Fresh Hope – Day 85 (Pastor Gillian)

Many of us would love to reside in the Penthouse of life, but find ourselves in the Basement.

Ascension to the Penthouse will come when we’ve learnt to deal with the different ‘floors’ of life and the challenges that they bring.

One of the biggest factors to help us climb those floors is our attitude.

After being a Christian for many years, I have learnt that ascension comes with the right attitude.

‘YOUR ATTITUDE DETERMINES YOUR ALTITUDE’ is a wonderful, yet challenging truth.

You won’t get to live in the Penthouse, with a Basement attitude.

Here are some simple pointers to help you today:

1. Keep a positive attitude at all times

2. Your circumstances may not be your choice, but your attitude is

3. Your attitude determines your altitude

4. Have a single-minded attitude (James 1:8 says, ‘a double-minded man will receive nothing’)

5. The people you do life with will affect your attitude

6. Keeping a good attitude is easier than trying to regain one

Today, if you want that Penthouse altitude… check your attitude.

It’s a great indicator of where you are and where you’re going.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 84

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 become 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 onto 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, I’m 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 that something is not working is really the best way of kick starting 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 your faithfully fruitful?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 83

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 be just a 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 millenniums 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 Gods 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 – Day 82

When Rudy Giuliani took office as the mayor of New York City in the 90’s, the crime rate was at an all time high.

He decided to implement a strategy that would set about repairing every broken window in the city within 24 hours of its breakage, sending a message of response, order and law enforcement to the community.

The plan worked better than anticipated.

The average persons perception of the local law was enhanced greatly because the results were visible in their everyday lives, and the criminals noticed too.

Not only did the overall crime rate drop by 57%, more violent crimes were reduced by 65% as well.

The city once infamous for its dangerous streets, was now being recognised as the safest, large city in America for several years in a row.

How on earth did this happen by just repairing broken windows?

The answer was simple… By taking care of the small things, the bigger issues got dealt with as well.

It’s very easy to put off doing the small stuff, in favour of dealing with the bigger issues in our lives.

Maybe we’ve put off making that one phone call to apologise, not realising that a whole host of other bigger issues would be solved if we did.

A dripping tap may seem insignificant, but failure to repair could lead to a later flood and far greater time and expense.

My Nan used to say this, ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’

Solomon in his wisdom put it like this… ‘it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine.’

Today, set about taking care of some of those nagging, little issues that you’ve failed to realise are having a much bigger impact on your world than you thought.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 81

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

Just because you feel that it’s not going to be a good day today, you don’t have to live by your feelings.

Just because you started the day wrong, 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.

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

Just because you woke up in a bad mood, remember that it’s only a mood… talk yourself out of it.

Just because you’ve 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’s 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, then 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 (NIV)

On the last and greatest day of the festival, 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 – Day 80 (Caleb Burchell)

Last year, I found myself embarking on a long haul flight to the United States. Myself and my parents were going to be staying with some friends of ours at their home.

As we got off the flight, we were greeted by our friends and were driven to their home. We pulled up on their drive, grabbed our luggage and headed for the house. As we opened the front door, I was overwhelmed with an amazing aroma coming from the kitchen upstairs. Now, after nearly 24 hours of travelling, I was ready to EAT!

Once we had put our suitcases in their proper places, taken off our coats and made ourselves at home, I was ready to go and discover the very thing that had been occupying my mind for the past 20 minutes…

The lady of the house told us that she had made some Taco Soup and that it was ready and waiting for us. So we pulled up to the kitchen bar, spoons in hand, ready to go. After taking the first spoonful, there was no doubt that this was a winner. It was delicious! So delicious, in fact, that for the next 3 days, I continued to eat away at this delightful homemade Taco Soup.

By the end of the week, as we were about to leave for our next location, we asked our friends for the recipe. It was too good to pass up, and we most certainly wanted to be able to try it for ourselves when we arrived back home.

This got me thinking… How many people are asking you for the recipe of your life?

When was the last time that your aroma, appearance & taste appealed so much to people, that they had to know what it is that you have and they don’t?

If you call yourself a Christian, your life either has the power to attract people to Jesus, or detract them from Him.

Pastor Brian Houston said, ‘make your spirituality attractive’.

I pray that we would always live lives that point people to Jesus and allow others to see Him through us. May we never be people that produce a stench so bad, that nobody wants to take a step closer, but instead, an amazing aroma that leads people inward, step by step, to find that what makes us so appealing is Jesus… A Jesus that has changed our life from the inside out, so much so, that our internal transformation now produces external results.

‘What’s the key ingredient of your life?’ is a question that I want to be asked often… I hope you also share that same desire today.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NIV)

‘For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?’

Caleb

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 79 (Pastor Gillian)

There is always a reason why we have to wait.

If God gave us everything when we wanted it, I’m sure that 9 times out of 10 it would be the wrong time.

When God makes us wait, it’s for a reason. And whilst we are waiting, we need to trust Him and be confident that He knows best.

We don’t always get to know why we have to wait, yet other times it becomes very clear.

We can read about people in the Bible who had to wait, and that seems easy to us, because we get to read the end of the story quite quickly. But it was hard for them also…

Joseph had to wait for his God-promised destiny to be fulfilled.

Moses had to wait for what had been promised to him and God’s people.

Esther had to wait for the right time to save the nation.

Joseph wasn’t ready to be Prime Minister, he had to go through the PIT (person in training) experience first.

Moses could have done it in 40 days, but he had to wait 40 years due to people’s bad attitudes and lack of faith.

Esther could have done it right away, but ‘blown’ the whole thing. She had to fast and pray first.

Whatever you’re waiting for today and why ever you’re waiting for it, know this…

If God has promised, it will happen.

Keep a good heart and a great attitude.

Learn what you need to, and learn it quickly.

Keep trusting Him through it…

Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)

‘We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.’

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 78

Don’t give up on your dreams.

For more than 17 years, I dreamt of building a Church building that was fit for the 21st century.

A place that people from all walks of life would be proud to call their spiritual home.

A place where people would be attracted to, in order to find God.

A place that future generations wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring their friends to.

A place where excellence reflected the glory of God.

I never realised that my dream from God would take up so many of the years in my 30’s and 40’s.

By the grace of God, I refused to give up, when on many occasions I wanted to.

Today, that dream is a reality and yours can be too… just don’t give up.

Interestingly, Joseph (the dreamer with the multi-coloured coat) had to hang on to his dream for 23 years.

His story is one of twice as many days of ‘give-ups’, than ‘go-ons’.

Every dream can contain twice as many negative surprises that can greatly discourage you, but the key is to realise that the Lord is with you and He won’t let you down.

Take a look at the headlines of Joseph’s 23 year journey from Genesis, chapters 28-38, and be encouraged to keep going…

Misunderstood by his family – give up?

Sold into slavery by his brothers – give up?

Found himself in a country far from home – give up?

Given favour in Potiphar’s house – go on!

Wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife – give up?

Thrown into prison – give up?

Put in charge of all the prisoners – go on!

Forgotten for two whole years – give up?

Remained in prison for two more years – give up?

Interpreted Pharaoh’s dream – go on!

Became second in command of Egypt and ran the whole country – dream realised!

Today, I’m dreaming again. In fact, we must never stop dreaming of a better tomorrow.

Hebrews 10:36 ‘You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 77

I was so hungry as I walked into our kitchen to the smell of a roasting chicken in the oven.

No one was in, so I didn’t know how long it had been cooking for.

I couldn’t resist… I opened the oven door and took the chicken out.

It smelt so delicious that I just ripped a piece off and popped it in my mouth.

24 hours later, I was in bed with salmonella food poisoning and was taken out for over a week.

My little taster of ‘not quite cooked chicken’ is a powerful reminder of the importance of waiting for God’s timing in your life.

We often think that we are ready as we look through the oven door of our fiery trial. The kitchen light goes on and the oven door is opened, only to find that yet again, we are ‘not quite ready’.

Don’t be impatient, as God’s timing is perfect and is for your own good.

Too early and you’ll be heading for disaster.

My craving for food made me break all the rules that I’d learnt during my days in catering.

Instead of being satisfied, I was bed ridden and frustrated.

Be careful today to wait until you’re properly ready.

Going through a fiery trial today?

Remember… it’s just God’s oven getting you ready for your future.

1 Peter 4:12 ‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 76

There are two types of people that we come across in life.

The first one is the ‘thermometer’ type.

They feel that their role in life is to take the temperature of every situation.

Typically, a ‘thermometer’ type person doesn’t change anything… they just comment on what is already taking place.

Maybe they walk into your workplace and tell you that it has a negative feel, or they come to your home and tell you that your kids are unruly.

They can walk past the end of their own street that’s strewn with litter and comment on how horrible it looks… but that’s where it ends.

As useful as a thermometer is, it actually doesn’t change anything, it only measures what needs changing.

The second type of person is the ‘thermostat’.

This person is the one that changes what they see.

If it’s too cold, the thermostat feels it and then sets about turning things around.

It doesn’t stop until it gets what it wants…

It doesn’t click off until it achieves the desired effect.

Gillian and myself were in a situation only a few days ago, whereby we could have looked on and said, ‘how terrible… how unfortunate… how blessed we are that we are not living in that situation’.

But instead, we decided to help change the situation.

Sometimes, change can occur by notching things up by just one degree.

After all, the difference between hot and boiling water is just one degree.

We had the means and the desire to turn that situation around for good… so we did. We did so, because we could so.

Looking without acting is something we can all do, however, I want to encourage you today to be a difference maker.

Be a thermostat and set the temperature in any and every situation that you become part of.

Proverbs 3:27-28 ‘Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbour, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’ – when you already have it with you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 75

Over the last few days, we have visited some beautiful vineyards, something that South Africa has plenty of.

Typically, a vineyard will also feature and specialise in high class cuisine in order to attract none wine connoisseurs like ourselves.

As we were driven to various vineyards for lunch, we commented on the fact that each vineyard had vast areas where the vines were left dormant; they had no colour, no growth and most noticeable of all, no grapes.

The answer as to why this was so, is also a great principle for living a productive life.

For every seven years that the vine is in production, the vineyard owner rests the vine. He cuts it right back and then just leaves it alone for the whole of year seven.

The reason for this is that the vine grows weaker after 6 years of producing; the yield becomes less and the nutrients in the soil get depleted.

If the vine is to grow strong again and get back to producing quality grapes in great quantity, then the owner has to make the decision to close the vine down for 12 whole months.

Have you ever wondered why we can become ‘fruitless’, even feeling that we have little energy and passion to live out our lives with great results?

The answer is found in the principle that God Himself placed within the earth, so that we wouldn’t burn out.

He called it the Sabbath.

He made the Sabbath for our benefit. One day in every seven is a day for no work, but a day for rest and worship.

Mark 2:27 NIV

‘Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”’

The lesson of the vineyard teaches us that without a ‘pause’ in your week, you will have a non-productive life.

You’ll stop being so effective, you’ll easily get tired and grumpy, you’ll stop seeing clearly the vision for your life and most of all, you’ll not have time to do what you were created to do in the first place… worship.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Sabbath day law was abolished and replaced with what was known as ‘the Lord’s day’ – the first day of the week – SUNDAY; A day to rest, to be refreshed, to be with family, and a day to pause and worship in Church together.

If you decide that you know better, then it won’t be long before the vital nutrients necessary to sustain your week will start to diminish.

SUCESS BEGINS ON SUNDAYS.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 74

Several years ago, I was walking around our local garden centre and came across the most vibrant-coloured hydrangeas that I had ever seen.

They were a deep purple and looked so healthy, so I decided that we should take two for our back garden.

To me, gardening is simple when it comes to plants. You dig a hole, put the plant in, press it down, water it, and hope for the best.

For the entire season the two hydrangeas looked amazing.

Everyone that came round commented on the colours.

The following year, I looked out of the window to find that the plants were just the same size and were beginning to sprout, not purple, but a very pale blue flower.

I waited for a few weeks until they fully opened, and sure enough, my prize hydrangeas had decided to change colour.

They looked sickly.

Off I went to the garden centre to tell them that my plants were very disappointing.

‘If I’d have wanted pale blue, I’d have bought pale blue’ I said.

After a brief conversation with the owner, he asked me a few questions about my soil and told me the news…

‘The type of soil that you planted them in will determine the health and colour of your plants’.

Change the soil and you will change the colour.

‘You’ve planted them in the wrong type of soil’ he explained.

My hydrangeas have remained pale blue ever since.

In much the same way, where you plant yourself in life will determine how you turn out.

This is especially true of your spiritual health, growth and vibrancy.

There are many people that have not understood the power and importance of putting your roots down in a ‘life-giving’ Church.

It is soil for the soul.

If you don’t firmly plant yourself in a Church, you will eventually start to grow spiritually weak and lose your ‘colour’.

Belonging to, and serving in Church is the highest privilege that we have. It’s an honour to serve Jesus for all that He has given for us.

Don’t plant yourself in the wrong place and expect your life to flourish.

Very quickly you’ll start to flounder.

Make a once-and-for-all decision to be firmly planted in a great, life-giving Church and don’t uproot yourself every time you hit a crisis.

It’s at those times especially, that you need the vital nutrients deposited in the soil of God’s amazing Church.

Psalm 92:12-14 NIV

‘The righteous will flourish like a palm tree… planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 73 (Pastor Gillian)

“Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess.

I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed, with more than my share of happiness” is a childhood memory from Ken Dodd’s Saturday evening show.

For those of you a little over 30 (like myself), you may remember it!

Happiness is a word based on happenings…

You cooked my favourite dinner – I’m happy

I like where you took me – I’m happy

The sun is shining – I’m happy

The house is clean – I’m happy

The kids are behaving – I’m happy

My boss likes me today – I’m happy

There’s a sale on at the Mall – I’m happy

All these are based on happenings.

The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, ‘Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you…”

This verse teaches us that no matter what is going on around me, if the happenings are good, bad, or indifferent, I need to be happy anyway.

My recent trip to South Africa has reminded me in a big way of how very happy I should be EVERY day.

No matter how life is treating you right now, have a great attitude and a thankful heart.

It’s not what’s going on around me that should determine my happiness, but what’s going on inside of me.

When you have a relationship with God, you can know His joy in your life. It doesn’t depend on happenings, it depends on Him, and He never changes.

Maybe you need to change your mindset today and count your blessings.

Happy day!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 72

Cape Town is most famous for its flat-topped mountain known as ‘Table Mountain’.

The mountain stands 3500 feet above sea level and is a massive tourist attraction.

For people like me that have a very limited knowledge of the area, the mountain is a constant help whenever you lose your bearings.

No matter how lost you are, the mountain will of course never move, so all you need to do is pause for a moment and look for it.

It’s both unmovable and unshakeable.

It’s a permanent reminder of your location.

All you need to remember is that it’s always there, and you’ll soon find your way.

In life we often lose our bearings; we have no idea which road to take because we have nothing unmovable to lock into, in order to give us a sense of direction.

God is the only unshakable and unmovable constant in life.

Once you acknowledge Him, He will never fail to be the solid rock that you need, as a constant in your life.

Today, remember to position yourself to pause and look up, rather than just trying to figure things out at ground level.

Psalm 61:1-2 ‘Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 71

Whenever I’m invited to speak in Cape Town, I always like to head to one of my favourite places… The Newport Deli.

For almost 10 years now, I have enjoyed their coffee and pastries, along with a view of the Atlantic.

When Gillian and myself arrived in Cape Town this week, we were told that the Deli had had a compulsory purchase order placed on it and was no longer there. However, the owner had relocated to a new place, so we decided to check it out.

When we arrived, I got to talk to the owner and I asked him how the new store was going, to which he replied something very profound…

‘I never focus on the business, I only focus daily on the quality of the produce and service, that way, I guarantee that the customers will keep coming back.’

His very profound words not only make complete business sense, but can also make life sense.

They can help us to understand why we cannot find happiness by just searching for and focussing on happiness.

For most of us, our happiness is reliant on happenings.

Happiness is like blowing up a balloon that is just about to reach its full potential… only for it to burst.

Happiness is something that is overinflated everyday of our lives, only to leave us feeling deflated within seconds. It’s often a bitter disappointment.

Happiness is the gold at the end of the rainbow that doesn’t exist, until you come to the place that Jesus spoke of… ‘I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10)

The word ‘full’ means ‘super abundance’. This is the quality of living that Jesus promises to you when you invite Him into your life.

This is not something that you chase, but something that you can possess, no matter what is going on around you.

Today, if you want more than a temporary, emotional lift that comes from outward circumstances, invite Jesus to be at the centre of your life, where joy and peace can radiate everyday.

Romans 8:38-39 ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 70 (Caleb Burchell)

Several years ago, I played football for a local team. During the few season’s that I played, we won 1 cup, but that was about it. We weren’t the best of teams and our results showed it…

I had featured in almost every position for the team, and I remember on one particular occasion playing in goal. We lost 6-0, however, I managed to pick up man of the match…

There was 1 stand-out player in our team who we heavily relied on each match to perform to a high standard and hopefully lead us to victory. There was no doubt about it, we had greater confidence that we could win the match with this guy on our team.

I want to encourage you around this thought today… You can live with confidence when you’re on team Jesus.

When you live with an awareness that God is with you, God is for you and that He is on your side, you can approach each day with greater boldness, greater expectation, and greater confidence that today is going to be a great day.

We know that God is good… What is also important to note is that everything He does is consistent with who He is. Meaning, I can expect good things today, because He’s a good God. I can expect miracles today, because He’s a miracle-working God. I can believe for the supernatural, because my God is a supernatural God.

And here’s the best part… You can rely fully on Him, because even when you under-perform, He always shows up.

There would be many weeks on that football pitch where the rest of our team would be having a bad game, but we still had reason to be confident in the outcome of the match, because we had a great player on our team, who could make up for all of our bad performances…

2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)

‘If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.’

What moves God most is God. He is not dependant on your ability, He is not dependant on your performance, nor is He dependant on your feelings, and what moves Him most to act on your behalf is not your love for Him, but His love for you.

Expect to see God’s abundance today in your life, not because you’ve earned it or deserved it, but because His generous hand so freely gives it.

If you’ve not yet invited Jesus onto your team, then you can do so today by praying this simple, yet life changing prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I am a sinner, in need of a Saviour.

Please forgive me for all that I’ve done wrong.

I thank You that You died on the cross for me, to forgive me of my sins and to give me a brand new life.

Today, I accept you as my Lord and Saviour, I will never be the same again.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We would love to hear from you if you just prayed that prayer.

Send us an email to info@championschurch.org.uk to let us know. You can also request a free New Testament Bible to help you on this new journey.

Caleb

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 69

A man sat at a train station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold, January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed that there was music playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first tip. A woman threw the money into his cap and without stopping, continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leant against the wall to listen, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again; clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother pulled him along, but he wanted to stop to look at the violinist.

Finally, the mother pulled hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head constantly. This action was repeated by several other children… All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes that the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected the equivalent of £25.

When he finished playing, silence took over.

No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the finest musicians in the world. He had played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth £2.5 million.

Two days before he played in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston, where seats averaged £100.

People didn’t recognise who was really amongst them, so they treated him as common, when all along, one of the worlds greatest musicians was right under their noses.

Greatness was in their midst, but they just walked by.

When Jesus turned up in His hometown, the people only saw Mary and Joseph’s lad… they failed to see that the Son of God was sitting at their table.

Today, make sure that you don’t treat Jesus as common, or with dishonour; right now He could be standing right beside you and you didn’t even know it…

Genesis 28:16 ‘When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 68

The presence of a storm in your life does not indicate the absence of God, neither does the absence of a storm indicate the presence of God.

Storms are a part of life.

Flying to Africa a few days ago meant that we encountered some pretty strong turbulence along the way. The pilot, however, just took it all in his stride; for him it was just a normal day at the office.

It is possible today that you are a person that wants to know where God has gone during your storm, however, your turbulent day has little to do with the absence of God.

Someone once said, ‘If God seems far away, guess who moved…’

Your storm may well be your own doing.

You may have ignored some simple advice and gone head-long into a ferocious thunder cloud. Your storm was not the absence of God, but the absence of wisdom.

Here’s what we should consider when going through stormy and troubled times…

God is not repelled by trouble; He is actually attracted to it.

Psalm 46:1 NIV

‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’

When Jesus told His disciples to get into a boat and cross the lake one day, He didn’t warn them that they would run into a storm that would completely scare the wits out of them, instead, He met them IN the storm and said, ‘cheer up, it’s me, don’t be afraid.’

Jesus doesn’t always favour leading you around a storm, as He knows that that won’t help strengthen your faith, but He does always hold your hand as He takes you through the storm.

He didn’t lift the disciples’ boat out of the water, but instead, He lifted the disciples by turning up at the most crucial time.

Think about the words of one of my favourite songs taken from Psalm 46 and sense Jesus’ presence in your storm right now…

When the mountains fall

And the tempest roars, You are with me

When creation folds

Still my soul will soar on Your mercy

I’ll walk through the fire

With my head lifted high

And my spirit revived in Your story

And I’ll look to the cross

As my failure is lost

In the light of Your glorious grace

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 67 (Pastor Gillian)

Making big decisions can often take a lot of courage… Why is that? Because we know that those decisions will affect our future and often the decisions that we have to make are hard.

If you want to be a champion, you have to make champion decisions.

Today, don’t let what is easy sway you from doing what you should be doing.

One of those decisions that we have to make, is who we allow on our journey with us.

Often we collect people along the way who may be there for a season, but long term, will not help us get to where we need to be going.

Listen to the words of one of the wisest men of all time…

Proverbs 13:20 ‘Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.’

I have had some good people in my life who were there for a season, but there has to come a day when you make a hard decision that says, ‘if I’m going to go for what God has for me, then this person can’t be a part of my journey anymore.’

Often God will naturally move people out of the way, but sometimes you have to make the decision to move them yourself.

You may have heard the old saying, ‘if you want to fly with the eagles, stop hanging around with the turkeys.’

Harsh… but true.

At the start of this year, allow God to remove some people FROM your life and then allow Him to add some great ones TO your life.

Be open to change & be courageous about your decisions.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 66

I keep my sunglasses in the car.

Often during these cold winter mornings, the sun stays very low and can take you by surprise as you turn a corner and encounter it head on.

A quick fidget in the glove box or in the door and on go the sunglasses.

I don’t know what colour the lenses are in your sunglasses, but mine have a yellow tint.

When I wear them, no matter where I look or where I go, everything is yellow.

Of course, in reality, nothing is yellow, that is apart from yellow things; but to me everything is yellow.

My glasses don’t just block out the sun, they colour my world.

Throughout our lives, we will subconsciously be handed various pairs of glasses to wear. Each pair will give us a different outlook on life.

If you spend too much time around negative people, you will start to wear negative glasses. No matter what you look at or where you go, you will find yourself having a negative opinion.

If you’ve been exposed to the thought that ‘life doesn’t get better’ but is just on a downward spiral from now on, then you will see everything through decrease glasses.

The lenses that you wear on your mind determine not only what you see, but how you see what you see.

I was often the last one to be picked on a team at junior school; I was the one that you were left with.

This coloured my mind and led me to a belief that I’d always be at the bottom of the pile.

I lived with those thoughts for many years, until I came to know Jesus and started to read the Bible for myself.

I began to read so many great, positive truths, that I slowly began to take off the glasses that had subtlety become part of the vision for my life.

Words from the Bible brought about a massive change in my thinking and by the Grace of God, I changed the way I saw things by changing the glasses on my mind.

Remember… you can’t change the output of your mind until you change the input of your mind.

Just take these 2 passages from the Bible and imagine them as sunglasses that you need to put on today.

Let them become part of your thinking and watch how they tint everything that you do today.

Proverbs 4:18 ‘The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.’

Deuteronomy 28:13-14 ‘The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.’

You can send us an email to info@championschurch.org.uk to request a free New Testament Bible to help you on this journey.

Have a blessed day,

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 65

‘Gillian… there’s a train coming.’

For 12 months I’d been saying the same thing…

I could hear an old fashioned locomotive coming in the distance.

It had what I described as an ‘Old American’ sounding ‘WOO HOO’ to it, as it sounded its horn.

What I couldn’t understand was that there weren’t any old fashioned trains anywhere within miles of our house, if any at all.

I thought about the fact that, believe it or not, we can actually hear the Lion’s roar at Dudley Zoo from our back garden, even though it’s a good mile away, at least. So I thought that maybe there’s a train at Dudley Zoo too, and that sound is also carrying up the hill. However, that didn’t add up either, as sometimes I could hear it at the most obscure times late at night.

Maybe the Black Country Museum has had an old locomotive and it’s coming from there I thought; But late at night…?

…Well, after much research and time spent, I found the train.

It wasn’t huge at all, and it didn’t even have a horn or tracks or station or carriages or passengers or an engine or anything for that matter… it was simply the wind blowing across the guttering at the back of the extension that we had built a year or so ago.

It was a sound that had come about because we had built something new.

This amazing locomotive passing through our neighbourhood was nothing more than a piece of plastic that had learnt to play a very powerful tune when given the right set of circumstances.

Isn’t that just like some of the ‘sounds’ that we hear that create fear in us?

We so believe the noise they manufacture, that we actually begin to believe that they are real, when all of the time they are just scaremongering copies of the real thing.

One of the most well known sounds for the Christian would have to be this one…

1 Peter 5:8-9 ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.’

The Devil’s ROAR is so well rehearsed that you’d think it was real, but it’s not, it’s fake. It’s more fake than a Louis Vuitton handbag from Turkey.

Notice it says… he prowls around LIKE a roaring lion seeking who he may devour.

I can almost guarantee that that roar will be on cue whenever God is building something new in your life.

But remember this… Jesus took every one of that old lion’s teeth out at the cross, so at very best, he can only gum you!

Make a decision today to be alert to this old trickster and be strong enough to tell him to his face, that being as you are looking for someone to devour, then you may NOT devour me.

James 4:7 ‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 64

I wonder what picture you have of God in your mind as you wake to a brand new day today?

Could it be that the picture has been blurred over the years by the opinions of others?

Could it be that you started out with completely the wrong picture, based on what you were taught?

It is possible of course, that your own experiences have somehow created a very different canvas. Maybe you have become bitter towards God over the death of a loved one, or that life has dealt you some other terrible blow, which in turn has distorted your portrait of God.

Every single person on the planet has an understanding of God, even atheists, but often our understanding is nothing more than a ‘misunderstanding’ of who God really is.

In 1936, the speaking clock was created for people that didn’t have a watch. They would dial the speaking clock number, (now 123) and receive a posh ladies voice that told them the precise time.

Today, over 30 million people still use the service. Why is it still so popular you ask?

For one reason… to bring our own clocks and watches into alignment with the ‘true’ time.

The Bible is the true picture of the nature and character of God. It is God’s true standard by which we can measure, check and adjust our beliefs by everyday.

If you’ve lost sight of the magnificence of God, then let the words of Psalm 145 help you to see more clearly again today.

Here are just a few of the amazing brush strokes found in the 21 verses of the Psalm.

…the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

…the Lord is good to all.

…the Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving to all He has made.

…the Lord upholds all those that fall and lifts those that are bowed down.

…the Lord is righteous in all His ways.

…the Lord is near to all who call on Him.

…the Lord watches over all who love Him.

If you’ve ever travelled across a different time zone, then you will know that one of the first things you need to do is set your watch to the correct time of where you are going, otherwise, you’ll either be too late or too early for everything…

Want to walk in God’s time zone today? Then set your belief to His Word. You can count on it. It’s always correct.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 63

I love to collect recipes.

Some of the dishes that I love to cook come from recipes that have been passed down through many generations.

Equally so, some of the best recipes that i’ve acquired have come from people that I have met in other parts of the world.

I picked up a recipe for some amazing bran muffins, from a family that I stayed with in South Africa in the 90’s.

Our daughter Esther loved them so much, that I had to make them for the last breakfast she had at home… her wedding morning.

Recipes are simple guidelines to follow, that enable us to have a level of skill and success in cookery. Follow the recipe and you should get consistent results every time. That’s the theory anyway!

One of the things that I love about reading the Bible is that you start to see recipes or ‘patterns’ for living. Ignore them, and your life is left to chance… Follow them, and the results will be amazing.

One such pattern is found in the New Testament, where in Mark, Chapter 1 we read…

Mark 1:9-13 ‘At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.’

Notice that God says to Jesus, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

But then notice what seems to be the total opposite of what has just been said; It feels like the ‘I love you’ has been forgotten when the next move goes like this…

‘…AT ONCE the Spirit SENT him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan’.

How can the same God that says, ‘I love you’ then turn around and in the next breath lead you into the wilderness for over a month?

The answer lies in a simple recipe for significant living. Here is a pattern that needs to be understood if you want to make your life count.

1) Acknowledge that God loves you and that will never change.

2) Appreciate that God not only leads you into amazing places, but He also leads you into some fairly dire ones too.

3) Understand the significance of the number 40 in the Bible. It’s the number of maturity. God’s pattern for a significant life is to lead you to a place that will cause spiritual maturity.

Many times we are asked… ‘Do you trust God?’

Today, the question is reversed… ‘Does God trust you?’

He will at times lead you into some very barren places in life, where you get challenged to the core, in order to bring out the very best in you and to deal with any internal issues that could get in the way of your future.

If you want to see the result of such a recipe, then the old saying, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ makes complete sense.

In the very next verses, after being in the wilderness, Jesus calls His first disciples, casts out an evil spirit from a man and sets him free, heals Peter’s Mother in-law and then heals ALL the sick people that came to Him.

Could God trust you with all that right now, or would it go straight to your head?

If you feel that you have been ‘led’ into a dry and barren place for a short season, then remember… it’s not how you enter, but it’s how you exit it that makes all the difference.

Enjoy the journey, or shall we say… hold on for dear life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 62

It’s possible today to look back on the last 3 weeks of prayer and fasting and believe that in your case, nothing has happened.

A voice inside of you is continually telling you that you didn’t ‘give up’ enough during the fast, or that you didn’t pray hard enough or long enough; that’s why nothing has happened for you…

You will be tempted to look on at other people and listen to their incredible stories of God moving in powerful ways in answer to their prayers and feel that God has turned a deaf ear to your prayer and fasting efforts.

Being dragged down this slippery slope of defeat means that it won’t be long before you write off the last 3 weeks as a waste of time and resign yourself to going back to a life of meaningless and powerless prayer.

STOP RIGHT NOW.

Stop listening to the voice of condemnation.

Stop aligning your life and beliefs to false accusation.

Stop going down the old path of double mindedness.

Stop listening to the voice of what the Bible calls ‘the accuser’, and start listening to the voice of your Saviour, Jesus.

John, as he writes in the book of Revelation, tells us that he overheard a loud conversation going on in Heaven…

Revelation 12:10

‘Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”’

No matter how feeble your prayers have been, no matter how difficult your fast was, no matter how many times you have felt defeated in the whole process, take heart and start to realign your faith to the word of God that teaches us, with a resounding YES, that all of your prayers and sacrifice have not been in vain…

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.’

Shoulders back, head held up high… come on, let’s walk through today, knowing that GOD ANSWERS PRAYER.

The answer is already on its way.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.