Fresh Hope – Day 137

A few years back, I was at an airport in the United States, rushing to get onto my next flight as my previous one, back in England had been delayed.

It was a large airport, and there was a long distance between point A and point B, making the process even more stressful. Approaching the security point where carry-on luggage had to be checked, you were greeted by a large sign informing you of the items that had to be taken out of your luggage and placed onto the conveyer belt.

At the top of the list, it read, ‘all electronics.’ As well as the large sign, there were also airport staff shouting aloud the things that must be removed from your bags, in order for them to go through the scanner successfully.

The guy ahead of me in the queue had with him quite a sizeable case, which he just placed onto the conveyer belt, taking nothing out. At this, the beeper went off, and his luggage was picked up by security to be checked.

Upon opening it, they found that his bag was filled with multiple electronic devices… This man was unwilling to hand over his belongings, even though this was required in order for him to move forward.

In life, it is so important to realise that in order to get to your destination, there are some things that you’ll have to let go of.

However this may look to you today, ask yourself: am I holding onto anything that is preventing me from moving forward?

You see, not only did this man’s decision affect his own journey, but it also had an affect on the entire queue of people behind him. The decisions that you make in life not only will affect you, but can affect others also.

Understand that you have to let go of your history, in order to reach your destiny.

Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭18-19‬ “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Make a decision today to let go and let God.

Caleb

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 136

We often want to be like other people.

Naturally, we also want to be liked by other people.

As good as those two things are, there needs to come a defining moment in our lives when we have to be comfortable and confident in who God made YOU.

Many people are better at doing what you do, but no one can do what you do, quite like you.

You are unique in every way.

Your uniqueness is your strength.

For many years of my life, I believed the lie that I had to be like someone else; typically the person would be someone that I looked up to or someone that I felt that others liked.

Eventually, the penny dropped when I realised that God didn’t create me to be a copy but an original.

I started to drop the superficial act that was destroying my ability to be ‘me’, and started to ease my way back into who I really was.

To my amazement, I began to realise that not only did people appreciate me for being me, but I also came to the realisation that it was much easier being me than battling at being some kind of spiritual impersonator.

Whether you dislike yourself or would simply prefer to be someone else, the impact on your uniqueness will be the same…the real you will never shine through.

Today, I encourage you read and digest the words from Psalm 139 that describe the amazing and unique life that God has blessed you with.

‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand –when I awake, I am still with you’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 135

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 intentions, but when it comes to us we continually justify our speech, thoughts and our actions as if we were above and beyond the very same rules that we apply to others?

The best way to live life has got to be found in the words of Jesus… Matthew 7:1-5  ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’

 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.

 Ever wondered why people keep judging you?

 Could it be possible that it’s because you keep dishing up judgement towards them?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 134

What will be your calorie intake today? Do you even count the calories? Maybe you’re more of a points person? Or your choice is made on the colour of the food.

Healthy eating is always wise and enjoying some of life’s treats is worth throwing into the mix, but just remember it’s about balance. A lifestyle made up of healthy eating, exercise and some nice treats is far greater than extreme diets.

We are made up of body, mind, soul and spirit and they all need a good healthy intake.

So, what are you feeding your mind today? And are you exercising it?

What about your soul food…such as good friendships and relationships, these are vital to a healthy soul. Can I be as bold as to ask, are your friends good for you?

Then finally, contemplate your spirit. This part of us so often gets overlooked and ends up with the leftovers from whatever we feed our lives, or the scraps from the table where we feed our mind and soul.

This results in a spirit that is left with malnutrition-starving and craving to be fed, which actually leaves us ‘binging’ on all the wrong types of food for our soul.

If you don’t know how to change that, then let me introduce you to a life changing God – Jesus Christ.

Do you need more info or want to feed your spirit on a great healthy meal? Why not pick up a Bible or even go to a good church to be fed?

Ask yourself…

Are you mixing with the wrong crowd of people?

Are you feeding your mind on empty rubbish that leaves you worse off after ‘eating’?

Do you find yourself comfort eating to try and make yourself feel better?

If any of these are true for you, I would suggest you have an under-fed spirit.

Today, make a decision to feed your spirit with some wholesome food.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 133

Our chocolate Labrador is called Snoop Dogg.

He’s designed to retrieve. He’s called a ‘retriever’ for a reason.

It’s what he does, and it’s what he does best. (Apart from eating, that is).

He’s never happier than when you throw something for him to fetch or find. It doesn’t matter what it is, he’s not fussy.

The problem is, however, when you involve more than one item in the game.

He refuses to let one thing go, before trying to retrieve the other.

You may think that’s no big deal but when you consider that one item may be a piece of old drain pipe and the other may be a tennis ball and yet another a tree branch that’s a metre in length, then you know what I’m talking about.

It’s as if he’s afraid of letting go of one thing, in order to fully embrace the new thing.

Ring any bells?

How many of us today have got exactly the same problem, going on deep down inside of us?

We hang on to what we have and refuse to let it go, not realising that we can’t pick up the next thing until we do.

I wonder if the frustration that you feel today about never moving on is connected to you not being able to let go?

Holding on to stuff is stopping you from taking something that God has got for you in His hand.

Ask yourself right now…’what do I need to leave behind, in order to fully grasp the new thing that God has coming to me’?

You can’t hold on to the past and fully embrace the future at the same time.

Matthew 16:25 ‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 132

Words matter and should be treated with a great deal of respect. There is a reason why novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, said ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ and why The Bible says words, spoken words hold the power of life or death, blessings or curses, encouragement or persecution.

Proverbs 18:21 ‘The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.’

It’s quite incredible to think we have such a powerful tool that most of us take for granted.

So let me ask you a question: what kind of words have you already spoken and what will your ears pick up on?

I believe our lives and the lives of others around us would be far greater, more fulfilled and successful if we took care over the words we not only speak, but those we write, text, post, tweet and in some cases illegally inscribe on walls.

Usually found written in red ink, Jesus spoke some incredible words. They contain brilliantly wise yet simple and straight ‘on the nose’ messages.

Have you ever thought of taking time to live under positive, inspirational and challenging words?

Maybe take some time today to read just the red letters.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 131

I was sitting in the foyer of a hotel one evening, when I suddenly noticed a guy that I recognised from TV.

We looked at each other from across the foyer and I realised that we had met at a church event, many years earlier.

I decided to go across to him and say ‘hello’ and much to my amazement he had remembered my name…even more amazing was the fact that I’d remembered his.

Three months later, I was sitting in the very same place waiting to meet someone and I felt a tap on my shoulder…it was the very same gentleman. We spoke again briefly and carried on with our appointments.

It was only a month later that we bumped straight into each other in Birmingham, and then finally after counting four or five chance meetings in obscure places, I bumped into him at the cinema.

 ‘This is one too many to be coincidental’, I said to myself, and decided to find a quiet space to ask God why this should keep happening.

‘Do I need to say something meaningful to him’ I thought?

 ‘Does he need prayer…spiritual guidance…or just a friend?’

Standing quietly waiting for an answer…I got nothing,  so I went and watched the film.

Today, I think I may know the answer to the puzzle.

That very same gentleman happened to be passing the church one evening recently and decided to come and seek me out.

“Are you doing anything at 7.45 in the morning?”, he said.

“It depends what you’re asking”, I replied.

 “I’d like you to be my guest on my TV slot, on the morning show. Would you do it?”

 I agreed and spent the next morning being interviewed about Church, Jesus, my life, the news and politics, for a whole 90 minutes.

 Little did I know that I would get a call back the next week, to ask if I would go in and do six inspirational slots on the breakfast show, followed by another six a week later.

 Today, ‘ Fresh Hope’ is appearing live on TV most weeks, with a catchment of a potential 1 million viewers.

 God is the great coordinator of people for His own purposes.

 Ever wondered why coincidences keep happening?

 Maybe God is lining up your life for something pretty special.

 Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 130

Yesterday, we looked at GIANTS in our lives and how to identify them.

(It will help you to read it, before today’s) .

If you want the freedom to become all that God has called you to be, you will need to deal with the ‘Goliath’ in your life.

Here are some things that I trust will help you.

1. Don’t worry what your age is. God will give you everything you need to deal with that giant, whatever your age. David was young and inexperienced and look what he did!

2. He was bold. He wasn’t afraid, he knew that God would help him to deal with it.

3. He had faith.  He had faith in the God who’d helped him before in past situations, He wasn’t going to let him down now.

4. He went in his own anointing. Saul tried to offer him his armour…David didn’t want it. God has given you everything you need to deal with it.

5.  He stood up to the giant. He was not fazed by his size. He used his will and he used his voice.

Go, slay your giant today!  And God will be with you as He was with David.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 129

You may have a giant in your life.

That giant may be in the form of depression, debt, sin, wrong relationships, bad habits, worry, addiction, or even people.

 David had to deal with a giant called Goliath, and deal with it he did.

 Here’s some things to help you identify that giant in your life…

1. It will be big (that’s why it’s called a giant)

– Goliath was over 9 feet tall.

  1. It will taunt you.

It will mock you, tempt you, make you feel useless, tell you there’s no hope.

– Goliath taunted the Israelite army for weeks.

  1. It will bring you fear. It will scare you, make you believe there’s no way out.

Remember, FEAR is usually ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’.

– Goliath brought fear to everyone around him.

  1. It will be consistent. Our giants are GIANTS and they won’t give up. They are massive, and something massive won’t give up easily.

– The Bible says that Goliath came day after day after day.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how to deal with it.

If you can’t wait ‘til then, read 1 Samuel 17 to help you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 128

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.’

The meeting at the planning department was heated from the start.

No-one around the table could agree on how we were going to access the site of the proposed new church site in Netherton.

For 15 years previously, the 2 acre site had apparently been sold a few times, only to have the potential owners pull out due to the impossibility of gaining access from the main road.

Planning officers and various professionals had previously gathered around the boardroom table, to each give their negative take on the fact that it couldn’t be achieved.

Finally, a mini roundabout was proposed for the new Champions Church and everyone was happy – well, that was until they later decided it was not such a good idea after all.

Frustration mounted, as the day approached for us all to gather once again.

I had asked the Lord to show me what His solution was to this impossible situation.

Immediately, I took out a piece of paper and drew what I sensed God in His wisdom was showing me.

The little drawing seemed to make complete sense to me and I was sure that I had received supernatural wisdom for something that I knew nothing about.

Now we were gathering yet again at the aforementioned meeting; coffee cups were slammed on the table and voices raised, as yet again no one could come up with a positive solution…that was until I placed my little drawing on the table.

As expected, it was mocked and dismissed out of hand as a non-starter.

I left a copy of it with the planner, just in case he should wish to reconsider my sketch.

…I never was credited by the council as the one that solved the problem that day, but I can’t help but give a little wry smile each time I realise that that very drawing was exactly the design that got passed; to prove it…I have the sketch in my hand.

Maybe, I’ll frame it one day!

Jesus – the master of everything.

Don’t know what to do? Ask God – He knows.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 127

I reached up to the top shelf of my bookshelf today and pulled down a briefcase that had remained unopened for quite some time.

As I rummaged through its contents, I pulled out some papers that had been stapled together; I soon realised it was my personal prayer requests – dating back to October 2004.

More than 10 years have quickly passed by now, but I had to ask myself: have my prayers made a difference?

As I looked through the A4 sheets containing specific prayers for each day of the week, I noticed that many changes had taken place…

A neighbour that I had prayed for regularly had since died, some people were no longer in our lives, and other situations had remained unchanged but as I studied my scribbled down prayers, I soon came to the conclusion that so many of them had miraculously come to pass.

People that were far away from God had been revolutionised.

Sicknesses had been defeated.

Marriages saved.

Finances that looked impossible for the new church had turned around and the long-awaited church had been built, not to mention some of my private prayers had been answered.

Today I’m praying lots of new prayers, but I am forever grateful for God’s goodness and faithfulness in answering so many impossibilities.

The biggest reason for unanswered prayer is un-prayed prayer.

What’s on your prayer list today?

Haven’t got one?

Start to make one today.

Mark 11:24 ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 126

The story is told of a boy who was continually being told off by his father.

Every time he was asked to run an errand for his Mom, his Dad would rant on about where and when he should go.

One day, he was asked by his Mom to go to the corner shop to buy some vegetables. On the way, he met his Dad who told him that the corner shop was too expensive and that he should go straight to the market, more than a mile away, and cut out the ‘middle man.’

Cutting out the middle man became one of his Dad’s pet sayings, as he continually directed his son to shop at the market to save money.

One day, the father was lying ill at home and demanded his son to call him a local Doctor.

Thirty minutes later, the undertaker turned up.

The Dad was furious with his son, and demanded to know how he had got it so wrong.

His son simply replied, “Remember Dad…cut out the middle man.”

Cutting out the middle man is something that people in search of God are doing all over the world – yet trying to reach God all by ourselves is never going to happen.

Religion tries to bridge the gap by encouraging us to be good people, helping the poor, saying a prayer and attending a Church.

As good as all this is, we can never know and reach God by our own attempts.

We need a middle man – His name is Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:5 ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.’

A mediator is someone that has the right to stand on behalf of both parties, in order to bring them together.

For that to happen, Jesus would need to be fully God and fully man, and yes, God had it covered from the start.

Matthew 1:23 ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us.”

JESUS…the God-man…He is qualified to hold God’s hand and yours, both at the same time.

You can call on His name today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 125

A Pastor friend of ours had a satellite dish fitted to his Church.

The engineer came and spent several hours making sure that the new dish was bolted safely in place and that all of the cabling was looking neat and tidy.

On the evening, when my friend went to try it out with a few of his leaders, he was disappointed to find that the reception was so poor, they couldn’t watch anything.

The next day, he called the engineer back, who upon investigation reported that the dish was just a few millimetres out.

He went on to say that even though it was just a few millimetres out on Earth, it could be as much as two miles out by the time it got to the satellite in space!

That story helps us to appreciate that just because your belief about Jesus is fairly close to what the Bible says, it might as well be miles away from the truth by the time it reaches God.

Take for instance a person that may say, ‘all roads lead to Rome,’ meaning, I believe that there is only one God and it doesn’t matter what I believe about the way to get to Him; I can choose whatever way suits me… it’s close enough, after all.

You’ll never reach God that way, because just like the satellite dish, you have to point it at a fixed place to get a clear signal.

The Bible makes the co-ordinates very clear when it says, ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12)

That’s a pretty specific way and you can’t just leave it to chance or to what suits you.

Don’t just believe any old stuff in the hope that it’s close enough, instead, seek the truth and that way you’ll get a perfectly clear picture of who Jesus is.

Want to know God in a personal way?

Believe in JESUS… He’s the way.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 124

Loving people that love you back is pretty easy, in fact, loving people that love you first and at all times, is even easier.

Loving people that respect you is also easy, and so is loving people that do things for you out of gratitude for what you’ve done for them.

The real crunch comes when we start to enlarge the circle of our love for people that don’t love us back, and don’t ever do things in return for what we may do for them.

I’m sure that we’ve all had conversations that revolve around buying Christmas or Birthday presents for people that don’t ever buy us anything. We then have to decide as to whether we are going to treat them the same and cut them out of our generosity…

Maybe you’ve invited people round to your house for a meal and fully expected an invitation back to their place in the coming months. That invitation never came and inevitably, you end up inviting them to you again or risk ditching the relationship altogether.

When you think about it, much of our lives are lived from the premise of, ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’, or if not, at least a superficial love that says, ‘I’ll treat you right, if you treat me right.’ We have to admit it’s a fairly low form of living…

Now, I certainly haven’t got this one right by any stretch of the imagination, but I have attempted daily to live at a higher level and that is to ‘treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.’

That statement comes directly from the mouth of Jesus…

Luke 6:27-36 ‘But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’

Now that’s what I call a challenge, but I do know that when you live that way, you open up your world to a brand new group of people that would never have been loved, if you hadn’t have adopted the higher way of living.

Take the higher ground today and make someone’s day, and in return… you’ll make your day, too!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 123

For me, reading the Bible every morning is like opening the early morning post. A letter that’s arrived through your letterbox has a reason for landing on your doormat… it may contain very important information or even a very important invitation.

Toyah Willcox is an English singer and actress. She has had 8 Top 40 singles, released over 20 albums, written two books, appeared in over forty stage plays and ten feature films, and has voiced and presented numerous television shows.

Between 1977 and 1983, she fronted the band ‘Toyah,’ before embarking on a solo career in the mid-1980’s. Her biggest hits include, ‘It’s a Mystery,’ ‘Thunder in the Mountains’ and ‘I Want to Be Free.’

In a recent TV interview, she recalled how she went through one stage in her life where she didn’t open her post for six years. When she finally got around to tackling the mountain of mail, she was totally stunned to find one envelope that was marked, ‘Pinewood Studios.’

When she opened it, she found out that years earlier she had been invited to play the role of Maid Marion in the Robin Hood film, alongside Kevin Costner. It was now too late… If only she would’ve opened her daily post, she would have added a major film to her acting career.

How many of us today are missing out on great opportunities handed to us by God, simply because we are not reading the mail that He sends to us daily through the Bible? I get so much inspiration, encouragement, guidance and daily sustenance through reading His word, that I can’t afford to leave the house for even a day without reading what God wants to say to me. Open your post from God TODAY.

Here are my few, simple tips for reading the Bible on a daily basis:

1) Get yourself a modern translation of the Bible, e.g the NIV

2) Set the same kind of time aside each day to read it

3) Keep your Bible handy with a notebook and pen, so that you can write down things that jump out at you

4) Reading is not a race or a competition. It’s better to read small chunks that you can apply to your life, than read several chapters that you don’t take on board

5) Have a balanced Bible-reading diet each day… Start off with a few verses from Matthew’s Gospel, followed by a few verses from the Old Testament, finished off with a Psalm or Proverb

Don’t leave your morning post on the mat for another six years… you never know what’s going to be inside.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 122

Authority is not the same as power.

Authority is not based on strength, size, emotion, intellect, age, background or whether you are male or female.

A small policeman may not have much power, but his authority is just the same as a large policeman.

I watched a Premiership game of football yesterday and noticed how small the referee was compared to the players, yet he had authority over 22 men, using just a whistle and a couple of cards.

Often, we are defeated in our lives because we feel so insignificant and powerless to do anything about a situation that’s brewing, and to be honest, you’re right… You may well be insignificant and powerless to do anything in your own strength, but you DO have authority.

Listen to these amazing few words spoken by Jesus to His followers… ‘I have given you AUTHORITY to trample on snakes and scorpions and to OVERCOME all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.’ (Luke 10:19)

How many of us today are blaming the devil for all the bad that’s happening in our lives, but really it’s just an excuse for not taking authority over that situation ourselves…

You may feel small on the outside, but you are big on the inside.

Make a decision today to stop giving the devil credit he doesn’t deserve, for authority he doesn’t have.

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 121

I love the book of Jonah in the Bible, it’s full of great lessons and truths. Here’s another one today to help us…

Sometimes, circumstances make us feel so weighed down that we don’t want to praise God, yet we are taught that when we make a sacrifice of praise, something very powerful happens.

In Jonah chapter 2, we read how Jonah is in the belly of a fish because of his disobedience… Jonah repents and calls on God in his distress. God hears Jonah and in verse 10, God speaks to the fish and commands that he spits Jonah out safely onto dry land.

Think of it like this… The fish speaks of circumstances (which weren’t very good, he was in a big mess), and God speaks to the fish (the circumstances) and commands them to change.

Fish have to obey God and so do circumstances. Whatever your circumstances are today, get your focus off of them and onto God. You will get God’s attention when you praise.

Remember, no matter what you’re going through, praising God is still a must.

Watch your circumstances change, like Jonah’s did… There is power in your praise.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 120

My mother in-law has given me the key to her front door, after knowing her for 36 years!

I’ve been promoted to that level of key owner, reserved only for those who are totally trustworthy.

The real reason though, is so that she doesn’t have to get out of the chair when I go to the door.

However, I rarely have the key with me, so when I visit, I ring the bell, bang the door, then the window, and then finally shout through the letterbox.

When she eventually comes to the door, she says, “Where’s your key?”

It’s so much easier to use the key than to try and break into something.

How many of us today are fighting with God about stuff… ‘God, why won’t you bless me?’ ‘Why am I struggling?’ ‘Why am I so defeated?’

We get so tense about living the Christian life, just as if we’re trying to break down the door to get to God’s presence.

The Bible gives us the keys to successful living.

One of the most important keys we have to learn is obedience to God.

Obeying God’s Word and His voice opens the door to His blessing and favour in our lives.

The very first miracle that Jesus performed was turning water into wine. The occasion was for an unnamed couple that had embarrassingly run out of refreshments at their wedding.

Jesus’ Mom was present, and so the waiters felt that they should privately ask her to involve Jesus in the matter.

She politely told them to approach Him for themselves and added… ‘Whatever He tells you to do, JUST DO IT.’

We know from the story in John chapter 2, that as they obeyed Jesus, the disaster turned into the best wedding ever, not to mention the best tasting wine ever.

No matter what you’re facing today, just remember, obedience will bring blessing.

The words of an old song come to mind… ‘Trust and obey for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 119

Pamela Meyer, in her recent book, ‘Liespotting’ claimed that people lie anything from 10-200 times a day.

How many times do we hear, ‘the cheque is in the post’ or ‘an engineer will be with you first thing in the morning,’ only to be let down yet again, as there was no cheque or engineer.

If lying to one another isn’t bad enough, then lying to God has surely got to be the worst…

So how do we lie to God, you may ask?

The same as we do with anyone else… through our conversation.

When we pray, we can allow a very subtle form of lying to take place, in that instead of being honest with God, we can try to conceal things from Him (as if He didn’t already know).

We can tend to pray ABOUT things that we know God will like and then pray AROUND the things that we perceive He doesn’t.

Maybe your ‘nice’ prayer today would sound something like this…

‘Lord God, I want to thank you for my family and friends, my health and my home, my car and my career. Thank you for this amazing day and for all of the opportunities that will come my way. In Jesus’ name, amen.’

At first glance, that prayer looks and sounds great, but lurking beneath the surface is another prayer that we wouldn’t dare pray…

‘Lord God, I’m really struggling to be a good husband today. I keep blowing up over the slightest thing and my anger level is at an all time high. I hate my job and I don’t think I’m paid enough money. I haven’t read my Bible now for over a week and I wish I wasn’t serving on that team this weekend at Church.’

Now, I know that someone is going to say that we shouldn’t feel like that, but the reality is there are times when we do. This being the case, we don’t feel that we can talk to God about such things, so we pretend that we are fine, while all of the time we are actually being dishonest with Him.

You cannot hide your lack of spirituality from Him, as He already knows about it anyway… He was just waiting for you to be ‘honest to God.’

Praying about absolutely everything may not sound all glamorous, but it is real, and has a great sense of authenticity about it, not to mention the great peace that follows.

Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

‘Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 118

Charles Blondin was born on February 28, 1824, at St Omer, Pas-de-Calais, France. At the age of five, he was sent to the École de Gymnase in Lyon and, after six months of training as an acrobat, made his first public appearance as ‘The Boy Wonder.’ His superior skill and grace, as well as the originality of the settings of his acts, made him a popular favourite.

One of his most famous acts happened June 30, 1859, when he attempted to cross Niagara Falls on a tight rope. He completed this incredible feat successfully and a number of times thereafter, always with different theatrical variations: blindfolded, in a sack, trundling a wheelbarrow, on stilts, sitting down midway while he cooked and ate an omelet, and standing on a chair with only one chair leg on the rope.

On one such occasion, it is reported that a great crowd were cheering him on as he approached the final stretch across the Falls. He suddenly stopped and asked the crowd if they believed that he could carry a man all the way back across in a wheelbarrow. They all responded with excitement shouting, ‘We believe, we believe!’

Blondin retorted… ‘The man that believes should now step forward and get in the wheelbarrow.’

Faith is just that…

Faith is not SAYING, ‘I believe,’ but turning your belief into ACTION.

The words of the New Testament put it like this…

James 2:14-18 ‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’

Today, don’t just be content to be part of the cheering crowd that ‘talks the talk,’ instead be that person that steps forward and says, from now on I’m going to ‘walk the walk,’ even if it means risking everything with no safety net.

Have the courage today to walk by faith, no matter how seemingly impossible your circumstances may seem…

Be bold…

Step out…

Trust the Lord…

Believe.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 117

How many times do we worry about things, long before we ever get to them?

Reflecting on the resurrection story today, we see how Mary Magdalene was asking the question about who was going to role away the stone from the entrance of the tomb, so that she could gain access.

We are told by the experts that the stone would likely have weighed around 3 tons; that’s more than the weight of a small, family car.

It was a genuine concern as she and a few others prepared their trip to anoint the dead body of Jesus.

What they had totally forgotten, or maybe chosen not to believe, was that Jesus had already told them that He was going to rise on the third day, so, as it was the third day, He was not going to be there anyway.

Their worry was worthless, simply because they hadn’t taken Jesus’ words or His power into consideration.

I love the fact that when they did arrive at the tomb, not only was the stone rolled away, but there was an angel sitting on the stone, asking them why they were looking for the living among the dead. I can’t help but think that the angel was really wanting to say, ‘He told you so!’

How many times are you worrying about very real problems, simply because you are not taking into account that God has the power to sort it, before you ever get there…

The resurrection inspires us, not only to believe, but also to trust.

Matthew 6:25-34 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So 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. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 116

Today is yet another great opportunity to spend a few moments reflecting on the true meaning of Easter.

It is possible of course, that our understanding of the Cross is actually a mis-understanding.

Here are 3 meanings of the word ‘cross’, that help to keep us locked into the truth…

Firstly, if a cross appears on your school work, it means there’s SOMETHING WRONG.

Jesus died in our place because He looked and saw something wrong. Instead of just ignoring us and letting us carry on down the road to destruction, He sacrificed His own life for us, so that we can be forgiven and set free from our guilt and shame.

Secondly, when a cross appears at the end of a letter or email it means, I LOVE YOU.

The greatest act of love has got to be laying down your own life for someone. That’s exactly what Jesus did for you.

Thirdly, when you go to a polling station and enter that private booth, with a metre long piece of chain attached to a tiny pencil, you are asked to put a cross by the name of the person that you are voting for. In other words, the cross is saying… YOU MUST DECIDE.

Jesus’ part was to die for you, because He loves you.

Your part is now to decide what you are going to do about it.

Will you accept His love and forgiveness, or reject Him and carry on living life for yourself?

Today, I’m leaving you to ponder some of the most well-known verses in the Bible…

John 3:16-21 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 115

When you are faithful with a little, God will trust you with a lot.

In the early days of our Church, we had little over 15 people attending, today we see hundreds and hundreds of people coming each week.

Faithful in little, faithful in much…

Once, our Worship Team was 2 people strong, we recruited extras and got it to 8! Today, we have over 60 people in that team and growing.

Faithful in little, faithful in much…

What happens when God asks you to give financially, when you don’t have much to give? What you do with that £5 is a good indicator of whether God can trust you with more. When God knows you’ll be generous and faithful with the little finances you have, He will bless you with much more.

Faithful in little, faithful in much…

David fought a lion and a bear before he fought Goliath. But, if he’d never taken on the lion or the bear, he probably would have never taken on Goliath.

Faithful in little, faithful in much…

Remember this… God will look at your todays, before He sets your seasons.

We are all in situations right now, whereby God is asking us to be faithful with what we do have.

Growth comes from being faithful with what you have right now.

Don’t despise the day of small things. Give your best, your all right now, in any and every situation and just watch what God will do.

Luke 16:10

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 114

I will never forget the impact of the tent crusade held on Hillcrest School’s playing field, back in 1979.

I had been working in London and had just arrived back home in time for the last service inside the 500-seater tent.

Word had got back to me that both my sister and a girlfriend that I’d duly dumped, in favour of working in London, (now my wife), had both become Christians over the last few nights of the crusade.

As the last service drew to a close, tears rolled down my face, as I too realised once again the impact of what Jesus had done for me on the cross.

As an old hymn was sung that night to close the two week crusade, many more people gave their lives to Jesus and are still serving Him today.

The words of which capture the whole meaning of Good Friday as we read each line, once again.

It is my prayer, that like the many lives that were changed that day, yours will be too.

Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown hath broken every barrier down; now, to be thine, yea thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come.

We remember on Friday… we celebrate on Sunday.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 113

In 1838, Charles Dickens wrote the novel ‘Oliver Twist’ that later became a famous film.

The story is of a young boy that was orphaned and ends up doing forced labour in the workhouse in order to survive.

He was fed 3 bowls of porridge each day and on one particular day, he decided to ask for more.

He was refused and severely punished for asking.

For many people, their perception of God is more ‘Charles Dickens’ than Bible. We are afraid to ask for more and feel that if we should dare to do so, we would be punished by God. So instead of taking what you have and believing for even greater things, you simply settle into a life of mediocrity and rarely ever break out of your comfort zone, let alone break out into a sweat.

This thinking is not to make you greedy, but to help you appreciate that what you have, is merely the starting point from which you should expect more to follow.

Just having enough in your bowl for you can sound so humble, but is actually selfish, as you become content in only looking after yourself.

James 4:2-3 ‘You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’

God is the God of limitless supply and wants you to know that He has everything you could ever dream of… and so much more.

Ephesians 3:20 ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 112

Thankfully, your life is not just a random collection of days, weeks and years, woven together by chance, fait and luck.

Like it or not, know it or not, believe it or not… God has a master plan behind it all and the greatest truth right now is that He has a plan for YOU.

He has had your name written on a set of plans since before you were even born.

He has a unique and special purpose for why you exist.

It doesn’t matter how life started for you. It’s not where you’ve been that matters, it’s where you are going that counts. Where you’ve been cannot be changed, but where you are going can.

Your watch, your car, your washing machine, your computer, your iPad, didn’t just get here… it had a creator.

Someone had to design its parts, it had to be engineered and uniquely constructed to do what it set out to do.

You are not just on this planet to survive until you die, but you were created on purpose, for a purpose.

Knowing that makes an incredible difference to your life right now.

Every waking moment is a blessing from God to you today, in order for you to live out the destiny that He has for you.

Recently, I ordered my mother in-law a new washing machine.

When it arrived, I went down to her house to unwrap it and plumb it into the mains… Job done.

2 hours later, she called me to say that it was making a really loud banging noise and was shaking the whole kitchen.

I suddenly realised that I hadn’t removed the stabilising bolts that had been inserted for transportation purposes.

Until the four bolts were removed, the washing machine wasn’t free to do what it was created to do.

As we approach this Easter time, we remind ourselves that Jesus died on the cross to remove the ‘bolts’ of our sin, that chain us down and hold us back.

Receiving His forgiveness means that we are set free from our sins and are free to live out the amazing life that God has planned for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“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.”

Here’s a simple, yet profound prayer that you may like to pray this Easter time:

Lord Jesus Christ,

I have sinned against you in so many ways.

Please forgive me and accept me into your family.

With your help, I turn from all that is wrong in my life.

Thank you for giving your life for me on the cross so that I can be completely forgiven.

I gladly give my life back to you.

Be my Lord and my leader from this day forward.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen.

I 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.