND then immediately crowns us with love and compassion.
STOP… and thank Him for that.

And then… BONUS. “He renews your youth like the eagles.”

Today my friend, it’s time again to Bless the Lord.
YOU have a lot to be thankful for.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2017

Joshua 1:9 ‘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.’

Shannon Lucid broke the world record for time spent in space – 188 days up there!

When she was only 13, she told her teacher that she was going to be a rocket scientist. The teacher just laughed and said there was no such thing, and if there was, a woman couldn’t be one anyway.

Did you know that more than 150 people a year die from falling out of bed and a further 400 are injured by the head board falling on them? The truth is you’re not even safe by staying in bed, so you may as well get up and get going. Reach for God’s strength and do something to make your life count. Did you know that donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes?

Famous Author, Max Lucado says, “instead of just building a fire in your hearth, build one in your heart.” Adopt a child, teach a class, change careers, run for parliament, make a difference. I know it may not sound safe, but what is?”

Jesus said, (Luke 9:24) For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Reclaim the curiosity of your childhood.

Just because you may be near the top of the hill, doesn’t mean you are past your peak.

Get up and get going – God has amazing things in store for you today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th February 2017

We all have hard times, inadequate times, painful times as well as great times.

In each season of your life, no matter what comes your way, you have to be motivated to move forward. As someone once said…”even if you fall, at least fall forwards. Even if you fail, fail forwards.”

The tendency with us all is to allow each bad circumstance to take us down and so our theme song becomes one of…’I’m ok under the circumstances.’

Each time you find yourself being overtaken by things, remind yourself that here lies an opportunity for me to grow and to mature.

Here are a few things that I’ve tried to put into place in my own life over the past 30 or so years:

Set the start time of the next day before you go to bed. Don’t get up when you ‘feel’ like it, Instead get up at the time you plan to. That way you get ahead of the day rather than the other way around. If you can remember to charge your phone every night as you get into bed, you can remember to charge your life by getting up at the right time the next day.

Prepare in advance for everything you do – don’t just blag your way through meetings and appointments, but prepare well for each thing that’s coming your way.

Have an ‘I can do attitude’. Paul, as he wrote much of the New Testament said in Philippians 4:13…I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

Fully participate in everything you do with great enthusiasm. Be present wherever you go and whatever you do. Don’t sit on the side lines waiting for something good to happen. Make it happen.

If no one else around you encourages you, encourage yourself!

When King David was greatly distressed because the people were talking of stoning him …(1 Samuel 30 v 6), he encouraged himself in the Lord.

As today unfolds, see everything that’s comes your way as an opportunity to grow.

If you are tired of praying, ‘Lord use me’ and nothing’s happening, then change the prayer to….’Lord, make me useable.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2017

By the time that Albert Simpson was 38, he’d suffered two nervous breakdowns and a massive heart attack. His doctor told him that if he didn’t stop preaching, he’d be dead before he reached 40. Climbing even the slightest elevation left him breathless. In desperation, Simpson turned to his Bible to find out what it had to say about healing – soon he became convinced that God wanted to heal him. That was the key!

One afternoon while walking in the woods, he looked up and cried, “Jesus, heal me and give me strength to accomplish my life’s work.” Later he wrote, “in that moment, every fibre in me was tingling with a sense of God’s presence and I knew I was healed!”

A few days later he climbed a 3000 foot mountain. Afterwards he wrote,”a world of weakness and fear lay at my feet and from that time on I literally had a new heart and a new life.”

He went on to hold as many as 20 meetings a week, write dozens of books and establish a world wide organisation.

No matter how good your doctor may be, get a second opinion – God’s.

A.B Simpson went on to live to be almost 80.

The promises of God that he believed then, are also yours today.

Claim them and believe God right now.

James 5:15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2017

God knew the specific purpose that you were born to fulfil, so He provided you with the gifts you’d need to make a success of your life.

Unless you firstly understand that God loves you and has a plan for your life, then you will never move in your full potential.

Loving yourself can almost sound selfish, but actually the way you look at yourself and the way you treat yourself will reflect in the way that others will treat you too. If the truth be told, having a healthy and balanced opinion of who you are will determine how far you will go in life in fulfilling His perfect will for you.

Stop and ask yourself today, ‘how do I really feel about myself?’ Before your final conclusions are made, read and digest these 10 principles that will help you to gain a better God perspective in your life…

Never speak negatively about yourself, unless you are confessing your faults and failings to God.

Think about your God given strengths and encourage yourself to use them – for much of the time no one else will.

Don’t make the mistake of comparing yourself to others – it will kill your joy. You’re unique and you’re an original, so don’t settle for being a copy.

Focus on your potential – not your limitations.

Find out what you do well, and then strive to do it with excellence

Be a God pleaser, not a man pleaser. Have the courage to be different.

Learn to handle criticism. Let it develop you rather than discourage you.

Determine your own worth instead of letting others do it for you.

Keep your shortcomings in perspective – you’re still a work in progress.

Focus daily on your greatest source of confidence – Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2017

We read on Saturday about how pride and arrogance can take us away from God, yet when we are truly sorry, there is always a way back.

King Nebuchadnezzar was one such man who went through some very hard lessons and yet after seven years he came to his senses.

It’s never too late to put things right, it’s never too late to come to God, no matter how far away you’ve been.

In Daniel chapter 4 36-37 The King says “at the same time my sanity was restored, my honor and splendour were returned to me for the glory of my Kingdom. I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.”

So often when we mess up in life, we think that’s it, no second chance, no way back.
Not with God.
As long as you have the right attitude and truly repent, you have the opportunity to come back stronger and greater than before.
We have to go through a process in order for us to become the people God wants us to be. Often, that process is hard, but God is always with us.

No matter what you go through in life, the grace of God is a wonderful thing. It forgives and restores AND blesses in greater ways than we ever thought possible.

That’s God. He’s awesome. Do you know Him today?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2017

I love the book of Daniel in the Bible – how against all pressure, he stood up for what he believed in.

But do you ever think much about the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar?
He was the one who made a golden idol and told them to worship it and when they didn’t, he threw them into the fire.
He was the one who put Daniel into the den of lions, but we all know what happened there.

Daniel 4 tells us that the KIng was full of pride and we know that from Scripture, God hates pride. (Prov 8 v 13 – “I hate pride and arrogance.”).

So God takes him through a series of events to teach him.
– Royal authority is taken from him
– lived with wild animals and eats grass like an ox
– lived outside for seven years and got drenched in dew
– his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails grew like claws

This was some lesson.

But I love vs 34-35 “At the end of that time I Nebuchadnezzar raised my eyes towards Heaven and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the most High and honoured Him”

The King came to his senses and came back to God.

You are never too far away to come back to God. He may let you go through some stuff in order to bring you to your senses, but the main thing is that you do.

The best part of this story is that he came back better than before.

To be continued…

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2017

Everything big starts with something small.

One kernel of corn can produce a stalk with two ears, each having 200 kernels. From those 400 kernels come 400 more stalks, producing 160,000 kernels. From those 160,000 kernels, come 160,000 more stalks, producing a total of 64 million kernels!

Too many of us are not willing to take the little steps that God places before us. If God has called you to do a particular thing then leap at the opportunity, no matter how small. Don’t sit around and wait for opportunities to jump out at you, instead, find a need and fill it.

Instead of just waiting for big opportunities to come knocking on your door, why not get out there and start to sow seeds of kindness wherever you go?

Last weekend, we saw around 1000 people attend our church. Who wouldn’t have thought, 27 years ago when we started out, that that would have been possible. When I left my catering career to take on the little church, I had no idea as to what to do in running a church…but I did know how to love people and make them feel special. Year after year, I simply did what I could do in reaching out to people with love and hope, and gradually those seeds began to multiply.

When no one else was around to open up the building and sort out the heating, vacuuming and toilets, I would just do what was needed and made sure it got done. It was a very small and slow start, but it was just a simple case of finding a need and filling it.

Today, things are very different as we have teams of volunteers, staff and leaders, all who make Champions Church what it is.

Stop dreaming and scheming and get your hands dirty; God will open doors of your next opportunity, if you’ll just serve in any way you can.

Luke 16:10-12 ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th January 2017

I don’t know whether you consider yourself to be a high-level organiser, or maybe organisation isn’t your gifting. Wherever you find yourself on that spectrum, I do believe that when it comes to the big picture of our lives, most of us, if not all of us, want to be highly organised.

We want to know exactly what our future holds, the career path that we should take, and what relationships are right for us.

However, the problem with this kind of living is that it’s contradictory to the journey God wants to take us on. For the path that God wants to lead you down is not one of knowledge but of trust.

If you knew how everything was going to turn out, then you would have no need for trust. Dare I say it, this would in fact make you God. For what makes God God is that He knows everything and you don’t.

And when you have a relationship with Him, it requires for you to become content in the unknown.

If you’re currently asking yourself, ‘how do I do so?’, then consider this:

God knows everything about you. He knows the end from the beginning. Every intricate detail of your life is held within the palm of His hand. And when you realise that you are known by God, it enables you to become content in the unknown.

In whatever uncertainty you may face today, tell yourself, ‘I don’t know, but God knows – and that’s all I need to know.’

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2017

Do you ever remember getting lost on a crowded beach as a child?

I have vivid childhood memories of my Mom and Dad setting up ‘camp’ on our family holidays, and as the sun came out, more and more people would come in search of their private spot too.

Hearing the familiar words, ‘just be careful and don’t go out of sight’, coming from my Mom, I would make the long trek down to the waters’ edge and play for seemingly hours. Without knowing it, I would lose all sense of direction as I played, and by the time I’d bothered to look back to where I’d left my parents…they had disappeared. I was sure that I was looking in the right place and as panic set in, I would run back up the beach for dear life fearing that I was lost and that they’d left me behind. The more I ran the more I got lost.

Even as a young boy, instinct told me to stop running, stand still and simply look for familiar things. Could I spot my Mom’s bright sun umbrella or my Dad’s shiny bald head, or the steps that we had come down on to the beach? Then with a sense of embarrassment, I realised that they were exactly where I’d left them – I had simply wondered away without knowing it.

As I look back over my own life, I realise those childhood memories are more powerful than they appeared at the time all those years ago – here’s my observations that I trust will help in relation to your walk with God…

When feeling lost, don’t run – instead stop, stand still and focus.

If God seems far away, guess who moved.

If you’re still running, you’re likely to be running away from God and not towards Him.

Just because you can’t see God in this moment, it doesn’t mean He can’t see you.

Look for constants in your life – a Christian friend, a great Church or a part of the Bible that you know has helped you in the past.

Don’t focus on the crowds, focus on Jesus

When sensing that you’ve been left behind, remind yourself that God is just where you left Him – He never changes. If things are really desperate right now, don’t just carry on where you are, hoping they will get better, but turn around, look for the point at which your life started to lose its bearings…and then make your way back. His constant love is still waiting for you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2017

I recently went to see the movie ‘Lion’ (it was brilliant, I highly recommend).

As I got to the end of the movie, I thought “Why is this movie called ‘Lion’?” As there had been no apparent reason up until this point.

Anyway, the movie finished and people started to leave. As the credits rolled, an explanation appeared and more information given. For me it was an “Aha” moment.

Unfortunately, some people missed those important details, as they left too early.

Sometimes, we go through life and things happen that we don’t understand. We’re in a process, we’re on a journey and we can’t quite work it out.

What does all this mean? We ask.

What is God doing? We wonder.

How will all of this work out? We question.

DON’T walk out too soon, give up too soon or abandon your post. God is about to reveal something to you, that will make total sense and you will miss it, if you don’t see the thing through.

God always answers, always comes through and all WILL be revealed in God’s perfect timing.
Waiting and trusting are key.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2017

Psalm 121 v 1 ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth.’

As we look to the year ahead, we can start to plan what we’d like to happen or change, where to go on holiday, what could change job-wise, who we’d like to meet etc. We can easily look to circumstances as a solution and a natural progression in our lives. This makes perfect sense! And yet this psalm tells us not to look to the obvious for help.

The hills represents worldly strength, or the logical place of help; e.g. you have a health issue – look for a doctor. You need more money – look for a pay rise at work. You’re lonely – look at getting a pet.

It makes sense in life to look for help in the obvious places, yet this psalm encourages us to look up past the hills and to the Creator of the hills.

He is where our help truly comes from, and He wants you to trust in Him, to look to Him as provider. God loves it when He sees His children choose Him over the easier, more logical solutions to their problems.

This also then encourages us in our needs to actually see them as opportunities! An opening for us through faith to make Gods’s day by looking to Him – the maker of the Heavens and the Earth.

I encourage you this year to look to God in every area of your life. It doesn’t mean we forsake helping ourselves where we can, but it’s learning to put hope in Him – not just needs being met. You will, as long as you’re alive, have a need that needs to be met.

Also, when we look to Him for our help, it takes pressure off our jobs and relationships. We stop seeing our job as the only possible provider of cash and achievement; we stop seeing relationships as the only place we get acceptance.

Shift your focus today and put your hope in Him.

‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2017

Miracles with money. One man that certainly understood this was George Muller, a 19th century man of God.

Early on in his life he was convicted by Luke 6:38 ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

He understood and believed that he should, from then on, start to trust God for his daily needs. He decided to give away all that he received except what was needed for his daily subsistence. God honoured his trust, and over his lifetime Muller was able to…

Found five orphanages which were homes to 10,000 children

Establish seven day schools that educated 81,500 children

Set up 12 Sunday schools that taught 33,000 children

Distribute 2 million Bibles

Give £26,000 to overseas missions

Over the 60 years of Muller’s work, he gave away £1.5m – this was at a time when a house could be bought for just a few pounds. His life made a massive impact on the world and all because he had total trust and faith in God and ordered his finances accordingly.

What will you do with your life and money?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2017

How easy it is to judge other people by their actions, but only judge ourselves by our intentions.

Have you ever noticed that those who are set in their ways are obstinate, but when you are, you are just standing your ground?

When they don’t like someone, they’re prejudiced, but when you don’t, it’s good judgement.

When they treat someone extra well, they’re buttering them up, but when you do, you’re just being thoughtful.

When they take time to do things well, they’re slow or lazy, but when you do, you’re meticulous.

When they find fault with someone, they’re judgemental, but when you do, you’re being perceptive.

When they are gentle, they’re weak, but when you are, you’re gracious.

When they dress well, they’re extravagant, but when you do, you’re being tasteful.

When they say what they think,  they’re spiteful, but when you do, you’re just being honest.

When they take risks, they’re reckless, but when you do, you’re just being brave.

The next time you feel like justifying yourself whilst judging others, make sure that you take a long hard look in the mirror first and ask: what is the purpose of my comments – to take someone else down or to build them up?

Matthew 7:1-5 ‘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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd February 2017

One October evening in 1968, a group of die-hard spectators remained in the Olympic stadium in Mexico City to watch the last finishers of the marathon. An hour before, Mamo Wolfe of Ethiopia had won the race. It was getting cold and dark and the remaining spectators began to leave, when suddenly they heard the sound of sirens and police whistles coming into the stadium. As they watched in amazement, one last runner made his way onto the track for the last laps of the 26 mile race – it was John Akhwari of Tanzania.

His leg was bandaged and bleeding after a fall but he refused to let it stop him. Suddenly, the people in the stadium rose to applaud him across the finishing line. As he hobbled his way back to the changing room, he was asked why he had not quit since he had no chance of winning a medal. He said, “my country didn’t send me here to start the race, but to finish it.”

On Sunday evening just this week our good friend, Matthew Barnett of the Dream Center in LA, completed the World Marathon Challenge: 7 Marathons -7 Continents – 7 days. During the fourtg Marathon, he sustained a knee injury that normally would have prevented anyone from walking any further let alone running another three marathons on three continents. He kept going as promised and has become a living legend, raising more than $1 million for the Dream Center.

He spoke of going through the worst pain that he’d ever felt yet continually said that he would not give up – he didn’t.

What an attitude! He looked beyond the pain of the moment and kept his eye on the purpose for which he was there.

Our job is not just to start, but to finish strong in life.

No matter what challenges you are facing today, stay strong and don’t quit.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2017

One day, a Wall Street broker fell in love with with a rising young Broadway actress.

Before proposing marriage, he decided to have her checked out by a private investigator, after all, he thought, “I’ve got a lot to lose.”

He asked the agency not to reveal his identity to the investigator making the report. When it came back, the report said, ‘she has an excellent character, an unblemished past and a great future. But we have one concern, she’s been seen lately with a Wall Street broker whose character and ethics are questionable.’

The question is: if you were that person, what would be revealed about your character?

Reputation is perception, but character is reality.

It’s what you are in the dark that matters. It’s who you are when no one else is looking that matters.

It’s having values that you refuse to violate even for profit or advantage. It’s a wall of integrity built day by day and brick by brick.

Until you can learn to trust yourself, your goals will have to wait.

God will allow you to pass through situations that bring to the surface weak areas which need to be dealt with. Until they are, you will find yourself going back to square one again.

Make it your prayer and your goal today to live a life that is not only pleasing to God, but one that attracts the attention of man…for all the right reasons.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st January 2017

What a question Jesus asked to a cripple of 38 years: “do you want to get well?”

Who wouldn’t?

This paralysed man had been lying by the pool of Bethesda for almost a lifetime.

How long does it take for a problem to become a way of life?

When Jesus asked the question, He was really asking him if he wanted to take responsibility for his life by getting a job, becoming a father to his children, a contributor to his community and a solution to someone else’s problem.

Kay Arthur tells of meeting a beggar one day on the old streets of Jerusalem. As he sat begging, his trouser leg was rolled up to reveal his terrible sores. She says, “my nurse’s heart brought my feet to a halt. I wanted to bend down and shield the open wound from the dirt. It should be washed, medicated and dressed by someone that cared. Suddenly a friend took me by the arm and pulled me away from the man and onwards to my destination. I was a tourist and didn’t know about these things. My friend told me that this man didn’t wish to be well. He made a living from his wound. He could have been made well years ago but didn’t wish to. He was enjoying bad health. As I looked back sadly, I caught one last glimpse of a man that was less – much less- than he could have been.”

Are you using your circumstances as an excuse to stay the way you are today?

If Jesus asked you right now, “do you want to get well emotionally, physically or spiritually?” – what would your answer be?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2017

Our small dog is very protective of his food when placed in the bowl on his ‘territorial’ bed. Our larger (much larger) dog is totally respectful that this is not an area to venture into.

Even though this bundle of fluff called Percy has nothing to shout about in terms of size, he is well able to stand guard and ward off anything that threatens what belongings to him by right.

Snoop, the larger one, has learnt all by himself, a very interesting tactic that makes it so simple to steal what is not his. He simply waits for a diversion to be created in order that Percy will lose focus on what’s important to him. This can be anything from the door bell ringing, to a mention of something more attractive on offer, like a trip in the car to the office, or even better: a walk to his favourite spot.
Snoop senses the diversion of interest and simply strolls over to the unattended bowl of food, picks it up and carries it off to his own bed and scoffs it like there’s no tomorrow. Percy is none the wiser as he’s now far too busy thinking about something else that’s taking his fancy. I’m pretty sure that when he realises that the person at the door was just the postman or that the ride in the car was in fact a false alarm, he must look back and think to himself…’I’ve just been ripped off – again!’

How much is that so much like our lives? We are so passionate about what we should rightly be protective of that we would fight off anyone -that is, until we get distracted. Distraction comes in a number of ways, from exciting offers to another legitimate battle that we should fight, and all of a sudden we realise that we have been ripped off whilts we have been ‘barking up the wrong tree’.

One of the greatest weapons that Satan uses against us is exactly this. Look at how easy it is to believe that we should leave what we should be guarding for something seemingly more attractive…

2 Corinthians 11:14 ‘…for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.’

The next time you feel that your attention is being diverted by something that seems a good and even godly cause, think again, you could well be being drawn away from looking after what is rightfully yours, and losing everything from right under your nose.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2017

We are all called to mountain living.
Why live in a valley, when there are mountain tops to experience ?

Here’s a few things you’ll need to know before and as you climb:

The closer you get to the top, the less people you’ll see. Not many people make the climb – be prepared for that.

When you meet people up there, they’ll be happy to see you. Because it’s a lonely place, when you do meet others who made the climb, you’ll immediately have a great connection.

It’s hard work to get there. Often you’ll feel like giving up and it will be very scary at times. Sometimes it will take all you have, all your stamina, all your persistence and energy and all your effort and will.

You’ll get close to the edge on many occasions. Yes, it can be a dangerous place, the path’s will get narrow and you’ll feel like turning back. Be careful as you go, as the edge is a risky place to be. But remember nothing was ever accomplished without risk.

The view is spectacular. You’ll see things for yourself that you only ever heard about. You’ll experience some breathtaking moments…and you’ll feel amazing.

The next time will be easier. Do it once and you will be an experienced climber. You’ll know how to do it, you’ll be able to take others with you and you’ll wonder why you never did it sooner.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2017

Imagine you have a tree covered with bad fruit. You decide to remove the fruit, and using sellotape, attach nice tasty fruit bought from the local grocers.

What would be the point? It would prove expensive, time consuming and frustrating to keep up!

Even though this sounds crazy, it’s easy to fall into this trap in our Christian lives. We can focus on the bad or lack of fruit in our lives and start to manufacture or enhance our fruit, but the taped on fruit doesn’t last and for how long can we keep it up? Not long.

For a tree, it’s an obvious solution. Don’t focus on the fruit but on the conditions of the tree, the soil it’s planted in, the sun and water it is or isn’t getting. If the conditions are right, you don’t have to worry about the fruit, it will just follow.

For some reason in our lives, it’s not so obvious and we fall into the trap of feeling guilty over our lack and end up just trying harder. We should instead step back and assess our environment and our growing conditions.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Here, Jesus clearly states what growing conditions are needed to produce fruit, simply ‘to remain’ in him.

Two areas that will help us do this are:

Where are you planted? Deeply in His Church or more shallow and uncommitted?

What do you feed on daily? Social media or the Bible? Even just a 10 minute daily devotion at the start of the day can set your course for the following 24 hours.

I encourage you this year to assess your growing conditions, do what you can to remain in Him and watch the results follow!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th January 2017

At 19 months, Helen Keller contracted an illness that left her without hearing and sight and was labelled as deaf and dumb. Helen’s parents didn’t agree, and so they hired a teacher by the name of Anne Sullivan to work with her, and she eventually learnt to read and write using Braille. Amazingly in 1904 she received her degree with honours and went on to devote her life to helping others.

Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson praised and almost every American President of her day invited her to the White House.

When asked if there was anything worse than being blind, Helen replied, “Yes having sight but no vision.”

At 12, Thomas Edison developed such a severe hearing loss that his teachers recommended he be taken out of school. Labelled as a slow learner, he used his ‘handicap’ to focus on his work and gave the world over 1000 inventions including the light bulb and the motion camera.

No matter how you’ve been labelled by the experts, understand that God’s plan for your life is still as strong today as the day you were born. Use what you have to be a blessing to others and God will enable your life to shine and stand out more than most.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But Jesus 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2017

We all want a stress-free life without ever having to work at it, but it can’t be done.
Over 25 years ago now I was experiencing some really strange symptoms and after a series of visits to the Doctors I was diagnosed with chronic stress. I was advised that day that I should take a break and go on a holiday, something that I explained that I couldn’t afford to do or wish to do. I eventually ended up having to take three months off and a very kind couple paid for us to go on holiday.

That time away saved me and helped me to understand that I’d simply burnt myself out.

As I’ve put things in place in order to live a more balanced life over the years, I realise that its kept me from ever going backwards, even though I’ve come close on a number of occasions.

Here are a few things that you should consider in order to help you keep stress free in 2017:

  • Take time to pray and read the Bible each day
  • Plan for a holiday…if you look like your passport photograph then you probably need one.
  • Eat right – a balanced diet is not about having a biscuit in each hand.
  • Exercise 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes.
  • Develop better time-management habits.
  • Make room in your life for fun.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Maintain your sense of humour.
  • Start counting your blessings.
  • When you talk to yourself, say nice things.
  • Simplify your life by eliminating clutter.
  • Develop a sense of purpose by setting yourself goals.
  • Forgive – grudges are too heavy to carry.
  • Be generous.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

 

Fresh Hope – 24th January 2017

I grew up with my older brother John, and my younger sister Stephanie.

In my sister’s bedroom was a huge built in toy cupboard and every year at about this time it would over filled with all of our ‘played with’ toys from Christmas that needed a home.

Just about every toy from every Christmas past been shoved into that space, which made it into one giant mess, but also made for one amazing adventure on a boring Saturday morning.

With nothing to do but rummage through endless layers of toys, games and puzzles, we would find something from several Christmases ago that was as exciting as the day we’d received it, but forgotten how good it was. My favourite was always finding an old jigsaw puzzle and getting to spread it out on the dining room table. Days would pass by as we each tried to do our bit to put it all together, only to find that there was just one piece missing…and that piece was probably at the bottom of the toy cupboard.

Life is pretty much like that puzzle as you spend days and years constructing what you want from life, only to find that despite an amazing picture that’s forming, there is still something missing and you’ve no idea where to find it.

The puzzle will never be complete without the missing piece and no matter how much you try to console yourself that there is only one piece missing…it just never will be right.

The missing piece in all of our lives is a mere change in the spelling of that one word – PEACE.

Billy Graham said that inside every human being is a God-shaped hole that only God can fill.

Before anyone’s life can be fully complete, you have to find peace with God.
That is as simple as believing in Jesus and inviting Him into your life. That prayer changes everything and completes the picture on the box of your life.

It may seem just one pretty simple step in the grand scheme of things, but believe me, it’s a huge step to bring to your empty existence.

When you make peace WITH God, an incredible transformation takes place deep within you, and what follows is equally incredible and is explained as the peace OF God – A once and for all peace that comes from experiencing Jesus in your life.

Missing peace?

Search for Jesus today.

No God – no peace

Know God – know peace.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2017

I don’t know whether you have a best friend, or maybe a close friend. Someone that you can confide in, someone that you can share your heart with, someone who knows you better than most.

The amazing thing to me about a friend like this, is that they know both your strengths and weaknesses and yet still want to be your friend.

However, can I suggest that even your closest of friends don’t know everything about you? There are still parts of you that you would be embarrassed or quite possibly ashamed to share even with them.

But I have some great news for you today. There is a God who knows everything about you (and I mean everything), and yet still loves you. He’s the God who created you, He’s the God who knows you better than you know yourself and yet despite Him knowing your good side, your bad side and your ugly side, His love for you remains unchanged.

When you recognise that Jesus both knows you and loves you, it makes it all the more scandalous.

I believe that a relationship with Jesus begins not with you knowing Him, but when you realise that He knows you.

I want to encourage you to remind yourself each day – ‘He knows me and He loves me’… ‘He knows me and He loves me’… ‘He knows me and He loves me’…
I promise you’ll never be the same.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 21st January 2017

One of my favourite ever Bible verses has to be from Psalm 92 ‘Those who are planted in the House of the Lord will flourish’; it also goes on to say ‘They will bear fruit in old age. They will stay fresh and green.’

Let me encourage you from these verses today.

Here are a few pointers…

1. You have to be planted.
There’s planted and there’s planted.
Every year when I put my bedding plants into my garden, my husband asks me “have you pushed them in properly?”
Sometimes through laziness and lack of time, I will do it quickly. But one thing I have learnt: if it’s not pushed in properly, it won’t grow and it will die.
If you don’t push yourself down into the house of God and plant yourself fully, you will not be flourishing.
You have a responsibility to push yourself in deep. Get committed, get involved, get planted.

2. I love the word flourish – it means to do really good. Unfortunately, some people flourish and some don’t.
Ask yourself today, “am I flourishing?”

3. Age doesn’t matter. You can still be old and flourishing for God. You can still bear fruit and you can still be used by God in a great way. How awesome is that? The world may have written you off because of your age, but not God, you are useful to Him as long as you have breath.

4. Stay green and fresh.
We don’t buy vegetables and fruit that have gone past their ‘sell by date’. We buy the freshest, we buy the greenest – even if it means looking at the back of the shelf and reaching for the best pack.
When you’re not planted firmly, you may be past your ‘sell by date’ because you’re not green and you’re not fresh. The way we stay green and fresh, is to stay planted in God’s house.

So get planted, stay planted and let God do the flourishing in your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2017

Mark 4:35-39 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

As I read this passage, I was intrigued as to why Mark, the writer, would include the four words ‘just as He was’.

As you read it again for yourself, you will notice that it was in reference to the disciples taking Jesus along with them for the ride.

How could you take someone along with you anything but just as they are or were?

As I thought about the significance of such words, I began to understand why Mark would include some seemingly throw away comments about Jesus.

It’s one thing for us to come to an understanding that we can get into Jesus boat just as WE are, but the equally great truth is that we have to allow Jesus to climb into our boat just as HE is.

How many times do we find ourselves wanting to change a little bit of Jesus – that part of Him that says ‘give everything up to follow me’, or that bit that says ‘don’t worry about anything’, when we know we’d rather fret about things?

How small is Jesus in your life, simply because you’ve shaved so much off Him that there’s hardly anything left?

You can’t make Jesus fit around your lifestyle and expect Him to simply downsize who He is to accommodate you.

He’s God…you’re not!

I encourage you today to take Jesus on board ‘just as He is’ and not make Him a ‘pocket sized’ version that you can pick up and throw in your bag like some lucky charm.

Jesus is either Lord of all or not at all.

Do you want Him with you on you journey today? Then take Him just as He is…He’ll calm your troubled water, speak to your storm and make sure that you get to the other side.

Let’s go.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th January 2017

The defining moments of my life have determined who I have become. Take away just one of them – good or bad -and I would not be the same person.

The defining moments that lie before everyone of us today will continue to shape who we become in the future.

As I look back, so far, over my life and reflect on them, I can see that all of them fall into different categories.

Leadership expert, John Maxwell, says there are four categories that each of our defining moments will be filed under.
Ground breakers – many of my defining moments enabled me to start something new. One such defining moment happened just two years ago when I felt that many people would benefit from receiving some fresh inspiration every morning before they went to work or in fact at any time they decided during the day. ‘Fresh Hope’ was born and now has a following on our app that is quickly working its way towards 3000. It gives daily hope to people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world.

Heart breakers – not all defining moments are positive ones. All of us will have experienced some very difficult moments I’m sure, but those experiences give us a valuable opportunity to stop and take stock of our lives and change direction if necessary.

Cloud breakers – back in 1992 I felt strongly that God had spoken to me about buying a two acre piece of land. I knew instantly what piece of land it was, but didn’t know at that time what it would be used for. Today our church stands on that property and is home to hundreds of people that gather there each weekend. We had been ‘on the road’ for almost 15 years when we opened the brand new building seven years ago this week, and little did we know that the ‘cloud’ that was keeping us from growing beyond two hundred people was now to be lifted as the church quickly grew and more than trebled in size.

Chart breakers – the finest defining moments allow a person to soar to a much higher level. A number of years ago I felt moved to give a very large donation from our church to a very needy but worthy cause. The money was being held in an account to enable us to build our own new building. We really were in need of that money ourselves, but I was convinced it was the right thing to do. That one act of giving resulted not only in supernatural finance coming back to us within nine months but also has remarkably opened doors for us to be in relationship with many outstanding people all across the world. That one defining moment became a chart breaker for us at the time and we are still feeling the effects today.

You don’t get to choose your defining moments – they choose you when least expected. But you do get to chose how you respond to them, and i can safely say that we become better people when we experience a defining moment and respond to it correctly.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th January 2017

Final day – prayer and fasting

Don’t worry if nothing of any significance has happened for you, to you or through you during the last ten days…they will.

There is no promise whatsoever that during a fast that you will get the breakthrough that you needed or wanted, but that breakthrough will come.

Remember Jesus didn’t fast for a breakthrough there and then, but fasted so that He would always be prepared for whatever came His way at any given time.

Ultimately we know from the Bible and from experience, that God openly rewards those that privately fast.

When we fast and pray, supernatural occurrences start to take effect. They may well happen today or they may be gearing you up for your breakthrough in 12 months time, so don’t be discouraged; in fact most of what happens during a fast is done ‘in’ you rather than ‘for’ you.

Here are just two stories to encourage you as to what can happen during these special sacrificial times with God…

A few days ago, a lady had to go to hospital and was surprised to hear that she had a heart murmur. She told the nurses that they must have it wrong as she had never had such a thing. They repeated to her that this was serious and that she would have to stay in hospital. She refused what they were saying and said that she didn’t want to stay. Eventually she was allowed to go home and on Monday afternoon (this week) she started to pray. She asked God to help her and as a sign, she wanted to go the miracle service at Champions on that evening and that Pastor Mark would publicly call out her very condition so that she could be healed.

The question I would ask is: what chances are there of that very thing happening without God’s supernatural intervention?

As I was praying on that very same day ahead of the miracle service, I had the very distinct impression that I should draw a heart monitor on a piece of paper and write alongside it ‘heart murmur’.

As the miracle service got under way, I called out all those that had a heart murmur. You can imagine how amazed that this lady was that God had done exactly what she asked for just a few hours earlier.

When we pray, things happen – when we don’t, they don’t.

A young lady had recently been taken by her mom to have tests, as her periods had suddenly stopped. At the hospital, she underwent a scan which revealed that she had cysts on her ovaries and would need at some stage to have them treated.

They decided to come to the prayer service on the first day of the fast and see what would happen.

I had never spoken to this young lady or her mom before, but during the service I saw an unusual picture in my mind of ovarian cysts that were popping and being healed. Right at the end of the service I called anyone forward that had this problem as God wanted to heal them.

You can imagine the tears of joy that flowed when this young lady was brought forward by her Mom for prayer. She was totally amazed that God had pinpointed her daughter’s exact condition and was about to heal her.

As we come to the end of this particular time of fasting, I encourage to keep praying daily for the things that have been on your heart at this time, until you see them come to pass.

God does not finish His work when the fast finishes, in fact this is just the start of Him decluttering your life, so that you can receive everything He has for you this year.

God is a supernatural God and can and will do supernatural things for you, in you and through you.

Thank you so much for being on this ten day journey with us; I know that God will be your reward.

Make a plan to have fasting as a part of your lifestyle from now on.

Stay strong in faith.

Never give up.

Matthew 6:16-18 ‘When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devoting for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2017

Day 9 – Prayer and fasting

When you are praying and fasting, remember that your persistence breaks resistance. It brings you to a place where you can feel God more powerfully in your life – but it also positions you so that HE can hear your heart’s cry too.

So many times throughout the Bible, Jesus was passing through a city or passing right by a person. He didn’t stop until the people or person cried out to Him in order to get His attention. He would then immediately stop, turn and help them, often resulting in a miracle.

Prayer and fasting says to God “I’m serious about this. I want you to come and help me. I desperate for you to deal with situation in my life.”

As we come to the final two days of this special time, be determined not just to pray and fast on special occasions and when encouraged to do so for a limited period, but make it a part of your lifestyle in the future.

When you persist in prayer, you will notice that you start to see breakthroughs that no one else sees simply because…’persistence breaks resistance.’

Many of the prayers that I have seen answered in my own life have not come quickly, but as a result of week in and week out prayer for that very stubborn problem or situation.

For years I prayed for a particular person that had gone far away from God. That was more than 25 years ago now, and only in the last month has that prayer started to be answered. It had been so long, that when I saw them in church for the first time last week I didn’t even recognise them.

Don’t be disappointed if nothing seems to have happened yet – your prayers and fasting have been stored up by God, and no matter where and no matter when, God will answer at the right time.

Keep going.

Stay strong in faith.

Hebrews 10:35-36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2017

As we continue in our days of prayer and fasting, here are some thoughts from 1 Kings chapter 18 to encourage you.

The nation was in a famine. Maybe your life feels like that? Nothing is growing, everything seems dry and there seems no end to it.
You’ve prayed and you can’t see the answer yet.

Elijah the man of God in this story, didn’t just pray about it, he believed it.
He said to his servant not once but several times to go and look for the clouds because they were surely coming. He believed for the answer.

Your prayers right now may seem unanswered, but God is certainly on the move.
Don’t be influenced by negative reports.
Don’t be put off by ‘no sign’ of your prayer getting answered.

Like Elijah, you have to get into a place of “I can hear it, but I can’t yet see it”, “I’m expecting it, even though with my physical eye, I can’t see it yet.”

He kept telling his servant to go and look because he could hear the answer. The servant did what was asked, several times. Until eventually he came back with a great report. “Yes master, I see a cloud, it’s only small, but the rain is coming.”

Be assured that God is answering your prayers, He’s on it.

When faith accompanies your praying…God loves that.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th January 2017

As we journey through this time of prayer and fasting, I want to encourage you with these few thoughts that will help you. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives within us. The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as a fountain of life within us.
We however, are responsible for the upkeep of that Fountain.
When you go to church, someone may have prepared a great meal for you (the word, the service, the worship) but it’s your responsibility to drink for yourself.
When you spend time in God’s presence, when you pray, when you fast, when you read His Word, when you worship, all those things will replenish the fountain within you.

Think of it like this: a camel is an animal that has a built-in reserve, so that when he is in a dry and dark place he can call on the reserve that is in him and drink. See this time of prayer and fasting as a time of building up your reserve, so that when you hit a time of dryness or a dark place (and we all do from time to time) you can call on the reserve within you to get you through.

God has designed that camel to still drink even in the driest of conditions, and God has designed you and provided you with a fountain of life within you so that you can overflow and call on that reserve whenever it is needed.
The camel will only be able to drink from his reserve, if he has taken the time to drink when he was at the place of water.
During these days draw close to God, drink plenty and let that fountain inside of you flow out in the coming days.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2017

DAY 5 – prayer and fasting

Are you in a desperate situation today?

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah was. He found himself surrounded by a powerful enemy army – Annihilation was certain without God’s intervention.

The Bible records in 2 Chronicles 20:2-4 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” which is En Gedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

He desperately needed to know God’s plan in order to defeat this great army and so asked everyone, even the children, to fast and seek God.

As they did this God spoke and said…“Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)

As the people fasted and prayed, God told them exactly how the enemy would approach and exactly what they should do in response.

As they obeyed what God had said, they not only defeated the enemy in just one day, they then took a further three days to carry off the all the riches that the enemy had left behind -now that’s what you call a victory!

Do you want God to tell you what to do at this time in your life? Fast, worship and pray. Be still and see Him work on your behalf – they didn’t even have to fight…God fought for them.

The promise of God for you today is…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He will fight for you, and not only that, you will take back everything that the enemy has stolen from you too.

Your prayers and fasting WILL bring a reward.

Stay strong.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th January 2017

DAY 4 – prayer and fasting

Whether done corporately or individually, fasting is a personal, private discipline. It is a sacrifice born out of an expectancy that God wants to do so much more in me and through while I’m on this planet.

Fasting is not a manipulative tool to get something from God, but is a personal sacrifice that God chooses to reward openly.

Private devotion brings public promotion.

When you read about Jesus, you do not see Him praying in public nearly as much as you see Him praying in private.

He would often pray through the night and then out of those times in private devotion, public demonstrations of God’s power would be poured out in healings, raising the dead, abundance and so much more.

Where there is little private devotion there is little power.

Prayer and fasting plugs you into the power of God.

It’s interesting that the three wisest men in the Old Testament, Joseph, Daniel and Solomon were three men that fasted. They also each went on to great success, honour and wealth – I personally believe that fasting can bring breakthrough in every area of your life, including a breakthrough over poverty.

Daniel diligently sought God through fasting and prayer while in captivity, and was given wisdom over all others and greatly prospered.

I encourage you today not to be shy about praying about all matters in your life, and not least of all those things which effect you financially.

If you’re in business or starting out in business then make it a daily matter of prayer accompanied with fasting.

If you are struggling financially in any way, then bring your requests to God during this time, otherwise you will end up ‘hiding’ certain things from Him that you feel He wouldn’t want to know about – He already knows about them!

I chose to pray about everything concerning my life, family and church. I have done so for several decades now and can look back at breakthrough after breakthrough that has come through regular prayer and fasting.

Start to get comfortable with talking to God about everything that concerns and touches your life. He wants and loves to hear from you.

Be specific with your requests.

Vague faith…vague answers.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2017

DAY 3 – PRAYER AND FASTING

Fasting is not going without food for a period of time – that is starving, or even dieting, but it’s not fasting.

Simply stated, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose.

From the very beginning, fasting has been a normal part of a relationship with God. The Bible never says ‘if’ you fast but ‘when’ you fast, and in the New Testament it is placed in its importance alongside prayer and giving – (Matthew Chapter 6 ) – each bringing its own reward.

Spiritual fasting alongside prayer brings a person into a deeper, more intimate and powerful relationship with the Lord.

When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly sensitive to the things of God.

Once you realise what can happen during and after a fast, you soon begin to realise that fasting is an overlooked and forgotten source of power.

Matthew tells a story of a father who had a demon possessed son. For years he watched helplessly as his son suffered with severe convulsions. Having exhausted every attempt to cure the boy, he took him to the disciples for prayer but all to no avail.

When the boy was bought to Jesus, the Bible says …”And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17 v 18-20)

Now we all like to focus on the statement ..’nothing will be impossible for you’, but the main thrust of this miracle is found in what comes after the word ‘however’ – the key to this stubborn problem was prayer AND fasting.

If that’s the case, we have to ask what blessings are not being released; what answers to prayer are not getting through, and what bondages are not being broken?

If Jesus could have accomplished all that He came to do without fasting, why would He fast?

He knew that there were supernatural things that could be released only that way.

Let’s press into fasting and prayer today and see God unlock some supernatural things that have yet to be part of your life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th January 2017

Welcome to day 2 of prayer and fasting.

Sometimes the most helpful advice and inspiration when starting out in a fast is of a very basic and practical nature.

For most people, fasting is foreign and they therefore 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. Its 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 normally 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 place with God than you’ve ever done before and the thoughts of food and eating will take a back seat.

Medical doctor, Don Colbert says…”fasting not only prevents sickness, if done correctly, it holds amazing healing benefits to those that suffer illness and disease. Fasting is a mighty key to healing the body.”

At the age of 77, Dr Tanner decided under strict medical supervision to fast for 53 days. Among other things, his once thin, grey hair was replaced with new black hair. It was the same colour as when he was a young man. What’s more, he did this several times and lived to be 93!

Remember…if you’re already feeling like giving up – you’re not alone in this. There are hundreds 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th January 2017

Welcome to DAY 1 of our 10 day journey of prayer and fasting.

Remember fasting never changes God towards you, but your ways towards Him.

Fasting sensitises us towards the voice of the Holy Spirit and therefore increases our ability to hear what He wants to say to us directly.

Going without food and other luxuries also gives us more time with God and more of a hunger for God.

Sacrificing what would normally be for most, three meals a day (or a partial fast of goodies) brings with it a very special reward from God that can be easily found in the teaching of the New Testament…

Matthew 6:16-18 ‘When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’
Although no one can definitively answer what that reward is, I would suggest that it comes in the form of greater answers to prayer like you’ve never seen before.

I got off a plane after a 12 hour flight to Capetown a few years ago, right after a prolonged fast at our church. I was pretty weak and underweight but what followed was nothing short of a modern day miracle. In the very first services that I spoke at, a non – believing man that was at home dying with cancer was taken a handkerchief by a friend that I had prayed over in the service. Within days of receiving the handkerchief, he went back for further diagnosis and the five tumours, each the size of tennis balls had disappeared.

Many people testify of miraculous interventions in their lives during an intense time of fasting.

Now of course you will feel hungry as you’d expect, but many also speak of no desire for food after a few days, whilst others say that they never want to go back to their old lifestyle of eating everything in sight!

Now let’s get down to business…

Unashamedly take a piece of paper and write down as many things that you want to believe for during this special time of prayer. Make your list unselfish, in that it should be about the things that need to change in your life, family, finance etc rather than “Lord, I want a new Ferrari next week.”

Now ask yourself if you actually believe that God could do these things for you. If you can honestly say that you have faith for them to happen, then make them a direct prayer to God each day.

Keep your list private, but also keep it where you can access every moment that you spend time in prayer.

Remember God is more ready to answer your prayers than you are ready to pray them.

We may not see immediate answers in the 10 days, but the more time that passes the more answers to prayer you will see happen in and through your life.

Don’t delay.

Start to make that list now, and then add to it as the 10 days roll by, and remember this kind of prayer and fasting doesn’t finish after that, but can become part of your lifestyle as a Christ follower for the rest of your life.

Here’s our key verse for today…

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.

Have a blessed day.

See you tonight for our ‘kick-off’ prayer meeting at Champions Church – 7pm.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th January 2017

I love the story of Elisha and Elijah.
Elisha was his apprentice, his assistant and he was learning all he could from his Master Elijah.

In 2 Kings Chapter 2, we read how Elijah was about to die and he had to visit several places before he did. He urged Elisha to stay, but Elisha would not leave him.

Several times he told him, and several times Elisha insisted on sticking close to his Master.

When Elijah was just about to die, he asked Elisha what he would like “a double portion of what you have, I want your life to be mine” was his reply.

Here’s three things we can learn from this account.

1. Be committed. Elisha was so committed to Elijah and would not leave him, no matter where the journeys were going to take them.

Be committed to Christ and His Church.

2. Serve with clean motives.
Elisha had a heart for God and a heart to serve Elijah and he served with all his heart, because he was serving God. He did not put himself first.

Serve with clean motives, not for selfish gains.

3. Position yourself correctly.
When the time came for the blessing to be passed on, Elisha was right there with him.
Make sure you are exactly where God wants you to be.

Your time is coming to be mightily used by Him, just make sure you’re in the right place at that moment.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2017

I have a 12 week old baby at home. Could you imagine me saying ‘I’m a little disappointed wth his attitude?’ In the last 12 weeks, he’s not once asked me how I am, or done a single thing to help out around the house!’

Obviously, you would presume I’m joking because these are things a baby can’t do and shouldn’t worry about. What a baby can do and does worry about is sleeping and eating. That’s all they need to do – the basics that are in their grasp. Then everything else like mortgage repayments and nursery places are taken care of for them.

We would enjoy life a lot more and make greater progress if we would just follow the same example of focusing on what we can do instead of what we can’t. Why worry about what we can’t affect and fail to do the basics that we can?

Don’t waste time and emotion worrying about where you feel you’re called to be in the future, or regretting the lost opportunities of the past, just do the basics that God is asking of you in the present!

James 1:22 ‘But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.’

You can’t steer a boat that’s not moving, but as soon as you become a ‘doer’, you start to get some momentum in life and God can start steering you into the plans He has for you.

Don’t waste time trying to figure out what God’s not asking you to figure out, instead, make full use of your time with what God has put in your hands to do now, however basic and simple that is.

God loves you so much! Hand over your concerns and worries today and look at, who you can encourage. Where you can give. Where you can serve. He will then amaze you with the bigger picture He has had planned for you all along!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th January 2017

If I’m honest, and maybe I’m speaking for the majority here, I’ve felt pretty lousy today. It was my first day to be back in the office and I’m suffering from Christmas lag – that’s a new phrase I’ve just created.

I’ve so enjoyed the rest, the festivities and the food that my body is crying out for more. Instead of feeling energised I’m actually feeling more tired than when I started the Christmas break! In reality, I’m not more tired, how can I be with so much rest; it’s just that my body is craving more of what I’ve been feeding it – ‘give me chocolate’ was its cry at 3 o’clock this afternoon.

By tomorrow I am hoping to feel on top of the world again as my stomach gets the message that the biscuits, and the chocolate, and the Christmas pudding, and the sweets, and the rich food is well and truly over, at least for a while anyway.

Isn’t it amazing how your body can dictate your mood, your emotion, your energy and your desire to such an extent that you actually begin to believe that that’s the way things are going to be around here?

In the same way that over-indulgence can actually make you feel down about yourself, so the opposite is also true, in that when you subject your body to a fast of all the things that you crave, then you start to heighten the very things that matter most in life. Spirituality takes on a whole new level and senses that you feel you had lost forever start to return as you seek God, more than your next meal or box of chocolates.

Each year we start a corporate fast at the church and I always encourage each person to participate at whatever level they wish. No matter what you give up sacrificially in order to seek God, you will start to feel the incredible closeness of the Holy Spirit, even though you may battle at the same time with hunger pangs.

I encourage you to journey with us on this year’s 10 day fast and begin to experience God’s presence in a powerful way. I can guarantee that you will feel spiritually energised and renewed, not to mention the fact that you’ll lose weight into the bargain.

This year’s fast begins on Monday 9th January and ends on Wednesday 18th January.

Each day I will be sharing inspirational stories, teaching and prayer points to help guide you through your time alone with God.

Knowing that hundreds of other people will be starting their fast at the same time, will in and of itself be an encouragement to set this special time aside to seek God and to keep going until the end.

Be sure to join me each day from Monday onwards for a special prayer and fasting edition of Fresh Hope.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2017

How would you score on a rating scale of 1-10 with how thankful you have been this Christmastime?

Go on…be really honest.

Maybe you’ve felt ungrateful for what you didn’t get rather than what you did, or maybe you didn’t get anything and so you feel justified for being in a new years strop.

Being thankful has very little to do with what you have and don’t have, as its very essence is to do with having a grateful heart in each and every circumstance of life. There will always be something to complain about and many times in this coming year you will feel hard done to, but the key is to maintain a thankful heart, no matter what.

Being miserable and ungrateful not only affects your own well being negatively, but affects everyone around you also, as they pick up that very noticeable vibe coming from you.

The story of the ten lepers in the New Testament is a very well known one. They each got healed by Jesus who then advised them to go and get their condition checked out by the authorities of the day. The story then highlights how only one of the nine came back to Jesus in order to give thanks for his miracle.

Not only did Jesus make mention of the one who returned, He also made another point that is not so easy to see in this familiar passage. It says that all 10 were ‘healed’, but for the one that returned to give thanks it paints a very different picture, in that it says he was ‘made whole’.

This powerful change of words helps us to understand the nature of gratitude in that it brings a wholeness to our lives like nothing else.

How is your attitude of gratitude going to score from now on?

Mine has just gone up to a seven or even an eight.

I’m thankful for you today.

Be thankful…be whole.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd January 2017

As we start this brand new year, and for most today, a brand new working week, it won’t take too long for that Christmas spirit to take a back seat and our focus to be drawn towards the never ending cycle of bad news that grips our world each day that we wake.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, yet unrealistic to hope that 2017 would be somewhat different to previous years, in that we would once and for all find World peace.

It’s possible that you could be one the many that are always fearing what is going to happen to you or one of your own family members at any given time. Maybe your mind right now is totally consumed with a tragedy that may well come close to you, so much so that you have forgotten how to live in the freedom that Jesus has paid for you to experience.

2017 is the year to live free from fear; not that we shouldn’t be cautious or be wise about where we go and don’t go, but God wants you to know and feel His protection at all times, in fact, even His angels are assigned to your life specifically to watch over you.

I wonder if today your biggest enemy is your inner- me and you too like Job in the Bible have this to say…

Job 3:25-26 ‘What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.’

Be careful as you approach this year to not keep almost wishing things on yourself so that when they do happen, you simply say, ‘I told you they would!’

There is a very serious side to life, and I’m not suggesting that we should all just be totally flippant about what’s going on around us, but the woman described by Solomon in the book of Proverbd gets my vote any day…

Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Why not today, set your focus on all the good things that God has in store for your life and begin to trust Him with the wonderful new year that He has blessed you with?

Are you allowing fearful thoughts to rob you already this year? Then make this verse your own as you travel into today.
Philippians 4:8 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd January 2017

As we start this new year, I want to remind you of this great biblical truth: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness.’

It doesn’t say ‘okay is Thy faithfulness.’ or ‘average is Thy faithfulness.’ or ‘good if I’ve been good, is Thy faithfulness.’ or ‘Depends on how I feel, is Thy faithfulness.’
But it does say ‘GREAT is Thy faithfulness.’

Whatever your day is going to bring you…
Whatever your life is throwing at you right now…
Whatever the new year holds for you…
Remember this ‘GREAT is Thy faithfulness.’

The dictionary definition of great is ‘Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above average’

Think of your best, then hundred fold it. That’s the extent of His great faithfulness today.

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Happy new year to you all.
He is a faithful God.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2017

Happy new year!

Today is that magic day where you hope beyond hope that 2017 will turn out to be a good one, or if not a good one, at least not so bad as last year.

Yet in reality, New Year’s Day has no such special power to make the next 12 months any better or worse than the previous 365 days.

Happiness cannot come from a new year in and of itself, but rather from the decisions we make and the directions we take.

If you continue to make unwise, unhealthy, ungodly decisions then I can tell exactly how your year is going to turn out.

Take the wrong directions in life that are contrary to your values, beliefs and convictions, and you can pretty much forecast what your new year will hold.

The blessings contained in the new year are never down to chance fait or luck, as some would suggest, but down to applying wisdom to our lives and living in a way that’s right.

Over the next 24 hours, before its ‘business as usual’ take a little more time to refresh, but more so use the time to reflect.

How I am going to live this year that’s different to 2016?

What vision do I have for my life?

What am I unhappy with…is there anything that I can do about it?

What unfulfilled dream do I have that’s bigger than me?

Where does God feature in my life?
Don’t fall for making New Years resolutions, they don’t work, instead make a realistic plan or set a goal that you can live by each day.

If you’re overweight for example (which most of us are at this time of the year) don’t make a resolution to be thin, instead make a plan to lose just a pound a week and see how that weight just starts to go.

The greatest and most important decision you can make today is to place God at the top of your priorities. Allowing Him to take first place brings with it unbelievable rewards and blessings, in fact when you put Him first, He will add to your life all the things that you could have only ever dreamt about in 2016.

As we embark on 2017 together, may I take this opportunity of praying for you Gods richest blessings for you and your family.

Have a happy and blessed new year.

Much love,

PM

 

Fresh Hope – 31st December 2016

I’m sure we’ve all taken part in a Christmas quiz or two, over the last few days…so while you’re in the mood…here’s a question:

What were the very first words that God spoke in the Bible?

Answer: Let there be light.

It’s one of the biggest clues to the fact that God doesn’t want you to be in the dark, in fact, there’s 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 fact 740 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 skip to the New Testament and 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 be working in your life just fine, there’s still a longing for something more?

Have you ever wondered why in a very lit world, why you feel as if you’re lost?

Maybe you would describe your existence like this…everything is working, but there’s just one thing missing.

That one thing 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 New Years 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 on this New Year’s Eve 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 greatest 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.

Invite Jesus to switch on the light in your life so that 2017 will become the greatest year ever.

Everything changes when the light goes on.

Everything makes sense.

Invite Jesus into your life right now. He’s just waiting for you to ask.

Happy new YOU.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th December 2016

Several years ago, I played for a local football team. We weren’t the best. To us, a draw was a win. In the few years that I had been a part of this team, I had played in almost every position, but for the most part, I was the goalkeeper.

I remember one particular game quite well, I was playing in goal and we lost 6-0. At the end of the game, I was ready to go home and eat lunch, feeling pretty down about our defeat, but not really surprised as we were used to this kind of loss. As our team came together following the final whistle, the referee walked over to us and announced to everyone that I had been awarded man of the match.

Now, I was as shocked as everyone else at that point. How could this be? I had conceded 6 goals. The reason given was that the scoreline could’ve been much worse had I not have been in goal. Suddenly, I felt somewhat better than I did moments ago.

When reminiscing about this occasion just a few days ago with a friend, I started to see that this story paints a picture for us of what it’s like to do life with Jesus. Because you see, Jesus has an amazing way of taking the negatives and turning them into positives. He takes the bad stuff, and through it, reveals the good stuff.

In Romans 8:28 it 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.”

This is good news for you and I today, because it means that although circumstances and situations in our lives aren’t always good, if you place Jesus at the centre, He will work them together for good.

You can live with peace, knowing that everything that God does is good, but most importantly, God IS good. ‘Good’ is not just what He does, but good is who He is… Be encouraged with that thought today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th December 2016

There are some things in life that we don’t realise are important, until they’re not there anymore.
Take labels and signs for instance. They are everywhere in our day to day lives; on doors, the pumps at the petrol station, our food and drink, our luggage in the airport…the list goes on and on.

Now imagine that someone has come along and removed them all. We would make all kinds of mistakes, it would cause mass confusion and it would take a lot longer to get anything done.

Many of us wear labels and they affect us in many ways; they influence the decisions that we make, the dreams that we pursue (or don’t pursue). Some labels are put on us as children – we inherit them. Or maybe you’re labelled ‘poor’ or ‘broken’, through circumstances. The list is endless; we all deal with them at some point.

We are surrounded by people in society who feel like failures because they didn’t meet an expectation that was put on them. Maybe that person is you.

How do we become free of all of this? By looking at what our Creator calls us. The labels that God puts on us include ‘free’, ‘redeemed’, ‘healed’, ‘accepted’…and most importantly ‘loved’.

These are labels that we can wear and not be ashamed of. He gave us amazing purpose and we should share that. He loved us so much that He gave His everything (Jesus) to show it.

Hebrews 12 tells us to ‘throw off everything that hinders.’ Sometimes that can be our circumstances, other times it’s a mindset and the things that we have said about ourselves for so long that were never even true.

We are always on God’s mind. Be encouraged today. Be unstoppable.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th December 2016

We all like to look ahead for what’s to come. That’s great, dreams for the future are very important. However, we can lose sight of today’s blessings by looking too far ahead.

It’s easy to keep looking ahead to what’s coming, and not live in the moment and enjoy today.

God is interested in the daily. Don’t be so consumed with the future, that you miss God’s blessings today. Someone once said, “Don’t be so concerned with the destination, that you miss out on the journey.”

Neither should you be worried about what’s ahead, thank God for what you have today and trust Him for what’s to come. A very famous prayer says, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’

Psalm 119:105 says that God gives us a lamp unto our feet, He doesn’t give us a floodlight for the rest of our lives.

You may not know what tomorrow will bring, but you can trust Him for today.

Think about what you have today and be thankful for it. Pray and believe for the future. Living for God requires faith. Faith for today and faith for tomorrow.

F – Focus on the positive in your life right now

A – Affirm yourself and encourage yourself

I – Imagine God doing something greater, dream better things for your life

T – Trust God for everything… He is for me

H – Hope for the best, expect something good to come to me

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th December 2016

When Rudy Giuliani took office as the mayor of New York City in the 90’s, the crime rate was at an all time high.

He decided to implement a strategy that would set about repairing every broken window in the city within 24 hours of its breakage, sending a message of response, order and law enforcement to the community.

The plan worked better than anticipated.

The average person’s perception of the local law was enhanced greatly because the results were visible in their everyday lives, and the criminals noticed too.

Not only did the overall crime rate drop by 57%, more violent crimes were reduced by 65% as well.

The city once infamous for its dangerous streets, was now being recognised as the safest, large city in America for several years in a row.

How on earth did this happen by just repairing broken windows?

The answer was simple: by taking care of the small things, the bigger issues got dealt with as well.

It’s very easy to put off doing the small stuff, in favour of dealing with the bigger issues in our lives.

Maybe we’ve put off making that one phone call to apologise, not realising that a whole host of other bigger issues would be solved if we did.

A dripping tap may seem insignificant, but failure to repair could lead to a later flood and far greater time and expense.

My Nan used to say this, ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’

Solomon in his wisdom put it like this…‘it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine.’

Today, set about taking care of some of those nagging, little issues that you’ve failed to realise are having a much bigger impact on your world than you thought.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th December 2016

It’s Boxing Day…and I trust you are enjoying your Christmas.

Here’s a quick little thought for you to go into your day with…

You’ll probably take time today to eat (even if it’s leftovers)…
You’ll maybe take time today to look at your gifts and decide where you may put them or whether you will actually wear that, or decide if you’re going to return one or two…
You’ll probably take time today to be with family or friends…
You’re most likely to watch a little TV, or play a game, or sleep on the sofa…
You may even text a few people to thank them for your gift and you’ll probably wish you hadn’t have eaten so much yesterday.

Make sure that today, whatever your circumstances and whatever you’re doing, that you take time to thank the one who made Christmas possible.

JESUS – take a little time for Him today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th December 2016

Special Christmas greetings to all of our 2,500 Champions app family today.

Praying that God will fill you with His peace, presence and joy during this celebration of the birth of our Saviour, JESUS.

Luke 2:10-11 ‘…Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord.’

With much love,

Pastor Mark

Fresh Hope – 24th December 2016

I was travelling with my friend the other day who has three very small children.
We asked her how they were. What she said was very beautiful and very profound – she said that her three year old was at a stage where “Prayer solved everything.”
Maybe if his finger was hurting…prayer solved everything.
If he was hungry…prayer solved everything.
If his older brother was being mean to him…prayer solved everything.

We can learn a lot from children, because indeed ‘Prayer does solve everything.’

It’s Christmas Eve today. Remember this: whatever sort of Christmas you are facing…good or bad, remember to pray.

Remember not to carry your worry and concerns yourself, but bring them to Jesus.
Bring your thanks and appreciation and count your blessings today.

Prayer solves everything. When you pray, God listens and brings you His wonderful peace.

Have a happy and joyful Christmas and remember Jesus – He’s the reason for the season.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd December 2016

Over the past few weeks and months, one of the things that I’m sure will have been at the forefront of your minds is buying gifts for your friends and family.

As a result, you most likely haven’t had time to think about buying for yourself, so I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself during this season…

A desire to grow.

As we look back over the past year, one of the things that I want to be able to say about myself is that I’m not the same person I was 12 months ago.

Maybe you look at your life and don’t see a great deal of change from this time last year. If that’s the case, today’s a fresh start…

Don’t allow yourself to be in this same position again next year, but instead, begin to stir within yourself daily a desire to grow and give yourself continual permission to change.

God has an amazing plan for your life, and it requires for you to keep moving forward. God doesn’t just see you where you are, but where you could be. He doesn’t just see you for who you are, but for who you could be.

Don’t stand still, but desire growth and pursue change. Your future self will thank you for it.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd December 2016

My parents still live in the same house that I grew up in alongside my older brother and younger sister.

The house was, and of course still is, about a 20 minute walk from the town centre of Dudley.

In the run up to Christmas, when I was around 12, I spotted a remote control racing car in the window of my favourite toy shop in the town, and insisted and persisted that if I had but this one thing I’d never ever want anything else again. Sound familiar?

Well, once again my parents pulled it off, and there on Christmas morning was my bright red racing car waiting in the lounge where all presents had to be displayed. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on my dream gift and after opening everything else, I got to race my car.

I was surprised that it didn’t go faster or turn as sharply as I’d imagined, but then came the biggest let down of all…the four huge batteries that were in it, died within half an hour of use, putting a very abrupt end to my Christmas day dream.

Battery after battery was begged and borrowed from everything else we owned, but then a week later the car itself stopped working. The forward and reverse gears had shredded inside and put a further end to my Christmas holiday dream. A few days later, I walked with the huge box to the toy shop as soon as they reopened after Christmas and promptly was given a new one in return. I made that journey to my knowledge four times to get further replacements before giving up on it once and for all. My belief that this was the one thing that was going to change my life was now a distant memory. I was now looking ahead to the next thing that would satisfy my childhood longings.

Throughout our lives we each look to various things that we believe will satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts, only to find out as I did as a boy, that nothing satisfies more than for a brief moment.

Several years ago I was given a very expensive brand new car, a real one this time, straight from a dealership showroom, and once again that old belief system kicked in, telling me that this would be the only car that I would ever need to satisfy me, but of course, even though more than 40 years had passed since my toy car had been received, it was just the same lie – it could never quench my thirst for satisfaction.

More than ever today I realise that Jesus is the only one that can fulfil your life and meet the deepest longings of your soul. More than 35 years later, after giving my life to Christ, I can safely say that His presence has never diminished and His faithfulness has never wavered. Instead of Jesus ‘wearing off’, He just keeps coming on stronger as each new day that unfolds.

He is the only gift this Christmastime that can truly bring you lasting satisfaction.

Don’t believe the lie that this year’s Christmas present is going to change everything, or that next year’s holiday, new house or relationship is going to bring eternal satisfaction…it wont. Instead, look to the one who alone can bring peace, joy and fulfilment.

If you are not part of a great church that worships and preaches Jesus then may I take this opportunity of inviting you to our Christmas Eve service for all the family at Champions Church, Netherton – 7pm?

I’d love to personally meet you there.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st December 2016

Are you jealous or envious of someone else’s life this Christmastime?

As you look into their world to see their happy, problem free life, and get star struck with their amazing family, gathering together on Christmas day, remember things that appear to be perfect rarely are. What you are looking at is not perfection nor is it a problem free life, but maybe what you are staring at is the blessing that comes from God upon their lives.

God’s blessing can never be earned or worked for, but can only ever be received by faith.

If there’s someone you envy, don’t try to live their life as you wouldn’t be happy – it’s theirs and not yours, instead look to the God that they serve, as ultimately it is God that has blessed them in this way. That very same blessing can be yours today.

Think of the shepherds in the Christmas story; Humble, lowly and underpaid. At the time they were the lowest of the low, doing such menial tasks that few ever wanted to do what they did. There was no long queue in the job centre of the day for tending sheep.

Yet, God chose to first reveal Jesus to them in the middle of the night. Why you may ask? Was it not because they were the only ones awake on that first Christmas night. Jesus came as the light of the world, and so that his arrival could be seen, God chose to reveal Him where He would shine brightest.

When you think about it naturally speaking, you would imagine that God would have revealed Himself to kings in palaces or religious people in Churches, but not so, He chose to make Himself known to the humble and lowly of heart.

Instead of looking at other people’s lives and families this years, ask yourself ‘what do they have that I don’t have?’ It’s not because they’ve deserved it but because they’ve been humble enough to receive it.

God sent His Son into this world that that you too can receive him and become a child of God right now.

It may feel like the darkest moment of your life right now, but remember God shows up best in dark places.

He’s holding out the free gift of life to you and just like with any other gift you have to reach and receive it with the words ‘thank you’.
The moment you do that you will instantly start to see for yourself God’s blessings upon your life.

John 1:9-13 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 recognise 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 – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th December 2016

My Mother-in-law is a greetings card fanatic.

She just loves sending cards to people, and many would say that it is a gift that she has. She always has something meaningful to write in a card and seems to know just when to send it in order to lift a friend or even someone that she doesn’t really know in their moment of need.

No matter where we go, Gillian has to look for cards of all shapes and sizes for her Mom, but they have to be of a certain standard otherwise they get rejected. Cheap and cheerful will never do.

Not only does she love sending cards, but she’s passionate about receiving them too – in fact she has a system whereby she records every Christmas card that she sends out and then checks in every card that comes back.

Christmas isn’t Christmas for her until all cards have arrived and been crossed off her list, and woe betide anyone that sends a card late or forgets altogether.

The idea of sending presents and cards to only those that reciprocate is a practice that we’d prefer not to admit to, but in reality we know that’s what happens most of the time. How many times have we been dropped off someone’s ‘list’ only to find ourselves doing the very same to them the following year?

In this season of giving and receiving, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we each looked to do something for someone else knowing full well that we wouldn’t receive anything in return?

Random acts of kindness are rare today, but what if we turned the tide on our selfish world and made a difference to just one person’s life by surprising them with a card or gift this week.

The greatest demonstration of giving in this manner originated at that very first Christmas time, when God sent His son Jesus, knowing that He could never be repaid and that many would even reject His offer of the free gift of life.

Let’s each lift our eyes off ourselves today and look for someone to bless and encourage – you may just change their life forever…and ultimately God will bless you back in return.

Luke 6:32-36 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th December 2016

I recently began to look over the birth of Jesus found in the book of Luke. This of course was a major event – one of which we still celebrate thousands of years later.

Upon Jesus being born, you would think that God would choose to break the news to Kings & Queens, people of great wealth and influence. After all, the Saviour of the world has just been born.

However, God chooses to announce the birth of His Son, Jesus to shepherds in a field…

This left me bewildered as to why the greatest event in history would be disclosed to sheep watchers who carried no influence and had very little ability to spread the word.

Until I realised that the Bible informs us that these shepherds had set night watches over their sheep. In other words, they were the only people awake whilst everyone else was asleep.

God didn’t choose to announce the news of Jesus’ birth to the elite, He chose to announce it to the available.

God isn’t looking for perfect people, He’s not looking for strong people, because they don’t exist – He’s looking for people who are simply available.

God wants to reveal Himself to you this Christmas time.
If you would stay alert to the fact that He is closer than you think, and realise that He wants to make Himself known to you, then watch what He will do in and through your life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th December 2016

There’s a few very special verses in Luke chapter 1 that I love…’When Mary went to see Elizabeth, the baby inside her womb leapt for Joy, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and sang exuberantly.’

These few verses show how powerful the presence of Jesus was even in the womb. It caused Elizabeth to react in such a way.

When you meet someone who carries the presence of Jesus, it’s a wonderful thing – it can have a great impact on your life.

Think also about your own relationship with God. When you have been in His presence, you will carry that very same with you.

When you walk into a room, spend time with people, they should notice something different about you.

You should be a carrier of the presence of God wherever you go today. Make a difference to every dark place where your feet have to tread, every difficult situation that you have to walk into and every home you visit.

I’ve loved being in the presence of some great people of God. I’ve walked away better than when I walked in.
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and sang exuberantly after meeting Mary who was carrying Jesus.

Lord I pray that your presence in me will be so strong, that everyone I meet today will be impacted by You.

Happy Saturday.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th December 2016

Will Noris, the journalist wrote “If your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care; to whom you speak, of whom you speak, and how…and when…and where.”

Publius, the Greek sage, wrote “I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence.”

I was invited to do a live television interview some time ago and was very aware that there was no taking back my words once I’d said them. There was no room for me to convey a message that I could later retract. I would never have that luxury.

It serves as a daily lesson that our speech is ‘live’ at all times.

There’s no taking back what you have just said in a heated moment.

If you know you need to go to a new level in your speech, here are 3 simple thoughts to help you.

1. Think first – Before you speak, pause for 10 seconds and mentally preview your words. Are they accurate or exaggerated?
Kind or cutting? Needless or necessary? Grateful or complaining? Remember, what you don’t say you’ll never have to explain.

2. Talk less – Ecclesiastes 5v3 ” Many words mark the speech of a fool.”

Which basically means…put a sock in it.

You increase your chances of blowing it when you talk too much. Compulsive talkers find it hard to keep friends. Conserve your verbal energy.

3. Start today-You’ve now heard enough today to help you get started. Once you condition your mouth to the new ‘muzzle’, it will become easier each day to resist the urge to speak out of turn.

James 3:2-6, 9-12 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Make a decision from this point forward to only ever use words that will bless and build up others. You’ll be amazed at how your life will change and at the same time others will be amazed too.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th December 2016

December is no respecter of persons!

As you watch people preparing for this happy season, you may well be faced with a personal crisis that makes you feel anything but in the mood for celebrations.

Pain and problems don’t stay away just because it’s Christmas. However, the presence of a storm in your life does not indicate the absence of God.

Storms are a part of life.

You may have been on a flight and encountered some pretty strong turbulence along the way. The pilot just takes it all in his stride –  for him it was just a normal day at the office.

It is possible today that you are a person that wants to know where God has gone during your storm, however your turbulent day has little to do with the absence of God.

Someone once said…’If God seems far away, guess who moved?’

Your storm may well even be your own doing.

You may have ignored some simple advice and have gone head long into a ferocious thunder cloud. Your storm was not the absence of God, but the absence of wisdom.

Here’s what we should consider when going through stormy and troubled times…

God is not repelled by trouble; He is actually attracted to it.

Psalm 46:1 NIV
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

When Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and cross the lake one day, He didn’t warn them that they would run into a storm that would completely scare the wits out of them, instead He met them IN the storm and said ‘cheer up, it’s me….don’t be afraid’.

Jesus doesn’t always favour leading you around a storm, as He knows that that won’t help strengthen your faith, but He does always hold your hand as He takes you through the storm.

He didn’t lift the disciples’ boat out of the water, but instead He lifted the disciples by turning up at the most crucial time.

No matter what you’re going through this Christmas time, hold onto to Jesus…He’ll never let you go.

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

V10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God…’
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th December 2016

The old chapel that my parents attended from childhood was also the spiritual home to several previous generations of my family, dating back to the early 1800’s.

I was also taken there as a baby, and growing up never realised that I would one day be invited to take on the leadership of that little church; There had been no full time leader for 55 years when I became the Pastor on the Easter weekend of 1989.

I preached my first sermon there, was baptised there, our children were all dedicated there and not least of all, I saw the power of God move there as lives were changed week by week.

That old damp building now holds so many memories for so many people, but now it’s time to say goodbye. After 206 years of faithfully standing as a place of worship, it has finally been sold and its days of being a church are no more.

Sentiments are a powerful thing in many people’s minds. They provide for us strong feelings about the good old days gone by, but sentiment alone will never help us build for the future, in fact, to get so attached to a building or a certain way of doing things has been proven to keep us from achieving all that lies ahead.

I’m sure many people, when they drive by and see the building being turned into apartments, will shed a tear or two, but we must never allow a love affair with the past to stop us from doing what is right for the generations to come.

Allowing the building to be sold off could even seem cold and callous to some, but those that believe in the future will totally appreciate that its sale is a means of providing towards all that God wants to do with the new children’s wing of Champions today.

Maybe today you have an ‘old chapel’ in your life that you feel afraid to let go of? Sentiment has kept you stuck back in the past, simply because you feel afraid of offending the very attachments that have brought you to this point. Sentimental attachments are simply warm feelings that we have towards a person, place or an era, but in reality have no power to change what lies ahead.

I encourage you today to be bold enough to break with sentiment and let vision and passion lead the way.

Isaiah 43:18-19 ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th December 2016

Be careful not to mistake the life you may have with the life you could have, if only you would meet Jesus.

The whole point of the Christmas story is that Jesus came to bring us life with a capital ‘L’.

I was enjoying a meal out recently, with a group of marrieds from our church. The deal was, come to have your marriage enriched and at the same time have a speciality burger and dessert. As the main course ended and the dessert came, I was busy chatting away to a couple sitting next to me and didn’t realise that the ice cream that was accompanying my treacle tart was in exactly the same looking small white dish that the mayonnaise had come in with the burgers. I was so engrossed in conversation that I mistook the icecream for the mayonnaise and gulped one enormous spoonful right down. The look on my face must have been a picture, but it had to go down! I didn’t want to let on what had just happened, so I just kept smiling.

Life comes to us in various packages and often from the outside, they look quite the same.

On the outside, my life can look pretty much like my next door neighbour’s but that’s where it ends as on the inside of both of us something very different is going on.

You can wear the same trendy and fashionable clothes as the next person standing in line for the bus, but one person can be filled with fear and anxiety whilst the other can know the peace and joy that  only Jesus can bring.

At the staff Christmas party it may be hard to differentiate who’s found real life and who hasn’t because everyone is laughing and happy on the outside, yet we know that once home, those seemingly happy lives can find themselves in the depths of despair.

The reason that you find real life in knowing Jesus is because He created life in the first place and understands how it works. We’ve all heard the advice ‘for best results follow the makers’ instructions’ and it’s true especially when it comes to finding lasting life.

This Christmastime don’t just settle for the life you have that’s filled with anxiety and devoid of purpose – hand it over to the one that came to give you life by inviting Jesus to become your friend and Saviour today.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th December 2016

A love affair is between two people who are infatuated with each other. The feeling has to be mutual.
If you love someone and it’s not reciprocated then it’s known as a ‘crush’!

How many times have you loved someone and they didn’t want to know? Or they didn’t love you, like the way you loved them? That’s hard.

I had a crush on a boy in my junior school, one on David Cassidy the pop star and also Donny Osmond. But on all three occasions, they were just crushes, not love affairs. They didn’t want to know :(

God loves us in such a way that He gave His only son for us. His love for us is much more than a crush, yet is it a love affair?
Do you love him back the same way? You will probably never love Him like He loves you, yet my desire is to love Him more every day.
A love affair needs great commitment and communication to keep it fresh and alive.

How are you doing with yours today?

“We love, because He first loved us” – 1 John 4v19

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th December 2016

One of the shows that I enjoy watching on TV is The Apprentice. However, one of the things that frustrates me is when the candidates are interviewed at the beginning of the series, stating their mission for the process ahead.

More often than not, you will hear one of the candidates say, ‘I’ve not come here to make friends.’

Now to me, that is one of the dumbest things you could say as you’re about to spend the next 12 weeks living with people, teaming up with people and trying to claim victory as part of a team. I think to myself, ‘surely you’d be better off trying to build as many relationships as possible…’

The reality is, many of us approach life with that same mindset of ‘I’m here to attain knowledge and gain experience.’ This kind of thinking comes out of a belief that life is all about what you know.

However, life isn’t about what you know, it’s about who you know.
Who you know will accelerate you far quicker to your destiny than what you know ever will.

And when you decide to build walls instead of bridges with people, what you’re actually doing is putting a barrier between you and your destiny.

Relationships are a major key to your success. The whole premise of life is for you to have a relationship with God and a relationship with people.

Today I encourage you, have a willingness to put aside knowledge, pick up humility and recognise, ‘I need people’.

Life is better lived together.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 9th December 2016

Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 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. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.

Imagine the shock on Mary’s face and the public disgrace that she and her husband-to-be would have felt, knowing that they had not slept together and yet she was pregnant! The big question was for her…’how can this be…since I am a virgin?’

Down through the ages, God has called humble people, just like Mary, to be the carrier and incubator of a dream that will in some small or large way, change the world, or even just change a life.

When this interaction takes place between God and man there will always be questions asked of suitability, knowing that in your humble opinion, you are not cut out for such a task. It’s impossible.

God is not short on answers to any of our questions, but don’t expect Him to give loads of details, as He is often looking to you to merely read the headlines and then get on with it.

In responding to Mary’s question. God replies with just two brief confirming sentences:

The first being…’the Holy spirit will come upon you’, and the second being, ‘no word from God will ever fail.’

When doubting the very call of God upon your life, feeling that He has got the wrong person, you too just need to hear the same words that Mary did two thousand years ago…

…the Holy Spirit will come upon you

…no word from God will ever fail.

Don’t let seeming impossibilities rule out God from using you to carry His dream into this world; simply make yourself available and allow Him to do the rest.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th December 2016

I was brought up in a church that was dowdy, dull and uninspiring, and into the bargain had no Christmas decorations to brighten the place.

We’ve changed all that over the years, so much so that everyone that comes to our church nowadays is wowed by how much time, energy and money is spent making it feel like a real place of warmth and vibrancy, especially at Christmas.

I’m sure your home is like ours in that there is always so much to do. Replacing or repairing broken things, cleaning and tidying things, painting and decorating things and then at this time of the year Gillian comes into her own as she pulls together a magical Christmas theme in every room. I just have to do the donkey work and make it happen. We so love Christmas that we even called our house ‘Christmas House’ – it’s a great talking point even in the summer.

We’ve always felt that whatever we do for our own home we should do equally and even more so for God’s house, the Church. It would be wrong to have the most amazing decorations at home if the church was still that dark, dowdy and cold place. The hard work that we put into our home in making it a welcoming place is nothing in comparison to the thought and time that we put into making Champions Church a home for all walks of life.

If you’ve never considered coming to church, or maybe you’ve been put off by something the last time you attended, then give it another go this Christmastime; you’ll not be disappointed this time round…it’s just like coming home.

For all our events over Christmas starting with ‘Champions Night of Carols’ this Friday – which includes our renowned ‘Christmas village’, then why not visit our website? http://www.championschurch.org.uk/events/

I look forward so much to welcoming you and your family this Christmastime.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th December 2016

No one likes pain.

For those that have followed the last three weeks of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’, you will know only too well that pain is difficult to bear, but can lead to amazing results and rewards if you’ll see it through.

For those that have watched from the comfort of our arm chairs, we can see not only the worst in people but the very best too. We have witnessed with our own eyes that most of the celebrities taking part have gone through a life transformation in three weeks, this being mainly due to the endurance of pain.

People that stay away from pain remain the same people – nothing changes.

When the ‘world famous’ Joseph in the Bible endured the pain of rejection, betrayal, prison and false accusation, he took it on the chin and allowed it to forge his character, making him a very different person.

Here are some thoughts on the pain of change:

– When you change, you will have to leave certain people behind.

– a sure sign of no change is that you are still trying to please everyone from your past.

– when you make your home in the pit or the prison, it’s a sure sign that you are not ready to reach the palace.

– when your attitude towards those that have hurt you is revenge, then you’ll know that you haven’t grown up yet.

–  when you do come into abundant supply, a better position or authority and you use it to bless even your enemies, then you know that you’ve grown up.

– never apologise for changing to those that haven’t.

– when people leave your life, do not try to stop them – it’s so that you will be free to grow.

– your personal growth will either attract people or repel people.

– if people complain that you’ve changed, make sure that the change taking place is in the right direction.

Why wait for the new year? Give yourself permission to change today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th December 2016

One of the things that I’m sure we all love about the Christmas season, is the smell of cooking.

For over 30 years now, we have had all the family over for Christmas day and we love every minute. Most of the day is spent cooking and eating, interspersed for some with the occasional nap. The kitchen is my domain and I love being able to put my culinary skills from years gone by to good use.

With the busyness of everyone’s lives, the time to cook things from scratch is for many, a lost art; however all is not lost as the all too familiar packet mix is available for just about everything you could wish for in the kitchen.

The words ‘just add water’ are a welcome sight to any stressed out Mom or Dad that’s trying to survive the Christmas family ordeal.

Adding water to what’s already been prepared in a factory somewhere is so quick and easy, not to mention being a pretty fail safe method of getting perfect results every time.

Adding water to a simple packet of dry cake mix can turn it into what the manufacturer created it to be. Without adding that vital ingredient from the tap, means that it remains nothing more than a load of dry crumbs in a box.

Whether a useless cook or a useless gardener, the same is true for all – adding water makes all the difference in the world.

The Bible is likened to this very thought and is called ‘the water of God’s word’.

Life pretty dry?

Nothing growing in your world?

Having trouble understanding why you never seem to be able to get beyond a crumby existence?

If so, it could be that you just need to add water.

Reading the Bible every day is not only a practice that I’ve adopted for many years, but is something that I recommend to everyone that wants to live a significant life.

Unlike any other book in the world, it has the ability to not only read you, but it has the power to grow your life too.

There’s a reason that the Bible is still the world’s best seller…people realise without it that life can never be lived to the full.

Simply add water today.

If you don’t have a modern translation of the Bible then simply let us know by clicking here and I’ll make sure that we get one to you in the post right away.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th December 2016

Too many of us, me included at times, look around at our circumstances and think “how on earth can this be any different? Can I survive? Will I make it out alive?”
When we think thoughts like that, we are allowing already heavy circumstances, to become even heavier and very soon we will be swamped by them.

How many times have you let your thoughts run riot in your mind, so that by the time you have finished thinking, you are actually worse? When you think about it, nothing has changed, yet your thinking has made everything seem far worse.

My bible tells me to take my eyes off my circumstances and to put them onto Jesus. Start reaching for what you are believing for. You may not see it right now, but start to speak it into action. Words are powerful, they will change your thinking and your situation.

Don’t look down on your circumstances, don’t look around at them either.
Lift your eyes up and off them and onto the one who is able – JESUS.

Psalm 121. I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the LORD the Maker of Heaven and earth.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd December 2016

I was waiting in a queue the other day at a local coffee shop. The shop was busy and the queue was long, so I got talking to the lady in front of me. She was very friendly and proceeded to talk about Christmas and shopping.

She said something that I’ve never heard before. She said “I’ve given my family a list this year of what I don’t want.”
Now, don’t people normally write lists of what they do want and not what they don’t want!?

I’m glad that when I come to God in prayer it’s not that complicated. I don’t have to think of all the things I don’t want, He’s got that covered.
It’s ok however to bring to Him our specific prayer requests.

I remember several years ago living in a small two bedroomed home and praying specifically for what I wanted.
I didn’t pray “Lord, I don’t want a three bedroomed house, I don’t want a house without a downstairs loo, I don’t want a house without a garage. I don’t want a home without a room for guests etc etc etc.”
That all sounds too complicated for me! I came with the list of what I wanted.
“Lord, I want a four bedroomed house, with a porch, a downstairs loo and a garage”. And guess what? God answered.

Vague prayers = vague answers.

Be specific in your requests. He’s your Heavenly Father. He knows your needs before you ask Him. (Matthew 6 v 8)

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd December 2016

It is estimated that an adult makes on average 35,000 remotely conscious decisions every day. I don’t know about you, but I’m often happy to have finished my day having made one good decision…

I think it’s fair to say therefore that we spend the majority of our lives faced with choices that have to be made. The place that you find yourself in today on the journey of life is predominantly as a result of the decisions that you have made up until this point.

Now whether you consider those to have been positive or negative choices, I have some good news for you today…

1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

You may be thinking to yourself, ‘I didn’t realise God had a foolish side…’
He doesn’t. But this verse puts into perspective for us just how truly wise God is. That if He did have a foolish streak to Him, He would still be far wiser than any wisdom we could produce.

The reason that this is good news for us, is that no longer do we have to struggle and strive in the daily decisions of life. But instead, we can come to God and ask for wisdom, and He will give it to us. He won’t withhold it, but He will pour it out generously to all those who ask.

I want to encourage you to begin your day, asking God to lead and to guide you in every step. The decisions that you make today will determine the future you experience tomorrow. And because your destiny matters, so do your decisions.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 1st December 2016

Our chocolate Labrador ‘Snoop’, was just a tiny bundle of brown fur when we drove him home that night from the family that had reared him.

He soon found his feet and I had such great fun with him, much to Gillian’s annoyance, as I got him playing underneath my armchair and eventually got him stuck underneath the sofa.

He soon started to do what all the books said he would do…and that was EAT. He had an appetite just as if at every meal time that he’d never seen food before.

Seconds after eating, he would be scouring the place for his next meal.

Things were fine for a few months and then took a turn for the worse. He would writhe in pain on his back and no matter what we did we couldn’t seem to console him. We decided the only thing for it was a trip to the vets. This turned into several examinations and rising costs with no answer forthcoming. Everyone was baffled and he was still rolling in pain.

I decided after several days to pray about the situation and ask God to give me some insight as to what we should do. That night God spoke to me and said…”POTATO!”                                   ‘What on earth did that mean?’, I thought.

My mind started to go back and forth over the last couple of weeks and there lay the answer: Snoop had become obsessed with eating raw potato. Every dog we’ve ever had had loved eating raw carrots and so in my wisdom thought that raw potato would be similarly healthy. I researched dogs and potato and found to my horror that raw potato was like poison. Some owners had posted warnings that potato had resulted in near death and some dogs going into a coma.

Within days of the revelation, Snoop returned to pain free living and normal health and strength.

Sometimes we can be totally bereft of which way to go in a desperate situation. Seeking professional advice is good but can still leave you clueless.

The highest level of wisdom comes from God. He knows the end from the beginning and can instantly know what’s going on inside any complicated situation.

Stuck for answers?

Need a solution?

Consulted everyone but God?

James 1:5-6 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. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Stop panicking…sit down…ask God.

He has the answer.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th November 2016

There was a terrible smell of burning coming from the upstairs of our home one day. Everyone could smell it, but no one could work out why.

I started to shout and get everyone out of the house as the smell intensified and smoke filled the air.

I ran upstairs, and there it was…a feather lined winter jacket had been hung to dry by my son over a light fitting in a bedroom that we had designated as the ‘ironing’ room.

“Why on earth did you do that Josh?”, I said, you “could have burnt the house down.” Then came the explanation.

He’d seen me on numerous occasions hang damp shirts on a coat hanger and hook them on the centre light fitting in order to dry, and without thinking he thought he’d follow suit; instead of hanging it on a hanger, he hung it directly onto the open bulb. No problem, that was until someone turned the light switch on and left it on. As the bulb got hotter, the coat started to melt.

A rule was made by my wife that day and went something like this…’lights are not to be used as anything else apart from giving light.’ Enough said.

That almost catastrophic event teaches us a life lesson too…doing and being something that you were not created for only leads to disaster.

We all live under constant pressure nowadays to be someone that you’re not and to do something that you were never cut out for; today I encourage you not to give in to the temptation and learn to be comfortable in your own skin.

God has blessed this world with your uniqueness, and although He needs and wants to change you to be more like Jesus everyday, He still wants your unique gifts and personality to shine through.

When you start to allow yourself to get into things you were never created for then not only will you be frustrated, everyone around you will be too.

There will always be people who want to hang stuff on your life that has no business being there, so you must have the courage to hand it back, in order for you to be free to do what God has created you for.

Write down today just five things that you feel that God has gifted you in and then ask someone else close to you if those things match what they see in your life. If they don’t match what others see, then go back to the drawing board until you get a real feel for what you are good at. When you do get a good match on your gifts and talents then start to give everything you have to them.

Don’t spend the rest of your life trying to be a clothes airer when God created you to be a light.

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 – 29th November 2016

Call me old fashioned, but there is still something special about holding a door open for someone, even though you may not even know them. Is it me, but have those days of just being kind at no real cost to yourself, passed us by?

On the occasions that I get to do it, I get met with a grunt, nod or even no response at all, but it’s worth it just for the reactions, especially the ones that appreciate it and give out a heartfelt ‘thank you very much.’

Being thankful to someone that opens a door is one thing, but being thankful is also the key that opens doors.

I meet many people that cannot fathom why they don’t seem to get on in life. Questions like, ‘why does it feel like no one likes me?’,  ‘why don’t I get that promotion?’ or ‘why is it that I cant seem to get a breakthrough?’ Many of these questions and thousands more can be answered with one simple word: thankfulness.

It appears that we have become totally ignorant  to the power of thankfulness.

The Bible puts it this way…1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’

Giving thanks may seem odd when things are against you or you find yourself in a bad place, but the key is not to focus on giving thanks ‘for‘ the circumstances but ‘in‘ the circumstances.

Having a grateful heart, no matter what today brings, is your key to the next door of blessing opening for you.

I have watched so many people over the years develop a bitter and critical spirit because of things that have gone wrong, only to find that they become angry at life and God, and get nowhere apart from to a self-assigned prison of hurt. On the other hand, I’ve watched people that have been dealt a real blow in life, but have kept a thankful attitude and have gone on to soar.

Whatever is going on in your world today, be thankful.

It will open the door to God’s best for your life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2016

If you’ve ever played the game of Monopoly before, you will have experienced the feelings of resentment when you find yourself being sent to jail. As you stand there, helpless, watching as your opponents get free run of the board, you’re looking for as much sympathy as you can get, especially if someone else has possession of the get out of jail free card.

However, the tables can so quickly turn, because the moment you get out of jail and somebody else finds themself in it, that same compassion that you were once looking for, you aren’t willing to give to anybody else.

That analogy, I believe, describes how we often live our lives. When we make mistakes, when we find ourselves in the ‘jail’ of life, we’re looking for help, sympathy and compassion. Yet the moment we find ourselves back on our feet, and feel as though we’re beginning to get things back in order, someone else finds themself in a struggle and the same help that we were looking for just moments ago, we aren’t interested in extending to them.

I want to challenge you today; don’t forget where you came from. Don’t forget that you once found yourself in a pit and God pulled you out of it, and that same forgiveness that He extended to you, He’s looking for you to extend to others.

God presented you with the get out of jail free card at no expense, yet it cost Him everything. Who are we therefore not to offer it to others time and time again?

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th November 2016

Nearby where we live there are some horses in a field. I always feel sorry for those horses. The field they are in doesn’t appear to be a good space. The ground is all churned up and rough. There never seems to be any grass and at this time of year, it’s like a complete mud bath.
I always think that those horses seem quite neglected, have a poor quality of life and would probably love a different home.

Today as I drove the same route, I looked to the other side of the road and saw a completely different scenario. Yes, almost directly opposite, are some horses in a different field. The grass is very green and very lush. There’s a shelter for them and you can see pales of water and food containers scattered around.
Two very different situations right next to each other.

‘What’s the message here?’, I thought.
It’s not the fault of the horses, they had no choice on their conditions, the answer lies in who their owner is. Boom! There it is, as clear to see.

Whoever is your ‘owner’ will determine the quality of your life. How many people do you see who don’t have the Lord in their lives?
They can make a decision that will change their future.
How much more at this Christmas season should we be taking every opportunity to introduce them to our ‘owner’,  Jesus?

Isaiah 43 v 1. “I have called you by name and you are mine.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2016

A few days ago,  myself and Gillian were taken to a restaurant by some friends. The food was great, the conversation was stimulating and the time to leave came all too quickly. I noticed that the wife of the couple who were entertaining us had only eaten half of her lunch and asked the waiter for the rest to be boxed up for her to take with her.

As the bill was paid, she decided that it was just too much trouble to bother taking the leftovers with her and as the food had been untouched, asked if we would like it, knowing that we were travelling and far from home. Everything within me said there was no point, as we would barely have the time or opportunity to eat it.

In that split moment I felt an inner nudge to pick up the neatly packaged box and put it in the car, even though it almost seemed like an inconvenience, with what to us were merely leftovers that could have easily been discarded.

As we waved our friends goodbye, we had not traveled more than a few minutes when we came across a man on the side of the road that had nothing to eat that day. Everything about him said ‘please help me.’ I knew immediately that what I had considered waste was going to be to him like gold.

As we presented to him the nicely packaged leftovers, his eyes brightened with thankfulness and he excitedly tucked into his one meal for that day.

For us that day, we had been well fed at no cost to ourselves, and eating, like many other things, is something that we do without even stopping to think or to thank.

I remind myself today that one man’s means can be another man’s miracle. Food, clothing, love, warmth, acceptance, kindness is often part of our everyday lives yet there are those close by that have no such luxury.

Make today, and the rest of your life, a day of making a miracle out of your means…there’s someone praying right now for what you freely are able to give.

James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th November 2016

I know the Lord is speaking to me when I stop listening to sounds from the world that feed my sense of pride and ambition.

Instead I fall quiet, tune in to God’s great world around me, and actively listen. Sometimes nature speaks, telling me of God’s majesty and glory. Sometimes God’s word speaks, reminding me of what God wants me to know. And sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks, awakening my conscience, reminding me of failures, stirring my compassion and sense of justice, aligning me with God’s will.

I cannot control the voice of God and how it comes. I can only control my ears – my readiness to listen and my quickness to respond.

Phil Yancey

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2016

If you’ve ever travelled by plane you will know that it’s reported to be one of the safest forms of travel. However, if you have a fear of flying (like I used to) then it can seem far from safe, with every bump and creak playing out as a potential disaster inside your mind.

A friend of mine that flies frequently, tells how on one plane ride that the passengers were shaken from their seats as the aircraft fell for a few seconds. Passengers screamed, overhead compartments opened and bags flew across the aisles.

After a few moments the pilot explained what had happened. The control tower had radioed to tell him that they were on a collision course with another aircraft and if he had not taken evasive action, people would have been hearing about an air disaster on the evening news. The pilot apologised to everyone but explained it was his only option to keep them safe. The control tower’s ability to see the whole picture and the pilot’s willingness to trust and obey saved everyone’s lives.

The Holy Spirit is God’s control tower. He sees the end from the beginning and wants to guide you accurately through your life.

Each day He may speak to you and instruct you about things that you don’t understand and even things that you may question. However, if you’ll just trust and obey you’ll find out one day that He was saving you from a potential disaster.

Many times over the years I have watched people ignore the sound advice of the Holy Spirit, only to find themselves in a disaster that they could have averted if only they would have trusted His voice.

Trust His voice.

He’s looking out for you.

Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2016

As I write today, I am listening to the heavy downpour of rain falling onto some plastic sheeting outside my office window.

As the forecast promised, we have had several inches fall over the weekend…they were right.

In most cases, the rain water drainage system at the side of each road is adequate, but as it coincides at this time of the year with the autumn leaves falling, several roads are flooded due to being clogged up.

Being around people each day as we all are, reveals that some folk are prone to be like drains. They take on everyone else’s problems and then get clogged up themselves. Over time this leads them to be so consumed with stuff that they start to drain every relationship that comes their way. We all know what this feels like when on the receiving end of such a draining relationship…we want to run as fast as possible.

Being a drain can appear to be a kind way of living with your fellow man, but if you allow everyone to drown you in their despair, then you must quickly realise that that’s not the way it should be.

The higher way of living is to be a fountain. A fountain doesn’t receive everyone else’s waste, but instead gives out fresh and life giving water.

People that are like fountains are such a pleasure to be with as they give life rather than drain from it.

If you’ve allowed yourself to get clogged up with everyone else’s problems that means you can no longer live in freedom that Christ came to give you.  Start  to live a different life with a different approach…be a fountain that refreshes, rather than a drain to just get dumped on.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2016

Colossians 1:15-17 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

For the universe to exist and be sustained, everything must be perfectly aligned.

If even one element of creation was out of sync, there would be catastrophic failure and we would be no more.

If the pull of gravity or the speed of light was wrong, then all would be wrong. If the sun was closer than intended we would be fried, but further away and we would freeze.

Each planet along with millions of galaxies are set and held in their perfect place without variation throughout the centuries.

Someone has taken the time to calculate the odds of how everything came to be perfectly lined up – this is how they expressed it:

“The odds would be same as a person buying just one lottery ticket twice a week and getting the numbers right every single week for 50 years!@

If that happened you would say it was a fix.

You’re right, it is.

God fixed it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th November 2016

What are you doing to move your life forward?

I read this today, ‘You’ll never achieve what you’re capable of, if you keep hanging onto things or people you’re meant to let go of.’

Remember this time last year? How much further forward are you this year?
How much have you grown, developed and moved forward?

Here’s the thing, life definitely moves on, time flies. Yet the question has to be: are we moving forward?

You are either moving backwards or standing still or going round and round OR moving forward.

Give yourself a great reality check and ask yourself which direction are you moving in.

Are the people that you mix with forward-movers? Or are they same old, same old?

Don’t get stuck in a rut today, crave after something fresh.
When you’re planted in a great church that’s moving forward, you will have a head-start.

Isaiah 43 18-20 “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? The old has gone the new has come!”

My challenge to myself and you today is: TAKE STEPS FORWARD.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2016

In the New Testament,  we read the story of the death of Lazarus.

Watch this…Jesus asked Mary and Martha to take him to the place where they had buried Lazarus.
He needed to be involved at that moment.
Jesus wants you to take Him to the place where you have buried something so that He can resurrect it.
Have you buried a dream? Take Jesus to where you buried it and let Him resurrect it.
Have you buried your courage and faith because of something that happened to you? Take Him right to that place and let Him resurrect it.
Have you buried a sin, hoping that no one will find or discover it? You certainly need Jesus to visit that place with you, so that it can be forgiven and dealt with.
Have you buried your love? Take Him to that place where it once burned bright, He has the power to resurrect it.

I’m asking you today what have you buried?
Until you let Jesus visit your burial place, He cannot resurrect it.

When Lazarus had been there a few days, he started to stink and what you have buried will stink also, until you allow Jesus to resurrect it .

Remember this: Whenever God reveals a mess in the Boboe, it’s always to reveal a message.

So let the resurrection power of Jesus take hold of you today and see and experience the miracle for yourself.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th November 2016

We have spent the last few days in Seattle, staying with our good friends Lin and Lanita Miller, before heading back home before the weekend.

We first of all met them 18 years ago, when we were invited to make our very first trip to The States. We have made that same trip several times over the years and it has become one of our favourite places to get refreshed and recharged ready for another great season in our church.

I find it hard to believe as I write, sitting in front of the log fire at the Millers’, that those years have passed so quickly.

That first trip saw us armed with pushchairs and nappies and now we have grandchildren!

The smell of their home where we stay is exactly the same today as when we first walked through the door, and brings back wonderful memories of those early days where we would go to get stretched, and our lives enriched and enlarged.

We still stay in the same basement from 18 years ago and many of the things that our kids remember are still in just the same place, creating a feeling of nostalgia.

Throughout our lives we will each have many constants that we need to be there; the warmth of a loving home, friends that we can love and be loved by, a place to find refuge from the everyday storms of life to name but a few, but as we look back on life the big question has to be, ‘have I changed?’

To say ‘no’ can be a positive, if it carries with it the sense that I’m still living and standing strong, however, that’s not the question; the point to consider is ‘have I just stayed the same and never grown bigger in faith and closer to the Lord, or am I satisfied with being just in the same place as I was all those years ago?’

Are the pictures hanging on the wall of my life unchanged ?

Is everything still just as it was, because I’ve never moved forward in life?

Am I still thinking the same old thoughts, having never allowed God to enlarge my life over the past years?

I remember for 10 years even before our first trip to Seattle, that God had spoken to me and told me that one day Seattle would be part of my destiny. I had no idea even where it was on the map, let alone knowing how to get there. I then remember asking the Lord years later as to why I’d never been when He’d clearly spoken to me about it; He simply answered that I’d never been because I’d never made plans to go. Within 12 months of that conversation, we were there.

Desire, plans and passion play an enormous part in our lives, and are the very driving force behind moving our lives forward towards change and destiny.

Take a quick glance back over your shoulder today and see if you’re still stuck in the very same rut that you were many years ago.

If so, take on board this passage of scripture…

Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Today, start afresh to hope in the Lord and take steps to move forward and regain your strength and passion.

Often, soaring means that we have to move from the environment that keeps us strutting along in the dust of our everyday life.

Take a little time today to ask the Lord to lift you to a new place where you can live a bigger life for His glory.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2016

I remember a couple of years ago when I made a decision to not eat any unhealthy foods for seven days. On day one of this week-long commitment, I had an invite to go round a friend’s house, and as I walked into the living room, there in front of me was a long table lined with all of my favourite sweets and chocolates… I thought to myself, ‘why couldn’t I have been invited last week?!’

It’s funny isn’t it how temptation always follows commitment. The moment you decide to do one thing, circumstances want to pull you in the other direction.

Temptation is a very real thing and if we were being honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that we are no match for it. In and of our own strength and willpower, we are not able to conquer the power of temptation.

But I want to encourage you today that Jesus Himself faced temptation, and not only that, but He also conquered it. And because Jesus has already won the battle against temptation, we too can overcome.

However, I would be lying to you if I said that you could do it all by yourself…
I do believe that the only way to overcome temptation is to involve Jesus in the equation. Ask Him to help you, ask Him to guide you through those areas of your life, and when you allow Him to lead, temptation can no longer have a hold over you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2016

Have you noticed that we as human beings can often be inconsistent? One moment we’re this, the next moment we’re that. Consistent living is something many of us strive for but struggle to achieve.

However, I have some good news for you today: who you are doesn’t change who God is. Romans 3:3-4 demonstrates this for us; “So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth.”

In other words, when you are unfaithful, God is always faithful. When you are inconsistent in your ways, God never fails to be consistent. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

And although who you are doesn’t change who God is, you need to know that who God is changes who you are.

I want to encourage you today in all of your efforts and striving to become a better you, to instead make a choice to lean into God. Let everything that is good about Him begin to rub off onto those things that aren’t so good about you.

Allow His faithfulness and His consistency to begin to change you, and I believe that when you do that, you will begin to take your eyes off your own weaknesses and begin to focus them onto His strength.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th November 2016

The very first Starbucks coffee shop was opened in Seattle, Washington, on March 31st 1971, by three partners who met while they were students.

If you ever get to visit the establishment, you will be somewhat underwhelmed by its appearance; even though packed with people buying coffee, not to mention taking selfies in a shop that is still fully functional and 45 years old, it has become a Mecca for coffee lovers from all over the world.

In the same city, Starbucks have successfully rolled out their new flagship roastery, which allows you to watch the coffee beans being roasted, ground and packaged in a huge coffee shop setting that is pretty mind blowing.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks is known to drink there on most days.

Amidst all the razzmatazz of the experience when we visited there a couple of days ago, I was taken in by just one expression that had been engraved into a piece of wood near to where we were sitting; it simply said this…’unreasonable passion has led us here.’

It made me think back to the three students who 45 years earlier, had given up everything in order to pursue a passion for coffee and now have almost 25,000 Starbucks stores opened across the globe.

If people can do that simply being driven by a passion for coffee, then how much more could we do being driven by a passion for people?

Having no passion leads us to live ineffective and dormant lives, but just imagine what we could accomplish in our lifetime, if we had ‘unreasonable passion’ for what we cared about.

Let’s make it our prayer today for the Holy Spirit to give us unreasonable passion in order to influence and change the world with the love of Jesus.
2 Peter 1:5-9 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is short-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th November 2016

One of my earliest childhood memories was deciding that I wanted to be a teacher, when I grew up.

From then on, I seemed to devote most of my time to preparing. As I got older, I decided what subject I would teach, the age group I would teach it to and even which establishment I would teach it in!

However, when it came to the crunch, and I went on work experience, my passion for teaching had completely gone.

I was confused. How could I feel like this, when teaching had been my big dream, for over 15 years?

It was then that I realised that although my plan wasn’t going to work, God was still ready for me, with His plan.

One day, I simply asked him what I should do. Almost immediately, I experienced a shift in my life. I had completely new passions and interests. When I look back, I realise that they had been lying dormant  in me the whole time. I felt like a different person altogether. Suddenly,  things made a lot more sense.

Be encouraged today. If what you thought was going to happen in life seems to be heading in a different direction, know this: with God, nothing is wasted.

It’s okay to dream new dreams. He sees from beginning to end. Everything that you have experienced already has brought you this far.

Romans 8:15 ‘This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are…’

You may be feeling lost. You may feel confused about who you are and what you are meant to be doing but God knows the exact details – so ask Him. Rest in that thought today and don’t be afraid to be adventurously expectant!

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2016

If you Google the phrase ‘wisest man who ever lived’, you will find that, in the minds of most people, this distinction belongs to Solomon, the legendary king who ruled the ancient nation of Israel about 3,000 years ago. A thinker as well as a leader, an author as well as a ruler, King Solomon was responsible for compiling the biblical book of Proverbs. In that book, he wrote, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” (Proverbs 1:5, KJV).

One of the most famous stories from the life of Solomon was his encounter with God, where the Lord offered Solomon any blessing he desired, including wealth, honor, or power. According to the biblical record (II Chronicles 1:1-12), Solomon chose wisdom. And God was so impressed with this choice that God then rewarded Solomon with all these other blessings, as well.

So Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, knew that wisdom was the most important quality a person could possess. And according to the notation above from his own writings, he knew that mental growth was a process, not automatic; it was increased incrementally, not gained all at once. Solomon knew that today’s efforts in gathering wisdom and knowledge would bring tomorrow’s successes in life and enterprise, because wisdom is the land under our feet, the solid, immovable rock upon which everything else is built.

People pursue all kinds of things in life. They pursue wealth. They pursue long life. They also pursue lesser prizes, such as pleasure and fame. But the ironic thing about life is that one gains these things, not by pursuing them, but rather by minimizing their importance and pursuing wisdom. Then these other “things” make their way toward the wise individual. Like Solomon, therefore, learn to prefer wisdom. If you do, you “shall attain” all the blessings that life has to offer.

Dr Dave Martin

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th November 2016

Ever felt under attack?
Join the club. We all go through that at times.
Here’s a great thing to remember.

Say the enemy attacks your marriage…he’s not after your marriage.

Say he attacks your finances…he’s not after your finances

Say he attacks your health…he’s not after your health.

“What do you mean?”, you may say.

He’s not after those things, he’s after your faith.
HE’S AFTER YOUR FAITH.
Your faith is powerful, it’s the weapon we use and when we are strong in faith, he can do nothing.

So remember, stay strong in faith, and everything will work out just right.
His purpose for your life is perfect.

Pastor Gillian Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2016

Have you ever felt forgotten?

Forgotten by parents, friends, loved ones, your boss or even your spouse?

The Bible records in the book of Genesis that Joseph was not only thrown into a pit by his brothers, not only sold into slavery, not only falsely accused and sent to prison, but he was forgotten too.

After spending time in prison through no fault of his own, he started to make a positive impact on everyone that came into contact with him, so much so that people looked up to him and treated him with great respect.

On one occasion after interpreting the dreams of two employees of the king, he asked them to remember him and mention him to the king – something he hoped would get him out of prison.

You can only imagine how Joseph would excitedly wait each day for that prison guard to give him the news he had been waiting for, however it never came…

Genesis 40:23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Jospeh waited everyday for a further two more years before getting the attention of the King.

What a painful story, but what an amazing ending that saw Joseph rise to highest ranking position in the land.

Being forgotten is something that we all face for long periods in our lives without any explanation, yet it is those very times that forge our character and lead us to maturity beyond our years.

Feeling forgotten today? Don’t dismay, though everyone may forget you, God never will – you are always on His mind.

He is using this very season of your life, if handled correctly, to catapult you into a significant life.

Isaiah 49:15-16 ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th November 2016

Last week, we looked at the dreams that we have for our lives and the importance of small beginnings.

In Genesis, Joseph, in a moment of naivety, told his brothers about things that God had revealed to him in his dreams. As we know from the story, his brothers, (already envious of their youngest sibling) tried their best to be rid of him altogether.

Genesis 37: 5-8 ‘Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.’

There are two important lessons to be learnt from this story.

The first is to protect your dream. The reason that God communicates with you directly is because there are things that He wants to reveal to you and you alone. There is a time for everything. No matter how exciting, wild or wonderful our dreams are, wisdom about who we share them with is vital in keeping them alive.

The second is a warning to not be like Joseph’s brothers. I want to encourage you today with this thought: there is enough for everyone.

A calling on someone else’s life does not mean that there is no calling on yours. We will all face times where we feel that someone has something we think that we deserve. Do not let that consume you. Instead, know that there is a plan and purpose for each and every one of us – each one unique and important. God’s favour knows no favourites.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2016

I love a good American movie that goes like this:

Everyday ordinary man/woman is living a comfortable but unfulfilled life, struggling to get some big break so they can feel they’ve arrived.

Then disaster strikes! An alien invasion, a creature from the blue lagoon or a rogue shark on the loose in a quiet seaside town, breaks the peace and turns everybody’s lives upside down.

After lots of drama, ups and downs and maybe a car chase our hero/heroine and most of their family survive (maybe an uncle or irritating cousin are eaten). They are left with a deep appreciation of life.

Despite their actual situation being worse than at the beginning of the film (house and worldly possessions destroyed by a radioactive sea monster) they’ve never been happier because of a new perspective on what they do have, rather than what they don’t have.

There’s some kind of reconciliation between people, maybe even a wedding.

The end…roll credits.

This can reflect our lives. We may have family, a roof over our heads and food on the table but deep down we’re dissatisfied, frustrated and waiting for something we don’t yet have.

Let’s not wait for an earthquake or zombie invasion to break out before we realise what we have!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 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.’

What a verse!

‘Light and momentary troubles’ is that alien invasion! Our very lives threatened is classed as light, in comparison with the eternal glory we will enjoy with Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what tragic situation you may be in the middle of, or maybe you’re at the start of the film, frustrated and feel a lack of meaning and direction. Stop and take stock today.

Jesus Christ is the meaning of life – the twist at the end of the film that suddenly makes sense of it all. When we start to live this way knowing it ends well while still fighting zombies, peace comes into our lives and we can relax and enjoy the action!

Every day, wake up and thank God, be appreciative of what you do have and make the most of the adventure. Above all else, keep your focus on He who puts perspective and meaning to the script of our lives!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th November 2016

I don’t know why God loves me but He does.
I don’t know why He died for me, but He did.
I don’t know why He’ll never let me go, but He won’t.
I don’t know why He would bless my future, but He will.

Awesome thoughts today. I’ve done nothing, absolutely nothing to deserve God’s love for me and His best for me, yet He constantly gives it to me.

It spurs me on today, to want to love Him more, serve Him more and make His name more famous.

He’s not only dealt with your past and with you in your present, but He’s got your future sorted too.

Today I challenge you – not to look at what you don’t have, but to look at what you do. The King of all kings and the Lord of all lords is on your side.
Your future is bright when you commit it to Jesus.

Let that be your fresh hope today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2016

There are different reactions to turbulence.
Some people are totally not fazed by it at all, it’s almost like they’re not aware it’s happening. They stay calm and really are not showing any signs of fear, concern or worry about the sudden shaking of the aircraft.

There are those maybe like me, who start to wonder about it, even write about it and pray a little through it, but deep down are knowing it’s only temporary and it will soon pass.

Then there are those who are really bothered by it and maybe although not outwardly shouting, are inwardly in great turmoil.

When life throws you some turbulence, be at peace. God has everything in His control. HE is the pilot. You couldn’t be in safer hands.
By all means, think it through and certainly you should pray and perhaps ask yourself and God “what am I to learn from this experience?”

But don’t freak out and get fearful, because if you do, you’ll affect those around you also in a negative way. Fear breeds fear.

God didn’t promise that the journey would always be easy, but He did promise to always be with you, and that’s the best promise anyone could hope for.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd November 2016

One thing that we all have in common is that we each have something to be grateful for. If you’re currently trying to think of something, the fact that you’re reading this, which means you’re alive, is one!

I read a quote this week and it said, ‘If gratitude is silent, it doesn’t help anyone, but your gratitude expressed encourages everyone.’

This statement issues us with a challenge: To identify that which you are thankful for and express your gratitude.

Whether it be through words or through actions, I want to encourage you today to not only carry inward gratitude, but to get that which is within you, out of you!

And when you maintain an outward attitude of gratitude, it inspires others to do the same. Not only does it have an impact on you, or the one that you’re thanking, but your gratitude will impact those around you.

Make a commitment today to not keep those thoughts of thankfulness to yourself, but understand that they are far more beneficial when expressed.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2016

People watching is a fascinating hobby.

Whether standing in a bus stop or sitting in an airport, there is always plenty to see.

People of all walks of life surround us every day, and I often look at their faces and wonder what lies beneath their expressions.

People of all shapes and sizes make up our world – from babies to the elderly, rich and poor, male and female, short and tall, yet one thing is for sure, they all have a heart. Not just a physical heart, but a heart that could be described as the very centre of who they are. Some would describe it as the soul.

It is the tendency of all to look at people’s outward appearance and make a quick judgement about who they are, something that I wouldn’t recommend if you don’t want to get it horribly wrong.

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is very old and wise advice but actually has its roots in the Bible…

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

Fashions and fads come and go with the passing of the years, as do the ever changing seasons of our lives, bank accounts, personal successes and failures.

People will become our friends often based on what they perceive about us, but God never does…He always only looks at our hearts.

Man looks at our intentions, whereas God looks at our motives.

The very secrets that we hold close to our chests may not be known by anyone, but be sure of this: God knows all of our secrets.

Many years ago, myself and Gillian befriended and old man that we regularly saw pushing a filthy old pram full of fire wood. We went to his home that was littered with old newspapers and junk. We dared not to drink the tea from the tea cups that he politely offered us each time we went to visit him with groceries.

As time passed by we stopped seeing the elderly gentleman and learned that he had sadly passed away.

You can imagine our surprise when we read of the amount he had left behind – it was thousands!

Thankfully, we had not judged him by his looks and appearance. We had looked into his heart and tried to help him for who he was.

It would be nice to report that he left us in his will, but that was not the case.

The next time we people watch, see each one as a person with a heart that needs to be loved and a soul that needs to find our saviour, Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2016

I want you to think about a dream that you have your life. Your dreams matter to God – not just because He wants to give you the desires of your heart but also because of the people that He wants to reach through your dream. They’re in your heart for a reason.

What do we do, when the big dream in our hearts doesn’t match our current circumstances? You may look at your life and feel very ordinary.

In the Bible, before David became a king, he did what was a considered a lowly job, watching over the sheep and fighting off bears and lions, here and there. Even his family refused to put him forward, when a great opportunity (to battle Goliath) came up. Yet, his ‘lowly’ job had secretly been preparing him for a moment of greatness. Do not be discouraged if what you are doing now has no great title or accolades attached to it. You are likely in a season of preparation.

In Zechariah 4:10 it says, ‘Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.’
Small beginnings sometimes come with difficult people, times where you may doubt that you discerned the right calling over your life at all and also disappointment. Don’t give up. God is always working on your behalf, behind the scenes.

Ask God for clarity for right where you are and He will lead your way, step by step. Trust Him, even when life makes no sense. Be encouraged at the start of this new month, that God is piecing things together for you.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 31st October 2016

If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you will have heard the air steward informing you that in the event of severe turbulence, oxygen masks will become available. They warn parents though to put their own masks on before helping children with theirs.

This, at first hearing, can sound back to front. Surely children should come first? But the reality is, if a parent is trying to put a child’s oxygen mask on, it only takes seconds for they themselves to pass out through lack of oxygen, then potentially, both can perish!

This can be a helpful picture to our lives.

We naturally want to help our children, friends and work colleagues. We’re concerned and pray for everyone, always looking to help where we can. We can have a mentality that being a Christian means putting ourselves at the back of the queue when it comes to everything.

This isn’t right. Firstly, the number one thing to you and me is Jesus! He wants our attentions before anything or anyone. He died for us so we could be in a relationship with him, not just so we could ask for stuff even if it’s not for us.

Also, in reality, people often don’t need what we think they need but by putting first things first –   your relationship with Jesus- we’re in a better place to be sensitive to people’s actual needs. The best way of helping others is to make sure everyday we have first got ourselves right – by placing our own oxygen supplies on.

Matthew 6:33-34 says, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

We all go through turbulence but I encourage you today to first and foremost seek Jesus. Put him first and enjoy the peace that throughout the day you will be safe and better equipped to help those around you!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2016

How many times has someone promised you something, and then not followed through with their promise?
How frustrating that is, and even hurtful at times.

A business can promise you something and never follow through. A company can promise you a certain service, yet never follow through with the goods. Even someone you know, or even love can promise you and never follow through with what they said they would.

Our ‘say’ and our ‘do’ should be the same. They should be identical. Which means, turn up and fulfil what you say or promise you will.
And if you can’t fulfil it, shut up!

Let’s be people who follow through on our word. It’s better to be honest and say no, than to let someone down.

The Bible says ‘let your yes be yes and your no be no.’

Promises and your word are important to God. They’re also important to other people.

People who follow through, have great reputations. How is yours today?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2016

There’s a story in the Bible in the book of John where we find a group of people known as the Pharisees and teachers of the law bringing to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. They state that the law requires that this women be stoned for such a sin, but they first want to know what Jesus has to say about the matter.

Jesus’ response is one that I’m sure they weren’t expecting… He says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (‭‭John‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NIV)
Following this, the Bible says that one by one, they each left the scene until only the woman and Jesus remained.

I want you to notice that there was indeed one person there that day who could have thrown a stone. For there was one person present who had never sinned, who had never messed up and who had never made a mistake… and that person was Jesus.

Yet, instead of throwing stones, He chose to extend grace.

The story goes on to say, “Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”” (‭‭John‬ ‭8:10-11‬ ‭NIV)

Every day, you and I have a choice. We can either respond to people who mess up by throwing stones, or we can respond by extending grace. But remember, you and I are in the same boat as they are and therefore have no right to throw stones…but we have every right to extend grace.

Choose the right response today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27th October 2016

Just imagine a record being kept of your sins!

My record would be pretty big…what about yours?

But what if that record could be accessed by all in order to read it aloud, or to privately torment you and eventually take you down?

What if the Bible were true in that it tells us that there will be a judgement day in which all will be laid bare before God?

What if a giant screen showed our faces to the world one day in eternity, and all would get to see and hear of everything we ever did and said; but more than that, what if it revealed our very deepest thoughts? I know that I for one would be deeply embarrassed, not to mention the shock on people’s faces as they got to see for themselves what actually went through my mind.

If anything could torment us every single day of our lives it surely would be this: the guilt and shame that we had said, done and thought some pretty horrible stuff during our life on Earth.

But pause for a moment…what if all of that were true and yet there was a way that it all could be erased and never ever seen again?

There is a way. His name is Jesus.

Psalm 130:3-4 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

His death on the cross means that all who come to Him in sincere repentance can be forgiven and the record of your past wiped clean once and for all.

We no longer have to serve God out of religious duty because we are worried that he will reveal all, but because we are forgiven, knowing that we have been freed from the guilt, shame and punishment of all we have ever done, or will do.

Receive His forgiveness.

Your records have been destroyed.

You are free to live for Him.

Don’t look back.

Serve Him now with all of your heart.

Be thankful for His death and resurrection.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2016

I well remember the feelings that overwhelmed me when our children were very small.

I’d come home some days, after being the Pastor of the church for not too long, feeling like I’d been beaten up by people’s problems and problem people.

As I walked through the door, the warmth of the welcome committee would be waiting as my wife would kiss me and the children jump into my arms. They knew nothing of the day that I’d had or of the things that I was facing, they just knew it was a safe place to be in Daddy’s presence.

As good as that was for them, the feelings I’m describing are the ones that I too felt when being surrounded and welcomed by pure love that I knew couldn’t hurt me.

Those hugs and kisses sometimes would be my salvation as I would face yet another difficult day that wanted to take me down.

There was something about those warm embraces that melted my soul and made things feel alright – even when I knew they were far from it.

In Psalm 131, it describes how we today, no matter what we’re facing, can bring peace to our very soul by receiving the warm embrace of a Heavenly Father.

Psalm 131:2 …I have calmed and quietened myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.

The message Bible translates it like this:

‘I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content’.

In order to know what that feels like, you need to re-order your life so that you spend time with God, knowing His warm embrace and hearing His whisper that no matter what is going on around you, all is well with your soul.

Cuddle up today.

Feel the warmth of His love.

Let Him melt your heart.

All is well again.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2016

Life can get pretty complicated.

Complex situations make up part of our every day existence.

There is no such thing as any easy life without problems.

Problems form part of who we are as human beings, trying to do life with others that have their own set of issues.

Trying to stay fresh in our spiritual lives takes great tenacity on our part at times, as it feels like we are being weighed down with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

The reality is that although our problems may seem insurmountable, they are no bigger than those of thousands of others going through very similar stuff all over the world right now.

The answer to our daily living has therefore got more to do with the way we see things, than it has to do with trying to avoid problems that keep coming our way.

In Luke chapter 8, Jesus is being asked by a man named Jairus, to go and heal his 12 year old daughter who is dying but as He’s on his way, He gets stopped in His tracks by a lady that has a 12 year old problem. She also has a condition that’s sapping the very life out of her.

Jesus heals the lady, but then hears in the mean time that the young girl has died. It’s too late. The moment for healing has been missed and the only thing left to do is plan for her funeral.

Talk about a complex day with no happy ending.

It is into this situation that Jesus speaks and shows us what uncomplicated faith looks like…

Luke 8:50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’

Today, Jesus still speaks to the complex issues of our lives with great simplicity and says to you…’don’t be afraid, only believe.’

With all of life’s complications that you may be facing right now, why not let Jesus unravel them all as He speaks those very same words of reassurance…

Don’t be afraid.

Only believe.

All will be well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2016

When you consider what might be the greatest compliment you could ever wish to receive, typically your mind will wonder to compliments regarding what you do. For instance, ‘you’re an amazing employee’, or ‘you’re so talented’. Possibly, you think about compliments aimed at who you are. ‘You’re such a great friend’, or ‘you’re so generous’.

Now, they are certainly great compliments to receive and are things that you should want to be said about you. However, can I suggest that they are not the greatest compliments you could ever receive. For the greatest compliment that you could wish to receive is not connected to what you do, or even who you are, but it’s connected to who you’re with.

There’s a verse found in the Bible in Acts 4:13 and it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Right here, Peter and John (2 of Jesus’ disciples) received what is, in my opinion, the greatest compliment that you could wish to receive: for people to acknowledge that they had been with Jesus.

I want you to notice how the people around them recognised that it wasn’t their education that stood out, nor were they extraordinary people, but something about them spoke volumes to those in their proximity, and that was that they had been in the presence of God Himself.

If there’s anything that you want to be said of you in this life, let it be this…that you had been with Jesus.

Nothing else will have a greater impact on the world around you and nothing else will produce greater change within you than when you get around Him…
It won’t go unnoticed.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd October 2016

I’m going to ask you today who can you encourage?
You may say, “stop there, I need encouraging!”
Well if that is true, then you certainly need to encourage someone else. Because whatever we sow we will definitely reap.

When you encourage someone, you can actually be that person’s lifeline without even knowing about it.
Many a person has been saved because of a timely encouragement.
You can pick up the phone today and say something lovely to someone. You can write them a card or buy them some flowers, you can even take the easy option and send them a text message, even so, your words can be powerful today in encouraging someone along their journey.

What if someone is crying out today for someone to care about them? What if someone wants to give up today? You may just be that person they need.
Don’t ever be too busy to encourage, don’t ever be too selfish to encourage, don’t ever see it as too insignificant.
Encouragement doesn’t have to cost money, but it is powerful.

Be an encourager today!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of loving.

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2016

When you think about it, we spend a whole lot of our lives waiting.

The question is: are we going to wait the right way or the wrong way?

If we wait the wrong way, we’ll be miserable, but if we decide to wait God’s way, we can become patient and enjoy the wait. It takes practice, but as we allow God to help us in each situation, we develop and grow the fruit of patience in our lives.

Often when stuck in traffic and getting frustrated with the wait, Gillian will often say to me, “you may aswell sit here and enjoy the journey rather than sit here and get high blood pressure.” She’s right. Whether patient or impatient, the wait is still the same length of time.

Having faith in Jesus offers no buttons to push for quick service. The man in a hurry must learn to wait for God’s perfect time, otherwise, he will give up and move onto something else without having learnt a thing.

If God decides to prolong an answer, are you willing and secure enough to trust Him and wait?

Allow patience to do its job, which is to make you more mature and complete.

Keep working through your current apparent set back, knowing that it will lead one day to your come back.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th October 2016

If there was one place that I wouldn’t want to show you if you came to our house, it would have to be the loft.

It is crammed full of stuff, most of which should have been thrown away long ago, but we have just never got round to it.

A conversation that Gillian and myself have at least once every six months indicates the level of our good intentions, as we speak of the need to spend a day clearing things out.

In reality, all we actually do is put more stuff up there, and me being the one that goes up most sees what was once a neatly laid out place that has now just lost all semblance of anything apart from a junk shop.

The main culprits that are out of sight and out of mind are the boxes from which electrical items came in. From TVs to hairdryers, you name it, they are all there ‘just in case’ we should need to take the item back; however the item is now up to five years beyond its guarantee.

Your loft space in your home is a pretty good likeness to the loft space in your life, namely your brain or to put it more bluntly, your thought life.

How much junk from the past is still gathering dust up there and more importantly taking up too much valuable space for things that really matter?

How many things are there for one reason only, and that is because you are emotionally tied to them? They can range from old patterns of thinking that you were taught as a child, right through to feeling the need to hold onto friendships that in actuality dissolved years a go.

How much mind space are you filling with the old you just because you may need to fall back on it some time in the future?

Listen carefully…you will not need most if any of the stuff that you are hanging onto from your past.

Today is that day to make a decision to let go of all the junk that’s being stored up top – let it go.

Let go of those bitter and unforgiving thoughts that keep invading your mind space.

Let go of that old way of doing things that’s not working anymore.

Let go even of those friendships that God has wanted to kill off but you keep breathing life back into them purely because of emotional attachments.

The Bible encourages us…
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The word ‘renewing’ here, literally means to ‘re-do’ your mind.

Stop conforming to that old way of thinking that keeps taking up valuable storage space in your life, instead, clear out and then re-do your mind by replacing it with good and godly thoughts, values, friendships and commitments.

Declutter today and start to enjoy all that freed up space made available for the current things that God wants to deposit with you today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2016

The words that you and I speak are not just communicative but creative.

Communication is our way of relaying information that has happened, or a way of announcing something that is about to happen. Both ways are factual in nature; for instance, there is no doubt in your mind that the meeting you have announced for tomorrow morning will take place. It’s called planning.

However, God has not just restricted our words to announcing the inevitable, but also to proclaiming the impossible.

Some of the very first words that the Bible records are of God speaking things into being followed by the words…’and it was so.’

Now I understand that you may think that it is only God that could do such a thing, but I want you to see something for yourself here today; speaking things into being is also now given to us as we determine by our words of faith what should be and what shouldn’t be.

2 Corinthians 4:13 It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.’

Speaking with a spirit a faith is something that every believer in Jesus can and should do.

Self proclaiming prophecies are spoken out by the bucket load every day, without even a thought that we are speaking powerful words of doubt over our lives.

Do any of these sound familiar? “…that’s totally impossible…it will never happen…I can’t possibly do that…there’s no way I’ll be able to get over this.”

So powerful are these ‘proclamations of doubt’ that they become reality, to which we then throw in a disclaimer that says…”I told you so!”

If only we would harness the power of our words by adding faith to them, we would see an incredible difference as we declare affirming words over lives, our families, and those we have opportunity to speak to and pray for.

When was the last time you spoke creative words of faith over a situation and saw it come to pass?

Don’t know where to start?

Start by declaring the promises of God as declared in the Bible; here’s one that I have written down and declared over my children and grandchildren for many years now;

Psalm 112:1-3 Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures for ever.

Start today to use your faith filled words to create the very future that you believe that God wants for you.

Go for it!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2016

Life is like a race.

It’s not necessarily about how fast you run, but it’s more about staying in the right lane in order to run with maximum effectiveness.

Crossing into a lane that is not yours means that you are trying to run in someone else’s shoes – something that you were not designed for.

Wanting to be someone else, or do what someone else does, is a common desire that is found in everyone’s life, yet being the very best at being totally you is the most effective way of living. Not only does it take away the pressure of trying to be someone else, it also allows you to flow naturally in what God has uniquely gifted you in.

‘Stay in your lane’ is the best advice you could receive, if you want to accomplish your God given dream and destiny; simply try someone else’s lane if you want to fail.

Yes, the grass does often seems greener on the other side, but remember…it still needs mowing.

One simple piece of wisdom that the Bible offers is this…’So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.’ (Deuteronomy 5:32).

Looking to the left and the right is the enemy of focus. How easy is it today to look around and lose sight of the most important thing that begs the question, ‘what has God commanded ME to do?’

If you’ve strayed off course, be determined today to do whatever it takes to get back on track.

By God’s grace, be the very best you today.

Hebrews 12:1-2 ‘…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. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2016

There are many verses in the Bible that tell us to ‘come.’
“Come unto Jesus all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” – (Matthew 11 v 28)
“Come all you who are thirsty and drink” – (Isaiah 55 v 1)
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” – (James 4 v 8)
The onus is on us.
We have two dogs, Percy and Snoop. Percy can get called to “come” but he only will, if he feels like it. He has to be in the mood.
Snoop however, will come the moment he is called, he’ll come when you call Percy or anyone else for that matter. He never wants to miss out on any love or potential food.

We can be like that with God. We can take His presence for granted. We should be different. We should crave His presence, knowing that when I get there, I’ll be refreshed, burdens lifted and just the opportunity to sit at the feet of the King of Kings is an awesome opportunity.

I’d encourage you today to get into His presence, linger a while and give Him the devotion He deserves.

Your soul will be fed and uplifted when you just “come”.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2016

Someone once said, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

How true. Too many times we don’t do what we should do, or what we want to do, or what we dream of doing, because we are too frightened to fail.

Our fears can take us to places that don’t always exist and often the things which we fear, will never ever happen.

God has called you and I to be a champion. Do you think the enemy wants that to be the case? Of course not! He would rather you fail in every area of your life and he would rather you believe that you will fail.
And when you believe that you’ll fail, you probably will.

What many people fall for, is believing the lies of the devil. Lies that say “you’ll never do it”,
“you’ll never succeed”, “you’ll never be any good, so you may as well give up now.”

Don’t believe it!

Today, your desire to succeed has to be stronger than all those feelings of “what if I fail?”

What does it matter if you fail? At least you tried. Get up and try and try again.

Have such a great desire inside of you today of success, of making it work, of making and being the difference, that very soon you WILL believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts!

Go on, you CAN do it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2016

I was recently reading the book of Jonah in the Bible and one thing that stood out to me in particular about Jonah’s life was how he went around in circles.

In chapter 1, God calls Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh, he declines the assignment and the story continues. Skip ahead to chapter 3, and God calls Jonah a second time, and this time he accepts.

What happened in between these chapters was a very costly period for Jonah. In an attempt to run away from God, Jonah lost valuable time, he lost finance as well as possessions, and most of all, he nearly lost his life. Yet, he eventually returned back to square one, however, with a lot less than when he first began…

I want you to notice how the plan of God still prevailed in the end, despite Jonah’s desire to not be a part of it. And you need to know today that God has a plan for your life and you have the choice to either run from it or submit to it.

Can I implore you today to not spend your days going around in circles, but to instead say ‘yes’ to God, say ‘yes’ to His plan for you? Don’t waste your time, don’t waste your resources, don’t sacrifice your relationships in an attempt to try everything that the world has to offer, only to realise one day that God was everything that you had been searching for and more.

Yes, you get a second chance…but you only get one life.
Make the choice to start living it now.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 13th October 2016

Have you ever bumped into someone that you haven’t seen for a while and been asked ‘so, what have you been up to lately?’ For many of us, that question can conjure a sense of dread, as we scramble our thoughts together, to think of something impressive to say.

The trap of comparison is one that is all too easy to fall into. We can find ourselves looking at other’s lives, their whereabouts, their successes and feel discouraged.

I want to encourage you today with this thought: you are not the sum total of all of your achievements.

We can all too easily put pressure on ourselves to do more, have more, be more; much of the time, simply because we feel that others are watching. It is not bad to desire ‘more’ for our lives but it should never come at the expense of our peace. No matter who you are or what season you are in, you may at some point feel inadequate.

Today, I want to challenge you to surrender those feelings to God and take on your day knowing that God has a completely unique plan that is yours and yours only. There are people that only you can reach. There are situations that need your prayer. There are broken people who need your encouragement.

Change thoughts of ‘am I enough?’ to ‘Lord, what will you have me do in this season?’ Walk confidently in the knowledge that God has something special for you and whatever He means for you to have, He will find a way to get to you. No matter how you feel, you are chosen and you are loved.

Live boldly today and remember (Philippians 4:13) ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2016

I love watching DIY type programmes – especially where they renovate people’s homes in order to sell them.

One of the common underlying factors that keeps houses unsold is the fact that the owners become ‘blind’ to what needs updating and renovating.

We can get so used to living in the same house and looking at the same four walls that we don’t see what needs doing. A fresh pair of eyes usually reveals the full extent of anything that’s been overlooked.

Living a life of faith also means that we need to have a gentle nudge from time to time, in order to show us where our faith needs renovating.

The word NOVATE means to replace with something new.

Here’s what one man said in the Bible…Mark 9:24 ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’

He was saying…’renovate my faith.’

Here are some signs that you need to renovate your faith and overcome your unbelief:

– When you say ‘it can’t be done.’
– When you’re overwhelmed by problems.
– When you feel that you’re trusting only in your plans.
– Whenever you’re faced with a financial need and you reach first for your credit card.
– Whenever you face a crisis, obstacle or dilemma and your faith is more in the people around you than it is in God.
– When you continually talk to yourself in a language called doubt.

Remember, Jesus didn’t teach people to have faith, but to have faith in God.

Mark 11:22 ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered.

It’s worth noting that the actual translation is this…’Have the faith OF God.’

Ask yourself, how much faith does God have for your situation right now? 100%!

Start to see your situation through the eyes of Jesus and you’ll soon start to renovate your faith in God.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th October 2016

There is something very satisfying within our human nature when we uncover other people faults.

We all have an tendency to get a kick out of it when we hear of someone that’s just messed up.

It certainly sells newspapers and definitely grabs people’s attention, not to mention it becoming hot gossip in any office, and an instant hit on social media.

Good news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster.

Part and parcel of this fascination with the sordid details of other people’s lives is inbred within us, knowing that if we can make others look bad, we can make ourselves look better.

Here’s the question: are you an exposer or a coverer?

Are you one of the first people to dish the dirt, or are you the one that covers a person’s shame with your love for them?

We are not talking about sweeping stuff under the carpet here, but we are talking about our motive for wanting to expose other people’s downfalls.

When Noah was asked by God to build the ark in the midst of a God forsaken world, he was chosen as a righteous man of faith.

Yet, not so long after the flood, we find him naked and drunk in his tent.

One of his sons walked in on him and decided to expose his shame, whilst the other two sons decided to cover his shame; they walked into the tent backwards and lowered a blanket over their father’s nakedness in order to cover him rather than expose him, not even daring to look.

Each of us today, carries with us the ability to expose or cover someone else’s shame.

The question is: why would you want to make a person feel worse than they already do? Would it not be better to take the higher road and cover them with your love? Here’s the crunch question…what would you want someone to do for you, if you messed up big time?

Jesus modelled something so powerful for us when an adulterous woman was thrown at his feet. Crowds gathered to see her get her just penalty, which was by law, death by stoning.

Fully expecting Jesus to pronounce that very harsh judgment on her, he simply asked those that were without sin to cast the first stone; no one dared move.

Jesus then made a remarkable statement in order to set her free…John 8:11 ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’

God’s grace is so powerful that even when we may mess up, he covers us, and never exposes us.

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offence, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2016

A few years ago, we were renovating the upstairs of an old night club that we had rented as a space for our church.

Rewiring had required that some of the floorboards be taken up during the day and had been just been placed back down after the electrician had finished for the day.

That night, I went upstairs with a couple of guys to see how the work was progressing, and before we could switch the lights on, I walked onto the end of a floorboard and got the shock of my life…my one foot went straight through the floorboard and appeared through the ceiling tile in what was a shop beneath; what made it worse was the fact that the shop opened late at night and had several customers that also got the shock of their lives, as a leg appeared above the cash till.

If was not only a very painful experience in that I was bruised for weeks afterwards, but also a valuable lesson in taking note of where you’re walking.

Paying attention to where you walk in life is important to the degree that many people fall down holes that they never get out of. Maybe that hole is something you never saw coming, but now you feel embarrassed and trapped by the sin you’ve gotten yourself into. All sin and failure starts off pretty innocently and looks much like this:

Tempting

Fun

Exciting

Frequent

Habitual

Sin

Misery.

Don’t ever say that you are beyond falling because you think you are so strong…that’s exactly the time that you become vulnerable.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

If you’ve stopped walking in the light and fallen into the clutches of sin, then remember there is a way back and you need to take it right now before you leave it too late to be rescued.

Ask a close Christian friend to help you get out the mess you’re in.

Face up to the truth about your situation and confess it.

Ask Jesus for His forgiveness and receive it.

Forgive yourself for making such a hash of things.

Turn to God and get back on track.

Don’t walk in the dark any longer, but bring everything out into the light.

Walk on firm ground again.

Live a forgiven and blessed life.

Thank God that His forgiveness is total and complete.

Start to live again.

Remember: it’s not only how high you jump in church on a Sunday, but how straight you walk on a Monday.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2016

The Israelites were God’s chosen people and yet we read that for seven years, they did evil and went away from God. (Judges 6)
I think God was angry with them, because it says that God had given them over to the Midianite army (which was their enemy).
Every seed that they had sown was destroyed and everything they had, got stolen – not a good situation to be in!
They went through a time of severe famine.

There’s always a cost if you take your eyes off God and a cost if you disobey Him.
Why is it that we can sometimes get into a mess and blame God?

When they disobeyed repeatedly, God gave them into the hands of the Midianites.
Disobedience will bring you into a place where you don’t like it and you won’t want to be. Disobedience is not worth it.

God is a God of love and a God of grace and a God of mercy, but when we go our own way and do our own stupid things and shut God out, then expect there to be consequences.

You may not be living in disobedience, but you may be disillusioned with life. You may feel like giving up, walking out and throwing in the towel.
You may have taken your eyes off God.
My advice to you today is DON’T.

Have I ever been disobedient? YES.
Have I ever been disillusioned? YES.

But the key is repenting quickly and getting back on track. Asking God to reveal Himself again to you and get into His presence.
Don’t let it go on for years, like the Israelites.

Live in God’s blessing. Stay in God’s blessing. Crave God’s presence in your life and live a life of honour to the King of Kings.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2016

One thing that I’m sure we’ve all faced at some point in our lives is fear. Fear is a very real emotion, however, have you ever considered what fear really is?

I read a quote this week that totally changed my perspective on this emotion that we face.
It said, ‘fear is faith in the enemy’.

Now that really got my attention, because I realised that the time I spend in fear, is actually time spent believing that the enemy has power over my life.

There’s a verse in the Bible found in 1 John 4:18, and it says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”

The phrase ‘perfect love’ here is speaking of Jesus. You see, love is not just something that Jesus does, it’s who He is. And in Him you can find freedom from fear.

Whatever you’re faced with today, or this week, choose not to put your faith in the enemy, who is the source of fear, but make a decision to put your faith in Jesus, the One who drives out all fear.

And know that because God is for you, no one or no thing can be against you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th October 2016

Let’s talk today about the significance of serving.

Many years ago, I trained to be a silver service waiter; it’s not something that you see much of today, apart from in some exclusive restaurants and even then it’s pretty rare. I may have left that kind of serving behind years ago, but I’ve tried since then, to devote my life to serving others. There is something very special and very significant about serving others.

When we look at Jesus’ life, we see that He lived His entire life with other people in mind – He was always teaching, healing, leading and even correcting, so that people’s lives would be lifted to a higher level. Jesus was the ultimate example of serving.

Serving is simply giving of yourself to make life better for someone else. If we want to be like Jesus, serving will be a way of life for us.

It all starts with having an attitude and perspective on life that looks for opportunities to be a blessing – it always asks: what can I do to make a difference for someone else?

Being part of a life giving church is fundamental in that it gives us opportunity to become part of a serving community. Being available and having a willing heart is all it takes.

It’s a spiritual principle that when we sow good things, we’ll reap the benefits in our own lives too.

Matthew 20:28 ‘…just as the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2016

Prayer is another spiritual discipline that is vital to our spiritual growth. When we pray, we receive direction, strength, comfort, encouragement and so much more. Prayer doesn’t have to be fancy or overly spiritual – prayer is simply talking with God.

Communication in any good relationship isn’t one-sided. It’s interactive with both sides participating; part of prayer is talking to God, with the other side hearing from Him. Hearing God’s voice can be a thought that the Holy Spirit drops into your mind, or an inner conviction that’s similar to a ‘gut feeling’.

Prayer makes the power of God available to us in the situations we’re facing. It also keeps us trusting in and relying on Him for all that we need – that’s why it’s essential that prayer becomes part of our everyday life.

Here are some practical guidelines about prayer:

• Set aside a special time in each day to pray. Try and stick to the same room, chair and time so that it becomes a special place to be looked forward to.

• Morning prayer is good because it gives God priority in your day and prepares you for the day ahead.

• Better to pray for a short while and be consistent rather than try and break a record and do it only once or twice.

• Open your heart wide and ask God to speak to you.

• Deal with any attitudes that might keep you from effective prayer – anger, unforgiveness, pride, jealousy etc.

• Alongside the things that you will want to pray for that are unique in any given day, make a list of ongoing needs and requests that you can pray for until you receive an answer.
James 5:16-18 (Message Bible)

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t – not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2016

Our confidence needs to be in God, not in ourselves. The biggest part of being confident in God is being confident in His Word, the Bible.

God’s Word plays an incredible part in our lives, in fact, nothing can replace the power that it has in strengthening us on the inside.

Being spiritually confident means knowing what the Bible says about you.

When I first became a Christian, I began to read the Bible like I’d never read it before. In fact, the little Bible I read from was the one that was given to me by the Gideon’s society when I was at secondary school.

As I read it, I made up my mind to believe what it said as the truth, and would therefore rely on every word to be trustworthy; I decided to write out in a notebook, any verse that stood out to me on faith.

Here’s one of the very first ones that I can still instantly recall…

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I then started to live my life as a new Christian just as if the Bible was totally trustworthy, and guess what? I’ve proved it to be just that, every day of my life since then.

Reciting verses became an excellent way of remembering them and becoming a natural part of my life.

So much of what God has enabled me to do over the years has come from knowing and believing verses just like that one.

From believing for my first £5 that I needed when stoney broke, to trusting Him for several millions in the last few years, has come because I chose to believe God’s Word.

Take some time today and every day to read it for yourself and when you come to a verse that stands out for you, underline it, highlight it, or write it out in a notebook and you’ll be sure to remember it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2016

We let too much stuff consume us. Worries about this and that. They take our focus and our energies.
We get consumed with our jobs, we get consumed with our health, we get consumed with our families, we get consumed with lack and we get consumed with what we want. We get consumed with people and their problems … and before we know it, we are so consumed by things and people, that all our life and energy, even our joy and peace, goes.

Lamentations 3 says “because of the Lord’a great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…great is your faithfulness.”

Because of God and his love, we should not be consumed by anything else. His compassion for me is not stale, out of date, weak, neither is His love for me tired or weary.

Whatever your need today, God has it covered. You don’t need to worry about it, just commit it to Him.

Great is HIS faithfulness

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2016

Every crisis in your life can bring about a great deliverance if you let it.
What do I mean by that? Everyone at some point or another will go through a crisis. It’s what you do in that crisis that will enable you to either get out barely alive, get out victorious, or not get out at all.

Here are some things to do today if you’re in a crisis.

1. Thank God anyway. The Bible tells us to thank God in all circumstances, that doesn’t mean you have to thank Him for the circumstances but you thank Him in the circumstances.

2. Have a great attitude. Don’t think ‘why me?’ Don’t blame God. Understand that God has everything in control and He hasn’t forgotten you.

3. Give Him praise. Yes, praise, sing, worship your heart out.
You probably won’t feel like it, but it’s the best thing you can do. Praise breaks chains and praise changes things.

The next time you’re in a crisis, think about Jonah…he came out better and not bitter and it was because of what he did when he was in the belly of the fish that got him out victorious.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th September 2016

I had arrived far too early for an appointment a couple of days ago, and so decided to grab a coffee at Starbucks and reply to some emails that had been pressing for a day or two.

As I sat there minding my own business, I glanced up and saw a young person that I knew from our church making their way towards me – I nodded as I took out my headphones and said hello.

There was a seat close to mine and they seemed quite happy to sit nearby so that they could talk as I tried to carry on working.

My mind kept trying to take me back to my emails and naturally I was thinking about the inconvenience of having someone sitting closely that would disturb my work, but a conversation played out inside my head that reasoned that the real work was actually to be willing to talk to someone that may just be sitting nearby for a reason.

My ‘wasted’ time turned into an opportunity to encourage a young person in their faith, and not least of all find out all about what the dream was for their life, as they were actually sitting waiting to go to a job interview.

Inconvenience and ‘killing time’ are often the very moments that God salvages for someone else’s good.

The next time you find yourself sitting somewhere with time on your hands, look up and ask the Holy Spirit if there is anyone that you should be talking to in that very moment.

You never know…someone may just be needing a 30 second encouragement to get them through the day.

God never wastes wasted time.

Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th September 2016

I have to admit that I’m very much a creature of habit.

Now of course, we all know that habits can work both for you and against you, depending on whether they are good or bad.

A bad habit can be your down fall, whereas a good habit can be a life saver.

A simple habit of brushing your teeth regularly can keep you out of the dentist’s chair later in life, whereas a life of eating unhealthy food can send you to an early grave.

Many years ago, I chose to give the very first part of every day to God. It’s a habit that I believe keeps me on the right track and means that I can live each day in the fulfilment of what God has for my life.

Not every day is good, in fact some are just the opposite, but no matter what, I know that God has a plan and that He is good.

There are also days when I don’t feel like praying and days when I don’t know what to pray, but my habit of spending time reading the Bible and in prayer have been a constant in my life that keeps my feet on a firm foundation – in fact, I feel underdressed if I don’t start the day in this way.

The principle of leading the way in prayer and praise is at the centre of every part of the Bible; it indicates that if you want to win your daily battles, the first thing you should do is focus on God.

There is an incredible story in the Old Testament in which the Israelite army was under attack and certain annihilation, from a vast army that was advancing against them.

Jehoshaphat the King, knowing that his army was about to be defeated did something that sounded completely backwards, but brought about supernatural victory to his troops.

Here’s what he said…
2 Chronicles 20:21-22 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures for ever.’ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

Victory was secured by allowing a chosen group of worshippers to lead at the front of the army; they carried no weapons, just musical instruments, and all they sang was a simple worship song that declared that God was good.

That powerful lesson leads us back to where we started…let prayer and praise lead your day to victory.

There will still be days where God doesn’t seem to take your battles from you, but He will certainly enter your battles with you – which ever way it happens you will still get the victory.

So, don’t just pray and praise God when you feel like it, as good though that is, but make a habit of doing those very things right up front from now on.

At the front of each day, declare that ‘GOD IS GOOD AND HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.’

Victory!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2016

I was driving to an appointment yesterday when a large banner strewn across the front of a shop caught my attention. It was announcing and celebrating that the takeaway premises had been awarded 5 stars for cleanliness and hygiene by the local authority.

As wonderful as that was, my attention was now not drawn to what food the shop sold, but only to the fact that the shop was nice and clean.

As I drove by with my wife, I pointed it out to her and we chatted about how commendable their hygiene standards were, but the big question that was left unanswered was this: is the food any good?

Somehow the 5 star award for hygiene had caused the owner to lose sight of why the shop existed, which was of course to provide a great takeaway. Both are very important.

I started to ask myself the question…’would I go there just because it’s clean and sterile?’ and the answer was no. Gaining a hygiene certificate was one thing, but serving great food was another.

The reality is that I fully would expect the shop to be clean, but I would never walk in one night whilst starving and ask the owner if I could have look around just to make sure that I wasn’t going to catch anything.

I wonder how many times in church we have lost sight of what really matters in favour of what should be expected.

Many people have chosen a church based on its clean and almost sterile spiritual environment. Everything in its place and no ungodly, unruly people, especially children and youth, to mess it up.

Sterile can not only mean that all germs are dead, but that no life at all exists there either.

I made a decision many years ago that I would aim to raise up a 5 star church that would be open to all and serve up the very best ‘spiritual’ food through the message that it sends out week by week; however, I’ve observed that when you do that, it can be a very messy business and the furthest thing from a nice clean sterile environment. Give me that any day over neat and orderly systems where there is no life at all.

If you’re thinking of what’s most important when looking for a great church, choose a 5 star church that prides itself in serving life giving hope for all, more than keeping a nice clean image.

A church alive is worth the drive.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2016

One of the most famous characters in all the Bible is Jonah. You may be familiar with his encounter with a whale, but what happens previous to that is a lesson for us all to learn.

God asks Jonah to travel to the city of Nineveh and address the people there, however Jonah doesn’t want this assignment and so decides to get on a boat that’s heading in the opposite direction. Following this, a great storm comes upon the boat and death is inevitable for all who are on board.

When it becomes evident that Jonah is responsible for this storm, the sailors come to the conclusion that the only solution is to throw him overboard. They do so, and the raging winds and waves become calm.

Sometimes the storms that you go through in life are not your fault, but they are as a result of the people that you’ve allowed into your boat. You may currently be facing the consequences of someone else’s disobedience, and this can all be avoided by making the decision to throw some people overboard.

Yes, it is our responsibility to love all people, yes, it is our responsibility to show grace and forgiveness towards everybody, but you were never called to allow everyone into your boat.

I want you to notice how each person on that boat had a destination, and the same is for you today – you have a destiny. However, no one would have made it to where they were going if they hadn’t have made the choice to lose someone along the journey.

You need to come to the realisation that your destiny is too precious and that the call of God upon your life is too great for you to have the wrong people in your boat…

Jonah’s gotta go.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2016

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 then 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 anytime 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 specialise 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 – 24th September 2016

I want to encourage you today not to give up on your dream – not to give up on God’s promise to you.
Just because things don’t go as planned, that is no reason to give up.

I love the story of Joseph, it teaches us that no matter what goes wrong, keep believing for God’s promise and God’s best for your life.
He was misunderstood by his family, thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his own brothers.

Then he ended up in a strange country far from home, where he was wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison through no fault of his own.
He was forgotten by the chief butler when he asked him to remember him and he had to stay in prison for a few more years.
But then…He interpreted a dream and became ruler of Egypt!

He had lots of reasons to give up, lots of negative things happened and nasty surprises came along the way – yet he realised that every time, God was still with him. Even when things made no sense, God was all over Joseph’s life.

Be encouraged today, whatever your circumstances or situation, God is watching for your persistence and patience, and He is looking for your heart and attitude even in the midst of your troubles.
Your promise is just around the corner, because God never forgets a promise.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2016

When a successful person retires from their profession, you will often find them being interviewed about their career. They will relook over the highs and the lows, the successes and the failures, and almost every time, you will find them being asked one question…’Do you have any regrets?’

Now, one thing that every human being has in common is that we all make mistakes. We all go through challenges. We’ve all done something that we wished we hadn’t have. However, we have a decision to make – whether we live in regret of these things or not.

Mistakes will either cause you to become better or bitter. I do believe that in every mistake, in every challenge, and in every trial, there is something within it that can teach you a lesson.

I read an article recently with Bear Grylls and he said, ‘You control whether or not you fail.’

You can either allow failure to knock you down and keep you down, or you can allow it to be the catalyst that brings you back better and stronger than before.

I want to encourage you today to get the benefit of the lesson without having the burden of the regret.

There is nothing in your life that God won’t work out for your good and so you don’t have to wait for the mountaintops of life to arrive, for we understand that our most fruitful days may well be in the valley.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd September 2016

I’ve been interested this past week in reading how many people ‘ran’ to Jesus.

In Mark 5, the man who was in desperate need because he was in mental torment RAN to Jesus because he knew no one else could help him, but maybe Jesus could.

In Mark 10, a young man with many questions RAN to Jesus to get his questions answered – questions about eternal life, that were very important to him.

In Luke 19, the story of Zacchaeus is a very famous one- his life wasn’t right, he was involved in deceit and wrong doing, but did we know that he actually RAN to that tree so that he could see Jesus?

Whatever your situation today, whether desperately in need of a miracle, or you have questions that need answering or you want to get your life right…RUN to Jesus.
HE has your answer and HE is there waiting for you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2016

J.K. Rowling, author of the phenomenally successful Harry Potter series, was once clinically depressed and living on welfare in Scotland.

She later shared, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, that she was still having trouble coming to terms with herself since her newly found fame and fortune.

It had been many years since she had to fight to scrape together enough money for her and her child to live on, but she recalled how her poverty mentality was still causing her to live like a pauper.

One day whilst trying to write her last book, her concentration was continually broken by noisy workmen in her apartment, which was already filled with children and pets. Suddenly she realised that she could afford to travel anywhere in the world to finish her book, but her old poverty mindset had gotten the better of her.

She recalled the days when she would write sitting in a local coffee shop just because it was warmer than her flat and didn’t cost her any money. Now, in reality she could afford to go anywhere, but her mind still told her to watch every penny.

How many reading this today have recently come to faith in Jesus, and yet are still held back by that old mindset?

It may well be a poverty mindset that still grips you, not realising that the God that you now serve can meet your every need daily from his abundant supply.

Receiving Jesus’ forgiveness means that you can now live totally free from the sins of your past, but how many times a day does your past life come back to haunt you, causing you to live like you did before?

Freedom from guilt is a massive weight off the shoulders of any man or woman and yet how many days do you still spend trapped by those old reoccurring feelings that want to pull you back into your old life?

Don’t let your thoughts rob you for even one more day, by wanting to take you back to that old life that Jesus has once and for all taken you out of.

When those old thoughts want to invade your mind, then take a hold of them and tell them that you are a child of God…forgiven and set free.

Live today in all that Jesus has done for you.

Don’t give the devil credit he doesn’t deserve for authority he doesn’t have.

Be blessed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2016

Half of being smart is knowing what you’re useless at.

Do you ever feel frustrated that you are hopeless at doing certain things? No matter how hard you try, you don’t seem to improve and end up feeling frustrated.

Maybe you should consider the thought that you weren’t ‘wired up’ for such things.

Many people want to feel that they are high achievers in every area of their lives, but it actually creates unrealistic expectations.

I’ve known people that have had lessons on piano for more than 10 years and yet still couldn’t play one piece that wouldn’t annoy you.

Some men have tried to be good at DIY and yet have frustrated their wives with their total incompetence.

You may be great running a small business, but the moment you try to do the invoicing you come unstuck.

All this tells us is that whilst we may be brilliant at certain things, we will also be pretty useless at lots of other things.

We are told that the average person can be competent at around four or maybe five things, leaving them incompetent at tens of other things that they can’t do. So, feeling frustrated at the things that we can’t do, we set about putting all our energies into them, not realising that we are wasting precious time that we should be devoting to the things that we are already gifted at.

As someone once said, if you try to teach a pig to sing you will annoy the pig and waste your time.

Why not write down today the handful of things that you feel you are good at, and then set about devoting all your attention to those few things?

Within a short space of time, you will notice how you have increased your skill in that area, taking you from good to great.

Stop trying to be good at everything. Instead, be master of a few things that God has entrusted to you.

Matthew 25:14-15 ‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2016

I read this quote the other day and it grabbed me:

‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.’

I always want to be generous but often wish I had more money to be generous with. I think this quote can help us understand not to worry about what we can’t give but look at what we can.

As Christians, we’re often keen to look for opportunities to reach people by talking about our faith. In reality, if we want to impact people around us, it’s not what we say but how we make people feel.

There’s no worse feeling than talking to someone who is clearly distracted. It’s a statement that there are more important things than you. The reality is no matter what pressure you are under in your life there is nothing more important than people.

Sometimes we live with the pressure of wanting our lives to count, to be part of something great, to create or do something significant. We often overlook the opportunities every day to invest in people’s lives around us and all it takes is for us to stop and listen.

Let someone waffle and talk rubbish. Don’t correct them, be generous. Is your correction going to save them or could your generosity change the course of that person’s day?

I challenge you today to look for an opportunity to really impact someone, not by chewing their ear off, but let them chew yours off. Look for an opportunity to be generous and make someone feel the wonderful emotion of having someone care enough to stop and listen. When we do we’ll be surprised at the impact and the doors that can open into people’s lives.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th September 2016

We all like to wear different shoes –  some of us live in training shoes, and some of us would not be seen dead without our heels on.

Whatever your taste in shoes is,  whether you would consider them to be boring or exciting, whether you wear expensive or cheap, the Bible tells us to wear shoes that carry the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6 tells us to have our feet ready to take peace wherever we go.

We are meant to be peacemakers and whatever situation you may be in or whatever you may face today, I would encourage you to wear shoes of peace. The world and those you meet today need God’s peace, and you are that person to take it.

Today, I walked around London in a pair of broken shoes! They weren’t broken when I left home, but half way into my day trip, they completely broke.
The rest of my day was spent wearing those shoes. I had to keep going.

Whatever life has in store for you today, you can do it. Wear those peace shoes today – that’s God’s purpose for you.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” (Isaiah 52 v 7).

Be that person today and wear those beautiful shoes.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2016

I love the verse in the Bible found in Proverbs 11:24. It says,
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”

One of the things that amazes me about God is that He lets us choose what size life we live.
In this verse we are given a choice – to live big or to live small. Now, if I were to ask you today which kind of life you’d prefer, I know which one you’d choose.

Not only does God give us a choice, but He also provides a way for us to experience both outcomes. If you want your world to decrease in size, then it’s simple: don’t live a lifestyle of generosity. But for those of you who want your world to continually enlarge, then it’s also pretty straight forward…learn to be generous.

You need to know that God’s promises never fail and so when you make the decision to live a generous life, watch how your world will grow.

Not only will you see financial growth, but you will see growth in your relationships, growth in your joy, growth in your sense of fulfilment…

The size of life that you get to experience is down to you. Make the choice today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th September 2016

How many of us have been turned down for a job with the words ‘needs more experience’?

If you consider yourself to be a young person today, then those words will be some of the most frustrating words you will hear during this season of your life.

Time after time those well-meaning words will be spoken over you, carrying with them the sentiment that you are being told to wait your turn.

As I started out leading in my early 20s, I was disappointed to find that the ‘well seasoned’ older leaders around me, were actually none the wiser from getting older – in fact, they seemed to have learnt little from the passing of the years. Some behaved worse than small children, which led me to the conclusion that experience is not the best teacher after all.

I couldn’t understand why experience had helped a few, but the vast majority it had not.

If experience was supposedly the best teacher, then why wasn’t it working with the more experienced older people surrounding me?

The great leadership coach, John Maxwell, gave the answer: “experience teaches little, but evaluated experience teaches everything”, he said.

All of us gain experience throughout our lives, however, what we learn and evaluate from that experience is what changes everything.

I passed my driving test more than 35 years ago and therefore have bucket loads of experience. However, that does not make me a good driver.

I could well be a lousy driver, never having learnt from experience; in fact what I may have done, is simply repeat 35 times what I learnt in year one.

Be careful not to grow old with the thought that you are automatically gaining more experience than people younger than yourself, when in actual fact you are standing still and in many cases going backwards.

I encourage you to evaluate today what you are learning from the lessons of yesterday.

Growing old is automatic, growing up is optional.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2016

Most of us feel that there is never enough time in the day to do everything we need to do…there are just too many things pulling at us.

Why do we feel this when all throughout history, men and women alike have accomplished incredible things with just the same 24 hours a day that we have?

The issue therefore, is not the time that you have or the busyness of your life, but whether or not the activities of each day are leading you to your destiny, or are they simply the priorities of others that want to live out their own agenda through you?

Is the time spent each day being busy actually hindering you from living out what God created you to do?

I realised many years ago that the security of the career that I was pursuing, was no longer leading me to the life that I should ultimately be living. I had a choice to make and the choice went like this…’I am willing to surrender my life, my dream, my career for the higher purpose that God has for my life.’ Instead of seeing that the choice was too expensive to make, I realised that not making that choice was the most costly decision I would ever have to make.

In 2006, the then senator Barack Obama, gave to a group of college students these wise words about success: “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realise your true potential.”
Your future is not rooted in how you feel, but in how you act each day.

See each day from now on as something that is either leading you towards or away from your destiny.

Make your choice.

Seek God.

He knows the way.

Remember: destiny is not something we decide, but something we discern.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2016

3 simple rules to live by:

1. Don’t live for what’s URGENT…live for what’s IMPORTANT.

If you live every day for what’s urgent, it will mean that you live chasing around after everyone else’s demands on your own life.

It’s amazing how quickly everyone else will fill your diary for you if you let them, leaving little or no space for the things that you need to accomplish with your life.

I’m not talking about living selfishly here, as in fact living for what’s important can be the most unselfish thing you ever do.

Make a choice today to take back control of your life, rather than allowing everyone else to live it for you.

There will be times when you have to drop everything and run to someone’s aid, but that should never be the everyday norm.

2. Don’t live for SUCCESS…live for SIGNIFICANCE.

Being successful should never be frowned upon, but it should never be the ultimate goal of our lives. Significance, on the other hand, should be something that we embrace at all times.

If success says ‘I’ve made it’, then significance says ‘I’ve changed it’.

Success is what you achieve for you, but significance is what you achieve for others.

If you desire success, then do so in order that you can live a significant life.

3. Don’t live to BLESS…live to BUILD.

At first glance, this seems wrong, considering that we all know how good it is to be a blessing, right?

However, too many people get caught up in what I call ‘Honey bee’ mentality, which is to go from one flower to another and leave no space in their lives to build something that will last. A dear friend of mine that I looked up to many years ago, was totally consumed with this kind of living. There was never a day that went by where he was going here, there and everywhere in order to bless someone or something.

At first glance, his life looked so appealing, but when it came to an abrupt end, he left the planet with his marriage and family in tatters and little to show for all the years of racing around. He had blessed so many at the expense of building so little.

Making these small increments of change in your life can be quite painful and will take time, but the rewards will be out of this world.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2016

The story of Ruth is a great example of how being resolute in your decision to follow Jesus can simplify your life and bring you into greater purpose.

In the first chapter, we read…’Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.’

Ruth actually proclaims that she should be punished if even death should separate her from what she so resolutely has decided to do.

This challenges our comfortable western lives, where we have so many options, so many eggs in so many baskets, distractions coming out of our ears! Imagine being so set in a decision that even death is no excuse. ‘Sorry Death, you’ll have to come back another day. I am doing something else!’

If you read the story of Ruth, you hear a lot of sorrow from Naomi,  her mother-in-law about her loss. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

Yet, we never hear Ruth complain. She must have struggled – after all she lost her husband and made a decision to stick with her bitter mother-in-law and went to live as a complete stranger in a foreign land.

Ruth doesn’t have time for pity, if death isn’t an excuse to slow her in her pursuit, then she certainly isn’t going to entertain the pointless emotional distraction called ‘disappointment’.

At the end of the story, we read how incredibly blessed she is by marrying a wealthy businessman;  her great grandson is King David and she becomes an ancestor of JESUS!

I truly believe that when we ‘make our mind up’ and fix resolutely to our faith without flinching, despite what we face, God is faithful. This is easier said than done as we can’t see Jesus but we can see our problems. So it’s not easy but that’s no excuse; there are no excuses – not even death!

The minute we start to compromise, we lose peace of mind which leads to being bitter and complaining. It’s not about being right. Naomi was right to be upset, but Ruth was awesome to be resolute!

Either Jesus is the answer, the way and the life or He isn’t. Make a resolute determined choice today and simplify many of the battles you face. Even death is a battle already won.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2016

You won’t ever become anything great in life without a challenge.
How often do we want to be better? Yet we don’t actually like the challenge.
How many times have we prayed “Lord make me more like you?”- yet when God challenges us, we don’t appreciate it and decide not to change.

Growth will only ever come about when we are challenged. Start to see challenges in your life not as an enemy but as a friend.
If you are going through a storm right now, a difficulty, or even a bump in the road, take that challenge and ask God ‘what is it that I should be learning right now that will help me through this time and make me come out stronger, more mature and better than when I went in?’

Our eyes and focus should not just be on the destination, but on that which we are going through right now that can help us, mould us, change us, and make us more like we should be. Too often we want to get out of the situation so quickly, that we don’t learn from the difficulty.

Start to see challenge as a good thing. As long as your attitude is right (and that is a big key), you will embrace this process and most importantly, grow through it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2016

The gifts that God has given to you are not the same as the gifts that He has given to anyone else.

Why do you keep being frustrated by looking at what God has done in someone else’s life, and then belittle what He has done in yours?

If you compare yourself with others, you’ll never be at peace; somebody out there will always be great at something you’d just love to be good at, but maybe you weren’t supposed to be good at that, instead, you were supposed to be great at something else.

One sentence, just one, was spoken to me many years ago, after trying to succeed at being someone that I wasn’t created to be. As I looked around at those that were doing amazing things with their lives, subconsciously I’d try to emulate what they were doing.

I’d listen to those that preached amazingly and tried to be like them, but all was in vain.

That one sentence went like this…’why don’t you just be you, because we like you just the way you are.’

In a moment, I realised that I was putting all my effort into being who I wasn’t, rather than using my energies to make a difference through who I was.

I was almost 40 years of age when that happened, but you don’t have to wait a day longer than necessary to have that revelation – be who you were created to be.

By all means change and be inspired by others, but don’t try to be a copy…you’re an original.

When you live happily in your own skin, the pressure to prove and to be approved of lifts off you, and you become free to be you.

Remember: there will always be someone that can do what you do better than you, but there’s only one person that can do it just like you – YOU!

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th September 2016

It’s a new season!

As regular as clockwork, the first week in September is taking us into our beautiful Autumn season here in the UK.

As you hang out the washing in an attempt to keep the central heating off as long as possible, you realise that the Autumn dew is soaking through your slippers.

The chill in the air each morning is signalling to us all that its getting time to change your wardrobe and put on that long awaited vest, or in my case, the vest I’ve been wearing all through summer.

No matter how much you want to hang on to the warmer days and the light nights and warmer days, there’s no holding back the fresh new climate that’s coming our way.

Maybe this week you’ve joyfully or tearfully sent your children back to school; with each new term, there comes the expense of buying the next size uniform.

In just the same way that we start to pack away our summer clothes and replace them with the ones more suited to the temperature, we have to be aware of the differing seasons in our spiritual lives as well.

The truth is that we each need to discern what to wear in each season of our lives, and not just feel that we only have one set and one size of clothes.

There comes a time in our walk with God, that we have to be willing to wear the bigger jacket.

It’s so easy, and so comfortable for that matter, to keep pulling out last year’s fashions, knitwear and styles in the hope that you can just slide straight back into business as usual.

My son Caleb, doesn’t have much money, but he’s always going through his wardrobes seeing what he can give away in order to make way for his new stuff as well as being a blessing to someone else.

In life, it’s so easy to keep wearing those old well worn things that in reality don’t fit or even suit where we are at anymore.

Is it time to embrace this new season in your life by getting rid of your out of date, restrictive thinking, by replacing it with a new mindset?

I well remember going back to school after the long summer holidays in my ‘next size up’ uniform.

My mom used to say every time I moaned about it being too big that “you’ll soon grow into it!”

She was right – I always did, and so will you.

Thinking bigger and behaving and believing like a winner may feel strange at first, but you’ll soon grow into it.

Wear the bigger jacket.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2016

What conversation do you need to have today in order to bring about change? Your voice has the power to usher in something new.

History is littered with great speeches that have literally changed the landscape of our world.

What we leave unchallenged, we are actually giving permission for.

Challenging our children, our colleagues, our spouses, our friends or even ourselves, is never an easy business, but it brings with it the rewards of change.

I well remember sitting as a young Pastor in a group of ‘stuck-in-mud’ people, far more senior than myself, and challenging the way they had run things in the children’s department for years. I was instantly met with opposition and basically told that they wouldn’t be buying into my new ideas. I informed them that they could each stand down if they didn’t like it, but I would be moving ahead whatever their decision.

My one challenging conversation that night resulted in quite a bit of upheaval, but the results were far beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, as a brand new era was born. Within months the transformation of a children’s department that had been running at around 30 for decades took place, and saw it replaced with a new model that bought in five times that amount.

One conversation was all that it took to get the ball rolling.

I urge you today to have that one conversation that you know you need to, but are scared to do  – don’t let fear hijack you any further.

Right now, identify that one conversation and plan to have it within the next week.

Trust me…it’ll be worth it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2016

When our lives are lived unchecked and unchallenged, we tend to fall back into the familiar.

We feel safe doing what we’ve always done, knowing that we won’t have to think differently, plan differently or be different.

Take a person that has only ever been to one or two familiar places on their family holiday. Each year, the desire to go somewhere different is quashed by the fear of the unknown.

My parents, both now in their mid-eighties, had never been to Scotland until they were taken by us when they were 70, simply because their parents had told them it was too far.

There are so many new things out there today for you to explore, if only you would stop being conditioned by the thoughts and feelings that keep holding you back.

When John the Baptist was about to be born, his father was given strict instructions by an Angel that his name was to be John.

Eight days after his birth (Luke 1 v 57-66) came the naming ceremony in which the relatives felt he should be named Zechariah, after his father.

When his mother and father both separately spoke out, and said that his name was to be John, there was a family uproar, in which they all said “there is no one among your relatives who has that name.@

Think about it for a moment; the family couldn’t even think beyond the familiar names that they’d been accustomed to and seemingly got pretty annoyed when a new name was introduced.

I wonder if today you are clinging onto that which you are familiar with when God has something new for your life today.

Stop listening to those that hold you back and want you to only play it safe and do the familiar.

Remember: if you want something to happen today that has never happened to you before, then you have to do something that you’ve never done before.

John became a household name as he literally made way for Jesus. It was an unfamiliar, unpopular and ‘never been done before’ pathway that he had to walk, and yet his footsteps paved the way for the saviour of the world.

I challenge you today, to stop walking in the same old paths that lead to nowhere and instead be willing to go where no man has been before.

Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2016

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 a new week, it is quite possible that you have already thought ahead to how the next few days are going to pan out. You may be wondering where you will go, what you will do and who you will encounter.

If you are anything like me, you plan your week 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 – 3rd September 2016

Have you ever tried to cut something with a knife that wasn’t sharp? Have you ever tried to cut a tree down with a blunt axe?
Have you ever tried to write with a blunt pencil?
If you have, you’ll know that it’s hard work.

The knife doesn’t always need throwing away, it just needs sharpening.
(You can actually sharpen it on another knife that is already sharp – ask a chef).

In life, whatever you try to do, if you’re not at your best, you won’t do a great job. If you’ve not been training lately, you won’t play great football. If you’ve not been practising lately, you may not play that instrument as good as you’d like.

We all need to be sharp, we all need to keep on top of the game. We all need to do whatever we need to do to keep ahead.

If you’re a leader in any area of life, you have a great responsibility to stay sharp.

Your relationship with Christ needs to be sharp in order for you to be effective as a Christian.

Keep praying, keep reading God’s word, keep reading great books, keep listening to great messages, get involved and connected in a great Church. Whatever you need to do to keep sharp, you must do it.

In the same way as the knife needs another knife to sharpen it, you need to have great people around you to keep you sharp. Watch out for people who will cause you to be blunt, dull and useless.
The world doesn’t need blunt Christians, in the same way as your team does not need a blunt player, or your company a blunt salesman.

It’s your responsibility to sharpen yourself!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2016

One of the most well-known stories in all of the Bible is the feeding of the 5000. It takes place after a large crowd has followed Jesus, and as the day draws to a close, He wants to give them something to eat before they head for home.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, approaches Him with a suggestion as to how they could possibly achieve such a task. He says, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (‭‭John‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I want you to notice how Andrew’s approach changes mid-statement. He goes from confidently making this suggestion to retracting what he’s just said. It’s as if Andrew realised what a dumb thing he was presenting before Jesus.

What happens next is pretty astonishing… Following Andrew’s suggestion, Jesus puts the miracle into motion and begins distributing to the crowds that same, little boys’ lunch. For some time, this messed with me as I couldn’t understand why Jesus would use Andrew’s faith, or lack thereof to perform such a huge miracle.

Until I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”‬‬

God loves big faith, but you need to be encouraged to know that He’s willing to work with small faith. He is able to take your small suggestion and put a miracle into motion. God is not intimidated by your mustard seed sized faith nor your doubt. But if you bring them to Him, watch what He is able to do. Just ask Andrew.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 1st September 2016

Many times people have asked me is there is anything they can do in the everyday life of our church.

The answer has always been, and always will be just one word…PLENTY.

There’s always plenty to do.

However, the question back to them is always the same and goes like this…”so what are you willing and able to do?”

Being used and being usable are two different things.

When I was just a young boy, I developed a desire to play the piano.

I started bashing out a few chords on an old honky tonk piano that was given to my parents for me to practice on.

As I listened day after day to the brilliance of our school music teacher that played for the hymns in the assembly, I couldn’t wait to get home to sit at the piano to try and copy the way she played.

I got totally consumed with every tune that we sang in the school hall, and set about learning each one from memory.

Day after day I would attempt to play each intricate part of the songs including key changes. I found the whole thing fascinating as at last I could achieve something in my young life.

I’m not sure how anyone got to know about my playing, but the day arrived when the music teacher was off sick and no one was sitting at the grand piano high up on the stage.

After a few exchanged words between the head teacher and another member of staff, my name got called out in front of all 400 pupils.

That day I was asked to play the grand piano, and instead of the highly talented Miss. Richards, it was Mark, aged 8.

I was able to be used on that and many other occasions, because I not only wanted to be used and useful, but it what it really came down to was this…was I useable.

Asking and wanting to be used would have been one thing, but also highly embarrassing if I wouldn’t have been useable.

I encourage you today to stop just praying…’Lord use me’, but change the prayer to…’Lord, make me useable’.

Start to prepare yourself for the passion that God has placed within your heart, so that when it comes to your turn to step up on the stage, you won’t have to face the embarrassment of not being ready.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st August 2016

God doesn’t just speak to a favoured few, He speaks to all that have a relationship with Him through his son Jesus.

When you receive Jesus to be your saviour and allow Him to be the Lord and leader of your life, you have to get used to the idea that God is now your Heavenly Father and as such, He wants to talk to you, just as any human father would want to.

God speaking into our lives is for EVERY believer and not just an elite few, however, hearing from God is another matter.

My wife speaks to me every day but I have to admit, I don’t hear some of what she says, because like most men, I’m not listening.

Allowing God to speak to us means that we need to position ourselves close enough to Him in order to recognise His voice.

I was totally surprised and blown away when many years ago I clearly heard God speak to me in such a clear way that it changed the whole direction of my life. At the time, I wasn’t kneeling in prayer, or in a church, but walking in a field.

The only two things that would maybe give a clue as to how and why I heard from God was: 1) I was open to hear from God, and 2)…I was quiet.

Ask yourself today, how much quiet time are you giving to God whereby you draw close enough to Him to hear his voice.

Turn the TV off.

Turn your phone off.

Get off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Find yourself a quiet place every day to read the Bible, pray and listen. It makes sense in any relationship, to spend time together.

When Jesus gathered His disciples together just before the crucifixion, He informed them that one of them would betray Him.

The only person that got the inside information on who it was, was the one that was sitting closest to Jesus; so close in fact that John was able to whisper to Jesus, enquiring as to who this was.

John 13:21-26 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

Think about it…the one that had a direct line to Jesus was the one that was closest to Him. All the other disciples were in the same room, but didn’t hear his voice, in fact it was Peter that ended up asking John for the information from Jesus.

Don’t keep saying that God doesn’t speak to you…He does.

Don’t keep asking other people for a word from God for your life…get your own.

The question is: are you close enough and quiet enough to listen?

James 4 v 8 ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th August 2016

If you’ve been wearing sunglasses over the past few days, you will know exactly what I’m talking about today.

No matter what glasses you chose to wear, whether Gucci, Prada or Tesco special, they may not carry the same trendy name tag, but they all do one thing – they colour and tint what you see.

For some brands it’s yellow, whilst others are more pink. Some are pretty clear with just a faint blue tinge, and then there’s those that make you look cool (some say) as they completely black out your eyes.

In much the same way, we each wear differing glasses on our minds, which affects the way we see and ultimately what we see.

I was walking into to Marks and Spencer just a few days ago and Gillian was commenting on how low the Euro had fallen against the pound, as she glanced at the LED currency board in the entrance.

For me, it was a totally different experience, as the very same board I was staring at was completely blank. I then realised that my sunglasses were masking the red LED lights, giving me the impression that there was nothing there.

The invisible glasses that you are wearing on your mind have the power to stop you seeing what others are seeing, but listen carefully, the ‘faith’ glasses that you can put on will enable you to see what no one else can see.

Why is that two people people can look at an identical situation, and one see impossibility, whilst another sees opportunity?

In the Old Testament (2 Kings 6) there is a story of Elisha and his young servant that were facing defeat as a whole army had surrounded the place where they were staying.

The young servant cried out to Elisha asking what on earth they could do, but Elisha looked out on the same army but saw something different; he looked up and saw a vast army of God coming to their aid, in order to defeat the enemy. Elisha simply prayed for the young servant…’open his eyes that he may see.’

You’ve heard the phrase…’beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, but today why not make a small change and say…’victory is in the eye of the beholder’.

You can look at your day today and depending on your lenses, you can will either see defeat or victory.

If you are only ever used to seeing through negative, and defeated lenses then why not trade them in for something that helps you to see things through the eyes of faith and possibility?

Make a decision today, no matter what your negative upbringing, to start to see every difficulty as an opportunity for God to do a miracle.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2016

The palm tree was created to live in very very hot conditions. Conditions that you and me might physically wilt in, yet the palm tree not only survives in that environment, it flourishes.

The large cedar trees can survive in temperatures that are so cold, they would kill me and you, yet the Cedar tree not only survives in such radical temperatures, it flourishes.

I don’t know what season you feel that you’re in today, but God wants you to know that He is giving you everything you need to not only survive this season, but to actually flourish in it.

You may feel that you’re in a great season right now, or a very difficult one. Don’t just see your life as surviving another day, but God wants you to actually enjoy every step of the journey, yes, even if the conditions are not what you want them to be right now.

The Bible says He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will be with us in every and any situation. It also tells us to give thanks in every circumstance.

Take a look at your situation today and ask yourself this “am I barely surviving? Or am I actually flourishing… ?”

What ever you’re experiencing today, know that God is with you. And that He will help you to flourish and grow in your season.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th August 2016

When you give the right thing to the right person, it’s amazing what you get .

If you gave me some tins of paint and expected something awesome, you’d be disappointed. Yet, give the same paints to an artist and you can expect something great.

If you give a pile of bricks to someone and say “build me a wall”, you may be disappointed, but give them to an experienced bricklayer and you’ll be pleased with the result.

How many of you remember the cookery show ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ ? It’s where you presented a bag of ingredients to a chef and said “cook something with that.” Whenever you give food to a great chef, you can expect something wonderful.

When you give God your life it’s amazing what He will do with it. It can be broken or abused, tired or worn, yet God will turn it into something beautiful.

When you give God your finance, it’s amazing what He can do with it.
When He took the five loaves and two fish, He turned them into a miracle, because the little boy was willing to trust Jesus with it.

The problem is that we give the wrong things to the wrong people, like the food or the bricks or the paint.

But we also trust the wrong people with things that really matter. Like our money…or our lives.
Trust Jesus with what you have today. You’ll be amazed at what He can do.

Start with yourself. That’s a great place to begin.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2016

I’m sure that we have all experienced innocently overhearing someone’s else’s conversation when sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant.

It is especially difficult to pull back, when what they are talking about is either really interesting or highly amusing.

Just last week, I was sitting next to a couple of ladies who were talking about their husband’s failings, and I have to be honest, I couldn’t help but tune in to find out what was making them so vocal.

The one lady was telling the other how much her husband irritated her every evening when it was time for him to go to bed.

She went on to say how every night for 26 years he would go to the four-way light switches at the bottom of the stairs and try them all before selecting the right one to put the landing light on.

The story not only made for great listening knowing that he hadn’t memorised the sequence of four switches in 26 years, but what came next made it worth being nosey for a few moments; her parting shot to the other went like this…”and to think he’s an electrician aswell!!”

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was to keep doing the same things over and over again whilst believing for different results.

We may smile at the conversation, but in reality, how many of us are doing the same thing in our day to day lives?

We keep repeating the same things, but hope that the outcome will be different.

Knowledge tells us that the four light switches turn on four different sets of lights. Each switch will never turn on a different light no matter how much you expect it to. Wisdom however, tells you which switch turns on which light. Once you have learnt that simple process, all you have to do is apply the same wisdom and you get light.

Two questions for today…

Are you trying every switch in the hope of somehow stumbling on the right one?

Are you willing to learn and get wisdom so that you no longer have to guess how to get success?

So many people have so much knowledge but they have know idea how to apply it, simply because they refuse to learn.

Knowledge without wisdom is still as ineffective almost as no knowledge at all.

Make some new choices today to break out of the same old patterns of ignorance and make it your goal to get smart.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th August 2016

How we ‘react’ to things is important, but how we ‘respond’ is vital!

How we react tells us where we are, like a thermometer, it shows by our knee jerk, off-the-cuff, immediate reaction, whether we are hot or not.

This is helpful but God’s not so interested in reactions, purely because he knows exactly where we are and so knew what the reading would be.

Our response however is different. The pre-meditated, fully thought through, conscious decisions we make, God is very interested in.

A reaction comes from feelings but a response has the opportunity to override feelings and circumstances to make a decision based on other reasons such as faith.

If ‘reaction’ is the fruit of where we are, ‘response’ is the seed of where we want to be!

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of living our Christian lives reactionary without realising it.

How we give and serve in the church can be based purely on our current funds, busyness or how we’re feeling that morning. This isn’t a faith life but a feelings-based life.

Today, I encourage you to really stop and think about your life. Are most of your decisions based on where you are instead of where you want to be? If so, look at how you can respond to God, make a decision to serve, give and get involved – regardless of the latest feelings and circumstances.

Irrespective of where you are ‘where do you want to be?’ Keep sowing the seed of response!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2016

I didn’t realise when we bought our first American fridge freezer (that’s just the name of the appliance – not where we bought it from) that you had to have it plumbed into the water mains; on top of that you have to fit a special water filter to the pipe work which no one ever gets to see.

The filter system provides perfectly filtered water from the water dispenser at any time 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, but I have to confess that I wait for the warning light to annoy me sufficiently before I make the change, which is usually about a month after the light comes on.

Purity is something that you not only have to give attention to in your own life – it’s something that you have to actively fight for too.

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 accountability 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.

Don’t go it alone today, 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.

Life is better together.

Proverbs 15 v 22 – Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
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 – 23rd August 2016

You have a choice of two scenarios.

Either, you own a business and you get an enormous tax bill. Or you own a business and you get a tiny tax bill.

You would I’m guessing go for the tiny tax bill.

Sorry, I forgot to mention the first company is a world wide incredibly successful business, creating so much money you can’t possibly spend it all hence the enormous tax bill. The second business is a local failing business and about to go insolvent and doesn’t even have the funds to pay the tiny tax bill.

I’m guessing you’ve changed your mind.

This is a great picture of life – where the tax bill represents trials, needs and doing things we generally don’t want to do. We don’t like it, so we naturally want to minimise it. The problem is: the smaller your needs, the smaller the possibilities. Less pain – less gain.

It’s easy to be jealous of the success in others and think it’s not fair that they seem to get all the luck but we don’t see the tax bills they have been prepared to pay!

It’s like being jealous of other people’s physique, but we’re never prepared to go to the gym ourselves.

The local church is the gym of God’s choice. It’s very costly but the results are amazing! We have been created, designed and chosen to do great things. If only we would trust God and allow Him to change our thinking when it comes to doing anything we don’t want to do in the natural.

So again, you have a choice of two scenarios.

Either, you own your life and get stuck in, go through tests and trials, but it’s fulfilling, rewarding and awesome, Or you own a life, avoid obstacles or doing anything you don’t want to do, but it’s small, empty and void of meaning.

You would, I’m guessing, go for the awesome life!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2016

Too many people quit right before success.

We’ve all heard the phrase: just before dawn is the darkest hour.

I was also told that when drilling through a piece of solid steel, the toughest part of the whole process is just before breaking through the other side.

Someone once said that you will know when you are about to get your breakthrough, as it’s uphill all the way.

If you’re faced with seemingly unending days of pressure and struggle, don’t give in or give up, because right on the other side is just what you have been waiting for, believing for and hoping for.

I well remember making an offer on our second house. We were living in a two bed terraced house for eight years and already had two small children. We had been praying for some time about moving to somewhere bigger and eventually made a very low offer on another property. We felt the house was for us and I even told the estate agent that God had told me it was mine. He quickly brushed me off and the offer was rejected. That house was sold not once, but twice over the months, but each time fell through.

It was after more than 12 months of prayer, frustration and continual pressure that on one Saturday morning, whilst feeling particularly frustrated about the whole thing, we received a call right out of the blue and informed that the house was ours.

We lived in that house for 15 years and now our daughter and son-in-law, along with our two grandchildren live there.

What if we’d have given up and decided to go for something smaller or in not such a nice location? We would have regretted it I’m sure.

Today, my friend, whatever you’re facing, have the tenacity to hang on in there and see God come through.

Your continual set backs in this season, can be your comebacks in your next season, if you’ll just sit tight, stand firm in prayer and see it through.

Luke 18:2-8 He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th August 2016

There’s a story found in the Bible where Jesus encounters a blind man sitting by the roadside. Hearing that Jesus is passing by, he calls out to Him, ‘Have mercy on me!’
Jesus then goes on to pose a rather interesting question to this man. He says, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

Now it’s pretty obvious what this man needed, and I don’t think for one moment that Jesus was unsure of what miracle this man required. But this question asked wasn’t for the benefit of Jesus, it was for the benefit of the man in need – Jesus wanted to be sure that this man knew exactly what he wanted.

I don’t know about you, but I often go through life knowing what I want, but for some reason I’m fearful to ask God for it, as if I’m asking too much of Him. If only we could understand that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask, think or imagine, I think it would change the way we talk to Him.

You see, God lets us choose what size life we live. But first, you need to know what you want and then ask God for it. Specific prayers lead to specific answers.

Today, know that no prayer is too big for God, no request is intimidating to Him, so be convinced of what you want and approach Him with boldness and confidence, believing that He is able & He is willing to do it.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2016

Several years ago, I was invited to sail on a Schooner in Greece.

A Schooner is a sailing ship with two masts, and needs a lot of team work and skill to sail it accurately.

Please understand…I had never sailed before or had any knowledge of how to do so, so to find myself on the third night of the trip, steering the ship at 2am, in pitch black waters, was pretty scary.

The sleeping quarters for the 15 or so of us were below deck and consisted of wooden racks which were mounted half way up the side of the boat.

As the waters got pretty choppy from time to time, some of the team started to get sea sick, so the Captain taught us the way to trick the body in order to overcome it.

He would say…’look to the horizon and fix your eyes on something unmovable and keep looking that way.’

As soon as the instruction was put into practice, the sickness subsided and all was good again.

That simple yet very effective piece of advice has been part of a sailor’s life for centuries: when in turbulent waters, fix your eyes on something that’s fixed.

In just the same way, the turbulent water of our lives and the circumstances that come our way need to be addressed in just the same way; if you want to stay on your feet and get through the storm, then fix your gaze on what’s permanent.

For many, there is no known focal point and therefore life takes them down, but the centuries’ old truth in the Bible informs us that Jesus can be the unshakeable, unmovable and constant in our lives, if you’ll just look to Him.

We live in a world that tends to look down, never lifting our heads to crack even a smile nowadays, so I encourage you to be different and apply the remedy – look up to the one who can save and steady the most turbulent and windswept life reading this today.

Take courage my friend from the one that says ‘I’ll never leave you or forsake you.’

Take your focus of the waves right now and look to Him.

Mark 4:35-41 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th August 2016

Happily married or not so?

Single, looking and hopeful?

Engaged and getting ready for the big day?

Too young for all of this? You won’t be soon.

No matter who you are – advice that’s not appropriate now is always good to store up for a day when it is.

One of the secrets to a great marriage is to know the difference between a good fight and a bad fight.

The Bible doesn’t say don’t fight, no more than it says don’t get angry. It says fight the ‘good’ fight and ‘be angry and sin not’.

Bad fights lead to irreparable damage, unforgiveness, hurt and divorce and sound like this…”I’ll never forgive you”, “you always say that”, @you are never considerate.”

Good fights lead to us becoming stronger people, closer to our spouse, happier in our relationships and being well balanced in our marriage.

There is no such thing as a marriage without conflict.

If you’re going to fight, learn to fight good.

Ask what you can learn from your differences.

Start a competition today as to who can say ‘sorry’ first.

Instead of using words like ‘you always say that’ learn to replace them with words like ‘ when you said that you hurt me’, or ‘when you did that, you made me feel in that moment very unloved’.

Don’t generalise – be specific about things that get on your nerves.

Most importantly, don’t let one day turn into another whilst still carrying over anger about something.

Start each new day with a clean slate and refuse to go to sleep without dealing with it. Break the stoney silence with one simple word, no matter how difficult it is to say it – ‘sorry’; then follow through with the words ‘please forgive me’.

Fight good.

Ephesians 4:26-27 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2016

As we enjoy a few unusually warm summer days here in the UK, we are being told to keep out of the sun or a least cover ourselves with sunscreen -sound advice.

Yet, on the other side of that very same coin are the wonderful known properties that the sun carries to our bodies when exposed to its rays; not least of all vitamin D, which gives us healthy and strong bones.

Apparently the part of the body that receives the most vitamin D when exposed to sunlight is the inside of our arms.

Think about it and try it out yourself…there is only one way to expose the insides of your arms and that is to turn your hands upwards whilst extending your arms outwards.

This simple posture helps us to appreciate the value of placing ourselves in a receiving mode.

Think about how we receive a birthday gift or even a small child that’s running towards us to be loved – it’s always with extended arms and open hands.

What a great lesson for us all today in receiving from God.

You don’t have to be inside a church to lift your hands in worship, you can do it now right where you are and at any time of the day. It simply sends a message to God that says ‘I’m open to receive and that I’m wanting to receive.’

It also says ‘I’m open to give and that I’m wanting to give’. No one has ever given anything with hands turned down or in their pockets.

Send a signal to God today that you are humble enough to receive all that He has for you, and that you are humble enough to release from your hands anything that He may instruct you to today.

Psalm 28:1-2 To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I shall be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands towards your Most Holy Place.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th August 2016

One of the highlights of any family holiday has surely got to be the full English breakfast, served every day for a whole week, as you casually wake up to the thought of a relaxing day ahead.

Whether it’s a posh hotel, a B&B, a cheap caravan in a field, or a tent, the smell of a cooked breakfast is enough to encourage most of us out of bed.

Having someone serve you breakfast is a great part of anyone’s day, but of course if we’re honest, it only happens for most of us on special occasions.

How would you feel today, if you were at your lowest point, and you were asked by Jesus if you would like to join Him for breakfast? It would be a pretty special moment for anyone at the best of times, let alone for those that don’t feel like life is worth living; how humbling would it be if when you turned up to eat that Jesus himself was the cook?

All that seems pretty make believe, but it isn’t…it actually happened.

Peter and Jesus have not yet spoken since Peter denied Jesus, just before the crucifixion. Thomas had doubted the resurrection, four of the disciples had tried to drown their sorrows by going fishing all night and caught nothing- then right out of the blue, the resurrected Jesus tells them how and where to fish and then stands on the beach and says…”come and have breakfast.”

John 21:8-14 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred metres. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

In reality, at that moment in time, these followers of Jesus were each in their own right a bunch of losers, yet Jesus at their lowest point, cooked them food.

What’s your impression of Jesus when facing a low point in your faith?

Does your mind always take you down the road of condemnation?

Let me help you go down a different road today…at your lowest point, you get breakfast on the beach with Jesus.

Talk about loving the unlovely, talk about forgiving the guilty, talk about reinstating the messed up…wow.

Today, no matter what, come and have breakfast with Jesus.

He cooks.

He loves you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2016

Have you ever felt as though an area in your life has come to a standstill? It’s as if the thing that you’ve been working towards seems more of an impossibility than ever before.

I believe that it’s in those moments that God pushes pause on what you want to show you that He’s all you need.

It’s easy in life to lose your focus to people or to circumstances that surround you. But when you lose it, God wants to realign it back onto Him to show you that He’s more than enough, He’s above what you’re facing and He is able to work all things together for good in your life.

Sometimes, it takes a difficult place in your life for God to step in and regain your attention. When everything is going swimmingly, we can have a tendency to think that we don’t need God – that is, until the tables turn and we realise that we’re helpless without Him.

Whatever season of life you’re in right now, choose to put your focus on to God. The good news is that you don’t have to wait to reach rough terrain in order for God to retake centre stage in your life. Today you can choose to make Him the God of your valley and the God of your mountaintop.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 13th August 2016

This is what often happens when you call the Doctor’s surgery for an appointment…”we can get you in a week on Thursday.”

When you need to see a specialist at the hospital, you will often hear, “you are now on a waiting list and you can expect to wait 4-6 months for an appointment.”

I’m glad that when I need to talk to God, I don’t need an appointment and I don’t need to go on a waiting list.
So many of us place too much store in waiting for appointments with ‘professionals’, when we can go to God immediately.
Yes, we all need those professional appointments from time to time…but we all need an appointment with God every day. And guess what? You can have it immediately!

Maybe because it’s so easy, some people abuse it and take it for granted.
The most powerful thing we can do today is pray. And thank God that He is available 24/7… Day and night…Christmas and Bank holidays.

He never keeps us waiting, but how often have you kept Him waiting?

Talk to Him right now.
He’s the best professional and He has every answer you will ever need. He will give you wisdom, peace, healing and whatever need you have, He can meet.

Get to your appointment now, He’s waiting for you to show up.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th August 2016

If you pour a kettle of water over a tea bag and the colour of the water doesn’t change you instantly know what the issue is…you forgot to boil the kettle.

You can make tea with cold water, but the flavour will never diffuse out of the tea bag – heat is needed.
When water molecules are heated, they move about faster and so more effectively penetrate the tea bag, drawing out the flavour.

In our lives, we are all trying to make a good cup of tea (bear with me, if you don’t like tea).

You can spend your life making a weak insipid cold cup or you can make a lovely attractive hot brew!

It all depends on your heat. The thing is, no one really enjoys being in ‘hot water’, but it’s vital if we want to grow and be stretched.

There are many examples of how heat is used to refine valuable sought after items, such as gold in a furnace, and our lives are the same. If you really want to make the most of life and enjoy it (which I believe is important, why would God want us to be miserable?) I encourage you to embrace being in the hot water of the trials we face. Don’t just see them as a nuisance to be dealt with as soon as possible before you can even consider moving on and being happy.

See them as challenges to be won, be competitive in them, try and see that your capacity to deal with things and lead others in life is increasing as you go through that trial.

There will always be some kind of hot water. Imagine living a whole life where you are never stretched or come up against an obstacle? So the sooner we can change our mindset to see the positives of going through the trial, the better.

As you read this today, you may well be in hot water! Trust God and keep stewing, it is bringing (if you choose so) the flavour of God into your life, increasing your ability to carry loads and lead people in your life!

You can make tea with cold water, but who would enjoy it? Keep stewing!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 11th August 2016

I had porridge for breakfast today.

In fact, I have porridge for breakfast almost everyday.

My wife thinks it’s boring and has to be forced to eat it just once a week, and even then leaves half of it in bowl, which then gets fed to the dogs.

Now just to clarify, the porridge I’m talking about is not Ready Brek! This is real mans stuff…jumbo oats, cooked in a saucepan with milk, with added seeds, nuts and berries, then topped with flax seed and honey to give it a kind of crust.

Now here’s the great thing…because it’s a slow burn food it will feed me all day long, in so much that I rarely have to eat lunch, which in turn keeps me slim.

Let me ask you a question on several different levels – how hungry are you?

Your hunger will hugely depend on what you have eaten at the start of the day.

I hear many people say that they don’t have time for breakfast or that they just never bother; in our house, that’s a foreign language…in fact, last thing at night Gillian wants to know what we are going to have for breakfast!

I’m talking spiritual now; a you hungry spiritually?

Never satisfied with life, never full with everything you have no matter what?

Are you craving the quick fix of a sudden ‘sugar rush’ in your life, hoping that it will cure all your cravings only to find that it lasts for an hour before you want more?

Can I point you to the most satisfying spiritual food available to the human race every single moment of every day?

The breakfast of champions that will satisfy you there and then, and continue to nourish you throughout the day has a name…The Bible.

It is God’s spoken word direct to your soul every day. It’s fresh. It’s alive. It’s active. It’s powerful. It’s cleansing. It’s life changing. It’s sustaining. It’s challenging. It’s lifting and it has an amazing quality in that you can read it for the rest of your life and you will see something different in it every time your eyes meet its pages.

How’s your spiritual diet?

Overweight because you read books about the Bible and watch Christian TV about God and listen to podcasts about other peoples experiences of Jesus? That’s good but that’s not all.

When are you going to start feeding yourself a healthy spiritual breakfast at the start of every day?

Start to train yourself in the daily reading of God’s word and you will find that your day will become totally different.

I’ve tried to formulate a kind of ‘spiritual’ 3 course meal for people, and it goes something like this…

Starter – read a portion of the Old Testament each day.

Main course – read a portion of the New Testament each day.

Dessert – read from either Psalms or Proverbs each day.

My advice is not to read it randomly but to read it systematically – in other words, read it just like you would a book, that way you cover everything.

Get yourself a copy of a modern translation so that you can read it more effectively…and remember, the Bible is the only book in the world that when you read it, it’s greater effect is that you are allowing it to read you.

If you don’t have such a copy of the Bible then please email us at info@championschurch.org.uk and we will gladly pop you a copy in the post.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2016

Ever worn those new shoes and regretted it as you reach for the plasters?

I did, just a week ago.

It took me three days to walk properly again. I could not even wear my well-worn shoes, trainers or slippers, as everything rubbed on my blisters.

‘Why didn’t I wear them in a little at a time?’, I asked myself, as I limped around the place

Wearing the wrong shoes can affect the way you walk, just in the same way that wearing the ‘wrong shoes’ of your gifts and talents can effect the way you walk every day.

Trying to copy someone else’s gift and talent, just because you like their gifts more than yours can mean that you have the wrong fitting shoes in your life. You’ll walk strange and end up not being able to walk properly at all.

My feet are healed again now, but it’s a lesson that I don’t want to have to repeat.

Ask yourself how much you are trying to step into someone else’s shoes that were never made for you; or what about the shoes that do belong to you, but you just simply bought the wrong size because you liked them, even though they never did quite fit.

Your life is on loan to you from God, and He has given you the perfect size gifts, talents, personality, looks and shape that compliment who you were made to be.

Stop trying on the wrong fit for you and stop trying to be something and somebody that you’re not…you’ll only end up wrecking your daily walk, whereas if you’d really just settle into what you have been blessed with, you’d accomplish so much more in your life.

Are you walking in the wrong shoes?

Take them off right now…ditch them once and for all, and enjoy the snug feel of being what you really were created to be.

By the way…when that old pair is worn out and starts to leak, you’ll know it’s time to upgrade your life to the next level.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th August 2016

Have you ever felt like you are at the bottom of the pile in life?

Ever felt like you have messed up in some area, to the degree that God would no longer be interested in you?

Take heart…we have all been there at times, but the great news is that Jesus doesn’t cast you off just because you failed, in fact, He will go out of his way to include you in His plans today.

Take for instance two of His disciples that messed up.

The first one being Thomas; we know he had earned himself the name ‘doubting Thomas’ because he was adamant that he would not believe in the resurrection of Jesus unless he had proof that Jesus was alive. Instead of Jesus dismissing him as just another faithless guy, He appeared to the disciples in the upper room and specifically called out Thomas’ name, and asked him to put his finger in the nail prints of His hands, so that he could have his faith restored.

Then there’s Peter; He denied that he knew his very friend and saviour just before the crucifixion with unsavoury words and blasphemy, yet watch how Jesus looks out for him after the resurrection…

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.”’

He knew how Peter would be beating himself up because of his actions, so He chose to single out his name so that he knew that he was still included.

If you are in any doubt today that your failure has made you exempt from God’s plan, then think again.

Jesus collects failures and turns them into winners on his team.

If you’ve fallen, get back up, dust yourself down, and fall right into his arms today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2016

Whenever I travel from one country to another, I’m always faced with a predicament: What shall I wear? The reason being, the country that I’m leaving is currently cold, however, where I’m heading is going to be warm. So which climate do I dress for?

You know that same battle, as small as it may seem, is one that we’re all faced with daily. Do I dress for where I currently am or do I dress for where I want to be?

Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

It’s evident here that God has a great future in store for you. You have to make the decision to allow Him to dress you for destiny.

You see, in life, you can arrive where you want to be, but not be the person you need to be.

I believe that the only way you can become who you were created to be is by having a relationship with the one who created you -God.

One of the key components in having a relationship with God is to give Him access all areas and allow Him to prepare you for what He has prepared for you.

Today, let me encourage you to submit your life to God, and say ‘make me the person I need to be in order for You to do what You want to do.’ And when you allow God to shape you and mould you, you will not only find yourself at the top of the mountain, but you’ll also realise that He’s given you the character to sustain you there.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th August 2016

I’m a dog lover. Please don’t switch off if you aren’t…

We have a very well behaved and well trained Labrador, Snoop. And we have a slightly unpredictable Shihtzu, Percy.

There are certain things that you can’t do with Percy, because if you do, he may react to you in a bad way.

Percy came from another home, where they said he had ‘behavioural problems’. Everyone deserves a second chance.
Wherever you’ve come from , and whatever your background, there is hope for you.

When you get planted into a good environment with people who are like you need to be, slowly but surely, you’ll start to change.

A strong and loving environment is what people need to help their change.
Yes, they’ll need discipline. Yes, they’ll need correction. But with the right amount of that and plenty of love and acceptance thrown in, sooner or later you’ll never know the difference.

Not everyone comes ‘ready made’. Most of us are in flat pack form.

We believe in making room for those from all backgrounds and circumstances, knowing that just as God loves me, He so loves them also.

Before you see gold, you’ll see a dirty chunk of metal and before you see a diamond, you’ll see a dirty piece of rock.

People may need your patience. They also need your love.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th August 2016

I dedicate Fresh Hope today to all those who are married, those thinking of getting married, planning to get married, wish they were married and those that wish they weren’t.

Get yourself a date night with your spouse!

Start planning now.

How many of you have outlived the honeymoon stage of your marriage and find yourself trapped in a mundane existence with someone that once excited you?

Have you ever thought about what life together will be like after the children have grown up and left home?

Will you have anything to say to each other, or will you have long since forgotten how to date each other again, with no hope of re-igniting the passions that once burned within you?

Take heart…get yourself a date night with your spouse.

Plan it weekly – just as you plan anything else.

Sit down together for a meal; a ready meal, a microwave meal, liver and onions…any meal.

Go out occasionally just the two of you. No kids, no friends, no in-laws or out-laws allowed.

Have a bath, do your hair and make yourself look like you’ve bothered, just like in days gone by when you were dating.

Watch a movie, read magazines, chat and snuggle up, but don’t answer the phone or the door bell.
With divorce rates so high, recent statistics show that only 4% of married couples have a date night once a week.

21% plan a night together once a month, with a further 21% prioritising their time with each other just once in every 2-3 months.

Every 4-6 months is enough for 18% of marrieds, but the biggest group of all it stands that 36% of marrieds have one date night less than twice a year.

You could well say ‘that’s plenty for me with the way my spouse is’, but maybe the reason it’s like that is because you no longer cherish what you did when you first fell in love.

The top 5 things that cause marriages to break down are:

Chores

Money

Sex

Work

Children

No one on earth can solve all those problems for you but I can help you to fall in love all over again, and to see what you now count as a curse that once you counted a blessing.

Stop treating each other just like some kind of inconvenient object that lives in the same house, and start to plan to fall back in love again by planning your next date night.

Someone once said ‘It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action.’

So, if you’ve lost those tingly feelings for each other, you’re normal…but now start to surprise each other by acting your way back into love again.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th August 2016

Each month I write a study for all of our small groups in Champions Church.

Along with the notes, I produce a 5-10 minute introductory video that gets played in the different locations across the area, before the Life group leaders take over the study for that night.

It provides for me a very simple yet effective way of interacting with all of the people on a much smaller scale.

This seemingly simple operation impacts on the time and effort of not just myself but on that of several other people too.

Generally speaking, it takes around two hours to set up and film a ten minute segment, which then has to be edited and burnt onto DVDs ready to be sent out to all our life group leaders.

For anyone that knows me, I’m pretty hopeless at remembering what I’m supposed to be saying in front of a camera, and it’s not unusual for me to do at least five takes whilst others would have done it in one.

As filming has increased and time pressures have got more, I decided that we should invest in an autocue for anyone to use in front of the camera.

It has now transformed the whole filming process, and what took so much stress for me and those trying to work with me, has now made the whole experience far easier and much more enjoyable.

I now simple read my script from the autocue and make it look like I have an amazing memory!

The whole process reminds me of the difference between reading from a script that God has prepared for your life, instead of trying to bluff your way through for yourself.

Now of course, you can do your own thing and please yourself, but to live an effective and amazing life you need to learn to read from God’s auto cue.

He has written the days of your life before one of them came into being and knows you intimately through and through. Your role in life is to find out what God has in store for your life and then get on and do it.

As you begin today, are you floundering in life, just trying to make it up as you go along, which inevitably leads to frustrating ‘retakes’, or are you taking your cues from God?

One of the greatest ways that God can steer your life is by reading from the Bible each day – a practice that I recommend to all and one that I have adopted now for over 35 years.

Start in the New Testament and just read a few verses each day, and you’ll begin to download God’ script for your life.

Don’t worry about the parts that you don’t understand, it’s the bits that you do understand that you need to take to heart.

If you don’t have a modern Bible then why not send us an email and request a free copy today?  Email info@championschurch.org.uk and we would be honoured to pop one in the post for you.

Psalm 139:13-17 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2016

When Jesus gave the disciples a telling off for their lack of faith, He then advised them that all they needed in any circumstance was faith the size of one grain of mustard seed.

Matthew 17:20 He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’

I love the fact that this very seed is amongst the tiniest seeds on the planet, and yet Jesus said that’s all you need to get started.

I’m sure that you and I would both be the same in thinking that if Jesus would have reversed what He said and informed us that in order to move a mustard seed you need a mountain of faith, we would have both walked away defeated.

Today, I want to encourage you to see that faith is for beginners. All you have to do is apply a tiny bit of faith for huge things to happen.

The thing about a mustard seed is obviously not in its size, but in its ability to produce and grow. It can quickly grow to a size so that birds can even nest in it.

Don’t go around thinking today about trying to obtain huge faith for tiny problems – no, set your sights on a huge God that comes to your rescue when you take even a tiny, and even a scary step of faith towards him; you don’t even need to see or know how it will all work out – that’s Gods business, yours is to simply believe.

Mark 4:30-32 Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd August 2016

Romans 4:19-21 Without weakening in his faith, Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

God has the power to pull off whatever He has promised you and a whole lot more. No sweat.

The question is: are you living a fully persuaded life or a fully defeated one?

Are you waking to the news flash, playing inside of your head, that this is never going to happen for me or are you waking up to live fully persuaded that God has the power to do it?

I love the story of this old couple Abraham and Sarah, who still believed the promise of God for their lives way into their nineties; the thing that impresses me about Abraham is that it says ‘he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, YET, he did not waver through unbelief.’

Many peoples faith is actually not real faith, it’s just a denial that anything is wrong.

There is a difference.

God cannot fix what you cannot face.

Denial is a game of pretence. It pretends that you are well when you are actually dying, but faith says, ‘I’m actually dying, therefore I need God to make me well.’

God is not going to be surprised by your admittance that things aren’t good…He knew it long before you did.

Is it time for you to get honest with yourself and God today? When you do, it will put you on the road to the very breakthrough that you need.

Be honest about the way things are for you today.

Now…be fully persuaded that God can change them.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2016

Is your life crying out for an upgrade ?
Is the existing one a little bashed, bruised and worn?

God is the God of the upgrade…
He is committed to not leaving us as He found us, but taking us to something better.

The thing about upgrades is this: you first have to let go of the old. When you trade in your old mobile phone and upgrade to a new one, you have to let go of the old in order to receive the new.
If you get upgraded on an aeroplane, you have to be willing to let go of that cheaper seat (Bring it on!!).

God can’t give you something new if you don’t let go of the old.
Maybe you are holding on to hurts, bitterness, wrong thoughts, sin, maybe even people.
Be willing to let go of the old and trust God for the new.

He wants to upgrade you from sickness to health…
Hurt to wholeness…
Fear to freedom…
Poverty to prosperity…
Death to LIFE

Ask for your upgrade today. He’s only a prayer away.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th July 2016

Recently, myself and my family visited a vineyard while on holiday. We got to meet the owner and hear all about his business as he gave us a tour of his property. When it came to seeing the finished product, he began to describe how he was not looking to create the perfect wine, but rather a unique one.

That made an instant impression upon me as I think that very same goal is one that we too should strive for; when we begin to focus on uniqueness as opposed to perfection, I believe we will find far greater fulfilment and satisfaction in this life.

I’ve been reading a book lately by Dr Dave Martin, and I love one of his quotes in particular. He says, ‘The thing that makes you different is the thing that will make you great.’

I want to make it my aim daily to become more like Jesus and less like anyone He’s ever created. And when you can arrive at that, then greatness will follow.

Today, embrace your uniqueness, utilise that gift that nobody else around you has. You were made to stand out! Make a decision to take off the pressure of trying to be perfect, and just be you – it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to this world.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th July 2016

Many people mistake leadership for titles, badges and positions…it’s not.

Leadership doesn’t look for neither a title or a badge. Instead, it looks for something that needs doing.

Leadership is spelt WORK.

Leadership is all about making a difference; it’s about influencing people or situations towards a better outcome.

Leadership is adding value.

It isn’t just about authority, it’s about being a carrier, a burden-bearer, a load-lightener.

Leadership is essentially nothing to do with age, gender or background.

Leadership is all about moving things forward, either on your own, or gathering people around you to help to make it happen.

Remember…if you think you are a leader, but no one is following you, then you are simply taking a walk.

If you feel called to be a leader, that’s a great thing, but first remember, leading anything or anyone is never a walk in the park.

1 Timothy 3 v 1
…anyone that sets their heart on being a leader, desires a good thing.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th July 2016

Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram (2 Kings).

He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded because the Lord had given him victory over his enemies.

He was a valiant soldier…BUT he had leprosy.

Position, power, money, success and adulation are nothing if you are losing the very battle for your own life.

It is at this point that we need to understand how easy it is to write off the answer to our problem.

This well respected and highly decorated man was in need of a miracle, but where could that miracle be found?

His miracle was found working in his kitchen, assisting in the everyday chores with his wife.

We don’t know her name, but we do know that she had ‘acquired’ her job because she had been taken captive from Israel.

She shouldn’t have ordinarily been there, but circumstances found her in the right place at the right time.

Her voice was rarely heard as she went about her daily duties, but on hearing the news of her master’s sickness, she spoke up and sent a message to say that he needed to go and find a certain man of God from her homeland, that she knew would heal him.

Long story short, he went and after humbling himself, was healed.

He could have said to the servant girl any number of things that would have shut out and shut down his miracle.

Maybe the words travelling through his head would have sounded something like this…

‘…I don’t listen to women.’

‘…who does she think she is?’

‘…what does she know?’

‘…you have no voice in my house.’

‘..do what you are employed to do, otherwise keep quiet.’

‘…I give out the orders around here.’

I’m sure that he would have had many voices playing inside his head but he chose to do the right thing, and more importantly, he chose to do the God thing.

I challenge you today to be careful not to write off the very voice that you need to listen to.

Don’t just try to muddle through by yourself today on a human level, but look for the God thing that you must do.

Open up your heart to even the most unlikely Christian that’s part of your world.

Find a great church that believes in the power of God.

Listen to the words of the servant of God.

Follow instructions from a trusted man or woman of God.

Humble yourself and receive prayer.

Above all, bring God into the equation…after all, what have you got to lose?

Your miracle may be right on your doorstep.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th July 2016

Proverbs 4:5-7 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. The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

To have knowledge is one thing, but to know how to correctly use that knowledge is another…it’s called wisdom.

A man was called out to repair a lady’s washing machine, and after taking off the back and seemingly hitting something with his hammer, he had it up and running again within a few minutes.

He then gave her a bill for £100; she contested it by saying that he had only been there for a few minutes and had only hit it with his hammer.

He responded by saying that he had only charged her £1 for his time to hit it, but £99 for knowing where to hit.

Wisdom applies knowledge and says if you do this, this is what you’ll get.

Several years ago, we had an old leaking toilet, so I decided to go out and buy a new one.

As I was carrying my new purchase to the car, I dropped it and smashed it on the car park. As I explained my situation to the manager, he told me that unfortunately that they didn’t have another one with the correct fittings. No matter how may stores I went to, I couldn’t find the toilet that I needed.

As frustration built up, I was desperate to finish the day by connecting a toilet – any toilet, no matter what shape or size would do, I thought to myself.

Eventually I decided to ask a friend, who was a plumber, to come and help me. I told him my story and that I was so desperate to finish the job that it didn’t matter what toilet I got so long as I got one. He travelled with me to various bathroom places all to no avail, until I decided that I’d had enough…”Just buy a toilet and I’ll make it work”, I said to him.

He explained that I had to buy the right toilet, with the right fixings, with the right size holes to make a successful job of it. I told him that I didn’t care about all that stuff and proceeded to explain to him how I planned to stop up all the wrong holes in the wrong places and somehow seal it all so that I didn’t leak.

To cut a long story short, I did it my way!

With one flush, the whole thing just flooded the downstairs loo.

Wisdom tried to reason with me, but I was having none of it.

How many of us can relate to that type of thing happening in our every day lives? We kind of know what to do, but we don’t listen to someone with the voice of wisdom that knows how to do it.

My toilet trial lasted 3 days and frustrated the life out of me. If only I’d have sought advice before I’d started, then I’d have saved myself so much time, energy and money, not to mention the amount of toilets I bought and had to take back.

Get wisdom.

Stop going it alone thinking that you know best.

Ask someone older and wiser for help.

Humble yourself before God and tell Him that you don’t know what to do about your current situation – He’ll be more than happy to help.

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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion fora better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th July 2016

I’m sure that many are familiar with the Old Testament account of how God supplied daily food for His people, as they wandered in the wilderness.

The food from Heaven was called ‘Manna’, and was described as being wafer-like with a honey taste – I have to say that I would look forward to receiving a daily supply of that!

That supply arrived on the ground every day until the people reached the promised land and then…it stopped, and was never repeated again. It was a one-off season that God chose to orchestrate in order that His very own people wouldn’t starve to death.

When they reached the promised land, He no longer needed to supply their need in that way, instead, there was enough provision in the land that flowed with ‘milk and honey’ that they could now work for and enjoy freely.

I wonder how many people thought to themselves on the first day that the manna never arrived…’where is God…why has He forsaken us?’

The reality was He was there just as He always had been, but this was now a new season, and in that new season a new form of provision was going to put food on their table; It was called…’go out to work and provide for your families.’

Years ago, when Gillian and myself were stoney broke, we would pray for provision and God would send it to us; as if from Heaven, money, food, clothes, shoes, cars and holidays would supernaturally be given to us.

It’s been many years now since that kind of thing has happened. We could have started to think that God had left us, but instead, we realised that His provision in that way, was for our season of need.

God will no longer continue to provide the same kind of provision, in the same way, in a new season.

We may still not have much by this world’s standards, but we have enough to share with others and at times, have enough to help make other people’s dreams come true.

Remember this: ones man’s income can be another man’s miracle.

If you’re thinking that God has forsaken you simply because you are no longer getting cash pushed through your letter box, then think again; it’s a new season, and you need to open your eyes to the new provision that may be staring you in the face every day.

By the way…true story…I once found a £5 note in a packet of Walkers crisps, but no matter how many packets I’ve eaten since then, I’ve only ever found sliced potatoes.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th July 2016

Psalm 142 says ‘I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.’

We all, if we’re alive, have some kind of complaint, need or trouble, I encourage you today not to keep telling people around you of your need but cry out to the Lord! He is a safe place to pour out our trouble.

‘When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.’

Oh dear! It sounds like the psalmist is on a real downer, but what he’s saying is that at some point people will always let us down, even parents can’t save their children. If we look to people to save us they will end up as a snare to us.
The statement ‘no one cares for my life’ isn’t saying ‘woe is me I’m all alone’ or a declaration of ‘independence’ but rather ‘dependence’ on God as provider, that there is a need in us all no person can meet. Not so we become an island but to stop us placing the responsibility for our success or failure on others, as only we are responsible.

But then he goes on to say:

‘Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.’

What a great ending! When we’re no longer depending on or blaming people for our life, but trusting in God, we end up surrounded by great people.

Make your plea today to the one who cares, take responsibility and realise that parents, spouses or friends can’t meet our true needs. When we’re no longer desperate to be accepted by people for the wrong reasons, we find people accepting us for the right reasons and we find ourselves forming relationships with other likeminded christ-minded people!

Life is wonderful, let’s make the most of it together!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd July 2016

Whilst on our recent holiday, our son Caleb, decided that he’d throw Hudson, our youngest grandson, into the pool. But before he did so, he’d already got a ‘rescue mission’ plan in action.
He’d got someone ready in the pool to help Hudson, if he should struggle.
Hudson obviously didn’t realise this and so upon his throwing in, he cried that Caleb had been mean to him as he had no arm bands on. To which Caleb replied, “Hudson, I had someone there to get you , I would not have let anything happen to you.”

I’m sure you know where today’s Fresh Hope is going…

Often, we feel like we are thrown into the deep end. You may be experiencing that right now.
Don’t let fear or worry take control of your life. God sees the end from the beginning. He will never leave you or forsake you.

He has your rescue mission already planned.
What you are going through has the potential to make you stronger and braver. Just know that you’re not alone. He’s right there with you.
Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2016

As well as being a chemist, an engineer and an innovator, Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite.

He was also well known for being a weapons manufacturer.

In 1888, Alfred’s brother died, but the newspaper carrying the story recorded by mistake that it was in fact Alfred, and not his brother Ludwig that had passed away.

The mistaken obituary column was headed up “the merchant of death is dead.”

As Alfred read of his own life that had ‘apparently’ now ended, he was stunned to read further… ‘Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by inventing ways to kill more people, faster than anyone had ever before, died yesterday.’

Alfred was devastated by what he would be remembered for and immediately set about changing his last Will and Testament.

He instructed that almost all of his estate, to the equivalent value of £150,000, be set aside to fund what would become known worldwide as the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’.

He had the rare opportunity to reassess his life and change it for the good.

Dr Alfred Nobel eventually died in 1896.

In much the same way today, God has afforded us the opportunity to re-evaluate our lives.

Ask yourself right now this one vital question: what would I be remembered for, if I died today?

Would I be remembered for contributing life or death into the people that I’m privileged to be alive with right now?

What difference am I making in this generation?

Would you consider making a decision to live differently from this moment forward?

Sobering thoughts?

Maybe that’s what you needed…just like Alfred.

As you pray today, ask God to show you why He wanted you alive for such a time as this.

Luke 12:16-21 ‘And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st July 2016

At school, I wasn’t very good at PE. Take netball for example, (or any game for that matter); I was always keen to be on the team (I really didn’t like missing out) but never seemed to know where I was meant to be at any given moment because I wasn’t paying enough attention. So when a teammate would throw the ball to me, I’d often miss my opportunity and not catch it or if I did catch it, not know what to do next.

My intentions were good but I wouldn’t listen to my teacher when they told me what I was meant to be doing.

What are the dreams in your heart? It may be that you are dreaming big dreams and believing for big things. Life with God is big! That’s how we’re called to live. But are you ready? Are you positioned correctly? If everything you are believing for turned up in your life tomorrow, how prepared would you be?

Don’t be like I was in my PE lessons and miss opportunities because you aren’t paying attention and don’t follow instructions. Seek God to guide you into who He wants you to become, so that those dreams can come to pass. When you’re in the right place, following His voice, you’ll be amazed at what can happen and who you can become.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th July 2016

I keep my sunglasses in the car.

I don’t know what colour the lenses are in your sunglasses, but mine have a yellow tint.

When I wear them, no matter where I look or where I go, everything is yellow.

Of course, in reality, nothing is yellow, that is apart from yellow things – but to me everything is yellow.

My glasses don’t just block out the sun, they colour my world.

Throughout our lives, we will subconsciously be handed various pairs of glasses to wear. Each pair will give us a different outlook on life.

If you spend too much time around negative people, you will start to wear negative glasses. No matter what you look at or where you go, you will find yourself having a negative opinion.

If you’ve been exposed to the thought that ‘life doesn’t get better’ but is just on a downward spiral from now on, then you will see everything through those glasses.

The lenses that you wear on your mind determine not only what you see, but how you see what you see.

I was often the last one to be picked on a team at junior school; I was the one that you were left with.

This coloured my mind and led me to a belief that I’d always be at the bottom of the pile.

I lived with those thoughts for many years, until I came to know Jesus and started to read the Bible for myself.

I began to read so many great, positive truths, that I slowly began to take off the glasses that had subtlety become part of the vision for my life.

Words from the Bible brought about a massive change in my thinking and by the Grace of God, I changed the way I saw things by changing the glasses on my mind.

Remember… you can’t change the output of your mind until you change the input of your mind.

Just take these two passages from the Bible and imagine them as sunglasses that you need to put on today.

Let them become part of your thinking and watch how they tint everything that you do today.

Proverbs 4:18 ‘The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.’

Deuteronomy 28:13-14 ‘The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.’

Have a blessed day,

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 19th July 2016

Every year at about this time, our garden just like everyone else’s, goes wild.

Trying to keep up with the growth spurts of everything coloured green, not least of all the weeds, demands our attention- that is unless you want to live in a jungle come September.

Personally, I like the trees and shrubs that just look nice all year round, but to be honest the most fruitful and colourful parts of any garden are those that need our care and attention.

Pruning in the right season, is not just so that a garden can be kept in good order, but so that more buds, more flowers, more fruit and more colour can be exhibited in the coming year.

Every year, I have to prune one particular hedgerow that we have in the back garden, otherwise it just steals the show from all the other trees, not to mention stealing the light because it grows so tall within weeks.

People are just like varieties of plants, trees, and shrubs in any average garden. Some take care of themselves and demand nothing from us, whereas others are forever needing us to take care of them, and if you don’t prune and cut them right back, they just take over.

Pruning seems pretty callous as you seemingly chop and cut the very life out of your trees and shrubs, whilst thinking that you may have just killed a very good and healthy thing.

In reality, that pruning was painful, but long term, that pruning will prove totally necessary.

Because you took the time and care to prune right back, it won’t be long before that tree will thank you by giving you much greater colour, beauty and fruitfulness than you could have ever imagined.

Do you need to do some pruning in your own life today?

Do you need to listen to some ‘pruning’ wisdom from someone?

Do you need to do some pruning on someone else’s life? That usually means that you need to have a difficult conversation that you’ve been avoiding for quite a while.

Whichever the case may be, it will be painful in the short term but fruitful in the long term.

What kind of a garden do you want in your life and in your world? An out of control, overgrown and dark jungle, or a flourishing, fruitful and sunny place that you look at and feel a great sense of wellbeing?

Don’t put off today some much needed pruning and come next year, yours and other people’s lives will produce a totally different landscape.

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th July 2016

I was watching a programme on TV recently featuring Mike Tyson. The interviewer was talking to him about his kids and what they wanted to do when they grow up. As you can expect, the one question that arose was, ‘Does your son want to be a boxer?’ To which Tyson replied, ‘I took all the punches so that he didn’t have to…’

If you want to know what it is that God has done for you, then there’s your answer. God died a death that you and I should have died, having lived a life that we could not live. He came to earth to do for us what we could not do for ourselves, and because of His great love we get to live freely knowing that He took all the punches so that we didn’t have to!

We no longer have to live in sin, because He became sin for us. We no longer have to experience guilt, shame or condemnation because Jesus has removed it from the equation. We get to live everlasting life because He defeated death on our behalf and today we get to live in victory because Jesus won the fight for us.

Make a decision from this moment forward to live knowing that Jesus has already done it all and He’s won it all, so now you simply just have to rest in His finished work. You’ve got a Father in Heaven who’s already gone before you and has experienced the worst kind of death so that you can experience the best kind of life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th July 2016

Difficult circumstances don’t mean that God has left you. Hard times don’t mean He’s not around.

In fact, it’s through those times that often the best comes out.

A crisis is sometimes just what you need!

It’s not what happens to you that matters, but what you do with what happens to you.

Jesus fed the five thousand. We’ve all heard that story. Yet, what many of us don’t know, is that just a couple of verses before, his very good friend John (the Baptist) was beheaded.

His followers came to Jesus with the news and Jesus was expected to move on and minister to the crowds.

Yes, and that’s exactly what He did do.
The verses in Matthew 14 tell us that He took a moment to talk to His father and then He got up and did what He was called to do.

When something bad happens to us (and most of the time, it’s not going to be as bad as this) instead of getting up with a great heart and attitude and carry on, we retreat or hide or say “no way.”

Take Jesus’ example today and take a moment to talk to God about your difficulty, ask Him for His peace and strength, then move on to what you are supposed to be doing.

Let Him shine through you despite them and in doing so many lives, including your own, will be enriched.
Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th July 2016

I can still see it perfectly today… the place where I was standing when I heard God speak to me.

“Mark, ask me to use you,” He said.

After a stunned silence for what must have been all of 30 seconds, I said something like…”okay, well if it’s alright with You, I’d like You to use me in healing the sick.”

I honestly didn’t think that I’d hear anything more back about that, but I was mistaken. The God of the Bible is the God that speaks…I just didn’t realise it at the time.

God spoke to me again, and said that He would let me know when I was to go and pray for my first sick person.

I honestly thought that I would be sent to pray for a simple headache or ingrowing toenail, but that wasn’t God’s idea of easing me in…

A few weeks later, my heart sank when I sensed that I should go and pray for a dying young man, of 14, that I knew of.

For three days, I resisted what I knew for certain, I was being asked to do.

On the third night, I couldn’t stand the pressure anymore, and off I went, and found myself standing by his bedside, surrounded by his mates.

This young man was not just ill, he was pronounced incurable by the hospital and sent home.

He couldn’t get out of bed or even sit up; his physical frame was diminishing fast.

I prayed the most simple prayer for him that day, laying my hands on him, asking Jesus to heal him.

On that, I walked out and left for home.

I hardly slept that night, in full expectation that this guy was going to be miraculously healed by God.

It was 6.30am on the very next morning, that he jumped out of bed and cooked the whole family a big breakfast.

He hadn’t eaten for weeks himself, but on that morning he got stuck straight in, with no ill effects.

Today, he is still perfectly healthy and never did go back to the doctors.

Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs will accompany those who believe… they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Will you ask God to use you today?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th July 2016

At a coastal aquarium in Florida, a large Barracuda tried to attack a Mackerel, but was stopped by the glass barrier that separated them. After bumping his nose several times, he finally decided to quit.

Later, when the barrier got removed, the Barracuda would swim to where the barrier had been, but no further.

To him, that barrier was still there.

A baby elephant that’s been tied to a small stake in the ground since birth, is still of the opinion, when fully grown, that the very same, insignificant piece of wood is holding him to the spot.

He walks around in tiny circles all day long, in the total belief that he can go no further.

In reality, he could move a double decker bus.

Are you like that?

Hindered, restricted and limited by the invisible and imaginary barriers in your mind that say, ‘no further.’

In the book of Jeremiah, God calls Jeremiah to go to a specific place with a specific message, but he tells the Lord that he is too young, unqualified and unable to do the job.

Immediately God said, “Don’t say that…I will enable you.”

There are certain things that you have got to stop saying if you’re ever going to break through these invisible, yet powerful, self-imposed barriers in your mind.

Some time after Walt Disney had died, Disney World opened its doors for the first time to special guests and dignitaries.

The mayor turned to Mrs Disney and said it was such a shame that Walt hadn’t seen it, to which she replied… “oh, but he did.”

He’d seen it played out thousands of times in his mind.

If you don’t see it before you see it, you’ll never see it.

Some of the greatest defeats and some of the greatest victories are won or lost between your ears.

So whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t… you’re right!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th July 2016

The story of Ruth is a great example of how being resolute in your decision to follow Jesus can simplify your life and bring you into greater purpose.

In the first chapter, we read…Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”  When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

Ruth actually proclaims that she should be punished if even death should separate her from what she so resolutely has decided to do!

This challenges our comfortable western lives where we have so many options, so many eggs in so many baskets, distractions coming out of our ears. Imagine being so set in a decision that even death is no excuse!

If you read the story of Ruth, you hear a lot of sorrow from Naomi, her mother-in-law about her loss; in verse 20 she says “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

But we never hear Ruth complain? She must have struggled, after all she had lost her husband and made a decision to stick with her bitter mother-in-law and went to live as a complete stranger in a foreign land.

Ruth doesn’t have time for pity – if death isn’t even an excuse to slow her in her pursuit than she certainly isnt going to entertain the pointless emotional distraction called disappointment!

At the end of the story, we read how incredibly blessed she is marrying a wealthy businessman, her great grandson is King David and she becomes an ancestor of JESUS!

I truly believe that when we ‘make our mind up’ and fix resolutely to our faith without flinching –  despite what we face – God is faithful. This is easier said than done, as we can’t see Jesus but we can see our problems.

The minute that we start to compromise, we lose peace of mind which leads to being bitter and complaining. It’s not about being right, Naomi was right to be upset, but Ruth was awesome to be resolute.

Either Jesus is the answer, the way and the life or he isn’t; make a resolute determined choice today and simplify many of the battles you face. Even death is a battle already won!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th July 2016

In Philippians 4 v 8 (NIV), it 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 live in a world where negativity is rife. I know people who avoid watching the news because it makes them upset.

The truth is, it is much easier to be negative than it is to be positive. Why? Being upbeat takes just that little bit more energy at times.

I want to set a challenge this week. Use the verse at the top as a guide and begin to count your blessings. Write them down, to read at a time when you need encouragement.

Think of something true that God has said about you in His word and declare it everyday. He has a plan for you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. The list goes on.

Begin to thank God for even small things that you consider lovely.

Instead of the bad news that is constantly reported, dig a little deeper and find out something good that has happened.

If you’ve seen a breakthrough, no matter how minor, be thankful.

Reflect a little and think of a time when an opportunity arose that you couldn’t have made happen for yourself. That was God.

Who are the people in your life that lift your spirit? Thank God for them.

God has a promise for us, when we are deliberate about filling our minds with good things; verse 9 goes on to say ‘that the God of peace will be with you.’

Counting your blessings will change your perspective and I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th July 2016

As I write today, I’m looking through the front window of our home where I planted a Christmas tree several years ago.

Every June through to July, it starts to produce vibrant lime green buds at the end of every branch.

I find it hard to believe that this celebration tree, that will be crowned King in the depths of our winter is actually preparing itself right now for a new season of growth.

That simple tree knows that it’s too late to think about growing and expanding when all eyes are on it, when we decorate it with brightly coloured lights, and when the frost and snow are hanging from its branches – so it prepares itself during the season where no one is making it the centre of attention.

Therein lies great wisdom for our lives, as we consider how God brings us each into our preparation season.

Our preparation happens while we sit there quietly each day, with no one paying the slightest attention to us; No one’s watching us, no one’s decorating us, no one putting lights on us and no one gives us a second look; we seem almost out of place in the height of the summer.

Yet, how are we going to stand there through months of cold, when we become the topic of conversation and everyone wants to have us decorate their driveways and houses…the answer is, by getting ready when no one’s looking.

It takes real character to get ready ahead of your season, but the Christmas tree shows how important it is.

Feeling today like you’re of no use and that everything you’re going through is in vain? Don’t be discouraged, my friend. Your season is on its way, but first, it’s time to grow and get your roots down deeper, so that when it comes to your time to shine, you’ll do it with such humility and stature that people will ask ‘where did you suddenly spring up from?’

The answer will be, ‘I was here getting ready all along…you just didn’t notice me.’

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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th July 2016

Last week, I went to pick up my two nephews, one from school and the other from nursery. If you’re a parent, you will be familiar with this process that I’m about to describe; as I approach their classroom door, they see me, run over to me and after a big hug, they begin to offload all of their bags into my arms.

I thought to myself in that moment, ‘what a beautiful picture that paints for us of how God wants us to approach Him’. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

It’s possible right now that you’re carrying a lot of baggage, whether it be hurt, regret, fear, pressure, whatever it may be, God wants to say to you today, stop carrying things you were never meant to carry!

The Bible makes it abundantly clear, give everything over to God, cast your cares onto Him, for He cares for you.

The good news is that because of Jesus, you can live free, you can live light, the weight of your sin and the burden of life’s circumstances no longer play a part, because they aren’t yours to carry. When Jesus died on the cross, He put to death everything that had a hold over your life.

Don’t pick it back up today, whatever it may be, but leave it at the feet of Jesus.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th July 2016

Sometimes our lives can be like the weather, never quite sure what’s going to happen next. One day,  we’re sun bathing on a beach in Cornwall, the next week it’s snowing! Welcome to England.

It can create unrest in our lives. Should we be putting away the winter clothes, or buying more jumpers?

Our spiritual lives can follow this pattern. One day you’re excited about God and trusting Him, the next day you’ve had some bad news and you never want to talk to God again!

In the book of Matthew, there is a story of a ‘Pearl of great price’ that I believe can help straighten, simplify and make sense of our lives.

It reads: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

This paints a great picture of a man who found something so great he stopped just trading in pearls for what he could gain but sold his shop and put all his eggs in the one basket!

Either Jesus died for our sins and defeated all power and authorities or he didn’t! Jesus is the way the truth and the life or he isn’t! God so loved the world that He gave his only son or he didn’t!

We often live like ever-changing weather between two camps saying, ‘yes he is all sufficient…but I still choose to be negative and live with anxiety about my needs!’

No matter how things may look today, I encourage you to make a decision not to worry, not to look elsewhere and not to be tempted to put a few eggs in another basket! He is sufficient for all your needs.

Jesus is the pearl of great price and will not let you down!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th July 2016

One of the most amazing things to me about the Bible is that although it was written over 2000 years ago, it still carries such relevance to our lives today. It can impact your life right now, and I believe you can draw something from it, no matter what season of life you’re in. Whether you find yourself on the mountain top or in the valley, the Bible is applicable to you!

One of my favourite verses is found in ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭and it says this,
“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.”

I want to highlight two particular words in that verse to you, ‘all things’. This lets you and I know that no matter how many mistakes we’ve made, no matter how many times we’ve messed up and no matter how bad we consider those mistakes to be, GOD IS ABLE to use those very things and work them together for good in your life!

As the famous Kanye West song goes, ‘That that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger.’
You need to know today that God will use your experience in the valley and cause you to come out of it stronger than you went into it. He’s not a condemning God, He’s a forgiver of sins.

Lean into His love today and believe that your greatest days are out in front of you!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th July 2016

There is no power on earth greater than the power of forgiveness.

I’m not talking about letting another human being off the hook, or even overlooking a fault or grievance, I’m talking about the kind of forgiveness that says ‘I not only forgive, I not only choose to forget, but now I choose to bring you close to me so that I can once again be your friend.

That kind of forgiveness is not difficult…it’s impossible, that is, unless you comprehend the magnitude of Jesus’ forgiveness first of all to you.

Once that is firmly settled in your heart then there is only thing that you can do, and that is, forgive from that very same river that flowed first into your heart.

Today, I pray that the words of this song from a few years back will penetrate even the hardest heart as they have so many time penetrated mine.

Oh Lord You have searched my heart
You have known my thoughts my ways
You guide each step till it leads to You
And I am found safe within Your love

Hold me now
Safe within Your arms
Safe within Your love
Touch me now Lord
With the power of forgiveness
Hide me now
In the brightness of Your love

Oh Lord where can I hide
From this love that can know no end
I am found in this state of grace
I am found safe within Your love

Hold me now
Safe within Your arms
Safe within Your love
Touch me now Lord
With the power of forgiveness
Hide me now
In the brightness of Your love

I am found safe within Your love
— Hillsong Worship

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th July 2016

There’s a bible story found in Luke 6 where Jesus describes for us two types of people. The first being someone who hears God’s Word and then puts it into practice. Jesus likens this person to someone who builds their life upon a strong foundation.

The second type of person described in this story is someone who hears the Word of God but does nothing with it. He likens this type of person to someone who builds their life upon the sand. The moment the storm comes, it collapses and its destruction is complete.

I don’t know about you, but I find it’s so easy to read the Bible, close the cover and then forget everything you’ve just read… Or maybe you read Fresh Hope every morning out of daily routine, but you don’t allow it to change your day at all. We miss the most important part – taking what you hear and doing something with it!

The problem with living life like this, is that whenever a difficult circumstance arises, because it will, you have no strength to draw from because everything you’ve heard and everything you’ve learnt has gone in one ear and out the other.

It’s interesting how Jesus makes it clear that both people faced storms, however they experienced two totally different outcomes… Why? Because one of them had built his life upon a strong foundation and, recalling what he had heard, he utilised it to enable him to stand through the storm.

I want to encourage you today, be like the first man described in this bible story. The one who hears the Word and builds his life upon it. Will he still bend? Yes, but he won’t break.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 4th July 2016

“Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple…
but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.”
-Robert Schuller

When you first look at an apple seed, all you see is a black speck. It seems inconspicuous, unassuming and insignificant.

Just as there is power hidden inside a tiny atom, there is power inside those tiny black seeds found at the core of every apple. When you hold an apple seed in the palm of your hand, you could be holding an apple tree, an apple orchard, even multiple apple orchards. There is that much potential in that little seed.

That seed is a reminder to us that seeds are not meant to be eaten or discarded, but to be planted.

When God created the earth He placed within it an eternal law, that law will always remain and will work for all people and all generations. That law is the law of sowing and reaping.

Seed is inside everything that He created not only to reproduce for us but also to demonstrate how we ourselves should sow the seeds that we have in our lives. Every you sow something, you may not do it to get anything back…wonderful, however you can’t stop it coming back to you no more than apple seed that’s planted can’t stop an apple tree growing.

Sowing and reaping involves absolutely everything about your life; love, forgiveness, money, friendships, time, kindness, energy and the list goes on.

Everything you ever sow will produce a harvest for you, you may not know when it will, but it will.

If there is any area of your life that you are lacking in, ask yourself a simple question: am I sowing any good seed in that area?

I have spent many days over the years feeling discouraged. Discouragement can lead you to feeling sorry for yourself, which then leads to loneliness, which then leads to isolation.

I’ve found out that the secret to conquering that feeling of discouragement, is also found in this eternal law too. I now go out of my way to encourage as many people as possible any time that I feel discouraged myself. Within minutes, I begin to feel a harvest of encouragement coming my way.

Just today, a lady came up to me at the close of the service at church and told me that three weeks ago had she needed a fairly large sum of money. She told me that she had decided to sow a seed of £50 to someone believing that God would multiply it back to her. She could hardly contain herself today as she told me the story of what had happened. Just a couple of weeks after she gave the money, someone that she knew deposited £5,000 into her bank account. That’s the law of sowing and reaping working – there was a whole apple tree waiting to come out of the apple that she sowed! Wow!

Just imagine the many apples that could be contained within the one little seed that you have now decided to sow today.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd July 2016

One of the golden rules that I try to live my life by, is to always believe the best about someone.

There’s a great nugget of advice in the Bible that says this…

James 1:19 ‘…everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…’

If we’re honest we apply that verse every day…but in reverse order.

We start with anger and judgment and then end up going quiet when the damage has already been done.

Be careful and slow to judge people based on the little you know and see, as if that’s all there is to know and see. Bear in mind that you usually don’t know the full story and therefore it’s not for you to comment as though you had some special inside information.

We live in an age of armchair judges, who pass judgment about things they know nothing about, fuelled by ‘trial by media’.

It’s only ever a few that really know the story behind a person’s life and that information grants them a level of insight and empathy that all others are exempt from, therefore keep yourself pure and away from things that you should be very slow to speak about, if at all.

Let’s make a fresh decision today to be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Matthew 7:1-2 ‘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.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2016

Someone once said “for everything you want to gain, you have to give up something.”

This is a very true saying.
For instance, if you want to gain a new body, you have to give up cake.

If you want to experience a new holiday destination, you may have to give up your annual trip to Rhyl.

To embrace something new, you have to let something go and if you don’t let go of what is holding you back, you’ll never move forward.

You may say “but I like the familiar, I like to feel comfortable”. That’s great, as long as you don’t want to progress.

Life changes, times change, fashion changes, people change and seasons change, so our best hope is to stay flexible.

We have to be willing to let go of something, in order to embrace something new.

I read some time ago about a lady who was holding a hot cup of tea. She said “my nephew came bounding towards me, I knew he wanted a hug, he was coming at me fast. I knew he would get scalded with the tea that I was holding in both hands. In that moment, I quickly gave up the tea and gave a hug. What I was hanging on to was not wrong, it was tea, but to experience what was coming I had to let it go.”

When you let go of what is in your hands, an exchange will take place. And only when you let go will you get the exchange.

God wants us to be open to new opportunities, enlarge our lives, expand our vision, increase our influence – but we won’t do any of that, if we’re too scared to let go.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th June 2016

Mirrors are being removed from changing rooms in some of Britain’s biggest shopping centres after new research revealed they make customers feel more ‘ body conscious’.

Almost three-quarters of British women are put off buying clothes after they have tried them on in front of a changing room mirror, a survey found.

More than 52% of women surveyed stated that they were left feeling down after seeing themselves in the mirror.

As important though this information is, especially for men trying to protect their wallets, there is a much higher truth lurking behind this one, and that is, the truth about how we hate looking in the mirror when needing to face up to the faults and traits in our own lives.

‘Take a look in the mirror’ is an expression that we use when we are wanting to help someone face up to the reality of how they come across to others. It’s hardly surprising therefore that there are few that do it, as who really wants to walk away feeling down about themselves.

In reality though, one of the best ways of improving your character is to actually take regular check ups in front of that imaginary mirror, in order to see yourself as you really are to others.

Think about it for a moment, just because you refuse to take this simple yet effective advice, doesn’t make the problem go away no more than refusing to face up those extra bulges that you’ve gained over the last year, when you try on that new item.

I’ve never met anyone that likes to hear themselves on a recording, even moreso watch themselves on video or see themselves in a photo, yet time after time, the most improved people are those that looked at themselves and said ‘I hate what I see’ and then went on to make the necessary changes…they are now way ahead of the game.

If you know that you need to face up to some character flaws today, and we all do, take a deep breath, face up to what you know is lurking beneath the veneer of your life and deal with it. This time tomorrow, next week or next year you’ll have already made massive steps to becoming a better you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2016

As we’re now into the summer season (unless you live in England), me and my Dad have been playing table tennis in the garden quite often. Every time we go outside to play, both our dogs come and join us, sitting right underneath the table.

For the past several days, one of our dogs has been consistently jumping up the tree beside where we play and it became pretty evident that he knew something was in there, however we couldn’t find a thing…

As days went by, he would keep going to that same tree, hoping that we would be able to help him out, when eventually, we found what he had been looking for; the insides of an old football right in the thick of all the branches.

We then went and found a long pole that would help us reach the ball, however the dog grabbed hold of it and wouldn’t let it go. For at least a couple of minutes, we fought in an attempt to win back the very thing that we were trying to use to help him.

I thought to myself, I think that’s how God must feel sometimes when He tries to help us achieve what we can’t accomplish for ourselves. I imagine God thinks that we’re pretty cute trying to help him out, but at the same just wishes that we would move out of the way and allow Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

I want to encourage you with this simple thought today: Let Go and Let God.

By all means, play your part and do what you need to do, but ensure that you then step aside and let God do what only He can do.

You need to understand that God has an amazing plan for your life, and often the best thing that you can do is relinquish your control and allow God to take full control, and when you do that, you can watch His plan be fulfilled in your life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th June 2016

There will be times when you get ‘cold feet’ – in fact we all do.

Having ‘cold feet’ is usually a phrase relating to someone having second thoughts just before getting married, but to me, it can apply to anything that involves you stepping out into the realm of the unknown.

Feeling afraid is pretty normal when you have no idea as to how things will work out.

When God instructed the leaders of the Children of Israel about crossing the River Jordan, He first of all told them to stand still in the river, just at the edge.

In other words, the first people to get cold feet were those leading the way for everyone else.

Having cold feet doesn’t mean that you are a doubter or an unbeliever, it just means that you are the first to initiate things with no guarantee of success.

I’ve had many cold feet moments as I’ve led the church into new territory and broke new ground over the years. Cold feet will always cause you to ask questions like…’Have I done the right thing…?’ ‘Will anybody follow?’ ‘Will it work out okay?’ ‘Will God bless it?’

For the leaders standing ankle deep in the river that day, they would never know if the waters would part until they stepped deeper. In reality, the waters only parted when they ignored their cold feet and stepped out.

If you have cold feet about going forwards today, it is not a sign to go back, it’s a constant reminder that you are leading the way and breaking new ground.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2016

I read this quote the other day and it grabbed me.

‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.’

I always want to be generous, but often wish I had more money to be generous with. I think this quote can help us understand not to worry about what we can’t give but look at what we can.

As Christians, we’re often keen to look for opportunities to reach people by talking about our faith. In reality, if we want to impact people around us, it’s not what we say but how we make people feel.

There’s no worse feeling than talking to someone who is clearly distracted – it’s a statement that there are more important things than you.

The reality is no matter what pressure you’re under in your life, there is nothing more important than people.

Sometimes we live with the pressure of wanting our lives to count, to be part of something great, to create or do something significant. We often overlook the opportunities everyday to invest in people’s lives around us and all it takes is for us to stop and listen.

Let someone waffle and talk rubbish. Don’t correct them, be generous. Is your correction going to save them or could your generosity change the course of that person’s day?

I challenge you today to look for an opportunity to really impact someone, not by chewing their ear off, but let them chew yours off. Look for an opportunity to be generous and make someone feel the wonderful emotion of having someone care enough to stop and listen. When we do, we’ll be surprised at the impact and the doors that can open into people’s lives!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th June 2016

‘For I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I’ve committed, unto Him against that day’.

An old hymn with a very strong meaning; whatever you face, whether it be personally, as a family or even as a nation, just commit your way to Him and He will watch over you and make it all right.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your future is bleak. My Bible tells me that if God is for me, who can be against me?

This week, I’ve seen the power of God at work. I’ve seen two situations when so-called experts said that there was ‘no way’ and I’ve seen God have HIS way.

I’ve seen a man who we know, survive and beat cancer when he was told he wouldn’t and I’ve seen a lady who was told she would never have a child, get pregnant naturally. Both situations after prayer and trusting God.

God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants and with whomever He wants.

Lift your eyes off your circumstances today and put them onto God himself – the ONE who can really do something about it.

Now that should be a newspaper headline today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2016

Recently we heard the sad news that the sporting icon Muhammad Ali had passed away. Known as ‘the greatest’, he lived the last 30 years of his life suffering with Parkinson’s disease.

You couldn’t fail to notice that this once invincible warrior now couldn’t keep his hands from shaking, as the disease took its toll on his health.

The bible states in Hebrews 12: “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”

The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Hebrews here tells us that what can be seen will always be shaken. That’s why the Bible also tells us in Colossians 3: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

No matter how great we think we are, or the things around us are, our hope cannot be in them. Things can seem pretty fixed at times, like houses and people, but the truth is, everything you can see with the eye will pass before you know it.

But this isn’t a sad message of time but a great message of hope in Jesus Christ, who cannot be shaken, who was and is and is to come!

I encourage you today; if things are being shaken in your life, put your hope in Him!
He will not let you down.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2016

Ecclesiastes 11:4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

If you wait for perfect conditions to sow seed…you never will!

Just imagine if a farmer woke up one day and said it was too hot to sow seed.

The next day…too windy.

The next day…too cloudy.

The next day too wet and the next day too cold.

If he waits for the perfect day, he will never plant, and if he never plants he will never reap.

How much is that like us when we wait for the perfect day to sow our time, talent, money and energy into something?

We think thoughts like these…”When my account finally gets into the black, then I’ll do it.”

“When I get a raise, then I’ll start giving.”

“When I get more time, then I’ll start serving more.”

Solomon, when he wrote these words was considered to be the wisest person on the planet. He was saying, ‘if I were you, I wouldn’t live life always waiting for the perfect moment, no, instead sow your best seeds in season and out of season, in good times and in bad, when you feel like it and when you don’t, because once that seed is sown, God alone has the power to make it increase for you, no matter what the conditions are like.’

Our part is the letting go of the seed.

It’s a seed of trust and faith, and once sown, becomes God’s responsibility to make it grow.

You can sleep after you’ve sown seed or you can worry, but irrespective of what you do, that seed is now out of your control; however, if that seed remains in your hand, one thing is guaranteed…it will never produce a harvest.

Not so long ago, a 2000 year old pot was discovered containing several seeds.

It was decided that the seeds should be planted to see what would happen, and yes you guessed it…they started to grow.

They had literally been waiting to be sown for 2000 years.

If you want to live a blessed life, then don’t wait any longer to start sowing.

Honour God with your wealth, your life, your time and your energy.

He’s waiting to bless you with an amazing harvest.

Mark 4:26-29
Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2016

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 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 that brought back so many fond memories from when I was a young boy.

A few pieces of newspaper, a bit 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 seller 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 so 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 12 months 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’d learnt that lesson, I’ve never had a bad fire. 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 today and then be willing to take them on board.

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 – 21st June 2016

I was watching the movie, ‘Spectre’ last week and in one particular scene, James Bond had been led to a hotel, believing there to be some kind of clue in that location to help him accomplish the mission that he was on.

While he was sitting in his room, thinking that he’s not going to find what he’s looking for, a mouse appears just a few feet in front of him, and looking at it, James says, ‘Who sent you?’ and ‘Who are you working for?’ At this, the mouse scurries through a hole in the wall, leading James to find a secret room next door, containing everything he needs to further the mission ahead.

That reminded me of how in life we can appear to have reached a dead end, feeling like there’s no way forward and that the dreams in our heart will never be fulfilled. However, it’s in those moments that God will send something or someone, seemingly out of nowhere to get you to the next level on your journey.

You’ve got to trust that God knows what you need, when you need it, and how to get it to you. If it’s a God vision that you’re pursuing, then you can rest assured that He will supply the provision to make it happen.

Keep moving forward, keep going after the dream that God has placed in your heart, and know today that God will be with you every step of the way, and that He is more than enough.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2016

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This was a quote from Einstein – we can trust it to be true, as apparently he was clever.

As life goes on, we all surely hope to progress, grow and change – to be in a different place than we currently are. A bigger family, more finances, promotion at work, new house, better holidays etc…

But what Einstein is saying here is, if our actions are always the same, we will only ever get the same results.

We can apply this to our spiritual lives.

Do you seem to struggle with the same habits, sins, doubts, fears and disappointments,  repeatedly?

One thing I’ve learned, is to change, always! Life cannot be static – you’re either increasing or decreasing, moving forward or backwards.

Einstein also said ‘life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.’

This is a key to a life of progress. Aim to live a life of motion, moving forward, challenging your thinking and actions!

We have to examine our routines and what we do all the time. If you are dissatisfied with the results your life and actions have brought so far, then guess what? You’re going to have to change what you do.

A well-known saying is ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’, but with faith anything is possible. We sometimes may feel ‘but this is just me’ or ‘l’ve always done this, and struggled with that!’ Challenge that thinking today and say ‘no!’

You may have struggled with a certain sin all of your life and you’ve accepted that that’s it now, until you pass into the next life. You can change today!

There is always time to change what you’re doing to get different results. Stop today and ask yourself, ‘what areas do I want to be different, in my life? What and how am I going to have to change?’

Now go and do it.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th June 2016

I want to encourage you this weekend to sow a seed.

A farmer will never produce a crop without first sowing a seed.
You may say “but I have a need myself”… perfect.
The farmer has need of a crop and that’s why he sows.
Why is it, that the human heart says “I have a need, so I’ll keep my seed?” – that’s what the enemy wants you to think, to stop you getting blessed.

Change your thinking. Realise that when you have a need, you sow a seed.
And even if you don’t have a need, you should be a sower anyway.

The Bible is full of great reminders…

A generous man will prosper, when you refresh others, YOU will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11 v 25)

When you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. But when you sow generously, YOU will reap generously. (2 Corinthians 9 v 6)

For with the measure YOU use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6 v 38)

Even if you have no money whatsoever, you can sow time or friendship or a cup of tea and a listening ear.

I challenge you to be a sower this weekend.

It’s a win-win situation :)

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2016

I was watching a TV programme a couple of nights ago and was fascinated by a couple that had spent every week since they got married, more than 40 years ago, traveling to a car park near the runway of Heathrow airport just to plane spot.
Now, I have to admit that that would be a great day out for me too, but not every week for 40 years!

As they sat in the car with a packed lunch and binoculars in hand, the lady described in great detail how she looked forward to sitting there all day, every week and if she felt low or was having a bad week she would insist that they travel to their favourite car park, as a pick-me-up.

She spoke of how the overhead planes made her dream of going to far away destinations, and that they gave her a tonic just thinking about them where they were heading.

The sad thing about the whole interview was in the fact that this couple had never travelled much further, or so it seemed, from the car park.

The car park that was meant for parking your car, in order to travel to your destination, had in fact become their Barbados.

Watching others travel had become a form of transportation in their own minds.

I couldn’t help but think with sadness, of how that happens on a daily basis in many people’s minds, as they only ever think about, and watch others do incredible things with their lives, yet without ever leaving the car park of their own disabling thoughts.

In a way, I became that person just this week as I was warning our eldest son Joshua about travelling to watch England play in France. The reports of violence were stirring me to warn him several times to not only be careful, but to even consider not going.

I watched, as I’m sure that you did, the very same match without ever moving from the safety and comfort of my arm chair. However, the difference was that he had experienced the real atmosphere of the winning game, whilst I just looked on in my pretend stadium called ‘the lounge’.

It becomes so easy to let life pass us by without going anywhere and achieving nothing, because we fear moving from our comfort zone that was never meant to be our destination.

Identify today, anything that you feel is keeping you from the limitless skies of your destiny. Stop merely dreaming of those plans that you wish for and instead get up and start to make them a reality.

Many years ago, I dreamed of going to Seattle. I didn’t even know where it was or how to get there at the time and when I asked God 10 years later why He had not taken me there, He simple spoke into my heart the words…’because you never made a plan’. Ouch!

From that moment, I not only made a plan for myself, but also for my wife and three children, and 12 months later we were there.

Proverbs 26:13-15
Loafers say, “It’s dangerous out there! Tigers are prowling the streets!” and then pull the covers back over their heads. Just as a door turns on its hinges, so a lazybones turns back over in bed. A shiftless sluggard puts his fork in the pie, but is too lazy to lift it to his mouth.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 and 6 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2016

Just recently, I was preparing lunch at home and as per normal, both our dogs came and sat by my feet hoping that they would get in on the action.

As I’m at the counter cutting up some chicken, one of the dogs is intently looking up at the food, waiting to see if he’ll get some, while a piece accidentally drops onto the floor right by his feet. Amazingly, he never notices as he hasn’t broken his stare.

I thought to myself, ‘how true of a picture that is for many of us who are waiting for something in life.’ We’ve kept our eyes fixed on the prize, hoping that the thing we want will come our way, while all along it’s been right in front of us and we haven’t even stopped to notice.

I want to challenge you around a simple thought today… Stop waiting for the ‘chicken’ when the chicken may already be where you need it to be.

I know we’re told to look forward in life, but maybe some of you need to look around to see that the breakthrough you’ve been hoping for has already taken place, but you didn’t even know it!

Reassess your surroundings today, and you may be surprised to find that the thing you were looking for is already in your hand.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2016

If you’re going to go forward in life, you must quit looking backwards.

Some people are always dwelling on their disappointments.

Some people have lived so long in self-pity that it has become part of their identity.

We’ve all had negative things happen to us; you may have gone through things that no one deserves to experience in life.

Maybe your dreams look more like a nightmare as they look so far away from ever working out.

I don’t mean to minimise what anyone has gone through, but if you want to live in victory, you can’t let your past poison your future.

Feeling sorry for yourself will only push people away from you long term, so it’s time to let go of your victim mentality as nobody, not even God, ever promised that life would be fair.

Make a fresh start today by forgiving those people that did you wrong, but equally so, forgive yourself for the mistakes that you have made.

If you’re not willing to let go of the old, don’t expect God to do the new. You’ll never be truly happy as long as you harbour bitterness in your heart.

If you’ve had some unfair things happen to you, make a decision that you’re going to stop replaying those things in your memory. To constantly focus on all the negatives and the mistakes that you have made, only perpetuates the problem.

Let the promise of God to you sink deep within your soul today – why not repeat it over and over again until it becomes part of you:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Today can become a new beginning.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th June 2016

If we’re honest, we all tend to gravitate to where we are most comfortable.

We continually wear those old slippers, even though we have brand new ones in the cupboard.

We play it safe in the kitchen, as we continually roll out those old trusty recipes, year after year.

We may have several options of chairs to sit on in the lounge, but it’s almost guaranteed that you will have claimed your right to sit in your favourite one, and woe betide anyone that dares to take it from you.

You can even move house and live in a new area, but still have our old thinking and take our old habits with us. The house may be new bit we still decorate it with what we are most comfortable with.

Our tendency to want to keep going back to the familiar is often a trait that will keep us from experiencing new things that God may want to bring to our lives too.
I’m convinced that you would surprise even yourself if you broke out of the mould of the same old, well worn patterns of living.

I tend to stick to the familiar when it comes to decorating, whereas Gillian is always looking for and willing to try a new look.

I decorated our bedroom some time back and she insisted that we should go for a particular wallpaper. I argued that it wouldn’t look right, solely based on the fact that it was something different for us.

Like any good husband, I went for her suggestion and ended up admitting that the finished job completely transformed our bedroom.

How many of us are missing out on a life transformation, simply because we can’t pull ourselves away from the comfortable and the familiar?

If you want something different you have to do something different.

If you want to be someone different then you have to open yourself up to new possibilities in order to experience life transformation.

If I told you that Jesus held the key to becoming the new you, you may of course reject that as nonsense or simply as something that you don’t believe would suit you; but how do you know if you’ve never tried it?

Open up your heart today and get ready to change.

Yesterday, I was told of a lady that started to attend our church a couple of years ago. She had decided that it was time to change and reinvent her life. She wrote down 12 things that she wanted to accomplish in the not-too-distant future, one of which was to attend church, maybe once a month. She describes the first day that she came, and describes being overwhelmed by the love and the atmosphere.

She came the following week and felt so inspired that she has missed only three times in two years!

It appears that the other 11 things that she wanted to accomplish became unimportant as she took this brave and bold new step towards God.

Why not take a pattern out of her book today, and promise yourself to put at the top of your list… a quest after God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2016

There is power in prayer.
We receive not, because we ask not.
If we prayed as much as we worried about the need, then our need wouldn’t be a need anymore, it would probably be answered.

The Bible teaches us to keep on asking, it tells us to seek, it tells us to knock, it tells us to be persistent.

When you really want something, you will be persistent until you get it. You may not be your husband until you receive those new shoes.
When you fall in love with someone, you will be persistent in chasing their affection.
Why is it that we say we really want something or need something, and yet we pray very little about it?

As you start your day – or maybe you’re reading this at the latter part of it- pause, take a moment and pray again.

When you’re driving somewhere, pray – it’s like having a conversation with someone in the car. You wouldn’t sit in silence with someone in the passenger seat would you? So why don’t we use that time to talk to our Heavenly Father?

Every time a worry or concern enters your head, stop and pray about it, the Bible says to give your burdens to Jesus.

If you go to bed at night burdened by something, I challenge you to get out of bed for a few minutes, kneel down and give it to Jesus. Why go to bed burdened when you can give it to the one who cares for you?
He loves to hear you pray and He will always answer.

Tonight as a church, we come together to bring needs and requests before God, to believe for breakthroughs, to see mountains moved.
If there’s something that’s not getting answered, bring it before God together – there’s power when two or more agree on something.

Take time out of your day today to pray. In the same way that you take time to eat or drink a coffee, realise that your day and your life will be far better when you take time to pray.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th June 2016

Do you ever look at the photograph of a loved one and wish that things could be different?

Do you long for that child to come home and get their life sorted out?

Do you want your marriage to get back on track?

Is there a prayer that you desperately would like to pray in the hope that things in your life could get turned around, but haven’t yet made time to seriously pray about it?

Is there a miracle that you are seeking for a sick relative, friend or even for yourself?

Would you just love a place where you could go, where no one is going to frown on you, judge you or think that you are stupid for praying to an invisible God?

Then look no further…

This coming Monday Night (13th June) at 9.30pm, Champions Church auditorium is opening its doors so that hundreds of people can come and bring all these special requests to God.

Bring a photograph of that loved one, write out that special prayer request, bring a handkerchief or item of clothing for that sick friend that can’t make it, and take just one hour to pray or to receive prayer, knowing that God is interested in your deepest needs for any or all of the above.

Here’s what to do…

Plan to be there

Tell a friend

Turn up

Sit down

Quietly pray

Expect a miracle

Go home.

I look forward to welcoming you to this very special evening.

All things are possible…only believe.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2016

Some people find it difficult to be happy.
They may get happy for a brief time, but then they slip into unhappiness again.

In the Bible in Nehemiah 8 it says, ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’
The enemy of our souls will attack our joy, happiness and contentment. Because in doing so, we lose our strength.

Try to identify what is robbing you.
RECOGNISE it. Name it and shame it and don’t be intimidated by it. Pray about it and declare that God wants me to be joyful, not intimidated by something that is making me unhappy.

Then you should RESIST it.
Nehemiah was rebuilding for God when people tried to stop and intimidate him. He refused to be intimidated by them and he resisted them telling him to stop. He said, “no, I’m not coming down.”
Confront that which is making you unhappy and resist it.

REJOICE anyway.
Make a choice to rejoice today. When you start to thank God (even if you don’t feel like it), it’s amazing how that will have a big affect on you.
Your unhappiness will turn to happiness and your sadness will turn to joy.

When you are joyful, you are STRONG. Don’t let the enemy rob you today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2016

Even the simplest of problems get God’s attention.

Every detail of your life is a matter of concern to Him.

A couple of days ago, I felt that I should pop in to see my Mom and Dad. Although I’m very close to my parents, who are fast approaching their mid-eighties, I don’t really pop in unannounced very often.

A couple of days ago, I was passing by their house and strongly felt the desire to go in and have a few minutes with them.

As I walked down the side of the house, my Dad was fixing a new gate around the back.

I asked him if everything was okay, to which he replied that he was frustrated at trying to drill a hole through the new gate in order to fit the lock.

“I can’t understand it” he said, “I’ve used two drills now and the wood is so hard that I can’t get through it.”

I asked him if I could lend a hand, and started to hold the door in place for him. As the drill started to get up to speed, I immediately spotted the problem.

“Dad”, I shouted over the noise of the drill, “the drill is going backwards!”

Sure enough the drill was in reverse and the cutting edges of the blade were unable to do their job.

I took the drill from him, put it into forward gear and drilled a hole in seconds; before long the new lock was fitted and we were laughing together as we cleared up.

“I’d have been here for hours”, he said to me, to which I replied, “God cared enough about you struggling with the lock on your gate to send me to help you out.”

That story helps us to appreciate the level of detail that God goes to, in order to look after His children.

If you’re not convinced then take a look at these verses from the Bible…

Matthew 10:29-30 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Now that’s what you call attention to detail!

Are you caught in a world than only values size and significance? Today, learn to appreciate that God not only sees your seemingly insignificant need, but He is able to send someone to meet it too, no matter how small it may seem to you.

Worried and troubled about so many little issues?

God’s got it all in hand.
Philippians 4:5-7…The Lord is near. 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2016

I’d put it off for long enough and the day came last week when I could delay no longer.

The upstairs windows needed cleaning on the outside, and because of the sunshine of the last few days, I was embarrassed at how dirty they actually were.

Out came the ladders and as I got on the top rung, the feelings that I knew only too well started to kick in.

I clung on for dear life as I started to speak out loud to myself the words…”Mark, you can do this.”

Growing up, I had battled majorly with a fear of heights – that was until God really touched me and ever since, I’ve been able to climb a ladder. Simple for some, but not for me.

The old fears still creep back in once staying on the top rung and a few days ago was no exception.

One of the things I’d found helped me combat my fears was only to focus forward and to never look down or look back.

The more I kept my eyes fixed forwards, the more at ease I became until my fear vanished once again, and the windows were sparkling  clean.

We can often gain wisdom through the simple everyday things of life and at the same time learn to appreciate the power of what the Bible has to say at the same time.

When Peter asked Jesus if he could step out of the boat and walk on the water to him, he received a positive YES – however, the moment he started to look down and look around him, he started to sink with fear.

How often do we mistake fear as a sign that God is saying ‘no’, when in reality God has already said ‘yes’, but fear is holding you back?

Today, fix your eyes upwards and forwards and stop allowing fear to paralyse you by looking down and looking back.

I had to make up my mind that those windows had to be cleaned, so I had no choice but to feel the fear and do them anyway.

If you’re scared by what Jesus has said yes to, then do it scared, otherwise you’ll start to drown in your own doubt, fears and inadequacies.

What is holding you back today?

What’s stopping you fulfilling your purpose in life?

Take courage from these words and move on.

John 6:16-21 (MSG) In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th June 2016

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12).

I remember the day that I started primary school, aged 5.

For some reason, I remember standing outside my Nan’s cake shop on the day of my 11th birthday.

I remember at 21 leaving home to live in Bournemouth for two years.

I remember at 23 getting married and then at 27 becoming the pastor of Champions Church.

I remember the feeling of being 33, knowing that it was the age that Jesus was crucified.

The big 40 came and went, and before I knew it the even bigger 50 was right on my doorstep.

This may sound strange to some, but I’ve actually loved being in my 50’s.

Today is my 55th birthday and I just can’t seem to slow this age thing down; and that’s the point, no one can.

Life flies by when you start looking back, and before you know it, you’re approaching an age that you once looked on in your youth as being old.

No one can slow the process down, but everyone of us can ‘number our days’. In other words, we should each make each day count rather than just let it pass us by.

Wisdom is knowing what season you’re in and understanding what you should be doing during that season; making sure that you’re living in it, rather than watching it happen to you from the sidelines.

It all starts when we start thanking God for the life He has given you and not taking it for granted.

No matter how hard you may try to run and hide from your age, it’s going to catch up with you sooner or later.

Face up to your age today…enjoy it…use it…and above all, number each day so that you don’t lose track of time and squander this precious commodity called life.

Young, old or middle aged?

It’s just a number.

One life.

Live it.

John 10:10…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2016

One of the programmes that I enjoy watching on TV is ‘Dragon’s Den’. I was watching it a few weeks ago, when I saw something that I had never seen before.

Typically what will happen on this show is a person will pitch their product or business idea to several multi-millionaires, either to receive an investor or be turned away. But on this particular occasion, neither of those things happened…

The person presenting their idea had been rejected by 4 out of the 5 dragons and then the camera panned to the 5th. He looked across the room at the entrepreneur and stated how he wasn’t interested in his idea, but he really liked him as a person. The dragon turned down what was being presented to him, but then went on to offer him a job working for an existing company of his.

In that moment, I saw a picture of what I think it would look like if we were to pitch our dreams and goals to God. We would stand before Him and say, ‘This is what I want, and here’s how You can help.’ And I think God would look back at us, with great love and compassion and tell us that He isn’t interested so much in our ideas, but He’s crazy about us.

God would flip the script and say to you, ‘This is what I want, and here’s how You can help.’
God isn’t looking for you to involve Him in what you’re doing, He wants you to involve yourself in what He’s doing.

God admires your dreams, and I’m sure He enjoys seeing your ambitions, but He has a far greater plan for you than you have for yourself. If only we would submit and surrender ourselves to Him, then we would experience a life that is above all we could’ve ever hoped, dreamed or imagined.

Today, lean into what God is doing, it’s the only thing that can bring true satisfaction in this life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th June 2016

I have a lovely patch of garden that I enjoy tending to (the rest is up to my husband).
It’s amazing how one day it can look so pretty, and the next, it’s overcome with weeds.
If the conditions are right, weeds will spring up virtually overnight.

I decided that I would take five or ten minutes (yes, just that long!) to tend to it and get rid of the weeds. In no time at all, it was looking beautiful again.

Our lives need constant checking. What has sprung up overnight that you don’t recognise from yesterday?
A little depression?
A bad attitude?
A spirit of despair?
Confusion?
Fear?
Doubt?
Bitterness?
Sadness?
The list is endless.
But whatever it is, it has no place in your life.

The longer you leave it unattended, the worse it will get and the harder it will be to get rid of.

Take five/ten minutes today and deal with it.

Prayer, God’s word and a little worship will go a long way to getting it like it needs to be.

Do some personal weeding today and get your life back to beautiful.

Happy Saturday.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2016

Someone asked me recently what my favourite genre of film was. I responded, ‘good films.’ A few weeks back, I watched what I considered to be a very good film, and that was the newly released, Jungle Book.

Amongst the familiar characters and the classic songs, one particular part has remained with me since watching it and that is a phrase that was quoted many times throughout the film:  ‘The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.’

Simply put, the strength of your life is found within the people in your life.

As God was creating the world, He identified that all He had made was good. However, there was one thing that was lacking. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”

It’s interesting to note that Adam wasn’t actually alone because God was with him. However, what God was saying is ‘I am not enough.’ You need to be surrounded with people.

I want you to consider today who you are surrounding yourself with, for ultimately, the heights you reach will be determined by the people you’re walking with.

The strength of your friendships is found in each individual, the strength of each individual is found in their friendships.

Understand that life is better together, and your existence on earth will go from strength to strength when you live from that knowledge.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2016

Always trust what God says to you…His voice is 100% accurate.

Have you heard from Him lately?

Did you obey what He told you to do last time around? If not, why would He give you more instructions to disobey?

I’ll never forget the day some years back when I was preparing to go and speak at Church down south.

I clearly heard God speak to me and tell me to give away 100% of whatever gift the Church gave me for speaking that night.

I had already been told by the Pastor to only expect 35 people to be present, and upon arrival at the service, his estimation was spot on.

Giving away a few pounds that I’d envisaged coming as a result of that night would not be a problem to me, or so I thought; that was until the ‘extra special’ offering taken for me was way beyond any figure that I’d ever received.

I had without questioning, agreed to obey the voice of God and now I was faced with obeying Him, which meant I had to let go of the much needed £350, given to me in a brown envelope.

There was no going back, even though I was desperate to get my hands on that kind of money for my own personal needs at that time; I had made a decision that meant that that money did not belong to me.

As I was leaving the Church to return home that night, a man walked up to me a placed an envelope in my hand with the strict instructions that it was not to be given away.

All the way back home, many thoughts passed through my mind as to why God would test me like this especially when He knew I was in need. I started to reason the sense of it all and even had thoughts about the probable few pounds in the other envelope given to me.

It was after midnight when I walked into the house that night, and having battled my conviction to give away £350, I made sure that I tucked it away in a safe place in order to give it away the next day.

I boiled the kettle and decided to sit down for a cup of tea, whilst tentatively opening the other envelope, knowing that the few quid in there was mine to keep.

I coughed and spluttered with a mouthful of tea, as I read, and then re-read the cheque with my name on it….Two Thousand Pounds!

In a tiny little church with 35 people, God had provided me with a much needed miracle and in turn I had supplied another family with a much needed weeks salary.

I’ve often thought about what if I’d have disobeyed God and not given my gift away before I’d received it. Would I have ever been given the £2000?

I will never know for sure, but I think I know the answer.

Whenever God asks you to sow your best seed, He’s preparing you for a harvest.

Trust the voice of God…He’s always 100% accurate.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2016

WD-40 is a household name.

For as long as I can remember, it’s been the blue can with the little red pipe for every rusty occasion. A creaking door hinge, a seized-up lock or a bicycle wheel that needs to run more freely…WD-40 is the answer to a thousand and one problems.

Just last week, I was getting frustrated as I was sure that I had a can of the stuff somewhere, but it just could not be found. It’s just one of those items that every home needs to have in stock at all times.

I don’t think I would be too far out by saying that a man doesn’t feel a real man without his trusty can; but have you ever considered the story behind that little can of WD-40?

WD-40 literally stands for ‘Water Displacement 40th attempt’.

That’s the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who created it in 1953.

The chemist, Norman Larsen, was attempting to concoct a formula to prevent corrosion, a goal that is achieved by displacing water. Eventually, his persistence paid off when he finally perfected the formula on the 40th try.

Do you have that same level of determination? Do you have what it takes?

If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal, and you definitely qualify for membership among the ranks of the world’s most accomplished people as they learn most and best through their successive failures.

Your next attempt at your dream could be the greatest day of your life.

Today, resolve to be persistent, keep getting back up, be determined, have faith and be patient.

If you fall in the process, don’t fall backwards, but instead fall forwards and gain new insights and new ground.

Determination is the pathway to victory.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 31st May 2016

Imagine you’re back at school in the playground.

‘Heavy Eddie’ the school bully, has singled you out and is after your dinner money!

Seemingly with no hope, you spot Mr Jenkins the PE teacher on duty.

Do you…

1. Run to him and tell tales on Eddie? (The problem is of course that Eddie may get you after school).

2. Or do you just ask if you can stay near to him? You’re safe near to the teacher!

This picture helps us understand what King David was saying in Psalm 27 Though an army besiege me,my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:

King David shows us his playground situation. An army besieges him and war is breaking out against him. Remember, he isn’t being metaphoric, he was a king of a nation regularly at war. So what will he ask? Surely he will tell tales on his enemies and ask that they may be struck down? No, he asks this: ‘that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling.’

He’s approaching the teacher and instead of telling tales of woe he simply asks ‘can I remain in your presence?’ because then in the day of trouble when ‘Heavy Eddie’ is after him, he will be kept safe.

There is a way to live that means we’re not always dictated to by our circumstances. If circumstances being resolved are necessary for our happiness, we will always be up and down!

When we learn to realise God is sufficient and cares for us, we too like King David can reel off a list of problems and say ‘even then I will be confident!’

If you’re feeling crushed by needs and situations today, make a choice. Approach God and ask ‘one thing’ this only do I seek… not that my needs are met, but that I may have the peace that comes from knowing I’m in the presence of God and He will protect and lift me above the circumstances of life.

You will have troubles in this world but take heart, He has overcome the world!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2016

I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of the feeding of the five thousand.

If I asked you how many loaves and fishes that Jesus multiplied to feed such a crowd of men, plus women and children, I’m sure that you’d have a pretty good idea.

Whether your answer is correct or not, the truth is that there just wasn’t enough to go around…it needed Jesus to step in and take care of things.

On this Bank holiday Monday, I wonder what shortage that you may be facing?

For the disciples, it was a lack of food to feed a vast crowd, and the question to Jesus when presenting him with a little boy’s lunch was…’what is this amongst so many?’.

Thankfully, God can do a lot with a lot less than you think.

There are so many things that could have happened on that day, mainly in the area of disappointment, but what did happen was astounding.

I still believe that astounding things can happen for you today, if you’ll just take the same simple steps that the disciples took with Jesus.

Step 1. Hand Him whatever you have, no matter how small and insignificant.

Step 2. Do as He says, no matter how unusual it may seem.

Step 3. Start to move out in faith, just as if you have the miracle in your hand, no matter how ridiculous it may appear.

There is also just one thing that Jesus did on that day, as He turned the meagre into the miraculous…He looked up and gave thanks.

No matter what you are facing today, don’t look down and complain, but start to look up and give thanks.

God has more than enough right now to take you from lack to supply.

Hand your situation over to Him and trust Him. He has the perfect solution to your imperfect situation.

Happy day.

Luke 9:16-17 ‘…Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th May 2016

The other day I was sitting quietly feeling a little bit sad and a little bit sorry for myself.
I was questioning why I felt the way I did and frankly, I didn’t really have much reason.

I then had this sudden thought. “Smile, Gillian, just smile”. So I did, and in that moment, my smile made me realise how good God is and how blessed I really was.

The power of a smile can not only change your day but someone else’s.

There are too many miserable people out there. Be different.
Every time you see someone in the street, smile at them.
They may be lonely and think no one cares.
When you walk into a store, smile at the assistant. They may feel like giving up.
When you see someone looking like they have no hope, go ahead and smile. You may save their life.

In the same way that your smile can lift you, imagine what it can do to someone else.

The Bible talks about how important it is to have a cheery heart. ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine.’ (Proverbs 17).

Sometimes you don’t need words, you just need a smile.

It costs nothing and EVERYONE can do it.

Try it on yourself and try it on others. You’ll be good medicine today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2016

There is a story in the Bible known as Daniel and the Lion’s Den. The King at this time, Darius, promotes Daniel to be ruler over his kingdom, much to the dismay of those around him. In an attempt to finish Daniel, his rivals trick the King into making a law which states that no one must pray to any God or man except the King, or they will be thrown into the lion’s den.

Daniel, being a Christian, ignores this law and continues to pray, knowing fully the consequences of his actions. The King is then forced to stick by his word and sentence Daniel to death. However, I’m sure you’ve heard the end of the story…Daniel makes it out alive, without a scratch on his body.

What amazes me about this story is the trust that Daniel had in God. I was thinking recently how Daniel could’ve still prayed in his heart, and would’ve therefore never been caught. It’s a win – win. However, Daniel didn’t want to keep his faith private, but he wanted to take it public.

In the natural, it seemed as though Daniel’s trust in God was going to kill him, but instead, it elevated him. The story ends by saying that Daniel was treated well by the present King, and the by the King that followed.

Today, you may feel as though your faith is going to be the end of you.

‘If I keep giving, I’m going to have nothing left.’

‘If I keep trusting God for my kids to return home, they’re just going to go further away.’

Whatever you may be believing God for today, know that your trust in Him will not lead to death in any area of your life. God is getting ready to promote you to new heights, because faith elevates.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2016

I went to a one-day leadership conference a couple of days ago with a few guys and on the way back, we were feeling really hungry.

It was almost 10pm and the best option seemed to be to stop at the first service station that had a KFC sign.

I would not normally eat late at night, but was pretty excited to satisfy my hunger pangs with some fried chicken.

As we approached the counter, there were just two people in front that were already being served. As I stood there for what seemed like forever, I started to get impatient. A member of staff then informed me that they were now closed and therefore unable to process any further orders.

I asked why she had not told us that when we arrived and I tried to explain that it was not after closing time when I stood in the queue, but because of the wait in line we were now refused a meal.

Into the bargain, I could literally see piece after piece of cooked chicken in the hot counter right in front of me; I could almost reach out and grab it.

No matter how much I tried to reason with the staff member, it become apparent that the lovely fresh chicken was going to go in the bin, leaving us with only one other option…McDonald’s.

How often have you found in life that some things always seem to be just beyond your reach and even when you can see something right in front of you, you are told that the ‘shop’ is now closed?

Thankfully, Jesus has come to the rescue and included everyone in His plan. There is no queue, there is no closing time and there is no shortage.

Right now Jesus’ offer of life is available to you.

You may feel that you’re too bad to accept His offer, or that for some reason you would be flatly turned away and told, “I’m sorry, we are now closed.”

Life and people often disappoint, but Jesus never will.

You may have been turned down for a job that was dangling right in front of you.

Perhaps you were refused credit on that new car your wanted, and it’s possible that the person of your dreams that you desperately wanted to spend the rest of your life with has just pushed you away.

Hungry and thirsty for something more in life, yet don’t know where to go and who to get it from?

Look no further…

Isaiah 55:1 ‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money,come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.’

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.’

John 4:14 ‘…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.’

Come to God’s counter today…He’s open and ready to welcome you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2016

‘…You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else…’ (1 Corinthians 10 v 12).

There are 3 important questions that you need to answer today:

Is your personal walk with God up to date?

If you’re not spending time with Him each day, then your relationship is going to suffer just like any other. Whatever you’re spending your time with has become more important to you, and before you know it, you will be unable to resist temptation and the pull of other relationships that can lead you down the road to disaster. Your relationship with Jesus will keep you from sin, but sin will keep your relationship away from Jesus.
Kind David, in the Bible, said these words…’your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

How is your heart towards God today?

Are you keeping your priorities in order? They have a sneaky way of getting out of line if you don’t keep an eye on them.

If ‘success at any cost’ is the most important thing to you, then it could cost you your relationship with God, your marriage and your children – you are therefore paying too high a price.

Are you accountable to anyone?

If your life suddenly fell apart, or you had some big decisions to make and needed some wisdom, who would you or who could you go to? If the answer is no-one, then you need to start to find and build that relationship now, before you self-destruct.

No matter how gifted you are, you need to have the advice and wisdom of others around you.

When a piece of coal or wood remains in the fire with other pieces, it remains red hot, but the moment it falls out of the fire and stands alone, it’s only a matter of time before it goes cool and eventually smoulders out.

Even your car has an inbuilt sensor to let you know when it needs someone to give it attention, so that it can run safely and efficiently; take time to give yourself a spiritual check-up today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th May 2016

Nobody likes confrontation, but we all have to confront from time to time.

If confrontation is handled properly, it can actually strengthen a relationship – if not, it can end it.

Because everyone of us at some point has to confront and because most of us are not very good at it, I thought that today would be a good day to give some guidelines as to how to handle yourself correctly when walking into a confrontational situation.

Firstly, bear in mind the advice of the Bible…

‘…take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…’ (James 1 v 19)

Once you’ve settled that advice in your heart, then follow the seven guidelines below:

Get the facts. Don’t rely on hearsay or general impressions or you will invite emotion-laden counter attacks.

Be precise about the offence. Don’t skirt around the real issues.

Never reprimand while you are angry. Delay any meeting until you’ve cooled off.

Get the other person’s side of the story. Give them a chance to explain and don’t interrupt. There may be circumstances you know nothing about and you may even be part of them.

If necessary, bring in other people involved or a mature person to listen to both sides of the story. This will help to bring a resolution and healing to the situation.

If it helps to know what was said, and to whom it was said, then keep notes, so that the whole thing will be more even-tempered and productive.

Don’t harbour a grudge. Once you have dealt with it then let it go. Offer to help and support them, reassure them of your love and then move forwards.

All confrontation should have two goals:

A) to solve a problem
B) to salvage the person

And remember…

-very rarely will a bad situation get better all by itself.

-If you’re scared to do it…do it scared.

-If both parties have a good heart about the situation, then both parties will be glad about the confrontation.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2016

There are three powerful words in life. They are yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Most of us can be very consumed with our yesterday. Things that didn’t go right, things we wish we hadn’t done, things we wished would’ve been different. Our thoughts about yesterday can rob the peace and joy of today.
Many of us are consumed with tomorrow. What might happen, what may happen, what if it doesn’t happen? We can be so worried about tomorrow that we don’t experience today to the full.

God can deal with all your yesterdays, He can certainly deal with your tomorrows, but what He really wants to be involved in, is your today.

What you do with your today, will determine your tomorrow. The choices you make today will affect and shape your future.
The success of tomorrow will result in what you do today.

Be present in your ‘today’, thank God for it, live it to the full, see what God wants to do.

The past is gone, leave it with Jesus. Your tomorrows are in His hand, trust them to Jesus.
But give Him your today and see how much better it can be.

He came to give us life abundantly.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st May 2016

There’s an old but very true saying and it goes like this: let go and let God.
Life changes, times change, people change, fashions change, seasons change  -so our biggest challenge is to stay flexible.

We have to be willing to let go of something to embrace what is new.

I read an illustration about a ladyl who had a hot drink in her hand. She writes…”I’d made a very hot cup of tea and I was holding it in both hands, when through the door comes running my five year old nephew, heading right for me. I knew at that moment he wanted a big hug from his auntie. What I did in that split second was wise. I quickly gave up the tea in exchange for a hug. What I was hanging onto was not wrong, it was tea, but to experience what was coming I had to let it go.”

When you let go of what is in your hands, an exchange will take place…only when you let go will you get that exchange.

I can take UK currency to the USA but it won’t work. It’s only when I exchange my UK currency for USA currency that I can move on in my journey.
Some people hang on to relationships because they are too scared to let go. Don’t be with the wrong person when God has the right one for you. It’s only when you are willing to let go that you can experience God’s best for your life.

God has new opportunities to enlarge our lives, expand our vision and increase our influence.
We will never experience them if we are too scared to let go of the old.

Keep open to God today, listen to His voice and be ready to make that exchange.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th May 2016

Earlier today I was on the phone when the person on the other end went deathly silent.

I began to think that they may have been offended, or didn’t want to answer my request so they hung up on me.

The reality was that the phone call had been lost due to a bad signal; the reality was that for most of the call… I was talking to myself.

How many of us today are experiencing a ‘dropped call’ in prayer?

You felt that you were getting somewhere with God, and then realised that in fact you were talking to yourself.

Have you ever honestly faced up to the reality as to why it appears that you’re talking to yourself in prayer?

Why not take to heart today’s challenge, and settle the issue once and for all…

Do I have a relationship with God, so that I can rightfully and openly talk to Him in prayer?

Don’t presume yourself a Christian, because you live good and do good – the reality is that you need to give over your life to Jesus; accept his offer of life, love and forgiveness. Invite Him right now into your heart and open the direct prayer line to Him.

Sin produces a barrier between us and God and although He has the ability to answer all our prayers, we need the blockage to our relationship to be removed first.

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
I’m sure we all know today what it feels like to not be on good speaking terms with someone. It may be your spouse, your child or a once good friend; you may be living in the same house as them, and yet this invisible but powerful barrier fills the atmosphere, which gives weight to the expression…’you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife’. That invisible barrier is only broken down when the guilty party plucks up the courage to say ‘please forgive me, I’m sorry’.
Isn’t it amazing how those very small words can have such a massive impact and change everything in an instant?

Jesus has done His part in dying for your sins on the cross; He is now awaiting your response, so that you can be in the relationship with Him that He longs for.

Here is a prayer that you may like to pray right now…

‘Dear Jesus,

I come to you just as I am.

I ask you to forgive me of all my sins and failings.

I turn from own ways and ask you to come into my life.

Be my leader and Lord from this moment forwards.

I step out of the driving seat and ask you to take control of my life.

I truly want to follow you for the rest of my life.

Thank You that this is the very first prayer that I know you will answer.

Please fill me with you Holy Spirit that I may live my life daily for you.

In Jesus name.

Amen.’

Please write to us at info@championschurch.org.uk, if you have prayed this prayer today.

In return, I will gladly send you a free copy of the Bible, so that you can continue to grow in your new found faith.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th May 2016

Mark 4:35-39 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

As I read this passage, I was intrigued as to why Mark, the writer, would include the four words ‘just as He was’.

As you read it again for yourself, you will notice that it was in reference to the disciples taking Jesus along with them for the ride.

How could you take someone along with you as anything but just as they are or were?

As I thought about the significance of such words, I began to understand why Mark would include some seemingly throw away comments about Jesus.

It’s one thing for us to come to an understanding that we can get into Jesus’ boat just as WE are, but the equally great truth is that we have to allow Jesus to climb into our boat just as HE is.

How many times do we find ourselves wanting to change a little bit of Jesus? That part of Him that says ‘give everything up to follow me’, or that bit that says ‘don’t worry about anything’, when we know we’d rather fret about things.

How small is Jesus in your life, simply because you’ve shaved so much off Him that there’s hardly anything left?

You can’t make Jesus fit around your lifestyle and expect Him to simply downsize who He is to accommodate you.

He’s God…you’re not!

I encourage you today to take Jesus on board ‘just as He is’ and not make Him a ‘pocket sized’ version that you can pick up and throw in your bag like some lucky charm.

Jesus is either Lord of all or not at all.

Do you want Him with you on you journey today? Take Him just as He is…He’ll calm your troubled water, speak to your storm and make sure that you get to the other side.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2016

If Jesus seems far away…guess who moved?

Luke 2:41-52 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’ ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

If you’ve ever walked with Jesus, you will know exactly what it feels like to lose sight of Him in your life.

The sense of loss is greater than any other.

It’s possible that you have cried out to God asking where He has gone, but in reality, it’s you that’s moved away.

The reason they lost Him, was because they presumed upon Him whilst busy in the hustle and bustle of the crowd. It’s so easy to get caught up in the crowd that you fail to look for Him.

They only noticed He was missing after a day, but took three days to find Him. How often do we make a wrong turn in our lives and lose a sense of His presence so easily, then find it takes longer to humble ourselves and get back to where we left Him?

Remember you moved away, and not the other way round, so let go of your pride and retrace your steps to where you walked on without Him.

At no time was Jesus lost. He didn’t go anywhere…you just didn’t take Him with you.

If you’re not sure where to find Jesus, then what was true then, is still true today. You will find Him doing His Father’s business. Look for where God is at work and you’ll find Him there.

If today is another day without Jesus, then stop, turn around and go back. You’ll find Him at the point where you decided to go it alone.

Whatever you do, don’t keep moving on without Him, the journey will only get longer and harder. Go back and all will be well again.

Jesus is waiting for you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th May 2016

I love the story found in the Bible in Mark 4, verse 35. It says,
“That day when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!””

Here we find Jesus and His disciples faced with a pretty big storm while travelling in a pretty small boat. It’s no surprise to me that the disciples were afraid, yet Jesus wanted to know why they were so fearful…

Now, I don’t think that He was referring to the storm when asking the disciples this question, but rather the statement He had made before they set sail. The first thing Jesus said before they got in the boat together was, “Let us go over to the other side.” Jesus had already declared where they would end up before they got going…

If the disciples would’ve recognised this, then I don’t think fear would’ve ever entered the equation because Jesus had already told them that it wasn’t going to end this way.

Today, you need to know that the same thing Jesus told His 12 friends is the same thing He wants to tell you…’You’re gonna make it.’
Whatever storm you may be faced with right now, whatever waves may be crashing up against your boat, you will reach the other side.

Though things may seem dull and death may be fast approaching, no longer do you have to walk in fear, but instead, you can live with confidence today knowing that Jesus has already declared the end from the beginning, and you will make it to the other side.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2016

There are 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 that 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…to be different.

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 be afraid or doubt, 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 little message that you can try out on the dog or even a tree before being let loose 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, but 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 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 7 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 – 14th May 2016

I can safely say that almost everyone wants to surround themselves with the right kind of people. People who will influence your life in a positive way. The question is: how do you do so? How do you surround yourself with the right kind of people? The answer is simple…You must become the right kind of person.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘opposites attract’. However, I want to present to you the idea today that similarities attract. The foundational principles that you carry in life will attract others around you who also carry those very same principles.

For instance, generosity. Generous people attract generous people! Now, all of us I’m sure want to have generous friends. But we tend to just stop there, hoping that one day we’ll have friends like that. We have a list, whether physically or internally of the kind of friends that we’d like to attract. It may look a little something like this…

-Generous
-Loyal
-Trustworthy
-Honest
-Loving
-Joyful

I want to give you what I believe to be the key to having friends like this…Change the header above your list from ‘The Friends I Want To Attract’ to ‘The Person I Must Become’.

The moment you realise that you attract what you are is the moment that you move from focusing on what you want to see onto what you need to be.

Today, don’t wait for these kinds of people to enter your life, but instead, go and be this person to somebody else and watch your friendships go from strength to strength.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 13th May 2016

Are you teachable?

If the honest answer is ‘no’, then we can only draw one conclusion, and that is…you must be a know it all.

You will never reach your full potential if you don’t welcome the words of those that could actually teach you something new.

I’ve been able to wallpaper now for over 30 years. I was taught by my dad, who always did his own decorating. I listened, I watched, I learnt and then I had a go myself just before we moved into our first house.

Just a few weeks ago, I needed some particularly difficult wallpapering done in our lounge. There were two really difficult angles that I’d attempted before and got it horribly wrong, resulting in me having to live with my mistakes every time I sat in there.

This time round I vowed that I would find a professional. I decided that I would plan to be around when he did the difficult parts and would listen, watch and learn from a man that was doing it every day.

I was amazed after 30 years of decorating at how much I didn’t know and equally, how much I could still learn. As a result, I’m a much better decorator now – simply because I was prepared to be taught for about an hour.

There are two ways of learning and also two speeds at which you learn….

Firstly, we learn from our mentors, or from our mistakes. Being willing to learn from a mentor is far better than learning from your mistakes as a know it all.

Secondly, we learn quicker from our mentors than we do by our mistakes…

It took me a whole day of frustration to decorate those difficult angles all by myself, yet only took me one hour to learn how to successfully do them from a mentor.

Open yourself up today to learn something new.

Stop putting the barriers up when someone tries to advise you.

Don’t get so defensive when someone offers you constructive criticism.

If you find yourself closing your mind to new thoughts or a potential better way of doing things, then tell yourself that you are becoming a know-it-all.

Make a decision today to become a learn-it-all.

If you’re not convinced, then think of it this way: no-one likes a know-it-all, but a learn-it-all is always attractive.

Get wisdom at any cost…

Proverbs 4:1 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12 May 2016

Only go to work today if you feel like it.

Don’t go if you have a headache, it’s raining, or you haven’t had to tell the kids off.

Stay at home if you don’t like everyone at work and the stars didn’t line up the night before.

If the boss doesn’t appreciate you, and the sun isn’t shining, and it’s inconvenient, just go back to bed.

Now…phone the boss and give him any of the above as your excuse as to why you’re not coming to work today, knowing that he will completely understand – not.

The Bible records these words for us…

Malachi 1:8, 13-14 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?’ says the Lord. ‘Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Everyday we get up to go to work, knowing that our earthly boss is expecting us to be there, and yet when it comes to God we make such lame excuses as to why we can’t give Him our best, that he says back to us, ‘try telling that to your boss’ – exactly!

Why do we think that God deserves anything less than the very best and yet we give him our daily leftovers and that which costs us nothing?

The next time you promise God that you’ll go anywhere for Him and don’t turn up, the next time that you pledge something and then retract it, the next time you say that you commit to something and then never see it through, ask yourself ‘why do I do that to God and would never do that even to my earthly boss?’

Give God your very best and your all today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2016

I have a cookery book stand in the kitchen that has a Nigella Lawson cookbook lying open on it.

Gillian subtly placed it on there some time ago and intentionally left it open on page 170.

Whenever she sees a recipe or picture of something she likes the look of, she craftily introduces it to the stand in the hope that I’ll cook it for her.

To be honest, I’ve been secretly looking at this picture on page 170 now for a couple of weeks and I’ve even studied the recipe, thinking, ‘I must do that one day.’

Every time I go into the kitchen, this amazing looking lemon meringue cake is shouting out, “cook me!”

On Sunday, after church, I finally gave in as the family were coming for lunch.

I found the 13 ingredients in the cupboard and quickly followed the recipe. I was pretty optimistic that it would turn out okay but had no idea what a great recipe it was and was amazed by everyone’s reaction to it.

It was an instant hit and even the one person that hates lemon cake had two slices and has now conquered once and for all his fear of lemons.

How often do we have the world’s best selling book, the Bible, open before us, knowing that it’s calling us to follow it, yet just like my cookery book, we continually excuse our selves from trying it out because we don’t have time and the patience to get on and just do it?

I must admit right now, now that I’ve tried it, I can’t wait for the next time to bake that cake again – in fact I could eat a piece right now!

The Bible says in Psalm 34:8 ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’

The recipes for the greatest life ever are waiting on the pages of the Bible, but you will never know what that life feels like until you try them out.

Everyone right now has two lives – the life we are living and the un-lived life within us.
Maybe you’ve read what a blessing it is to be generous, and yet you remain stingy. Why would you not want to try out the generous life?

Make a decision at the start of another new day, not to just hear God’s word but to be a doer also.

There’s a whole new life for you waiting on the pages of the Bible if you’ll simply put them into action.

Get cooking!

[By the way, you’ll find the recipe under ‘Lemon Meringue cake by Nigella Lawson’]

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th May 2016

Persistence, Perseverance and Patience are words that most people don’t like.

We do like the words Instant, Immediately, Now, Yesterday.

If you’ve been around for any length of time, you’ll know that you need to start liking that first set of words a little more in order to go anywhere in life.

Be persistent in prayer and you will receive. Jesus taught us that in the story of the man who went to get bread from his friend at midnight. “He won’t give you the bread because you’re his friend, but he will give it you because you persist.”

The dictionary says that perseverance is “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
Keep going, however difficult it seems. Sometimes results are slow. But you will get results.

Patience is a wonderful thing (which I’ve never had much of); to wait until the right time. To wait for God’s time. That’s the best time.
Waiting can be frustrating. Be patient.
Galatians 6 v 9 says “you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.”

If you want something instantly, now or immediately (like coffee or a microwave dinner) you will be settling for second best or a poor copy of the real thing.

Go after what is GREAT, not average.
Go after what will LAST, not what is temporary.
Go after that which will SATISFY, not which will give a temporary fix.

Start to see those words as your friend, not as your enemy.

Be persistent, patient and persevere.
Good things come to those who wait.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2016

A well known verse is Proverbs 1:7 ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’

We often have the wrong image of knowledge or wisdom, like it’s just being clever and not the most valued trait we should seek. This is completely wrong as it’s not just about information but how to apply it to be successful, and a good steward of what we have been given.

Wisdom is vital if we want to grow, be successful and enjoy this life. We need knowledge, not so we can be a know it all but a know ‘what to do’ it all!’ The difference is having knowledge to help your actions rather than just intellect.

Think about the emotion you go through when in a situation where there’s a lack of knowledge. Buying a house, going through an airport, having a baby, you want to know as much detail as possible to help you get through those circumstances successfully and with as little stress as possible.

It’s the same in our lives but for some reason we often don’t value wisdom in the day to day. We don’t always feel it’s the same as going through an airport where we want to know, what terminal, what gate, what time! Why would we be so casual with what God has entrusted us?

In Luke 12.4-5 Jesus says “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

This helps us understand the beginning of wisdom as ‘the fear of the Lord’. Don’t live in fear of life and the temporary situations but live with the knowledge that God is the one we should fear.

But then it goes on in Luke 12.6-7 ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’

Living with this greater knowledge/wisdom of God and his love toward us gives perspective on our lives and makes sense of many things that used to confuse us. No longer tossed about on the waves of circumstance, we can instead keep our hope in him which becomes like a consistent steadying anchor in our lives.

I encourage you to pray for wisdom everyday, to help you know what to do, what to fear and what not to, and you will be surprised how you can even start to enjoy some of the things that used to terrify you!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Hope – 7th May 2016

You will never do anything great in life without a dream.
A dream is something that is far bigger than yourself.
All the ‘greats’ had a dream.
A dream to achieve, a dream to make life better, a dream to make a difference.

Nothing however, will ever happen if you only dream, there has to be a plan.
Start to plan how that dream is actually going to come to fruition.

Plan will lead to action. You can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. If you want something to be different, you have to do something about it.
Too many people have dreams in their heads, but aren’t willing to do anything else.
Let your plan lead to action.

All through the process you have to believe.
Believe that your dream will become a reality.
Believe that God can use you and wants to use you.
Believe that God wants to help you and that He will make a way.

Cover all of the process with prayer.
Proverbs 16 v 3 says ‘When you commit your ways to the Lord, they will succeed.’

To accomplish great things you must not only DREAM, but ACT.
Not only PLAN, but BELIEVE .

Never underestimate someone with a PRAYER and a plan.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th May 2016

Yesterday, I turned up to our church offices, knowing that a lovely married couple that we know, had rented one of the offices along the corridor from us.

It was nice to think that the office block would have more people that we knew coming and going.

I decided that I would pop my head around their door, ju