Fresh Hope – Day 216

I don’t know what your maths skills are like?  Mine are pretty good.  My mom is almost 84, hers are pretty good too.

I loved maths at school…until they introduced algebra and ridiculous stuff like that.
Like, what has ‘3(m+21) = 5’ got to do with life ?

For all you maths teachers and curriculum setters, surely we just need to add, subtract, multiply and divide?
I need to know how to work out percentages…like my 10% tithe and I need to know how much something is going to cost me when it’s 70% off!
And that’s about it.

But God who is the cleverest of all beings because He is God, isn’t into all maths.
For a start, He’s not into subtraction.
He doesn’t like to subtract a thing,  especially from your life.
He does however, love to add.
But more than adding, He’s better at multiplication.

I don’t know what you think about God today, I don’t  know how much you know or comprehend, but understand this, He wants to add to your life and He wants to multiply blessings back into your life.

If something’s being taken from you now it probably isn’t God.

God’s about giving to you.

When you give your money to God, He multiplies it back to you. When you give your time and energy, He multiples blessings back into your life.

The only time God wants to subtract stuff from your life, is when He replaces it with something better. He takes our worries and concerns, He adds peace.
He takes our sickness and replaces it with health.
He takes our bad situations and replaces them with blessings.

The devil comes to steal, but our God loves to add and multiply. Thank you Jesus.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 215

The Bible records the words ‘fear not’ 365 times…that’s one for each day.

It’s not a suggestion but a command.

If we can win this battle, we can win almost anything.

From my own journey, here are 10 things that fear has caused in my life.

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

2) Fear causes us to go backwards.

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

4) Fear causes us to be passive about an issue that has clearly been brought to our attention.

5) Fear causes us to seek consensus rather than really seeking the voice of God.

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

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

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

9) Fear causes us to conceal our sin, rather than confess our sin.

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

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 214

When you think about it, no matter what you say about yourself, your reputation has already spoken for you.

How many times do we feel that others have judged us harshly or unfairly?

How many times have you shown contempt for those who have tried to point out a weakness in your life?

Don’t blame anyone else for making up their mind about you, as the reality is your own reputation has formed in them an opinion of you all by itself.

If people call you lazy, they don’t do it without cause or reason; just face facts…you’re lazy!

Your reputation is all that people have to go on.

It’s no good blaming them for what they think about you. That job was well and truly done by your best friend or your worst enemy – your reputation.

Being labelled untidy, moody, stingy, pushy, loud, flirtatious, unapproachable, is not given to you by chance, but by choice – your choice, based on what you have proved yourself to be.

Think about it for a moment…have you ever heard anyone that is hardworking called lazy?

Have you ever heard a generous person being called stingy?

Highly unlikely; that’s because their reputation has also spoken positively for them in much the same way that yours has spoken negatively for you.

So what should I do?

Stop justifying yourself and acknowledge your weakness and build your character in that area of weakness.

Ask a loyal and honest friend to help you improve in any area needing some work.

Here’s a few choice statements gathered from people that made a huge impact on the society of their day…

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”
― Henry Ford

“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
― Dwight Lyman Moody

“Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what the reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character.”
― Wayne W. Dyer

“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.”
― Joseph Hall

We know when we are on the right road to change, as it’s usually uphill all the way.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 213

We all have the potential to be deceived.

Even the strongest people should be aware that it can happen to them also.

Deception has a very subtle way of creeping up on us, and when it does, you actually believe that what you are doing or saying is right, when the truth is, it’s blatantly wrong.

One of the biggest signs that deception is taking place, is that you will find yourself looking for people to counsel you about a matter, but in reality, what you are actually looking for, is for them to agree with you.

You will start to find it almost strange that the wisest and most mature friends around you all say the same thing, and that is, ‘don’t go ahead with your plan.’

They will tell you that it would be unwise to do so and that you will be on a collision course to disaster if you do.

Interestingly, you will dump all their sound advice in preference for that one un-wise person that will agree with you.

You will then start to use language like…’everyone has turned against me’, when in reality such people have only your best interest at heart.

Such is the persuasive power of deception.

Deception is operating when…

*A lie becomes the truth and wrong becomes right.

* A bad decision, is to you, a good decision.

* You shut yourself off from all sound counsel and wisdom; you believe that you alone have the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

*Everyone around you can see that you are in error – but you can’t see it for yourself.

* You start to isolate yourself from good people.

When deception gathers pace in your life, you will then start lying to yourself, lying to others and eventually lying to God, as you pass off His voice as just someone else that is against you.

Deception has but one single goal and that is to destroy your destiny or at the least, take you off course for as long as possible.

Here are some wise words from Solomon, one of the wisest men that lived – hence the phrase, ‘the wisdom of Solomon’…

Proverbs 27:5-6 ‘Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted,but an enemy multiplies kisses.’

Proverbs 15:12 ‘Mockers resent correction,so they avoid the wise.’

Proverbs 15: 31-32 ‘Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.’

Today, however hard and humbling it may be, listen to those whose counsel that you once trusted. Do what they advise and carry out the advice fully. Don’t stop until you can think straight again.

Open up your heart and apologise that you didn’t take their advice the first time around; confess that you have been duped by deception, and then move forward into building some strong relationships back into your life.

1 Corinthians 10:12 ‘So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 212

Hattie May Wiatt was a six-year-old girl who lived near Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia, USA.

The Sunday school was very crowded and Russell Conwell, the minister, told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to allow everyone to attend. She said, ‘I hope you will. It is so crowded that I’m afraid to go there alone.’ He replied, ‘When we get the money we will construct one large enough to get all the children in.’

Two years later, in 1886, Hattie May died. After the funeral, Hattie’s mother gave the minister a little bag they had found under their daughter’s pillow containing 57 cents in change that she had saved up. Alongside it was a note in her handwriting: ‘To help build the Sunday school bigger so that more children can go’.

The minister changed all the money into pennies and offered each one for sale. He received $250 – and 54 of the cents were given back. The $250 was itself changed into pennies and kept on multiplying.

26 years later, in a talk entitled, ‘The history of the 57 cents’, the minister explained the results of her 57 cent donation: a church with a membership of over 5,600 people, a hospital where tens of thousands of people had been treated, 80,000 young people going through university, 2,000 people going out to preach the gospel – all this happened because a little girl invested her 57 cents.

If one small child can make such a huge contribution to help the lives of others then surely you and I can too.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 211

My mother-in-law has given me the key to her front door, after knowing her for 35 years.

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

Although, the real reason 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 letter box.

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 God’s attention.

The Bible gives us 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’ mother was present, and so the waiters felt 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 210

I’ve heard it said, ‘Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future…’

I want you to think about that for a moment. I want you to think about your closest friends and begin to understand that there is a direct connection between those people and your future. Now, that will either excite or scare you…because you may have just realised that your life is not heading in the direction that you want it to.

How do you change the trajectory of your life? It’s simple…change the people in your life.

I believe a great question that you should ask yourself in order to find out whether you have the right friends is, ‘Do I want to become like them?’ Because you see, you become like those you most hang around.

The Bible speaks of this in Proverbs 20:13, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to walk with those who will make me better, people who will point me in the right direction and lead me down the right path. People who will bring out the best in me, and will ultimately take me closer to my destiny, rather than pull me further away from it.

I went for a run recently with a friend, and as we finished, I was very impressed by how far we had come without stopping. Now, usually, I find myself pausing a few times during a run of that distance, but not this time. For a moment, I wondered why this was the case, until I realised that it had very little to do with my level of fitness, but instead had everything to do with the company that I was with.

My friend had pushed me further than I knew I could go, he drew something out of me that I didn’t know was in there. That’s the kind of people I want in my life!

If I ever find myself being asked the question that I began with, I want to be able to look at my friends and have great assurance about my future. I hope you share that same desire today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 209

A few years ago, I was prescribed glasses.

Words on the TV were starting to get blurry, so I made an appointment at the opticians.

The glasses they gave me made everything crystal clear…like someone had polished my eyeballs – incredible!

Now I don’t really wear them very often, in fact only occasionally, but when I do it’s amazing how clear things become.

So why don’t I wear them more often I ask myself? Surely I should!!

The vision we have for our lives can be like this, with moments of pure clarity and then the everyday blurry landscape.

What is it that can make life become crystal clear? And what is the difference maker?

A great book I can recommend is called ‘The Difference Maker’ by John Maxwell – a leading expert on leadership and motivation.

He asks, ‘How can two people with the same skills and abilities, in the same situation end up with two totally different outcomes?’ John Maxwell says, the difference maker is attitude.

Now, my glasses make a huge difference – they compensate for my weakness, they aid my eyesight to be better than it actually is…whilst they don’t actually make my eyes any better, they change the way I see my surroundings.

Today, allow your attitude to change the way you see your surroundings, your circumstances and situation.

Although a great attitude can’t change something physically, it makes a massive difference in the way you see it.

Come on people, allow your attitude to be the difference maker today.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 208

God cares about every detail of your life.

I don’t just mean the big stuff, and I don’t just mean the ‘God’ stuff, I mean every tiny detail.

God doesn’t compartmentalise your life into important and non-important things either, He’s passionate about every minute detail of your life.

It goes something like this…if it matters to you, it matters to Him.

If it concerns you, it concerns Him.

We are all prone to think that God is only concerned about all the major things, or at the other extreme, He’s not bothered about anything at all.

But take this verse in the Bible for instance…

Matthew 10:29-31 “What’s the price of a sparrow? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail -even numbering the hairs on your head!

Every insignificant detail He has time for…He even takes interest in your hair.

Now that’s what you call detail.

Two weeks ago our youngest son, Caleb, lost his expensive sunglasses at an event that we had held in our garden.

We searched the garden, the house and every other imaginable place several times.

Every few days we would have another look and ask ourselves how could they suddenly disappear?

On Sunday,  it was a beautiful sunny day when we arrived home from church and something amazing happened.

My wife went to the bedroom to get changed and for some reason started to pray about where the sunglasses might be. At the very same time, Caleb went to his room and felt compelled to pray about the very same thing.

I’m in the kitchen and at exactly the same time hear God speak to me and say ‘go now and look in the cloak room and you’ll find the lost sunglasses.’

Now remember, this is NOT a coordinated search party. None of us know what the other is doing.

As I kneel down in the cloakroom to look in my tool box (the one that Gillian continually tells me shouldn’t be in there), I glance round to find Caleb standing in the door way, asking what I’m doing on my knees, looking through my tool box of all places!

‘I’m looking for your sunglasses…God has told me to come in here and I’ll find them’…

… no sooner had he told me that he’d just prayed about them, he coolly reached down to where I was, and picked up the glasses, as if from nowhere. Found them!

Now I know they’re only sunglasses, albeit expensive ones, and I know that there are so many huge problems going on in the world right now that make this sound a non-event, but once again God just wanted to give all of us today a glimpse of how much He cares about the small stuff.

One of the greatest things that you should know about God today is that He cares…but even more amazing than that is He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 207

I’ve been going to church all of my life, since I was a newborn baby, but I haven’t always been a Christian. I had to make a personal decision that I was going to give my life to Christ and follow Him.

Just because you sit in McDonald’s, doesn’t mean you’re a hamburger.

Just because you watch Wimbledon and enjoy it,  doesn’t mean you’re going to start playing yourself.

Just because you have an opinion on the way that the premier football manager runs the team, doesn’t mean you could do any better yourself.

Just because you comment on how slim someone looks, doesn’t mean you’re going to get slim yourself.

You see, going to church, watching people go to church, having an opinion and commenting on those that do go to church doesn’t make you the real deal; that will only happen when you invite Christ into your own life to be the leader and Lord.

So today, don’t just have an opinion or a belief, get yourself a relationship with the Living God.  He is only a prayer away.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 206

Trees are amazing things.

A palm tree  for instance, survives in red hot conditions. It was made for red hot conditions. Which proves this: whatever the conditions are in your life right now, if you’re meant to be there, you’ll not only survive but flourish.

The giant Cedars in Alaska experience temperatures that vary from summer to winter, sometimes as extreme as 160 degrees!
Wow.  Yet they are strong and tall and they are known for growing close together.

It makes their wood prized for strength and yet gives them a delicate beauty. They are made for such extreme conditions.

You are stronger than you think. God doesn’t put you in extreme conditions and leave you. He’ll allow you to become stronger there and to flourish.

So whatever you’re facing today, stand tall and flourish.  God is with you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 205

‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat’ is recognised by people all over the world as a major theatrical performance. People like Jason Donovan have made it so popular that it has become one of the longest running musicals in London’s West End.

Having enjoyed sensational reviews, Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s family musical now continues to enjoy huge success across the country with standing ovations at every performance.

Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph (Genesis Chapters 37-50),  his 11 brothers and the coat of many colours, this magical musical is full of unforgettable songs including Those Canaan Days, Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door To Me.

Yet, how many of us recognise that there is a very similar story line being played out on the centre stage of all our lives day by day, albeit behind closed curtains?

We don’t have to be anyone special or famous to take part, but we must simply recognise that God created within each of us a unique dream to be played out in our lifetime.

Your dream may not be filled with the glamour of the West End stage,  but it most certainly will follow the same reference points that made the Biblical Joseph into the person that helped to save a nation.

Behind the limelight of his stage character lies the reality of what it took to produce the man that became Prime Minister of Egypt.

Take a look at what it took to get him there and see if you can recognise yourself in the very same process..

1) Dare to dream

Get on your knees and ask God.

2) Understand the pit – Person In Training

What you learn in the dark, practice in the light.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

3) Don’t underestimate the power of a ‘meanwhile’

Genesis 37:36 (NIV) Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

4) Run from ruin

Don’t walk away from anything that compromises who you are – RUN!

5) See through the pain

Two men looked through prison bars – one saw mud, the other saw stars.

This where most people get it wrong.  They believe that God has turned His back on them, so they quit in the prison cell. They give up on hope.

Prison is where you scars become stars.

6) Interpret other people’s dreams

What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.

7) Stay focused when forgotten

People will forget you, but God never will.

8) When you’re ready, God’s ready.

It’s going to take a pit and a prison, before you can take the palace.

9) Be kind when you make it.   

Always remember the little man.

10) Keep the end in mind

Romans 8:28 (NIV) 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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 204

This week, Gillian and myself have celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary.

Despite our busy lives, our love for each other has grown stronger and deeper over the years; that love has many times come as a result of going through difficult trials and intense pain along the way.

Anyone that is married knows only too well that tests, trials and pain are sometimes our best friends in disguise. It’s not until much later that we realise that they have helped to play a major part in who we are as a couple today.

I’ve had the privilege of leading many marriage preparation classes over the years and have always been transparent  in sharing some of the ‘secrets’ of a blessed and happy marriage.

I can honestly say that Gillian is still my best friend today, and more than ever, I love spending time with her. She also loves spending…full stop.

Here are some of the things that I’d like to share with you today that may help you sustain a healthy and happy marriage.

1) You can never say ‘I love you’ too many times

2) Appreciation – even for small acts of kindness, have a huge impact on married life.

3) Share the chores…cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing are not beyond any of us. If you don’t know how, learn!

4) Saying ‘sorry’ is not always a feeling, it’s an action.

If you can’t feel your way into an action, then act your way into a feeling.

5) When you make a mistake, always take the higher road and humble yourself.

6) One surprise gesture is better than ten planned ones.

7) When you hurt your spouse, you are actually hurting yourself.

8) Those that pray together, stay together.

9) Never the let the sun go down on your anger.

10) If things are going from bad to worse, you are not alone – seek counsel from those that are ahead of you.

And finally…

11) The rut you’re in right now is not much different than the grave (apart from the depth) – get out of it before if swallows you up with boredom – give yourself permission to enjoy yourselves.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 203

Many people give up far too easily when things don’t go their way or they face adversity.

Instead of persevering, they get down and discouraged – which is understandable, especially when they’ve struggled with a problem for a long time.

But we have to be more determined than that. Our circumstances in life may occasionally knock us down, but we must not stay down. Even if you can’t get up on the outside, get up on the inside.

Don’t have a victim’s mentality, have a victor’s mentality instead.

One of the mistakes we make is to be led by our emotions. Emotions can vary so much that they are never a good gauge from which to live your life.

You have to learn to live your life from your will. Sometimes, that means that you have to determine to take steps of faith when your emotions want you to fear.

It takes courage and determination to switch from living an emotion led life to a will led life.

No matter what you face in life today, if you know how to rise up on the inside, then no adversity can keep you down.

Why not repeat this verse over and over again during today and let it become a force within you to be reckoned with.

Philippians 4:11-12 ‘I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 202

Sometimes I recognise in myself that it’s time for a heart check up; not meaning my blood pump, I mean my real heart – the heart that is driving everything I do, and the reason why I do it.

I have to ask myself, ‘am I suffering from a shrivelled heart that’s started to grow tired and weak because of life taking its toll?’

One of the signs of a shrivelled heart is that you stop being kind and considerate to others.

When that colleague walks by you and doesn’t give you the time of day, how do you react?

When someone speaks harshly or rudely to you, how do you respond?

Everywhere you go nowadays, people are hurting and discouraged. They’ve made mistakes and their lives are in a mess.

They don’t need someone to harshly judge and criticise them but someone to show them God’s unconditional love.

Today, I’m renewing my desire to bring hope and healing to someone that I meet.

Everyone is looking for a friend, somebody who will take the time to listen to their story and genuinely care.

I want to be that person – will you join me?

Go and make someone’s day!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 201

I’ve met quite a few older people over the years that consistently behaved like they were children.

Everything about them told me that they were old…their hair, their skin, their health, their teeth and their habits….but something was happening inside of them that revealed a very different story; they just had never grown up.

Now there are some great attributes to being childlike; Jesus spoke about having childlike faith. Having a great sense of fun is also a great childlike quality, but there is a vast difference between child-like and child-ish.

Childish people show all the signs of growing old, but they also show all the signs of never growing up.

They still think like a child, speak like a child and behave like a child.

Put them in a room with adults and what comes out of their mouths would make you think that you were back at primary school.

Today, I challenge you to listen to yourself speak and see if you can hear a little child speaking.

(Before you justify your behaviour, it’s important to know that there are plenty of young people and teenagers out there who are incredibly mature and changing the world as we speak).

Are you still thinking immaturely?

Are you still behaving as if you were stroppy child?

Are you still talking baby talk?

If so, it’s time to take more than baby steps; it’s time to take radical steps in order to grow up.

The Bible puts the emphasis of our growth fairly and squarely on our shoulders…

1 Corinthians 13:11 ‘When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.’

Is it time to put your childish behaviour behind you?

Don’t just grow oldgrow up, and if necessary, get help.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 200

Welcome to Fresh Hope – Day 200!

Today, every one of us is hoping for a better tomorrow…but is that day ever going to come?

The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

In fact, it’s waiting to happen for you right now, as every tomorrow has to find itself wrapped up in one of your today’s.

In John chapter one, each new section begins with the same three words…’the next day’.

‘The next day’ appears three times in chapter one.

Maybe your life is punctuated only by those three words…

Maybe your very existence is being rolled into one big mundane experience…

It would seem from its description, that each of these days is staring right at us and declaring that today will just be ‘business as usual’.

But then comes that breakthrough moment; a moment when the mundane ceases, and the miraculous comes knocking on our door.

John chapter two opens with a brand new set of words…on the third day.

These four words not only open the curtains to a new day, but a day that announces fresh hope for us all.

On this particular third day, Jesus performed his very first miracle for two very ordinary people at their wedding.

Today, Jesus has a third day waiting for you too, no matter how ordinary you may feel, as we realise that at the very heart of the Christian message is a third day on which Jesus Himself rose from the dead.

Today, I want to encourage you to be full of expectation that your third day is waiting just around the corner. Meanwhile, enjoy every moment as you wait patiently for what is already on its way.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 199

Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the entire Bible.

Psalm 117 is obviously before Psalm 118 and is the shortest chapter in the Bible.

Psalm 119 is obviously after Psalm 118 is the longest chapter in the Bible

The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118.

If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters.

1188 or Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible.

Is it hardly surprising  that the very central verse of the whole Bible should contain a very central message for every human being on the planet?

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” – Psalm 118:8

There we have it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 198

Isn’t it funny in life how we expect instant results?

I attend a fitness boot camp and I find myself often after a workout hoping to find a body that looks better than it did before the session began. For instance, I expect that after 50 bicep curls, I’m going to have muscles like my trainer, or that having completed five straight minutes of sit-ups, I’m going to leave with that desired six pack… Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that.

You see, many of us want to see instant results in life, however, water defeats a rock not by strength, but by persistence.

Persistence is often the key to achieving the desired results in your life, but we have become people that give up so quickly on what we want because we don’t get what we want when we want it.

This can be applied to many areas of our lives…whether it be a dream that you’re hoping to see come to pass, or a certain weight that you’re trying to achieve, or maybe a prayer that you’re wanting to see answered.

Can I encourage you today to just keep going?! Don’t quit! Don’t give up.

Don’t reject the process, because ultimately the process will lead to progress and then finally, success.

When it comes to prayer, some of the greatest miracles that I have seen have come about as a result of many years of prayer. Now, I do believe that God can instantly answer your prayer, but often He chooses not to. One of my favourite preachers said, ‘We’re a microwave generation but we serve a crockpot God.’

Today, choose to be persistent in whatever area of your life you’re wanting to see results in and watch things start to change.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 197

A packet of seeds is both seemingly small and insignificant. However, they are usually attractive enough to at least make you look at the picture on the front with admiration at the finished product.

You may of course be tempted to keep the packet of seeds in your pocket and pull them out from time to time for others to see.

You may want to hold onto them in your pocket or put them in a safe place so that they won’t get lost.

You may even dream every night of the beautiful flowers that will be one day yours from the packet of seeds that are rattling around in their tiny home.

Holding onto the attractive packet and looking at the pretty picture often seems to be the easier option than actually sowing the seeds and waiting patiently for the harvest.

How many of us today have the potential to reap, were it not for the resistance to sow?

It takes effort to sow.

It takes courage to sow.

It takes patience to sow.

It takes initial sacrifice to sow.

It takes faith to sow.

But one thing is for sure, you will never reap until you sow.

You can stare at that packet of seeds all day and never see it multiply and produce the results that it promised.

Holding those seeds in your hand and praying over them will never produce a harvest either.

What are you waiting for today? A harvest?

Then ask yourself a simple question…am I a sower?

Galatians 6:7 ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 196

If I ate one kernel of corn it wouldn’t even register on my hunger scale. Within a few seconds, it would be gone and have no effect on me, but if I planted that one kernel instead, it would produce two whole corn on the cob.

Each corn on the cob contains roughly 452 kernels…that’s a 904 yield from just ONE tiny Kernel.

Let’s say that you get really inspired by this knowledge, so you decide to forego your appetite and you decide to eat just one whole corn on the cob and plant the other one.

That one whole cob is going to reap a harvest of 373,258 kernels!

If I decided to eat nothing and sow both cobs then I would reap 746,496 kernels.

You may feel that there is never a convenient time to sow but there is always a necessary time to sow, otherwise you will end with the grand total of nothing in the garden of your life.

Everything we need in life is found in seed form.

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

Instead of looking at your need, start to sow a seed in that area.

It’s the law of sowing and reaping and yet we ignore it or at least overlook it.

I’m sure that if vegetables had conferences, they would make fun of us humans for not trusting this principle.

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 195

Broadcaster, pastor and author Bob Gass identifies four primary traits of resilient people:

1) They take responsibility for their own lives.

Instead of spending energy blaming others for all that’s wrong, they simply look past that and make things right. They may want to quit, but they don’t. They forge ahead no matter what comes their way.

2) They surround themselves with the right people

These are never perfect people, but they are the kind of people that spur us on to live a life of integrity, greatness and hope.

3) They allow their pain to spur them on to growth rather than self pity.

Julius Caesar said…’It’s easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than it is to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.’

4) They insist on changing what they can and not worrying about the rest.

Take time today to sift through your responsibilities and priorities and ask yourself ‘what am I worrying about?’ and ‘what am I working on?’  Things that you once had high on your list of priorities need to be reviewed in the knowledge that worry changes nothing, but faith and works can change everything.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 194

Have you ever been tempted to quit? Of course, the answer is ‘yes’, for discouragement pays a visit to all of us at one time or another. We can begin to think, I don’t know if this was a good idea after all. Maybe I’m not equipped for this job. Maybe I just don’t have what it takes to do what’s in my heart.

Of course, these kinds of emotions and thoughts are normal, but we are not called just to be normal. We have a supernatural calling from God to do supernatural things. We must therefore walk not by our feelings and thoughts, but rather by faith.

If God has put it in your heart to do something and you get discouraged along the way, you have only two options:

1) You can press forward with all that is within you until you experience victory — past all your emotions that are screaming that you’re going to fail; or 2) you can listen to your negative thoughts and emotions, fall out of your race, and fail to complete the assignment God has given you.

Consider Jesus…He suffered all the way through the Crucifixion, taking our very punishment upon Himself. What if He had said, “This is too hard — I want to quit”?

Sadly, this mindset of quitting when things get hard has become all too familiar.

No matter what assignment God has given you, this is the question you must answer: Do you want to pay the price required to see it to the finish?

I encourage you today to check your heart and count the cost. Count the price you must pay to fulfill all that God is asking you to do. Make sure you’re committed to staying faithful to the end. Stay willing to go through any and every difficulty, in order to finish your God-given assignment.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 193

Have you ever found yourself worrying over something, only to find that the thing you were worrying about never came to be?

Recently, I allowed a situation to take hold of me, and for an hour or so, my mind was occupied with it. As time went on, and as the situation came to a conclusion, I realised that there was really nothing to worry about at all. My worry was worthless, but not only that, it was wasteful.

There have been many times for me, and I’m sure for you also, like this, where I have found myself wasting precious moments of my life, concerned over matters that weren’t even worth my time.

The Bible talks about this kind of living, in Luke 12:25…

‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?’

You see, worrying is a form of subtraction. It never adds to your life, it only ever takes away from it. Think about what could be achieved if you replaced worry with faith. How different would life look, if you replaced anxious thinking with trust?

A famous preacher once said, ‘Worry is a down payment on a problem you may never have.’

Life will always have its challenges. What happens around you may be out of your control, but what happens in you is under your control. Choose today to live a life free of worry, free of concern, free of anxiety, knowing that God’s got you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 192

Inside of you today is a dream waiting to happen.

It takes time for that dream to become a reality, and for many, they give up too soon.

We want everything handed to us on a plate, but the truth is that we have to be faithful in the little that we have right now in order to be trusted with much more in the future.

During this process, in which many years can pass by, we are prone to become discouraged and disillusioned, resulting in us giving up and settling for a mundane existence.

There are three things that you will have to overcome if you’re going to see your dream become a reality in your life…

FOF – fear of failure

FOP – fear of people

FOR – fear of rejection

Remember…fear is faith in reverse.

GK Chesterton said “we fear man so much because we fear God so little.”

Are you going to live out your life for yourself?

Are you going to live out a diluted life through others?

Are you going to live out your life governed by fear?

Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.

Dream no small dreams – for they have no power to move the hearts of men.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 191

Pearls of wisdom…

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.

The greatness of each morning is that God gives us the opportunity to begin again.

We know that whatever God sends into our lives has first passed through His filter.

I would rather walk with God in the dark than walk alone in the light.

We are called to stand out not blend in.

There is one guaranteed formulae for failure and that is to try to please everyone.

Only those that don’t expect anything are never disappointed – only those that never try never fail.

An inconvenience today is only an adventure that you’ve wrongly interpreted.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 190

For years, I tried to make myself like other people that I perceived to be popular.

I went through about five personality changes in order to be liked, ranging from becoming one of God’s clowns to becoming Mr. Serious.

I was so like one particular person when I spoke that it was difficult to tell one from the other.

All of this was to no avail,  and so I decided to drop the act and become who I was supposed to be: ME.

It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to do so but it’s worth every bit of the pain.

Why do we work so hard to not be vulnerable?

Why are we so afraid to be who we really are?

Maybe it’s because of the past we’ve come from or the pain we’ve experienced that teaches us to be masters of disguise.

Is it possible that we think that ‘if you knew who I really was, you wouldn’t love me?’ So out of the fear of rejection, I give you somebody that I think you would like and hide who I really am.

Look at the energy we spend hiding our vulnerability to protect ourselves from people that often don’t even matter.

After becoming me, I realised that people actually loved me and accepted me for who I was far more than when I was doing my best impressions of others.

Give yourself permission today to have a personality upgrade. I am who I am by the Grace of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.