Fresh Hope – 28th February 2020

Has it ever happened to you that you’ve offered to help someone, that you saw a situation that needed someone to do something, then after all your efforts, you find you are being criticised for going out of your way, or not doing it the way other people would have done it?

Something as simple as offering a seat to a lady or older person results in you getting a stern lecture because it has been misinterpreted as being patronising.  Such a situation can be frustrating, and demotivating, and can result in a feeling of resentment and dejection, and an unwillingness to help other people in the future. The hurt from the criticism of that selfless action sticks with you and becomes a scar that you are willing to show to anyone who asks.

When David fought Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, his task for the day was not to fight, let alone kill a giant. That was a job for soldiers, and it was made very clear he was not one. His job on the day was to deliver food to his brothers then return to look after his father’s sheep, but he goes out of his way to offer to fight the giant.

First, his brothers criticised him, then Goliath insulted him by asking if he was a dog that David should come at him with sticks.

If David had been offended and turned back because of what his brothers or Goliath had said to him, history would have been rewritten. David would not have been introduced to the king. He would not have been remembered as the giant slayer. People would not have sung about him in the next chapter about how Saul had slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.

There are certain doors that will open in your life only when you offer to do above and beyond what is asked of you, and take no offence when the same people you are helping show no appreciation of your efforts. Colossians 3 verse 23-24 says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Be encouraged to do good, and watch what God will do in your life.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2020

The enemy is after marriages. Marriage is designed to be a picture of the love of Jesus for His bride – the church (that’s you and me). As you can imagine, the enemy will do whatever it takes to sabotage this powerful picture. 

I believe one of the greatest demonstrations of God in society is healthy marriages. If the world can see healthy marriages, they can see God. One of the most generationally and socially powerful things we can do – is not heal the sick, give away everything, have a powerful ministry, it is in fact to have a healthy marriage. 

Two ways the enemy is working to dilute marriage is: 1. Causing us to question the origin of marriage. 2. Causing us to become discouraged about marriage. 

If you can question the origin of something, you can question its design and purpose. If we didn’t originate from God, thenwe no longer have a purpose in God, here’s why the enemy shifts the origin of mankind to “coming from monkeys”. Likewise, if the origin of marriage wasn’t God, then we don’t need to uphold God’s intent for marriage. Suddenly our ideas become warped, as origin is in question.

You may have heard grim statistics like ‘one out of two marriages end in divorce’. As a result many people have lost faith in marriage. They’re fearful of marriage. They’ve been scared off. And these statistics simply aren’t true! Statistics actually show that 72% of people who get married are still married to that one person. It’s never come close to 50%! 

Yes marriage requires discomfort, compromise and challenge, but this is good for you! This is the nature of covenant relationships. This should be welcomed into our lives. Marriage is a sharpening tool for our character (Proverbs 27:17). Marriage is supposed to work like this! Marriage makes you better. We shouldn’t be scared of it. 

Marriage is central to our success as a person, as a society and as a Christian demonstrating the gospel. (I’m not saying that if you are single you are not successful!). 

Let’s celebrate marriage and honour marriage for the gift that it is. Don’t lose hope in God’s model and design. Find people who can breathe life into your marriage – people who can encourage you, model healthy, fun and Godly marriage for you. People who believe in your marriage! 

God has given you everything you need to succeed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2020

Tonight I arrived at the airport for my flight. Travelling solo, I carefully checked my boarding pass to ensure I was heading to the correct boarding gate – number 20. I arrived at gate 20 and the waiting seats were totally empty. Not a staff member or person in sight, and the desk was roped off. Immediately I thought that I had got the gate number wrong. I frantically checked the screen with the boarding times and flights, and then my ticket, and then the screen again … 

How often in life to we need the reassurance of others, the reassurance of the crowd, before we believe we are doing the right thing? How often do we use the crowd as our compass and measuring stick? 

A mark of a true leader is their ability to stand alone knowing what’s right, without the crowd having to convince them or make them feel good about their choice. They stick to truth despite the circumstance. 

Human nature at its core fears exclusion and loneliness. It’s in our DNA to seek out approval, inclusion and acceptance in our community and crowd, but it should never be at the price of compromising on truth. 

We are fully approved, included and already accepted by God – the one whose opinion matters. So to stand solo is really not standing solo at all. To make a maybe lonely stand for truth, and what is right, is a stand maybe not backed by the crowd, but backed by Heaven.

More than ever we need the voice of God to be louder than the voice of the crowd in our lives. Be careful that you’re not looking to the crowd for direction. Don’t go by what is “popular”. History will tell you that just because there is mass approval, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Don’t be afraid to stand solo for truth. Don’t look to the crowd to define your truth. 

To be able to stand for truth, you actually have to know the truth, otherwise you’re definitely just following the crowd! Know the truth and stand on it with confidence. 

Despite my self-doubt, I was right. I was at the correct gate. I was just the first one to arrive. 20 minutes later, and the waiting area was filled with people! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2020

If you look back on your life, I am almost certain that you can think about a time when a word you heard, read or saw made a difference.

It may have been a long and terrible day, your little one wrapped their arms around you and said: “I love you”.  Or a time when you made a mistake at work that made you feel so down and a friendly co-worker reached out and said: “it could happen to anyone”. Maybe it was a simple occurrence, like you’re walking down the street and a phrase on someone’s T-shirt caught your attention and touched your heart which happened to me a few weeks ago. 

The words we see, hear or read can indeed transform our lives forever. That’s why the Bible emphasizes repeatedly the power of words.

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply and how good is a timely word!”

– Proverbs 15:23

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

– Proverbs 25:11

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of discipleship, to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.”

– Isaiah 50:4

Words are powerful! In our fast-paced, ever-changing world we have the privilege to use our words in many ways to impact the lives of others. We have the technology to express words in new ways and reach more people. We can talk to a friend in need through text. And we can send an email to a distant relative or use social media to encourage absolute strangers on the internet! We can use the word of God to really transform the lives of people we know and those we may never meet.

In the last few weeks we have seen how words spoken have had an impact over people’s lives, sadly the impact has been so negative to the point of people feeling they are not able to face this life anymore. We can destroy friendships or relationships that we spend years building instantly with a few words.  We can also use our words to completely turn around someone’s day.  It is my prayer that the latter is true for us, that we are found to be those people who speak words that are life-giving and encouraging to others.  

Now if you think about that, ask yourself this: how are you using your words and the platforms you use to express them? If you are not completely satisfied with your word-score on this question, then look around you today and find someone you can touch with your words.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2020

There are one of three ways that you can live your life today. 

You can be either a risk-taker, a caretaker or an undertaker.


Many people want to live out their lives by minimising the risk. They only feel happy if they can do things by having everything sorted first — a play it safe mentality. That’s completely understandable and necessary at times; but if you always only live life like that, you will find that it becomes counter productive in that you lose the passion for doing things and you end up just being a caretaker of your life.


The caretaker kind of person basically takes care of the present to make sure that everything is carefully thought through and water tight, yet has no dream for the future. 


The undertaker only looks back at the good old days and speaks of what used to happen; you tell stories of past achievements without releasing that you have no new material to speak of. 


Yet, the risk-taker boldly marches into the future and dreams of making a better tomorrow. They live life on the edge, they attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. 

All three have their own themes…
The risk-taker – God is doing a new thing.


The caretaker – I hope nothing unusual happens today. 

The undertaker just looks around and says “what happened?”


God is the greatest risk taker of all – He risked having His son, Jesus, die on the cross for those who may or may not accept and love Him. 
Romans 5:7-8 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 


The person that takes risks walks by faith and not by sight. He doesn’t worry about what he sees as obstacles in the natural, but believes that the God of the supernatural will meet everyone that is willing to step out and take risks. 


I dare you to be a risk-taker for God today. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2020

Your question this morning may be “why can’t I be happy?”

Someone once said “the road to happiness is always under construction” but if you have decided you’re not going to be happy then you won’t be. We trade in (even without realising we’re trading) happiness, for moaning, complaining and negativity. 

The moment you slip into one of those three, is the moment you just traded in some of your happiness. If happiness is dependant on happenings only, then none of us will always be happy, because things don’t always go right. There has to be something far deeper than that. 

However, the minute we allow feelings and thoughts to enter our head like “why cant I be happy? I’ll never be happy, everyone else is happy but me.” You’ve just slipped closer towards unhappiness because you made a trade. 
You may lean towards the negative because of parents, or the way you were brought up. You may lean towards it because you’re not positioned correctly now ie. you’re associating with the wrong people and you’re not in a great church. 

You may lean towards the negative because you have a bad attitude about people around you being happy and life “isn’t fair”. Whatever the reason for your negativity, CHANGE IT. You may not be in charge of circumstances, but you can choose how you react to them. 


Don’t live ‘under circumstances’. My Bible tells me I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. (see Ephesians 2 vs 6) which means the circumstances of life are actually under my feet as I am seated with Christ. What a beautiful thought. 

So today, change your thoughts from “why cant I be happy?” To “God wants me happy, blessed and to live a life to the full and today I am going to walk out that truth”.

Go on, I encourage you, don’t just read that sentence, speak it out!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2020

It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting your life on hold while waiting for answers, years can be spent in a holding pattern, waiting on God for breakthroughs, maybe in your health or a relationship issue. 

I want to encourage you today to ask yourself ‘in relation to this issue, what direction am I heading in?’ Basically, what are you bringing to the table by way of an answer, no matter how small?

Let me give you an example of how just small steps in the right direction can transform how you feel about the situation. There were two men – one seriously obese, struggling with depression and low self esteem, the other is super fit, playing sport daily, a picture of physical health. 
Two months pass and our overweight man has finally decided to stopped smoking and drinking, changed eating habits and walks daily. He’s already fitting into clothes he hasn’t worn for years and he feels great!

Our super fit guy has suffered a slight injury, and unable to exercise has spent most of his time in the house comfort eating, he’s put on a little weight and his skinny jeans are a little too skinny, his self esteem is at a low.


Both our men are still in reality at opposite ends of the fitness scale, but as the direction for both has changed, how they feel about their circumstances is transformed! Your direction transforms how you feel about your circumstance! 

This is great news! It means whatever is going on in your holding pattern today, wherever you feel stuck, you don’t need a genie to magic up a long awaited answer, but by making a decision to at least move in the right direction, shuffling little by little forward, you’ll soon start to feel differently about the issue!

The best set of circumstances in the world cannot guarantee happiness, but going in the right direction guarantees peace! 

Think about your life today; are you waiting on God for answers, do you feel it’s difficult to move on with life until certain situations are resolved? I want to encourage you today, get moving, make a decision, do something to begin. Do what you can no matter how small.

It may well not bring overnight success but it can bring overnight peace. 

Proverbs 15:16 | NIV Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2020

I’m currently sitting in Doha, waiting for a flight to Australia. 

Looking around there’s people wearing masks, protecting themselves from potentially coming into contact with the Coronavirus. News headlines tell me that in the last 24 hours alone, there have been 5,000 new cases of the virus in China. 

And I must admit, reading the headlines and seeing everyone around me wearing masks, it’s got me questioning myself, ‘maybe I should be doing the same?’. 

While I’ve taken precautions and used wisdom, we have to be careful not to let fear win over faith. 

When the Devil operates, he is showy, loud, fear breeding. He wants all our senses to be engaged – seeing masks, hearing reports, feeling fear. 

On the contrary, God works by faith, which is often NOT by sight. Faith is about trust in the character of God. 

2 Corinthians 5:17,

‘For we live by believing and not by seeing’. 

The challenge to us is, ‘what’s our first reaction to bad news?’ 

Do we instantly jump to fear, worry and panic? Or do we have greater faith? Do we truly believe the words of Psalm 91, ‘…He will save you from the deadly pestilence…He will be your shield …you will not fear the plague…He will command His angle to protect you’…. OR do the media headlines move us more?

We either believe we are covered by the protecting blood of the cross or we don’t. Sometimes it takes real life circumstances to surface where our faith levels are really at. 

Be aware that the enemy works hard to breed fear in people. Be aware that it takes courage and trust in God to operate by faith. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2020

Did you know that God is referenced to be holy more times in the Bible than He is referenced being love? Of course God is love, but equally, perhaps even more so, He is Holy. 

Could we live up to God’s standard of holy? No, but thank God for Jesus by whom we are brought to God’s standard. 

This doesn’t mean God hates sin any less than He did before Jesus’ death. God isn’t less Holy today than He was pre-Jesus’ death.

God still hates sin today. Not because He wants us to follow rules, but because He made us and knows that sin violates our design. Fun, for a bit maybe, but the Bible says that the fruit of sin is ultimately death (not necessarily literally death, but lack of life in relationships, emotions, mind, heart etc). 

Holy isn’t a fun word. Our generation especially struggles with the reality that sin has consequences. An emphasis on God being gracious and loving is more palatable, and true, but let us not forget that God is also holy. We need to view God through the lenses of both love AND holiness. 

God is grieved by sin. We should live with a sensitivity to honour God and the price He paid so we no longer need ties to sin. 

At salvation we receive the Holy Spirit…and He LIVES and walks with us as we live out our everyday Christianity. 

If we are sensitive to His nudgings, we will feel when something is grieving Him. After all, He is the HOLY Spirit. 

Be careful not to project your version of God onto Him. God is not defined by you. He is self-defining, and He defines Himself as Holy. That means there’s something in us as Christians, who respect God’s hatred for sin and trust His intentions toward us. And God in His goodness has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us and protect us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2020

What’s life if not the accumulation of the choices we make? In Deuteronomy 30 it says we all make a choice, life or death? It seems like a no brainer, who would choose death? In reality, the majority. Here’s just one example of two young men where the first chooses death and the other life. 

Both our guys are at the age where hormones are surging and all of a sudden the female form is everything. There’s two choices: to be disciplined and keep away from temptation, or instant gratification in the form of pornography.

Our first guy makes his choice and too easily accesses explicit images online leaving nothing to the imagination. Photoshopped, unrealistically perfected images that are difficult to unsee flood the mind. Instant gratification is soon replaced by instant guilt which creates a barrier of shame in his relationship with God. This then serves to make it easier to compromise moving forward and aided by the natural release of powerful hormones in the brain, very difficult to break habits are quickly formed. Not just a life of guilt follows but problems being intimate with any future partner are formed. The number one reason for intimacy difficulties in marriage is pornography. Failed relationships add to the catalogue of issues resulting from choosing death, this along with a life of guilt seem to mark out the whole of this person’s life. 

John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy

Now the second has chosen life, with the same temptations and hormones, he makes effort to keep himself as far from any temptation as possible, he’s set apart not just for his future partner but for God. It’s not easy but it’s much easier in the long run than having to deal with the fallout of addiction and guilt of pornography. He makes wise decisions to be disciplined and to keep away from certain materials, making tough calls to sacrifice and not watch the same programmes that all his friends seem to have no issue with watching. A choice is made every day not to leer at girls and to have a disciplined mind.


In time, a relationship comes along and it begins in the best way; intimacy and closeness haven’t been compromised by the effects that come from indulging the senses with inappropriate images. A healthy fruitful partnership is formed as they serve God side by side for life! 

This is just one example of the choices we make, for some it may be poor use of money, chasing wrong relationships or substance abuse. You may feel it’s too late, that you’ve already chosen death, God is faithful and uses all things together for the good of those who love him. Repent today, make a decision to change bad habits, and little by little start making the choices that lead to life! 


John 10:10 | A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully. 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2020



In the early 1900’s, cotton farmers in Alabama were facing the extinction of their crops. A tiny insect called the Boll weevil had migrated from Mexico and was eating its way through the cotton plantation.

The farmers tried everything they could to get rid of the infestation. They even tried to exterminate it with all kinds of new chemicals, but all to no avail. All they could do was to sit back and watch it happen.

As the darkest days for all the farmers lay ahead, one of them came up with an idea. He said, “instead of planting our normal cotton crops, let’s plant peanuts.” Everyone thought he was crazy; they knew they couldn’t even make a living from them, or so they thought.

However, as they went ahead with the peanut plan, they soon realised that the Boll weevils didn’t like the taste of them, and instead, the crops took off in a way they had never seen. Each of the farmers were now making more in a month than what they had previously done in a whole year before. In fact, many of the farmers never went back to the cotton trade again. They stuck with the peanuts.

At the time, everything for the farmers seemed bleak, but amazingly God used even the Boll weevil to bless them and bring them into a new level of prosperity.

Right now you maybe facing a setback, but God is really positioning you for a comeback. My encouragement to you is to stay in faith and God will turn things around. He works in mysterious ways. What may seem like that its sent to destroy you, God can use to bring about something far greater in your life.

Make your stumbling stones your stepping stones today.

We find in the Old Testament, the account of Isaac living in a double famine; not just one famine, but one right after another causing the land to be desolate. He could have just sat there and complained about his circumstances, but instead we read…

Genesis 26:12-14 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

Whenever I’ve hit a financial crisis, I’ve learnt that its not time to moan and complain but its a time to sow even more.

Whatever is going on in your life today, make a decision not to be intimidated by lack, but to see that God is going to bring about your deliverance through it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2020

Everyone wants success. Success comes by knowing God’s Word and applying it to our lives. Joshua 1 vs 8 says “meditate on the Word of God day and night and then you will be successful in whatever you do.” Notice ‘and then’ – the principal followed by the promise. 

You’ll only know God’s word, if you read God’s word. ‘Why will this make me successful?’, you may ask…


The Bible gives us everything we need for life.  
It tells us how much God loves us and that He has a great plan for our lives. 
It tells me that even when I feel the opposite, I can trust in His word.  


It tells me that even when I feel like everyone is against me, He is for me. It tells me principals for life including marriage, parenting, business and money. It talks about forgiveness and healing.  
It talks about salvation and restoration. 
The Bible covers everything!

When I walk in the truth of God’s word EVERY DAY, I WILL be successful. But if I don’t read it, then I won’t know it. 


Romans 10 v 17 says that faith comes by hearing (reading) the word of God. Even if I’m in a situation right now that is not good, I can take the word of God, believe it and apply it. That in turn will give me faith. It’s better to walk in faith, than doubt. 

A double minded man (see James ch 1) will receive nothing.  
And when I am faith-filled and when I trust God, THEN I will live a successful life. 
Take God’s word today. Read it. Apply it. Love it. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2020

There are three types of love described in the Greek language.

The first is Phileo.

This describes brotherly or sisterly love; the love of friendship and companionship; the affection between two friends.

Secondly is Eros.

This describes romantic love (this needs no explanation).

Thirdly, there is Agape.

This is described as the selfless love of one person for another. It is this description of love that best describes the love of God or Christ for humanity. 
Jesus demonstrated this love when he gave up his life willingly for humanity He stood in each of our place and took on the punishment and judgement that was rightfully due to us. His sacrifice demonstrated the love he was calling his disciples and his future followers to demonstrate.

John 13:12-17
Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus was so close to death when he spoke these words. Fully God and fully man, Jesus knew full well what was awaiting him after his last meal. His last few hours of freedom were spent with people that would soon abandon him. Yet, with this knowledge what was his response? He wrapped a towel around his waist, bent down, assumed the posture of a servant, and washed the feet of, a betrayer (Judas), a denier (Peter), and 10 Deserters (the remaining disciples)
John 13:7 – Jesus said ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 
Jesus wanted his friends to understand and experience first hand the love of agape ‘I love you more than I love myself, and I do not demand anything from you.’ A love lavished upon them when they least deserved it. A love undeserved.


Later, most, but sadly not all, would look back and understand what Jesus was saying as he washed and rinsed their feet.
‘I forgive you in advance for your upcoming, epic fail. Though it will surprise you, remember that it does not surprise me. My love will still be here when you return.’

Today, I want to remind you that you are loved! Even on our worst day, God the Father is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son who demonstrates a relentless love that pursues us and unashamedly declares love for us. We ALL need this kind of unconditional, audacious love! It is a love available to us all when we accept Jesus and come into a relationship with him. The experience of this love and sharing it with others, has the power to change our lives and those around us. Ultimately, this love has the power to transform our world. 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2020


We all have a story. The fact that you are sitting and reading this means that you have experiences completely unique to you.

It is human nature to want to present the best sides of ourselves. It can be tempting to hide our struggles because we want to be perceived in a particular way.

A challenge for all of us today is to be our authentic selves, flaws and all. The Bible says that where we are weak, God is our strength. Your struggles could encourage someone else today.

That redundancy that you overcame? It may push someone experiencing unemployment to their breakthrough.

Those children that you prayed so hard for? They may just show other couples God’s faithfulness.

Your past mistakes and how God changed your life may show someone the way out of their sin.

You never know whose faith can be lifted by your story. The greats that we read about in the Bible faced major struggles and made huge mistakes – God still uses their stories to encourage us today, on our own journey.

‭‭‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬ ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”’

‬‬Never be ashamed of your testimony. God can use it in the most amazing ways. Nothing is wasted.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2020


At one point or another we will all come face to face with disappointment. Disappointment is a product of unmet expectation, delayed dreams and hope deferred. It can be a real painful pang deep in our hearts and comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe that promotion you’ve been working toward for years wasn’t offered to you, perhaps a loved one is ill and you are still waiting on healing, maybe someone you care about didn’t come through like you wanted them to, you let down yourself, or there is a promise from God that He seems to have forgotten. 

Disappointment is a reality of life, but it is so important that we learn how to overcome it before we find it taking root in our hearts and turning into depression, resentment or rebellion. 

So how can we deal with disappointment? 

1. Acknowledge it! Don’t deny your feelings of disappointment by covering them up and ignoring them. Recognise them and share them with God. Even David a mighty warrior and ‘a man after God’s own heart’ said, ‘My eyes fail, looking for my God’ (Psalm 69:2–3). Why would God include someone expressing their disappointment in Him, in scripture? I believe God is secure enough to let us know that disappointment is part of the Christian life and acknowledging it and expressing it to God is part of processing it. 

2. Choose joy! If ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’ (Psalm 28:7) then that means the level of my strength is determined by my level of my joy. Happiness is to do with happenings, which changes all the time. Joy is choice. The level at which we believe God loves us, cannot be determined by our circumstance, it needs always to be defined by the finished work of cross! That is our reference point and reminder, and source of joy. 1 Thessalonians 16 – 18 says, ‘be joyful always’. ‘Always’ implies always – good times and bad!

3. Surrender! Nothing feels quite as good as just letting go. Coming to the end of yourself so God can carry you in the pain. Habakkuk knew what it was to surrender to God and choose joy. When it was revealed that his country would be destroyed, he concluded: 

‘Though the fig tree not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Saviour’ (Habakkuk 3:17-18). 

Find hope today that truth reigns over your feelings. Trust the nature and goodness of God, despite what your feelings and circumstance tell you. 

Proverbs 3:5 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2020



Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.

Every supermarket nowadays has a very basic range of products in order to appeal to shoppers that want or need to purchase goods at the lowest possible value.

We are all aware of entry level ranges that carry labels like ‘smart price’, ‘basics’ or ‘value range’.

Those special labels that we have come to recognise, help us to identify quality at affordable prices, knowing that there is not going to be anything of a better value than this. The supermarket branding is telling us that this is the lowest we can go. There is no need to search for a bargain, as this is it!

As we search in life for what is of great value today, we have to come to a point of understanding that there is a very basic entry level to which we can go and no lower. If we go any lower in the way we conduct ourselves, then we have passed the point of being effective and helping anyone out there today.

The basics of our faith can be displayed at the very least in three areas…our Mouth, our Mind and our Moods.

The labels on the value range of our faith have got to be displayed in us being trustworthy, having integrity, and living honestly.

If you are living below the very basics of who we are, then we are living below the ‘spiritual poverty line’. You cannot live any lower than that and profess to be a Christian.

Stop blaming everyone else for your mouth, mind and mood. The only way others can influence you is by you allowing them to.

One translation of the above verse, says…’ like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who has no rule over his spirit’.

Its time to get back to basics and start taking rule over your own life.

Stop telling half truths which are really lies. Stop compromising your stance on things which really means you are afraid to be counted. Stop making lame excuses for being late, stop being in a mood and ripping into someone with your tongue again.

Your values have been compromised and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Ask God to forgive you right now, and then ask Him to fill you with His power so that you can be an overcomer. Now start to live a life that is worthy of Gods calling on you.

You can’t do it alone but WITH God all things are possible.

Colossians 1:10 … live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2020

Discipline and routine is good. It develops character, creates the momentum for consistency, and brings order into our lives. 

Be careful with routine though. Routine risks us coming into a place of ‘just going through the motions’. 

How often do we give out of routine, or complacency, forgetting the ‘why’ behind what we are doing? In our routines we can become comfortable and complacent.  

If we are simply routine in giving – giving of money, time, energy, it no longer becomes a sacrifice for us. Our routine of giving is just something to ease our conscience, not something that costs us something, not a true sacrifice. 

The purpose of sacrifice is to transform us, not to ease our conscience. Our giving, our sacrifices, should be done with reason, not just routine.  God falls on sacrifice – that which we give him, that which has cost us something. When something truly costs us, it is challenging and uncomfortable. This is good. 

Be careful in your relationships that they are no longer void of costing you something. Our relationships should be causing us to sacrifice –our comfort, our time, our effort, our money (this does not mean you should be in draining, compromising or damaging relationships). Don’t just look for relationships that squeeze into your routine and comfortable bubble. God is moved by relationships that cost us something. 

God is moved by sacrifice. When giving challenges us, it is transforming us.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2020

Do you remember your first encounter with Jesus? 
The word ‘encounter’ simply means to ‘run into’. When we ‘run into God’, that is the best thing that can happen to us. 
We need those encounters, because only an encounter with God can transform us and give us purpose and direction like no other.


Sometimes when life has beaten us down, we are worn out, or just tired of being disappointed, it can be hard for us to seek in those times or remember those times we have already had… Those times when we experienced God in a fresh and real way. 

Through His faithfulness in my own life, there are a couple of things I have learned about God encounters: 

  1. Don’t fear the encounter.

We often fear what we don’t understand. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1 v 7) 
Don’t worry that God isn’t going to show up. You will encounter Him. We spend more of our time worrying about life than actually living life. The recipe for God’s peace is clear.  Do not worry about anything. Pray about everything. Tell Him what you need. Thank Him for what He’s already done. (Philippians 4v6).


2. The promises He gives us are true 

God promises that He will always be with you and will never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31 v 8). Sometimes it can be really easy to forget the living presence of Jesus in our lives because we can get complacent or we can make excuses to not spend time with Jesus. We can easily forget what God has done for us. His word is full of promises, it’s when we spend time in His presence that He reveals those and speaks those promises to us. 

Let us all be patient between those God Encounters, expectant of future ones, and thankful for the miracles He’s already done in our lives. God Encounters often will come at the perfect time and often in ways in which we don’t fully understand. God chooses us all, but it is only those who respond and are available to that call that really encounter Him. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we available for Him?” 

Let’s start spending time with Jesus and His Word and as you do that, you will encounter Him… and those moments have the potential to be life-changing. 


Natalie Bloxwich

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2020

Sometimes we can be presented with a chance to share something important and it’s up to us to seize the opportunity. 

I love the perseverance of Paul in Acts 20:7-12.

Paul was speaking to the people of Troas but he wasn’t going to be there long so took the opportunity to use the time to the fullest and kept talking until midnight. 

However, the late-night talking and dim lighting got a bit too much for a man named Eutychus, who nodded off and fell out of a third storey window. 

Verse 9 (NIV) says ‘he was picked up dead.’

Not ideal for Paul during his message.

However, Paul went outside, threw his arms around Eutychus and he came back to life. The chapter then goes on to say that they all went back inside, had supper and Paul carried on telling faith stories until dawn.

Paul quite literally talked someone to death, rose them from the dead, took them back inside and carried on talking.

Paul had something important to say.

Sometimes we can feel like Paul. Sometimes we can feel like when we are sharing the good news to people in our world that it falls on deaf ears. It can be disheartening when the person we keep inviting to church doesn’t come. But Paul didn’t get disheartened by the death in the middle of his message. 

In verse 12, it says ‘the people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.’

Paul’s perseverance in sharing the Word of God resulted in people leaving greatly comforted, not annoyed that he’d (momentarily) bored someone to death. 

God didn’t punish Eutychus for not listening; his life was restored and he was given another opportunity. 

Like God perseveres with us, we should continue to persevere with others. Continue to encourage people with Godly words. Continue to invite people to church. 

Nights of Hope are approaching; it’s the perfect opportunity for lives and hope to be restored.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2020

Afford yourself the luxury of having time to think.

Busy-ness is what seems to give us our identity.

When asked how you are, the standard answer always seems to be ‘busy thanks, how are you?’ … ‘I’m busy too, really busy.’

It’s as if the 21st century has inbred a sense of failure or weakness into us, if we are not constantly busy.

Being busy seems to be a way of hiding the real me. It’s a way of saying ‘I’m really needed’, ‘I’m important’, ‘I haven’t got a minute’, ‘I have a full diary.’ ‘I’m successful.’

Is it possible that you are a busy fool? Or maybe you are pretending to be so busy so that you don’t come across as unsuccessful, without any purpose.

One of the tensions in our house is trying to get my wife to sit down for a few minutes. Her standard reply is one of two things: “there’s too much to do” or “ “I feel guilty if I stop and sit down.”

My standard reply always goes like this: “if you feel guilty about stopping, then you have a problem.”

Every one of us needs to be guilt free when it comes down to making time to think.

Without thinking time, you lose your way in life.

Without thinking time, things get out of proportion.

Without thinking time, you lose perspective.

Without thinking time, you lose sight of God.

Without thinking time, you are prone to make wrong choices.

Dedicate a chair in your home as a thinking chair and stop seeing that ceasing from work is wrong and start to see that thinking is a necessary form of work that helps keep our lives on track.

Thinking punctuates our lives and gives them greater meaning and effectiveness. Sit down today and allow yourself a little luxury thinking time.

Proverbs 23v7 ‘As a man thinks… so is he.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2020

Life can throw us some unexpected curveballs. Things can be different to how you imagined, prayed or planned. 

Perhaps we are living in the product of our poor choices, and it’s not good.  BUT there is ALWAYS hope with God. 

Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’. 

If you love God, and if you have been called (which you have), then God is working whatever situation you are in for good. 

God doesn’t just have a plan A and if that doesn’t work, then we are stuffed. God has a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and a plan D… and He can work the plan D to be as brilliant as plan A!

Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection was never plan A, as glorious as all that was… that was plan B. Plan A was walking closely with God in the Garden of Eden, in perfect unity and relationship, but sin brought plan B into motion, and God in His goodness made a way where perfect unity and relationship with God was possible again. 

God is bigger than you. His grace and abilities far outweighs the worst choices or situations you could possibly make for yourself. He works all things for good. So if things aren’t good yet, God isn’t done yet. 

Yes they’re consequences to actions, but with a repentant and surrendered heart, there is nothing God cannot move, shake, transform and remake. 

Instead of focusing on what has gone wrong, or what could go wrong, focus on what God can make right. Focus on the impossible that God can pull off, not just despite the bad, but actually USING the bad and the ugly, turning it into something good and beautiful! God said he will turn ALL THINGS for good…not some things…ALL THINGS!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2020

Did you know that 90% of our communication with one another is done not through words, butbody language? 

Actions literally speak louder than words. 

People will notice what you do, more than what you say. They will hear your words, but follow your actions. 

Our actions are constantly communicating something. 

In our relationships we are saying something through our actions. If we say someone is important to us, but rarely make time for them, what we are actually communicating is that they are not that important to us. If we say we are available to someone, but don’t bother replying to their messages, we are really saying that they are not that important. If we say we value a friendship but forget important dates, and are never giving, then we are communicating that they aren’t worth it to us. If we are arriving late to appointments with people, we are communicating that we don’t respect them enough to honour their time. Our actions can seem small and insignificant, but constantly communicate loud and clear messages. 

We have all failed in communicating what we really want to. This isn’t to shame anyone. 

This Christmas just gone, the Queen gave her annual Christmas Day speech. Her overarching message, was ‘small steps not giant leaps bring about the most lasting change’. We crave the big, dramatic leaps of life – but it is in the small steps, the small choices, that bring about the most meaningful changes. The most lasting change is in the seemingly insignificant honouring of someone’s time, a thank you message, a reply or response, an honouring gift on a special date or just for no reason, an unexpected phone call to see how someone is going, listening carefully, following up on someone who has told you they are struggling. These small gestures make for a lasting difference. We want to change the world, but it starts with the small things we are already communicating. 

1 John 3:18 says, ‘…let us not love in word or talk, but in action and deed’. James 2:17 says, ‘…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead’ and ‘be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’.  

God is not looking for big, grand, noble acts from us, He is looking for the ongoing, daily personal sacrifice, and honouring of others. Jesus shines through how we do relationships. A transformed city (a big change), starts with valuing people in the small and seemingly insignificant things (small steps). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2020

Pearls of wisdom for a Monday morning …

  • Upgrade to the size of your future
  • Don’t read your child’s school report as though it were a prophecy. 
  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen —Sir Winston Churchill
  • The most significant achievement of our age is not that man stood on the moon, but that God, through Jesus walked upon the earth —Astronaut James Irwin.
  • We stand tallest when we are on our knees. 
  • Stop everyday and look at the size of God. 
  • The future belongs to those that see possibilities before it becomes obvious. 
  • Giving is the highest level of living. 
  • Our confidence is not in answered prayer, but in the fact that God hears us. 
  • When your output is more than your input then your upkeep becomes your downfall
  • When Jesus said ‘ I am with you always..’ He didn’t make a promise, He stated a fact. 

And finally…If at first you don’t succeed – you’re normal.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2020

Moses’ mother hid him in a basket because she didn’t want him to die.  That basket signified a lot of things, but one thing it shows us about his mother is that she was a defender. When God has a special plan or purpose, defend it.When God shows you something precious, defend it. When you see the significance you have in God, defend it. 

The Bible tells me that Satan comes to steal and kill and destroy.  (John 10 vs 10). Would we willingly leave our front door open for robbers to come and help themselves? Of course not! So why do we let the enemy steal from us?


Our joy – at the first sign of trouble or difficulty it goes out the window. Our peace – when we take our focus off God and not onto God, we lose peace. Our faith – when we start to let doubts in and don’t keep trusting His word.  


You may have played the part of a defender in sport, you are there to stop the opposing team (the enemy) score a goal.  A defender has to be switched on and diligent.  Not with their focus elsewhere or asleep.

The Bible says “we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2 vs 11)

Watch out my friend.  Be alert today.  Don’t get robbed of your joy, your destiny or your purpose.  
Be a DEFENDER.   Do whatever you can, with whatever you have, to defend the life of God in you and those around you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st January 2020

In the last few years I have come across the term ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out). FOMO has probably been around since the fall of mankind, but the term has become more widely used over the last ten years. With the rise of the internet and social media, people’s feelings of anxiety have skyrocketed. Many feel they are missing out, they are being left out and their lives are not as wonderful and fulfilling as those of others. Comparison is the thief of joy and it brings nothing but feelings of anxiety, resentment and inner distress.

I remember reading about J.D. Rockefeller. He was an American billionaire, back in the early 1900’s. During an interview, his response to the question, “How much money is enough?” was “Just a little bit more.” Although he originally set out to make $100,000, but then discovered he had an insatiable desire to keep increasing his wealth. It was never enough to satisfy him.

We can learn from this in our current struggles with FOMO, powerfully fanned into flames in our social media age. We might think, “If only I had what these other people have, then I would feel happy”. But this is a lie.

Amazingly, long before the invention of internet, we find the answer to this problem in the Bible. Paul was able to share from his own experience of life, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation’ (Philippians 4:11-12). And the ‘secret’ to being content is a principle which applies to all situations always.

It is not having what we want which makes us content. Only appreciating what we already have can do that. Therefore, Paul was content, whether he had a lot or a little. And we can be like that too, when we thank God for what we already have. This applies not only to money but to friends, social life, marriage, relationships – every sphere of life. The miracle is that, when we thank God and appreciate what we already have, it suddenly becomes enough.

In this life we have Jesus with us always, in all circumstances, in all places. In our future life we will have heaven with Him. It is ours to enjoy forever. Whatever the world has to offer, it cannot compete with God. So, I believe that is impossible for us, as God’s children, to ‘miss out’.

My prayer for us all, especially the younger generation is that when we feel unhappy or discontent we choose to thank God for what He has already given us and for what He has promised us.  Matthew 16: 31-32 tells us: Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Christine Mudenha 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2020

Change is hard. My husband and I recently moved house and the stress was over the top. We had a two-week period of living at my parents and don’t get me wrong, it was pretty good because we had delicious meals, washing, ironing all done for us. But it was change.

The challenge came when we had to sort the shower schedule for the morning, with six people needing to use the bathroom all before 7am it was a crazy schedule. 

For quite a while, I couldn’t find my favourite jumper or my hairbrush. Oh, and my toothbrush? I just gave up looking for it and bought another one.

Having recently moved areas, it meant that I was no longer on auto pilot and I had to get used to a new journey to and from work. I spent a lot of energy trying to find a new direction and when there was traffic, I had to find an alternative route. 

Moving house has been overwhelming. 

On a daily basis we are all going through changes…

Relationships change.

Locations change.

Jobs change.

Our bodies change.

We change.

During our season of change, it’s taught me that life is fragile, uncertain and temporary but something that lasts forever is God.

“For I, the Lord, do not change”

Malachi 3:6


Whether you are moving house, changing job or experiencing a change in your relationships, we can always trust in God. He doesn’t change. 

Through my season of change this verse from Isaiah 40:8 really stood out to me

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our god will stand forever.”

We can find comfort in God, his plans are unshakeable, his word is dependable. 

You can trust Him to carry you through anything you face today. 


Psalm 46:1

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” 

Things may continue to change around us but no matter what changes we face, we must not fear. We must turn to our rock and anchor our unchanging God whose promises remain forever. 

I trust this devotion motivates you to draw closer to God during a change in your life.

Gabby Clarke

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2020

In the story of the calling of the first disciples we see a check list that can help us assess our lives and see if we’re missing anything that could be causing a lack of growth or frustration in our walk with Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11 | NIV One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Firstly they met Jesus! If you are reading this today as a follower of Jesus you can tick it off, if not I encourage you today to invite him into your life. 

Secondly he taught them. Every week we get great teaching in our churches on a Sunday, maybe a podcast or daily devotion like this one, also whenever we open our bibles in a set aside time, tick. 


Thirdly he performed a miracle! I’m sure most followers reading this can look at some point in your life where God has brought a miraculous provision or answer you’ve been looking for, tick. And again, if not, he is faithful and wants to meet our needs so I encourage you to today, give your needs over to him.

 
Fourthly, he called them! We have all been called to follow him, to live our lives in a relationship with God our maker through his son Jesus Christ, tick. 

So far so good, but finally is the tick box we easily over look. It’s finishes with vs11:
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. 

Often I believe we struggle because despite being able to tick off meeting Jesus, having great teaching, seeing him act in our lives and being called, we can struggle to take the final step to fully lay down our lives and follow him. I encourage you today put all your eggs in the one basket today and surrender to him in every area of life, as 1 Peter2:6 says ‘the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2020

On the evening before my 20th birthday I remember praying, asking God to bless the years of my twenties. Tonight is the eve of my 30th birthday and it feels like just yesterday that I prayed that prayer. Ten years have flown, and from the other side I can definitely say that God really has given me a blessed decade!  

I appreciate that people much older than thirty, with a lot more life experience than me, may be reading this, but I do think I have learnt a few lessons from my twenties. After all, it was in my twenties that I graduated university, started my career, taught hundreds of people, travelled to nearly thirty countries, got married, and moved to the other side of the world. Safe to say, in all of that I have learnt a thing or two.

So here are thirty lessons from my twenties. Some of them may seem like cliché comments, but they are not. I have carefully selected them from first-hand experiences: 

Lesson #1: The principals of God always stand (it may take years for you to see the fruit, but you will see it!). Always go God’s way. 

Lesson #2: Find mentors and models in every season. 

Lesson #3: Feelings don’t always tell the truth. Let the word of God be your standard of truth. 

Lesson #4: Love people. Aside from God, people are the most precious thing you have. You will never regret loving people too much. 

Lesson #5: Travel, experiences, nice things are fun, but don’t totally satisfy, and are not what life is about. 

Lesson #6: Leaders are people, who we honour, but like you, they are also imperfect. Leaders are not God. 

Lesson #7: No church is perfect, but she is still beautiful and Jesus still died for her. You need the church and the church needs you! 

Lesson #8: You reap what you sow. Where you invest and sacrifice is where you reap reward. 

Lesson #9: Have a vision for every area of your life. 

Lesson #10: Life goes quickly. Spend your time well. 

Lesson #11God loves you more than you know. He knows more than you know. 

Lesson #12Hunger for wisdom (the way God does things). 

Lesson #13Look after your body. Your health is precious. 

Lesson #14People all over the world are the same. All of humanity hungers for the same core things – to be loved and valued. 

Lesson #15Ask lots of questions. 

Lesson #16Don’t push your way into opportunity. Be faithful, and let God open doors. 

Lesson #17: Don’t take life too seriously. Have fun. Get over petty things. Regularly ask yourself, ‘in light of eternity, will this matter?’

Lesson #18Worry will rob you. 

Lesson #19Thankfulness will protect you. 

Lesson #20Being busy is not something to be proud of. 

Lesson #21God will use everything. 

Lesson #22The degree to which you honour people, is the degree to which you will have influence over them. 

Lesson #23Sometimes God has something else planned. 

Lesson #24The best things in life are not instant and easy. They require vision, persistence, patience, and help from God. 

Lesson #25: Live to give, not to get. 

Lesson #26: Love people through their flaws. 

Lesson #27: Work hard to keep your heart in a good place. 

Lesson #28: What is popular, isn’t always right. 

Lesson #29: Your attitude will take you further than your ability. 

Lesson #30: Your words are seeds. Careful what you are sowing, because it will start growing! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2020

My mother-in-law had a new washing machine delivered, and my promise was to install it for her.

I was a little pushed for time, but she was eager to get it in place, so I popped in with a few tools one lunchtime.

I secured the water pipes, connected the electric supply and carefully pushed the new machine into a very tight spot underneath the kitchen units.

Everything was seeming to work fine, as I quickly tested it to make sure that the power and water supply were all as they should be. Job done.

For the next three days, I had calls from her telling me that something wasn’t right and that every time the machine went into its spin cycle, the whole kitchen would shake.

Like a Doctor, I asked her over the phone all about the symptoms and advised her about overloading it and anything else that I thought may be the cause.

Eventually, I decided to go back, take the washer out and start again.

It turned out that it was completely my fault.  I had overlooked the fact that I should have taken the very long transportation bolts that come with a brand new washer to hold the drum secure during delivery.

The bolts meant that there was no flexibility in the drum when spinning, so would violently vibrate, potentially damaging everything around it.

As much as it pained me to realise that I could have badly damaged the machine, I also realised that it was a great life lesson too.

Sometimes in our lives we have to acknowledge that we are being held back by the things that have never been removed during transportation.

I love the story in the Bible about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; but then in the very next breath Jesus says…’take off his grave cloths and let him go.’

It wasn’t enough just to be brought back to life, until the bandages that held him tight in death were unravelled.

How many of us today have felt the effects, not of bandages but of bondages that have wrapped around us during transportation?

Unkind words spoken over our lives, bitterness about our past, unforgiveness over a broken relationship – the list goes on and on but what is true is that not only do these things hold us back, they also affect everything and everyone else around us. When we behave this way, we cause a ripple effect of negativity wherever we go.

We were not created to be restricted by our hang-ups, but to be set free to do what we were created to do by God.

Today, take a brief step back, in order to go forwards.

Ask yourself: what is it in my past that is causing me to behave in such a way today?

Identify the problem and then ask Jesus to be the solution. Allow Him access into your private world so that He can take off your grave clothes and let you go.

Be free.
John 8:36 ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2020

Have you ever met a double minded person? Of course you have. People who say one thing and do another; people who are ‘yes’ one day and ‘no’ the next. 

The Bible teaches in James 1 that we are not to be doubleminded, because if we are, we will receive nothing. This is what it says about being double-minded in prayer. Verses 6 & 7  “but when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.. that person should not expect to receive anything for the Lord”

  That’s a challenge to each one of us. How many of us have been in a prayer meeting, praying for someone who needs a miracle, then as we get onto the car park, our speech doesn’t match up to our ‘faith filled ‘ prayer?  “What a shame for that person etc, they are so sick, there’s no hope etc”.Or maybe you’ve asked God to meet your need and one minute you’re believing in prayer for a miracle, the next you’re speaking the opposite. 
Be careful.  The Word of God teaches we will receive NOTHING if we are like that.  

I noticed something this week just a few verses earlier in vs 2-4…(you should always read the context of the verses).
It says we should consider it joy when we face trials of many kinds, because it will produce perseverance…THEN it goes on to say about not being double minded.  


I wonder why?  It’s because when we face trials and difficulties it’s easy to get into two trains of thought…Will God or won’t He? Faith v doubt. Yes God can v maybe He can’t? Is He with me or not?

Today, be single minded. Even if you’re going through a trial. Be true to the courage of your convictions and what you know to be true. Stand firm on the promises of God. If you don’t believe it, don’t pray it. For a double minded person will receive nothing.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24 January 2020

How would you empty a lake? One bucketful at a time!

It sounds very simple, but in practice, it’s very easy to be cynical or show contempt for the little things in life, especially ones that don’t seem to provide big, immediate results.

In Luke 13 verses 6 to 8, Jesus tells a parable of a man who went through a vineyard he owned, and when he didn’t find fruit on one of the trees, demanded to have it cut down. The gardener instead asks to be given a year where he promises to consciously take better care of the tree in the hope that it would produce some fruit and thereby save it.

This gardener is a lot like us. He was in charge of the garden, but hadn’t been concerned with tending to the tree because his attention was focused on other trees that bore good fruit.

It’s well known that the best hardwood comes from slow growing trees. Each year, they grow new leaves, knowing full well that the leaves will grow and eventually fall off, but that knowledge doesn’t make them stop the process.

As we grow, we also go through seasons where we’re looking vibrant, full of life, and growth is evident to everyone looking at us.

Then seasons come where from the outside, it looks like you’re down and out, as if you’ve thrown in the towel.

Throughout the different seasons, the tree remains rooted in the same place.

Wherever you find yourself today, the dry season is not the time to give up and move away from the things God has spoken to you to do. He allows you to develop through slow processes, but you have to remain consistent in your prayer life, and faith that not only is God growing you, but He is preparing you for greater things to come.

As Napoleon Hill said, “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2020

We have a generation on our hands that is hungry for success and significance. Where previous generations may have been content with a more ‘simple life’, we desire the big, the ambitious, the best. 

While the desire for success is absolutely from God, we must consider what our measuring stick is. What are we defining as success? Are we holding ourselves to a standard that actually is not from God? 

God wants us to be successful, or another word – fruitful. In fact, Jesus hated anything that was not bearing fruit. If God has created something, He has designed it to carry life and reproduce/bare fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22). Why? Because it was bearing leaves, it had the appearance of life, it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it wasn’t actually producing fruit. God doesn’t want us to have the appearance of fruitfulness (religion), but actually just be a bunch of leaves. He wants success to be a real part of our lives, because of who we are connected to. We should be producing fruit as we are a branch connected to the true vine (Jesus), John 15:1-8. 

So what is this true success then? What should be our focus? To find out what God defines as true success, let us look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. 

FACT: Three men were given different amounts of money in which they were told to increase. (This was a common way of investment for masters of servants in the context of this scripture). 

POINT: There is no point comparing to the person next to you, because despite what you may think, God doesn’t actually operate on fairness. He gives each of us something different based on what He believes we can handle. 

FACT: The third man returned exactly what God gave him. 

Point: Don’t think you can just give back to God what you started with. He wants to see increase in your life. 

FACT: Even one talent was a lot. 

POINT: Just because the person next to you may have more, doesn’t mean you haven’t already been given a lot in life. 

FACT: They had to give an account to the master, with what they did with their money. 

POINT: We will have to give an account to God on what we did with our life. 

FACT: The master congratulated them on being ‘good and faithful’ not once mentioning the amount of money that they made. 

POINT: God is not looking for numbers, or titles (things we may define as success), He is looking for character, heart and stewardship of whatever we have been given. 

‘Well done good and faithful servant’ is the definition of success. To hear God say to us at the end of our life, ‘well done good and faithful servant’, you were faithful with what you were given – you stewarded your marriage well, your relationships well, your mouth and words, your job, your money, your body – whatever you were given, you were faithful and managed it well’. THAT IS SUCCESS! 

It isn’t about the amount. It isn’t about the numbers. It isn’t all the facts and stats that is going to interest God. What God is looking for is – WHATEVER He gave me, I was faithful with it.  

At the end of your life, you want to ask yourself:  Did I do what God said to do? – Did I use whatever I got given? – Was outcome my focus or stewardship? – Did I hear Him say, ‘well done, good and faithful servant?’

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2020


You may be aware of the fires currently raging in Australia. 1400 homes destroyed, 28 lives lost, 25.2 million acres of environment burnt to a crisp, killing 1billion animals. And with no sign of slowing down, these fires are predicted to continue into April. 

I personally know people who have experienced significant loss because of these fires. I also have friends who are fighting the fires, or rescuing whatever wildlife remains. Yesterday my Dad was photographing some of the most devastated areas. He commented on how silent the environment was – deep ash covering the earth,cblack poles for trees, and no sounds of blowing leaves or tweeting birds. Any remaining animals are starving as they root around for some remains to feed on. 

Amidst the dire situation, there is some hope. There are some seeds that are actually only activated by fire. Their species require fire for the seeds to sprout. The fire melts the resin on the outside of the seed. These cones/fruits can only open to release their seeds after the heat of a fire has physically melted the resin. More than 60 plant species, never before recorded in some parks, have flourished since the fires. Plants that were under threat before the fire, are now germinating prolifically. 

I wonder what new life is available amidst the fires of our lives. Even after absolute loss and devastation, there is a hope. In fact there is a new life and fruit in us that only a fire can produce. We may be burnt, we may feel completely devastated, but even after the flames, there is life that would have otherwise never existed if it were not for the burn. Your devastation now has unlocked something new. It can be easy to focus on the significant and heartbreaking loss, and the loss must be acknowledged and grieved, but what if God is able to bring about something new because of it? 

There are many occasions in the scripture where Jesus bought life after death. Jesus raised people from dead (John 11:1-44), even His life is a testament to life after death (Mark 16:6), and WE have the promise of life after death (John 11:25-26). 

When Jesus is involved, new life is an absolute. He removes the painful sting of loss, by providing a hope, a sprouting seed, while we stand in the ash (1 Corinthians 15:55). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st January 2020

If you’ve ever been made a promise, you will probably know that the level of expectation you have that that promise will be fulfilled is determined by the level of trust you have in the one who made it.


For instance, if someone with a not-so-great reputation makes me a promise, I will have my doubts that they will keep to it. But if a long-time friend who I have grown to know and trust makes me a promise, I can almost be certain that they’ll be true to their word.


All that to say this… a promise is something that you could argue against. What cannot be argued is a proven principle.


The Bible is full of proven principles, that if abided by can lead to you experiencing a better way of life. One of these principles is recorded in 2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭and it says this; “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
Now you may not believe in God and therefore you might switch off at the inclusion of a Bible verse. However, this here is not a promise to be argued, but rather a proven principle to be applied.


Just ask any farmer, whether a believer in God or not, and they will tell you that the principle of sowing and reaping is a law of life. It is what it is. It works.


Ask any gym-goer, and they will tell you, what they put in determines what they get out.
I believe that God is the One who set this principle in motion, so that we might have a key to experiencing a blessed life. But the ball is in your court… how are you going to sow your words, your time, your money? Will it be sparingly or will it be generously? Because the harvest that you experience in your life of any one of these things will be determined by the level in which you give.

The choice is yours and the choice is mine… at what level do I want to reap? Once you decide that, you know what to do next.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2020



It was not until we moved house several years ago that I had to learn a new skill…that of lighting a real fire.

It looked pretty simple to me, and I couldn’t wait for the winter nights to draw in, so that we could have our very own coal fire. It would bring back so many fond memories from when I was a child. A few pieces of newspaper, a pile of tinder wood and then finally the logs and coal – what could be difficult about that?

Several failed attempts later, I sought the advice of an experienced coal merchant that I knew. I soon learnt that it was all about having thoroughly ‘seasoned’ wood to start the fire, otherwise you would actually be putting the fire out more than getting it going.

I’d never heard of seasoned wood before, but soon gathered that it was wood that had stood outside in all weathers for at least 18months and then kept really dry before use. Seasoning wood effectively ensures that the sap is dried out and the wood is crisp and dry.

Since I learnt that lesson, I’ve never had a bad fire since, well that was until last week when it dropped particularly cold one night, and I threw some unseasoned wood on the fire to get it going in a rush and hey presto…it went out!

Ever wondered why your life seems to just smoulder and continually keep going out? Take a look at the people that you’re surrounding yourself with and that will be your biggest clue.

They all look much the same, just like pieces of wood, but if they are not well seasoned they are simply going to dampen the most positive spirit around.

Ask yourself at the start of this day: ‘how many people around me are unseasoned, damp-spirited people that keep causing my passion to die?’

Finding the right people can sometimes take time, as they often all look the same, but when you find the right ones you will see such a difference; that passion, that vision, that dream, that fire burning in you will be ignited and become red hot.

Ask God to send well seasoned people into your life in 2020 and then be willing to bring them close to you. One of those people may be right under your nose everyday, but you’ve never noticed them in the wood pile.

Don’t just align yourself with the newest friends on the block, they haven’t yet been seasoned, and could well put your fire out, instead embrace those whose lives are lived with passion, and you’ll soon discover the effect they have on you.

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th January 2020

Have you ever heard the phrase “you don’t get because you don’t ask”? Well, guess what? It’s true! You won’t get more dinner if you don’t ask for seconds, you won’t get a discount in a store if you don’t try, you won’t get a refund if you don’t return the item and ask for one and sometimes as a Mom, you may not get a hug if you don’t ask for one!
We have to go through life asking- think about it.   Several times a day, we are asking.  “Please do this, please go there, please can I have this”. Our lives are made up of ASK.

There are three levels in the Bible; they are ASK, SEEK, KNOCK.

 You’ll find them in Matthew 7 v 7. “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”


Ask is entry level – bring your requests and ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. 
Seek is the next level – like in the game “hide and seek’ – you have to make time to actively seeking and not giving up until you find.

 Knock is the persistent higher level – keep knocking until the door gets answered.  

There are times when my praying has been all three. That’s how it works.  Jesus is obviously happy with all three, as He taught us that way.  
Is it okay to keep bothering God with my request? Absolutely.  Do I need to not give up after one ask? Absolutely. Is it ok to get earnest and persistent? Absolutely.  

Some answers may come after one ask…that’s great and it’s refreshing. But if everything was like that, we wouldn’t learn persistence and patience and God’s timing.  

Today, be someone who ASKS.  Not someone who doesn’t receive because they didn’t.  

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

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2020

Recently I read an online newspaper article about a young 26 year old woman with a PhD and a great job in a laboratory who according to the article took her own life because of bullying. A tragic and more and more common story. There were hundreds of comments left by people online, and they all pretty much said the same thing, ‘the bullies must be held to account’ ‘we must eradicate bullying from society’ basically they were all saying the issue in the story and society at large is bullying, and if we could just stop them then what a better place the world would be. 

This is the predicament in today’s culture. Trying to make life better by removing any adverse situations rather than looking at the real issue. The problem with this thought process is if you remove all adverse scenarios you will have no life left. Bullying is an awful human tendency, but the reality is if you get rid of all the bullies you would need to eradicate the human race. If you have ever made a cheap joke at someone’s expense then you’ve bullied, and if you’ve ever been made to feel uncomfortable then you’ve been bullied. 

The real issue in life is simple, we don’t really know who we are! We don’t realise just how incredibly important and immeasurably precious we are. If only this girl knew the truth of how she was loved and what hope there was in a relationship with her maker in heaven, she would not have even contemplated what she did. 
In Johns gospel we read the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet, what’s interesting is the 2 verses before he begins to serve.


John 13:3-4 | NIV3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 

Jesus lived his life 100% from the knowledge of who he was! He served and gave himself, not to earn or receive anything, but from the secure knowledge that he was the son of God! I want to encourage you today in what ever season you find yourself, live from the safety of knowing you are a child of God! Understand circumstances can be tough, and as long as you’re alive you will have tough circumstances, don’t live a frustrated life trying to create a perfect environment, but instead wrap a towel around your waste and in the knowledge you were chosen before the creation of the world, serve and live in freedom!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2020

‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him’ (Psalm 34:8). 

When David invites the reader of this Psalm to see that God is good, using language like ‘taste and see’, we can learn several things: 

1. Tasting and seeing are experiential, not intellectual. Relationship with God isn’t always rational or intellectual, it is something that is to be interacted with and experienced. The goodness of God isn’t just an idea. It is something for us to experience.

 2. Tasting is a test. David invites us to call God out on His word. If God promises us that He is good, let’s put it to the test and see that He is good. Let’s test taste, and expect His goodness. 

3. When we taste something it is a sample of something more. When we experience the goodness of God, it is only a taste of something more. We have only had a sample of all there is to Him and His goodness. 

4. Tasting and seeing are personal experiences. I cannot taste for you, and you cannot taste for me. You cannot see for me, and I cannot see for you. David has called us to have a personal experience of the goodness of God in our lives, not just see others experience the goodness of others. He has something for you that only you can taste. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th January 2020

There seems to be a popular idea that ‘hustling’ or being busy and stressed is necessary in order to achieve. Juggling plates, missing sleep, living off of coffee, and calling it ‘hard work’ is the new normal, and sometimes even celebrated as an esteemed quality.  

In Jesus’ ministry on earth, I never read of Him being in a hurry. In fact, much of his effectiveness and fruitfulness was a direct result of being UNHURRIED. He stopped on many of his journeys to pause and talk, heal and deliver people. Equally, there were times where he stopped listening to the demands of people, as valid as they may have been, to get away to the quiet place with the Father (Mark 1:35-39). Jesus didn’t hustle. What he did do was ALIGN. He aligned to the voice of the Father. When God said, ‘stop’, he stopped. When God said, ‘get away’, Jesus got away. The voice of God was His primary priority, regardless of whatever else was pulling on Him. 

Our lives would be far more productive and fruitful, if we pursued the voice of the Father, rest, time in ‘the secret place’, and alignment, rather than ‘hustle’ to the point of exhaustion. 

Alignment means to ‘place in a straight line’. In order for you to make something straight, you have to align it up against something perfectly straight as the standard. To rule a straight line in a book, you need a ruler to align your pencil. To hang a picture on the wall straight, you need a spirit level as the standard as to which we measure the frame to. Our lives need alignment and the voice of God does this for us. 

When our schedules and energy levels are in shambles, we must question, ‘what are we aligning ourselves against?’. Is it the voice of God, or is it the demands of people and life? Our lives should be pulled into the alignment of His priorities for us then ‘He will make our paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th January 2020

There are over 7 billion people that occupy this world today, and yet you are totally unique. 
You have a unique purpose and destiny that is distinct from anyone else who has ever lived. 

You can have a dream, a plan, a role and a vision that will make a contribution to humanity. 
Have the courage to be uniquely you! 

Don’t just settle for an easy life, that requires no effort on your part; I know it’s much easier and far less stressful to be mediocre and to blend in. 
Everything within you at times says don’t make waves, just swim with the tide and go with the flow. 


No courage is required just to be normal, but all that does is neutralise what God has planned for your life. 


Being courageous doesn’t mean you will never doubt or afraid, quite the opposite; the one who has courage pushes through the fear and keeps moving forward toward the goal that you were created for. 


Destiny is not only a destination, but a process taking place within you.


You need to see yourself doing what you were born for, before you actually do it.


Long before you get married you need to see yourself at the altar. 


You need to get educated, if you are dreaming of that degree. 


You need to see yourself as the supervisor before you get the title; but if you don’t behave like a supervisor you will never become one, even if you do get the badge. 


If you believe you are called to be a communicator then start to prepare a short message that you can try out on the dog or even a tree before being let lose with a bunch of human beings.

 
If you are to become the musician that you believe you are called to be, then don’t wait for the stage. Become skilful with your headphones on, shut away in your bedroom, while all of your friends are out partying or watching TV. 


A surgeon is only able to pick up and use the instruments that are already clean and at hand in the operating theatre. In the same way today, God is looking to use those that are prepared, clean and ready to be used.


In 1982, I waved goodbye to my career in order to go to Bible college for two years. I did so in the belief that God was calling me to pastor the church, and therefore needed to train for the future. I didn’t want to get the point whereby God was ready for me to step into that role, but I was not ready myself. 


Do I recommend that everyone does the same? Of course not, but I do recommend that you do everything you possibly can to become the best in the field that you are called to be in. 

Did you know that if you read and study a particular subject for just one hour a day for seven years you will become an international expert in that field?

Instead of just praying the prayer…’Lord use me today’, why not change it to…’Lord make me usable today’.


My prayer for you is that you will have the courage and determination to make a difference by being prepared for who God intended you to be. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2020



Once a young guy observed a man in his eighties planting an apple orchard. The old man lovingly and painstakingly prepared the soil, planted the tiny saplings and watered them. After watching for a while, the young man said,”you don’t expect to eat apples from those trees do you?” “No”, the old man replied, “but somebody will”.

As I get older the more a realise that my actions today will either help or hinder all those that are following on behind me. How often do we have an attitude that just wants to please ourselves. We live in a day whereby it seems like for most people that as long as it’s not hurting anyone else then it’s ok for me to do it. When you think about it, it’s totally a backwards way of living. What we should be saying is …”how can ensure that what I’m doing today is going to help everyone else around me and behind me”.

The decisions, plans and even the culture you are building into your life and that of your family can literally shape the generations to come.

Living a life of integrity may seem like old fashioned nowadays, but anything less will always come back to bite you.

When you serve people and influence them positively you literally create a chain of impact that can outlive you.

Some people want to put restrictions on themselves according their talent, intelligence, or experience. Others worry about their age. But with God, one person can always make a difference, regardless of circumstances or situation.

When Jesus fed the five thousand, a little boy provided the food for the miracle. When Noah was six hundred years old he provided a boat for the miracle.

You’re never too old or too young to make a difference, and it’s never too late to start.

Make a difference today and change a generation tomorrow.


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

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2020

2 Kings 4  1-7 

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you give God a space to fill. Elisha the prophet asked the widow what she had… her reply was “nothing”.

Many times we feel we have nothing, when in fact we all have a little “something”. 

She then went on to say: “except a little oil in a jar.”.

Notice what happens; he told her to collect some empty jars and not just a few. When God wants to do a miracle, he doesn’t just want to do something small, He will however respond in accordance to your faith   

Believe for a little, and you’ll get a little. 

He filled exactly what she gave him to fill and all of that out of her “nothing”.

Give God what you have and watch it multiply!  

Her supply was not in her husband (he had died) – her supply was not from anywhere apart from God.  

Today, trust Him again. Be obedient to what He asked of you, and watch Him do a miracle with what you bring.

God doesn’t just match what you give Him, HE MULTIPLIES that which you bring.  

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

Fresh Hope – 10th January 2020

At times in life, things can get complicated. Scheduled gets busy. To-do lists get long. Diaries fill up. We overcommit to things. A straightforward project produces an unexpected problem.

At the top of the year, let’s begin to notice the moments where we’re being pulled in many directions and learn to get on top of it.

We can take our cue from Jesus himself who was often known to break away from the crowd to be alone with God.

Start the day right

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Start the day in conversation with God and entrust your day to Him, before you take in everything else that’s going on in the world around you.

Let the Word encourage you

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Even five minutes in God’s word can give you a fresh perspective and a renewed hope.

Make prayer a priority

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6

If we’re honest with ourselves, one of the hardest things to do when life gets hectic or we feel overwhelmed is make proper time for prayer. The Bible never says that prayer ought to be complex. Write down what God has done already and thank Him, then tell Him what you need.

Switch off and embrace the silence

Being still and silent is profoundly simple but biblically powerful too. Just sitting in God’s presence is enough to renew our strength but we have to make time. It’s amazing what God can tell us, if only we’d be quiet enough to hear His voice.

I hope that these few things help you to unplug this year and draw nearer to God.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV
‬‬

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.


Fresh Hope – 9th January 2020

In John 12:25 Jesus says, ‘The person who loves his life and pampers himself will miss true life! But the one who detaches his life from this world and abandons himself to me, will find true life and enjoy it forever!’ (John 12:25). 

By ‘detach from his life’ does Jesus mean he wants us to quit our jobs, sell our homes and flee to the forest? Definitely not! This scripture is a matter of challenging our priorities. 

As many of us ‘reset’ for a new year, review the year gone, where we are at now, and cultivate new goals and ambitions in alignment with where we want to be, let us ask ourselves: 

What are we building towards? What really matters to us? Who does our life belong to? Is our life about our own feeble plans and goals, or God’s plan for us? 

A life built on pleasuring and pampering self is futile and ultimate completely unsatisfying. It is also a waste of a precious life. A life surrendered, a life ‘let go’ to God is fruitful and ultimately fulfilling. 

Abandoning yourself to God is scary, but like a bird spreading its wings and leaving its nest, it is also freeing. 

As you look forward to the year ahead, consider the plans that you perhaps need to ‘abandon’ to God. 

In Ephesians 1:2, Paul speaks of Jesus imparting ‘total wellbeing into our lives’ or in another word, ‘peace’ into our lives… But it isn’t a worldly peace. It is more than just a feeling of tranquility. Hebrew peace (as in the context of this scripture) is referring to a steady heart and complete wellbeing in soul, and mind. 

Ephesians 1 goes on to talk about how God has a plan for us. 

If you were to highlight key words in Ephesians, you would find words and phrases like (Passion Translation): Spiritual blessing, chose us, riches of grace, plan of His heart, redemptions promises, unfailing purpose, destiny, future inheritance. 

Ephesians wasn’t written to people who weren’t Christians yet, these words were for devoted Christians, people following Christ already – there was more for them. God had big plans for them. Equally, He has an inheritance for you. He has chosen you, has a destiny and future for you. There are ‘redemption promises’ and ‘riches of grace’ for you to tap into in 2020!

There is more for you on the other side of letting go.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th January 2020

In Psalm 133, unity is described as being like ‘precious oil’. The thing about precious oil in this context is that it would have smelt really good. Unity carries a spiritual fragrance. When the world looks at the church and sees a picture of unity in diversity – the smell is beautiful and attractive. 

Being a Christian and growing up in the church, you get used to the sweet smell of unity. It becomes normal. I’m not saying the church is completing protected and void from any kind of division, but when a culture of unity is promoted it becomes the standard – building alongside different people, and overlooking silly differences for a greater cause. 

Substitute God’s model of unity, and I have been shocked at times at how quickly people outside a ‘unity mentality’, can get offended over petty matters, are quick to cut off relationships, ‘unfollow’ if someone challenges what they consider right, or struggle to work with people who are different. God’s love changes how we do relationships, confrontation and boundaries. 

There is beauty in diversity operating in unity. Imagine trying to create a powerful car that was only made of only steering wheels? Impossible! Imagine a functioning body of only hands? Impossible! Power and function comes through diversity working together! 

We don’t tolerate different kinds of people, we celebrate the differences because we couldn’t actually function without them. Diversity is necessary and healthy. 

On its own a car brake is interesting, but has no power. On its own a steering wheel has great potential, but has no power. On its own, an engine is a great concept, but it has no power. 

On our own, we have no power. Without being unified with those different to us, we lack power and purpose. Our purpose is found in our connection and function with others. One part is not better than the other. To reach my fullest potential, I need you, and equally you need me to reach yours!

Although it isn’t very fashionable to talk about the Devil, he does exist and he is on a sneaky mission to bring division to relationships. We can think a person is bringing division, but actually it is the distracting work of the enemy. Remember that we are not in a flesh and blood battle, but a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12).  If your words or actions aren’t promoting love, celebrating people who are different, and carrying the fragrance of unity, think about whose work you are advancing.

Let unity be one of the highest values we esteem in our lives and in the church!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th January 2020


Just because you have all kinds of thoughts going through your head today( you don’t have to think them. Let them pass through!

Just because you feel that it’s not going to be a good year, you don’t have to live out the year governed by your feelings.

Just because you started the day wrong, it doesn’t mean that you have to punish yourself for the rest of the day. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.

Maybe someone spoke something negative over your life yesterday – remember that they don’t have the final say today.

Did you wake up in a bad mood this morning? Remember: it’s only a mood, talk yourself out of it.

Got a difficult meeting today? Remember that it’s not the end of the world, no matter how bad it may turn out.

Centuries ago whenever a city was being built it always started in the same way; a plot of land was identified only when a source of water was found within its boundaries.

The spring of water was the life of the city, and as the walls went up the people were secured from outside attack. They knew that if all else failed, they would have a constant supply of water from within. There was never a need to go outside for sustenance.

Today, it can be just the same for you and I.

If you are already defeated from within, then you will always be defeated from without.
If you have all that you need from within, no matter what comes against you, you can defeat it because of your inner source.

The power of these thoughts are only realised when you know the one who has the living water to give to you.

John 7:37-38 ‘Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

Today, if you find yourself searching outside for the answers to life, then turn to the one who can fill you and sustain you with living water from within.
You’ll be amazed at how life can take on a whole new meaning by drinking from the source of living water.

He is the source, the force and the course of everything.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2020



What you do today matters.

What you say today matters.

Someone’s life may be dependant on what you do and say today.

Be a difference maker.

I have to admit that one of the low points in my life happened a couple of years ago.  

Gillian had been asking me for some time to go to Dudley Market to get the batteries replaced in a couple of our watches that had been lying around for months.

The guy we had used for years was always pleasant and was known for his ‘while you wait’ service, let alone being cheaper than anywhere else.

On the afternoon that I managed to get to him, I noticed that he was not his normal self. He seemed to have lost his spark and his usual smile had disappeared. As he tended to my watches, I asked him what was wrong. He simply looked up, smiled and carried on. I felt compelled to persist with him, and so I repeated the words twice more. As he handed over the watches in a small bag I asked him what had happened for him to look so sad.

Reluctantly he leaned across his work table and told me that it was family problems. He went on to explain that illness that had not only taken his mother in law, but was now about to take his mother.

I offered him my condolences and asked him if I could add his name and that of his mom to my daily prayer list. He agreed, and in doing so his face seemed to brighten and a smile broke out.

Four days later he took his own life.

I asked myself many questions as to why I didn’t say and do more on that day, but whatever answers I came up with could not change the tragedy that I had been so close to possibly doing something about a few days earlier.

My story I’m sure can be repeated in different ways by thousands today all over the world. The truth is we all have missed opportunities to save precious people’s lives.

Today is a not only a new day, but for many the first working week of a brand new year. It is my hope and prayer today that my story can inspire you to join me in understanding that what we say and what we do matters.

Let’s go all out in 2020 to be difference makers and not just people with good intentions, which, if we’re honest, is an excuse for doing nothing.

Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2020

Recently I was sitting in a traffic jam with my husband, we had driven that same way, maybe for 35 years – the same duel carriageway, going the same way at the same speed. Yet on this occasion we had to unusually stop due to traffic. I looked around at the homes in my view and I noticed threehouses that I had never seen before.  I was amazed! I said “I have never seen that before, yet must have driven past it hundreds of times.”


Recently, I watched one of my favourite christmas movies (that I watch every year) and yet saw something different that  I hadn’t seen in the 20 or so times I watched it before. 

I want to challenge you at the start of a brand new year, to read the Bible again. I have just finished reading it through in one year and seen things I had never seen before. I want to challenge you to take a ‘familiar’ passage, one that you think you may know everything about and re-read it.  Challenge yourself to be open and ask God to reveal something new to you again. 


God’s word is new every day. It will speak to you in different situations about different things. It has NOW words and it reveals life to those who read it. Take a moment to do something usual and let it turn into something ‘un’ usual. Linger for a moment, follow His leading… you will be refreshed.  


Psalm 23.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters.  He refreshes my soul.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd January 2020

Perhaps it is the Christmas break, perhaps it is just the ticking over of the clock and sounding out of Big Ben at midnight, signalling in another new year. For whatever reason, this is often a time for reflection, for planning and making resolutions. Resolutions, that if you are like me, you have probably already broken!

When Adam and Eve were faced with the ultimate New Year, the beginning of creation, God had set out very carefully the world that they were to live in. 

‘and the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2:9).

God had provided a world that was both beautiful and fruitful, that provided all they needed. Including a close and personal relationship with God (He walked in the garden in the cool of the day). However, it was a world that had choice at its centre. In the middle of the garden were two trees, one leading to life and the other leading to knowledge of good and evil.

Now knowledge of itself is not a bad thing, but this knowledge speaks of our human belief that we know better than God, that we can be self-reliant and have all the answers. The serpent says ‘you will be like God’. Adam and Eve chose not to obey God and that is often our downfall.  

Resolutions should really be called choices. Choices about how we are going to change from this moment forward. We are faced with the choices at the centre of our ‘garden’, that is the world God has placed us in, every moment of every day. It is a beautiful world that has all we need, but at its centre is choice.

The other tree at the centre of the garden, the tree of life, was not forbidden by God. It reminds me of another Scripture, Deuteronomy 30:19 ‘I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life’.

I pray that each choice I make today will be to obey God and choose Jesus who is the ‘life the truth and the way’.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd January 2020

Our technology-centered world is making it increasingly difficult for us to learn how to be patient. Social media gives us immediate feedback. Anyone, anywhere in the world can be contacted in a matter of seconds. Anything can be delivered: food, flowers, furniture, and fashion. Instant answers to all questions are available on Google.  

The diagnosis of ADD in children has skyrocketed in the last decade, and adults are equally finding it increasingly difficult to focus. 

Studies have shown that if an Internet video or advert doesn’t ‘grab’ a viewer in the first two seconds, the viewer doesn’t have time to watch the rest and scrolls right on past it. 

Patience is something that has to be developed and grown. Hopefully from an early age we start learning the discomfort, yet essential quality of being patient. When your parents don’t give you whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted it – this was good for us! The ability to say no to instant gratification and keep your focus on something bigger and better is essential to our maturity. 

Today we have fewer waits in our daily lives, but it is also giving us less patience for other things. 

Why do we need patience? Because most good things take time. Most things that provide instant gratification, also only offer fleeting satisfaction. Think about it – your phone lighting up with a new message, your pizza order arriving, that quick fling with someone you know isn’t right for you. Most things that offer lasting satisfaction, take time, effort and a whole lot of patience… Working towards a healthy body, a meaningful friendship, waiting to have sex, a lasting marriage, saving for a house, raising a child – these are deeply fulfilling experiences of which we were made for, at the end of being patiently focused. 

God’s way of doing things is contrary to the way the world is doing things. God isn’t driven by the need for ‘things to happen quickly’ and He is not a quick fix, feel-good-instantly God. God is more interested in us developing a strong character. A strong character includes the ability to be patient. 

Are we willing to wait? Are we willing to wait for the right spouse? Are we willing to delay gratification for something better? Are willing to wait for God to speak? Are we willing to wait through the processes that God needs to take us through? 

Perhaps you are waiting for breakthrough on some things, and perhaps God is just waiting for you to wait! 

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

Romans 12:12, ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’. 

Psalm 37:7, ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2020

A couple of years ago I purchased an expensive, beautiful houseplant. It has been fairly low maintenance until recently when I noticed it starting to lean awkwardly to the side. 

The plant had grown so much that it needed to be repotted into a larger pot with more supportive soil. 

I had to uproot the plant in order to get it reestablished in a new pot. This plant is now sitting in my bathroom looking rather brown, and if I’m honest with myself, I think it could be on its way out.  Why? Because I ripped it from its roots. I took it from where it was established and being fed, and broke its system of security! 

It is much the same with us. When we are not rooted and grounded, we quickly die. 

Maybe we aren’t rooted in God – our security is found in other things that can’t nourish us. The Bible calls us to ‘be rooted and established in love’ (Ephesians 3:17).  

Or perhaps we aren’t rooted in a church community and so we aren’t experiencing the nourishing encouragement of others. 

A root system is about connection. It is the connection of the plant to the soil – that which offers it nourishment. We should be deeply rooted (connected) to people and to God if we are to flourish and thrive. 

The Bible speaks of tree/person that is plugged into a source of nourishment – the word of God. 

‘Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers’ (Psalm 1). 

We all desire to produce fruit and prosper. The key is being grounded, rooted, established and connected to God, and the right people. 

‘Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught’ (Colossians 2:7).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st December 2019

In the late nineties, a sense of excited panic gripped much of the world as the year 2000 approached. The fear of computer systems crashing because of the Y2K bug bolstered the anticipation of a new era after the big crash, of pandemonium, lawlessness, and the beginning of the end of the world as we knew it. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Sadly, since that huge anti-climax, the sense of excitement preparing for the new year has been replaced by a predictable comparison of the fireworks displays around the world.

In 1 Samuel 17, a young shepherd boy named David was sent on a dull errand, to deliver cheese and sandwiches to his brothers who were, as it turned out, not fighting a war. A giant soldier from the enemy camp mocked and challenged them morning and evening for 40 days, but they cowered in fear. The sense of excitement and anticipation David’s brothers had when they joined the ranks of soldiers marching to battle had been replaced by a dull existence eating sandwiches camped out in tents.

David overturned the dull mission he started out on, and ended up killing the giant, because of the vision he saw for his future. The vision of a promotion from a shepherd messenger to the king’s son-in-law propelled him more than the fear of Goliath, or the negativity that was coming from his brothers held him back.

What exciting, audacious goals have you set for you to testify about God’s power in your life in the ‘20s we’re about to enter?

Like David, when the vision you have in front of you becomes clearer and more important than how you started, what surrounds you and what is behind you, God’s Word is the only power you’ll need to move forward.

Your success in your relationships, finances, health, emotions is not going to be determined by how well you’ve been trained to fight, but by the value you see in what you are fighting for.

Who you are, and what you have is enough! God never made anyone inadequate! David had to go to find some stones after he accepted Goliath’s challenge, so remember as we enter this new year, take on what God puts on your heart, and as Philippians 4:19 says, He will provide what you need, when you have a need for it.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th December 2019

TODAY we will form opinions of people.


TODAY people will form opinions about us. 


If we’re honest, we often don’t like the opinions people form about us, but in reality, those opinions are not without a reason. Opinions aren’t random. If you don’t believe me, ask why you have formed an opinion of someone else? Is it not based on what you have seen, perceived, or heard about that very person?


Now admittedly, we can form wrong opinions of others because we judged them wrongly or decided to base an opinion on hearsay, a lie or mere gossip.


I wonder…can you change what people’s opinions are of you?
The answer is yes!


Take for instance, the opinion that you are stingy rather than generous. How did people form that opinion? The answer is simple…you are stingy!
In one sense, people’s thoughts about us don’t matter and yet they do. Their opinions are really a gauge to let you know how you come across to them. 

Over the 35 years of our marriage, both Gillian and myself have at times said things to each other that we have later regretted. 
One such conversation would go something like this…”When you said that you hurt me” to which the reply came back, “but I didn’t say it like you heard it”…to which the reply comes back…”I can’t help how I heard it, but you can help how you said it!”
As painful as those conversations are, there is a great truth contained in them – you can’t help how you hear things, but you can help how you say things. 


If people have formed a wrong opinion of you, don’t be too harsh with them as they have based it on what they saw, heard and perceived about you. On the brink of a brand new year, take a moment to listen to yourself in an unguarded moment — you may be surprised to find that you don’t like how you come across either. 


Always be humble enough to admit that you got it wrong and be willing to change; you may be the last person to see the change, but others will soon spot it and be happy to review their opinions of you. 

As this year’s Christmastime soon comes to a conclusion, ask yourself, what would you like to be known for and then give yourself a personality makeover. If you think you’re perfect, ask a close friend to tell you the truth. 

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,but an enemy multiplies kisses. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th December 2019

In Luke 2, we read the story of the birth of Jesus and in the same chapter (vs 41-52) we also read some 12 years on when Jesus went to the temple with his parents and they lost him!

His parents were in relationship with him (obviously) yet still managed to lose him. Notice how and where they lost him…by observing customs and traditions. It was their custom to go to the temple for the feast. They were busy doing what they had to do and even though what they were doing was good, they still lost him. We need to all make sure that Jesus does not get lost in our customs or traditions…the way we always do things, even though they seem good…we have to be careful, because we can still forget Him in the midst of our busyness. 

In verse 44 it says “they presumed he was with them” – presumption is the sin of over- familiarity. They thought he was with them. Presumption is dangerous, it can lead to many mistakes and upsets. Notice it took them one day to lose him and three days to find him! I love what Jesus says back to his parents (v 49) “ I wasn’t lost, I was here in my Father’s House” In other words, I wasn’t lost, you were. Jesus is always near, if we feel He isn’t, guess who moved? 


As one year comes to a close and another begins, make sure Jesus is close, make sure your customs and traditions and busyness haven’t got in the way of Him being in your life and working in your life. 


Don’t presume He is with you… make sure He is. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th December 2019

Maybe you are pulling up to the end of the year feeling exhausted, and a bit battered and bruised. We can all reflect on the year that has been and undoubtedly recall moments that weren’t easy. Days that were not planned on January 1st 2019. Days where you needed God – empty tank days and desperate days. 

We can reach the end of a year and feel like we are ready to kiss it goodbye and start with a January 1st clean slate. But like the January 1st before it, the New Year promises a year of both highlights and lowlights – this is the reality of real life, and the life that Jesus told us we would experience. What is important is how we walk out every season – our attitude and approach. Psychologists have concluded that our quality of life is more about our attitude and approach amidst difficulties, than it is the difficulties that we encounter. 

So what should be our approach?

Firstly, God promises us that we should not be fearful about the future. He tells us not to worry about ANYTHING (Matthew 6:25). 

God has plans for you this year. And they are plans to allow you to fly (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises that as we trust Him in 2020, He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Consider His goodness towards you in 2019. His faithfulness. His voice in the dark times, the fact that you are alive today with another year of lessons under your belt. Reflect on the times that God showed new mercy and grace to you. Be grateful that the best is yet to come.

Before we brush an entire year under the mat because of burn-out, struggles or disappointments let us continue to be prayerful for the future, and so thankful for the year that has been (Philippians 4:6-7). 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living. E

Fresh Hope – 26th December 2019

The Christmas spirit can motivate us to be generous, and while this most definitely isn’t a bad thing, our giving should include and extend beyond the festive feels. The Holy Spirit invites us into a lifestyle of generosity. 

Being made in the image of God, who is unfathomably generous, it is in our nature to be people who are open handed and open hearted. Does God want us to give everything away? No! He blesses us for us sometimes, and He also blesses us so we can be a blessing to others. That is the beauty of walking with the Holy Spirit – we discern day-by-day, opportunity-by-opportunity what is for us to partner with Him on. 

When we talk about generosity, it isn’t just referring to just giving away money. Generosity with finances is certainly something God calls us to, but equally He invites us to be generous with encouragement, the honouring of others, with time, and talent. 

A person with a generous spirit will actively, and attentively look out for the needs and genuine interests of others. They will eagerly look for an opportunity to display generosity. At the heart of generosity is a desire to honour God, and honour people…And not that we just do it for this – but naturally there is a blessing and fruitfulness when we do give. Why? Because generosity is a sacrifice, and God is drawn to sacrifice. His fire and favour rests on sacrifice. 

A closed hand cannot give out, and it also cannot receive. A closed hand cannot sow, and it cannot reap. But as God opens His hands and heart towards us, we too can open our hands and heart towards others – yes, Christmas time is a great time to do this, but also beyond. 

In Acts 2 we read of a church family where miracles, signs and wonders were a regular part of the church culture. 

Acts 2:43, ‘Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done…’

As the church witnessed the generous hand and heart of God, it overflowed into their personal lives. Acts 2:45, ‘They sold their possessions and their goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need’. The power of God is evident here because Jesus became much more important to them than their possessions. The person next to them who was in need became much more important than what they had. They lived attentive to the needs of others. 

In the spirit of Christmas, and in living a life that is Spirit-led, consider the sacrifices you can make in 2020 in order to display greater levels of generosity – is it offering your time and talent? Giving money? Spending time with someone that isn’t ‘easy’? Thinking of yourself less and developing an awareness of others more? 

If you’re struggling to maintain a generous lifestyle, then first discover the generosity of God toward you and you will find it difficult to not emulate His goodness.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th December 2019

TODAY in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2 v 11)

Happy Christmas!

As we celebrate on this very special day, just take a few moments to THINK and to THANK right now. 

Think about the fact that no human birth could have born a saviour to us. That would be no different to you or I standing up today at the Christmas lunch table, stating that God had made us the saviour of the world. It is simply something we cannot do, as we too are in need of a saviour — a drowning man cannot save another drowning man. 


God had a special plan. He would choose an ordinary woman and do something extraordinary through her. 

The Virgin birth is central to the Christmas message, not because it makes a nice scene in a nativity play, but because it was the only way God could send His son into the world. 


Jesus had to arrive a different way, a way in which He would not just be another human being unable to save anyone, but someone that bypassed the sinful bloodline that each one of us carries since the fall of mankind. 


Jesus, born of a virgin, was not the product of an earthy father, but of God, His Heavenly Father.
…Luke 1:34-35 ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 

Jesus was no ordinary man, prophet, god or a deluded person believing himself to be a saviour; He was born in such a way that excluded him from being born in sin, whilst at the same time including him in the human race in order to come down to our level. 

You may well ask: how on earth could that ever happen?
That’s exactly the question that Mary asked…
‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ (Luke 1 v 34).


The answer came back…’for nothing is impossible with God’. (Luke 1 v 37)
As we think and thank on this Christmas Day, let’s never lose sight of the awe and wonder of the Virgin birth – it’s the only way our Saviour could have arrived.
…and remember, whatever impossibilities you may be facing today — with God, all things are possible.
Pause for a moment right now and thank God for the wonder of Christmas. 

Have a magnificent ‘Saviours’ day. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th December 2019

When the Angel Gabriel delivered the news to Mary and Joseph, he told them that the name of their baby was to be Jesus. There were no other names suitable for this special baby, He had to be named Jesus —why?


The name Jesus means ‘God saves’. When the Angel announced the name, he also wanted everyone to be quite clear as to why…’for He will save His people from their sins’. The message didn’t just stop there though, as just a few verses later into the Christmas story, the Angel further announces that He will be called or known as Emmanuel.

Everyone of us is named one thing and called another from time to time. Jesus was no exception; what He would be called and known for was more than just the name Jesus, as Emmanuel means ‘God with us’.


Can you imagine the breathtaking news that this day brought – not only is the world getting a saviour, but this saviour was to be God in the flesh. God so wanted to come down to our level that He came as Himself in the form of Jesus. WOW!
Today, the same is still as true as it was then, in that every Christmas that comes and goes is yet again a reminder that God is with us. Maybe you only ever think of God as somewhere out there, someone that exists, but cannot be personally known. Jesus’ arrival changed all that in that He made it possible to be known, yes, personally known.


His arrival into Bethlehem is actually an open invitation for you to come to Him and allow Him into your life. Jesus is the ‘knowable’ God. 
The Inn keeper is one of the best known characters in the nativity play, as he was the fella that said ‘no room’. Don’t be like him today as you get caught up in the busy-ness of Christmas, but be like the shepherds that put their own lives on hold just to come and see.

Take a look at Jesus this Christmas – after all, it’s His birthday that we are celebrating. 
Maybe the last words of the old carol, ‘in the bleak mid winter’ will help you in making that decision today…
What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give Him my heart. 

May I take this opportunity today to personally invite you to the very special family CHRISTMAS EVE service tonight at 6pm. (Doors and coffee shop open at 5pm). Ample offsite overflow parking is available.
I look forward to seeing you.  

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd December 2019

I heard someone say recently, ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’


I’m sure you know this to be true. If you’ve ever had someone correct you, or even encourage you, it is always received better when you know the person’s motive to be pure.


This Christmas, at every opportunity, show people how much you care. Maybe you can’t do so through a gift, but we all have words. Use what you do have to communicate your care for the people in your world.


One of the lessons that my Dad has taught me is that people don’t remember so much what you say to them as much as they remember how you make them feel.


I don’t want to see others as a means to offload everything happening in my life, but rather I want to be the one extending a listening ear, giving people the time of day, letting them know that they matter.


And when the time comes for a difficult conversation with a loved one, or a moment for me to share from the knowledge or experience I may have, people are fully aware, this comes from someone who cares.


Do people know how much you care? Do they feel better after spending time with you?


This holiday season, don’t show people how much you know, show them how much you care!
I pray this Christmas is your best one yet.

Caleb Burchell
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st December 2019

This week I have been thinking about the shepherds from the Christmas story, you can read about them in Luke chapter 2. The King of the Universe, the one who made the Heavens and the earth and everything in it, arrived on planet earth in the form of a human baby and the first people he wanted to know about it were shepherds! Not kings or ‘special’ VIPs but shepherds. They were on the lowest rung of the social ladder, they would have been paid very poorly for their work and they would have lived a very humble life…and yet God chose them to announce His birth to and they were invited to be the very first to meet the KING of KINGS himself.  

That gives me hope. However unworthy you may feel today, God wants you to know that you matter so much, He wants to have an encounter with you.  

I love what verse 19  says “and Mary pondered all these things in her heart” – what things? The fact that she too from a humble background had been chosen to give birth to the Saviour of the World and maybe also that the first visitors that God in Heaven had chosen were lowly shepherds. She must have had great anticipation that this was going to be a very special season because of a very special Son.  How precious is that?

I pray that in this very busy season of Christmas, you will make time for an encounter with God yourself. One that will make you sing out “Glory to God in the Highest” and one that as you come out of Christmas, will make YOU ponder all these things in your heart. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th December 2019

As we approach this Christmas time, think about what you’re putting value on, because it determines whether you will end up feeling disappointed or encouraged. As we fast approach 2020, let’s be aware again that whatever we put value on will determine whether the year is a triumphant success or again a disappointing let down.

In 2 King 17:15, we read ‘They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.’

Whatever you value in life, attaches a value or meaning to your own self worth. If all you dream about and work towards is for example holidays, you will feel good or bad dependant on that. Ultimately when the very temporary holiday is over, you feel empty.
Here’s some great words to help us approach Christmas and 2020:

John 1:9-12 | NIV
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

The more we learn to put our value on Jesus, the more worth we feel in ourselves! As it states ‘children of God!’

Our family and friends are great blessings, but they aren’t the meaning of life; if your children are your sole focus, you will forever be disappointed and will end up feeling worthless.

Houses, jobs and holidays are great as well. But if they are your primary dream of 2020, you will judge 2020 based on these and ultimately end up struggling for meaning as you become as worthless as the idols you pursue.

Today in all the busy Christmas preparations and excitement, let’s focus on these words of Jesus in John 6:35 ‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Let’s realign our hearts today, let’s not put our hope in creation but the creator, let’s not seek blessings but the one who blesses.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Let’s make sure today we choose to give our primary attention and value to Jesus, and in doing so we will become of all value ‘children of God’.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th December 2019

James 3:11&12, ‘Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sister, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs, Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water’. 

There is something to be said for purity. The more pure a diamond, the greater its worth. The more pure the water, the more healthy it is to drink.  A lifestyle that is both salt and fresh water is not only impure, but also impossible. It is either pure or it is not. Our lives are either salt water or fresh water. God is not after perfection, but if your lifestyle isn’t a picture of purity, perhaps there are some things at the source (the heart) that need to be checked. 

Christians can full into the trap of trying to muster up pure behaviour. This isn’t sustainable. It is like pouring salty water into a glass and then distilling that glass of water into purity before finally enjoying drinking it. How exhausting. You are better off going to the source of the water coming out the tap, and bringing that into a place of purity so you can enjoy endless glasses of pure behaviour because the source is in a healthy, pure place! 

You cannot have a life where fresh, pure water is flowing if your heart is in a salty place. 

Some of us arewondering why we can’t love people. Yet in our heart, we are judging others all the time. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. You cannot love people if you are too busy judging them! 

Some of us may be struggling with promoting others, but it’s because we are too busy promoting ourselves to have the time to look out for others. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring! 

Some of us may be struggling to have influence over people, but in our heart we aren’t prepared to serve under people. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. 

Some of us are struggling to speak positively about people and life, yet in our hearts we are harbouring negative attitudes and slander against people. Salt and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring. 

If you feel like your life is in conflict to what you really desire, check the health of the water source of your life – your heart. If you heart is in an unhealthy, salty position, don’t expect fresh and pure water/ behaviour to flow out. It is impossible – it is either one or the other.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th December 2019

The beauty of family is that we are not bound together because we all see eye-to-eye on everything. What binds us together is that we are family. It is love that connects us, not agreement on everything. 

There’s nothing like a federal election to bring out the vocal opinions and passionate viewpoints of people. Our convictions come from our deeply rooted belief systems, so it can be easy to get offended or take it personally when someone challenges what we hold so closely. Our immediate reaction is to disconnect with people when they voice their conflicting values and priorities. 

One of the greatest challenges of this generation is that we can so easily cut off, ‘unfollow’, or ‘block’, people who we disagree with. This is not a healthy way to relate to people. To be able to listen, disagree, and still maintain a loving, respectful relationship is a mark of maturity and a sign that love surpasses all. 

Confrontation, different belief systems and challenging discussions, are not only possible, but also healthy. Our personal world will become very small if we only surround ourselves with opinions and people that make us feel comfortable and never challenge us to think another way. We should in fact seek to understand where people who are different to us are coming from. We do not have to agree, but an attempt to understand and hold honouring conversation is good.   

Consider the grace shown towards you by an all-knowing God. I’m sure he could easily look at our ideas at times and think, ‘Pfft! She has no idea what she is talking about! How small-minded and ridiculous! How dare she have that perspective after everything I have done! What ignorance!’. But in His grace and love, He remains connected to us and seeks out relationship with us above all. He doesn’t dishonour, block or unfollow us because of our beliefs. Why? Because agreement on ideas isn’t what he is primarily after. Relationship and connection is what He is after. Likewise, as the church, we should model the same heart. 

When we feel that people are ignorant, watch that we don’t: 
-Demonise people we disagree with.

 – Create an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. 

– Spiritualise the demeaning of those with different persuasions. 

In today’s political climate where tension and emotions are high and different views and contrasting opinions are vocalised, let the church be a picture of a family marked by grace and kindness, regardless of political stand points. Be aware of your thoughts and words. Watch what you partner with in conversations and over social media. Remember, the enemy will take any opportunity to bring division in God’s family.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th December 2019



One of my childhood memories of the Christmas season was centred around a huge fitted cupboard in my sisters bedroom.

The cupboard, known as the ‘big cupboard’, was built across the whole width of the far side of the room. It came up from the floor to about three feet in height and had two hinged lids that could be folded right back against the wall. We would spend hours pulling out old stuff from that cupboard, in order to make space for the incoming toys, cars, games and puzzles that myself, my brother and sister hoped would be coming out way that Christmas.

We ended up rarely throwing anything away as the old stuff seemed to have more of a magical attraction than the new after it had spent a year or two hidden away from sight.

Many a boring Saturday throughout the year would be spent propping open the lid and digging deep to see what we could find that had long since been forgotten. Toys and games from many a Christmas past were often bought back to life and played with just as if we’d never seen them before. If ever there was a childhood treasure chest then that simple cupboard would be one of them.

The big cupboard reminds be so much of the hidden treasures contained in the Bible; no matter how old they are, they are able to bring something fresh and alive to us, know matter how many times that we may have read them before.

I have personally read through the Bible many times over the last 30 years, but no matter when I read it, there is always something new to inspire, teach and transform me on any given day. Sometimes it feels like that I have never read it before as its pages take a hold of me just as if they were freshly written that day.
Digging deep into the Bible means that you have to set aside some time each day to uncover the hidden treasures that God has placed within its pages just for your own benefit and blessing.

I have acquired so many books over the years and I’ll often have about three on the go all at the same time; yet when they have been read once I rarely read a book a second time.

The Bible is unique in that you can go back to it time and time again and discover pearls of wisdom and truth, and more importantly discover the living Jesus on every page.

The Christ of Christmas is just as real today as when he first stepped into this world 2000 years ago.

Make a decision today to lift the lid on the Bible and find real life, fresh hope, inspiration and wisdom on its pages – it’s Gods treasure chest to you every day.

Luke 2:16-19 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th December 2019

I’m sure that we will all take part in a Christmas quiz or two over the next couple of weeks. In fact, our family Christmas parties rarely go by without a pretty well organised quiz, even though they usually end up with heated arguments over the right answers!


While you’re getting yourself in the Christmas quiz mood, here’s a question…
What was the very first words that God spoke in the Bible?


Answer: Let there be light.
It’s one of the biggest clues to the very nature of God in that He doesn’t want you to be in the dark.  There’s also a little more to it than meets the eye too; the word translated light from the original text is the word ‘order’, and the word for dark came from the word meaning ‘chaos’.
Think about it for a moment…the first thing that God wanted for this world was to light it up so that the chaos could be bought to order.  In fact740 years before Jesus came to earth, we read these words…


Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 
Now, if we skip to the New Testament, we find the fulfilment of that promise…


When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8 v 12 
Have you ever wondered why, when everything seems to working in your life just fine, that there’s still a longing for something more?


Have you ever wondered why in a very brightly lit world why you feel as if you’re in the dark?
Maybe you would describe your existence like this…’everything is working, but there’s just something missing’.


That something is what Jesus called the ‘light of life’. He said that if you find it you will never walk in darkness again. WOW!


That, my friend is the greatest gift that anyone could ever possibly give you—to step out of the dark and walk in the light from this moment forward. 


I’m sure that we’ve all been in a power cut from time to time. What’s the first thing that you reach for? A candle? A torch? The light from your phone? The truth is that everything comes to a standstill until the power comes back on. Whilst it’s off, your life is disorientated and even quite fearful, yet just one light can dispel the darkness.
Having the ‘light of life’ means that your life comes alive and you begin to see clearly where you’re going for the first time; Your life comes ALIVE.  


My question to you during this Christmas season is simply this: Have you got it? Have you found it? Or is life just one big puzzle?
When a popular town plans a date to have its Christmas lights switched on, it usually invites a celebrity to do so.
The one most important thing that you could do today is to invite the greatest person that ever walked the earth to switch your light on so that you will never walk in darkness again and in doing so this Christmas will become the most meaningful ever and 2020 will be like no other. 
Everything changes when the light goes on.
Invite Jesus into your life right now.  He’s just waiting for you to ask.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th December 2019

Make sure you’re listening!… that’s something we’re all familiar with I’m sure.  Those ladies with husbands… you know they can hear you, but they’re not listening, those parents with children, you know they can hear you, but you also know they’re not listening. I’m sure you all know exactly what I mean. 

It’s also easy to get distracted.  When someone is talking to me, I always try to make a point to focus and listen to them and not get distracted.  I’m sure we’ve all encountered or been that person, who asks a question, but then doesn’t listen to the answer…and how about that person who you’re talking to, but they’re on their mobile device and don’t even look up at you.. don’t be that person!
But what about when God wants to speak to you and you’re so distracted that you don’t hear? Some of us can be so busy we miss out on those special moments in life, because we don’t hear what we are supposed to. 


Recently, I was on a train with my daughter, we were so busy chatting, that we didn’t hear the announcer say “the next station is…”.  Oh my word, we missed our stop and had to go to the next station. That was so inconvenient, as my husband was waiting to pick us up and had to drive to the next station!

How often do we miss God’s instructions for our lives, because we are simply not listening.. and then we end up in completely the wrong place because we didn’t hear?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to go to the wrong stop, to take a detour. I don’t want to be that person, who is so focused on stuff that doesn’t matter, that I miss the things that do. 
Tune your heart to the Holy Spirit today.  
Make sure you’re listening… and even in the busy-ness of this season, don’t miss out on His instructions. He has some great places to lead you to. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th December 2019

In the gospel of Luke we have this story of Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42 | NIV
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is a great example of how we can be so easily distracted, even with serving and doing the right thing, that we miss the point of what it’s all about!

As we approach Christmas this year,with all its busyness I want to encourage you to stop! Right now stop and take your time. Turn your attention to who this season is all about! Sit at his feet like Mary, stop worrying about so many things. Make sure that in all the chaos of family, friends and Christmas preparations that we don’t lose focus of the true reason for the season!

I have often been disappointed around this time of year, we build up our expectations, we spend money we don’t have for this one off occasion and so often it’s a let down. Not quite Christmassy enough, or maybe people haven’t appreciated our efforts enough. 

The opposite of disappointment is appointment. So to be diss-appointed means to be taken out of an appointment, removed from a position you felt you should have. Mary’s position that she chose was at the feet of Jesus and I love what Jesus said about her choice, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Whatever your holidays are like this year be sure to put yourself at the feet of who the holiday is for, choose what is better, don’t get disappointed this Christmas, but start today as you mean to go on, at the feet of Jesus – it is the one position no one can take from you! 

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th December 2019

It’s not always easy to trust, when you can’t see the outcome.

A lot of the time, walking with God is a case of
moving one step at a time, trusting that what you’re doing is right.

When I was younger, I used to love watching a programme called Art Attack. There was a segment on the show called ‘Big Art Attack’, where the presenter would create a masterpiece in a very large area, such as a warehouse or a field. He would collect seemingly random items and place them together. From the ground, the masterpiece wouldn’t make much sense. However, when the camera zoomed out, he would have made something like a peacock or a juggling clown.

It used to be frustrating, trying to guess what
these small items, carefully positioned, were eventually going to become.

Life can be much like this. Sometimes, where we
found ourselves or what God asks us to do just doesn’t make sense to us. Our life is made up of many small elements; different relationships, conversations, challenges and victories. It can all feel a little bit random.

Remember today that God sees beginning to end. Not only that but He has a purpose for every experience. You may find yourself asking ‘why?’. When we’re ‘zoomed in’ to our lives and living the day-to-day, we can’t always understand what is going on around us.

Be encouraged that when you ‘zoom out’ and look at your life from Heaven’s perspective, God has been creating a beautiful masterpiece, all along.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

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Fresh Hope – 11th December 2019

Recently, I was driving along and must admit, I wasn’t entirely paying attention – I was just eager to get out of the traffic and get to my destination as quickly as possible. As the traffic lights turned green and I pulled off, I realised that my car has slowed right down and had started to beep loudly!

In a flash, my thoughts had raced to the worst case scenario – “I’ve broken down and I’m going to have to be rescued.” “I’m going to miss this appointment.” “This is going to cost me a fortune.” But as I looked to see which warning light was flashing, I realised my handbrake was still on! I simply released it and off I went.

Often in life, this is how we react to stressful situations. Something doesn’t ‘feel right’ – as in our peace is gone or we’re in a state of stress. Then the ‘beeping’ starts — which usually manifests itself in worry and anxious thoughts and trying to figure out what’s going on. Then, when we take a moment, we may reflect and realise what is happening. And that is the point where God can come along and set us free…or release that handbrake!

Imagine if I’d sat at those traffic lights for another hour, waiting for the RAC, only for them to come along and release my handbrake! What a waste of time and resource. Yet, that’s how we approach our circumstances at times and we find ourselves unable to accelerate.

Let me remind you today that whatever you are facing, you already have the victory and God wants to take your burden.

Matthew 11:28 says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ He wants to take those things from you that you’ve taken up yourself.

So take a moment to surrender today and stop driving with your handbrake on. You’ll be in for a much smoother journey.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th December 2019

How often in life do we miss out on something wonderful because we are completely ignorant of it – sometimes by choice? I can personally think of many times where I have chosen to remain ignorant and missed out because I haven’t taken time to explore and discover. I’ve settled for the easy and comfortable option. I didn’t bother reading reviews, checking offers, ensuring the deadlines, researching what the Bible really means in its true context. Rather than seeking out truth, I have passively been feed ideas from media and others sources, allowing these means to form my opinions. Ignorance and choosing to not seek out knowledge is dangerous. 

I recently considered how people who are not interested in the Christian faith probably don’t understand God and Christianity simply because perhaps they have never truly been curious or interested enough in it. Maybe if they had a genuine interest, taken the time to consider life’s deeper questions, and truly explored, then I imagine relationship with God might be very hard for them to deny or resist.

In short, when we choose not to explore and learn we actually miss out on something wonderful! Some people would rather remain as they are, then actively seek out and discover something that would change their life. 

Ignorance leaves you where you are – comfortable and small. Seeking out knowledge and understanding propels you forward and opens up your world. 

Proverbs, the book of wisdom, speaks over and over about the importance of having a hunger to learn more, and gain wisdom and understanding. 

‘An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge’, Proverbs 18:15. 

‘A man of knowledge enhances his might’, Proverbs 24:5. 

‘Blessed is the one who gets understanding’, Proverbs 3:3. 

We should have a curious heart, hungry to learn, eager to search out truth, knowledge and answers. 

Part of ‘loving the Lord with your mind’ (Luke 10:27), is using it to gain wisdom and understanding, and refusing to remain ignorant! Imagine the rich reward that waits on the other side of understanding! 

There is more for all of us than what we know now! Ask God those big questions, seek out the answers, research the wisdom of God on topics, speak to experienced people. Grow in wisdom and understanding and develop a love for learning!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th December 2019

The king of kings, the saviour of the world, was born not in a palace, not in a castle, not with a big, grand royal announcement, but in… a barn. Surrounded by animals. With the smell of poo and hay in the air. This is how the most precious and powerful person of all time entered this world. Jesus was birthed into a mess. But even his birth was a prophetic statement about who he was. 

Jesus came as a humble servant. He was king, but He came as a man to serve. He wasn’t after a platform, a stage or grand entrance. He came as a representation of you and me – born perhaps in unexpected and humble circumstances, but called. He also came as a representation of God – a God who isn’t afraid to get involved in our mess. 

The first lesson we can gain from Jesus’ birth situation is: 1. Don’t ignore the assuming. This could be those unassuming people around you, or perhaps it is yourself! God loves to use the most unassuming and humble people and situations to do the most powerful things. We are trained to have our attention taken by the shining, sparkling, perfected aspects of our society, but that is not where God was found. He was found in a pile of hay in a random town. Don’t assume that the greatest gifts in life are going to come from perfect places. They could come from something very ordinary or even messy. 

The second lesson we can gain from Jesus’ birth situation is: 2. Be prepared for mess. Mary had agreed to carry the saviour of the world, taking on all the drama and judgment that would have come along with it too. You think God would have at least rewarded her with a really nice place to birth the saviour…not a barn! Surely God could have pulled off something a little less messy? Buuut God had a message in all this. Beautiful things are birthed in mess. The perfect, clean-cut circumstances around your life aren’t what determines the value of who you are and what God has for you. Messy life circumstances don’t change who you are! 

Jesus is no less the messiah based on where He was born. 

This Christmas, if your life feels a little messy, perfect! Consider what God may be birthing through it all. 

I think God was so intentional about Jesus’ birth being in a mess. I think there is part of all of us that can connect with a God who comes to meet humanity in a mess.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th December 2019

Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever got to a place of feeling you’ve hit rock bottom? If so, don’t despair, there is hope!


In  Luke 15 vs 11-32 we read the story of two brothers; one decided that he knew best, took his share of his father’s inheritance and off he went and blew the whole lot on riotous living.  
He was so desperate and hungry that he ended up with a job feeding pigs. It was there in the ‘pig muck’ that he came to his senses.  Whilst he was at the lowest of the low, he had two choices. Do I stay where I am and blame God? Or do I admit that I was wrong, made a wrong choice and messed up and go back to my father?

Fortunately, we are told “he came to his senses” (vs 17) and went back home.  He decided that even the servants in his Dad’s house would be eating better than him. 

Two things to notice about His Dad. 1. He let him go willingly. That’s like God with us – He lets us make our own choices, even when he knows they are wrong for us. It’s called free will. 

2. He welcomed him back with open arms, no judgement, just grace and mercy…gave him the best clothes and threw a party! That’s like our God.  He just wants us to come to our senses and often he will allow a ‘pig muck’ experience into our lives so that we will realise it. 


If you’re in the muck today, good. It’s an opportunity to make a new decision, a new choice.  The right decision, the right choice. It was the muck that made this guy see what he needed to see. 
Final thought: never be too proud to go back home. It’s where you belong.  God is only a prayer away. 

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

Fresh Hope – 6th December 2019


Matthew 6:34 says ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

It’s completely normal to worry but it is not something that God wants you to live with.

At the beginning of this busy season, it is quite possible that you have already thought ahead to how the next few weeks are going to pan out.

If you are anything like me, you plan your days and make a note of things that you need to get done. There will definitely be things on your list that you would rather avoid.

Don’t allow worry to spoil the day that God has for you. We can live in the peace that no matter what, God goes before us. We can’t go ahead in time to make sure that everything will be okay… but He can. Matthew 6:34 is a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient for every single
day of our lives. He has everything that we need ready for us, if only we will ask. So replace your worry with prayer.

Today, I encourage you to take your day and invite God in. It may be something that we only do in passing but God is in the detail and cares about even seemingly insignificant things. Worry does not add one second to our lives but when we hand our cares to God, He steps in to
do what we can’t.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th December 2019

I’d love to be free from pain.
I’m not physically ill.
I don’t have a broken bone or have arthritis.
I’m not taking medication for anything. 
The pain I feel is therefore nothing to do with my physical body, but is something that is part and parcel of living a life for God. 
The pain I’m describing is not exclusively mine as it belongs to us all.


None of us ever sign up to follow Jesus because we are attracted to pain, but often because we want to live a life free from pain, however, the pain I speak of is the unavoidable and inevitable pain of the daily trials that we all face. 
I came to a conclusion many years ago that ‘there will always be a problem’.
It’s not a faithless statement, but it is a realistic statement that helps us gain a proper perspective on what it’s like to live a daily life for God. 

1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful and fiery trial that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 


How many of us are so surprised when we find a painful trial sprung upon us?
Yet the Bible is advising us that we shouldn’t be – in fact, it’s actually teaching us that trials are our friends and not our enemies.


By virtue of the fact that this verse says that we shouldn’t think that ‘something strange is happening to us’ when we go through trials, indicates that we should embrace difficulties as character makers, rather character breakers


My friends today, if you are in the middle of pain because of a trial that you are facing, then don’t dismay, but understand that every Christian is in just the same boat.


Our trials will be different and will come at different times and seasons in our lives, but be assured of this, they are not a sign that God has left you, but is right there holding your hand to bring you out the other side a better and stronger person for it. 


James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th December 2019

Christmas time evokes all sorts of feelings and emotions for us. For some it is the most special time of the year – family, food and friends. For others, the painful realities of their lives are highlighted – lonely, broke, another year of no progress, perhaps forced celebrations with people who we don’t particularly enjoy, or maybe the deep pain of losing a loved one.  

Yet perhaps the festive season has a purpose in forcing us to face such emotions! It highlights that yes, we have needs, yet we equally have a more overwhelming hope. As beautiful as the gifts may be, delicious as the food is, and as frantic as the retail hype is, Christmas is actually about remembering that in our consuming situations and emotions, a hope was birthed for us! Jesus was gifted to us! 

I recently heard a heart-breaking comment made that the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, is ‘just a myth’ and the real meaning of Christmas is about time with family and friends. Aside from this comment being historically inaccurate (we won’t go into it), I found it saddening that someone could live in this broken world without a hope in something beyond us! Yes family and friends are a beautiful aspect of the festive season and should be thoroughly enjoyed, but what if you don’t have family or friends? Or what if your family and friends fail you? What then is your hope? 

Without a strong hope, our soul (mind and emotions) are tossed to and fro by the storms of life. Hebrews 6:19 says, ‘Hope is the anchor to our soul’. The surest hope we have is in Jesus. He is our security this Christmas. 

Yes – make amazing dinners this Christmas, yes – enjoy time with those who are precious to you, yes – buy presents and share, but as wonderful as these things are, don’t neglect to remember the hope that was given to you, and don’t forget topass it on, for this is the real meaning of Christmas!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd December 2019

We don’t date God. He isn’t an event, an occasion, the walk-in centre at the hospital when we find ourselves in desperate trouble. In His grace, He will make Himself available to us at an event, an occasion or when we find ourselves in desperate trouble, but this isn’t God’s full intent for our lives. 

I’m sure we all know of people who claim to never believe in God, but when they find themselves in a time of great desperation, it’s Him they turn to, praying, and asking Him to intervene. Then once on their feet again, they forget about Him, cracking on with their own, self-sufficient lives. 

From the beginning of creation, God’s intent for us has been that we would ‘be one with Him’. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve shared in perfect relationship with God. Sin then broke this union, putting up barrier between God and man. Jesus then restored that union. Today we live in perfect union with Christ. Romans 6:5 says, ‘we are permanently grafted into Him’. 

Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues of plants are joined so as to continue their growth together. A bud is taken from one plant and grown onto the ‘root plant’ of another. The result is two plants that appear as one plant. 

When you are unified with something, it is impossible to make that something an occasion, or an event. Union means you are tied to that thing. To be in ‘union’, means ‘to be joined together’. It doesn’t leave you, you don’t leave it. He doesn’t leave you, you don’t leave Him. You are grafted. 

We don’t go to church to meet God, we met Him at salvation and He never left us. Our lives should be an ongoing conversation with Him, an ongoing acknowledgement that He is always with us! 

In Galatians 5:16, we are encouraged to ‘walk in the Spirit’. This means to walk – go about the mundane day-to-day activities of our lives, acknowledging the voice and presence of God. 

As long as we treat God as a date – someone we pick up and drop off, making no commitment, is as long as we will not fully experience the intimacy and fullness of relationship that is available to us! 

God is not a feel-good fix on the side of our lives. He truly is the centre, the source, the ‘root plant’ of our lives.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd December 2019



Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.

Every supermarket nowadays has a very basic range of products in order to appeal to shoppers that want or need to purchase goods at the lowest possible value.

We are all aware of entry level ranges that carry labels like ‘smart price’, ‘basics’ or ‘value range’.

Those special labels that we have come to recognise, help us to identify quality at affordable prices, knowing that there is not going to be anything of a better value than this. The supermarket branding is telling us that this is the lowest we can go. There is no need to search for a bargain, as this is it!

As we search in life for what is of great value today, we have to come to a point of understanding that there is a very basic entry level to which we can go and no lower. If we go any lower in the way we conduct ourselves, then we have passed the point of being effective and helping anyone out there today.

The basics of our faith can be displayed at the very least in three areas…our Mouth, our Mind and our Moods.

You may well be able…but can I ask…are you stable?

Are you depend- able?

Are you reli-able?

The labels on the value range of our faith have got to be displayed in us being trustworthy, having integrity, and living honestly.

If you are living below the the very basics of who we are, then we are living below the ‘spiritual poverty line’. You cannot live any lower than that and profess to be a Christian.

Stop blaming everyone else for your mouth, mind and mood. The only way others can influence you is by you allowing them to.

One translation of the above verse, says…’like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who has no rule over his spirit.’

It’s time to get back to basics and start taking rule over your own life.

Stop telling half truths which are really lies. Stop compromising your stance on things which really means you are afraid to be counted. Stop making lame excuses for being late, being in a mood and ripping into someone with your tongue again.

Your values have been compromised and there is no one to blame but yourself.

Ask God to forgive you right now and start to live a life that worthy of God’s calling on you once again.

Colossians 1:10 … live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th November 2019

I love the book of Daniel.  It’s full of wonderful truths and teaching. I was reading it again this week and was encouraged by the account of the three guys Meschach, Shadrach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to a foreign god. 

Sometimes we find ourselves in a ‘fire’ unexpectedly, (which means we didn’t expect it) , it came from nowhere and yet other times we know that maybe,  through our brave decisions, we will be walking into a fire. That’s what happened to these three – they knew the consequences and yet still stood up for their God. 

I love what it says in verses 24-25 of Daniel 3. “Then the King leapt to his feet in amazement, and said “weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw in the fire? Look! I see four men walking around!”
There was another in the fire

Verse 27 “they saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor singed a single hair on their head, their robes weren’t scorched and they didn’t even smell like fire!” 

They were not harmed
When you go through a difficulty, a storm, or even a FIRE, you won’t be alone AND it won’t harm you. 

It says they weren’t burned, singed or even smelt like fire! That in itself is amazing, you only have to be around cooking and you know how your clothes can smell.   They’d been in a furnace that was so hot, it immediately killed the guards that put them in there and yet they not only weren’t harmed, they didn’t even smell like fire! When you go through it, make sure you don’t smell like bitterness or anger or disappointment or sadness… make sure you only smell like Jesus.  
Remember, Jesus is always with you and He will protect you,  “you will not be harmed.”

When they came out, everyone around praised their God; God wants be glorified through your fire.  
Give Him thanks today that He is always with you. 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th November 2019

As an adult, the word Christmas normally becomes linked with the need for preparation. We prepare our homes, gifts or meals in the anticipation of Christmas Day, often not really thinking about much after the Christmas season. 

But what if the Christmas season wasn’t the end goal, but the starting line? 

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, prophesying: “I baptise you with water but one more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worth to untie”. John humbly and obediently served in preparation for Jesus. 

But before John, there was Elizabeth. Elizabeth was barren for many years until her miracle was fulfilled and she got her baby – John. 

Luke 1:36-38 And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren and here she is six months pregnant, nothing is impossible with God.

Before John prophesied, Elizabeth prophesied.

Before John showed humility, Elizabeth showed humility.

Before John prepared the way for the Lord, Elizabeth prepared him. 

Elizabeth showed John what it was like to live a life of faith and of grace and of power, no matter what her circumstances were. She was barren for years but still served and still worshiped God until her miracle came to pass. 

The way she lived her life had influence which had a knock-on effect. It cascaded further. When we live glorifying Jesus, there is always a cascade – think about the person that first invited you to church and the person that invited them and so on. 

Elizabeth prepared the way for John. 

John prepared the way for Jesus.

As we prepare for the Christmas season, consider who we are preparing for. Are we serving with a gracious heart? Are we loving people harder? Are we sharing the real reason for Christmas and inviting people to church? That invite could be the reason for someone opening their heart to Jesus and sharing Him with their circle. 

Consider the cascade effect.

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2019

One of the greatest desires of the human heart is to be part of a team. We want a squad of champions around us!

I’ve never met an emotionally healthy person who doesn’t want friends or that sense of family. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’d really like to figure out this tough situation all on my own without love and support please.”

God designed us to crave community. As a teacher I once underwent some training on how to recognise if our students have been groomed for radicalisation. When you get to the essence of the radicalisation of young people, it is really a young person looking for a sense of belonging. They want to be a part of something, even if it is a distorted version of community. It is the same with gang culture. At our very essence we are not designed to do life on our own – we crave being a part of something. 

We need team mates, community, people encouraging us, leading us, showing us the way, and in turn, we are wired to want to invest into others, and make a difference for someone else. 

A few years ago I was in church service in America. It was just a week before Christmas and the pastor asked any single mothers who wouldn’t be having Christmas unless God provides to stand up. All across the congregation single mothers stood up. Without any force from the pastor, more than half of the church (of about 1000 people), pulled out their wallets and went over to the standing single Mums, and handed them piles upon piles of cash. As the sobbing mothers took the offerings, I was overwhelmed with this powerful picture of community. It was such a profound moment for me. This was a true picture of family and community. Actively looking after each other, a heart to meet each other’s needs, and championing them in life. We are designed to figure out life with other people.

What is the opposite of teammates? Competitors. 

Competition with those around us violates our God-given design. We aren’t made to ride solo and be in it for ourselves. We aren’t made to win and make ourselves look good so others feel bad, we are made to inspire, to lead and encourage others to win in life too!

There is life-changing power in a community where we look after one another’s needs instead of merely thinking about our own!

In the spirit of the early church, ‘may we meet together and share everything we have’ (Acts 2:44).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th November 2019

At the start of the year I wrote a list of personal goals. I split the goals into categories: spiritual, health/fitness, relationships, financial etc. 

I recently reviewed the list of goals and was pleased to find that a lot of the goals had been achieved. Things that seemed like huge mountains at the beginning of the year really seemed quite trivial and attainable reviewing them on the other side of the year. 

I have already started considering what I might put on my 2020 goals list. While I don’t think our lives should be totally goal driven, I think it is important to have a sense of intentionality in what we are doing with our time and where we are going. 

Time is the only non-renewable resource we have. Once gone, we never get it again. There isn’t an unlimited supply of it. It really is precious. 

I believe one of the key characteristics of someone stewarding their time well is someone who doesn’t just let life happen, but carefully considers it and acts with intentionality and purpose. 

We may be facing overwhelming situations at the moment. You may feel like you are in survival mode and don’t really have the capacity for goal setting, but I believe God honours us and our goals when we commit our plans to Him and present specific requests to Him, even when we are just getting by one day at a time. 

Can I encourage you to pray over the last leg of the year for God to give you some fresh perspective, some fresh hope, some fresh ideas for the new year?

Practically speaking, if you are a looking for some handles on how to improve your use of time and operate with more intentionality, consider: 

What do I need to stop worrying about that is out of my control? 

What do I need to start including in my day that feeds my soul? 

Who do I need to unfollow – in life or on social media? 

When is the last time I got lost in the wonder of the word? 

What consumes too much of my head or heart space that is unhealthy? 

When is the last time I did something for my husband, friend or work mate – just to see them smile? 

What did I do today to prioritise my health (mind, body and soul)? 

When is the last time I did something for the first time? 

What can I start today to make a positive impact on my future? (saving, investing, reading or writing).

God always has something new for you, and His desire is to see you walk into 2020 with a fresh sense of faith for your future. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th November 2019



We’ve all heard the saying ‘it’s out of my hands’, meaning there is nothing more I can do about it now…I’ve done all I can.

This is never more true than in the parable taught in these few verses of the Bible….

Mark 4:26-28… ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.


Notice the ONLY involvement that the man had was that he scattered or sowed the seed. Once the seed left his hands it was literally ‘out of his hands’.

While he slept it grew.

While he worked it grew.

Whether he watched the seed or watched the TV it still grew.

Even if he forgot all about it…it still grew.

If he’d have hung onto the seed in his pocket, then the seed would still have been just seed today.

His ONLY part in this whole process was to SOW the seed…job done.

Several years ago, in an ancient part of Israel, an earthenware pot was discovered. It was believed to be around 2000 years old.

Inside the pot was a handful of seeds.

As an experiment, the seeds were placed in soil and exposed to the sunlight. To everyone’s amazement they began to behave in exactly the same way as they would have done two centuries earlier. They grew into perfectly healthy plants.

Everything you have right now is in seed form, but if you refuse to sow it you’ll never reap a harvest.

Love is a seed. Generosity is a seed. Kindness is a seed. Money is a seed.

You’ll never be short of anything in life if you learn to sow seeds.

Once it’s out of your hands, it’s into God’s hands.

Don’t have everything you need right now? Sow a seed today and watch it become the harvest that you need. 

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.



Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2019

One of the things that you notice whilst driving in the USA is that on the motorway (freeway) they have a carpool lane, which is called the HOV lane, it stands for ‘high occupancy vehicle’. 

It means that if you have two or more passengers, then you can use this lane and avoid the traffic jams. Genius! 

It’s especially helpful in cities and built up areas during peak hours where the traffic is really busy,  It’s there to encourage people to travel together rather than solo in their car. One thing I noticed on my recent trip, is the relief we experienced when we could use the HOV lane and speed past the rest of the traffic!

However,  another observation I made is that some people were happy to sit in the traffic jam when they could’ve used the lane, in other words they had more than two passengers in the car, but for some reason didn’t want to get to where they were going quickly! Why would you want to sit in a traffic jam and waste valuable time, when you could get to your destination a lot quicker?Because you have the very thing that you need to get you there, and that is the right amount of passengers.

God has given us everything we need to get to our destination quickly, directly and efficiently.

The children of Israel were given the option and opportunity to get to the promised land in approximately 11 days,  however due to their decisions and attitudes, they wasted valuable time when they could have got to their destination a lot quicker. It actually took them 40 years and some of them never got there at all.

Whilst being a passenger in the fast lane,  I looked at people in the traffic jam who could have been in our lane, and thought why… why would you not want to move over?

I wonder if God has the same feelings about us? Why would you make a journey last so long when you could get there a lot quicker? We have the tools we need, we can get the wisdom we need and we have the very one we need on our side. God himself.  

One final thought.The high occupancy vehicle lane is there to enable people who travel together, to get there a lot quicker. When you travel with the right people, you too can experience the same.  Life is better together.  Get moving!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2019

How do you respond to Jesus?

In a short section of Mark’s Gospel, there are a series of well-known events in which we see a range of responses from those who had contact with Jesus.

Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4:41) ‘They were terrified and asked each other, “who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!”’

Jesus then sends the ‘legion’ of demons into the herd of pigs (Mark 5:18) ‘Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region’, but in hearing the cured man’s testimony ‘all the people were amazed’.

Jesus then heals the woman who had been subject to bleeding (Mark 5: 33) ‘Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.’

We move swiftly to the raising from the dead of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:39) ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep. But they laughed at him’. However, when she was raised from the dead (Mark 6:42) ‘At this, they were completely astonished’.

From here Jesus returns to his home town and preaches in the synagogue (Mark 6:3) ‘And they took offence at him’.

Clearly when confronted with the wisdom, power and authority of God in the human shape of Jesus, people who had the benefit of actually meeting him face to face had a range of responses from laughter and ridicule; astonishment and awe; hiding from the truth to fear; and those that took offence.

It seems that things have not really changed that much, I am sure we all meet those same responses as we carry God’s message and Jesus inside us into our daily lives. Jesus actually tells us that this will be the case. In Matthew chapter 10 he sends out the Disciples and tells them what they will face and that not all who they speak to will hear and accept the message of the Gospel.

We can’t change other people’s reactions – all we can do is faithfully witness to what we have seen and heard. The rest is in God’s hands. The one thing we can control is ourselves, so the question to ponder is how do I respond to Jesus?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2019

I love the sense of expectation as we approach Christmas. Our children are definitely excited at the thought of something ‘good’ coming their way.


I wonder what you are believing and trusting God for today. Is your attitude one that declares ‘I am in preparation for something…’ or ‘God is going to get something to me and I need to be ready’ or that He will indeed deliver ‘even at the eleventh hour’?


I am reminded of Mary, a young teenage girl whose life was changed forever when she discovered that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus! Whatever her doubts and questions, her response can guide us as to what we can do when faced with the unexpected.
Luke 1:30 The angel said to her ‘Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favour with God.’ 


I believe whilst growing up, Mary would have heard and been told of countless stories of how time and time again God had favoured, honoured and rescued His people, the nation of Israel, how He guided and directed them. His favour had rested on kings and prophets, but also how he had singled out a young shepherd boy, David, Gideon, a reluctant warrior, Ruth a young woman who had lost everything and had an uncertain future but resolved to be faithful to Naomi. Stories of a God who favoured people that others would have overlooked – placing a value on a person’s heart and character instead of their position, stature and strength. 

In that moment Mary understood what Psalm 119:68 declares ‘You are God and what you do is good.’
She did not fully understand but she was determined in her heart to trust Him.
The future, though exciting, is not without its uncertainties and we will encounter situations and often question how and when God will work something out.

Whatever your situation today, know that there is a God who favours you and who longs to demonstrate His faithfulness and committment to you. You may not understand Him or the way that He works nor all that He does, but you can make a decision today to choose to trust Him.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2019

I’m sure you don’t need me to point this out, but much of our lives, if not all of them, are spent with people. With that in mind, I want to spend as much time as I can with the right kind of people.

The truth is, we don’t have control over who we spend all of our time with. Maybe you’re working with people who you wouldn’t have handpicked… maybe you’re living with people who you wouldn’t have handpicked! But when it comes to the moments we can control, as somebody once said, ‘get around people who celebrate you, not those who tolerate you.’
There are times when I have been around people who have taken from me instead of adding to me, and if you’re not careful, like me, you can grow accustomed to this kind of interaction, concluding that this is just how life rolls…

Maybe today is the day you take back control of your time and who you’re spending it with. Give yourself permission to hang around people who make much of your strengths and little of your weaknesses. I once heard someone say, ‘if people can’t make room for my mistakes, they shouldn’t be with me.’I need those kinds of friends! You need those kinds of friends!

Now if you’re wondering, how do I get these kinds of friends?You become that kind of friend. It starts with me and it starts with you.

Let’s make much of people’s strengths and little of their weaknesses. Let’s be those who create room for others’ mistakes and celebrate rather than tolerate.

As I said to begin with, not all of our lives will be spent with people who bring addition to us, so let’s be sure to create moments with those who do.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th November 2019

Aside from our relationship with God, the most precious thing we have on earth is each other. Investing into our relationships with each other is one of the greatest investments you can make. 

The definition of investment is: ‘the act of putting moneyefforttime, etc. into something to make a profit’. Investing is essentially putting in some hard work and sacrifice in order to reap a greater reward. 

I’m not suggesting that we make an effort with people so that we can selfishly gain something, but I am suggesting that there IS something precious to be gained in investing in relationships. 

Relationship is the essence of what God is all about. He shares in perfect relationship with the trinity (Colossians 2:9), He desires personal relationship with humanity (Genesis 1:26), He then made mankind relational in nature, stating that it ‘is not good for man to be alone’ (Genesis 2), and so passionate was His intent for relationship with us that He then made the ultimate investment in sending His only son to die for us (John 3:16). 

We may feel lonely. We may feel like we are seen, but not truly known. We may feel like we are in a crowd, but don’t have true connection. May I propose that if you have people around you, but are struggling in feeling like you don’t have true friendship and relationship, that you consider the following:

 1. Get off screens, and get into real life. 

Social media can be great for surface level networking and creative inspiration, but it is not an appropriate source of genuine connection. We were made for relationship, and the hours spent observing the lives of others, is time you could have spent having real talk, coffee, and connection with someone. 

A recent study proved that on average people are spending at least two hours a day on social media. Over the span of a lifetime, that equals to 6 years and 8 months! For TV, it equated to 8 years and 4 months. That is a total of 14 years of our precious life in front of a screen! Yes, in the colder months, we can have the tendency to hibernate, but consider that for our mental health and fruitfulness of earth, we need genuine connection with people!

 2. Be vulnerable and real. You will not feel fully connected until you feel fully known. Put up a front that people might love, but your true self will never feel loved. You will not be getting the connection, encouragement and relationship that you actually desire and need. Be honest and real with the right people. There is no other way to do life.

 3. Make an investment. Consider how much of your time is consumed pursuing things for selfish gain.  Consider how much of your money you spend on people. Consider how often your language is encouraging toward others. Consider how much effort YOU make for them. What you sow, you reap. Harsh perhaps, but don’t expect a harvest of deep, meaningful friendships, when your investments have been few. Any relationship is built on the grounds of sacrifice. If you want beautiful friendships, it is going to cost you. The greater the investment, the greater the return. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th November 2019

Perfectionism is not from God! The roots of perfectionism are found in religion, which is essentially our attempt to please God through self-effort and striving. It’s performance – where our worth is tied up in the degree of our work. Jesus came to abolish perfection through works (Matthew 5:17)!

Perfectionism will offer you no rest. It will push you to work harder, do more, accomplish more, perform better, and then maybe you will achievea sense of worthiness… but truth is, you never will. Perfectionism is a lie. 

When Jesus proclaimed that He was rest for the weary soul, He was declaring that He was rest for a performing perfectionist (Matthew 11:28-30). 

He is rest from: – Working for approval- The need to achieve for praise- Performing for value – Accomplishing for acknowledgement – Striving for recognition 

Paul reminds us that our wholeness, freedom and true life is not found through us, but through the FINISHED WORK and the gift of grace of our good God (Ephesians 2:8,9). 

God’s approval with us is not based on our works, therefore if His opinion of us is the most valuable in our life, then our works should not be our driving force for a sense of worthiness. 

It doesn’t mean we are the worst version of ourselves – lazy, selfish, and doing a half-hearted job of everything. Infact,  the opposite! We work, serve, and pursue excellence because of His approval towards us, His kindness towards us, His love towards us, and His grace towards us has empowered us! Grace actually enables us to do more than a spirit of perfectionism ever could. 

Working from a place of rest (knowing Jesus finished our need to work for approval) looks like: – Working from love, not for love. – Working from acceptance, not for it – Working from approval, not for it – Working from identity, rather than for it. 

Say no to perfection, and yes to grace!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2019

1 Peter 4:15-16
‘If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name’

We could well find ourselves asking the question: what is a meddler?
Is there such a thing in the 21st century?

Why is it in the same category as murderers, thieves and criminals?
Whatever it is, it must be bad.

Here we go…
A meddler is a busy body; someone who interferes with or concerns themselves with something that is none of their business.
It’s basically a word that sends out a loud and clear message: mind your own business.

I have to admit, I don’t think that I’ve heard anyone ever talk about this in such a serious way, so why would the Bible make it out to be such an offensive thing and list it amongst criminal activity?

Is it not because you have your own life to live and take responsibility for, and therefore to use up your energy trying to poke your nose into everyone else’s business is like playing God with other people’s lives?

God is wanting to send us a clear message that what other people do with their lives should never take away your focus from what you’ve been called to do.

A modern day classic illustration would be found in the realm of social media.
Right now we are able to view people’s pictures, where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We can see what they’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner and who they eating it with. We become party to their party and to top it all we’re even invited to comment.

Self-esteem nowadays is subject to how many ‘likes’ we get on our statuses, and if it’s less than ten, our whole world crumbles around us.

People’s lives have never been made so accessible to so many.
We can spend hours everyday trawling social media to find out the latest gossip and info on anyone’s life that we so wish. We can’t go to sleep at night without mentally rearranging everyone’s life first.
Is it any wonder that meddling is such a modern day curse?

We are using up so much of our energy to internally fight over why they shouldn’t have said that to that person, and why Paul shouldn’t be dating Lucy, and why that selfie is so unflattering.

Just think how free you could be become to use your energy and focus doing good with your own life, if you’d simply mind your own business?

Murderers, thieves and criminals have one thing in common in that they are all facing a prison sentence.
Sadly, being a meddler is just the same; you are chaining yourself as you meddle with so many people’s lives that you are no longer free to sort yourself out.

When was the last time that you consciously stopped trying to live everyone else’s life for them and took care of your own?
The only time we should engage in other people’s lives in this way should be for the common good – to lift them, to care of them, to support them and to pray for them.

Meddling is a meaningless and energy-sapping mental distraction. Stop playing God and be content to practice leadership on your own life.
Make a conscious effort today to pull away from meddling, and use all that freed up time to make your own life count for the good of others.

Freedom!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2019

 

You will only fully realise the potential of something when you let it go.

Too often we want to hold onto things, not realising that we will never see what we were meant to see, if we hold on.

 

A seed will only reach its full potential when it is sown. It will never do anything in your pocket.

When a farmer sows a seed, he doesn’t have a funeral for it – he has great expectation for it. So let it go.  Don’t be scared.

When you release your finances into God’s Kingdom, don’t be scared, don’t be fearful.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 Maybe you have a dream, an idea, and maybe you’re held back by worry or lack of self-esteem, or belief in yourself… let it go, let those fears and concerns leave you and step out. Have great expectation that what you believe for, will come to pass.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its ull potential.

 Maybe you’ve been hurt by someone and you’re not allowing yourself to love again, let that hurt go. Let those feelings of “it will never be any different” right out of your mind. God created us all to love and be loved.  It is in the letting go, that you can be confident that God will replace your fears with something much more special.

 Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 Maybe you’re holding onto unforgiveness, maybe you feel that it’s well deserved to feel that way. The only person that you’re hurting right now, is yourself.  God wants to set you free form that. Unforgiveness leads to hurt and bitterness and even sickness. When you let unforgiveness go, God will swap it for a wonderful peace.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its full potential.

 You see, when I let go of what I’m not supposed to hold onto, there is a divine exchange.

 What should you be letting go of today?

Don’t concern yourself with the letting go, don’t mourn over it.

Be expectant, you just allowed something to reach its  full potential.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2019

I love maps, especially detailed Ordnance Survey maps. Not only do they give me a great overview of where I am, where I am trying to get to but also all the little details on the way. Turn left here; turn right there; there will be a steep hill; a river to cross; marshy ground; a cliff edge; everything I need to know in order to have a safe journey and get to my destination.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a map for life? So that at every turn, at every moment of decision we could simply look down and there would be the answer, the right direction.

The reason maps are so detailed is because someone has been there before and seen the roads, the lie of the land, how high the mountains are, how dense the forest.

The problem is that you and your life are unique, no one has ever lived your life, no one has ever had to make the decisions that you have to make today. How could there be a map?

The other issue with maps is that your destination has to be on the map otherwise it is useless. Again your life is unique, God has a plan for us and we know our destination is eternity, but that plan can be revealed step by step ‘A lantern to my feet’ – not a huge search light.

What we need is a compass. A compass always points north. No matter where you are, how dark, how lost, how dense the forest, how steep the mountain, a compass will always point you in the right direction. If you know your destination then all you have to do is keep a careful eye on the compass and at every turn you will know which is the right way.

The word of God is a compass for your life.

Reading the word of God, hearing the word of God and thinking about the word of God gives us a clear set of principles by which to live, applying those principles daily always takes us in the right direction. The problem is that we stop looking at the compass and try to find our own way, we stop applying the principles that God has given us and we soon get lost.

The great news is that it is never too late to pick up the compass. No matter where you are or how far you have gone off course, the compass of God’s word will take you back in the right direction.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019

 

I recently pulled a muscle in my neck. Doesn’t sound too bad, although with a stiff neck you soon realize your neck is responsible for you being able to see properly, move properly, and interact with people and the tasks of life. An immovable neck makes for a challenging day.

The Bible actually talks about having a stiff neck! It is used figuratively in both the Old and New Testament, the word, ‘stiff-necked’ means ‘stubborn’, ‘not to be led’. This would have been a family idea to the Jews. You see, ox was the most useful and common animal. It was used for agricultural purposes (Judges 14:18, 1 Corinthians 9:9).

A ploughman would guide his ox with a pole upon the neck. He would use the pole to keep the ox straight, preventing it from deviating. If an ox was hard to control or stubborn it was ‘hard of neck’. Hence, the figure of speech is used in scripture to describe the stubborn heart of people toward the guidance of God (Exodus 32:9, 33:3, Deuteronomy 9:6, 2 Chronicles 36:13, Jeremiah 17:23).

In the Old Testament, Pharaoh was famously stubborn (Exodus 7:13-14), but his stiffened-neck did him and his nation no good. Stubbornness was also displayed by the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, who rebelled against God over and over, turning away from his love and protection.

The enemy will use a ‘stiff-neck’ or pride to hold you back. It is simply the decision to go your own way. Humility is what will keep you fruitful in life. Pride is saying ‘my way is better than God’s way’ – what a scary position to be in.

Just as I experienced a lack of full function and perspective in my physically stiffened neck, so also in the spiritual, pride and stubbornness will limit your perspective and mobility.

What keeps you agile, growing, healthy and free, is a soft and tender heart. A soft heart is sensitive to the voice and ‘guiding pole’ of the Lord.

Be aware of areas where you may have ‘stiffened’ your approach to God. Humble yourself toward his voice and ways for your life. Be easily led by His voice.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2019

For years I tried to make myself like other people that I felt had it all together and whom I perceived to be popular.

I went through about five personality changes in order to be liked, ranging from becoming one of God’s clowns to becoming Mr. Serious. I was so like one particular person when I spoke, that it was difficult to tell one from the other. All of this was to no avail. I decided to drop the act and become who I was supposed to be – ME.

It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to be who you really are, but it’s worth every bit of the pain.

Why do we work so hard to not be vulnerable?

Why are we so afraid to be who we really are?

Maybe it’s because of the past we’ve come from or the pain of rejection that we’ve experienced? Both of these and many other life experiences teach us to be the masters of disguise.

Is it possible that you think that if people knew who you really were, no one would love you?

Look at the energy we spend hiding our vulnerability to protect ourselves from people that often don’t even matter!

After becoming me, I realised that people actually loved me and accepted me for who I was, far more than when I was doing my best impression of others.

Give yourself permission today to take off the mask and be who God created you to be.

You were born an original — don’t die a copy.

1 Corinthians 15:10 ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 12th November 2019

On my wedding day, my Dad gifted me with the most beautiful Tiffany and Co. pearl earrings and necklace. As stunning as the generous gift was, the way in which a pearl is cultivated is far less glamorous.

Pearls are made by oysters and freshwater mussels as a natural defence against an irritant such as a parasite entering their shell or damage to their fragile body!

That’s right! One of the most beautiful details of creation was formed under irritation!

Give a child anything he or she wants, whenever they want it and we all know that the adult they become will most likely be one of entitlement, and lacking in character. Why? Because the child has faced no irritation, it has been kept comfortable – it has got whatever it has wanted, whenever it has wanted it.

Irritation is good for us. It shapes us. One of the greatest dangers in becoming ‘comfortable’ in life is that our character, personhood, and faith, is no longer irritated, challenged and susceptible to beautiful growth. 

Pearls are what develop in the trenches of life, not the mountaintops. YOU develop in the trenches and pain of life. Giving thanks and praise during pain is not pain avoidance – it is acknowledging your pain and praising still. It is essential for your mental health, and the cultivation of ‘pearls’ of immense value in you.

‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing’ (James 1:2-4).

‘More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope’ (Romans 5:3).

 ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:10).

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us’ (Romans 8:18).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2019

I’ve met quite a few older people over the years that consistently behaved like they were children.

 

Everything about them told me that they were old — their hair, their skin, their health, their teeth and their habits. But something was happening inside of them that revealed a very different story; they had just never grown up.

 

Now there are some great attributes to being childlike; Jesus spoke about having childlike faith; Having a great sense of fun is also a great childlike quality. However, there is a vast difference between child-like and child-ish.

 

Childish people show all the signs of growing old, but they also show all the signs of never growing up.

 

They still think like a child, speak like a child and behave like a child.

 

Put them in a room with adults and what comes out of their mouths would make you think that you were back at primary school.

 

Today I challenge you to listen to yourself speak and see if you can hear child-ish language coming to the forefront of all that you are saying.

 

(Before you justify your behaviour, it’s important to know that there are plenty of young people and teenagers out there that are incredibly mature and changing the world as we speak).

 

Are you still thinking immaturely?

 

Are you still behaving as if you were a stroppy child?

 

Are you still talking baby talk?

 

If so, it’s time to take more than baby steps, it’s time to take radical steps in order to grow up.

 

The Bible puts the emphasis of our growth fairly and squarely on our own shoulders….

 

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

 

It’s time to put your childish behaviour behind you.

 

Don’t just grow old…grow up, and if necessary, get help.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2019

1 Samuel 17 vs 37 – “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will certainly rescue me form the hand of the giant Philistine.” 

The same David that had victory against the lion and the bear, is the same David that had victory against the giant Goliath.

His previous victory was not only recorded in 1 Samuel 17 vs 37, it was recorded in his mind.

 Someone once said “write your failures in the sand and write your victories in stone.”

I’m sure you’ve all had a day at the beach, whereby you’ve spent hours creating some castle masterpiece, moat and the works, or writing your names and declaring love in the sand. But, as sure as can be, that masterpiece will be gone as soon as the tide comes in.

That’s how we should deal with failure. Understand that forgiveness from God, means it has gone forever and we should not keep recalling it.

Too many people write their failures in stone. No, don’t do that.  Write them in sand.

Victories however, should be written in stone.  Firmly in your mind. So the next time you are faced with a similar situation, you can recall the victory you had and it will give you faith to take on the next one.

David, when faced with the giant Goliath, thought to himself, “I’ve done this with similar, I can do it again”. “God helped me before, He will help.”

Today, recall your victories, write them down and remind yourselves of the never ending faithfulness of God.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th November 2019

I love period action movies, The Last Samurai, 300, Troy, even Apocalypto, all firm favourites. Stories of gallant heroes, outnumbered and surrounded, but because of unflinching dedication to a cause, fighting to the death for God and country. That’s one of the reasons I love reading the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Bible. They contain fascinating historical accounts of the conquests of kings and villains, depositions and rebellions, each chapter is a blockbuster in its own right. But just like modern life, interwoven in this tapestry of valour, are threads of lack of faith, fear, and doubt.

 

In 2 Chronicles Chapter 29, King Hezekiah set out to restore and rededicate the temple where they had previously worshipped God. He instructs the priests to prepare themselves, and recruits some help for them from the Levites in anticipation of the work ahead.

But later in verse 34, “it turned out that the Levites had been more responsible in making sure they were properly consecrated than the priests had been”

 

This made me stop and think. Daily, we each conquer battles, for some, that battle is just getting out of bed and facing the world. For others, it’s going through another day without falling back into debt, addiction or depression. Maybe your battle is one you’ve never shared, and that has become another battle, the fear of someone finding out.

But during these battles, how often do we ask someone to pray with us, believing for a miracle, then it turns out that the person we’ve confided in has more faith than we do?

Hebrews 11 verse 6 says simply that when you ask God for something, ask with faith that you will receive it, and then act like you believe you’ll get what you prayed for, and overcome whatever challenge you’re facing.

 

As we approach Remembrance Sunday where we commemorate the contribution of the fallen so we can be free today, take a moment to reflect on the battles Jesus has brought you through, and let your faith rise, and let your actions reflect your renewed faith that you will overcome.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2019

If you ever visit an iconic landmark or property such as the Vatican, Buckingham palace or 10 Downing Street, you will always find guards at the door. Why guards at the doors and not the walls? Because doors are a place of access. What you allow to pass through the doors is what you give a degree of authority too. Allow the wrong thing to pass through the doors, and the result could be devastating.

In Exodus 12:13 they applied blood to the doorways. Why did they apply blood to the doorways and not the walls? Because the doorways represented a place of authority and access. They were seeking protection over their family, via the blood (representative of Jesus’ blood) on a place of access in their lives.

We also have doors and gates on our lives. What do we give permission to enter? What goes in? What goes out? Are we vigilantly guarding?

The doorway of our life is our mind. We should actively be applying the blood of Jesus to our thought lives. No, this does not mean we get blood and physically put it on our doorways! It is instead a matter of considering our thoughts before they pass the doorways of our life. Are the thoughts we partner with in alignment with the price Jesus paid for on the cross?  Does our thinking come from the perspective of what was purchased for us on the cross/the blood of Jesus? If they are thoughts that don’t align with the price Jesus paid, we should probably be stopping them at the door. If the thoughts knocking aren’t thoughts rooted in freedom, wholeness, victory, and provision, turn them away!

The gateway to your life is your mind. The enemy has no legal authority to touch you, unless you open the door, and grant Him access.Watch out, He will go after your thought life. Apply the blood. Guard your gateway!

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th November 2019

Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us that ‘we will receive power’ (Acts 1:8). Either this was a promise or not! Therefore the Christian life should be marked by power!

Even the name ‘Holy Spirit’ can weird people out. As a result, often He is pushed aside or boxed in. Yet the greatest minister of the gospel – the greatest preacher, and teacher on earth is the Holy Spirit! True transformation is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Everything else is simply behaviour modification which cannot be sustained like a heart transformation through the Holy Spirit can.

This should stir in us a hunger for an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Reigning in life starts with how we manage our internal world. There is a responsibility for us to allow the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our personal lives. Revival is essentially bringing what is dead to life. It is up to us to DAILY allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us so we can go out in power.

If your relationship with God seems lifeless, if you feel your Christian walk is lacking in power, invite the Holy Spirit in.
The Christian life was never supposed to be a boring, well-presented routine. The early church was actually birthed out of the fiery power of the Holy Spirit!

Don’t be a cardboard Christian – the form is there, it looks good on the outside, but the substance is missing. It looks like ‘the form of godliness’, but is missing the fire so to speak (2 Timothy 3:5). Don’t be luke warm – half in and half out. Jesus isn’t an add on to your life, He IS your life! (Revelation 3:16).

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you have the capacity to change this city. What are you doing with what God has given you? Don’t settle for the crumbs, hunger for all that He has for you! The Holy Spirit works through desire and hunger!

Emma Burchell

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th November 2019

Earlier this year I decided to do something with the empty void that was our garden. I wanted to transform it into a great space for us as a family to be together during the long hot British summer that was just around the corner. I’m an optimist.

 

So I got a few quotes done for decking etc and realised it was going to cost a lot of money, which we didn’t really have. Then we went on our usual Easter holiday to St Ives, which with three children is never cheap.

 

One day we were visiting a beach and I was feeling a little heavy thinking about our finances, how much the holiday was costing and how I was going to struggle to afford any garden work. When we got back to the car I‘d got a parking ticket for £60! There wasn’t even a cheaper option if you paid it early! I was really fed up and it just added to my financial angst. Then I thought of the verse Romans 8.28 ‘God works all things for the good of those who love him!’ And I thought ‘how could this verse ever be true for this situation?’ So I irritatingly prayed “God how could you ‘work for the good’ a parking fine?”

 

Then suddenly I had a conviction rise inside of me, and in that very moment I decided to make the £60 fine an absolute bargain! I chose to make it the trigger for me to decide to transform the whole garden myself and save myself a whole lot of money!

 

Immediately I was on the internet sourcing and ordering materials. The week we got back I was underway and after three tough weeks, I was over the moon to have a great looking garden with decking, planters, benches and even ‘up lighters’ for effect.

 

I sat back and thought what an absolute bargain for £60!

 

There may be situations in your life you just don’t understand, seasons of loss where you feel no possible good could come from it. I truly believe in everything we go through, whether our own doing or not, we get to choose whether it becomes an absolute waste or an incredible bargain! To stand up and not allow the situation to dictate to us, but to make a decision to make it an opportunity, not to be a victim but to choose to be a victor!

 

Seek Him today. It’s our choice on what we call the things that happen, every complaint is a decision to lose out, every praise (in spite of circumstances) is a decision to win. Use all things to motivate you to put Jesus at the centre, making the most of where you are and what you have!

 

Luke Cartwright

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2019

Some time ago, a guy walked up to me and told me that he felt that I had stopped using a gift that God had given me.

 

At first, I was taken back and even pretty annoyed that someone who was not really even in my life had spoken to me like this, but after a time I started to mull over the sentiment of his words.

His approach had been made with kindness and humility, and therefore I felt that his assessment should at least be given some consideration.

Of course, not everyone that speaks into your life should be given the time of day, otherwise we’d be all be taken off track by some very weird and unwise characters that are around but something about this guy’s message to me rang true, and as I pondered it for a few days, I began to see that it was actually something sent to help me rather than harm me.

Messengers come in all shapes and sizes, and at first glance some people can look nothing like ideal material to give you a much needed jolt. However, even a quick flick through the Bible will reveal that this was often the case. Interestingly, on the flip side, the one guy that you would think ‘looked the part’ and had the credibility to speak into Jesus’ life, was dismissed with the words ‘get behind me Satan’. Those words were spoken by Jesus to one of his closest disciples, namely Peter.

We can, without knowing it, let the gifts that God has given us lie dormant and unused.

 

How are those gifts brought back to life, we may well ask?

 

Is it not sometimes by someone willing to be honest with us, leading us to stir ourselves once again in that department?

 

At this time of the year, we start to buy logs ready for our open fire in the lounge. It’s such a great centrepiece for any home, but the truth is if you walk out of the room and forget about it, the fire can start to die down and eventually die out. For every winter evening that we get to sit in front of the fire, I have to work at keeping it alive by fanning it back into flame and keeping it well stocked.

 

I’ve realised afresh this week that when I don’t keep my gift alive I am actually depriving many people from receiving what God has for them through me.

 

Maybe like me, you need a gentle reminder today to ‘fan into flame’ the gift that is within you.

 

2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2019

Psalm 103 9-13

He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour his anger forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the Heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.  

Do you have a problem letting go?

I’m amazed at how many people let small things have a big impact on their lives.  Some of the offences and wrongs that we hang onto are so small in the grand scheme of things and yet we waste our energy ‘stewing’ over things.

I heard someone say recently, ‘will this matter this time next week? If the answer is no, let it go.’

”Oh” you may say, “it will matter”. Okay, let’s go back then to the verses at the start of this devotion…

He (GOD HIMSELF) doesn’t treat us our sins deserve, or harbour anger.

He removes our sin FAR from us because of His great love FOR us.

If God can do it, why am I different?

If God can forgive me and you for every wrong thought, action, word or motive, then what makes me bigger than God?

It’s time my friend to let it go.

Give it to God, not to several other people.

If you can’t let it go, the Bible teaches us that the person we need to speak with is the person who offended us and only them.  (See Matthew 18 v 15)

Today, be thankful for what God did for you and apply the same grace.

There’s a beautiful promise that will come to your life when you do.  (Matthew 6 vs 14-15)

 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2019

Life sometimes feels like you are walking on a rickety shaky bridge, unsteady and unsure if in the next step you will hold up or everything around you will collapse.

Whatever you are facing or believing for, know that God is faithful and will show Himself to be more than enough in that area of your life. I have learned this lesson in many ways in various areas of my life, but this doesn’t make the shaky bridges I encounter look any sturdier. No matter how much experience I have gained in crossing rickety bridges, each new one I face always seems like the one that isn’t going to hold. This is why it’s so important to reflect upon all of the other shaky bridges that God has safely led you across. This is my favourite Bible verse for doing this is: Psalm 9:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”.

If you are in that season of crossing the bridge, you must take a step out on to the bridge and believe that the same God who has carried you through so many other life trials is more than enough to carry you through this one. Keep focusing your thoughts back onto God. Be fully dependent upon Him to keep this rickety bridge secure. Your job is to keep walking and trust that God truly is in control, no matter what you feel.

As you meditate on God’s prior faithfulness, you lift up your shield of faith to block the enemy’s taunts that bring about fear in you. God tells us in Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st October 2019

From the moment we are born, we have to let go. We are let go from our umbilical chord, which connects us to our mother. We soon reach an age where we have to let go of being at home with our parents all day, and go to school. After those years, we let go of that era and move into the next – a working career. At one point we let go of living at home, and for some, have our own children, which we also have to learn to let go of.

Notice that in all these life examples of letting go (and there are many more) there are two common trends:

1. Letting go is a healthy part of growing up. Imagine a 40-Year-old man still at home with his mother drinking milk from a bottle, never having gone to school, because he was never ‘let go’.
2. You cannot move into the new season, unless there is a letting go of the present season. New ground correlates with letting go of old ground.

It is the same principle in our spiritual lives. We cannot move into the next thing that God has for us, unless we let go of something that we are comfortable with now. If we are still hanging onto something from an old season – old relationships, old habits and attitudes, old hang-ups and offences, old ways of doing things, it makes it very difficult for God to usher us into our next stage.

Letting go is about surrender. The degree to which you surrender, is the degree to which God is able to use you and move you into the new.

Matthew 16:25 says, ‘For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep’.

Surrender is a letting go of your agenda, letting go of what you think is best, letting go of yourcomfort, plans, ideals, your attitudes and issues, unhealthy relationships, and instead positioning yourself in a new, perhaps vulnerable space where God can grow and use you.

This tells me that the Christian life is not about seeking comfort. The opposite in fact. Letting go is rarely easy, fun, and comfortable. It is always a challenge, stretching and painful, but totally necessary if we intend on reaching our fullest potential. Letting go is a heart position of, ‘God, I trust that your ways are better than mine. So have your way with me!’.

Despite the initial challenge we all face in letting go, when we finally reach a point of surrender, we will find that it is actually quite freeing! And as promised, a catalyst for reaching your potential and finding life as God meant it for you!

‘Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2019

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Imagine how unhappy a fish would be if he based his value on his ability to hunt like he saw the lion hunting. Imagine how joyless a lion would be if he based his worth on his ability to hold his breath underwater like a fish. Imagine what a failure a giraffe would feel like, if he based his value on his ability to squeeze into an ant-hole.The problem is that we as humans do this. We look at someone else – someone with a completely different design, and wonder why we can’t do what they are able to do. Despite all being humans, we each have completely different designs, in order to fulfill a unique purpose for God.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12, Paul uses the metaphor of the body. The church makes up one body, but there are many parts to that one body. Each part is unique and has its own design, function and role. Each part needs the other to function in its own purpose. Imagine the toe feeling inadequate and worthless, trying to act as a brain. Or imagine the brain trying to function as a hand. It just isn’t going to work, and you will have a very unhappy brain and toe, because they aren’t functioning in their place of purpose, and ultimately the body will shut down – everyone loses out because parts of the body weren’t being themselves.

We are the body of Christ. When we aren’t being ourselves, playing our part, you lose out, and we lose out. When we compare our function, lives, gifts and abilities to another part of the body, not only do we forfeit the role God has for us to play, which then has detrimental effects on the whole body, we ourselves feel worthless, purposeless and unhappy. What part of the body are we looking at and wondering why we aren’t them?

There are 7.7 billion people currently on the planet. You are the only you of those 7.7 billion people. No one else has your eye-patterns, DNA, personality, stories, and fingerprints. God needs YOU. We need YOU. Only you can bring what YOU offer.

A krill looks like a prawn or shrimp. Tiny, perhaps insignificant – especially next to its predator – a whale. Yet krill is one of the most abundant and successful species on the planet. The total mass of all the earth’s krill is greater than any other species on earth. Next to a whale, a single krill looks like nothing, but together, krill weighs more than all the whales on earth! You may feel like a simple krill next to someone with a whale of abilities, gifts and profile, but you are part of successful team, known as the body of Christ. You play your part in contributing to the weight of influence on this earth.

You have a responsibility as an individual krill, a member of the body, as the only one in almost eight billion people, to take ownership for your unique life, and role. We need you to play your part. We need you to stay in your own line, focused on your unique journey with God, and His specific mandate to you as an individual.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2019

For the most part, correction has a bad connotation attached to it.

Naturally speaking, we as humans don’t enjoy being corrected.

Some of us may immediately reject correction, either by ignoring it or becoming defensive about the issue at hand. Others of us may put on a brave face, hearing what is being said, only to walk away feeling upset by what we’ve just heard.

 

I’m sure most, if not all of us can agree that we’d much prefer to hear encouragement than we would correction… but I wonder what would happen if you and I changed correction’s connotation?

 

Let’s think about sports for a moment.

If a coach is constantly in a player’s ear, it is typically an indication that they see great potential within him or her. If the coach did not see a future for that player within their team, they would likely not invest much of themselves into them.

When a coach sees potential in someone, they will not be afraid to call them out when they’re not at their best so as to ensure that they keep moving towards their best.

 

A player should see correction as a compliment, and so should we.

 

I think we would grow more and grow faster if we didn’t hide from correction but instead welcomed it.

 

I have found in my own life that some of my biggest moments of growth have actually come not as a result of encouragement, but of correction.

 

Today, if you find a boss, a spouse, a friend, a leader, a parent correcting you, don’t put up a defence system, but instead, open up your heart, your mind and your ears to hear what they’re saying and then make the necessary changes as a result.

I’m not saying that what you hear won’t initially hurt, but if you allow it to, it can eventually help.

 

Approach your everyday life with a desire to get better as well as an understanding that if I’m going to grow, I must run towards potentially difficult conversations and not away from them.

 

Let’s endeavour together to change correction’s connotation.

 

Bring it on!

 

 

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2019

Did you know that there is one question that God will never ask you?

He will never ask you the question…’can you’.

But there is one question that God will often ask you, and that is…’will you’.

There’s a world of difference between the two, as one is connected to your ability whilst the other is connected to your availability.

The reason He will never ask ‘can you’, is because He knows what you can and cannot do, so the only thing left to ask is…’will you’.

Think about it for a moment: why would God ask you to do what He knows you cannot do?

If He commands me to do it, then it must be within my power and ability to do so.

Here’s a great story that Jesus told to highlight this very issue…

Matthew 21:28-31 ‘What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” ‘“I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. ‘Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go. ‘Which of the two did what his father wanted?’ ‘The first,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

How often do we make excuses as to why we cannot do what God is asking of us? There is only one issue here, and it’s not can you or can’t you, but will you or won’t you. It’s a simple question of obedience.

Maybe you’ve said NO in the past, just like the one son that we just read about; if so, change your mind, and say YES!

There are people’s lives right now that can only be reached by your YES.

They are depending on you.

If you will…you can!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2019

Why do people blame God for them not being where they want to be?

You see, I could sit on my backside all my life, not get any education or never go to work and then blame God that I’m not a multi-millionaire. A simple illustration to show that if I’m not where I want to be in life, it’s not God’s fault.
It’s true that we don’t all have the same start and the same opportunities. Yet when we are all old enough to make our own decisions, then that’s where we have to make some right choices.
The people of Israel took over 40 years to get to the promised land, when it should have actually taken them 11 days.  Was that God’s fault ? No, it was a result of them moaning, groaning and complaining against God and their leader Moses.
When we are in a situation that we maybe don’t like, be careful what your attitude and words are like. We don’t want to go round and round and round, when we could actually reach the place that God has for us much quicker.
They were people who got frustrated. They didn’t trust God when they should have been trusting Him and they blamed Moses for doing the very thing that God had told him to do!
Maybe you’re in a place right now you don’t understand… instead of blaming God, stand back for a moment and ask God to show you and teach you His ways.

The Bible tells me that His ways and thoughts are far higher than mine anyway (Isaiah 55 vs 8-9), so that’s why sometimes I don’t understand – that’s where trust comes in.

Don’t be like the people of Israel – most of them never even got to receive God’s promise for their lives. How sad is that?

God placed the opportunity right in front of them to be in the promised land in 11 days and yet they missed it.
So the next time you think you’re not where you want to be, look at the choices and decisions you’re making, look at the people who are around you and the attitude that you’re choosing; take a ‘check up from the neck up’.

Don’t miss out on your future. It is bright with hope.  Stay close to Jesus. He will lead you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2019

My wife loves a good murder mystery on television. I’m not so bothered, so I often end up walking in and watching from half way through. As I’m watching I’m trying to play catch up, trying to grasp the whole picture from what I am seeing, but it’s no good, I can’t make sense of it, having missed the main plot.

This is a great picture of the world in which we live. You just have to open up the newspaper to see the increasing confusion, people struggling to work out the plot of life, what’s it about and where is it going? There’s more and more misguided ideas about sexuality and gender as the world seems to be trying to make its own plot line. 

Even as Christians we can struggle, trying to work out what we should be doing, what’s our calling?  How does it fit in with work and family life, and how does this get prioritised along side the church? This creates stress in our lives, as we try to achieve some kind of balance that just doesn’t feel right and ends up pleasing no one.

The reality is that we too, just like the world, struggle when we fail to live with the bigger picture, fail to understand the plot of the mystery of life and the absolute truth of what it really is all about! Jesus Christ is ‘the way the truth and the life!’

He created us with a plan written for us before we were even born!

Ephesians 1:4 ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.’

  • He stepped into the world He created in order that by His grace we could receive His spirit to guide us into truth!

1 Corinthians 2:12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

No matter how difficult life may seem at times we are certain that when we finally see him face to face all questions and confusion will cease and like the ending of a great murder mystery, we will all go. “…ahhhh! Now it makes sense!” 

Let’s not have to wait for this life to end to get the plot, that it’s all for Him and about Him. Look to Him today, see the bigger picture, trust and have faith.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2019

The Bible frequently talks about fighting the good fight of faith.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith…

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…

At first glance, it almost sounds contradictory in that faith suggests that we just trust God, yet fighting suggests that we have to get involved.

The best way of understanding this is to see that often we will be called upon to fight wit hour faith. In other words, we don’t just sit back and pray a little prayer and hope for the best, no, we battle in prayer with great faith believing that God will come through for us.

When you have no resources, no opportunities, no solutions of your own, nowhere else to turn, it’s at that point that you’re in a battle, and you are forced to trust in God’s ability to provide and meet you in your time of great need.

If nothing went wrong in life, then we wouldn’t need daily to trust God.

We all live in a world contaminated by human sin and depravity; a world of temptation and disappointment. Sometimes it’s easy to have faith when everything is going great, but courageous faith is forged only when it’s tested.

Today, don’t just sit back with a mindset that says ‘whatever will be will be’, NO – fight the good fight of faith and battle over the things that matter most to you.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd October 2019

 

The Bible talks about how life is not a destination, but a journey home. Much like a car journey home, we are driving towards our true home – ‘for we have no city here on earth to be our permanent home, but we seek the city that is destined to come’ (Hebrews 13:14).

 

Driving in our car (life) toward our heavenly home (heaven), we experience dead ends, stop signs, go signs, crashes, lane changes, GPS breakdowns, mountaintops, and bogs. We can get robbed and burnt, towed off, have to undergo serious repairs or maybe just a regular clean and polish now and then. We swerve.  We overtake others, and then others overtake us at times.  Sometimes the road ahead is straight and clear, other times it is winding or jammed. Sometimes it’s a clear day, then other times you cant see out your windscreen. Sometimes we’re waiting for things to heat up, other times we are waiting for things to cool down. Sometimes the road is a tight squeeze, other times it is spacious and free. There are times where you are on your own. Other times you are taking people with you. Fuel levels run low, or you may have missed the turn. You may feel old and used, and the day of driving out the show room sparkling and new, is just a distant memory. You may be a distracted driver, or maybe a passenger is guiding you. You may have had to pull over because you are falling asleep at the wheel, or maybe you need to read the manual again because things aren’t working. Whatever state your car, life, is in, whatever state you are in, you are heading in the direction of Heaven – our true home and ultimate destination. The journey is temporary.

We all have our own ride. We all have our own car experiences, but whatever our circumstances along the road, our God can intervene. He can step in as our driver. He can reroute us from a dead end. He is with us in the lane changes, the mountaintops, and the breakdowns. He gives us a new car when the old one is burnt, and repairs the small parts of us that need work. He’s really good at cleaning and polishing us up. He’s the master of restoration and making old things new. He makes a way in the jams, and by His Holy Spirit, He fills up our fuel tank and guides us like the perfect GPS.  His manual, the Bible, is there to remind us how things work. He pulls us over when we aren’t doing what is good for us, and sets us straight again. What an assurance we have in God!

Rest assured that in this wild ride of life God is with you on your journey towards the prize (Philippians 3:14). Remember that it is only a journey, and not the destination.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd October 2019

We know God can do anything. He is God! But what are some things that God will never do?

Five things God will never do:  

1. God will never contradict His word.

God can move in all sorts of ways, but His motivation will never contradict the word of God. When the Holy Spirit speaks, it always compliments the Bible. Hebrews 6:18 says, ‘It is impossible for God to lie!’

Yes, He may ask you to do something that is apparently crazy, but it would never negate or oppose scripture.

2. God will never change His mind on us.  

We will make mistakes, we will fail at some point, but God’s love towards us is steadfast. His love is not conditional, it is unconditional love. In the words of 1 Corinthians 1:9, ‘God is faithful’. It is impossible for our behaviour to dictate God’s affection for us. His mind is made up – He loves us!

3. God will never ask you to do something that isn’t good for you.

When God prompts us to do something, say something, change something, it is always for our benefit. God is a safe place. We can trust Him. No matter how uncomfortable what He asks of us may make us, at the end of the day, it is good for us. We must trust His nature. His heart is always to bring us into freedom! Now who wouldn’t want that? He is always working on something good for us! (Romans 8:28).

4. God will never look on outward appearance.

Our world, and minds are trained to fixate on what we see on the outside. We live in an appearance-driven world. The kingdom of God is upside down and inside out! While man focus on appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God is interested in what your motives are. He wants to know what you will choose when no one knows, except Him. He will choose the person you disregarded. He will promote the person at the bottom of the pack, why? Because He isn’t driven by the external.

5. God will never override your free will.
It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were given the choice as to which trees to eat from! God put a tree in the garden that they were told not to eat from. Why put the tree in the garden if you don’t want someone to eat from it? The answer is because God never wanted to remove their ability to choose. If so, he would be a controlling father and we would be robots. What gives our relationship power is the fact that we chose it! This makes you a very powerful person. Choose wisely. God in his goodness has given us the freedom to choose and will never force us into something.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2019

We spend our lives listening to other people’s conversations.

Sometimes we like what we hear and sometimes we don’t.

How many times to we find ourselves judging people by their speech and by their actions, but when it comes to us we continually justify our speech, thoughts and our intentions as if we were above and beyond the very same rule that we apply to others?

The best way to live life has got to be found in the words of Jesus… ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7 v 1-5)

As of today, take up the challenge to judge yourself first and foremost and in doing so you will have far less time to judge anyone else.

At the end of the day, the most important thing about our lives is to make sure that we are behaving, thinking and being right in our attitude towards God and people.

The next time that you want to judge someone else, firstly apply the same ‘criteria’ to your own life; not only will you find yourself with more friends, you will become a much more likeable person into the bargain. And if you ever keep wondering why people keep judging you, then now you know – ‘For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2019

 

I’m sure when you were at school or Sunday school, you would have sung the song

 “I am H A P P Y, I am H A P P Y, I know I am, I’m sure I am” etc.

Today, you may have woken up feeling happy or maybe otherwise. 

For most people, happiness depends on happenings… “If the sun is shining, I’ll be happy… 

If the children behave, I’ll be happy…. when I get a week off work, I’ll be happy, 

when I get paid, I’ll be happy…when I feel well, I’ll be happy.” 

 

If we let happenings determine our happiness, then most of the time we won’t be, because life isn’t always like that. 

 

There’s something far greater than happiness and it’s called JOY. 

Joy isn’t dependent on happenings.  Joy is dependent on my relationship with God, which means that however great the storm, however hard my circumstances, I can still be joyful, because I have an assurance of God’s peace and that He is always with me. 

 

“Why does God want me to be joyful in hard times?” You may ask… 

The Bible teaches that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8 vs 10).

In other words, when I am joyful, I am strong.  

God wants us to be joyful, so that we can be strong.  

Maybe you don’t feel very strong today? 

Maybe you have lost your joy.  

 

How do I get it back?

You’ll get it back by being thankful (in all circumstances). 

You’ll get it back by prayer and a relationship with God.  

You’ll get it back through worship and praise.  

Take your focus off yourself and your circumstances and put it firmly onto God.  

 

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for THIS is God’s will for your life.”

 

God wants you to be strong today…whatever you are facing.  

Focus on Jesus. Focus on His joy.   

 

Pastor Gillian 

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living. 

 

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2019

Fearless. That’s the theme for Mankind Conference that starts today. I was wondering about this phrase, and thinking, ‘when do we start to fear?’ When I throw Zachary into the air, he squeals with delight and after I catch him, demands more, even though he was clearly scared whilst in the air. Spiders, wasps, bees, heights, nothing scares a child until they see how other people react to them. So, when do we learn to fear? When do we start to let our fears overcome the joy of knowing that we have a Father who will catch us?

 

Failure, if you allow it, can demotivate you, and cause you to become afraid of failure itself. It can cripple you so much that the thought of trying gives you palpitations, that’s easy to understand.

But success too, can become a slow poison that stops you achieving more because you become afraid of losing the success you have achieved. You stop trying for more because perhaps you’ve become accustomed to the familiar and it has become comfortable.

 

So whether it’s the fear of starting something new or fear of trying again because you’ve failed, or the fear of losing what you have, being afraid is something that can affect us all

1 Corinthians 10:13 says that whatever might be tempting you to be afraid, someone has been through it before, and God will always make a way for you to go through it.

 Psalm 91 is a great place to start to learn a new vocabulary. The vocabulary of a victor, a champion, a child of the living God. It’s time to unlearn the fears we have learnt from our past, and from others, and time to learn the fearless nature of Jesus, the lion of Judah. Time to stop focusing more, but less on those fears and become… fearless.

 

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2019

‘With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially towards those who may try your patience’ (Ephesians 4:2 TPT).

There is a popular mentality that anything that doesn’t feel good, or you don’t like, you should just be bold enough to walk away from. I recently read a quote, ‘Walk away from anything that gives you bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. It’s your life. Do what makes you happy’.

Whilst you should definitely not entertain any abusive or unhealthy relationship, God actually calls us to press into those people that test our patience, rather than just run away and do what makes us feel happy. Seeking ‘happy’ is not realistic. There will always be testing external circumstances and people, therefore truth (God’s word) must triumph over the pursuit of feeling of ‘happy’. The Bible promises that life will give us “bad vibes”. We are called to walk through them, steward them, and profit from them!

When Ephesians speaks of having a ‘generous love’, the Aramaic word for generous literally means, “stretching”. Paul calls us to demonstrate gentleness ESPECIALLY towards those who may test our patience. He wants a people who rise above what is comfortable.

Security in God is not marked with loudly voicing our opinions in a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. True strength is marked with our ability to operate out of tender humility and quiet patience.  It is the ability to extend gentleness and generosity beyond what we feel comfortable with.  

May we be people who stretch ourselves in giving generously, especially to those who test us. As we approach the last couple of months leading up to Christmas, consider how you can give in a manner that challenges the boundaries of what you find comfortable. Consider how you can give to those who you find challenging. Seek out opportunities for ‘stretching’ generosity.  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2019

To be entitled means believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Yes, as children of God we are given special blessings. We are favoured, loved and have an inheritance in God. But these things have nothing to do with what we inherently deserve. We inherently deserve condemnation. Blessing, which God promises us, has to do with what we have inherited (been given) from God, through Jesus. Viewing what we have as a gift from God, rather than something we have earnt, changes our hearts. We live grateful, humbled, and thankful, rather than entitled, proud and self-righteous.

In Romans 12:3, Paul says, ‘I would ask each of you to be emptied of self-promotion and not create a false image of your importance. Instead, honestly assess your worth by using your God-given faith as the standard of measurement, and then you will see your true value with an appropriate self-esteem’.

Paul isn’t telling us to think less of ourselves, he is urging us to see ourselves for who we really are – people who are saved and blessed by grace alone, and are continually in need of God! When we see ourselves in this light, who we really are, it is impossible to be full of pride and entitlement.

Millennials’ (of which I am one), have been handed many of the things the previous generation worked for their entire life. The character that previous generations built under dedication, commitment and resilience is missing in this generation, simply because we have been ‘gifted’, rather than growing under the sharpening experience of endurance. This is not always a bad thing, but there is a danger in that a sense of entitlement can creep in.

Christian entitlement is when we forget the price Jesus paid to gift us with something we will never have to pay for. When we forget how he endured for us, when we forget the source of our freedom, we live entitled.

Entitlement is ‘self-interest’ driven. On the contrary, the kingdom of God is ‘others’ focused. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). Why? Because we remember who was humbled for us.

Instead of seeing what you aren’t getting, focusing on what you should be getting, and complaining for not having what you believe you deserve, start thinking about others. What can you do for someone else? Focus on how you can be a blessing, rather than focusing on getting a blessing. Instead of being the first to get jealous, be the first to celebrate. Instead of being the first to complain, be the first to say a compliment. Instead of being the first to take, be the first to give!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2019

 

Sometimes it’s more difficult to stop doing something than it is to start.

There’s nothing worse than getting up everyday to do something that’s not working.

Maybe you’ve got emotionally attached to what you’re doing and are afraid to let go?

Maybe you’re hoping that tomorrow will bring about different results?

Are you flogging a dead horse?

Is what you’re trying to accomplish outside of your gifting and therefore will never work?

Maybe what you’re trying to resuscitate every day is not meant to be alive right now?

Are you just clinging on to what you’ve always done for fear that people may think you’re a quitter if you let go of it?

Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again whilst hoping for different results.

There comes a day when we have to put a time frame on something and realise that if it doesn’t change by then, we’re going to call it a day.

Need some help to do so?

Luke 13:6-9 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” ‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’

Many years ago, we were hiring a venue to hold our church services in. For months, the numbers of people just got less and less and the services got harder and harder.

Eventually I had to make the difficult decision to quit on the venue and go back to the old Chapel where we had come from.

It was one of the best decisions I had ever made in those early days.

Going back helped us to go forward.

Admitting something is not working is really the best way of kickstarting a fruitful and successful future.

It’s wonderful to be faithful in doing something year after year with little results – it takes courage to do so; congratulations – but the bottom line is this: are you faithfully fruitful?

If not, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re doing and why you are doing it. Don’t be afraid to make the tough decision of going back to go forwards.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2019

Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer.

 

He was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and since has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.

 

One day he was seen walking around the city square, staring at a huge block of marble. He would look at it from one angle and then from another.

 

As a crowd gathered to see what the commotion was all about, a person shouted out to him and enquired what he was going to sculpt.

 

“A horse” he replied.

 

“How on earth are you going to produce a horse from such a huge rugged block of solid stone?” asked the person.

 

“Simple”, he said…”I’ll just knock off everything that doesn’t look like a horse!”

 

…and sure enough, little by little, with great patience and skill, a magnificent horse appeared after many hours of work.

 

Is it possible today that when you look at your own life, you only ever see the rough edges?

 

Inside of you right now is a dream that God has placed within your heart, however, we have to appreciate that for every success there has to be a process.

Everyday as you surrender your life to God, He is in the process of knocking off the rough edges and removing everything that doesn’t look like Jesus, so that you can become all that He intended for your life. 

It’s a lengthy and painstaking process, but knowing that God is the master craftsman means that He will produce a masterpiece out of your chipped, cracked and broken life.

Each time you feel that you’re going through a challenging time, each time that you feel bad about the way that you are, each time that have to say sorry for doing and saying something wrong, remember that the master is at work on your life.

If you never feel challenged about anything in your life or never feel that you’ve let yourself, others or God down, then that’s the time to worry….you’ve become unworkable.

Remember: that every beautiful diamond was once a piece of rock that was put under tremendous heat and pressure.

Allow The Holy Spirit today to work on your rough edges and make something beautiful out of your life.

Psalm 139:23-24 MSG

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2019

Life is a journey, a journey signifies moving from one place to the next.

On that journey, you can choose which way to go.

 Each day you will make similar repetitive journeys. Have you stopped to think that each day you make that choice of which way to go to work, to school, to college, to the shops?

 In that plan of A to B you can choose how you will get there. You may choose the shortest route or the fastest route, the quietest route, the most scenic route.  You know where you’re going, but along the way you are making the choice.

For instance, some people will go to Cornwall on the south coast of England and from where I live, we can get there in around 4 hours via the motorway.

Some people however, will choose the scenic route which can take 12-14 hours.

Some people will stop at a Starbucks, others will choose to wait for a Costa and others will take a flask of tea.

You see there are choices that you make along your journey that are yours .

God has a plan for your life. The quickest and best route is to follow His navigation system and to listen to His instructions. “Take a break”. “Follow this route”.  “Avoid a traffic accident”. God is full of instructions along the way.

We have to be open to listen and willing to receive His advice.

No, we don’t actually know best!

 Our choices, our attitudes, our relationships will also affect our journey.

 My father nearly died many years ago, God literally raised him from death’s door and he went on to live another 11 years.

I remember saying “it’s not my Dad’s time to go” – and through a series of miracles it became apparent that it wasn’t.  I decided in prayer, that we weren’t going to ‘stop’ there, but I would ask God to intervene and let him continue his journey…and He did, for another 11 years.

 Too many of us are content to settle for where we are now, or are not too bothered where life will take us.

God has many things for you to experience, He has a destiny for you to fulfill.

Don’t settle for where you are today. Push higher and harder for greater things.

Walk through the storm… don’t camp in the valley of the shadow of death.

 Keep moving. Keep praying. Keep moving life forward. Follow His instructions.

 For where you are now, is not where you are going.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th October 2019

I love a gadget. I think that most of us do. The majority of us probably have a ‘smart assistant’ in our home or office now. Why get up to switch my lights on, when Alexa can do it for me?

I know people who rely completely on their digital calendar. If you ask where they’re meant to be at a particular time, they don’t know unless their phone tells them.

There are things that have been invented that make our lives easier. They save us precious time.

However, there are some things that there just aren’t shortcuts for. Sometimes, the long way is the only way. Take the farmer for example. They sow…and then they wait. That’s it. Sure, there are tools and machinery that make harvest time easier but nothing but time will make those crops grow.

In Ecclesiastes 3, we learn that there is ‘a time for everything’. Maybe you’re in a situation right now that you wish you could fast track your way out of.

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

James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

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Everything that God has for you ‭is worth waiting for. There are things that He wants to build into your character that won’t come overnight. Be encouraged today; persevere, so that you will lack nothing.

 

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2019

Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2-6). She was a prostitute of the Canaanite city of Jericho, who found favour with God. She is also in the lineage from which Jesus was born!

Many writers have tried to prove that Rahab was different from the ‘harlot’ described in the Bible. Perhaps it is a hard pill to swallow – A prostitute in the genealogy of Jesus. But we cannot distort her story, in order to stomach the reality that salvation is not based on human goodness. Jesus not only came to save the sinners, but he also was born from sinners! Rahab was a sinful woman, who was saved by God and used by God!

Joshua sent two spies into the land they wanted to conquer. Rahab in her wisdom and trust in God, hosted these spies, protected and covered them, eventually allowing the spies to feed back information that caused the city to be taken for good. Rahab and her family were spared because of her act of faith toward the spies.

Despite her past, Rahab’s ultimate conclusion was, ‘For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below’ (Joshua 2:11). It was this change of heart, this faith – coupled with the actions prompted by faith – that saved her and her family.

Paul esteems Rahab for her faith, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31). 

When we come to Christ, our past no longer matters. Rahab was a radical woman. She did what it took to protect her family, and facilitate the will of God.

Perhaps God is not after a perfectly behaved people, but people who are determined to stand for Him and facilitate His will no matter what! Rahab wasn’t passive. She didn’t just stand still and let things happen to her, she was proactive and attentive. She trusted God, but actioned her faith too.

Rahab proved that an ordinary person is part of God’s plan. Yes, she was a woman, yes, she was a prostitute, yes, she was considered to be ‘on the wrong side of tracks’ and was socially excluded, but God used her to help His people.

Maybe you can relate to Rahab. You feel like the outcast – the unfit Christian. The less-than-holy person. Or maybe you know a Rahab. Don’t exclude yourself from God’s plans for your life. There is favour for your family, and generations to follow. God is not after a squeaky-clean past, He is after sold-out followers, who are prepared to action their faith.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2019

It is okay to be enduring something. To endure means ‘to suffer patiently’. Most of us don’t enjoy suffering. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can. Most of us struggle to endure too. We don’t want to wait patiently, we want to get something as quickly as we can! 

 

 Our brains naturally lean towards what is easiest; hard work is a challenge that requires intentional willpower and work. Suffering through bad traffic, an awkward conversation, a dark and cold winter, an intense workout, a difficult marriage, financial struggle, or draining job is hardly enjoyable. But what if the purpose of life isn’t always for it to be ‘enjoyable’? God is always good. God never brings bad, BUT sometimes He allows us to walk through struggles because it produces something incredible!  

 

John 16:33 warned us that troubles are a guarantee. God is not here to remove all troubles from us, he is here to walk us THROUGH troubles, producing something beautiful in us along the way.  

 

Please note, I’m not suggesting that we accept things that are downright from the enemy, or things that are within our power to change, I’m talking about challenging life situations that make you really uncomfortable, and are out of your control.  

 

Sounds crazy, but a mature Christian will welcome an opportunity to undergo endurance, because the profit of endurance is great (Romans 5:3-4).  

 

When you consider most worthwhile things, they never come without a degree of endurance – patient suffering. A fine wine, financial stability, a healthy family, a fit body, deep friendships. Everything of an excellent standard takes time, careful work, commitment and dedication to the challenge...including you. Sometimes your character needs to undergo the pruning process of life.  Endurance is necessary for you.  

 

You may be enduring in some area of your life right now. It might be really uncomfortable BUT know that as you walk it out, God is doing something marvellous in you. He is producing something. You may not know when and how it will end, but keep on walking it out, stay faithful, dedicated and committed. It is okay to be patiently suffering.  

 Emma Burchell 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2019

My friend was sharing with me recently about how they’ve started to accumulate a large number of ‘air miles’ with a particular airline, and because of that, they have now been able to start unlocking benefits with that company.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of air miles, they are simply what you gather each time you fly with an airline, and the more you fly, the more likely you are to be able to trade in your air miles for certain benefits. Such as: upgrades, access to lounge areas at the airport, and possibly even free flights.

Did you know, that like an airline has benefits, so too does God have benefits?

In Psalm 103, found in the Old Testament of The Bible, the writer David is reminding himself of the benefits that come with knowing God.

Knowing God and putting your faith in Him brings about benefits, as does flying with the same airline over a long period of time. But there’s a difference…

With an airline company, I have to work my way up in order to unlock different benefits along the way. But in a moment of putting my faith in Jesus, I have every life-changing benefit at my disposal.

David describes these benefits for us:

“…who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalms‬ ‭103:3-5‬)

 

And these are to name just a few…

Imagine choosing to fly with an airline for the very first time, and when you arrive at the airport, they inform you that you’ve been upgraded to first class. Simply because they want to and are so glad that you’ve chosen to fly with them.

In a much more significant way, this is the kind of exchange that takes place when you choose to put your faith in Jesus. I have access to a forgiver, a healer, a redeemer and a satisfier in accordance with Psalm 103. And the amazing part is that I didn’t have to earn it or work my way up to it, I simply believed in Jesus and then received the benefits that come with that relationship.

If you want to unlock the benefits that come with knowing Jesus and experience them for yourself, you can, by simply believing that Jesus is who He says He is and has done what He says He has done…

It’s an offer I couldn’t refuse, and maybe today you feel the same way.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

If this has stirred something within you, why not delve a little deeper? Head to the ‘Messages’ tab within the Champions Church app and search ‘Don’t Forget To Remember’ to watch the full-length message.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2019

Criticism will either crush you or energize you.

As soon as I’ve been criticised, I simply get alone and ask myself one simple question: what should I learn from what has just been said to me or about me?

My thinking is this: whatever truth I gain from the conversation can be used to help me to become a better person.

The same wind that threatens the chicken, lifts the wings of the eagle above the storm.

If you’re facing criticism today, consider these things carefully:

Is it constructive or destructive?

Is is gentle or judgmental ?

Is it to make me look bad and my critics look good?

Is it done discretely in private or publicly in order to damage my reputation?

Sometimes you just have to smile through criticism as you discern the spirit behind the words.

It’s hard for any of us to receive criticism, so keep your attitude about your critic in check. Remember, bitterness will do more to damage you than any criticism levelled against you would ever do.

If you’re facing criticism today, take another look at how Jesus handled it, and ask Him to help you to do the same.

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2019

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s his season, it’s her season.”

What does that mean? It means that things are going well for that person right now. You’ve heard it said of a football club or a business… “they are having a great season.” 

That may be good (and it is) but seasons are made up of days…

And it’s what you do in those days that will determine your season.

What YOU do today will help determine the season that you will have.

The choices and decisions you make, the way you act and behave.

For example, the farmer will be planting, the athlete will be training, the wise husband will be treating his wife well, the student will be studying, the business owner will be strategising.

 Seasons are important…but DAYS are equally as important.

 Did you know that there will come a season for the very reason of your life?

God saw a problem in this world and He had you born to sort it!

You were born on purpose, for a reason. 

So what you do today IS important. Those ‘great’ things are often basic and simple, YET very important to your season.

Today be a…

Pray-er. Make sure today you find yourself communicating with the one who made you.

Giver Be generous. Generous people will always prosper

Learner. Be a reader of God’s word. Get Godly wisdom and truth into your life.

Worshipper. Be someone who is thankful in every situation. Knowing that in good days and bad, God is always good.

Planner. Have a vision and a dream and go after it.

Lover. When you show love to people, you’ll receive it back.

You see, your season will be made up of the constant things that you put into your life daily.

Make them good. Make them purposeful.

Today is your day. Go after it!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2019

Imagine embarking on a journey, a long walk, a hike up a hill, or a trek up a mountain. After a few miles or hours along the route you stop because of exhaustion or thirst or discouragement.

You perceive the end to be too far ahead and the task to complete the journey is overwhelming.

Imagine doing that and realising sometime later (once you had been rescued perhaps),  that had you gone just a little further, the beautiful view, the purpose of your journey, the prize or reward had been just around the corner!

If you are anything like me, you would wish that maybe you had had a few pointers along the way to say ‘keep going’ , or ‘not long now’, very much along the lines of when children on a car journey are

asking ‘are we there yet?’, in the hope that the destination is in sight.

Life is an incredible journey with ‘twists and turns’ ‘highs and lows’ and few guarantees in-between.

The Bible (life’s manual) shows us that there is a God who keeps his promises, and who guarantees to guide us in life.

He also reassures us that when we set out on a journey looking for him, there is a certainty that we will find him.

Jeremiah 29 v12-14 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you”, declares the Lord.

Perhaps you are searching and looking for answers to the meaning of life.

Maybe you are already on a journey that inspires you to pursue your God-given potential .

No matter where you find yourself today, you have the assurance that there is a God who wants to be found.

He does not hide himself from you, but longs to reveal himself to you.

God went to great lengths to make a way for each one of us to come to know Him…through His son Jesus and He is committed to fulfil that promise

So, whether you are running fast on an adventure with God, or slowly climbing in pursuit,  hold on to the promise that your efforts are soon to be rewarded, your prize is near…Him.

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2019

Yesterday we looked at the source of trials. Today we are focusing on one cause of trials – the devil. While I don’t like to give the enemy attention that he doesn’t deserve (I would much rather focus on God!), truth is that is he is real, and on a mission against us. When we live with an understanding of how he operates, it is easier for us to recognise him. While there is not a demon under every bush, so to speak, the Bible makes it clear that the enemy does come to ‘kill, steal, and destroy’ (John 10:10). That means that anything that is not bringing life, abundance, or building something, is not from God!

The Bible describes the devil in several different ways:

– Like a thief (John 10:10) – ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy’. . . The word ‘thief’ comes from the word, kléptō, meaning ‘to take, steal secretively’.

Imagine a pick-pocketer – Some of their strategies are that they steal by bumping, sending in their children as a distraction, or playing games to convince you to give money away … the devil is a master thief. Watch what he is taking from you when he knocks you. Watch what he is taking from you when you are distracted. Watch what he is trying to convince you to give away.  

The Bible also describes him as being:

Like a fowler (Someone who takes and kills birds for food). Psalm 91:3 – Satan may come against us like a fowler. The fowler is always quiet and secretive, never wanting to reveal his presence. 
Like an angel of light! 2 Corinthians 11:14 – He can come appearing glorious, good, and attractive, but with the intention to destroy!

  – Like a lion. Peter tells us Satan can come against us like a roaring lion, loud and full of intimidation.

1 Peter 5:8, ‘Be sober (clear-minded), be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, …’

For Christians, Satan is a lion who may roar but has been de-fanged at the cross (Colossians 2:15). Yet the sound of his roar – his deceptive lies – are still potent and he has the power to devour souls and rob Christians of effectiveness.

He isn’t just looking to lick or nibble on his prey; he wants to devour!

We don’t live our lives devil-focused, we live it Jesus focused, but there is a war that rages for your soul and we have to be alert. The devil hates that you are a child of God and will do ANYTHING to rob you…His mission is to rob you of joy, peace, favour, confidence… and he does this ‘Klepto’ style! Be sharp! Stay discerning!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2019

When trials inevitably come, we must understand the source of the struggle. When we understand the source, we can fight the battle effectively!

Imagine going into battle, fighting with a toothbrush? Or imagine going in to fight something, and instead just falling asleep on the ground? Or imagine kicking and punching, using all your energy on something that you already killed? You need to know your battle in order to handle it properly!

Trials generally have three sources:

1. Life – God is always good, but bad things do happen. Thankfully God will use all things, turning a mess into a miracle. He will use life circumstances to increase you. God will use ugly situations as an opportunity to test your faith and stretch your capacity. Ask yourself, is God teaching me something here? For example, maybe I shouldn’t be running from that person that tests my patience and instead press into God, open to what He wants to teach me through the difficult person! After all, how do sharp rocks become smooth? By rubbing and knocking up against each other over time!

2. Me – If you have made a bad decision that contradicts the safety boundaries offered in the word of God, then you will find yourself in a tough situation at some point as you have violated your own design! Not because God wants ‘pay back’ or vengeance on you, but simply because He gave you protective measures in the first place that you rejected. It is like telling a child not to touch the hot stove. When the child does touch the hot stove and burns himself, it is not the revenge of the parent that causes the burn and pain, it is the rebellion and disobedience of the child stepping outside of the will and protection of the parent. Hence why we should LOVE the principles of God! If you are in a trial, ask yourself, have I got myself into this mess because of my poor choices that don’t align with the heart of God, and therefore I need to repent? Everything can be restored! God is gracious and always waiting for you!

3. The devil – He wants to destroy you and will use any means, including people to try and accomplish his mission (to kill, steal, and destroy). (We will look more at this in tomorrow’s Fresh Hope!)

 

Once you have recognised the source of your trial, you can then choose the most appropriate weapon.

Just to name a few:

Prayer and communion
Praise and worship
Repentance
Community
The presence of God.
A word from God.
The word of God.

Discerning the source of your trials is the key to responding to them appropriately. Not everything is the devil. Sometimes you have to steward the battle, sometimes you have to repent because you have caused the battle, and other times you have to wage war on the enemy!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2019

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting watching a huge thunderstorm; as it passed over, rain poured, lightning flashed every few seconds and thunder rolled around the sky almost continuously. It was an awesome sight and sound.

It is easy to see why in ancient times people believed that thunderstorms were the gods fighting in the heavens, such is the power on display. Of course we now know that it is all to do with warm and cold air clashing, not the gods!

In 1 Kings 19, the Bible describes how Elijah is running for his life and he hides in a cave. God tells him to stand on the mountain because God himself is going to pass by.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.’ 

So God was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire but He was in the gentle whisper.

How often are we looking for God in the dramatic, in the spectacular or in the huge miracle, when he is actually right in front of us in the small, in the quiet, even in the mundane? How often are we praying for the huge leap when God is actually in the very next step?

Of course God is quite capable of doing the spectacular but so often He works in the small things. Today, make a point of looking for God in the small, in the seemingly everyday things. Perhaps take a moment to be still and listen because His voice is just a gentle whisper. Maybe what you hear will be all you need to know.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th September 2019

If we’re honest we place great value on WHAT we do.

We also view other people’s lives though their accomplishments, whether great or small.

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is an old saying, but in reality that’s the gauge that we mostly use. We take a look at someone’s outward actions and we make up our minds about them on that basis.

However, God has different way of knowing what a person is really like, and for that He probes below the surface.

He is not so much interested in WHAT a person does as to WHY a person does what he or she does.

An act of kindness on the outside can actually be something quite different when the motive beneath it is laid bare.

Maybe it has its roots in pride or selfish ambition?

Could it be that what we do for others is merely for recognition in the hope that someone is watching, or are we driven by the guilt of our past failings in the hope that we can somehow cancel them out by our outward performance?

Solomon in his wisdom said it like this…

‘All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord’ —Proverbs 16 v 2

Your motive for doing what you do is actually more important than doing the thing itself.

Anytime that we do anything that conjures up the feeling that ‘I will look good if I do this’, can always be traced back to a pride issue that needs to be dealt with.

The greatest step that anyone can take on the road to success is a step down from self importance and walk a path of humility.

Before you start out today ask yourself one simple question: why am I doing what I am doing?

When our motives are right, everything else will fall into place.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2019

Psalm 67 vs 8-12

Praise God, all you people, let the sound of His praise be heard. He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you O God tested us, you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads, we went through fire and water… but You brought us to a place of abundance.  

 

Whatever you’re going through in your life remember this:

  1. A) You’re going through it, so keep moving.
  2. B) God can bring some great things out of a bad situation.

 I look over situations that I see as ‘storms’ and I put much prayer into them…

Then after a short time, I stand back and look amazed at the wonderful things that God does through those difficulties.  Things that seemed impossible. He can bring beauty out of ashes.

 No hard time is ever wasted.

Look at those verses again… “we were in prison, men rode over our heads, we went through fire and water… BUT YOU brought us to a place of abundance.”

When you pray, God is working. You may not see immediate results yourself, but be sure of this, HE IS WORKING… and He will bring you to a place of abundance.

He often takes prayer requests from years ago and somehow weaves those answers now into situations that you never thought possible.  God’s timing is perfect. His plan is perfect.

Keep praying.  Keep thankful. Keep trusting.

 “For in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2019

How many times have you made a snap decision based on your feelings? I know that I have. Spontaneity can be a wonderful thing but sometimes, throwing caution to the wind can have consequences. We all have the occasional off day.

Sometimes, when our prayers aren’t answered how we expected them to be, we spend time trying to figure out why. It’s easy to think that maybe God just didn’t feel like giving us what we asked for and we should try harder to convince Him, next time.

We serve an amazing God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every single thing that He does for us is out of His love for us which never changes.

Isaiah 55:8 says ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.’

God created us with emotions and the ability to feel. However, we don’t need to try to appeal to God’s feelings. We don’t need to convince Him that we are worthy, or to listen to us. We don’t always understand God’s ways but He is never careless with His children.

The more we seek Him, the more we learn His character and the better we know His character, the stronger our faith and trust in Him grows.

We can approach God in the confidence that the way He feels about us never changes, He always acts in our best interest (even if it doesn’t come packaged as we expected) and He never has an off day.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2019

In 1 James 2, we are encouraged to consider it a joy to face trials! How is this seriously possible?

If you speak to a successful businessman or woman, they will tell you that a problem is actually an opportunity. As cliché as this sounds, it is this mindset that makes someone a success. They see setbacks as an opportunity to learn a lesson, which is invaluable to them, OR they see a setback as an opportunity to get better!

Too many of us are thrown off by a problem, failure or setback. If we truly believe that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28), then problems shouldn’t scare us. They really are opportunities for God to break in. We should embrace them.

Part of being a ‘hope-filled’ person is knowing that there are multiple possibilities and potentialities in any given situation, and we can keep on trying until we find success.

This means that we must enjoy the journey to success, not just struggle to the destination. There is a beauty in confidently using failure us a tool toward the mountaintop of victory.

Look at Thomas Edison, he tried about 1000 times before succeeding and inventing the light bulb. When asked about his failures he said, ‘I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work!’. Failure to Thomas was an opportunity to gain knowledge, and one step closer to his ultimate success. He valued and embraced the process of setbacks.

Deliberately and intentionally look for possibilities in every situation, rather than just jumping straight into the negative mindset. The more you practice this, the more of a habit and instinctively it will come to you when you face a challenge.

Luke 1:37, ‘For with God, nothing will be impossible’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2019

I decided to keep a ‘thankful journal’ for one whole year. For an entire year, every night, I wrote down everything I was thankful for from that day. After a few months, something remarkable started happening. I started approaching my days, intentionally looking for things to be thankful for in order to write it in my journal at night. My brain actually switched to focus on what I had, rather than what I lacked.

It is easy to focus on the few things that are missing in your life, rather than fully appreciating all the things you DO have in your life.

God is attracted to a grateful heart. He seeks to bless a grateful heart.

Research on the effects of gratitude on our biology shows how being thankful increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to problem-solve. It also improves our overall health.

You may work with quite negative people, people who are always ‘hard done by’, victims, whiny, easily envious. Not only are these attitudes draining on the relationships around them, they are damaging on the brain and the life of the person who is carrying them!

Psalm 107 says, ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is GOOD’. Again, 1 Chronicles 16 says, ‘Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!’

Notice that seeing the goodness of God, goes hand-in-hand with gratitude. God is good. That alone is enough to be very thankful! That is why when circumstances aren’t good, we STILL have reason to be thankful, ‘give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I encourage you to write a list of everything that you are thankful for, and then another list of everything you are praying for. You will probably find that the things that are consuming most of your mind (the prayer list), is in fact far shorter than the list of things you have to be grateful for!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th September 2019

I heard someone recently place relationships into two categories.

You have ‘drains’ and you have ‘gains.’

‘Drains’ being those relationships that take from you. Possibly people that you’re mentoring, pouring into, or maybe even just difficult people in your world.

Once you’ve completed your time with them, you’re aware that you’ve given out (this can either be for positive or negative reasons).

‘Gains’ are those relationships that top up your tank. They’re the people who always add to your life. They encourage you, they build you up, maybe they even challenge you, but ultimately you leave their presence better than when you stepped into it.

In life, you will have the opportunity to have relationships that are both ‘drains’ and ‘gains.’ ‘Gains’ are the most attractive type of relationships, however depending on what you want to achieve with your life, I would say that both are necessary.

You don’t just want people who are adding to you, but you want people who you are adding to also.

However, I would suggest that ‘gains’ are the type of relationships many of us are less intentional about.

Much of our lives are spent giving out, so when was the last time you got around someone who was good for your soul?

I write this having just met a friend for coffee. We both are responsible for leading people as part of our work, however when we get together, we can be relaxed, informal, and simply enjoy one another’s company. I can’t speak for his experience, but whenever I get the chance to hang out, I always leave better for it.

It’s a relationship that I ‘gain’ from, topping up my relational tank, so that I’m better equipped to add value to others.

What I’ve realised for myself however, is that unless I’m intentional about being with these types of people, they don’t just fill up my calendar. I have to be the initiator.

It can seem like the selfless thing to constantly keep giving out, however unless you have points of refuelling, very soon you’ll have little or nothing left to give. Possessing relationships that provide ‘gains’ is in fact a selfless act, not a selfish one.

Can I encourage you today to take a moment to observe the rhythm of your life, and be intentional about striking a healthy balance between the ‘drains’ and the ‘gains’ in your relational world.

You and everyone around you will be better for it.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2019

Good morning?

You hoped so, but then you decided to get out of bed.

Bad morning?

Shouted at the kids, took it out on the dog, found your work shirt in the ironing basket, late for the school run, no time for breakfast and it’s still only 8am.

Here’s the good news …things can only get better.

Fresh Hope is here to lift you, encourage you, help you, direct you, teach you and give you a God perspective.

History records for us how ancient cities were always built around a constant flow of water.
They’d figured out that no matter what battles they’d face on the outside, they could survive and even thrive because they had their own supply and would never die of thirst.

No matter how long you live, there will always be a problem. Once one problem is solved, before too long, another will rise up. If you don’t build your life around an inner supply then you will always fall at the first attack.

Taking care of the externals is what we do most in life, but without taking care of our inner selves we will have no resources to draw from each day; let’s face it, driving a nice car doesn’t help you one bit in a day of trouble.

When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 9, He asked her for a drink, and then replied with these words…”Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus is like having living, thirst-quenching water springing up within you so that at any time and in any circumstance, He can be an everlasting source of hope to you.

Do you have some battles that you are facing right now that you feel want to take you down? Then draw inner strength from Jesus with the words of this old song…

‘Got any rivers you think are impossible?
Got any mountains you can not tunnel through?
God specialises in things thought impossible
And He can do what no other can do.’

However your day has started out, stop right now and give it over to God, by simply calling on His name.

He may not get rid of your problem, but He’ll certainly give you the inner strength to get through it.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2019

Tough times don’t last – tough people do.  I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before.

It is true.  Tough times, difficulties, storms, will indeed pass. It’s during those times, that if YOU’RE strong, then you will remain steadfast. 

Most Saturdays, you will find me on my knees cleaning our bathroom floor. Last week I thought to myself, “this hurts my knees!” . Maybe I’m getting older, maybe I forgot to put down a mat to kneel on.. either way, it hurt!  I reminded myself, that if I wanted a great job done, hurt or not, then I needed to be on my knees to do a good job and get a great result.

I was reminded of prayer.  It may not be always comfortable on your knees, you may not feel like it, you may not think you have time for it, you may feel that a ‘quick’ prayer will do. However, like my floor, if you want a good job accomplished sometimes you have to get on those knees, however it may hurt.

When you apply Godly principles to your life, whatever season you’re in, then when those tough times come, you will remain steadfast.

When you need to see a breakthrough in prayer.. push that little bit harder, get uncomfortable if you have to. Because it is in those times that something like gold will be produced in you.

Do you need to see some great results today? Do you need to outlast the storm? Get on your knees before God… He will meet you there.

 Pastor Gillian

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2019

Decisions, decisions! Life is filled with decisions. Some are easy decisions such as should you have the salad or the prime rib? Maybe not so easy for  some, yet some  are more  serous decisions  whether  job  related,  relationship  decisions. It seems a week never goes by without needing to make at least one important choice.

Consider the decisions before you right now.  Who are you turning to for guidance? Wouldn’t it be nice to have an arrow pointing us in the right direction, especially if we are in the danger of making a wrong turn? According to God’s Word, we have exactly that. When we truly desire to walk the path God sets us on, and we earnestly seek his voice, he promises to lead us in the right direction. God’s ever present  Spirit is right  with you, ready to guide you and put you  back on the path each time  you wander off.

When you need to make a decision it’s a smart move to seek God’s will on the matter. After all, God is infinitely wise, knows the future perfectly, and loves you beyond comprehension. Where better to go for advice?

Isaiah 30:21 tells us “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” This  does not  necessarily mean an audible voice  but  when  you allow God to  guide  your life, you  gain discernment or an inclination within you that recognises  the right  path  for  you.

The bible tells us the first step is to pray. Philippians 4:6-7 gives us the starting point for every decision and every endeavour for God’s help and guidance, it tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The second step is analysing, all the while seeking counsel from God’s word and God’s people. James 1.5 enjoins us to ask God for wisdom, quite clearly showing that God does expect us to apply our mind as well as our prayers in making decisions. James 1:5 –“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”

Finally when you have sought God and wise counsel and feel His peace, step out in faith. Decide! Do it! Don’t get stuck in gridlock awaiting signs. Trust Him!

Today make that decision  to  ask  for  His wisdom, to  be led by  Him  path that  is best  suited to  fulfil His plan and purpose  for  your life. Be obedient and fully trusting of him.

 Christine Mudenha
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2019

A key to breakthrough is praise. Praise isn’t a cute little song, like you might hear on the radio. Praise is powerful. Praise is a spiritual exchange. When we feel like the enemy is coming against us, our weapon of choice should be praise and worship. Why? Praise is GOD focused, not Devil focused. It is a reminder to you, and to the enemy that over all circumstances and feelings, God has the final victory! …and you will sing it out!

Israel won the battle of Jericho through worship. Chronicles 20 tells how King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah into battle with singing. His frontline guys didn’t have swords and spears, they had a song! They were singers! Jehoshaphat conquered with a choir! He understood that a spiritual song breaks something beyond the physical.

Acts 16 records how Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi. That night Paul and Silas sat with their feet in the chains and sang songs of praise. The prison doors were flung open, and the jailer was saved!

What is your go-to weapon in times of struggle? Is it complaining, gossip, pain-numbers, and blame? Let it be praise.

David also understood this truth. In Psalm 68:1-2 he says, ‘When God is lifted high in praise, His enemies are scattered’. It is not cursing and rebuking the Devil that causes him to flee, it is in fact PRAISE. If your problem is getting you Devil focused, shift your focus to the strength and ability of our victorious God through song.

As the lyrics in Bethany Wohre’s song, ‘Victory is Yours’ declares:

Our fight is with weapons unseen
Your enemies crash to their knees
As we rise up in worship
When trials unleash like a flood
The battle belongs to our God
As we cry out in worship…

What hell meant to break me has failed
Now nothing will silence my praise
I will cry out in worship
The walls of the prison will shake
The chain-breaking King will rise to save
As we cry out in worship’

Isaiah 42:10-13

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2019

On September 10th, 2019, at Apple’s keynote event, they announced the upgraded systems of Apple products. Within just 10 minutes of the event kicking off, Apple had over 500,000 viewers, and at the live stream’s peak, when new iPhones were being shown off, Apple reached 1.875 million viewers. The opening quote of the presentation: Give people tools, and they will do wonderful things’.

This quote was one of Steve Jobs’ core beliefs – that ‘technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they are basically good and smart’.

A tool is just a tool. It is the application of the tool, by the tool user, that brings about the wonderful result. The real wonder of the tool is in us and our ability to use it.

There are spiritual tools gifted to us by God. And yes there are tools for everything we could possibly face. There are tools to fix relational problems, tools for parenting, tools for healing, tools for peace, tools for money management, and tools for breakthrough and success in every area of life.

God doesn’t ask us to do something, without equipping us with the specific tool to get the job done. But God needs someone to use the tool. The tool itself doesn’t get the job done, it is the person behind the tool. It is YOU applying the tool.

When God asked Moses to lead the Israelites across the Red Sea, He gave him the tools to do the job, the knowledge needed to do the job, and the ability to do the job. God didn’t just lead Moses to the Red Sea and tell him, “Okay Moses, here’s the Red Sea. I want you to cross it but it’s totally up to you to figure out how.”

Apply God’s word, and apply his wisdom to your life. Apply the tools and with them we will do wonderful things!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th September 2019

This morning I am going to show my age by referring to a song called ‘Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac on their classic 1973 album Rumours. Now the song is a secular song about the breakup of a relationship but there are some very telling lyrics in it.

‘If I could I would give you my world, but how can I if you won’t take it from me?’

Revelation 3:20 ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me’.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks- He will not force His way in but He does stand and wait.

There is a very famous painting called ‘Light of the World’ that depicts Jesus holding a lamp standing outside a door. That door has no handle on the outside, the only handle is on the inside. This painting depicts a truth; you have to open the door from the inside to let Jesus in.

We are so often guilty, not just of not opening the door to Jesus, but also of closing the door in His face and then holding it shut. Perhaps we are scared of meeting Him face to face either because of who He is, or what He might ask of us. Sometimes we don’t open the door because it would be too inconvenient to let Him in just at the moment. ‘Perhaps tomorrow or next week I will let Him in.’

Am I too comfortable in my sin, my ways, my relationships, my life? As the Fleetwood Mac song says ‘you can go your own way’ or you can open the door and go Jesus’ way.

How differently would we react if this was not a metaphorical door? What if this evening whilst you were sitting down to dinner there was a knock at the door and when you opened it Jesus was actually standing there asking to come in to eat with you. Put yourself there, how would that change us, how would it change our perspective?

God has a whole world that He created for us, a life He wants us to experience and He wants to give us that world, that life. But how can He if we won’t take it from Him?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2019

Centuries ago, wine was stored in leather wineskins rather than bottles. When the wineskins were new, they were soft and pliable, but as they aged they became hardened and couldn’t expand without cracking. If new wine was poured in an old wineskin, the container would burst and the wine would be lost.

When Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge their visions, He reminded them, ” You can’t put new wine into old wineskins”( Matthew 9 v 17). He was saying that you cannot have a larger life if you have a restricted mind or attitude.

 You may class yourself as young right now, but beware, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your thinking hasn’t already got old and hardened.

 It may be right now that you’ve already developed a mindset that says that you’ll never do anything successful or enjoy the good things in life that you used to dream of.

 Today, I encourage you to stretch your faith and vision and get rid of that old restrictive thinking that’s holding you back from all that God has got for your life.

 Start making room in your thinking for what God has in store for you. You must conceive in your mind and heart before you can receive it.

 Ask yourself a simple question: if God poured a dream into your life today would it just quickly disappear through the cracks of your old attitude?

 The key today is to allow your heart to become pliable and supple again to all of the great things that God has in store for you. He’s never short on ideas for your life, but you may be short on space to contain them.

Expect God’s favour to help you break out the rut that you’re in and expect to excel in whatever you do. Let your stinking thinking go today!

 Open your heart at the start of this new day and become supple again in the hands of the master.

Expect great things from God…attempt great things for God.

Pastor Mark

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2019

I’m sure you know about the life of Noah..the ark… the flood… the wiping out of all mankind and the saving of Noah and his family and all of the animals. It’s all recorded in the book of Genesis. 

As I am writing this now, people in different parts of the world are experiencing category 5 hurricanes, which bring death and devastation to all around. I can’t imagine what that must be like.  Think about Noah going through that, only even worse. EVERYTHING was wiped out around him.  Noah had just witnessed the drowning of all mankind.

 In Genesis 8 it tells us that after Noah had gone through this experience, which is very hard to imagine, he worshipped. He’d shut his ears to the wailing of the people and he kept his focus on God.  Some days that’s hard.   To take our minds off what is going on around us and to focus on God alone.  Noah was thankful that he had been saved, but I’m sure he was in a place of not understanding what had just happened.

We will often find ourselves in a place like that. A place of confusion or sadness. A place of questions and storms, yet sometimes you have to just shut the door,  shut out the noise and worship.

We all come from different circumstances and situations.  We have to learn everyday that we should shut out the world and all its distractions and “in all circumstances thank God”  (1 Thessalonians 5 v 18)

Be a worshipper in a storm, through a storm and after a storm.

God has everything in control. He is looking for your heart and attitude when things aren’t going great.

He wants you to shut the door, take time to just be with Him.  That’s where you will find peace, that’s where you will get your focus back.

Noah didn’t really know what had just happened and neither do we sometimes. It’s in the presence of God that we find answers and peace and strength to move on with the plan of God for our lives.

When you do that, something wonderful happens.

When God saw Noah’s worship, He said “never again will I flood the earth, never again will I curse the ground, never again will I destroy every living creature, as long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Are you waiting for a powerful promise? Get into worship. 

It’s amazing what follows someone who shuts out the world and concentrates on the one who made it.  

 

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

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2019

Nothing that is happening in your life right now, good or bad, is a surprise to God. We spend a lot of our time being either blind-sided or pleasantly surprised by our circumstances.

This year has not looked the way that I thought it would…at all. I’ve found myself asking God ‘why?’ on more than one occasion. Yet I’ve had to remind myself that He knows what He’s doing.

Two things that I want you to remember are: 1) God does not exist within our perception of space and time – He sees everything beginning to end and 2) He always has a plan.

We can often find ourselves tossed and turned by the waves. This is one of the reasons that our alone time with Him is so important. Even if it’s just five minutes in the loo at work (trust me, I’ve been there). In those moments of turbulence, God is steady. He never changes. He isn’t phased by what’s going on in your world, so when external factors cause you turmoil, remember Psalm 91:1-6:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Three things that will lead you into victory:

  1. Prayer – be specific… but even if a sigh is all you have, God still knows what you need.
  2. Praise – worship breaks chains. There’s a reason the worshippers were sent ahead during a battle, in the Bible.
  3. Promises  – find a verse of Scripture and speak it out throughout your day.

Spoiler alert: you win. Walk in that knowledge today. You are not a victim, you are a victor.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2019

A few months ago on a trip to Belgium, we were trying to find a nice coffee shop. Google Maps had got us to the right street and we noticed a pretty shop front on the other side of the road. Naturally, we stopped to take a photo.

Google Maps was showing we were really close to the coffee shop so we continued to walk down the road. However, quite quickly, it looked as though we had gone past our desired destination. We turned around but found ourselves looking at the pretty shop front on the opposite side of the road. We must have gone too far back.

After a few times up and down the street and back-roads, each time being greeted by that same shop on the other side of the road, we decided that maybe the coffee shop we were looking for had closed down.

At this point, we turned around. We turned to see the shop directly opposite the pretty one that kept taking our attention, was the coffee shop we had been looking for.

Every time we walked back up the street, habit meant that we focused on the thing we had seen before, the place we had been before with no prevail. Our focus became the familiar. Our habit became to look across the road and feel defeated.

The regularity of that routine meant that our eyes were drawn to the familiar and we missed exactly what we were looking for.

Have you ever been so consumed with routine that you miss the thing that you are asking for God to show you?

The story of the Good Samaritan begins with two religious folk who are so busy with their lives, so focused on where they are going, they miss the severity of the man on the side of the road.

We have to live the ordinary every day; we have ordinary tasks and ordinary routines. We can become so focused on the familiar that we become blind to the things around us.

‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us’ John 1:14.

Jesus came into our ordinary world. He spent time with ordinary people, listening to their everyday problems. The extraordinary came into an ordinary world.

If we are living in the ordinary, we need to find Jesus there. By nature, He is with us in our everyday lives so it’s up to us to seek the extraordinary in our everyday life.

Be still. Look around. What is God trying to show you in your daily routine today?

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2019

Intentionality means ‘to be deliberate or act on purpose’.

The opposite of being intentional is to be complacent, and indifferent. It is to ‘go with the flow’, holding the attitude of ‘whatever will be will be’. It is to live without a clear goal or purpose in mind.

The problem with this attitude, as ‘easy-going’ as it may seem, is that pretty quickly life gets a hold of you, rather than you having a hold on life. Being unintentional leads to distraction, wasted time, and arrival at a place that you didn’t plan to be in…simply because you had no plan in the first place!

Of course we can’t always control life, but God has given us clear direction on EVERY possible area of life according to His word.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, ‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time… Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is’.

To live out our purpose means living intentionally. There is a responsibility on us to steward whatever is in our hands. Part of stewardship is to have a plan, purpose and some intentionality in handling what we have been given.

Are we intentional in how we manage our money, our health, our relationships, our job, our prayers, our marriage, and the people we work with? Do we approach these things with a clear mission in mind? Do we know where we are heading with these things? Or do we just let these things happen?

I would encourage you to take some time, even just once a year, to sit down and ask yourself some intentional questions, to encourage intentional living:

-Who has God put around me at work? How can I be intentional in showing them the love of God?

– What has God blessed me with? How can I now go and intentionally bless others?

– What is my mind constantly dwelling on? How can I be more intentional in my thought life, rather than just letting thoughts run wild in my head?

– Am I intentional and choice with my words or does my mouth just free-flow?

– Where am I going with my study of the Bible? Do I have a plan or am I just floating from scripture to scripture?

– Who are my friends? Who is having the most influence on me at the moment? How can I be intentional about choosing the right people to be in my life?

– Am I specific in my prayers? Or do I just ask for general roundabout things?

– Do I actively prioritise the health of my soul, or do I just let life happen as my body and heart tries to keep up? What do I need to put in my calendar so my health is a priority and I’m intentional in looking after it?

When God made you, He had a plan, He was intentional with His plan and design in creating you (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us now live our lives with the intentionality we were designed to carry.  

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

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

 

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2019

Sunday church is not the purpose of the Christian life. Sunday church is the vital training ground for the game… The game being the rest of the week – ‘real life’ in the ‘real world’. We were not saved to sit in a comfortable bubble of like-minded people, never engaging with the people Jesus died for. We were saved AND then commissioned to GO OUT and change the world. This is not a mandate for just some Christians with a ‘special gift’ with people who are non-Christians, but this is the call of ALL Christians (Matthew 28:19-20).

So what does it look like to be a Christian when we are not at church, but when we are at work and ‘in the world’? What does it look like to be a Christian in an office where people think differently, maybe even despise your belief system?

Navigating the waters of ‘the real world’ can be a challenge, but one that we are none-the-less called to.

To be an effective Christian in the workplace, here are some thoughts:

  1. Be authentic. You can’t be something you are not for long. People who see you day in and day out, good days and bad days, will get to know who you really are. You can’tput on a ‘Jesus front’, and sustain it if it hasn’t really happened in you! Focus less on performing, and more on genuinely growing in God (through His word and relationship with Him), so you are effortlessly portraying what He has done in your heart, mind, attitudes.
  1. Love people. People can sense your motives. They know if there is a hidden agenda. They also know if you genuinely care. We aren’t about saving souls for brownie points, we are about saving souls because God loves them, and we love them. Thankfully a genuine love for people isn’t something that has to be forced out. It comes through praying for them, and then catching God’s heart for them. We then find ourselves showing kindness, care, consideration, honour, and respect as an overflow.
  1. Watch your small choices. People will watch how you do the small things and equate it with Jesus. They will watch your attitude, how you speak of others, how you handle your money, your relational priorities, your time management, and the way you carry out tasks in the work place. They will quickly spot when something is counter-culture and observe the fruit of your life. If you bring in a negative atmosphere, if you are stingy with money, participate in gossip, use people, and your work ethic is not one of excellence and integrity, don’t be surprised if people lose respect for you and your faith.
  1. Remember God is with you. You aren’t alone. You are co-working with God (1 Corinthians 3:9). You aren’t just working FOR God, you are working WITH God. You are in it together, to get a job done. Let that reality take off the pressure, and instead embrace ‘being in the world’ as being an adventure and partnership with God.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2019

Is there anything worse than walking into a room full of people that are all chatting away to each other, but when you arrive they all go silent?

They each look up simultaneously for a brief moment, and then go back to their conversations.

They said nothing, but to you they said everything.

Of course, there are lots of worse things than that, but we all have to admit that that’s a fairly difficult pill to swallow.

The thought that you are nothing more than an inconvenience or even an annoyance to everyone else’s perfect lives is pretty degrading and even damaging.

Now we’re not asking to be the centre of attention, because for some that could actually be just as bad as being ignored, but what we really crave is to be accepted for who we are.

We don’t expect to be a conversation stopper because we are so important, but we would like to be included and accepted in the conversation.

Life can be cruel and so can people.

Today, I would ask you to consider the name of just one person that not only accepts you, but acknowledges you and even wants you to be a vital part of his world – that one name is Jesus.

Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples had messed up big time.

After spending three years with Jesus, he then, when coming face to face with the crucifixion, decided to run; but not only run, he would leave a trail of denial and profanity in his tracks, as he turned on the only one that had been his closest friend.

As he hid from Jesus’ haunting words that had previously announced that he would deny him three times before the night was out, he wept and saw no possible way back.

Fast forward now to the day of the resurrection.

An angel announces that Jesus wants a meeting with his disciples in Galilee, but knew that Peter would no longer feel worthy of being included. (Too right, you say…after all, he really showed his true colours)

But that’s not how Jesus does life.

Instead of beating people down further, he lifts people up higher, yes, even after they treat him with utter contempt.

Look at the Angels invitation closely…

Mark 16:6-7 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

The one that had made a right hash of things got a special mention on the invitation…and so do you.

Feeling dreadful that you haven’t lived up to the name Christian?

Lost faith?

Denied Jesus?

Bad language issues crept back in?

Anger problems?

Jesus says to you today…let’s meet. You are included in my plan.

Today if you only understand one thing, then understand that Jesus sees beyond our failings and includes us in his conversation.

Proverbs 16v24

…for though the righteous fall seven times, the Lord will lift him up.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2019

I’m not sure if you have a dog – if you do, you’ll know exactly what I mean…

Our chocolate Labrador Snoop is a great lover of food. I mean any sort of food, anytime, anywhere.

It’s amazing, that we have kept his weight under control. He loves food!

When I’m eating, he comes and tries to sit at my feet, or gives me those gorgeous brown ‘puppy dog eyes’ that say “please can I have some.” If my husband sees him, he’ll send him packing… however I can’t resist that longing look. I may at first say NO, but then I give in.  

 It reminds me of the story of the persistent widow in

 Luke 18 vs 1-5. 

Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’

 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”

She kept coming and asking, he kept saying ‘NO’, however, due to her persistency he gave in!

 Notice what verse 1 says 

 “Jesus told them this story, to teach them it was necessary to pray and not to quit”

If you’re waiting for an answer, if you’re believing for a miracle, if you’re believing for a breakthrough,don’t let the enemy send you packing and tell you to give up. 

If we weren’t meant to be persistent like the widow, why would Jesus have told us to be?

Some of us give up too easily – at the first hurdle or at the first ’no’.

Don’t be like that!

Be like my dog.

Be like Jesus taught us to be.

Persistent.

 Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2019

Driving to work one day on the motorway, I was forced to move to the inner lane by two police cars taking up the middle and outside lanes. They had their sirens wailing, and blue lights flashing making it impossible to miss them, and you had to move out of the way.

Behind the two police cars were a secure prison transfer van flanked by another police car alongside it, and two more police cars behind those.

What was quite remarkable was the number of police cars it took to surround the prison van and ensure that it had a clear stretch of road ahead of it and alongside it, and it could travel without having a siren itself. This got me thinking. Who were they transporting, and why was this individual or group of people so important, they needed such a noisy police escort? I’ve been overtaken by police cars countless times without thinking much of it, but there was obviously someone significantly important or high risk in the van they justified all the fuss.

I thought about breaking from the norm that everyone else was following and doing something to stand out but that wouldn’t have ended well for me, so I stayed in the slow lane.

There are times when deciding to stay quietly out of the way along with everyone else is a good decision, but there are times when you need to step out and reach for a reward that pushes you out of your current situation. To make a bold decision that challenges the long-held beliefs around you.

In Luke 18:35-43, a blind man received his sight because he first saw a way out of his situation (blindness) and stepped out in faith. Like the transfer van surrounded by police cars that made traffic move out of the way, Jesus was surrounded by people who could see him with their eyes but could not see the reward He carried.

We’ve all got something that we need God to help us with in our lives, better health, rebuild a relationship with family, a parent, child, sibling; a friend who used to be close, but things went sour; finances to help us get out of a hole we may be in, perhaps a better job. There’s probably something in your life that you’ve accepted as it is, and because of past failures in changing that situation, are now okay to sit on the side lines.

What stopped me from getting in the way of the police convoy was a fear that my life would never be the same if I did that

What stopped the blind man from staying out of Jesus’s way was a fear that his life would always remain the same.

Make the decision to call on Jesus today, and He will give you a new vision, and a reward for your courage.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2019

On a recent trip to Greece we ventured on a guided tour to a near by waterfall attraction. Mid-way through our tour guide explaining the features of the surroundings, in broken English, he told us to “take off shoes”, and pointed to a narrow tunnel with water running through it. We followed his instructions, taking off our shoes, trailing behind his enthusiastic guidance into this dark tunnel. 

Anxiety quickly kicked in. It was one way. Totally dark. Narrow. And there was no end in sight. You could only hear the sound of water running over your bare feet. 

For someone who has a fear of rising water levels in enclosed spaces, everything in me wanted to turn around. But there were people behind me. The traumatic walk through the tunnel of doom, went on and on and on for about 300 metres!

The moment peace came was when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the end of was near. The hope of getting out was possible.

Hope is important. 

In the 1950s, an experiment was performed on rats. It was discovered that they could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water for only about 15 minutes in order to stay alive. After that, they would give up and sink. But when the swimming rats were rescued briefly and then put back in the water, they managed to swim for up to 60 hours. How is that possible? It was concluded that it was because the rescued rats were given hope – the hope that they would be rescued. This hope empowered them to keep on swimming!

When the human spirit has no hope, when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, we sink into anxiety and depression.

Imagine not knowing if and when your dreams would be fulfilled. Imagine feeling like you are the only one in control of your future. Imagine not knowing if you will ever have enough. Imagine not knowing if there is more for you. Imagine not knowing what happens after death. Imagine not knowing if there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel you are in.  

Sadly this is exactly how many people live. They have no sure and certain hope. Their hope is in things that can be gone or have gone in an instant – people, money, themselves. No wonder anxiety levels are sky high! 

The story should be different for Christ followers – we have a sure hope. Regardless of the tunnel we are in, we see the light at the end and this gives us the courage and peace to keep moving on.

Romans 15:13, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’

Hope is not wishful thinking. It’s the assurance of fulfilled promise. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Guaranteed.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2019

You can be book-smart, world-smart, have degrees up to the eyeballs, but lack wisdom. Godly wisdom (God’s perspective on life), can only be gained through relationship with Him, and His word. Worldly wisdom can be impressive, it can get you far in life, but it is bound to a human level. It is limited. Godly wisdom, however, is unlimited. It is ultimate. It is all knowing. It is timeless and will transform you and generations following you when applied. It is also available to you right now.

The rewards of Godly wisdom are:

Peace – ‘But the one who listens to wisdom, will live undisturbed in heavenly peace’ Proverbs 1:33.

Success –  ‘Only if you accept my advice and hide it within will you succeed’, Proverbs 2:1.

A full life – ‘If you want a long and satisfying life, never forget the things that I’ve taught you. Follow closely every truth that I’ve given you. Then you will have a full, rewarding life’, Proverbs 3:1-2.

Protection –  ‘For the Lord has a hidden store-house of wisdom made accessible to his godly lovers, He becomes your personal bodyguard as you follow his ways, protecting and guarding you as you choose what is right…If you choose good counsel, divine design will watch over you and understanding will protect you from making poor choices’ Proverbs 2:7-8 & 11.

Empowerment – ‘…You will discover all that is just, proper, and fair, and be empowered to make the right decisions as you walk into your destiny’ (Proverbs 2:9)

Just to name a few.

Wisdom can offer you all the above. But here is the catch: you have to want it. You are only influenced by that which you have value for. If you have no value for it, no desire to seek it out, you will not find it. Wisdom only has power in your life when you actively look for it, treasure it, and esteem it.

‘My child, will you treasure my wisdom? Then, and only then, will you acquire it…train you heart to listen…open your spirit wide’ (Proverbs 2:1-2).

People will spend thousands on health insurance, just for peace of mind, that if anything goes wrong, they are covered. People also spend thousands on university degrees, in an attempt to have a successful and fulfilling life. These things aren’t wrong. But why do people struggle to pick up the word of God when it is guaranteed to offer you greater reward, success, protection, and empowerment in all its wisdom?

Christians don’t pursue truth to be boring people, bound by rules. Quite the opposite. We pursue truth, because the wisdom of God promises to bring peace, success, life-fulfillment, and protection.

Let your heart hunger to know the perspective of God. Seek out His wisdom. God is generous in his impartation of wisdom on an open and ready heart.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd September 2019

“His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” was what people had to say about Paul, a hugely influential figure in the Bible.

23% of the New Testament has been attributed to Paul, who was also responsible for bringing the Christian message to Europe for the first time. Paul was a big player, but when it came to public speaking, people were happy to take him or leave him.

To add to Paul’s potential complex, he had a teammate named Apollos who was a very eloquent speaker. (Side note – your character will be tested when you’re alongside someone who’s gifted in an area in which you lack…

Can I encourage you to celebrate those people and not despise them? After all, as someone once said, ‘if everybody on a team is gifted in the same way, then the majority of that team are unnecessary.’)

However, it seems as though Paul didn’t have a complex about this, but rather he realised, ‘what I don’t have is just as important as what I do have.’

Paul’s writings influence millions of people still to this day, but we have to ask ourselves: if he’d have spoken it, would we have the opportunity to read it? Maybe it’s because he couldn’t speak like his colleague Apollos, that he ended up writing the way he did.

I think if you asked Paul today, he would tell you that he’s glad he was an unimpressive communicator. Because what people identified as his lack led him to discover his God-given gift. And ultimately it’s that gift that created for him a lasting legacy.

Today, instead of resenting what you don’t have, I wonder what could happen if you embraced what you do have…

Celebrate the Apollos’ in your world, look to improve in areas that you can, but learn to love who you’ve been created to be and not lose sleep over what you lack.

Maybe you too could leave a legacy that goes beyond the life you live.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2019

Prayer shouldn’t be a burden but a privilege – a privilege God has freely given to us because He wants to spend time with us.

 Jesus died to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God, and when we give our lives to Him, we have a personal relationship with Him. In fact, we only have access to God because of what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection.

Isaiah 59:1-2 Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

He opened the way for us once and for all to come freely to Him.

 Central to any relationship is communication. A father that never talks to his children, or a married couple that never speak to each other is a recipe for defeat in any relationship.

 In a far greater way, our relationship with God involves communication – not just a brief hello, but a much deeper level of sharing our cares, concerns and requests with Him.

Prayer is simply talking with God; It’s a two way street just like any other relationship.

God, could of course, simply do everything on his own. He could make every problem go away, sort all of your burdens out, and then just shower you with everything you need exactly at the time you need it-so why doesn’t He? Because that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a completely mechanical and robotic one-sided acquaintance.

God has given us the privilege of prayer so that we will have a moment by moment friendship and relationship with Him.

 There are some things that my children have asked me for over the years that I haven’t been able to supply, but then there are times when I’ve sorted things straight away.

Often my phone will ring and the voice on the other end is saying, “Dad…can you…?!” The truth is that any Dad loves to be asked for things or to do things for his children. It’s the stuff of great relationships.

 

At other times the call comes from me to my children. Maybe I need to talk to them about something or give them some information; and so it is with God, He wants you to not only communicate with Him, but He also wants to communicate with you.

 Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer by His own example when we are told that He got up very early in the morning, while it was still dark, to pray…

 

 Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

 

Today, I encourage you engage with God in the privilege of prayer. Speak to Him daily about everything. 

Remember: if it matters to you, it matters to Him.

 

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

 Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

You can join us for prayer every week at Champions:

 Men – Tuesdays at 6am.

 Ladies – Thursdays at 9am.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st August 2019

Atmosphere is very important. I can immediately walk into a place and know whether or not I’m going to like it.  It can be a restaurant, a shop, even a hotel room.

 

Did you know that YOU can set an atmosphere? By your attitude, your face, your spirit.

We have often said as parents that our children will not dictate the atmosphere of our home. When they are in a ‘mood’ or don’t get their own way or stuff makes them feel ‘down’, then the atmosphere can be changed into something negative.

You may have children like that. You may have a spouse like that. You may be like that.

 

There’s another saying in our house, “If Mom’s happy, everyone’s happy”.

That’s a lot of responsibility on me! However it’s very true.

I, like you, can set the atmosphere in my house big time.

 

Over the years I’ve learnt this: we are carriers.  When our heart is good, our face is good, our spirit is good and our whole countenance is good.  Our heart sets the atmosphere.

When things aren’t as I’d like them, is my heart good?

When things and circumstances are not good, is my heart still good?

When I feel sad or even discouraged, is my heart still good?

 

When my prayer life and my walk with God is right, then my heart will be right and then the atmosphere will be right.

 

Be an atmosphere changer for the better.

Walk into a room and carry the presence of God with you and it can suddenly change supernaturally.

 

In your work place, in your home, be the person who everyone loves to encounter because YOU are an atmosphere changer.

 

Be one for the better.

 

Pastor Gillian

 

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th August 2019

Two weeks ago I missed a train by just five seconds! I had been waiting 40 minutes for the train to arrive and then they switched platforms on me in the last few minutes. I noticed too late. As I realised what had happened, I saw my train pending on the other side. I run up the stairs and to the other side of the tracks. My hand almost touched the door’s button as the train moved off, leaving me to cancel the tour I had planned upon arrival at my destination. Not what I had planned.

Another example of derailed plans… one week later and we were holidaying in France when my husband had a severe reaction to a mosquito bite! We thought we better get to A&E before the spreading bite went septic. For a doctor to issue a prescription of antibiotics would take less than five minutes, but we were left in the waiting room from 10pm to 4am! With no one speaking a word of English in a French hospital, communicating only via Google translate, the wait got very frustrating. Not what we had planned.

These two relatively minor set backs really are a bleep compared to the metaphorical missed trains and waiting rooms of life that many people are sitting in. Some people have been waiting for loved ones to come back, their bodies to get healed, break-through in finances, or for the arrival of a spouse or baby for years. Some people feel they have ‘missed the boat’ of opportunity in life and it’s too late. Time doesn’t feel on their side. Their life plans seemed to be derailed.

The good news is that God is beyond time. He is not bound by it. While we orchestrate our lives on man-made calendars, and clocks, and compare our stages of our life to the happenings of those around us, God is working in accordance to with the season of our hearts, coupled with His divine perspective. He sees what we don’t. Hence why it doesn’t always make sense to us. Sometimes time eventually explains to us what He was/is doing, other times we just have to trust in His good nature. God wants us to operate in the currency of faith, and trust. Knowing that he is perfectly good and faithful to us. God can do what takes months, in minutes. God can do what we think should be done now, later, yet never too late, because He knows what we need.

When we don’t have the answers for why our desires and God’s promises aren’t unfolding now, we must trust in the reality that God is FOR US. He is our loving Dad, with only our best interests at heart. Our job is to trust Him.

I ended up getting on the next train. I ended up getting on the next tour. I ended up having a day better than I could have planned. My husband ended up getting his prescription, and we ended up having a fabulous holiday, barely remembering the frustration of the waiting room.

What may feel like a forever season, is not a forever season. Things will change at some point, you will get on the right train, you will leave the waiting room… and God will work all things together (Romans 8:28). In the meantime, steward your heart and steward your wait.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2019

Let’s talk about sin!

When we become a Christian, scripture says that we are a ‘new creation’, meaning we are free from our sinful nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Christ you are made holy (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:22). You are seen as pure (Titus 2:4), and free from sin (Romans 6:7, 18, 22).

The Bible doesn’t lie. There is no middle ground. Either we are free from sin, or we are not. Either we are a new creation as the Bible tells us, or we are not. Either we are made righteous and holy, or we are not.

So why is there still sin? Why do Christians still sin if God promises us that we are a new creation?

I would like to propose that God has not done a half-working in us, but perhaps we are yet to come to the full-revelation of what God has done in us.

What you believe, you empower. If you believe you are still an old creation, don’t be surprised if you are still acting like one!

There are numerous verses in the Bible that present sin as a ‘personality’, an independent power, as not just actions we do, but an entity we engage with.

FACT: The two most prevalent Greek words used for sin are hamartano (Verb), and hamartia (noun). In the book of Romans, for example, the verb is used only twice; the noun however is used 46 times!

Romans 7, proves that sin is more than just missing the mark. It is a force that exists outside of us trying to influence us.

If Jesus conquered the sin in us, and it is still evident in our lives, perhaps it because we have let the very thing Jesus delivered us from, still have a say in our life. Sin is still in the world, it comes from the outside (noun), and challenges us with desires that are no longer in our new nature. When we believe these lies that is when we give into them and produce sin (verb).

Remember that sin is deceitful, not defining. Sin doesn’t define you, Jesus has already done that. Knowing not every desire you feel is yours makes dealing with the deceit of sin much easier.

Be aware that there is an enemy fighting for your identity. When you are aware of truth, it is easy to recognise a lie. The enemy will work hard at getting you to question the reality of what God has made you at salvation. Wash your mind in the word of God. Use it as the sword it is (Ephesians 6). Stop fighting yourself, and instead declare what over yourself what God has already fought and brought for you! You are pure because you have been purified in Christ (Titus 2:14). Let your behaviour come into alignment with this reality.

‘Your fundamental desire is for Him, not sin’ Mark Greenwood.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th August 2019

Here’s some load lightening encouraging words for us all: we have all thoroughly, comprehensively, exceedingly failed and come up short and always will when it comes to being right with God.

Romans 3:23| NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!

Romans 6:23 | NIV
For the wages of sin is death!

It can seem unfair that there’s nothing we can do about the fact that we are born into sin as a result of the curse from Adam! How is it fair his actions thousands of years ago meant that sin entered the world and no matter how hard you try you fall short of the glory of God?

But then the great news is that the opposite is also true. Just as all are cursed by Adam all are set free by Jesus.

Romans 3:24 ‘and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’

Romans 6:23 ‘but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

The biggest trap we can fall into as Christians is religion that seems to suggest that we can and should achieve some kind of acceptance of our own merit once we are saved and that we do gain some kind of self-righteousness.

It’s not true! We will always 100% need to completely rely upon his grace.

In Galatians 3, Paul starts off with the strong words ‘you foolish Galatians!’ Then goes onto explain, in verse 2 and 3…

‘2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?’

What Paul is telling us here is that what Christ has begun he will finish! We can’t finish what he begun but just as we’re saved by grace through faith so we must live in grace by faith! Read this today and don’t feel a failure because you’re still not perfect, but accept his grace that is all sufficient and that you are a beautiful work in progress!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th August 2019

The older I get, the more I realise that to have a title is really nothing.

To have a position is something, but the way you live your life is everything.

For me personally, I have made a vow that my preaching must never be better than my living.

Title and position only ever carries weight if it matches your life.

You can say things to people til you’re blue in the face, but no one will ever buy into what you say if you’re a hypocrite.

You can wear the biggest badge or have a huge sign on your office door that informs people of your title or role but that will never hold sway with people that don’t believe your life..

1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Make it your daily prayer and ambition in life to let your mouth and your ministry line up with the reality of your private life.

Basically…we practice daily what we preach – all the rest is religious froth.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2019

Some time back I spoke at our church on two evenings about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many people turned up and have since spoken of the impact of those two nights.

One of the things that was highlighted was that many people seek the more ‘spectacular’ gifts of the Holy Spirit of which there are nine mentioned in the Bible; included in the nine are the gift of miracles, the gift of healing and the gift of faith, However, the Bible doesn’t just stop there as it says there are different ‘kinds’ of gifts.

It surprises many when to hear that amongst those ‘other kinds of gifts’ are administration, encouragement, mercy, serving and giving.

I’m sure that you’ll agree that these other gifts hardly seem like supernatural, spiritual or spectacular as on face value they seem to be pretty standard things that anyone would do.

The point is this: how many of us today are feeling that we don’t possess a spiritual gift because we don’t do spectacular things and yet we daily do mundane yet meaningful and significant things?

Did you realise that encouragement was a spiritual gift?

What about serving others? A person who serves at our weekly soup kitchen is using their spiritual gift.

Showing mercy to other seems a pretty basic thing to do for any Christian, yet here we find that a person that does so is actually moving in a spiritual gift.

Being in a position to be ‘over and above’ generous, is given to some as a spiritual gift. They may think of themselves as just doing what they love to do, and yet here we find that it’s a gift that God has blessed them with.

I would encourage today not just to look for the spectacular, but look to serve God and others in whatever area you find your gift in.

Take time out to pray about, discover and discern what gift God has blessed you with…then use it!

Remember an unopened gift is worthless.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2019

You may be aware that when we obey, it always brings blessing.  

You may be a parent, then you will know that to be true!

Whenever God asks us to do something, it’s always so that we in turn will be blessed.   

When we are asked to give, it’s so that we can receive.

When we are asked to forgive someone, it’s so that we will actually be blessed, because we have let go of that unforgiveness.

When we are asked to love and encourage, it’s so that we in turn will receive many blessings back into our lives.

 

But what about when God asks us to do something that’s difficult? 

Then obedience isn’t as easy. 

Unless, we have learnt the principal that ‘God wants to bless me when I obey’. 

 

In the book of Genesis, we read the story of Abraham. 

God had promised him a child, even though he was old in years. Yet, God still fulfilled His promise and Abraham’s dream and blessed him with a son Isaac. 

 

When you read through the story, you will find that God tested Abraham. 

He asked him to take his son, (the one that he had been believing for and dreaming of) and take him up the mountain where he would sacrifice him.  

WOW, that’s an incredibly difficult, almost impossible thing to do. 

But I want you to notice what happened. 

In Genesis 22 1-3. It says that after God had spoken to him, the very next morning, Abraham got up early and started on his journey up the mountain. 

 

If ever there was a day to stay in bed, this was surely it! 

If ever there was a day to have several extra cups of coffee, this was it.  

If ever there was a day that Abraham wanted to talk to someone else first and get their opinion, then this was surely it. 

BUT NO. It says ‘he got up early and started out.’ 

Abraham knew that despite the difficult, almost impossible task, he was going to obey. 

 

I’m sure you know the end of the story.  

Isaac wasn’t in fact sacrificed, because God provided a ram instead AND Abraham was tremendously blessed. 

Why? 

Because my friends, obedience, even though it’s hard, ALWAYS BRINGS BLESSING.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd August 2019

Nobody likes to wait!

 

When I think back over my life, I’ve wanted everything NOW. However, the reality is that I’ve had to wait for everything.

 

Without waiting, we are doomed to failure, or at the very least we are doomed to become unbearable. We will simply grow up with the very same entitlement mentality that we see in our culture today.

 

If you’re in a waiting season right now, then know that you are normal and that it is necessary. So before you throw in the towel, lose your mind or walk away from your dream, learn to appreciate that waiting is the principal part of living a life of faith.

 

In fact, if you refuse to wait, you will find yourself trying to force things to happen, and the only thing that will happen is that you either abort your dream or at the very least delay it as you have to go round again. The important lessons that you need to learn come only through waiting.

 

So why do we have to wait?

 

  1. For your protection – God wants to keep you from destroying yourself by wanting everything too early. Just because you think you are ready, doesn’t mean that you are.
  2. For your preparation – while you are waiting, God is fixing you. If He allowed you to have everything you wanted right now, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.
  3. For your production – waiting has the power to produce in you the character that you will need for when He releases into you all that he has for you.

 

‘Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now’

 

If you’ll simply wait it out, God will simply work it out. When God moves it will be worth the wait.

 

 

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

Thought that you’d be married by now?

 

Thought that you’d be further on by now?

 

Thought that you’d have that degree by now?

 

Thought that you’d have money by now?

 

Remember: a waiting man or woman is someone that hasn’t given up.

 

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings and rise up close to God like eagles rising toward the sun; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

If this has stirred something within you, why not delve a little deeper? Head to the ‘Messages’ tab within the Champions Church app and search ‘Hate To Wait’ to watch the full-length message from Pastor Mark.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2019

When you become a Christian, you don’t kiss goodbye to your brains. How you steward your mind  as a Christian is vital.

Your mind is most healthy when in alignment with the word of God.

Your mind should be daily renewed into the reality and truth of who you have become in Christ.

‘… Be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). This scripture is proof that what you think is directly linked to how you behave. Want to change your life? It doesn’t start with behaviour and self-modification – it starts with what you believe in your head!

When your mind is fed on the word of God, embedded with scripture and truth, it is very easy to pick up on lies. Look at airport security. When you walk through the arch, if you are carrying metal, it will trigger off. Something illegal has approached a boundary. Should a weapon pass, harm could be done. The arch is sensitive to anything illegitimate and picks up on what should not be passed through.

A renewed mind, will quickly detect a lie when it attempts to get into a headspace. It is sensitive to anything illegitimate and illegal. It works as a protection barrier for your life. The word of God is its standard and before an action, temptation, or lie can violate your body or life, your mind, renewed by Scripture, will filter it, and signal that what is at the boundary should not be allowed in because it will bring death instead of life.

Who is responsible for the renewal process? You are. You are responsible for what you allow in based on your knowledge, gained through the word of God. This is why reading the Bible is important!

Often times when people find their lives in a mess, it can be traced back to a simple thought pattern or belief system that they allowed to get into their thinking. Sometimes these thought patterns are even passed on generationally, as at no point has there been a renewal of mind, or gaining of wisdom and truth.

You could have 10,000 pounds in your pocket, but if you don’t know it is there, you have no knowledge of it, so you aren’t going to be able to use it. You can only use what you know you have. If you have no knowledge of the word of God, how can you use it? Jesus said, ‘…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Yes the truth is there, yes it will set you free, but you have to KNOW it first.

The huge epidemic this generation is facing around poor mental health is evidence in itself that our minds matter. We must be intentional with what we are feeding our heads with. We have a responsibility to steward our minds in truth in order to be able to have strong lives.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ (Luke 10:27).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st August 2019

I recently went to see the remake of ‘The Lion King’ at the cinemas and cried the whole way through. The first time I saw the film I was four years old. I then saw the stage show on Broadway in New York, and then years later in London on the West End. Every time, it evokes such an emotional response in me. I can’t help but see such an obvious correlation between the storyline and our relationship with God.  

 

If for some reason, you have never seen ‘The Lion King’, allow me to briefly summarise the plot for you (spoiler alert!).  

The African kingdom is healthy and thriving with the wise and noble Mufasa ruling as king. Simba, Mufasa’s son, is destined to be king, but his evil Uncle Scar and his little hyena helpers ensure that Mufasa is killed while saving Simba’s life. Unbeknown to Scar, Simba is still alive, but he is lost. Simba doesn’t know who he is. He has been told life should be lived for self and has therefore avoided facing the reality of his role and calling as king. It is not until he is reminded through the Baboon, Rafiki, that he is the son of a king, that he then has a fresh revelation of who he is, and then takes his rightful place as king, redeeming and restoring the destroyed kingdom.  

 

Knowing our true identity is perhaps the most powerful understanding we can come to as Christians.  

Just as Scar and his demons challenged Simba on who he really was upon his return to Pride Rock, similar words were said to Jesus by the devil in the desert, challenging him to throw himself off a rock, ‘IF he really were the son of God’ (Matthew 4:6).  

 

Why did the Devil challenge Jesus’ sonship and identity? Because if he could get Jesus to second-guess who he was, he could get Jesus to second-guess his authority. You have all spiritual authority as a follower of Christ (Matthew 28:18), the only way the enemy can convince you to not use it, is if he can get you to second guess your identity as a child of the King of Kings. Once you are questioning your sonship, you question your authority.  

 

As Rafiki pointed Simba to the truth of who he was, so the Holy Spirit gently nudges us back to the reality of who we are – that we have the DNA of power and authority (Jesus) in us. Jesus died in our place, so that we can carry a kingdom responsibly to restore that which is desolate, and operate as kings.  

 

Adult Simba: Father? 

 

Mufasa’s ghost: [appears among the stars] Simba, you have forgotten me. 

 

Adult Simba: No. How could I? 

 

Mufasa’s ghost: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life. 

 

Adult Simba: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be. 

 

Mufasa’s Ghost: [Now fully formed in the sky] Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king. Remember who you are. 

  

Sometimes we get jealous because we don’t remember who we are. Sometimes we get worried because we don’t remember who we are. Sometimes we don’t operate in the signs, wonders and miracles that Jesus said we would, because we have forgotten who we are. Sometimes we second-guess our future, and ourselves because we have forgotten who we are! See how important knowing your identity is?

 

If you are a lion but believe you are a hog, you will think and act like a hog(Simba was so confused about who he was, he was a vegetarian lion at one point!) What you believe about yourself you empower. Remember who you are. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you so you can walk in the fullness of your identity as the son or daughter of a king! Stepping up to your royal responsibility!  

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th August 2019

Imagine if someone had the money and technology to go back in time to the dawn of civilisation and leave a Ferrari as a secret surprise for someone outside their cave? I know random!

They would be truly amazed. The materials, the colours and design! They would never have seen anything like it. But after a while, the novelty would wear off and they would struggle to work out what exactly the point of it is? What should they do with it? Maybe they would use it as a storage facility?

They would never in a million years (well 6 thousand at least) realise just what the Ferrari could do! Never guessing there’s an internal combustion engine that could propel the car to speeds of 200 miles per hour!

This is a great picture of our lives and the difficulty in grasping just how amazing we are and the possibilities.

Society is more and more confused, they know the Ferrari (life) is amazing but just can’t quite work out what it’s for? Where did it came from and where is it going? So they start trying to utilise it completely incorrectly, like a caveman using a Ferrari as a storage unit or glorified caravan, the world has watered life down to a series of random events over billions of years!

It is vital we grasp there is a design to us that is to glorify God! Here are 3 areas to help us to use our Ferrari as intended:

Owner’s manual – knowledge

The caveman has no knowledge about the car. Ignorance leads him to believe that millions of years of high pressure on natural materials has produced the car. We must regularly read the owner’s manual to our lives – the Bible!
Ephesians 2:10 | NIV
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Fuel – The Holy Spirit

Even if cavemen knew the truth about the car, they haven’t got fuel! We were created to run on the fuel of the Holy Spirit!

John 3:5 | NIV
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

Race track – the Church

Cavemen had no roads. The environment we were created to live in is with people. The Church is God’s design for us to do life together and make the most of this amazing life.

Hebrews 10:24-25 | NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

You are amazing! Believe it, take responsibility for it and make the most of this ‘once in a life time’ opportunity we have been given!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2019

Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to function properly, it helps us create calcium to form and strengthen our bones. However, vitamin D is something that we have to get from our daily diet and from sunlight, we don’t make it within our bodies. Without sufficient vitamin D, our bones get weaker and it can lead to conditions like rickets. Thankfully, just getting a few minutes of sunlight on your skin every day is usually enough.

The grace of God is very much like vitamin D.

There is nothing we can do to earn the grace of God, we can’t ‘manufacture’ it ourselves, no matter how hard we work. It is a free gift, nothing that we can do, think or say will change God’s grace towards us. It is free to us but comes at a great price to God, the price was paid by Jesus on the cross. It is free but certainly not cheap.

To stay spiritually ‘healthy’ we need a dose of God’s grace every day. Thankfully we are told that firstly, God’s grace ‘is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9) in order to stand strong against the trials and tribulations of this life. Secondly, that it is new and fresh every morning (Lamentations 3, 22-23). Every day we start with a clean slate and a new ‘dose’ of His mercy and grace.

We rely on God’s grace. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness’. Through his grace our human weaknesses are not important, God can use us to do amazing things despite our weakness (Philippians 4:13). But apart from His grace we can do nothing.

Just as sunlight is a gift of God’s creation, so His grace is a gift of God’s love – we need them both to be healthy.

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2019

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament (Bible in one year). When you read it this way, you have to read the hard bits as well as the ‘nice’ bits. There are so many favourite passages of mine in the OT, that I find myself going to them regularly. They are a wealth of truth. Like the book of Ruth and Esther, like the accounts of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the stories of Joseph and Abraham, the leadership lessons from Moses…I have preached on these many times.

However, what I have found fascinating in this season, is the accounts of the many (seemingly hundreds) of kings that are recorded. David who was a great King after God’s own heart, yet he himself failed at one point. Hezekiah, a king who did what was right in the eyes of God and Solomon who when he could have asked for anything, asked for wisdom to lead the people and in return God blessed him mightily. “because you have asked for this, I will bless you more than you can imagine “ – see 1 Kings 3 v 11-14.
Some of the kings recorded, I’ve never really heard of, yet an underlying and exciting truth runs through them all. Some of them worshipped foreign gods and led wicked lives. Others pulled down those altars to foreign gods and led the people to worship the one and only true God. Those who did the latter were tremendously blessed. God was on their side and they won many victories. Those who didn’t, were taken out and God had the last say!

We may not be living in OT times, but the truth remains firmly the same. When you honour God, when you stand for what is right, God will surely bless you. When you don’t, mark my words, God will always have the last say.
On my journey through the OT, you would have heard me physically shouting out “yes” at times when I read such exciting truths of people who stood for God getting blessed and winning exceptional victories.

God’s word is rich.
It will bless your soul.
Make sure you take time to read it every day.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th August 2019

We live in times where we hear so much about human rights but very little on human responsibilities! Society is desperately trying to make life as fair as possible by levelling every playing field whether based on gender or race, the problem though is it places emphasis on what people are entitled to rather than what their obligations should be to each other.

You could argue the very purpose of life is to take responsibility for what you can.

The bible doesn’t talk about our rights, in fact it makes it clear ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ and that the wages of that sin is death! So the only right we have is to be punished! But the gift of God is eternal life. So we’re treated much better than we deserve and get called the children of God! If you believe this, you really can’t complain at the hand life has dealt you.

When Jesus said ‘love your enemies’ it wasn’t for the sake of your enemies, but for your sake. When Jesus said ‘turn the other cheek’, again, it wasn’t for the sake of the aggressor but the person being slapped!

Essentially, Jesus was teaching us not to be a victim, where bad things ‘happen to us’, but instead take responsibility in the circumstances and so choose to be a victor and remain in the grace of God that wiped our slates clean.

So when bad things happen, learn to turn the other cheek, don’t blame, or fight back but look to take advantage of the difficulty! Instead of joining in the ‘tit for tat’ rules of life, look for the unexpected gift that could come from the difficulty (love the enemy) rather than complaining and becoming a victim! Take responsibility for the events by looking to see why the slap came your way. Did you do something? Is this person struggling and needs help rather than being slapped back?

We live in crazy times, people don’t know who they are and have no understanding of a bigger plan for their lives other than what’s in front of them. If you’re a follower of Jesus and so believe by faith he gave his life as a ransom so you could live in wide open spaces of forgiveness, it means you are freed from playing by the same rules as the world. You’re a child of the living God and a co-heir with Christ to inherit everything. We have a duty to protect that reality, to take responsibility for your life and live in freedom.

Be encouraged today, stand up straight and push your shoulders back, be brave and take responsibility. Be the best you for your sake, your family’s and the wider community.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2019

There are several times in our lives, when how something looks isn’t necessarily how it actually is. Living our lives dictated by how something appears can stop blessings and lessons, if we don’t overcome that habit.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, for instance…

1)…when you fall into the trap of comparison.

We live in an age where it is all too easy to compare our behind-the-scenes with the highlights reels of someone else’s life. That person that has a sparkling existence is facing their own personal battle. Don’t be disheartened because others appear to have what you may want.

2…when you’re being obedient.

In The Bible, before King David became a king, he was just a boy, doing as he was told. When he took Goliath on and went on to defeat him, he didn’t look like the obvious choice. Yet he was God’s choice. When you are living out your calling, not everyone will understand. When God has chosen you, that won’t matter.

3…when you’re waiting for your miracle.

In Genesis, we read the account of Noah and the Flood. You probably haven’t thought too much about how scary the great flood was but imagine relentless rain for 40 days and 40 nights and looking out to see the same thing, day after day. When we are waiting for our breakthrough, we may find ourselves in circumstances that have been the same for a long time. If Noah had been become impatient and left the ark before the water had left the Earth, he’d have drowned. Remember: the flood and the ark preserved Noah and his family; its purpose was never to destroy them. When you find yourself in a flood, wait on God.

Remember, God sees beginning to end in all seasons and situations. Don’t lose heart, when things don’t appear to be going as you had hoped. Take heart and know that God is working things out for your good.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th August 2019

Are you holy? It is not a word that we often associate with ourselves. We use it in connection with Jesus; God; prophets;great men and women of God, but what about you?

Peter in his first Letter says that we are a ‘royal priesthoodand holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9) and he calls us to be holy ‘just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, “Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1: 15-16)

Jesus himself calls us to be like him, like God – in fact in Matthew 5:8 he says ‘be perfect therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect’ – now that is a challenge.

The word holy simply means set apart, set apart for God.

Paul in Romans 12 says ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world’. In other words be set apart from the things of this world that would drag us back to sin.

When we say yes to Jesus, Paul tells us that we are a ‘new creation’, the old has gone (2 Corinthians 5:17). We receive the Holy Spirit and through that we are set apart for God, we are different from those who are still to find this truth. The action of Holy Spirit working within us means that we want to act differently and have different priorities. We are by definition holy.

Yes, we will all fall back and stumble (probably every day!)but the grace of God is new and fresh every morning. We should be striving to be different, to be set apart, from the secular world around us.

So the challenge for us all today is: how are we going to be set apart? In our thoughts, our actions, our words. How will we be holy today?

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 13th August 2019

The definition of cynicism is ‘an attitude of suspicion where you believe the future is bleak and that people are acting only out of self interest. An example of cynicism is when you always think the worst and have a hard time seeing the good in anyone’.

The Bible is full of cynical people. People like Job, who struggled with pessimism in his pain (Job 3), and Jonah showed a cynical attitude toward the people of Nineveh (Jonah 4), or Nathanael who said ‘Nothing good could come from Nazareth’ (John 1:45).

Unfortunately a cynical attitude can be found even among Christians. It is usually a response to hurt or disappointment.

A cynical attitude does not produce fruit, hope or love. Here is what a cynical attitude attracts:

  1. The bad. You attract what you focus on! If you focus on only the bad, you magnify it in your life. You miss the good. Instead, our minds should be focused on ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8).
  1. Exhaustion. You will physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhaust yourself with a cynical spirit. You drain the life out of yourself and out of others.
  1. Ephesians 4:28 says, ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen’. Unwholesome talk isn’t just gossip and swearing! It is anything that isn’t helpful or beneficial to anyone listening. Like cynical comments!
  1. Other cynics. You attract that which you are. If you carry a spirit of cynicism, don’t be surprised when other cynical people find you and feel comfortable around you! Now how joyless and draining is a group of cynics?!
  1. Problems. A cynical heart is rooted in a powerless mind. A cynical attitude, adds to the problem, and does not contribute to a solution. It would rather stay bogged down and critical, than be powerful and free.

 A cynical attitude will hold you back. It will leave you isolated, depressed, and hopeless. Jesus has called us to live full of hope and expectation that He can do ANYTHING, regardless of past hurts or disappointments! He has given us a hope! (Jeremiah 29:11)

If you are cynical towards people, Christians, non-Christians, the church, your work, your spouse, ask God where the cynical attitude stems from and ask Him to show you hope in the situation.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 12th August 2019

The other day I locked myself out of the house. I was on my way to pick up a friend from the train station and just as I slammed the door shut, I realised the key was inside the house! I remembered that I left my windows open, but I live on the third storey of an apartment block! I spoke to a trusted neighbour on the bottom floor for an idea. Long story short, she ended up sending her son up two storeys to my apartment window, by scaling the wall, where he then climbed in through the window and rescued the keys!

Maybe we all we need access to something in our lives. Sometimes all we need is just one single, small key. Behind the keyhole lies a palace, a mansion, but to get the breakthrough, we need that simple key to gain access.

Maybe it is access to the heart of family member. Maybe it is access to a conversation with a work-colleague about God. Maybe it is access to a promise God has made. Maybe you need access to healing, provision or wisdom… and you are only one key away.

God has already promised us that we have everything (Ephesians 1:3), but accessing it is something we have to learn.

When I look at Jesus he always found the key to access. He found the key to a miracle, or a conversation, or to someone’s heart. The key to open the eyes of the blind man was to spit in mud. The key to calming the storm was his spoken word. The key to his disciples hearts was washing their feet. The key to transformingthe woman at the well was discerning and offering her what she really needed. I could go on and on. The only thing each of these keys had in common, is that there was nothing in common! Jesus had no consistent key. He used a different key in each situation!

The same is for us today. Jesus has doors for us to open personally, relationally, spiritually, financially. But it isn’t always a one key fits all situation. It requires walking with God and tuning into His voice, and asking Him what the breakthrough key is in your personal situation. Maybe your access into breakthrough, conversation with someone, and influence over someone is just one small key away. Ask God for wisdom on what key to use. Be open to the fact that access to the house might be different to what you expect. Maybe God will ask you to use the window, not the door!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2019

We have a 4 month old puppy. We named him Bailey. He’s a chocolate brown labradoodle. He was born on Easter Sunday (surely a sign).  He was chosen from a litter of six puppies. He came to ourmhome at  eight weeks.
What a journey it’s been so far! It would be an understatement to say I was not enthused about having a dog.

However, this spring I finally caved in to the mounting pressure from my family (it only took three years!).

I was slightly nervous at the prospect of having what I perceived ‘a new baby’ in the house and I literally prayed that instinct would kick in and that I would not only love the new addition to our family, but that I would also feel a sense of commitment and love alongside the responsibility to see me through the potential sleepless nights, and  toilet training  that inevitably followed…as well as the ‘puppy behaviour’ like lost footwear / clothing, and destroyed furniture ….which in his breed apparently lasts 3 years.
In 3 years, the dog that is destined to be ‘our best friend’ for life, will emerge – for now, the puppy years stretch ahead and my parenting skills – albeit slightly adapted – are being tested and stretched again.

It probably comes as no surprise, that in the early days I would often question myself saying ‘what have I got myself into?’

Aren’t you glad that Romans 8 states the following about God?

Romans 8:29-30 The Message (MSG)
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

God always intended and has been fully committed to His relationship with humanity.
From the outset…

– He chose each one of us
–  He called us by name
– He paid a high price to establish a relationship with each one of us
– He remains committed to us, promising to stay with us, in order to help us fulfil our potential and be the best version of ourselves that we could possibly be.

What a promise!
What a commitment!
On my worst days, when my behaviour or attitude or thought life ,
isn’t quite inline – God is still with me, He remains committed to me, helping me work out my life alongside Him, in order to become the finished product, the masterpiece…to be like His son Jesus.
It is the same for you!
God believes in us!
Of course, we are not the finished product and He is by no
means finished with us yet, but He is with us to make sure that one day we will be!

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th August 2019

‘Peter, do you love me?’ was a question that Jesus asked one of His closest friends, after this same friend had denied his association with Jesus three times. (It’s still up for debate as to whether He asked him the same way Drake asked Kiki…)

 

Not long after Peter denied all knowledge of being a friend of His, Jesus would be crucified on a cross. He would then rise after three days and make several appearances to His disciples in the time that would follow.

 

On His third appearance to the disciples would Jesus ask Peter this question.

 

Now it would be fair to assume that Jesus was questioning Peter’s loyalty based upon what He asked him. Or maybe Jesus was unsure about the answer, so He needed clarification. However, I want to suggest to you that it was none of the above.

 

In response to Jesus asking this question a third time, Peter responded by saying, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you…”

 

In other words, ‘You aren’t asking me this because You’re unsure…’

Which would lead us to conclude that it was in fact Peter who needed reminding, not the other way around.

 

‘Peter, you do love me’ was the message that Jesus was wanting to communicate to His friend that day. ‘I know you messed up, I know you made a wrong choice, and I know you feel like a fraud. But what we have, Peter, is real. You’re not a fake, you do love me.’

 

And in the same way that Peter needed reminding, maybe you also need reminding today, that despite what you’ve done, despite the wrong choices you’ve made, the love in your heart is still real, and better still, the love in God’s heart towards you is still so real!

 

Here and now, the doubting and the questioning can be put to rest, and you can know for certain, ‘God loves me.’ And for those of us who thought we once loved Him but maybe convinced ourselves otherwise, we can be reminded also, ‘I love Him too.’

 

 

Caleb Burchell

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

If this has stirred something within you, why not delve a little deeper? Head to the ‘Messages’ tab within the Champions Church app and search ‘Do You Love Me?’ to watch the full-length message.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2019

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 letterbox, 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 – 7th August 2019

I was particularly excited to be going on holiday with our young family many years ago, mainly because I’d borrowed a small camcorder from a friend.

They were the newest gadget around at the time and the thought of being able to film the family holiday, rather than taking snapshots, gave me a buzz.

I began to think of myself as a film director and had already planned in my mind a family reunion for after the holidays, in order to view the footage.

Having arrived at our holiday caravan, I carefully unpacked the film equipment and began to look for my first film set.

Highlights ranged from Gillian’s dad having his annual ‘in-house’ hair cut in his string vest, to scenery of woodland and beaches that I later found bored everyone to tears.

I became obsessed with my new gadget and it was never far from being strapped around my shoulder.

After our seven day family break, I got home exhausted. I’d been on holiday, but had been absent at the same time. I’d become the distant figure that filmed the whole thing but had made a big mistake in that I had never been in even one of the scenes, enjoying the moment.

I’d watched everyone playing and laughing, but had never engaged myself in any of it.

You may have well done exactly the same thing at the school play or end-of-year concert.

Instead of being there in the moment, you were the distant onlooker that filmed it to watch later.

You never smiled or applauded with every other parent, as you were too busy looking through your tiny lens to be present in once in a lifetime stardom for your child.

This distant memory has served well to remind me of how we can tend to live our lives in just the same way.

We are present and we are seeing what everyone else sees, but we are never engaged in the moment. We are too preoccupied with what’s coming next to enjoy the scene that we are living in right now.

Before we know it, life has been and gone and we have never played an active part in much of it.

Before you live another day, make a decision to engage yourself fully in all that each moment has to offer.

Count your blessings.

Laugh every day.

Enjoy being with friends and family.

Be thankful for life and health.

Be present in every situation and refuse to only keep waiting for the next scene to unfold.

Stop worrying about what may happen and be grateful for all that is part of your life right now.

Don’t be distant from people because you are too cautious, but throw yourself into every situation with passion.

Don’t watch life go by through the small lens of your narrow mindedness, but be present in every scene in order to be a blessing.

King Solomon was known as the wisest man on the planet. After all his searching for the meaning of life, he had this to say…

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ‘This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given them – for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil – this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.’

Let today be the first day of the rest of your life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th August 2019

What’s your prayer-life like? Maybe a heavy question for a Tuesday but an important one, nonetheless. I’m only asking because I made an observation about how some of my prayers go.

When I pray, I split things into categories; whether your prayer list is inside your head, in your phone or on paper, I wonder if it’s anything like mine.

I tend to come to God with what’s on my mind but then I kind of give God pointers on how He could do it. As if God needs my help! I’ve noticed that this is the point where I start to get frustrated –  I’ve been looking for signs of something that I was never told would happen.

The times where I’ve felt discouraged are when I’ve prayed, then gone back to check on how it’s going. If you constantly open the oven door, when you’re baking, the cake will collapse. Leave it be. The same way you trust that recipe is the same way you can trust your prayers in God’s hands.

You may have seen someone else receive an answer to the prayer you’ve been praying. Just because it’s happened in one way for someone else, it doesn’t mean that God won’t make another way for you. He is limitless. Use other people’s story as an encouragement, not the blueprint.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th August 2019

How many times have you made a snap decision based on your feelings? I know that I have. Spontaneity can be a wonderful thing but sometimes, throwing caution to the wind can have consequences. We all have the occasional off day.

Sometimes, when our prayers aren’t answered how we expected them to be, we spend time trying to figure out why. It’s easy to think that maybe God just didn’t feel like giving us what we asked for and we should try harder to convince Him, next time.

We serve an amazing God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every single thing that He does for us is out of His love for us which never changes.

Isaiah 55:8 says ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.’

God created us with emotions and the ability to feel. However, we don’t need to try to appeal to God’s feelings. We don’t need to convince Him that we are worthy, or to listen to us. We don’t always understand God’s ways but He is never careless with His children.

The more we seek Him, the more we learn His character and the better we know His character, the stronger our faith and trust in Him grows.

We can approach God in the confidence that the way He feels about us never changes, He always acts in our best interest (even if it doesn’t come packaged as we expected) and He never has an off day.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2019

Summer is a beautiful season and it gets people out and about and is always time to fix up your garden so you can enjoy and make the most of your home. A few weeks ago, my neighbour had just completely landscaped his garden –  transforming what was once a derelict woodland, into a beautifully manicured garden.

A few days later, he knocked on my door and asked if we had seen any digging in the garden but I hadn’t seen this in our garden, and he went on to explain that some badgers had completely ruined his new garden, including the new fence.

After researching how to stop them coming into his garden, he realised he was in for a long battle, as they were a protected species. Suddenly, their plans of transforming their home to make the most of it were halted because of these creatures that roam in the dark that he’d never even seen but now held him at ransom.

There are a lot of things that are hidden from sight that have the power to stop us from fixing up different areas of our lives. Things in our minds and our hearts, old habits that we hold on to from our past that we file away in some dark cupboard hoping they will never see the light of day.

What are the protected species in your life? The badgers that come out when no-one is looking and destroy plans for new relationships, financial freedom, health and lifestyle goals? What are you holding on to and protecting because nobody knows it’s there, and you think you can be a guard over it forever, but every time you try to move on with your life, bam! It comes out and everything is ruined and you’re back where you started.

Jesus says in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Today I challenge you to take this light called Jesus and put it in those dark places, and allow Him to chase away the protected species that need to go. He has the power to evict those things that have been holding you back.

Take courage, be strong, remember where your help comes from. Jesus wants to set you free.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd August 2019

Romans 8:18 ‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us’

2 Corinthians 4:17 ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.’

You can’t achieve anything meaningful without some kind of sacrifice or payment. A famous philosopher said ‘To live is to suffer’ and the reality is ‘everything sucks some of the time!’

You cant become a doctor unless you are prepared to suffer years of revising. You can’t become fit unless you are prepared to go through physical pain to build muscles. You can’t build a successful business unless you’re prepared to work tirelessly and apparently you can’t even make an omelette unless you are prepared to crack some eggs.

Basically we need to learn to increase our pain threshold, if we want big lives.

I believe that though the problem

with a lot of the suffering we go through in life, is that unlike exercise or revision we struggle to see the point of it. How can you attach meaning to illness or broken relationships? So we suffer and worst of all, we feel hopeless and hard done by.

The verse in Romans I believe can help unlock some truth that can help us.

It states that the sufferings we face can’t compare, isn’t worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Firstly that’s not true of exercise, revision or sacrifice needed to be successful in the world’s eyes.

For example, I think it’s a good thing to exercise and get fit, but it’s definitely worth comparing. You have to give up money and time to join a gym, dress appropriately and then put yourself through pain, week after week, month after month, just so you look a bit better in your swimming costume on holiday. Now I’m not saying don’t exercise but the suffering is definitely comparable to the benefit.

But this verse in Romans states that actually the suffering, the hardships and trials we go through where maybe it’s very difficult to see any kind of benefit but just loss, that actually that’s not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us, the benefits resulting from what we go through.

When we can learn to live with our eyes fixed not on the temporary suffering but the eternal purpose that God has for us, we can start to attach meaning to the difficulties that are in our lives. When you struggle to understand how any possible meaning could come out of truly terrible circumstances we need to learn to look to the eternal God, that there is an eternal perspective which means after all we see with our natural eyes has passed, we will be left in such a great unimaginable wonderful place that we won’t even remember any of the difficulties that helped get us there, just like a mother’s joy at holding a new born baby forgets the pain of labour for the blessing of the child.

Whatever you face today, I encourage you to attach meaning to it; don’t feel your money situation, or family loss, or ill health is an attack and a loss, but look to God and trust Him, be confident that the God who created all things is forming you for an eternal party that will put all things in perspective.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2019

It’s the time of the year when people are jetting off on their holidays and nine times out of 10 if you go away, you come back with your batteries recharged. On this, the first day of a new month, it’s a great opportunity to hit refresh.

So today, I’m giving you three steps to hit reset a little bit:

 

  1. Count your blessings

Psalm 103:2-5 

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

Being grateful is one of the simplest ways to shift your perspective and as these verses show us, counting your blessings only seems to create more! It can be hard, in your circumstances to maintain gratitude. Every day, it’s a choice but when you do, things start to change.

2. Surround yourself with the right people

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise,
    for a companion of fools suffers harm. 

Assess the season of your life. When Jesus was starting His ministry, it had to choose the right people for His team. Who is on your team? Whose life are you adding to? Pray for the right people in your life; God knows who and what you need but also pray that you’re the right person. Who does He want you to come alongside and encourage?

 

3. Get by yourself

Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Loneliness often has negative connotations attached to it but in order to receive, sometimes it’s better to be alone. If God needed to get your attention today, could He whisper in your ear, or would He have to shout your name in a crowd? Of course we carry Him everywhere but there’s something special about the stillness of sitting with God, rather than rushing around.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 31st July 2019

One of my favourite films growing up was The Princess Diaries. 

It’s a story of an ordinary teenager who finds out she is a princess. Upon learning she is royalty, she has ‘Princess lessons’ to learn how to look, speak and act like a royal. It was an outward transformation to reflect and honour her stature.  

1 Peter 2:9 says But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness into marvellous light.  

Like many royals, and the girl in Princess Diaries, they are royal by birth. Royal by blood.  

Like you and I. 

Romans 8:17 says ‘Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.’ 

We are not royal because of who we are, we are royal because of who we belong to.  

When they are surrounded by non-royals, the Royal family follow many rules to make sure that their behaviour, appearance and attitude is always honouring to their position. Their every action is scrutinized by the public or the press so they endeavour to remain respectful to their royal appointment.  

We spend a lot of our days surrounded by non-Christians. Is our behaviour honouring of our royal appointment? Are our words those of Jesus, making people feel valued, loved and respected?  

The beauty of being royal by birth means that no matter where they go wrong, they still have ‘royal blood’. No matter where we have gone wrong in life, we are still covered by royal blood.  

Be secure in who you belong to, honour the stature we have been given and walk out the truth that you are royal.  

 

Fiona Geary

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th July 2019

The first thing that Adam and Eve did when they sinned was cover up. Why? Because they were suddenly riddled with SHAME.

‘At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves’ (Genesis 3:7).

Shame causes you to hide. Adam and Eve didn’t want to be exposed, and so hid. In their state of shame, they masked up any vulnerabilities. Shame will tell you, you can never be fully loved, if you’re never fully seen and known.

You see, before that, they enjoyed perfect relationship and connection with God. Suddenly that was broken by sin. They didn’t feel worthy any more.

Today, shame has the same effect on us. It causes us to disconnect and hide away from God and healthy people.  Shame is the deep sense that ‘I am not worthy’.  We don’t want our vulnerabilities to be exposed, so we hide away from the very voices that we should be opening up to. Shame isolates you and tells you, you are the only one going through whatever you are feeling. Shame is the community killer. If you are not being known, then it is because you have shame.  

You beat shame with vulnerability. Become good at exposing the very thing you want to hide.

The problem with hiding from people though is that you and your sin are often left in the darkness. And like mould, sin and shame grows in darkness. You need the light of truth to destroy the festering mould.

We must grow in becoming more vulnerable with the right people. We must actively seek out the wisdom and truth of others, even when we feel ashamed of ourselves, in fact, all the more when we feel stuck in shame. Press into vulnerability!

Vulnerability is pulling down the mask, the fig leaf, and inviting the right people into the good, the bad and the ugly of your life. It is inviting their wisdom, truth and light into your darkness, bringing you into freedom!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th July 2019

In Matthew 28:18 Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’. We are then told, in Ephesians 2:6, ‘For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus’. Through Jesus we have the same authority that Jesus walked in. We are ‘seated with Him’, and united with Him. This means we are POWERFUL people. We aren’t victims to life.

As a teacher of Art, I often see students comparing their skill set to the person next to them. They get discouraged with their art piece and begin using language like, ‘It’s too hard’ or ‘I can’t do that’. I have banned the ‘I can’t’ phrase in my classroom! Why? Because this language is rooted in powerlessness!

The driving force behind someone who is powerless is anxiety and fear. They live believing that most things and people are more powerful than them. They are positioned as the victim, the tail, and not the head. This is wrong because it is contrary to our position in Christ.

For the powerless person, life always seems on top of them. There is always a problem, and never a solution. Often they feel they need other people to protect them, do jobs for them, make them happy, and be responsible for them.

People with a victim mentality don’t have the capacity to give, because they believe they don’t. They will look for what they can take, and they struggle to own their own mistakes.

On the flip side, a powerful person knows that they cannot control others, and know their job is to manage themselves. They create the world in which they want to live. Life doesn’t just happen to a powerful person. A powerful person makes conscious choices that set up life for them. They aren’t driven by what is going on around them, they set the climate for what is going on around them. They understand that they have control over their emotions and heart. They choose to love and be the bigger person, not swayed by emotion. They are responsive, not reactive. They know who they are in God, and operate from a mind-set of victory, not defeat.

God has made us powerful people. Let’s live like it. Change the way you think and see who you really are as a child of God. It is an on-going process of letting go of a victim, powerless mind-set, and embracing your true identity! Ask God in what areas of your life you are living under a powerless, victim mind-set.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 27th July 2019

Who do you love most fiercely, most protectively, most desperately here on earth? What would you do for them? Know that it’s a mere fraction, nearly immeasurable of what God would do for you.

Regardless of how beautifully or how imperfectly your earthly father showed his love to you, your heavenly Father’s love is utterly boundless. Rest in that thought a moment. There is nothing you can do to change how he feels about you. Nothing!

We spend so much time trying to make ourselves more lovable, giving out our very best, being there for pretty much everyone. It’s easy to forget we are already perfectly loved. Our father loves us more than we can imagine and He would do anything for us.

Matthew 18:12-13 tells us “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off”.

That’s how much God loves each one of us. It almost seems unfair that he would leave the ninety – nine to find that one lost sheep until that one sheep is you.

I love the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11–32. The son had been dishonouring to his father and had left home but eventually decided to return even before the son reaches home, the father is watching and waiting. Then, when he sees his son approaching, the father with immense joy gathers up his best robes and dashes out to greet his missing child with hugs and kisses. His wayward child, who was dead and is now alive, was lost and now is found!

Like the prodigal son, we have all made foolish mistakes, rejected and dishonoured our Father and fallen short. No matter what we have done, He awaits us with arms wide open and just wants to shower us with His love and blessings. That is the unconditional Love of God that is available to all of us.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th July 2019

As you read the following statements ,
start each one by first inserting your name where you see ##### – as though someone were talking to you.
(Insert your name and read the following statements out loud).
‘####’ you are unique
  • ‘You are the only one of your kind…
  • You are unlike anyone else – distinctive, individual, special
‘####’ you are significant
  • ‘you are important enough to be worthy of attention’
‘####’ you are beloved
  • ‘you are greatly loved, you are dear to the heart’

Did those statements encourage you and set you up well for the rest of the day?!

 

Perhaps they may have been a wake up call to stop talking over yourself negatively.

 For others, although you’ve spoken the words out loud, they remained superficial statements because you wouldn’t necessarily attach so much importance to yourself, or believe such statements could describe you.?

 

Life has its ups and downs and it can be all the more difficult if we do not believe that our lives, our very existence has significance or value.

 That’s why I love the Bible.

It is the best manual for life that there is.

A love letter to humanity, to people who continually fall short in thinking that they can get by on their own.

I believe it can help people come into the knowledge of a God who places value and purpose over their lives.

God forged a plan to ensure that people could truly live their best life- not just by trying to be good, or thinking positively or even by being nice to people .

 

The Bible shows that the key to a significant life is through encountering Jesus (God become man).

Through Jesus, people can encounter a God who desires to be in relationship with them.

 

John 3 :16 MSG This is how much God loves the world.

He gave His son, His one and only Son. And that is why no one need be destroyed by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

 If you know Jesus today, be reminded again what He has done for you and determine to live from a place of security – nothing can separate you from the greatest love that ever was and still is today.

 

If you don’t know Jesus yet, know this: He longs to know you and to be known by you.

He desires above anyone else for those statements to ring true in your heart and to bring you to fullness and significance in life that you could have only ever dreamed of.

 

Jacqui Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th July 2019

Our experience of life is ever changing and the pace seems to get faster every day. Life can be a whirlwind and the older you get the faster it seems to go. You watch the seasons and years come and go, your children are born, then go to school, college, university, and then married before you know it. 1 Peter 1:24 tells us that our lives are like grass that soon withers, and some days it certainly feels that way.

Our experience of human relationships and human love can be similar. People come in and out of our lives, people hurt us, people we love get sick, people we love die.

Even in the natural world everything around us is in constant change.

Maybe that is why it can be so hard for us to grasp the unchanging nature of God. When nothing we experience in our lives or natural world is fixed and unchanging, God is just that – ever present and constant.

Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is ‘the same yesterday, today and tomorrow’. He is the ‘Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end’ (Revelation 22:13). In a world that is in constant change, He is unchanging.

But not in a cold unfeeling way, do not imagine a stern parent or a harsh boss who stands remote and hard refusing to budge as we plead with him. The Bible is clear that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8) and everything He thinks about us is based on the fact that He loves us, unconditionally. It is His love for us that is unchanging like a solid rock, a foundation, an anchor,something secure and supportive to build our lives upon. His nature is love and that nature does not change, of that we can be absolutely certain.

Maybe you have never experienced love like that. Perhaps the human love you have experienced has fallen short or let you down. Maybe you are right now caught in a storm in your life, a storm of anxiety, fear, sickness, grief, depression or relationship breakdown.

Jesus tells us to build our lives upon the rock of God’s love. It is a firm foundation, it will not crumble or let you down. No matter what life throws at you, however hard the day is that you are facing today. Know that God loves you exactly where you are and for who you are. His love is higher, stronger and more constant than our human minds are able to grasp.

He is the constant, stand on Him.

 

Richard Ashmore

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th July 2019

It’s no surprise that we dream big from a young age. It is wired into our DNA to be people who make a difference. We want to leave a mark on the world. We want to change the culture we are in. 

In Genesis 1:26-27 we read, Then God said, “Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them’.

This tells us that we as mankind are: 

1. Made in the image of God (carry His traits). 

2. We have it in us to have authority and dominion over the culture we are in. No wonder we desire to change a world! Christian or not, it is inbuilt in the DNA of mankind, as people made in the image of God!

We not only want to CREATE culture because God did. As image bearers of Christ, we are also made to redeem culture! The desire to redeem is in our DNA. This also isn’t just evident in Christians, but in non-Christians too! We hunger to do good and make a difference. 

Why? Because Jesus came into the world and redeemed us (John 3:16). God first created, and then when it was broken he redeemed. 

You have it in your DNA to recognise brokenness in the culture you are in today and bring redemption. In your home, in your office, in your school, in your church. You are a culture creator and a culture redeemer! 

Isaiah 61 says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound’.

Do not conform to a culture you have obviously been called to create. You have been purposely positioned among the broken. You don’t run from the culture you are in. You create it. You redeem it. This is your mandate! 

You are a cultural architect! As an image bearer of Christ, you build and establish the culture of Heaven!

Emma Burchell

 A daily devotion for a better way of living.  

Fresh Hope – 23rd July 2019

John 10:10 says ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’

 

The enemy has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and not one of them is new but one of the most common things he can get you to do is shift your focus and distract you from your purpose. At every turn now, we are presented with opportunities to compare ourselves to others, focus only on our problems or what we don’t have in our lives and consume media that subtly tells us we’re not enough and more often than not, that leaves us feeling inadequate.

 

The Bible says that ‘no weapon formed against you shall prosper’. But what happens when that weapon is your own mind?

 You combat those thoughts with the word of God.

 What does he say about you? ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made’ – Psalm 139:13

 What does he say about your future? 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

How does he tell you to overcome troubles?

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

 There is no area in your life that is beyond what God can do. He knows the desires of your heart and He’s already gone before you. We weren’t designed to carry the burdens that we take upon ourselves.

 Spend time with God and ask Him to reveal things to you. He made us which means He knows us better than we know ourselves.

 

I guarantee that the more you fall in love with God and the life He gives to us through salvation, you wouldn’t dare dream of being anyone else.

 You’re one of one. There is nobody else like you, God made sure of that.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2019

Offence is holding resentment for being treated how you perceive, as unfairly. 

We will all have the opportunity to be offended at least once in our lifetime. Someone doesn’t behave how you would expect. Someone does or says something behind your back, or maybe they do it to your face. 

The question is not ‘will we get offended?‘, rather, ‘How will we handle it when it inevitably happens?’ 

Offence can seem justified and natural, but if left unchecked, it can quickly take root in our heart, leading to bitterness. Bitterness can then turn into hatred. The thing with hatred is that it leaves no room for love. We are not designed for hatred so it will eventually destroy us. 

So when we get offended, how do we manage it? 

1. Take it to God. Seek out wisdom as to what to do with it. It may be something you need to address with the person. It may be something you just need to let go of. ‘A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression’, Proverbs 19:11. It may be something that you need to wait on. It may be something you need to act on. James 1:5 tells us that, ‘if you ask for wisdom, God will give it generously without finding fault’. 

2. If the offence has been directed at you and you feel it is something that you cant let go, go to the individual privately. Do not broadcast the situation to others. Do not try and win people over to your case (Matthew 18:15-21). Make your approach in conversation honestly and with vulnerability, not in anger, attack or revenge. Your ultimate goal is restoration of relationship, peace and unity, not winning an argument. ‘Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’, Ephesians 4:2-3.

Sometimes the person who has offended you doesn’t even know it! Go talk it out! Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemyProverbs 27:5-6.

3. Check your heart. Why are you offended? Is it a righteous anger, or an anger rooted in your own insecurities? If you are coming from the wrong place, you will be offensive in return. 

4. Grow from the outcome. Whatever the outcome consider what you can learn from it. What have you leant about God? What have you learnt about people? What have you learnt about yourself? Moving forward, forgive the offender. Show in action and words that their offensive behaviour doesn’t have a hold on your life and that you trust God to deal with them! (Note, that this doesn’t always mean you totally trust the offender easily again!). Be the bigger person. ‘Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge’ (Romans 12:17-19)

5. Remember. Remember that we all fall short. We all have weaknesses. No one is perfect. When you consider where you have potentially offended others, it doesn’t justify their behaviour, but gives you a little more grace and understanding. Consider the person through God’s eyes and ask, ‘Why might they have offended? What is going on inside of them for them to behave that way?‘ This forces you to respond from a spiritual angle, rather than react from an emotional angle. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th July 2019

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, 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 – 19th July 2019

The environment in which you experience an event dictates the outcome. If for example you experience the event of meeting a lion, and your environment is a zoo or safari park, I’m sure it will be a great experience. If you experience a lion in the environment of the Serengeti plains of Africa by yourself without any form of self-protection, it could well be a truly terrifying experience!

Psalms 46:1-3 | NIV 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,3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

This idea can help us better understand the many references to God as a refuge in the Bible. When we learn to start the day seeking His presence for the day, giving over any concerns and worries to Him, we are, effectively building a safe enclosure in which to experience that day’s events.

There is a great example of this in 2 Chronicles with King Jehoshaphat.

In 2 Chronicles 19, you can read how King Jehoshaphat goes through Judah and calls all the people back to God appointing judges and Levites to carry out their correct duties.

Then in chapter 20 verse 2 ‘Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom!”

This was the worst possible news and a fight Jehoshaphat knew he couldn’t win in the natural. Then in verse 3, his response is to seek God first.

God’s response soon comes in verse 15:
‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’

God encourages Jehoshaphat and all the people, that the battle belongs to the Lord!

If you read on, they go to battle and as they go they sing praises to God, and as they reach where they should be encountering the conflict, they find all the enemies dead! Not only had they avoided death as below in verse 25 they had so much plunder it took three days to collect!

This is such a great picture of how it’s not ‘what we face’ but it’s ‘how we face’ it that makes the difference! I encourage you to learn no matter what we face, if we experience it with the backdrop of Jesus, the context of a God who has already won, we can actually enjoy and be abundantly blessed by what should really harm us!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th July 2019

In the New Testament, there is the story of the woman who had a medical issue, which caused chronic loss of blood and how she received her healing.

Matthew 9:20-22 gives us the account, ‘Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.’

There are some things that this woman’s healing can teach us…

One touch is all it takes – once she had touched Jesus, she was healed instantly. She had been on her journey for 12 long years, treated by medical experts. Many would have given up but her healing shows us that it is never too late to reach out to Jesus. Where man fails, God’s glory can be shown.

God sees it all– as weak and feeble as her touch may have been, Jesus knew immediately that someone had touched His garment. We may feel sometimes as though we have no strength to put behind our prayers, but no matter how weak we feel, God’s power can touch us all the same.

Romans 8:26 says ‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.’

She received her whole miracle – we serve a God who doesn’t do half-measures. The scripture tells us that she was ‘freed from her suffering’. God’s promises are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’. She didn’t just feel a little bit better, she was completely free. Such is the nature of God.

Don’t give up. It only takes one step towards God to get his attention and one touch from Him can restore you fully.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th July 2019

The enemy has no authority over you (Jesus dealt with that at the cross!). YOU are the one with the authority now (you received it through Jesus – Luke 10:19). So the only way the enemy can have influence in your life is if you give him your keys of authority. 

What the enemy cannot take from you, he will convince you to give it away. If he can get you bogged down in things, then he has taken away your ability to move into all that God has for you and his work is done! 

Here are 3 things the enemy will convince you (often, without you even realising) to get caught up in: 

1. Busyness – Distraction is one of the greatest and most subtle tactics of the enemy. He will use even good things to take your focus off what is most important. If he can keep you busy with seemingly productive commitments that rob you from your time with God, your spouse, family, and church, then he has you where he wants you! Time with God is the most valuable asset to your growth and effectiveness as Christian, don’t think the enemy will not go after it!

‘Fix your eyes on Jesus’, Hebrews 12:2

2. Opinions of man – When you esteem the opinion of others above the opinion of God you will be easily tossed to and fro in life. You will be easily offended, quickly discouraged, driven by people pleasing and striving for affirmation. Hold the opinion of man lightly. Your value comes entirely from the fact that you are a child of God. Find your security in Him. Psalm 118:8 – ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man’. 

Isaiah 2:22 – ‘Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?

3. Disappointments – Disappointment is inevitable. Unmet expectations for yourself, for others and for God. Left unchecked, disappointment will lead to resentment and unforgiveness – which will eat you and your destiny alive! Grieve, but trust in the Lord’s plan. Don’t let the enemy get a hold of your destiny through disappointment. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’, Jeremiah 29:11.

No one is exempt from encountering busyness, fear of man, or the pain of disappointment. Jesus warned us, ‘…in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Jesus offers us peace because He has come to bring rest to combat busyness, a sure identity to combat the need of approval from man, and hope in a world of disappointments. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th July 2019

In the same way that an intense workout improves fitness, or a bone break strengthens the bone, or a disease enhances the immune system, or intense heat produces a diamond, or an iron grating against the edge of a knife sharpens the knife, so a relational conflict can actually bring forth fruit, making you better, your relationship better and your connection stronger!

In any relationship where there are two people with varying upbringings, opinions, individual brains, feelings and experiences, there will eventually be a clash of ideas. In fact in a healthy relationship there should be a clash at some point, because you should be two freethinking individuals, able to freely voice your thoughts, feelings and ideas! How they are voiced and processed however, is important. Your contradicting opinions and ideas will either make or break the relationship. Your goal is to be better together on the other side of conflict!

Here are 8 tips to communicate better in conflict:


1. Make understanding each other your ultimate goal, not proving your point.

2. Your thoughts, feelings and needs are valuable and so are theirs.

3. Do not participate in disrespectful conversation. Stop the conversation and set boundaries. Continue when respect is restored.

4. It’s your job to explain what is going on inside of you. The other person isn’t a mind reader. Don’t expect them to know what you are feeling unless you have communicated it to them.

5. Communicate your feelings using ‘I messages’. Use clear and specific statements about how you are feeling, rather than using ‘YOU never!’, or ‘YOU always’, language.

6. When they communicate their needs, it is your job to listen well.

7. Commit to protecting the connection.

8. It’s your job to manage your heart post-conflict.

So may the words of my mouth, my meditation-thoughts,
and every movement of my heart be always pure and pleasing, acceptable before your eyes, my only Redeemer, my Protector-God’, Psalm 19:14.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th July 2019

Everyone fears a pair of weighing scales when on a diet. It seems that if you can ignore them, your weight might just go away…but it doesn’t.

There’s only one way to tackle the issue and that is to face up to your weight and turn your scales into your best friend.

They will never lie and they will never tell anyone else what they know.

What if we had scales for the levels of our maturity?

Our reaction would probably be just the same, in that, we would want to stay off them in case they told us something that we didn’t want to know.

Because there is no such thing, below are six pointers to help you ‘weigh in’ on your level of maturity…

1) Free from offence – do you resolve issues quickly and move on or do your harbour hurt and unforgiveness?

2) Impartial in how you treat people – do you treat people like you would wish to be treated?

3) Control of your tongue – are you able to hold back words that you know you shouldn’t speak? An immature person talks too much and therefore has little to say.

4) Peace and not conflict – do you always look for the good and believe the best about people or do you like to cause strife?

5) Patience – are you willing to stay the course or do you give up too easily?

6) Keep your word – if you say you’ll there…be there.

How painful was that?

Weighing in on the maturity scales means that you can now lose attitudes that you don’t want in your life.

If you feel pain about who you are right now, good, it simply means that you have a desire to change. If you have no idea where you stand on this, ask a friend …they’ll tell you!

Proverbs 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th July 2019

Life really is a journey. Every day is an opportunity to learn something to make us bigger, better, more successful, more productive, more fruitful and more satisfied.
Unfortunately, some of us don’t experience that, instead we get frustrated, feel fed up, feelings of “here we go again, I’m useless, I’ll never make it.”

People keep repeating stuff, why? Because they don’t learn from experience or they’ve learnt wrongly.

Have you ever felt like you’ve known a song for years, known the lyrics etc, only to find out at a later date, that the correct words are nothing like the ones you’ve been singing for years? That’s happened to me! I was gobsmacked! I was convinced those words were what I thought them to be. I had learnt something, but learnt it incorrectly.

You can tell your child for years that 5×5 is 55, they can learn it, but it doesn’t make it right.

So we all can go through life thinking that we have learnt something… and we have, only we learnt it wrong.

Experience doesn’t always teach us great things. It can, and it has the opportunity to do so, as long as we make a conscious effort to learn well.

I’m in my 50s, I still can’t roller skate or Ice skate or Ski. Why? Because I have never learnt to. What you don’t learn, you’ll never know.
I can’t play the piano, even though I grew up with one. I can read music, I can play with one finger, but that’s about it.
You may have grown up with a great leader, a great teacher, a great musician or a great cook, but it doesn’t mean you can do it, you have to learn for yourself.
Who you choose to spend quality time with, will help determine your journey.
It will either help you or hinder you.

The Bible is full of great principles for us to learn and great truths for us to know. When you know God’s truth and when you apply it to your life, you really will start to learn and grow. When you go through experiences in life whether good or bad, ask God to help you learn from them. That’s when you will become the person that God designed for you to be.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th July 2019

Take a moment to read this passage from the New Testament…

 

1 Peter 4:15-16 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

 

We could well find ourselves asking the question…what is a meddler?

 

Is there such a thing in the 21st century?

 

Why is it in the same category as murderers, thieves and criminals?

 

Whatever it is, it must be bad.

 

Here we go…

 

A meddler is a busy body; someone who interferes with, or concerns themselves with something that is none of their business.

 

It’s basically a word that sends out a loud and clear message: mind your own business.

 

I have to admit, I don’t think that I’ve heard anyone ever talk about this in such a serious way, so why would the Bible make it out to be such an offensive thing and list it amongst criminal activity?

 

Is it not because you have your own life to live and take responsibility for, and therefore to use up your energy trying to poke your nose into everyone else’s business is like playing God with other people’s lives?

 

God is wanting to send us a clear message that what other people do with their lives should never take away your focus from what you’ve been called to do.

 

A modern-day classic illustration would be found in the realm of social media.

 

Right now we are able to view people’s pictures, where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We can see what they’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner and who they are eating it with. We become party to their party and to top it all, we’re even invited to comment.

 

Self-esteem nowadays is subject to how many ‘likes’ we get on our statuses, and if it’s less than ten, our whole world crumbles around us.

 

People’s lives have never been made so accessible to so many.

 

We can spend hours every day trawling social media to find out the latest gossip and info on anyone’s life that we so wish. We can’t go to sleep at night without mentally rearranging everyone’s life first.

 

Is it any wonder that meddling is such a modern-day curse?

 

We are using up so much of our energy to internally fight over why they shouldn’t have said that to that person and why Paul shouldn’t be dating Lucy, and why that selfie is so unflattering.

 

Just think how free you could be become to use your energy and focus doing good with your own life if you’d simply mind your own business.

 

Murderers, thieves and criminals have one thing in common in that they are all facing a prison sentence.

 

Sadly, being a meddler is just the same; you are chaining yourself as you meddle with so many people’s lives that you are no longer free to sort yourself out.

 

When was the last time that you consciously stopped trying to live everyone else’s life for them and took care of your own?

 

The only time we should engage in other people’s lives in this way should be for the common good – to lift them, to care for them, to support them and to pray for them.

 

Meddling is a meaningless and energy-sapping mental distraction. Stop playing God and be content to practice leadership in your own life.

 

Make a conscious effort today to pull away from meddling, and use all that freed up time to make your own life count for the good of others.

 

Freedom!

 

Happy day.

 

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th July 2019

God didn’t need us. He wanted us. He didn’t have to make us, but He wanted to make us:

Why?

1. Relationship. Got wanted connection with us. He didn’t make us as pre-programmed robots, forced to love Him. He gifted us with ‘free-will’ – the power to choose relationship with Him. God desires genuine heart-felt connection with us. He wants us to choose Him, like He chose us.

Ephesians 1:4-5, ‘He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will’.

He didn’t just want to enjoy us, He wanted us to enjoy HIM!

Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). 

God is so passionate about our relational connection with Him, that when sin severed it, God gave His own son, to redeem it. ‘For God so loved the world…’ (John 3:16).

2. He desired to give us a purpose.

Everything comes from him, “and exists by his power and is intended for his glory” (Romans 11:36).

We aren’t saved by good works, but rather FOR good works. Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’.

‘Workmanship’, speaks of purpose, design and intent. We were designed with a purpose and plan in mind. There is work for us to do. God can do all He needs to do without us, but again, he chooses to allow us the privilege of co-partnering with Him! With a ‘co-heirs’ with Christ (Romans 8:17). We get to work with Him and for Him!

Remember your original design in God. You were first designed for friendship with God, second, for function for and with God.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th July 2019

That turning, colour wheel! More officially known as the ‘Spinning Wait Cursor’. Few things give computer users that sinking feeling more than the sight of that turning colour wheel! You could be half way through a project that has taken you hours, then all of a sudden the colour wheel shows up. It starts spinning, and doesn’t stop. You know that if the colour wheel doesn’t stop spinning, stop processing, you will have to ‘force quit’ the program and reboot the computer, most likely losing your unsaved work! Once I left the colour wheel spinning overnight in the hopes that hours later, in the morning it would have finished its processing and I could continue my work. I was wrong. I was left with no choice but to force quit and start all over again!

How often does our headspace get stuck on the ‘spinning wait cursor’? For hours and hours, days and days, years and years, we go round and round, processing the same offenses, fears, frustrations and negativities. We’re not making progress. We’re stuck. That wheel will keep on spinning until we call it a day, and ‘force quit’ our cyclic thought patterns.

Some of us need a mental ‘reboot’.

The Israelites had their own spinning wheel problems. They had a mountain to scale, but they kept going around and around and around, until they finally learnt their lesson, and could then take ground (Deuteronomy 2:3).

You may have been spinning the same wheel for so long now that you can’t comprehend a way out. But God’s love and mercies are new EVERY morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). We are given a fresh, blank, word document every day. Free for us to fill in the blank. A habit of a lifetime can be broken. An offence of a lifetime can be broken. An attitude of a lifetime can be broken.

Jesus specialises in making all things new (Revelation 21:5). He is always doing something new (Isaiah 43:19). Therefore it is never too late to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th July 2019

Florence Chadwick was a champion swimmer. On 1952, she attempted to swim a span of the peaceful Pacific Ocean between California’s Catalina Island and the state coastline. As she began the 26 mile journey , she was accompanied by small boats of supporters who watched for sharks and were prepared to help Florence if she got hurt or grew tired. Thick fog rolled in after about fifteen hours of swimming.

Florence recalled that after already having spent so many hours navigating the waters with her body, she began to doubt her ability. She didn’t think that she could make it, but she kept going. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, physically and emotionally exhausted. She was tired and in her mind, the Californian coastline felt like it was a million miles away.

After she got into the boat, she learned she had stopped less than a mile short of her destination.

She couldn’t see the shoreline and the journey began to feel impossible.

“All I could see was the fog,” she told the newspaper reporters the next day. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Today, you may be closer to your destination than you realise.

Your next attempt could well be like Florence’s, who two months late, actually made it, because she kept an eye on her destination albeit through another foggy day.

When you’re in a struggle, keep your goal in sight. It may be physical, financial, relational or spiritual, and it may feel like that you’re never going to reach the shore of a new day.

You may well ask “if this is my God-given destiny, then why am I battling to stay afloat with no sign of the destination?”

Remember: don’t take a life-storm as the absence of God; no one can see clearly in the fog, that’s why we must walk by faith and not simply by what we can see. The storm can make you stronger and give you the confidence to handle future challenges.

When you get through battling, you’ll have more wisdom, more tenacity, more strength and more vision to take you forward.

Today, don’t get so distracted by your circumstances that you lose awareness of God’s presence; instead, let this challenge drive you to your knees, where you know you can find help in your time of need.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th July 2019

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 —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 an 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 were 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 position?  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 – 6th July 2019

You can be in the same room as someone and yet in a different place, on a different page.
Have you ever spoken to someone and felt they weren’t really listening?
In the New Testament, in Acts 2, it talks about being ‘altogether and in one place’.
There is power when people are together AND together. It’s called unity.

Don’t you love it when people at your dinner table are all engaged with one another and not on mobile devices?
Don’t you love it when you have a great conversation with a team and feel that everyone ‘gets it’?

There is tremendous power in that.

The Bible talks about unity in this way “where there is unity, my blessing will flow” (Psalm 133) God will pour out His blessing. I want to live under that!

A football team that has unity off the pitch, will play better on the pitch. A group of musicians who love and respect each other, will play better on stage.

When you have a sense of unity with people, you feel that you can take on the world and nothing or no one can touch you and you’ll enjoy the journey much more.

The best person you need to have unity with, is the one who created you, the one who has a perfect plan and purpose for your life – God Himself.
When you have peace and unity with God, you can rest assured that “if God is for me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8 v 31) And  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4 v 13)

You see, who you are in unity with is important. It’s a game changer.

Make sure today that you are in unity with the right people, make sure that when you’re with them, you’re present and not just present and most of all make sure you have peace and unity with God. He is only a prayer away.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th July 2019

Let’s talk labels.

Everyone wants to stick one on you at some stage during your lifetime.

Here’s the problem…

 

1) They stick very easily.

2) They don’t readily come off.

3)When they do come off, they leave their mark.

When we moved house several years ago, we found the best way of transporting all our stuff was to put a sticker on each box that corresponded to the room that the items came from. Once the box arrived at its new destination, it was just a matter of reading the label and placing the box in the correct room – job  done!

However, when we re-used the boxes to store different stuff in at a later date, the labels no longer corresponded to what was inside.

In much the same way, have you ever noticed how people readily want to label you from your past, but when you change, they still want to keep the old label stuck on you?

Jesus had the very same problem.

His family and friends who had watched him grow up had only ever known him as Mary and Joseph’s lad, but when He revealed himself as the miracle working son of God, they found it difficult to get the old label off.

The old label meant that they couldn’t come to terms with who He really was – God in flesh. The label became a major blockage to their faith and resulted in them being unable to fully accept Him and certainly restricted His miracle working power in their own lives.

 

TODAY, you are where you are, either because you have survived the labels or because you are still living with old ones. It’s now time to rip it off and take charge of who you have become.

If someone refuses to give you a new label, then simply refuse to stay where they want to keep you.

We all up have the right and the opportunity to change and be changed by the power of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th July 2019

Jesus often taught kingdom concepts using everyday metaphors. He once referred to relationship with Him as being ‘water’. Jesus used ‘thirst’ as a picture of the spiritual need and longing that everyone has.

Jesus met a woman at the well (John 4).  It was the middle of the day. You don’t fetch water at the well in the middle of the day – you go in the morning when it’s cool. She was riddled with shame. For being a woman, and for having a not-so-good past, she didn’t have the best reputation. She was hiding, but she was ultimately thirsty. As Jesus recognized, she wasn’t just thirsty for literal water, she was dry and thirsty spiritually. She had been trying to fill her void with a mere mirage of water – men. What she really needed was the ‘living water’ of Jesus.

Why does Jesus refer to himself as ‘living water’? Well, let’s consider the characteristics of water:

1. Water carries you. When a force of wind acts upon water, it causes a current – a movement of water. Currents of water are powerful. When caught in a current you will exhaust quickly trying to fight it, the best thing you can do is ride the current. Likewise, the powerful love of God carries you. Your efforts in trying to fight it are frivolous. You will never out-swim the intense current of God’s love. In whatever season, let the mighty love of God carry you. Rest and ride the rapid!
2. Water refreshes. Possibly the most obvious purpose of water is to satisfy thirst. At least 60% of the adult body is made of water. Every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning. Your systems can only go a week maximum without water. Our souls are equally designed to operate on the living water that Jesus offers. We need it to keep functioning. We can’t go long without it. Anything else is a fleeting mirage of truly satisfying water.
3. Water cleanses. We use water to wash ourselves. It cleanses and cleans. It cuts through the grime and dirt, and eliminates opportunities for infection. When Jesus invites us to part-take in relationship with Him, as ‘living water’, it is an invitation to be cleansed and cleaned, to sort out the muck out, and position you for health.

Wherever you are at in your faith journey, we all need the living water of God. Like we daily consume physical water, we need the living water of God to carry us, refresh us, and cleanse us.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd July 2019

Today I am leaving you with four powerful truths about who God says you are! Take the time to meditate on each one. Let the truths sink into your heart. This isn’t positive thinking . . . this is reality!

1. You are valuable. God designed you! He breathed into your nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7).

You were made in his image (Genesis 1:27), meaning you carry His DNA! You may have been a surprise to your parents, but you were well planned by God (Psalm 139:16). He knows the fine details of your life (Matthew 10:30), and you are worth far more than the birds who are looked after (Matthew 6:26).

2. You are new. You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are not masted by sin (Romans 6:11). You are not a slave, rather a son. So you live free from guilt and shame (Ephesians 2:4-5). You are forgiven by the blood (1 John 1:7,9). You have right standing with God (Romans 4:5). This position is secure. Nothing will separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:39).

3. You are called. You are God’s workmanship – designed with a purpose. God has wired you for a mission – to do good (Ephesians 2:10). God has meaningful and fulfilling work in place for you. You are called to be a light on a hill, not hidden (Matthew 5:14). You have been seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), positioned in a place of authority. You are a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). His plans for you are good and so you can live with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

4. You have been set free. Anything that ties you down, binds you up and shackles your heart, no longer has the right to be there! Christ has set you free, not just from your old nature, but anything that enslaves you (Galatians 5:1). Where His Spirit is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17), and you will be truly free (John 8:36). You can walk in freedom, for He has bought you into a spacious place (Psalm 119:45, Psalm 118:5).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd July 2019

How much do you love yourself?

Now I know that there are people out there that love themselves in a way that makes you feel uneasy. That kind of self love says…look at me…look at how amazing I am…I’m so wonderful and I know it!! 

I’m not talking about that kind of self love, but what I am talking about is the healthy love and balanced respect that you have for yourself.

A good question to ask would be this: ‘What kind of relationship do you have with yourself?’

 It’s likely that you’ve never been asked that question before, mainly because we’ve been trained by our upbringing, our culture or our church to think little of yourself.

But I have never yet known one person that fully loved others, whilst at the same time fully loathing themselves.

You’ll have heard these words before I’m sure….Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

These words from Jesus are a healthy reminder that the way we love and respect ourselves, will eventually spill out and become the way we love and treat other people.

The moment the penny drops on this one, will be the moment that you become well balanced and relaxed about who God has made you, and in turn be more focused on how you can live your life for others. 

Stop telling yourself that you are no good and that nobody likes you and that you’re ugly and that you’re stupid and you’ll never be of any use on this planet.

 Replace your self talk today with words of heathy respect for yourself and start to believe..that though many may be able to do what you do better than you, there’s no one that can do what you do just like you.

 You are unique.

 You are loved.

 You are needed.

 You are wanted.

 You are one in 7 billion.

 Start loving yourself and you’ll start to see people through very different eyes.

 Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

 Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st July 2019

Sometimes we can be scared by things and it stops us going deeper in our relationships. Sometimes we are scarred by things and that stops us going deeper also.
Some of us are satisfied where we are, in the shallow end of life and are frightened to venture into the deep end.
When you go on holiday, or to a public swimming  pool, the shallow end will be full of people having fun, because it’s safe.
It’s the place where we want our children to be, but adults are meant to go a little deeper.
I find it quite amusing to see some adults actually sitting in the paddling pool and probably using their toddler as an excuse and yet they are probably there because they feel safest.

God has so much more for us.
Notice that you don’t see lots of people in the deep end, only the brave.
You don’t see lots of people at the top of a mountain either.
Deeper and higher is where God calls us to be. Deeper in our relationship with Him.  The deeper your devotion, the deeper your relationship and the deeper your relationship with God, the higher you will climb.
Don’t be scared to get out of the comfortable and risk a little more.
Don’t just stay with what’s familiar and what doesn’t challenge you.
You’ll never experience anything new, if you don’t try.

A deep sea diver will see things that you or me will never see. Why? because they decided to go deeper.

The deeper an excavator is willing to go, the more diamonds he is likely to find.

The higher the mountain climb, the greater and more breathtaking the view.

Decide today… I want to go deeper with God.
Remember this: Private devotion equals public promotion.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2019

The old lady across the road from our home was having some garden landscaping done, and was throwing away loads of bulbs that the workman had dug up.

 Her garden was well established and had many beautiful plants and shrubs that now needed to make way for the alterations.

 One summer’s evening, I went across to talk to her and came back with a bucket load of old bulbous roots that didn’t resemble anything to me.

 “They will become beautiful Peonies if you’re successful at replanting them and taking care of them”, she said.

 I did know that a Peony was deep red in colour and looked amazing when in flower, but also knew that there was not much chance of their survival with my gardening reputation.

 Sure enough, I planted them and the following year nothing happened.

 A year later leaves started to sprout and produced a healthy looking plant, but still no amazing red flower.

 Today, I’m looking at what my neighbour described to me three years ago – beautiful red Peonies springing up from wherever they were planted. They are one of the best things in the garden right now.

 Meeting people can sometimes be just like looking at those old dirty, lifeless bulbous roots. At first glance, there seems to be no hope and certainly no future.

 Their chance of making anything out of their lives seems slim, but I do believe with all of my heart that everyone is precious to God and therefore needs to be loved and nurtured back to life.

 No one is beyond hope, and everyone can flourish if you will just be prepared to believe in them.

 You too may feel on the scrap heap of life right now – discarded, abandoned and given up for dead.

 Don’t give up. Though you may have to go through some dark days and cold winters when all seems lost, God will always send someone into your life to help bring you back to your full potential and the life that he created for you.

 John 11:25-26 Jesus said …‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th June 2019

Our neighbours had a very large tree that had grown to such a height that it was blocking the light to the back of our house. I thought long and hard about whether to approach them, but decided that I didn’t want to risk spoiling our good relationship; after all, it was their tree and I was about to ask them to chop it down or at least to drastically trim it back — I decided instead to specifically pray about the tree.

Each morning I would look into the garden, point at the tree, and tell it that it was about to go! Just in case you think that I’m completely crazy, I learnt this from Jesus, who also spoke to a tree and saw it wither…

Mark 11:12-14 ‘The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig-tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it’.

After months of praying about the tree, you can imagine my excitement when one night my neighbour stopped me and told me that he was going to be cutting back an overgrown tree in his garden. My persistent prayers had been answered. I would never have to approach him about it after all…or so I thought.

A week later I could hear sawing and chopping taking place with branches flying everywhere. At last, we would get light streaming through to the back of our house once again.Unfortunately, the tree that they were taking down was the wrong one and made no difference to us whatsoever!

Once again I was back to addressing the tree problem in prayer each morning.

Weeks had now passed by, and I was yet again thinking about talking to the neighbour, when seemingly out of nowhere three men arrived with ladders, ropes and chainsaws and within an hour the very tree in question had completely gone. Light came streaming from the sky and I stood there amazed at how something so specific had happened without me mentioning a word …apart from privately to God that is.

Do you have something that is standing in your way today?

Is there something or someone that is blocking the light from penetrating into your world?

Speak to that situation…take it to God in prayer…He’s more than happy to deal with it.

Mark 11:22-25 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2019

A screaming baby doesn’t know what it wants or needs, it just screams. Fortunately a mother or father is sure to be close by ready to tend to their infant’s needs. As the child develops into adulthood, the child grows in responsibility, becoming more self-aware, finally being able to recoginse what it needs for themselves and then tending to those needs accordingly. If we saw a screaming adult, in hysterics, crying out for food, then another adult spoon-feeding them, we would all be very concerned! An adult should recognise that they are hungry for themselves, source some food for themselves, and be able to feed themselves. This is evidence of maturity!

It’s the same process in our spiritual lives. As we mature in our faith and grow in our relationship with God, we should grow in our self-awareness – the ability to understand and tend to the needs of our soul health (Mind, heart and emotions). An immature Christian needs constant spoon-feeding, constant instruction, and others to tend to their every soul need, unable to recognise what is going on for themselves.

I am not discouraging the need for help from community, rather, encouraging us to grow in responsibility in sourcing for ourselves what our soul needs.

When you need direction, source it from God. When you feel hungry, feed yourself on the word of God. When you feel drained around certain people, find healthy community. When you feel emotionally burnt out, give yourself the strength you need by drawing from God. When you feel bitter, recognise the unforgiveness in your heart and deal with it. When you feel insecure, feed your mind on truth. When you feel overwhelmed, position yourself in prayer and worship.

Recognise what your spirit needs and tend to it! This is spiritual self-awareness and evidence of maturity!

Don’t just scream for attention from others. Don’t just cry and complain. Don’t wait for a leader or pastor to solve your problems. Develop the strength and maturity to give yourself, by God, what it is that your soul really needs!

1 Timothy 4:16 says, ‘keep a close eye on yourself’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th June 2019

Christ died for the world (John 3:16). But He also died to save us FROM the world. The world is trying to win us for the very thing Christ saved us from. There is a fight for our soul – our mind, desires, and emotions – Christian or not!

Throughout the Bible, the lines are definitely drawn between the world of unbelievers and the world of the children of God (James 4:4).

Purity starts well before our behaviour. It starts in the heart. Our behaviour is an overflow of what is in our heart. Purity is a heart desire to set yourself aside from the cultural norm of the world and to pursue God’s intent in any given area of life. Purity is the desire to honour the spirit of God – hence the name HOLY Spirit. It is not being counter-culture for the sake of being different to the world – it is about bringing the heart and ways of God to an earth steeped in dysfunction, brokenness, and dissatisfaction. Purity, therefore, has power!

We are in a world saturated with the mockery of faith, obsession with material success, hunger for instant gratification, and constant glamorization of sin. Even Christians can fall into this trap. Does the devil hold a banner over these things saying, ‘WATCH OUT…this is bad, comes, from me and will lead to destruction!’? NO! In fact, he comes as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He comes looking good! He is the master of deception.

The truth of the matter is that true freedom and wholeness is not found in the abuse of your mind, body and soul, but in the presence and principles of God (Psalm 16:11). God promised us a FULL LIFE (John 10:10) as a result of purity. Purity is not a killjoy, but rather produces prosperity!

A lot of us live like decaf coffee. We look like coffee, we smell like coffee, we taste like coffee, but we have no POWER. We look like Christians, we smell like Christians, we taste like Christians, but we have no power. We are not committed to holiness, and we’re still trying to convince everyone we’re Christians! I don’t want to be an artificially flavoured Christian. I want to be one of power and purity, distinct from the world, offering it what it needs, not merely blending into it.

I love Billy Graham’s words: ‘We come in contact with the world, and yet we retain our distinctive kingdom character and refuse to let the world press us into its mould’.

Esteem the word of God above all else. Remove whatever junk you’re carrying that is contrary to your new nature as a Christian. Give the Holy Spirit full reign in your life as his role in the life of a believer is to lead you to into holiness. Pursue whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable (Philippians 4:8), and leave the rest with your buried old-nature!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th June 2019

The Bronner Bros. Enterprise is one of the largest private African American hair and skin care producers in the United States. Founded in 1947 by brothers Dr. Nathaniel H. Bronner, Sr. and Arthur E. Bronner, Sr.

Bronner Bros. has over 300 full-time and part-time staff members.

Bishop Dale Bronner is one of six Bronner sons born to Nathaniel, and is Founder and pastor of the Word of Faith Worship Center with around 20,000 in attendance.

He has seen incredible success in the family business, as well as in leading his church to outstanding growth.

This is what he writes in his recipe for success…

Get up early

Stay focused

Watch less TV

Read more books

Avoid time wasters

Invest in your health

Take calculated risks

Write down your goals

Work smarter, not harder

Do something you believe in

Connect with God through prayer and reading the Bible

Share your faith

Help somebody

Realise yesterday ended at midnight.

Psalm 111:10 ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding…’

Proverbs 4:5-8 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. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honour you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2019

I was getting frustrated as the queue of traffic seemed to be taking forever to get moving. Into the bargain I also noticed that several cars kept overtaking me. I was getting more and more annoyed that some people couldn’t even have the decency to wait like every other law abiding citizen. Then, as I took a closer look at the car in front to try and establish what the hold up was, I realised that there was no driver, or anyone for that matter, sitting in the car. It was at that point that the penny dropped…I was actually sitting behind a row of parked cars —I was going nowhere fast!

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself the all important question about who you are following in life? The answer will ultimately reveal where you will end up, or as in my case, where you will park.

Take a quick glance at what’s going on around you as you start out this brand new day. Who’s overtaking you? Why are you standing still?

Could it be that you thought that you were waiting for something to happen when all along you have inadvertently parked your life and are actually going nowhere? If that’s the case, you are going to have to do what I did when I realised that I’d made a wrong judgment.

I admitted to myself that I’d made a mistake.

I reversed out of the queue.

I got back into the right lane.

I got to my destination.

Is it possible that you have parked your life up alongside any of the following…

Your failure.

Your anger.

Your bitterness

Your shame.

Your pride.

Your unforgiveness.

Your doubts.

Your selfishness.

You’ll never move far whilst being parked up, no matter how much you want to believe that you are just in slow moving traffic. If you really want to make progress today you need to be honest about where you are and change lane as quick as possible.

It’s amazing how quickly you’ll get to where you want to be if you’ll just get on the right road that leads you there.

Hebrews 12:1-3 ‘…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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2019

I believe that we all want to succeed in life, we all want to progress and be prosperous . We all should have a desire to go for greater, to reach higher and to live blessed.

As a Christian, here are six things that I strive to include in my daily life. Six simple steps that will help me not plateau, but in fact go to a higher level in my walk with God and in my life.

How are you doing with this checklist?

Prayer… you can’t have a relationship without communication. If you want to know God and all that He has for you, then you have to communicate with Him.

What you do in private will be evident in public

Reading our bible… this is key to knowing Jesus, His will for our life, daily wisdom and how to follow Him.

The right people Life is like a mountain. What you do, what you can achieve yourself, will take you half way.

Who you have with you will take you to the top and help keep you there. People are important. The right people in your life are crucial. Those who believe in you, want the best for you, those who inspire and encourage you and those who can help you be a winner.

The right attitude. It’s not about my circumstances. It’s about my attitude to those circumstances.

Attitude determines altitude every time.

Generosity. Giving will result in receiving, as sowing results in reaping. You need provision to keep moving forward. You won’t see good provision without being a generous person.

Thanksgiving. What if I only woke up today with the things I gave thanks for yesterday??!!

Ask yourself that again. It’s quite sobering. Be a thankful person. Be grateful in every season. Be thankful each moment of each day.

Gratitude determines altitude!

Pastor Gillian

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st June 2019

Information information! As commented by the American psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, “never in human history, our brains had to work so much information as today. We have now a generation of people who spend many hours in front of a computer monitor or a mobile phone and who are so busy in processing the information received from all directions, so they lose the ability to think and feel”. Apparently we’re now exposed to more data in a single day than someone in the 15th century would be in their entire lifetime.

What types of messages do we allow to enter our homes on a daily basis through television, social media, internet magazines smartphones or even our own conversations? Do we take time to really ponder and evaluate the ideas that we absorb even subconsciously?

The effect is that all this information we absorb goes into our sub-conscience and affects the way we think, view things or even behave in the long run.  Therefore we must be intentional and selective of what we take in.  Choose carefully the words and images that enter your home and your heart. The ears and eyes serve as a gateway to your heart.

There is an African Proverb that says: ‘if the ears don’t hear the mind will not be bitter.’   It is very important as God’s children we mind what we pay attention to. Jesus warned us to be careful of what we hear and take heed of His Word more, for there is a reward, and this reward is wisdom.

 

Mark 4:23-24 says “If any man has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him perceive and comprehend.  He said to them, “be careful what you are hearing. The measure of thought and study you give to the truth you hear will be the measure of virtue and knowledge that comes back to you—and more will be given to you who hear”.

Therefore there is the need to give our ears to things that are profitable to our lives. We must give our ears to productive words that will produce great fruit in our lives. Let the messages in your home be messages of hope, love, peace…  Let your loved ones see and hear the words of life and truth above those of sin and death.   The Holy Spirit is your greatest ally when determining what is healthy for your spirit, He will prompt you if you allow Him to.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2019

Money talk can be a taboo topic. We see money as a private matter and consequently many people suffer in silence, never developing a healthy relationship with their finances.

Money is a God matter. Money is mentioned over 800 times in the Bible. Strategic, intentional, savvy, stingy, stressed – we all fall somewhere on the money-management spectrum.

If we don’t follow God’s model on money, then we may struggle to find freedom in finances. God has called us to be masters of our money, not let money master us.

Money is a tool to do good things. Yes it can be misused, like anything, but when it is surrendered to God, it can have a powerful and positive impact on the lives of others and generations to follow.

Some creative ways to empower you in your money situation:

1. Start small. Whatever is in your hands, do the very best that you can with it. Don’t despise small beginnings. God will watch how you manage the small, to test if your character can handle the big. Are you thankful, careful, and intentional with whatever you have now?
2. Think long, not short. Never does the Bible talk about debt being a positive thing. We live in an age where you can purchase anything you want by instantly pressing your fingertip on your phone! And if you don’t have the money now, don’t worry, you can pay back after! It is easy to think short, and instant, rather than hard and long. Buy only what you can afford.

3. Consider your motivation for buying something. Is it to prove something? It is to gain approval or status? Is what you a purchasing an investment (beneficial for your long term), or a liability (temporary gain, for long-term loss).

4. Get God’s mentality on money. Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ – This includes your mentality on money!

God has called as to adopt a wealth mind-set. Wealth is more than riches or money, it is believing that God has the ability and the desire to provide for you – money, resources, strength, and wisdom in any area where there is lack!

Remember whose you are. You are a child of the King of kings, not a child of a pauper!

 

Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it’.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th June 2019

If you wear glasses, you know how annoying it is when you’ve got something on your lenses – a mark, a smudge, some dust. Anything in the way of your vision, you just want to clean off, rub off– so you can see with clarity – see everything, and know what is going on without limitation.

Very rarely though do we get to see the whole picture in our lives. Very rarely do we have absolute clarity. Story after story in the Bible we see characters who had to move before they knew. They had to step out, before they had full clarity and vision.

Abraham had to walk his son up the mountain, not knowing God would intervene in his willingness to sacrifice. The woman with only one jar of oil was told to collect empty jars before she knew how they would make her debt free. Noah was told to build an ark before he saw the rainbow. The disciples had to wait for the Holy Spirit Jesus had promised before they could operate in power. On and on there are examples of people who lacked clarity, the whole picture, but had to move in a direction.

If you are desiring direction, and lacking clarity here are some tips:

1. Accept a different norm not seeing it all is normal! Others may look like they have it all together, knowing their direction, but often they are themselves trusting God and contending with the next steps. Accept the fact that not seeing the whole picture is often a normal part of faith life and God uses that position as an opportunity for you to rely on Him, trust Him and operate out of faith.

2. Consider what you loved when you were young. Go back to when you were 5 years old, what were you drawn to? What was most natural to you, before society told you what you should be doing? How has God wired you? This will give often give you insight into your purpose!

3. Take one small step in the direction of what excites you. Don’t be overwhelmed by the whole picture, start small and steward well, then move onto the next opportunity when it arrives.

4. Deal with fear and excuses. Is there fear around that small step? Are you afraid of risk? I know of people who are afraid of driving lessons, or visiting another country, or experiences outside of their comfort zone. They want to do these things, but are essentially bound by fear. Ask for God to guide you through fear to freedom so you can step into what your heart desires!

Isaiah 30:21, ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it”.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th June 2019

My wife and I wanted to do something extra special when we were about to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. In advance I booked us into a really nice hotel in London. I decided to call ahead of the date and asked them for one of their best rooms.

We were not disappointed on the day as we walked into the lobby of the hotel. The lady at reception said that she had a wonderful room for us with a great view. We were shown to the room and given our cases. As we looked out of the window, we looked at the beautiful view—a brick wall and an air conditioning unit.

We had a quick discussion with each other and decided to challenge the fact that this was definitely not a great view!

They apologised and said it was a mistake, but they had no other rooms available. ‘Leave it with us’, she said, so we went upstairs and put the cases on the bed.

We fully expected something to happen so we never unpacked. We didn’t behave like we were staying. We just sat and looked at each other and chatted for an hour or so. ‘Shall we unpack?’, we asked each other back and forth as time passed by. We decided that the answer was a definite NO! We are not staying in this room. As we chatted, a knock eventually came at the door. ‘I’m really sorry’ said the hotel manager, but we don’t have anything available, apart from the top floor suite with a balcony’.

‘Do you want to come and look’ he said. ‘It’s very expensive, but we will give it to you at no extra cost.’

It was more than perfect and we set about unpacking and settled in.

It’s possible that you too may have found yourself in the wrong place. Not in a hotel —but more so in life.

Are you living the life that you feel that God has promised, or are you looking at a brick wall with no sign of an upgrade? Ask yourself an honest question right now:  have I decided that this is where I’m staying? If so, have you already unpacked? If you have, put your stuff back in the case and get ready to move. Get ready for that knock on the door.

You may say…

“But the Dr said that I’ll never get better.” Don’t unpack.

“But I don’t think I’ll ever break this addiction.” Don’t unpack.

“But there is no cure for my condition.” Don’t unpack.

YOU ARE NOT STAYING. THIS IS NOT YOUR PERMANENT ADDRESS. PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK IN THE CASE. GET READY TO BE MOVED. GOD IS ON HIS WAY.

Psalm 23:4 ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…’

Notice it doesn’t say, ‘though I park or sit down or camp in the valley.’

Don’t stop! The valley is real. The shadow is real. But don’t stop. This is not your permanent address.

In the Bible, there is a wonderful story of woman that had been ill for 12 years…

Mark 5:25-34 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned round in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, “Who touched me?”’ But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’

One day…just like THIS DAY…she refused to stay there any longer. She made up her mind that this was not the room she had booked.

You also have to do something…reach out to Jesus right now.

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2019

When Ethel Lang from Barnsley died she was aged 114.

Her daughter at the time was just 91!

She had lived through 6 Monarchs and 22 Prime Ministers.

She was around for the Wright brothers’ first flight, the maiden voyage of the Titanic and twoWorld wars.

She saw the first ever TV, the creation of the mobile phone and the introduction of the credit card.

The day after her death, a national radio station was talking about Ethel who had lived to be the 8th oldest person in the world.

What came next was a shock…or was it?

The Radio presenter said this…’why would you want to live that long… I’m 41 and I’m bored already.’

Maybe he was speaking on behalf of you too?

Boredom in life comes from a lack of purpose, and a lack of purpose comes from not understanding that there is a reason why you exist.

Maybe you’ve never comprehended this before and therefore it may come as a shock…but it’s a necessary shock and ultimately it’s a shock that we all need.

Here it is – our ultimate wake up call is when we understand that God has a plan for your life.

You are on this planet today for a reason. You may feel that you were born by mistake, but you are not a mistake.

When you popped out and was held for the very first time, God had already designed and destined you for a very special reason.

You are here on purpose, for a purpose.

Don’t waste your life wondering why any longer.

The two greatest days of your life are the day that you were born and the day you find out why.

Let these moving words inspire and challenge you to know the God that decided that He wanted you to be alive; not just to survive, but to thrive.

Psalm 139:13-16 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.

The rest of your life is the best of your life.

Make a connection with God today through His son Jesus… He’s only a prayer away.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2019

I’m sure you have all heard the phrase ‘in the meantime’…

It means between one thing and another, when one season has finished and another is yet to begin, a time of waiting.
Often ‘the meantime’ can actually be a MEAN TIME!  But it doesn’t need to be.
In the Old Testament we read how Abraham was childless, he had received a promise from God that he would be the father of many and yet here he was, waiting for that promise to be fulfilled…that’s a meantime.
We all go through them.
One friendship finishes, another is yet to begin.
One job finishes and we’re waiting for another.
Maybe we are in financial need, we have brought our tithes and our offerings and we are still waiting for the blessing. We have sown the seeds, but are still waiting for the harvest… that’s a meantime.
Here’s a few things we should beware of in the meantime
  1. We get a lack of decision – we cannot decide
  2. We suffer from procrastination – we keep putting things off
  3. We compromise – we go with the flow instead of waiting
  4. We settle for a quick fix – a quick answer instead of the real thing  (like Abraham, who couldn’t wait for the promise of God, so he tried to fix it himself and got into a mess)
  5. We get involved in wrong things – we try to find fulfilment in lots of different areas. 
  6. We get anxious about our waiting and we start to worry, which can then lead to fear, if we’re not careful. 
Here’s what the meantime should look like…. make sure that during your meantime you do the following…
  1. Stay focused
  2. Shut out all the negatives 
  3. Know that He has a purpose for you
  4. Keep trusting 
  5. Keep your channels open by praying and reading God’s word – that way you will be open to His encouragement 
  6. Learn quickly – the quicker you do, the sooner your meantime will end and you will be on to the next season of your life. 

Use the meantime wisely. 

Let God use it as a time to teach you and for you to grow.

Maybe, you are having a ‘meantime’ because you are not quite ready for the next phase or maybe God wants to bring something out of you and work something through you. 

Don’t despise the meantime. Learn and grow, have a great attitude. God will move you to that next season as soon as you are ready.

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

Fresh Hope – 14th June 2019

We all want to live a stress-free life without having to work at it — but it can’t be done.

Here are a few simple things that we can remind ourselves of from time to time so that we can live a longer, more balanced and blessed life.
  1. Make time each day to spend time in prayer and reading God’s word.
  2. Eat right – a balanced diet isn’t having a biscuit in each hand.
  3. Exercise 3-5 times a week for 30 mins – it’s the great stress reliever.
  4. Develop better time management habits for home and work.
  5. Make room in your life for fun.
  6. Get enough sleep – 6 hours is a recommended minimum.
  7. Start counting your blessings.
  8. Maintain your sense of humour.
  9. When you talk to yourself say nice things.
  10. If you look like your passport photo, you probably need a holiday
  11. Forgive…grudges are too heavy to carry.
  12. Don’t just be blessed…be a blessing wherever you go.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2019

Sunday just been is known as ‘Pentecost Sunday’. Pentecost Sunday is a commemoration and celebration of the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the early church.

Jesus had died, and the disciples were left behind. They were probably understandably scared for their lives, since their leader had lost His. But Jesus had told the disciples to wait for the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit, from whom they would receive power to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:3-8). 

After Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, the men returned to Jerusalem and joined together in prayer in an upper room. On the Day of Pentecost, just as promised, the sound of a violent wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and all were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:12-14).

The disciples were already believers, but there was an empowering of the Holy Spirit that had to come upon them in order for them to become truly effective. It was an empowering not for themselves, but for a greater mission.

They didn’t just stay in that room, they went out into the world! Thus the birth of the early church! 

This is the model that God intended for his church today. A church that would not just stay in its comfy bubble of believers, but rather a church filled with power, going out into the broken world carrying God’s very life, and breath! The church is not destined to be passive, boring, weak and ineffective. We have a mandate, empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring light to darkness, healing to brokenness.The LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners’ (Isaiah 61:1).

Acts 1 is proof that we aren’t just to receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, but be regularly FIILLED afresh by the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish this mission on earth.  And we need it! 

There is much brokenness around us, and the world unknowingly is awaiting for the church (you and I) to rise up do what it is designed to do! Knife crime, fatherlessness, drug and alcohol abuse, theft, violence, lack of healthy relationships, sexual promiscuity – these issues are all manifestations of BROKENESS that we the church are called to reach, under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

The church of the Acts was a church who went OUT. They didn’t stay in their upper room bubble. Likewise, we are co-missioned  (meaning mission with Holy Spirit) to receive, in order to GO OUT and make disciplines of all men! (Matthew 28:19).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th June 2019

Current UK statistics on people’s poor mental health are astounding.

1 in 4 people experience mental health issues each year.
At any given time, 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with mental ill health.
Mental illness is the largest single source of burden of disease in the UK. Mental illnesses are more common, long-lasting and impactful than other health conditions.
Mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year.

With statistics like these, we can conclude:

1. That either we ourselves are experiencing mental health issues or know someone who is!
2. That you are not alone!

No matter how “normal” mental health issues have become, they are never God’s desire for us, the people he loves. Without being insensitive to people who are in the struggle, I believe we should be intentional about preventing mental health issues, to avoid finding ourselves arriving at a place of anxiety and depression.

Our spirit, soul, and body are all connected. It is impossible for there to be a problem in one aspect of our being, and it not affect another. For example, we may have physical pain that soon wears thin on our emotions.

Kris Vallotton offers some advice from his personal experiences, ‘Problems can originate in one dimension of our being, but before long, we experience resulting symptoms in all three realms of our personhood’.

Having the courage to care for yourself (all three parts of you) is important. Here are some very practical ways that we can practise self-care:

1. Watch what your head eats! Just as we watch what we eat to look after our physical selves, and stay in the best shape and condition, so we also need to watch what we think in order to stay in the best mental condition.

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘You are what you eat’. Well Proverbs tells us that you are in fact what you think! (Proverbs 23:7).

As the Bible strongly urges, be relentless about guarding your thought life, and filling it with truth!

‘If you are dealing with anxiety, torment, fear, low self-esteem, depression or any other negative emotion, it is very likely that you have forgotten that God loves you. Do not entertain the enemy’s questions about how valuable you are’ (K.Vallotton).

To further fill your mind with tools of truth some books that may support you and/or a struggling friend:

‘From Panic to Power’ By Lucinda Bassett

‘Who Switched off My Brain?’, By Caroline Leaf.

‘ReNew: Breaking free from Negative Thinking’, By Julie Winter.

‘When God becomes Real’, by Brian Johnson.

2. Laugh.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Be intentional about finding things that make you laugh! Laughing produces dopamine, a God-given, feel-good chemical, in your body. Have friends that support you and bring positivity into your life. Be open to their influence in your heart.

3. Look after your body!

Get sun, routine sleep, exercise, rest, and look after your body. Remember, the mind and the body are connected!

4. Look after your connection with God. Keep your spirit strong! Stay connected to God – your source of hope, strength and healing!

Matthew 11:28 – ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest’.

 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th June 2019

Did you know that there is one question that God will never ask you — He will never ask you the question…’can you?’

But there is one question that God will always ask you, and that is…’will you?’

There’s a world of difference between the two, as one is connected to your ability whilst the other is connected to your availability.

The reason He will never ask ‘can you’, is because he knows what you can and cannot do, so the only thing left to ask is…’will you’.

Think about it for a moment…why would God ask you to do what He knows you cannot do?

If he commands me to do it, then it must be within my power to do so.

Here’s a great story that Jesus told to highlight this very issue…

Matthew 21:28-31 (NIV)

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, `Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ [29] ” `I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. [30] “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, `I will, sir,’ but he did not go. [31] “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.

How often do we make excuses as to why we cannot do what God is asking of us?

There is only one issue here, and it’s not can you or can’t you, but will you or won’t you.

It’s a simple question of obedience.

Maybe you’ve said NO in the past, just like the one son that we’ve read about; If so, change your mind, and say YES!

There are people’s lives right now that can only be reached by your YES.

They are depending on you.

If you will, you can.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2019

‘Fake News’ was named ‘word of the year’ in 2017. I know it’s two words, but nevertheless…

This speaks to what a prominent role fake news plays in our society today, and it’s not just fed to us through our television screens, but in our playgrounds, our offices, through our group chats, and even in our homes.

Here’s the thing you might have noticed about fake news… it doesn’t come packaged that way. You don’t turn on the TV to locate the ‘fake news channel,’ it’s on our ordinary news channels that we’re fed incorrect information.

So how do we identify what is fake? By first knowing what is true.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a question relating to my iPhone, so I decided to go to the Apple Store and speak to one of the team there. After a few minutes, I was given the answer that I was looking for and walked away knowing exactly what to do next.

My successful outcome was largely due to me going to the right place. After all, those most qualified to speak on my iPhone were the ones who created it.

It’s true for me and I’m sure it’s true for you, that when I have questions about life, faith, myself, I can tend to go searching in many different places instead of going directly to the God who created me.

Today, you and I (the created) need to hear the truth from God Almighty (the Creator) so that when we’re fed information that is contrary, we can call it out for what it is… fake news.

Have you ever been told you’re ugly? It’s fake news.

You say, ‘how can you know that?’

Because the people who told you that didn’t create you, therefore their word is not final over you.

Here is some truth that your Creator wants you to hear and speak over your life…

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭NIV)

His works are WONDERFUL. And guess what? You’re one of His masterpieces!

Has somebody ever led you to believe that your life will never amount to anything? It’s fake news.

Here’s what God, the One who knew your last day from your first, before you were even born has to say on the matter…

“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)

That sounds like a pretty bright future to me!

And the list goes on and on…

I wonder today what you and I have begun to believe as truth that is actually fake. Can I encourage you to turn to the source of truth, Jesus and His Word, The Bible, filled with truth about life, faith, you and everything in between, and watch as the One most qualified to speak on you begins to remove the lies that you’ve been believing and inserts the TRUTH.

I’m telling you, you’ll never be the same.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2019

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”

A beautiful couple of verses from Proverbs chapter 3.

What we quote and what we read, doesn’t mean we actually believe.

What happens when a door of opportunity closes that we thought would open? What happens when something doesn’t quite work out the way we’d hoped? A job that we applied for, a home that we wanted to move to?  Our immediate reaction is to get upset or annoyed or fearful or disappointed…but why?

If we trust Jesus, if we know Him to be our Father, if we believe that He has the best for us, then every “NO” that we get, should really be a “THANK YOU”…  because God obviously has something much better for me.

One of my favourite verses: “many are the plans in a mans heart, but it’s the Lords purpose that prevails”
(Proverbs 19 v 21)
reminds me that I may think my plans are the best plans, but HIS WAY and HIS PLAN is far better.

So the next time a door closes, don’t be tempted to be upset, instead be thankful.
Something or someone far better, is on its way.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th June 2019

There is not a single person reading this today that will be exempt from temptation; in fact, everyone at some time this week will be tempted.

Someone right now reading this will be battling with the most severe temptation of their lives and you are doing everything you can just to stay afloat.

Temptations are like presents – they come gift wrapped and they come in all shapes and sizes right to your door. The urge will be to open them as soon as possible.

Temptation also brings with it many misconceptions, so that it gets you down on yourself, even if it can’t get you to open the whole parcel.

Here are some misconceptions about temptation:

Temptation is sin – No it isn’t! Jesus was tempted but never sinned. Temptation’s job is to lead us to sin, but it is not sin itself.

Hebrews 4:15 Jesus…has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.

I’m the only one struggling with temptation right now – No, you’re not! Temptation is common to all people.

1 Corinthians 10:13 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.

There’s no way that I can overcome this temptation – Yes you can!

1 Corinthians 10:13 …But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it

I’m a very strong person, so I’ll never get pulled down by temptation – be careful!

1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

I’ll be glad when this phase of my life is over – This phase will pass, but beware that temptation will be part of your life until the day that you die!

Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [Jesus] until an opportune time.

Whatever you’re going through right now, be sure to know that you are not alone. Jesus has gone through it all for you so that you can overcome. Ask Him to strengthen you right now.

Remember: there’s always free cheese on a mouse trap…so walk on by.

Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Pastor Mark

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2019

Over 44 times in the book of Romans we are told that our old, sinful nature is dead and buried! At salvation, we are no longer a sinner! Jesus didn’t just die FOR us, He died AS us! 

Romans 6:6, ‘Could it be any clearer that our former identity is now and forever deprived of its power? For we were co-crucified with him to dismantle the stronghold of sin within us’.  

Unless we are digging it out of the grave, our old nature has truly been dead and buried! We are a new creation! (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore it is no longer in our nature to sin! Many Christians still believe that they are sinful people, and worthless! This is not only theologically incorrect, it is offensive to the price Jesus paid on the cross for you to have a new nature! In the words of Paul, ‘a dead person is incapable of sinning’ (Romans 6:7).  

 

So why then do we still make mistakes? Well, because we have forgotten who we are! We forget that we were also ‘RAISED with Christ … so that we could be empowered to walk in the freshness of new life’ (Romans 6:4). That is why we repent. Repent means to ‘return to the higher place’. Meaning, return to the higher way of thinking! Remember you are a new creation, it is no longer in your nature to sin. 

 

When we fully understand grace, we don’t wrestle with sin. Grace not only pays the price for our sin but also empowers us to live free from it. It gives us the power to do what we couldn’t do before.  

 

We are ‘immersed into union with Christ’ (Romans 6:3), so when we make choices that are contrary to our new nature (when we sin), that is when the Holy Spirit in us convicts. Conviction is a beautiful thing and the opposite of condemnation. Conviction reminds us of who we really are in Christ, while condemnation tells us that our behaviour is who we are. Conviction tells us we weren’t made for the sin we are engaging in and we are better than it, while condemnation uses shame and a sense of ‘worthlessness’.  

 

What you believe, you will attract in your life. If you believe you are a sinner, don’t be surprised if that is what you are attracting.  

 

At salvation, we are transformed. Our old nature died. It is impossible to be saved and still the same! 

 

If you are struggling with sin, instead of wrestling with something that Jesus said is dead, ask yourself:  

  • Do I truly understand the love of God towards me?  
  • Do I view myself as a new creation?  
  • Am I living in the finished work of the cross?  

 

There is nothing too big and bad in your life that God hasn’t killed, and buried! 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th June 2019

Romans 5:17, ‘But now, how much more are we held in the grip of grace’.

You’re speeding down the road 20 miles over the speed limit. Your attention is suddenly interrupted by the blue and red flashing lights in your side mirror, and the piercing sound of a police siren behind you. You’ve been done for speeding. As the police officer approaches your window, you expect the worst. “Justice must be served, a price must be paid”, says the officer to you. You nod your head in shame. How could you possible afford the fine?

“So I will pay the price, so you can go”, says the police officer.

Salvation isn’t the absence of justice. It is the fulfillment of it through Jesus. It isn’t just a “letting off the hook”. Grace isn’t just freedom from sin. It is the empowerment to do what you couldn’t do before.

Here are three things grace releases into your life when you step into it:

Grace = rest.

When Jesus said, ‘It is finished’, he wasn’t just talking about the hold of sin on our lives but also the need to earn righteousness. No perfect performance necessary anymore!

Romans 5:1 – ‘We enjoy lasting peace’.

Romans 5:2 – ‘he has given us PERFECT relationship’.

Romans 5:9 – ‘You will never experience the wrath of God’.

Grace = Confidence

Romans 5:1 – ‘He declared us flawless in his eyes’.

Romans 5:17 – ‘We continue to reign as kings in life, enjoying our regal freedom through the gift of perfect righteousness’.

Jesus died not because he wanted something from you, because he wanted to fix you or change you, but simply because he loved you!

View yourself through the lenses of the cross and walk in Godly confidence. Stop saying you are worth nothing – this is false theology!

Grace = power

The law will kill you, grace revives you.

When you understand grace and the price paid for you, you develop distaste for sin.

Romans 6:1-2: ‘Do we persist in sin? … We have died to sin once and for all”.

We are a new person, the old man is dead!

Romans 6:4 – ‘So that we could be empowered to walk in the freshness of new life’.

Romans 6:8 – ‘We could not live one moment longer submitted to sins power’.

Romans 6:11 – ‘View yourself as dead to sin’s appeal’.

Focus less on your shortcomings and instead fix your focus on the finished work of the cross, for it is there you will find your rest, confidence and power!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th June 2019

I was just a young boy when I got stuck in a lift at our local department store. I can still feel the fear as I stood holding tightly on to my Mom’s hand. Amongst the eight of us that were trapped for about half an hour, I can recall one elderly lady that was gasping for breath as the heat became unbearable in such a confined space.

That experience left me both scared and scarred for years. I know it sounds stupid now, but I would never go in a lift for years after that, not to mention that I developed an intense and irrational fear of heights following that episode.

I guess we privately all have some hang ups that we find hard to admit to, for fear of looking stupid, but to those that have them they are nevertheless very real. Taking the stairs rather than a lift, was pretty easy to disguise. But when you’re now married and cannot even stand on a chair to change a light bulb that’s another matter!

I was under the impression that what had entered my life as a result of my childhood experience was now here to stay. I just had to mask it as best as possible, and to those closest to me I would just have to admit defeat in certain areas.

The last thing on my mind was that my fears were a concern to God. I desperately wanted to get up step ladders like most other men, but every time I did, my head would go into fainting sensation that meant I would have to close my eyes and hang on for dear life until it passed. I just couldn’t overcome it.

That was all until one night when I sat in a church service. The guy at the front announced that God had told him that there was someone in the service that had a fear of heights and that God was going to heal them. I looked around waiting to see who else responded but no one did. I realised that it was ME! I got out of my seat and walked straight to the front. I was prayed for and then went and sat back down. It was not until I went outside following the service that I realised that something had happened. I had the sensation that I wanted to walk on the rooftops of the houses in the street. Something that I will never forget. Instead of being bound by a fear of heights, I was now wanting to do the very opposite. I actually wanted to get up a ladder and find out if this was real.

It was real. I started getting more and more adventurous and decided to paint the front of the house. I reached right to the top of the guttering and did what I would have never imagined to do before. Over the years I’ve been in the outside lifts of two of the tallest buildings in the world and walked on the viewing decks.

I wonder if you are facing some very real but irrational fears today? No matter how long they have been with you, you don’t have to be bound by them. God is interested in setting you free and He can do it right now if you will simply give that problem over to Him.

Take courage today from my own personal story and reach out to God right now—allow Him to eradicate your secret fears.

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.’

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.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2019

One phrase that I’ve heard quoted a lot from my youth goes “you can run faster and further looking ahead than looking behind you”. This was a firm favourite of one of the school’s athletics coaches who used to say when you are in front in a 100m sprint, if you decide to look behind you to see how far the competition is, by the time you look ahead again, they will be in front of you.

Sometimes as Christians, we are guilty of looking back rather than pressing ahead towards the goal that is in front of us. Our prayers are focused on trying to get away from the past or getting answers about our current situation, rather than praying about and envisioning the future we want to create.

We pray “Jesus, why is my life like this?”, or “Jesus, why did you allow this terrible thing happen to me?” To put it simply, we are praying backdated prayers, and worse still, getting frustrated when the situation doesn’t seem to change.

In Genesis 1, we are told the story of creation. God had been moving in the dark and declared “Let there be light”. That decisive moment when God spoke gave way to transformation and nothing was ever the same again. When you make a decision to break from the past, and declare the future you want to see, things start to move differently in your life.
It may take time for a ship to change course because the rudder has changed its angle, likewise, changing the angle of your prayer from questioning why is, to praying let there be. That small act of faith on your part will change the course of your life. Proverbs 18 vs 21 says we have power in our words to create, or to destroy life – literally life and death, and because we are created in the image of God, we have the power to create the future we want to see by changing our prayers.

Make a decision not to be overtaken or overwhelmed by your past because you keep looking back at it. Change your prayer from “Jesus, why is my life…” instead to “Jesus, let my life be…”, and watch as your life starts to move in alignment with the plans that God has for your life.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2019

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 – 31st May 2019

I was taught a very simple bedtime prayer by my parents who prayed with me from the earliest recollection of my childhood.

 

I don’t remember the transition from being prayed with, to me being left to pray by myself, but I do remember the feeling that I must never go to sleep without going through the prayer ritual that I was taught.

Even at a young age, I can recall thinking that I wish that I could now pray with a little more meaning, rather than just go through the motions, but I didn’t know how to escape the same old phrases that had been ingrained into my young mind.

Although not a Christian at the time, in the truest sense of knowing Jesus, but I was around 15 or 16 when I felt the urge to move forward into praying each day for other things that bothered me.

I kept a secret prayer folder that I would even take on holiday, and at certain times in the day I would find a quiet spot to go through my prayers.

It was quite a burdensome thing really when I think about it; I was praying to God…but I didn’t know Him. It was a good ritual, but was not born out of relationship.

Now, more than forty years later of knowing Jesus, I am still learning about prayer Today I share with you my following experience…

At around 17, I had become a follower of Jesus, and many years later, having seen many answers through my daily prayers, I started to feel that the little ritual of praying as a child had now become a bigger ritual as an adult.

Feelings of guilt would come over me if I would even so much as miss a day without praying in the morning. Every prayer list that I kept over the years had to be prayed through systematically. I had countries of the world to cover, children’s names in Africa and beyond, problem people and people’s problems, not to mention personal things only known to myself. I would cover a whole array of things and to be honest, I was trapped into believing that if I didn’t pray daily for them, the whole world might come to a standstill, well not quite, but at least the people that I prayed for might.

It has only been in recent years that I realised that prayer is often a burden for people and circumstances, but prayer isn’t a burden in itself. It’s a wonderful daily two way conversation with God.

Every morning I’m still keeping my appointment in prayer, but instead of that weight of responsibility, feeling that it was all mine, is now understood to be fairly and squarely on the one that gave His life for me – Jesus.

Prayer is not just a ritualistic working through a set of requests, but is so much more; it’s an hourly, moment by moment relationship with God.

Smith Wigglesworth, a plumber from Bradford who  was used mightily by God in the early 1900’s, said that he rarely prayed for more than ten minutes at a time, but there was rarely ten minutes that passed without him praying.

Today, I still love to focus my prayers by having very definite names and circumstances to pray over every week and I’d encourage you to do the same, however, be mindful that you don’t get caught in the trap of going through the ritual of prayer without the relationship of prayer.

John 15:7, 13-15 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

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 – 30th May 2019

 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the skyas you hold firmly to the word of life’ Philippians 2:14-16 

 

When someone tells us not to complain, and ‘live a cheerful life’, we can take it with a sense of criticism. “Do they not understand real life?”, ”That’s just not possible!”, “Isn’t it fake to just pretend that everything is ok?”, “Life might be good enough for you to suggest living a cheerful life, but not for me!” 

 

Complaining isn’t about being honest about how you feel, it is a heart posture of contempt, and hopelessness.  

 

If anyone was qualified enough to encourage us to ‘do everything without grumbling or arguing’, it was Paul himself. I have visited the very prison in Rome where Paul wrote this letter to the church from. I can assure you that he had plenty to complain about. The cell is small, dark and damp. For Paul to sit on that prison floor and instead of complain, encourage the church to ‘shine like stars’, speaks of his courageous hope in God, for the church, despite his circumstance.  

 

What in our lives do we have attitudes against?  

God 

People  

The state of the world 

 

When complaint and hopelessness fills our hearts, there is no room to love or bring hope. We offer nothing different from the world. We blend in. We aren’t shining. But when we demonstrate a non-complaining spirit, we show ourselves to be people of hope in a generation desperate for itWe stand out.  

 

Note that Paul doesn’t encourage Christians to be lights, he says that we ARE lights, the only question is: how brightly do we shine?  

 

Lights are used to make things evident. 

Lights are used to guide. 

Lights are used as a warning. 

Lights are used to bring cheer. 

Lights are used to make things safe. 

 

Just before Paul encourages us to live a cheerful life, he says, ‘God will continually revitalise you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases him’ (Philippians 2:13).  It is the presence of God that refreshes us, and allows us to shine! We don’t have to fake up a shine. Meet with God, get in His presence, let Him build in you hope that with transform your heart and allow you to shine like you were made to.  

 Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th May 2019

Have you ever bitten into a chocolate that was bland and boring on the outside, but rich, textured, and layered on the inside? Or maybe gone to a restaurant that looked really average from the outside, but served incredible food inside? Or maybe finished a book that was so much better than it looked?

I want what is on the inside, to be better than what is seen on the outside. I want a private life that is even better than my public life. I want what happens behind the closed doors of my home, to be even better than what others see on the outside. I want the inner state of my soul, to be more beautiful than any outward attraction. I want the health of what is unseen to overflow to what is seen.

I want to have a powerful private life. By “private life” I mean the inner parts of our lives that no one else sees. This may be your home, your heart, your mind, your relationships with those close to you, and above all, God.

The thing with what we eat is that at some point it will show on your body. What is consumed in private will certainly show in public one day. We can secretly consume our snacks and have our private binges, but at some point, it will show.

Equally, if we eat with discipline and exercise consistently, our bodies will manifest what has taken place in private. My point is that whatever we cultivate in inner world flows into our outer world.

Unfortunately today we have the order reversed. Many focus on outer appearances and projects first, paying little attention to the inner workings of their lives. Things like their home, mind, emotions, heart condition, and their close relationships are placed secondary to things of outward importance.

God is a God who works from the inside out. Like a tree that bares outward fruit only by the tree digging its hidden roots deep down, to nourish our private life we must be established in the springs of the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and in a life of prayer – things that aren’t seen and hardly celebrated. We may not get a public praise for these things, but by extending our roots deep in these things privately, we can become productive and authentic people in public.

As Isaiah would say, as the remnant would take root downward that they might bear fruit upward, so believers today need to do the same in their person lives (Isaiah 37:31).

Our public life consists of various works, service, labour, ministry, and personal activities, but it is our private world which becomes the fountain of supply and foundation of support (Psalm 36:9, Proverbs 4:23). It is our private time alone with God and his word that nourishes the inner world of our spiritual lives, which then governs the outer world.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 28th May 2019

…(Continued from yesterday)

Let’s focus further today on a number of healthy ways to resolve conflict in any relationship:

4 EXPLAIN—DON’T BLAME
How to talk to the person you’re struggling with is where many people struggle. And those conversations often go sideways because people begin with blame. Don’t blame. Explain. Instead of saying “You always” or “You never” (which might be how you feel like starting), begin by talking about how you experience them.
If you’re dealing with an ‘angry person’ for example, you might frame it this way: “John, I just want you to know that when you get upset in a meeting, it makes me feel like the discussion is over and I can’t make a contribution.”
If you’re dealing with gossip, try something like:  “Rob, on Tuesday when you told me what happened to George on the weekend, I felt like that was something George should have told me directly.”
Do you hear the difference between explaining and blaming?
Blaming others is a guarantee that the only person who won’t grow is you.

5. BE SPECIFIC
Giving one or two specific incidents is much better than making general accusations or commenting on personality traits. “The other day in the meeting” or “In your email yesterday” is much more helpful than “You just always seem so frustrated.”
The more specific you are, the more you de-escalate conflict and move toward a hopeful ending.

6. TELL THEM YOU WANT THINGS TO GET BETTER
What the person you’re confronting needs is hope.
At this point, they probably feel defensive, ashamed and (hopefully) sorry.
Let them know the gifts they bring to the table and the good they do.
Tell them you are looking forward to the future and want things to work out.

7. PRAY FOR THEM
I know this sounds trite, but it’s not.
Don’t pray about them. Pray for them.
It is almost impossible to stay angry with someone you pray for.
It can also give you empathy for them, and at least in your minds eye, it places you both firmly at the foot of the cross in need of forgiveness. It will take any smirk of superiority out of your attitude, which goes a long way toward solving problems.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:7-11‬


Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2019

Over the next two days, let’s focus on a number of healthy ways to resolve conflict in any relationship:

1. OWN YOUR PART OF THE CONFLICT
Conflict and even bad chemistry is almost never 100% one person’s fault.
Thinking you’re not part of the problem is often the problem.

One of the best expressions I’ve heard of how to figure out the extent to which you might be part of the problem is to ask a compelling question: What’s it like to be on the other side of me?!

2. GO DIRECT
Often issues are mishandled because we talk about someone rather than to someone.
Jesus was crystal clear on how to handle conflict, but very few Christians follow his practice. In the name of being ‘nice’, we become ineffective.
Talk to the person you have the problem with. Directly. If you haven’t got the courage to do it, maybe the problem isn’t even big enough to worry about.

When you’re in conflict, stop talking about people. Start talking to them.

3. BELIEVE THE BEST ABOUT OTHERS
It’s easy to assign bad motives to people. Instead, give them the benefit of the doubt.  They might not realize how they are coming across. Believe the best about others; don’t assume the worst.
Believing the best can help you address an issue directly without ruining the relationship. It can turn hurtful into helpful. Here’s an example: “Rachel, you might not realize this, but sometimes your emails can come across as demanding or even demeaning. I’m not sure you’re aware of that, but I just wanted to let you know how they leave me feeling sometimes. I know you probably don’t mean to do that.”
That gives the person an out, and frankly, many times, they probably had no idea they were coming across negatively.
When you believe the best about others, you tend to get the best from others.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:6‬ ‭

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2019

Be careful that you don’t forget the good things that God has done for us. We may say that we are thankful, but do we show it?

In the New Testament we read about how Jesus healed ten lepers and yet only one came back to thank Him. How sad is that?

It’s easy to take for granted that today you have breath in your body, that the sun is shining, that you have eyes to read this devotional and a new day ahead of you filled with blessings and opportunities.

In Psalm 106 vs 9-13 (Message version), we read the following…

They were barely beyond the Red Sea
 when they defied the High God
 —the very place he saved them!
 —the place he revealed his amazing power!
He rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up on the spot
 —he paraded them right through!
 —no one so much as got wet feet!
 He saved them from a life of oppression,
 pried them loose from the grip of the enemy.
 Then the waters flowed back on their oppressors;
 there wasn’t a single survivor. Then they believed his words were true
 and broke out in songs of praise.

But it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing.

This is a sad account of how awesome God was, how He saved them from their enemies, how He did many miracles.

It says they praised Him, but then they soon forgot – “but it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing.”

Don’t be like the healed leper who forgot to thank, or like the Israelites, who praised, but then forgot.

Our best life, is one that is full of gratitude and continual thankfulness for the goodness of God.

Your thankfulness and gratitude will open the door of your life to many more blessings and take you to a higher level in your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th May 2019

12 signs that you are intimidated

1) If you are avoiding something that you need to deal with.

2) If you are avoiding having a conversation that you need to have.

3) If you apologise too little or too much.

4) If you make excuses for yourself

5) If you feel uncomfortable or critical around successful people.

6) If you won’t make a decsion that needs to be made.

7) If you won’t look people in the eye.

8) If you feel uncomfortable asking people to do something for you.

9) If you feel insulted when someone offers you a suggestion.

10) If you don’t have a relationship with people beyond your level.

11) If you know that something is right for you to do but don’t do it for fear of what people will think.

12) If the person on the other end of the phone gets you to agree on something that you don’t want to do.

THE OBJECT OF INTIMIDATION IS TO FORCE YOU INTO SUBMISSION.

It comes in the form of three things…Intimidation, manipulation and domination.

It’s like a leaking roof; drip, drip ,drip…and then a flood if you don’t deal with it.

We are not supposed to cope with intimidation, we are to recognise it, expose it and deal with it.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23 May 2019

Leaves were piled on top of each other. Petals, stems, and sticks, scattered across the table. I had arrived home to a beautiful bunch of white roses from my husband. Only to showcase them in a vase, I needed to do some serious pruning, trimming, and chopping. My hands had to be pricked many times by thorns. A considerable mess was made on the dining-room table in preparing these flowers.

Once the stems were trimmed to an appropriate length, and the leaves pulled off, the roses were ready to be displayed in the centre of the room. When people come over, they certainly will notice these gorgeous flowers, but they will never see the messy process that got them there. They will admire their arrangement, and their beauty, but not know the hard work, pricked fingers, and cut sticks and stems required.

In life we are quick to recognise the wonderful. We want the wonderful. We feel sad if we don’thave the wonderful. What we can easily misunderstand is the messy process that often leads to true beauty and wonder. Most messy work is done in the privacy of our hearts in order for something beautiful to be cultivated in our lives.

You should see the mess I make in the kitchen in order to produce a good meal. Or the mess I make when I’m in the process of creating a piece of art. Or the mess in the middle of sorting and clearing out a room in the house. It is always a messy process that leads to something beautiful.

People don’t post about their processes, they don’t display the mess. They don’t often enjoy the cutting and the chopping, the molding and the shaping. Some don’t even recognise it’s happening. But process is not to be despised, rather embraced as a necessary in our lives.

John 15:2 says, ‘He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful’.

Bearing fruit, or not, be prepared – you WILL be either cut or pruned.

If you feel like you are in the process of a private mess, if you feel you are getting pruned and painfully shaped, rest in the reality that your beauty is on its way.

Don’t merely seek the glorious, and despise the messy process that gets you there. People may only see the beauty that stands on the outside, but it is the careful, refining process of the Holy Spirit trimming, cutting, chopping, and clearing our inner lives, that will get you there.

Emma Burchell

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd May 2019

In Christ’s Letter to the church in Revelation 2, we read, ‘I know all that you’ve done for me – you have worked hard and persevered. I know that you don’t tolerate evil. You have tested those who claimed to be apostles and proved they are not… I also know how you have bravely endured trials and persecutions because of my name, yet you have not become discouraged. BUT I have this against you: you have abandoned the passionate love you had for me at the beginning. Think about how far you have fallen! Repent and do the works of love you did at first.

This church was a tried and tested church. They had done many good things in the name of God. They worked for the kingdom. They persevered. They were not tolerant of sin.  They endured trials bravely. Yet they had lost something. Their witness was weakened because they missed the main ingredient. In all their good works, they had left behind their love for Jesus. They had lost their passion. They had got caught up in the commission, and missed the connection. They had got distracted in the function of God, and lost their friendship with God.

Another translation says, You have forsaken the love you had at first’. The Greek word for “first” (protos) means “best” or “number one”.

I’m reminded of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha. Martha was busy working for Jesus, running around doing good things in themselves. Martha was angry that her sister Mary was enjoying simply being with Jesus, rather than DOING for Jesus. “You should tell her to get up and help me”, she told Jesus. Much like the letter to the church, the Lord then answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I wont take this privilege from her” (Luke 10:40-42).

Mary had the passion. She knew what was best. What was ‘number one’. She had not forsaken her first love.

If you are feeling disillusioned. If you are feeling burnt out. If you have lost that inner fire and passion for Jesus and people, may I encourage you to do as the letter goes on to say … ‘Repent’ – meaning to change your thinking… ‘and do the works you did at first’ (Revelation 2:5).

Do what you first did when you first had that passion for Jesus…Make the time for him. Seek out the connection, and desire friendship. Choose what is better.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st May 2019

There’s an old saying that we all know…’time passes quickly when you’re having a good time’.

 

It’s an accurate assessment and is very true.

We can all remember that week away on a family holiday where we saw everything just fall into place. The accommodation was great, the food was great, the weather was great and the icing on the cake was that no one argued and fell out. The down side was that the whole event came and went in what felt like an instant.

No matter how you tried to slow the whole thing down, time would not stand still.

However there is another truth and it is this: ‘time passes quickly when you’re having a bad time.’

Now I know that you’re going to argue that this is not true, as you’ve experienced the worst month of your life, and it’s felt like it would never end – I do agree.

You want time on these occasions to hurry up don’t you, but it’s seems that every hour is like a day.

Think about this…whether in a good time or a bad time, time passes at exactly the same rate. It’s quick.

Another old saying becomes reality…’time stands still for no man’.

I was wanting to give a wake up call to a group of young leaders some weeks ago, and so I asked them how many remembered the Millennium celebrations.

Some were barely out of nappies (at the millennium that is) but many recalled the events of that night.

That night was almost twenty years ago now. How incredible that time has raced on for every single one of us no matter what.

I went on to tell the group that if we take that same amount of time again from today, then I will be approaching seventy eight years of age; I will be the age that my grandparents were when they were really old!

For everyone today that’s living a dead-end life, doing a dead-end job and feels no passion to get out of bed in a morning, then I remind you that ‘time passes quickly when you’re having a bad time’.

Why keep doing that which clearly isn’t working?

Why keep being miserable doing what you hate doing every day?

Why keep merely surviving when there is a life to be had that will see you thriving?

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again whilst expecting to get different results.

There comes a time in life when you need to give yourself a check up and ask those searching questions about ‘why am I doing what I am doing?’

Don’t be afraid to change careers. Go with your passion.

Maybe you need to change your set of friends that are holding you back?

Maybe you are resisting the spiritual element of your life and are refusing to surrender your life to God?

Is fear holding you back from a great future? Then take a step of faith today.

Always remember: fear looks, but faith leaps.

Luke 13:6-9 Then Jesus told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” ‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down”.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th May 2019

Jeremiah is a 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 Gods 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 Gods 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 Join 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 – 18th May 2019

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands ona few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

There’s a problem called ‘familiarity’. It happened to Jesus.

We read that he couldn’t do any miracles (vs5) because they were too familiar with Him . “It’s only Mary and Joseph’s son.”

We can be so close to something, so familiar with something, that we don’t really see it, or get it or appreciate it. It’s called familiarity and it leads to complacency.

Familiarity will cause us to be blind to the obvious, not see what’s in front of us, take things for granted, have an entitlement mentality and treat as common that which is sacred.

You’ve all heard the saying “familiarity breeds contempt”, which means disrespect.

A few verses later, we read that many people rushed to Jesus and many miracles were performed.

Same Jesus. Different attitude.

Same Jesus.  Different spirit.

Same Jesus. Different heart.

The people recognised Him.

Make sure you recognise Jesus for who He truly is.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The healer. The deliverer.

The restorer. The all powerful one.

Don’t become blind or ungrateful or treat with contempt that and who is in your life.

For if you do, you won’t be able to receive either.

Vs 53 – 56 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognised Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

 

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

Fresh Hope – 17th May 2019

For many years now I’ve motivated myself to get up and believe that today is going to turn out to be a good one, and if it’s not a good one, I’m going to turn it into one.

Some of those days have started out and even ended up as some of the most painful days of my life…

Some of those days I’ve felt totally inadequate for what lay ahead…

And some of those days were some of the greatest days of my life.

But no matter what, we all have to be motivated to keep going and break through with faith and a smile.

Here are some simple yet helpful pointers to help kick start everyday…no matter what lies ahead.

1) Set the start time of your day…otherwise everyone else will.

Instead of racing around the house getting ready, having no time to eat breakfast or to compose yourself, ask, what would the ideal time be for me to get up in a morning, so that I can find peace before the day kicks off?

That’s the ideal time then for you to rise. Get up!

I bet you charge your phone over night….every night.

That’s because you know you’re going to need it to be on full battery when you leave the house.

So why do we leave the house emotionally and spiritually empty most days of the week?

Get up in the morning at the time you have set as and  once you’ve done it for a month you will form a new habit for the rest of your life.

2) Prepare in advance for everything you do.

E.g. If you are going for a jog when you get up, then get your running gear out the night before so that you remove the excuses that will be impacting your mind when you wake. Just a thought!

If you have a meeting the next morning, prepare for it the night before.

Anyway…most importantly, when you wake, make a cuppa and prepare a special quiet spot in your home that you get into the habit of being drawn towards. Spend ample time in reading the Bible and in prayer. If you run out of things to pray about then make lists of concerns and needs that you can bring before God each day.

Don’t be afraid of the silence. Enjoy it, and allow God to speak to you.

Don’t just hope for the best…pray for the best.

3) Have an I can do attitude towards everything

Do everything with enthusiasm.

At the same time be flexible when unforeseen problems come your way. See them as opportunities rather than hindrances.

Every difficulty is an opportunity in disguise.

Let your attitude determine the atmosphere, no matter where you go and what you do.

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2019

A tower stands tall in a city. It overshadows neighbouring buildings, offering protection in its structure, advantage in its height, and strength in its stature.

Proverbs 18:10 says, ‘The character of God is a tower of strength, for the lovers of God delight to run into his heart and be exalted on high’.

In a tsunami, where do people run? To higher ground. People seek refuge in towers. When waves of trouble rush into your life, where is your higher ground? Your safer place?

Proverbs calls us to find our higher place, our safer place, and our strong place, in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord represents the character of God.  The character of God is his unfailing, ever-present and perfect nature of which we can totally trust.

Simply saying and believing:

Lord, You are a God of love – so I find refuge in your love.

Lord, You are a God of mercy – so I find refuge in your mercy.

Lord, You are a God of strength – so I find refuge in your strength.

Lord, You are a God of righteousness – so I find refuge in your righteousness.

is moving to higher ground.

When a flood is closing in, you don’t meander to higher ground you RUN! When an animal is being hunted, they don’t cruise on back to their hiding place, they RUN!

When our troubles close in, don’t meander around complaint, depression, and negativity… RUN to the character and heart of God in order to find your safety!

God provides a wonderful and strong defence. This is rooted not in a magical saying of His name as if it were some kind of charm, but in the name of the LORD as a declaration of His character all that He is and all that He stands for, Yahweh (the LORD) is a strong tower.

Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved! (Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, and Romans 10:13).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th May 2019

‘Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life’ (Proverbs 18:21 TPT). 

Our words are more than just sound frequencies released into the atmosphere. Over and over the Bible reminds us that there is power in our words. From the creation of the world through spoken word, the miracles Jesus released through declaration, the warnings in the epistles to control your life by controlling your tongue, and the life-giving wisdom in the proverbs cautioning us that we will eat the fruit of our mouths. It is clear that what comes off our tongue, moulds, forms, creates and shifts our environment. 

Like a ship is steered by a small rudder, so our lives are steered in the direction of our words (James 3:4). 

We cannot afford be passive about what we speak out. We must be conscience of our words and intentional with them.

BUT words don’t actually start in your mouth. They start in your heart. Like a meal isn’t made on the dining table of a restaurant, rather first concocted in the hidden kitchen out the back, so our words were prepared somewhere well before they are spoken out. They start in the privacy of our heart.

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34).

Because your mouth and your heart are connected, managing your words, without checking your heart, is like pulling a weed out the ground, but leaving its roots in the soil – allowing the weed to grow again in a couple of days. If our world is going to change, our words need to change, and if our words are going to change, our heart needs to change. 

If we manage our hearts, our words will follow, and then our world will follow.

If you mouth is projecting gossip, negativity, judgements – check your heart. What is going onin there? No doubt, you will find hurt, insecurity or bitterness that hasn’t been dealt with. In the wisdom of Proverbs 18:8, ‘The words of a gossip merely reveal the wounds of his own soul’. Deal with the issues of your heart, and your words will follow suit. 

‘So above all, guard the affection of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life’ (Proverbs 5:23).

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th May 2019

Life can be tough but be encouraged by these words from the film ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!’

“Everything will be all right in the end and if it’s not all right, then it’s not yet the end.”

The reality is, no matter what we’re facing, there is light at the end of the tunnel! If you have faith in Jesus Christ, rest assured He has overcome the world and He won’t disappoint! What really matters though is, what direction are you headed in? Are you facing toward the light and moving out of the tunnel or are you facing the dark of the tunnel, and things are getting darker?

Often I believe it’s not about where we are, orwhat we have, but it’s our direction that has a huge bearing on our lives, and how we feel about our circumstances. Two people could have very similar circumstances, but one is happy as they have hope and is moving closer to God, where as the other is struggling as things feel they’re getting darker and more hopeless.

Take for example the spring and autumn equinox. Two points in the year when day and night are the same length.

In the Spring equinox it feels light, the birds are singing, summer is on the way and you feel great. The autumn equinox feels dark, the nights are drawing in and you want to sit in front of a fire and drink hot chocolate. But what’s amazing is the amount of light is exactly the same at both points (they have the same amount of light at the end of the tunnel) – it’s just that one is heading in the direction of summer (the light) and one towards winter (deeper into the tunnel) and it completely changes how you feel about the season you’re in!

This is great news because it means whatever is going on in your tunnel today, wherever you find yourself, you don’t need a genie to magic up a long awaited answer, but by keeping your eyes fixed on the light, and shuffling little by little forward, you’ll soon start to see things a little clearer. Don’t panic;  will be alright in the end, just make sure you’re heading toward the light and not away from it.

John 8:12 | NIV
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.”

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th May 2019

When I was younger, I loved cycling with my friends, and distance was never a hindrance to our adventures. My curfew was sunset, but I regularly miscalculated the time it would take me to get back home and more often than not, I had to take a shortcut through dark alleys and cut across some fields to get back before it was too late.

My prayer at the time was firstly not to get in trouble for staying out too late, that the Holy Spirit would hide my absence from my parents. My second prayer, that God would protect me as I hurried home in the dark.The first prayer was never answered, and I got into trouble every time, but the second, thankfully always, and I’m still here!

Recently though, I was reading Genesis 1, and it dawned on me that the first thing the Bible records God as saying is “Let there be light”. So, the very first thing God did was to turn on the light switch before He started making the oceans and the mountains? Did this mean that God couldn’t see me all those times I was walking in the dark?

After puzzling over this for a while, God gave me a lightbulb moment. The first time God spoke, His intention was to create something that would GIVE life and SHOW the way to everything that followed.

God’s first words that everyone would hear from Him aren’t instructions on how to live a life that, in our minds will be acceptable to Him.  We tend to think when we first encounter Him, He is going to point out our failures but it’s quite the opposite!

We all go through dark patches in our lives…in relationships, finances, physical and mental health where you too can start to think maybe God cannot see you. When the prayer to get a way out of a dark situation doesn’t seem to be getting an answer, Jesus says in Matthew 5:14-16  “YOU are the light of the world”. He has empowered you to be a problem solver! To create the way out of your situation, and, by trusting that He gives seed to the sower, believing that whatever you commit to Him to get out of your situation, He will give you what you need!

No matter where you are in life today, Jesus is speaking to you to create something inside you that you will light the way through the dark times. We are created in His image to be creators of solutions, even when it may not make sense.

Noble Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2019

How many times do we pray “Lord, use me” then when an opportunity comes to be used, we dismiss it immediately, because it’s not in our comfort zone or maybe it doesn’t suit us?

Your life is like a set of tools, you don’t need the same tool for every job. Most men think a hammer will do for just about anything. There’s a right tool for each job.

Your life is like the surgeon’s instruments, not all get used in every operation, however, everyone of them has to be ready, clean and sharp whilst you are waiting.
If the operating instrument isn’t ready for the surgeon, it could cost time, which in turn could cost a life.What will the surgeon do? He will have to call for another one quickly, and I’m sure there are plenty ready and on standby.

If you want to be used by God, whether it’s in a small way or seemingly large, remember this: every one of those instruments that gets used is vital for the operation to be a success.
Remember God will only use you according to your purpose, He won’t ask one instrument to do the job of another.

I think we probably confuse God at times. “All to Jesus, I surrender” is what we sing, but don’t ask me to get involved with anything that doesn’t suit? NO. God will use you according to your God-given purpose and nothing else.

He has called us all to be ready.
CLEAN HANDS
PURE HEART
WILLING SPIRIT

He’s called us to be shiny and sharp, which is what we are responsible for ourselves.

Today, ask God to use you and ask Him like you really mean it.
And guess what, HE WILL.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th May 2019

Take a look at your hands. Are they big? Small? Well manicured? Are they worker’s hands? In truth, it doesn’t matter because whatever they look or feel like, God wants to use them.

Be the one who reaches down to someone who has fallen. Are yours the hands that comfort those who are mourning? Or will yours deliver the handshake to welcome the lost and lonely into God’s house?

Jesus has no hands and feet of His own on this earth, so we are called to show God’s love in a practical way. So how will you use your gift? What is in your hand today? How can you set about blessing others? Have you ever been searching for your keys, only to discover they were in your hand the whole time? Sometimes, we don’t even recognise what we already have. Ask God to reveal it to you. His resource never ends.

Much of the time, we neglect what’s in our hands because we feel like we don’t have much to offer. Or our hands are already full because we are carrying things that God never intended for us to hold on to. Namely, our pasts and our present circumstances. We waste our times being burdened by worry, shame, regret.

Today, I want to encourage you to lift your hands before God. When we lift up our hands, a powerful exchange takes place. Not only do we surrender but it gives God a chance to get things into our hands that we otherwise wouldn’t have the room in our hearts and lives to carry. I pray that you begin to walk in His peace today and recognise that His hand is upon you and that He holds your world.

When we let God set us free, He can begin a new thing in our lives. Psalm 145:16 says ‘You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.’

God’s hands are open and generous and He has called us to be the same!

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2019

What one demographic or culture finds appealing and praise-worthy, another finds repulsive. What one culture finds attractive and worth attaining, another finds very unattractive and not a priority. 

You very easily begin to prioritise what the culture you are in prioritises. 

I can first hand testify to this idea having moved from one country/cultural climate to another. Things that were a high-priority in my home country aren’t necessary on the radar for much of the culture here, and vice versa. 

I’ve seen the same in sub-cultures too. What my church values and upholds, is very different to what my office at work upholds. Both have entirely different priorities. 

Depending on who I imitate, will determine the culture I cultivate:

1. We imitate those close to us. We pick up habits from those around us. One groundbreaking study tracked twelve thousand people for 32 years and found that a person’s chance of becoming obese increased by 57% if he or she had a friend who became obese. The Bible warns us that our social environment has an automatic and invisible pull on us – taking us in their direction. (1 Corinthians 5:33). 

2. We imitate the many. Many studies and social experiments have proven that in an effort to conform to social norms and be accepted by the majority, people will deny what they know deep down is right under the weight of peer pressure telling you it’s wrong. There is tremendous internal pressure to comply with the unspoken rules of your group/culture. Most often,