Fresh Hope – Day 163

I have a beautiful white watch.  I call it my ‘summer’ watch. I wear it when the sun is shining.

It looks very impressive, it has a little bling on it and it’s made by a good designer.

On two overseas trips this year, I wore that watch, because it was hot and sunny and the watch looked perfect.

There was only one problem. The battery had gone.  The watch hasn’t worked for a few months now…but it still looks good and no one would know that it didn’t work – only me, when I came to tell the time.

‘How stupid’, you may say.
Well it looks good, so does it really need to tell the time?

Of course it does! That’s what watches are made for. The fact they look good is a bonus.

It would take me just a little time and effort and a few pounds to get that battery changed, but the truth is, I haven’t got round to it, or it doesn’t seem important enough to remember.

That watch is like me and you. We may look good, we may even have a little ‘bling’, but if we aren’t doing what we were created for, then we really are no use at all.
We may fool the people around us, but we’ll never fool God.

‘What were we created for?’ you may ask. To love God and to serve Him. To love people and make a difference. That’s it, in a nutshell.

So whatever you need to do today to get your battery replaced, go and do it.
It may take a little time and effort and probably a prayer. But it will be well worth it.

Make the change today. We’re not just here to look good.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 162

I’ve had my fair share of car breakdowns in the past.

Some of them were due to the fact that the only cars that I could afford were pretty rough to start with, but I have to admit that many of them were my fault.

Something within me dared to see how far I could drive on empty…and I usually came unstuck; the worst was when I drove to Bournemouth and ran out of fuel with an hour of the journey still to go.

Just like a car, we too have gauges that are set into our lives to help us to know when we’re running on empty.

Is it possible that you’re feeling like you are because you’re running on fumes and are just about to break down?

Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of seeing a literal gauge, so we have to rely on our instincts to sense when we are getting low.

We have three gauges in our lives: physical, emotional and spiritual.

When we are physically low, we know we need to rest, eat or exercise.

When we are emotionally low, we know we need to make time for ourselves. Maybe watch a film, read a magazine, go for a drive in the countryside or just go for a nice coffee.

But what do we do when we feel spiritually low? We usually ignore it and do nothing. We even at times decide to go against all sound advice and cut ourselves off from God and church because of how we feel. Wrong move.

Just like the physical body, we need to respond appropriately and do things to restore our spiritual lives.

Someone once quipped…’seven days without prayer makes one weak’. Corny but true.

Get back into a spiritual fitness regime of rising early in a morning for prayer. Share your day with God and listen for His voice to guide you, before you start the day.

See the Bible as spiritual food. It’s no good on the shelf, it needs to be digested.

Worshipping God in your own private way with a CD at home or in the car has an incredible spiritual impact on your life.

Make sure that you are a part of a life-giving church every week.

God created us body, soul and spirit. If you’re running on low in any one of these, then you are destined to run dry.

Mark 6:31 ‘Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 161

I was moved to tears as I watched on TV the re-enactment of a true story titled ‘The Stranger on the Bridge’.

Just a couple of weeks ago, viewers were captivated as they watched the story unfold of a young man that decided to take his own life by jumping from Waterloo Bridge.

His life was only spared by a passing stranger that felt compelled to stop and talk him out of ending his life.

The ‘stranger’ was eventually found and reunited with the man that he saved. He was thanked over and over again for literally giving him a second chance – a chance that he has never regretted.

Many years ago, I found myself working at an establishment that had many staff of all ages and backgrounds. On one particular day, I felt compelled to talk to one member of staff, a young lady in her early twenties. I knew that I was to share the love of Jesus with her, but a battle was also raging inside of me as to why I was not the person to do such a thing.  For the whole day, I was so convicted time and time again about what I should do, but sadly I decided to walk away.

That night I couldn’t sleep for thinking about this person and made a pledge to God that I would talk to her at the soonest possible opportunity the very next day.

I went to work that morning not knowing how my approach would be taken, but after several enquires as to her whereabouts I was told that she would not be in work at all for the foreseeable future, as she had attempted suicide after leaving work the night before.

I was totally stunned and filled with remorse as I realised that if only I would have spoken to her, things could have been so different.

That night, I visited her in hospital and told her the whole story. I felt so sorry for not going  to her rescue when I had felt prompted by God to do so. She later started to attend church.

That day, I said to God that I would do my very best to never question His voice again and when asked to do something, say something or go somewhere for Him, I would promptly obey,knowing that I may be saving someone’s life.

You never know whose life you could impact today, if you’ll just obey His still small voice within.

Jeremiah 1:5-8 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 160

How you treat people can have a great impact on the degree of blessings and favour from God that you will experience.

You may have people in your life who have done you great wrong. You may feel as though your whole life has been stolen away by someone else but if you choose to forgive them, you can overcome that pain and difficulty with love.

Many years ago, I had to go through the most severe trial of my life. For many months, the pain of a broken relationship filled my every waking thought. People took sides and decided that I was at fault, leaving them no option but to walk away.

I made a decision to not fight back, retaliate or to justify myself in front of others, although that would have made me come out on top, as people would see that I was not to blame.

Instead, I decided to let God stand for me as I made a choice to forgive those involved. I also made a choice to ask for forgiveness from those that assumed that I had done wrong, as I wanted to have a clear conscience before them and God.

To be honest, it took months for me to get over the pain.

I didn’t ‘feel’ like forgiving, but I made a choice every morning to pray for each person involved to be blessed.

The more I prayed for them, the more I got released from the pain.

Today I am free, even though I walk with a ‘limp’ because of the experience. As someone once said…’never trust a leader without a limp’.

Romans 12:17-18 ‘Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 159

Centuries ago, wine was stored in leather wine skins rather than bottles. When the wine skins were new, they were soft and pliable, but as they aged they became hardened and couldn’t expand. If new wine was poured in an old wine skin, the container would burst and the wine would be lost.

When Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge their visions, He reminded them, ” You can’t put new wine into old wine skins.” (Matthew 9 v 17). He was saying that you cannot have a larger life if you have a restricted attitude.

Just because you’re young, it doesn’t mean that your thinking hasn’t already gotten old and hardened.

It may be right now that you’ve already developed a mindset that says that you’ll never do anything successful or enjoy the good things in life that you used to dream of.

Today, I encourage you to stretch your faith and vision and get rid of that old restrictive thinking that’s holding you back from all that God has got for your life.

Start making room in your thinking for what God has in store for you. You must conceive in your mind and heart, before you can receive it.

Ask yourself a simple question…If God poured a dream into your life today would it just quickly disappear through the cracks of your old attitude?

The key today is to allow your heart to become pliable and supple again to all of the great things that God has in store for you. He’s never short on ideas for your life, but you may be short on space to contain them.

Expect God’s favour to help you break out the rut that you’re in and expect to excel in whatever you do.

Expect great things from God…attempt great things for God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 158

Every Thursday, without fail, I set off to find a quiet spot where I can get alone and prepare the message that I will preach on Sunday in our Church.

Just this last Thursday,  I was a little unsure as to where I to go, but felt that I should head for my local coffee shop where I know that I can find a quiet corner and get into that zone where I can hear from God.

I love the atmosphere more than the coffee at the coffee shop, mainly because I’m right there in the middle of people’s everyday lives, knowing that someone may need a friendly chat.

It’s quite usual to have two or three people come and talk with me, during the few hours that I spend sitting in my corner.

As I walked into the shop this last week, I immediately noticed a lady I knew that had recently lost her husband and was struggling to cope with life. Strangely enough, I’d chatted with her before and had put her on my daily prayer list.

With coffee in hand, I made my way over to her table and asked how she was.  I could tell from her demeanour that life was hard and she was struggling to come to terms with her loss.

After a few sentences about how she was coping, I was able to share with her that each morning I would pray specifically for her, and in fact only two hours earlier I had been lifting her name up to God. Immediately, her face brightened and she thanked me.

I walked over to my corner seat and continued with my day.

As she left her table, she signalled to me and gave a wave.

It somehow felt that I had actually been guided to be there that day… at just the right moment.

Every day, you and I have encounters with all kinds of people – at work, in the playground of your child’s school, at the supermarket; opportunities to help others are like appointments set up by God –  sometimes we keep them and sometimes we don’t.

Begin to see each of these ‘chance’ encounters as a privilege to help someone in some way find God in the brokenness of their lives.

I hoped that my encounter with this lonely and broken-hearted lady was a sign to her that God was on her case, in her moment of need. I will continue to pray.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 157

Many years ago, I was travelling on a train from Birmingham to Cradley Heath with a couple of school friends. I was probably about 15 years of age. We sat on the ‘back row’ of the carriage. Shortly after our journey started, we decided to switch seats (as young people do) and sit somewhere different.

As we passed through a station, someone threw a house brick from the bridge above, straight through the window of the train.  Guess where all the glass and debris landed? Yes, on the seat where I had just moved from. I don’t want to think what would have happened if I’d have remained in that seat.

“That was lucky”, you may say. I believe it was nothing to do with luck, but in fact it was the Holy Spirit who prompted me to move.

I didn’t recognize that voice then, but I do now.

It’s the precious voice of the Holy Spirit that guides us every day.

If we ask Him to, He will show us which way to take and which way to avoid.

When you wake, ask Him to guide you and when your head hits the pillow, thank Him for His guidance and protection over you that day.

Coincidences are usually God-coordinated incidents that He doesn’t always take the credit for.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 156

In the book of Genesis in the Bible, we read a story about a young man named Joseph who had a dream.

This dream caused a lot of controversy within Joseph’s family and saw his brothers turn against him.

From the time that Joseph received this dream from God, to the time in which he saw it fulfilled, he had to go through a process.

It’s important to understand that there’s no progress without a process.

And without a process, there’s no success.

Here’s how the process looked for Joseph:

-His brothers threw him into a pit and decided to sell him, having originally intended to kill him

-Having been sold on again, he now lived with Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials and he found favour with his master

-The wife of Joseph’s master saw that he was handsome and pleaded to sleep with him, but Joseph continually refused, until one day she pulled off his cloak & Joseph ran away

-The master’s wife then accused Joseph of rape and had him jailed

-After many years, he was let out of jail, as he had the ability to interpret dreams

-He then became second in command to Pharaoh

-And after 13 years, Joseph became Prime Minister of Egypt

Quite the process…

We can confidently assume that many times, Joseph would’ve thought that his dreams would never come to pass, that they were over. But every intricate detail of the process was intended by God.

Think about it like this… Joseph would’ve never reached his destiny, had he not have been left in a pit.

But so often, we want to be Prime Minister without first spending time in a pit or prison.

Today, I want to encourage you to keep going towards your dream and destiny, after all, a pit simply stands for ‘Person In Training’.

Caleb

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 155

One of our neighbours had a very large tree that had grown to such a height that it was blocking the light to the back of our house.

I thought long and hard about whether to approach them, but decided that I didn’t want to risk spoiling our good relationship; after all, it was their tree and I was about to ask them to chop it down or at least to drastically trim it back.

I decided instead to specifically pray about the tree. (I know what you’re thinking).

Each morning, I would look into the garden, point at the tree, and tell it that it was about to go!  Weird I know….but Jesus did it; remember, he cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit. (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21)

After months of praying about the tree, you can imagine my excitement when one night my neighbour stopped me and told me that he was going to be cutting back an overgrown tree in his garden.

My persistent prayers had been answered.

I would never have to approach them about it after all…or so I thought.

A week later I could hear sawing and chopping taking place with branches flying everywhere…at last, we would get light streaming through to the back of our house once again.

Unfortunately, the tree that they were taking down was the wrong one and made no difference to us whatsoever!

Once again, I was back to addressing the tree problem each morning.

Weeks had now passed by, and I was yet again thinking about talking to the neighbour, when seemingly out of nowhere, three men arrived with ladders, ropes and chainsaws and within an hour, the very tree in question had completely gone.

Light came streaming from the sky and I stood there, amazed at how something so specific had happened without me mentioning a word.(Apart from privately to God that is).

Do you have something that is standing in your way today?

Is there something or someone that is blocking the light from penetrating into your world?

Speak to that situation…take it to God in prayer. He’s more than happy to deal with it.

Mark 11:22-25 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 154

If you are in any doubt as to the importance of being a thankful person, listen to the words of the Bible, when it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18…’give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’

The will of God for many of us is a great mystery, but in its simplest form, the will of God for your life is to be a thankful person.

Giving thanks for the good things that are happening to you right now should be relatively easy and the most natural thing in the world. However, being thankful for your blessings is not the end, as thankfulness is required in ALL circumstances, both good and bad.

Thankfulness is the language of big people; ingratitude is the language of small people.

You can tell where a person is going in life by this one simple question: how thankful are they? Or more to the point, how thankful am I?

Jesus highlighted how he viewed ingratitude, by giving His attention to the attitude of ten men found here…

Luke 17:11- 19 ‘Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”’

You could say, “well, all of them got what they wanted didn’t they?” Maybe, but one man got more than the others. Nine got cleansed whilst the one that gave thanks walked away, not just healed but whole – there is a difference.

Be the bigger person today – be thankful…no matter what.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 153

If we’re honest, we place great value on what we do.

We also view other people’s lives through their accomplishments, whether great or small.

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is an old saying, but in reality, that’s the gauge that we mostly use. We take a look at someone’s outward actions and we make up our minds about them on that basis.

However, God has a different way of knowing what a person is really like, and for that, He probes below the surface.

He is not so interested in what a person does as to why a person does what he or she does.

An act of kindness on the outside can actually be something quite different, when the motive beneath it is laid bare.

Maybe it has its roots in pride or selfish ambition?

Could it be that what we do for others is merely for recognition in the hope that someone is watching? Or are we driven by the guilt of our past failings in the hope that we can somehow cancel them out by our outward performance?

Solomon in his wisdom said it like this…

Proverbs 16:2 ‘All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Your motive for doing what you do is actually more important than doing the thing itself.’

Anytime that we do anything that conjures up the feeling that ‘I will look good if I do this’, can always be traced back to a pride issue that needs to be dealt with.

The greatest step that anyone can take on the road to success is a step down from self-importance to humility.

Before you start out today ask yourself one simple question…

Why am I doing what I am doing?

When our motives are right, everything else will fall into place.

Motives are weighed by the Lord. He not only sees what you do, He weighs why you do what you do.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 152

In 1 Kings 18, there’s a problem.
The problem was that there was no rain which resulted in a famine. This was in fact a crisis.

However, the man of God, Elijah, was convinced that God would send the rain.

What do you do before you receive what you’ve been promised?

What Elijah did was very powerful.

1) In verse 41, he DECLARED it. “I hear the sound of heavy rain.”

2) In verse 42, he PRAYED for it.

While Ahab went to eat and drink, Elijah was praying.

What God tells you in your spirit can often be more powerful than what you see with your eyes.

If what you’re believing for is not matching up with what you see right now, keep declaring and keep praying.

After seven times of sending his servant to check for a sign of rain, he finally came back with this report: “Elijah, I see a cloud as big as a man’s hand.”

It may have been small, but it contained the promised rain.

Today, I encourage you to keep declaring and keep praying on your promise and that this week you will see your cloud coming nearer.

God is faithful!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 151

Did you know that you have the power to change how you feel by what you wear?

Many ladies wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without their makeup on and none of us would hopefully ever dream of leaving the house without our clothes on – yet how many times do you leave the house without putting your praise on?

Yes, that right.  The Bible tells us to wear ‘a garment of praise’, which to me, means you have to put it on.

How many of us wear worry, or fear, or depression when we leave?

Instead, make a conscious effort to ‘put on’ praise instead.

Praise will stop you complaining and it brings an amazing protection over your life.
Praise eliminates fear, it eliminates worry and it lifts a spirit of heaviness.

It’s Saturday, what are you wearing? I hope it’s praise.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 150

Is there a hole in your soul?

A good friend of mine from South Africa has been through the most traumatic 18 months of his life.

An event dating back 30 years began to change his life with devastating effects, but he knew nothing about it…something was lurking beneath the surface.

He was totally unaware that the car accident that he’d been involved in 30 years earlier had put a hole in his diaphragm which would start a chain of events that would almost take his life.

On the night of the accident, he refused to go to hospital due to costs, so he never received the help that he urgently needed.

That internal damage went undiagnosed and unnoticed.

For 30 years, his stomach and all its accompanying organs had pushed through his ruptured diaphragm and wrapped itself around his heart.

Only major surgery followed by months of recuperation saw him back on the road to a normal life again, not to mention an outright miracle that raised him back to life on the operating table.

Today, he is healed and whole.

What happened to my friend physically is happening to people spiritually all over the planet, and they don’t even know the unseen damage that it’s doing…let’s call it a hole in your soul.

Maybe it started with a situation that arose many years ago whereby you got offended or hurt by someone.

That offence and hurt, unless forgiven, can fester away over the years, leading to bitterness, resentment and a whole host of relationship issues.

Only forgiving those that hurt you can bring the healing and wholeness that you so need and desire.

Remember: hurt people hurt people.

Matthew 6:14-15 ‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’

Is there a hole in your soul?

Forgive, forget and let it go.

There is only one person that you’re hurting right now – yourself.

Today, let Jesus’ healing and forgiveness wash over you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 149

I’m writing this from a hospital waiting room, with my mother-in-law.

I got up this particular morning at 6:30 and after a ‘not so quick’ two mile jog, I started my prayer time, read the Bible and set out what was going to be a busy day of meetings, appointments and writing.

I arrived at my office for 9 o’clock and got straight to work.

By 11 o’clock, my plans had gone completely through the window; a phone call meant that I needed to get my mother-in-law to the hospital.

As I was driving the short journey with her in the car, she apologised for the inconvenience and spoke about the three day break that we were due to take her on the next day, wondering if she would still be able to make it.

I found myself battling in my mind with all the ‘important’ things that I had to do that day, but then resolved that although this ‘inconvenience’ was not on my agenda, it was the only important thing that really mattered right now.

I quoted to her the familiar verse that I felt was going to make the difference between turmoil or peace for the remainder of the day…

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

That settled my heart and made being inconvenienced a simple diversion for the greater good.

Looking around the waiting room, I knew that I’d arrived on a mission field that I hadn’t planned for.

Whatever interruptions may come your way today, see them as a new opportunity rather than an inconvenience.

PS. As I was leaving, I met a lady that had no money to buy a cup of tea. I was able to escort her to the cafe and treat her.

Maybe I was just there to help brighten her day?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 148

Have you ever lost your car keys?

I’m sure we all have, at some time in our lives.

Have you ever thought about the importance of just one key?

Let’s say that you are going to catch a plane to take you to some exotic place on the other side of the world. You are so excited about your holiday and can’t wait to get there. You have everything packed to go and the only thing between you and your destination is the drive to the airport.

As you go to put your cases in the car, you realise that your car key is missing. Without it, all of what is ahead of you is never going to come to pass unless you find that one key.

Our lives are very much the same; we are destined to have a great future and yet without finding the right key to get there, the whole thing becomes beyond our reach.

Keys to our lives often come through people who have great wisdom. Just one sentence from them can make everything fit into to place for you.

Maybe you are hesitating to move forward today because of the unknown, yet a conversation with a courageous person can be the key to your success.

Ultimately, the key to finding the true meaning and purpose for your life is found in knowing Jesus. He is the key that unlocks the door to the forgiveness, acceptance, peace and joy that you have been desperately craving for.

Be open to other people speaking into your life.

Be open to God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 147

I well remember some of my first experiences at primary and junior school…they were not pleasant.

My maths teacher, (who by the way I idolised because of his amazing musical ability), said to me one day, “Mark, why do you cover your work up when I walk by your desk?”

I can’t remember what answer I gave to him, but the real answer was that I was embarrassed that he would show me up to be a flop at maths, because I couldn’t do simple equations.

All these years later, I’ve come to realise that it’s not how intelligent you are, but it’s ‘how are you intelligent?’ In other words, how did God wire you?

That very same teacher saw that I struggled to do maths, but saw that I had been wired to play piano. He inspired me to go with my passion, dream and ability and because of him, I believed I could.

His ability on the piano was amazing and I admired that he could not only read music but could play anything from memory or ‘by ear’.

It didn’t matter to me anymore that I couldn’t do certain things, but what mattered most was that I should go with what I could do.

Before I left junior school at the age of eleven, I was able to play every single hymn for the school assembly from memory. I would spend hours on what I was wired to do and didn’t worry too much about what I couldn’t.

For 53 years now, I have more and more understood that we are all unique in our gifts, talents and abilities and that God made each of us as originals and not copies.

Worried about what you can’t do?

Move on and develop and focus on your strengths – God will allow others into your life that will make up for what you can’t do.

Today, make a decision once and for all to soar with your strengths.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 146

You are not here by ‘OOPS!’

No matter how you felt when you woke today, you are not here by accident.

No matter what surrounded your birth, you are not a mistake

No matter if you’ve had no one to reach out and love you, up until this point, you are not unloved.

Maybe you were abandoned, orphaned, adopted or had a parent walk out on you…you are not alone.

You may have overheard your parents discussing the fact that they wished they had never had you…but you are not without hope.

God wasn’t surprised by your birth in that He scratched his head and said …’oops’. No, in fact, He had long ago planned and waited for your arrival. He has a special plan and place just for you.

Listen to these incredible words today and see God’s purpose written all over your life.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 ‘The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…”‘

Remember today: you were born on purpose…for a purpose.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 145

Our dog, Snoop, is passionate.

He’s passionate about his food. You give it to him and in five seconds flat, it’s gone.  He so loves that food, that he’s frightened someone is going to take it back.

He’s passionate about his walk.  When he sees the lead, well, you can probably imagine – he gets so excited, you’d think he’d won the lottery.

He’s passionate about play time. If he sees you going towards the back door, even if it’s only to hang the washing out, he sees it as an opportunity to play! You can hear him shouting ‘YES!’

He’s passionate about the people he loves. He welcomes you with big brown paws and lots of kisses. In the morning, he jumps onto my lap, for our ‘good morning’ love.

Dogs are simple creatures when you think about it. Eating, walking, playing and being loved are the only things he has in his life, yet he is SO PASSIONATE about them.

Why is it that us as human beings can be very half-hearted about even the special things that we have in our lives?

Take stock today of how blessed you are and whatever you find this weekend brings for you, be passionate about it.
Be passionate about the people in your life, the simple pleasures that life itself brings, be passionate about serving God and be grateful today that you are alive and have the opportunity.

There are many people today, who would love to swap places with you. They are filling our graveyards.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 ‘Whatever turns up, grab it and do it heartily. This is your last and only chance at it. For there’s neither work to do, nor thoughts to think in the company of the dead.’

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 144

How do you receive answered prayer?

The Bible means what it says and says what it means when it says, ‘ask and you will receive’.

But in our asking, we must be definite – otherwise we spread our thoughts and prayers too thinly over so many subjects, in so many different directions that they lead not to answered prayer but to doubt and weakness.

So much of our long praying is spent trying to convince God that we believe what we are asking for, when in reality, we are simply trying to convince ourselves that we believe, when really we don’t.

Get real with your prayer life today. Ask and you will receive, but remember… James 1 v 6-8 ‘But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double minded and unstable in all they do.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – Day 143

All great breakthroughs show up when you are at peace.

Anxiety and worry will chase your blessings away.

Anxiety and worry are two thieves.

Clear your mind of worry and watch God open doors today.

You only have two options in life; you can try to do everything yourself, or you can let God do it for you.

If you are going to let God do it for you, you don’t have to camp on top of it mentally all of the time, trying to dissect and figure it out.

Allowing God to have total control of our lives also has a positive effect on our health.

Take all your worries and concerns and give them to the Most High.

After you’ve done all you can do, give it to God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – Day 142

A couple of years ago, I bought a fascinating book on the life of Walt Disney.

He was one of the great dreamers of the 20th century.

Anyone that could create the first sound cartoon, the first all-colour cartoon and the first animated feature length motion picture is definitely someone with vision.

His two great masterpieces of vision were Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Both Disneyland and Disney World started with just a seed – a seed that was sown when he used to take his young daughters to the amusement park on Saturday mornings.

His girls loved it and so did he… but when the bright lights faded and the carousel stopped, he just saw shabby horses with cracked and chipped paint.

His disappointment inspired him with a grand vision for an amusement park where the illusion didn’t evaporate.

His dream became Disneyland.

The seed for most people’s dreams naturally springs from their everyday experiences, but ultimately all dreams flow from God’s creative heart that flows through a man or a woman.

If you have not yet identified your dream, just keep your eyes and ears open, listen to your heart and be open to every possibility and even every impossibility.

‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ – Walt Disney.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 141

Many people are afraid to dream big.

They are reluctant to hope for too much because they don’t want to be disappointed – as a result, they satisfy themselves with the mundane.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Even if you suspect in your heart of hearts that you don’t have the talent or resources to accomplish your dreams alone, you don’t have to give up on them.

Often, we not only need to keep going with our dreams, but we also need to keep growing with our dreams.

Growing ourselves is often done by partnering with people that are not only like minded, but are also bigger than we are – people that will stretch us, so that our dreams can become a reality.

Working with great people of faith and tenacity can bring about the following rewards:

  • it makes you better than you are
  • it multiplies your value to others
  • it releases you to do what you do best
  • it allows you to help others do their best
  • it gives you more time
  • it provides you with companionship
  • it helps to fulfil the desires of your heart
  • it makes everyone on the team a winner.

Teamwork makes the dream work…

‘To achieve all that is possible, we must do the impossible. To be all we can be, we must dream of being more. To reach our dreams, we must reach out to others’ (John C Maxwell).

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 140

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

The kinds of awe that they studied included people’s responses to nature and beauty, listening to inspiring music and viewing great works of art.

These ‘awesome’ responses stimulated hormonal messengers that tell our immune systems to work harder and thus produce emotions that are associated with good health.

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

Being awestruck is of course nothing new to a Christian.

Being a follower of Jesus cannot fail to bring us daily to place of joy, contentment, love, compassion, amazement and wonder.

Let’s never lose sight of how awesome God is and all that He has created for our benefit.

He knew exactly what he was doing when He inbuilt within us a sense of awe for all that He has done.

Take a fresh look today at something that God has blessed you with and once again be ‘awestruck’.

Psalm 66 v 5 ‘Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 139

When anything happens to you in life, you make a response.

 For instance, when you get given something, you respond with “thank you”. When you see a friend, you respond with a hug. When you see a wonder, you say “wow”.

When bad things happen, you also respond. When something bad happens, you get upset. When an injustice happens, you get angry. When your circumstances are bad, you get frustrated.

 Everything in life brings a response.

 Whatever is going on in your life today, I challenge you to respond with thankfulness.

 1 Thessalonians 5 v 18 ‘Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you’.

 Why do we think that we should respond with thanks in ALL circumstances?

 Take a look at this…

 If you receive something today, whether it be your dinner, or someone opens a door for you, or someone gives you a million pounds…respond with thankfulness.

 If you see someone you love, be thankful you have that person in your life.

 If you see a newborn baby, or a beautiful flower or a magnificent mountain range, respond with thankfulness to the Creator of all.

When something bad happens, instead of being upset, be thankful that God’s plans for your life are still good.

When you see an injustice, instead of anger, say “thank you Lord that although I don’t understand this, you are still the King of Kings and Your will, will be done.”

 And if your circumstances are bad, instead of getting frustrated and apportioning blame, be thankful that God still loves you and He has your life in the palm of His hand and He will work everything out for good.

 This is what it means to be thankful in ALL circumstances.

 Respond with thankfulness in every situation and see what a difference it makes.

 Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 138

About once a week, my two sons take bags of rubbish into their school.

Bags of cardboard, packaging, plastic bottles & containers…the kind of things you would just throw away.

Picture this: not only are we walking to school with a school bag and lunch box in hand, but now two full carrier bags of rubbish…the joy of parenthood…?

The school use it for what is called ‘Junk Modelling’ – a fun creative concept for children, but which actually means for each parent: send a bag of rubbish to school, put it in the Modelling trunk and get a ‘spaceship’ back at the end of the day. (When I say Spaceship, you know what I mean: two boxes and two toilet roll tubes, taped together…rubbish remodelled?!).

It’s actually a great picture though of what God wants to do with our lives.

God is described as the Master craftsman & the Potter, creating something beautiful from a lump of clay.

Today, here is a challenge and an exciting prospect; don’t just throw away your lives because of the rubbish from your past, whether that’s last week or last year.  Don’t give up on circumstances due to the amount of rubbish that has accumulated in your life. Simply take it to God, let it go and place into His modelling box, and see what God can create. Remember, just like my sons’ school, He will take as much as you can give.

The most amazing thing about all of this is that the school children take in bags of junk, but once it has been remodelled, all they see is a new creation – better than any toy or gift.

So today, make sure you see yourself through God’s eyes…He doesn’t see junk, but a brand new creation.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.