Fresh Hope – Day 242

How is it that some people come through incredible challenges so well, yet others are crushed by lesser things?
How can we remain unshaken and unafraid in bad circumstances?

James 1:2-4 in the Message Bible says…

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Strong convictions strengthen.

Growing through challenges has to do with your convictions – what you truly believe. How do you see God? Do you see Him as forgiving and loving? If so, you will be able to trust Him to sustain you through difficulties. But if you see God as a distant, harsh judge who waits for you to slip up so He can punish you, then you will run from Him in hard times because you’ll see Him as the problem instead of the answer.

Worry and fear will rob you of faith and prevent you from moving forward. But when you trust God you will have a firm belief in His reliability and a confident expectation that He will carry you through anything that confronts you.

Maximising your life means taking every opportunity to learn and grow. No one escapes challenges and trials; the difference is in how you face them. Take James’s advice and consider these ‘a gift’, then you’ll approach any hardship from a position of strength and come through with increased confidence in God.

Is your life anchored?

Today, develop strong spiritual ‘muscle’ by spending time in His Word and taking it to heart. Determine to know God more intimately and through every storm, keep your hope anchored in Jesus.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that my hope is anchored in You. No matter what comes my way, I choose to believe that You love me, You will provide for me and that my future is secure in Your hands.

* excerpt taken from Pastor Brian Houston’s blog

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 241

Do you remember the TV programme This Is Your Life?  I always thought it was strange when they took a 30 year old and made the programme about them. Yet the truth is, even at a young age, you can have already done something very significant with your life and the great thing for those 30 year olds, is that they have plenty of time left for many more great things too.

We’ve probably all heard the phrase “it’s his or her season.” You only have to look at a footballer to know that is true.  One season can be great, the next can be not so.

Did you know that there will come a season for the very reason of your life?
God saw a problem and He sent you to sort it. There is a purpose for your very life and there is a plan that God Himself designed.

When you think about seasons, they are all very different, but in their own way, all very beautiful.

Thank God for the very season you are in right now. Thank Him that He has a plan and purpose for your life and when ‘your season’ comes, make sure you are ready for it and you don’t miss it.

Be like the surgeon’s instruments in the theatre, all clean and ready to be used.  You may not need to be used in the next operation, but when it’s your turn, you are ready and willing and able.

THIS IS YOUR LIFE.  Make sure you live it on purpose.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 240

King Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs to instruct its readers in the art of living.

In Proverbs 1:7, he connects reverence for God with the ability to live with “knowledge” and “wisdom”.

Throughout Proverbs, Solomon contrasts the path of life for the wise, to that of a fool – the person who doesn’t believe God or value His Word.

When you love and respect someone, you will value and trust their word. Likewise, if you love and respect God then you will value and trust His Word – the Bible.

Simply put, wisdom is applying God’s Word to your everyday life.

If you want to live a blessed life, the pathway is found through making wise choices every day. The most important decision you will ever make is to love and honour God and accept Jesus as your Lord. You are then in prime position to receive the wisdom to navigate your life as God’s Word becomes your principal source of direction.

At times, we all ‘fall short’ and can make unwise choices. We know however, that God is a loving God full of grace, mercy and forgiveness. However, as we read the Word and are transformed into His image, we will obtain wisdom in every area of life.

Is there something you are facing today that you don’t know how to deal with? Perhaps you need some guidance concerning your job or a relationship, or maybe your life just needs a change in direction. God has your answers and He is ready to show you. Making wise choices for your life is the daily decision to prioritise God’s Word and apply it in any and every circumstance.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Prayer: Father, Your Word promises if I ask You for wisdom, You will give it to me. Thank you for the wisdom to carry out my responsibilities and in the decisions I must make today.

*Excerpt taken from Pastor Brian Houston’s blog

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 239

Waiting…it is a struggle for most people today.

The 21st Century society is such a ‘now’ culture – everything in an instant, access to anything at the touch of a button…therefore waiting has become almost extinct, or just seen as down-right wrong.

I’m sure you’ve said the same as me…things like ‘how long is this queue?! I’m not standing in this.’

‘Why should I have to wait? I’m paying for this!’

Whilst I don’t like queuing or waiting a long time, I feel that we should be careful that we don’t become totally ‘instant’.

When it comes to food, mainly the best items or dishes take the longest time.

Have you ever seen items like a 28 day cured steak, or had some slow roasted pulled pork? Or maybe you’ve seen the drink Port, with ’10, 15 or 20 year aged’, printed on the bottle.

It’s incredible to think some food and drink will sit for days, weeks or years just waiting…waiting for the day they fulfil their purpose…to be consumed.

Let me encourage you today to ask God to you give you patience, so you too can see some very special moments in your life.

Let’s live life with depth and meaning, not just filled with instant fixes.

Isaiah 40:31 ‘But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.’

Remember whilst you’re waiting, you are growing, you are becoming a better, more tastier and beautiful version of yourself.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 238

In the Bible, we find a well-known story known as ‘The Feeding of the Five Thousand.’

The story goes that a large crowd had followed Jesus and He had compassion on them, and so He began to heal the sick that were amongst the crowd. As the evening was drawing to a close, the disciples noticed that the people were getting hungry and so they suggested to Jesus that He send them away so that they can go into the village and buy some food.

I love how Jesus responds, in Matthew 14:16, “Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.””

In other words, ‘I’m glad you’ve identified a problem, now go and be the solution.’

You see, day-to-day we will encounter various problems and challenges, but my question to you is: are you providing a solution, or more importantly, are you being the solution?

Maybe it’s an issue in your workplace or in your home or within your community that continually bugs you because you know there’s a better way of handling it. Let me encourage you today that now you’ve identified the problem, do something about it!

I love the fact that Jesus didn’t need the disciples, their involvement in this miracle wasn’t imperative, but Jesus chose them and He wanted them.

Jesus doesn’t need you today friend, but He wants you.

He’s God, He’s able to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. Yet, He’s looking for you to make a difference in your world today, no matter how big or small. Jesus wants you to be a part of the solution.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 237

Think for a moment about your wardrobe. Not the physical piece of furniture but the contents of it. Maybe you’re into fashion, maybe you’re not bothered but one thing that most of us have in common is that an item or two is our absolute favourite. When you wear this particular item, you may feel confident, turn heads and receive compliments. You don’t wear it just to go shopping, you save it for best.

So often, we do this with God. It can be easy day-to-day to take things on for ourselves and sometimes, not consider Him at all. Maybe you do the same job everyday, so you don’t always pray specifically about your day.

Have you ever saved God for ‘special occasions’? We don’t invite Him to the menial moments of our lives because they’re not a challenge but when we’re believing for something MAJOR, that’s when we dust our faith off, from the back of the wardrobe and wait for that ‘wow’ feeling, of when God shows up.

Truth is: every day is a favourite jacket day. The Bible says to ‘pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances’, so that must mean that God wants to be involved in every moment of our lives.

He is waiting to turn the mundane into the miraculous, if we’ll only take the time to ask Him along.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 236

I was particularly excited to be going on holiday with our young family many years ago, mainly because I’d borrowed a small camcorder from a friend.

They were the newest gadget around at the time and the thought of being able to film the family holiday, rather than taking snapshots, gave me a buzz.

I began to think of myself as a film director and had already planned in my mind a family reunion for after the holidays, in order to view the footage.

Having arrived at our holiday caravan, I carefully unpacked the film equipment and began to look for my first film set.

Highlights ranged from Gillian’s dad having his annual ‘in-house’ hair cut in his string vest, to scenery of woodland and beaches that I later found bored everyone to tears.

I became obsessed with my new gadget and it was never far from being strapped around my shoulder.

After our seven day family break, I got home exhausted. I’d been on holiday, but had been absent at the same time. I’d become the distant figure that filmed the whole thing but had made a big mistake in that I had never been in even one of the scenes, never enjoying the moment.

I’d watched everyone playing and laughing, but had never engaged myself in any of it.

You may have well done exactly the same thing at the school play or end-of-year concert.

Instead of being there in the moment, you were the distant onlooker that filmed it to watch later.  

You never smiled or applauded with every other parent, as you were too busy looking through your tiny lens to be present in once in a lifetime stardom for your child.

This distant memory has served well to remind me of how we can tend to live our lives in just the same way.

We are present and we are seeing what everyone else sees, but we are never engaged in the moment. We are too preoccupied with what’s coming next to enjoy the scene that we are living in right now.

Before we know it, life has been and gone and we have never played an active part in much of it.

Before you live another day, make a decision to engage yourself fully in all that each moment has to offer.

Count your blessings.

Laugh every day.

Enjoy being with friends and family.

Be thankful for life and health.

Be present in every situation and refuse to only keep waiting for the next scene to unfold.

Stop worrying about what may happen and be grateful for all that is part of your life right now.

Don’t be distant from people because you are too cautious, but throw yourself into every situation with passion.

Don’t watch life go by through the small lens of your narrow mindedness, but be present in every scene in order to be a blessing.

King Solomon was known as the wisest man on the planet. After all his searching for the meaning of life, he had this to say…

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ‘This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given them – for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil – this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.’

Let today be the first day of the rest of your life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 235

I was walking through our local mall once and I was happy and minding my own business and then all of a sudden ‘whoosh’…I fell right over.

I was shocked, embarrassed and after asking myself if I’d broken anything, I got up to investigate the reason why I had fallen.

And there it was, a slice of gherkin from a burger, that someone had flippantly discarded, right onto the floor.

The person who dropped that should have thought of others before they did. We may not all like gherkins, but the bin was the place for that, not the floor.

Too many people ‘flippantly discard’ things, like words and actions and motives, not realising that the very stuff we so flippantly discard, will possibly cause someone else to fall and even get hurt.

Every thought, every motive, every word and every action you put out has the potential to pull someone down or lift someone up.

Take time to think about the words you discard and where you put them. You may not want to carry that thought alone, but bin it, take it to God, don’t just dump it for someone else to get hurt on.

Make sure today and every day, that what you put out there, is going to help someone, to lift them up and encourage them, to help and build.

There will still unfortunately always be people who dump stuff everywhere, but for your own sake, if you see someone’s gherkin on the floor try to avoid it, before it takes you down, like it did me.  

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 234

Just like marriage, family is God’s idea. God intended family as a place of nurture, guidance, protection, forgiveness and love. However, He knows that in this day and age, many people do not grow up in families like that…perhaps you are among them.

The good news is that God has made provision for everyone to experience family as He intended. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, we enter into God’s family – we become His children, sons and daughters of the Most High.

Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the solitary in families.”

This is a beautiful picture of His heart for the alone and the rejected.

The power of any healthy family lies in its unconditional embrace. For the lonely, the grieving or the abandoned, the embrace of family brings healing and wholeness.

Our Church is a family, created to embrace everyone. Building relationships within our Church is a wonderful way to experience the benefits of family connection.

When you were born, you became a part of someone else’s family, but when you become a parent, you will create a family of your own. As parents, we long to provide the very best we can for our children.

You may look at your family and be discouraged or you may be at a loss to know what to do to help your children. Take heart – God has provided you with a wealth of wisdom and counsel in His Word, an ‘open-all-hours’ access to Him through prayer and a church family offering love and support.

PRAYER: God, You are my Father. Thank You for the gift of family. I ask You for the wisdom and understanding to appreciate and nurture my own family and to strengthen and support other families in my world. In Jesus’ Name.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 233

I love the book The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn.

It’s a book about how passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

In it, he lists the Seven B’s of great relationships.

They go like this…

1) Be real

 Don’t try to impress anyone by trying to be anybody but yourself.

Always do your best at being yourself.

Let your actions come out of who you really are, what you truly believe in and the things that you are committed to.

 

2) Be interested.  

Being genuinely interested in others is always an appreciating asset in anyone’s life.

 

3) Be a better listener.

I always used to think that I had to have all the right answers for anyone that came to me for counsel; now I realise that in the main I just need to be a great listener.

 

4) Be empathic.  

The need to be understood is one of the highest human needs, but too often people either don’t care or don’t make the effort to understand how we really feel.

Philo Judaeus was a wise man that lived 2,000 years ago. He said these words…“Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a tough battle”.

 

5) Be honest.

Be a man or woman of your word- that’s integrity.

 

6) Be helpful.

Go out of your way every day to just be nice to someone.

Little things make a big difference. Lots of little things make a huge difference.

 

7) Be prompt.

Time is one thing many people have far less of than money. Helping them save time by being prompt is gift of great value.

Hope you enjoyed and felt as impacted by it as I did.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 232

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

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

Many people want to live out their lives by minimising the risk. They only feel happy if they can do things by having everything sorted first – a play it safe mentality.

That’s completely understandable and necessary at times; but if you always only live life like that, you will find that it becomes counter-productive, in that you lose the passion for doing things – you end up just being a caretaker of your life.

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

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

Yet, the risk-taker boldly marches into the future and dreams of making a better tomorrow.

They live life on the edge, they attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.

All three have their own themes…

The risk-taker…”God is doing a new thing.”

The caretaker…”I hope nothing unusual happens today.”

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

God is the greatest risk-taker of all; He risked having His son, Jesus, die on the cross for those who may or may not accept and love Him.

Romans 5:7-8 ‘Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’

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

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 231

Faith is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

The less you use it the weaker it becomes or shall we say the weaker you become in faith.

Faith is also like a bridge.

It is the very thing that is between where I am and where I want to go.

If you don’t want to go anywhere or make anything of your life then you don’t need faith.

Faith is there for those that want to push through and make a difference.

Faith is the very substance of the things that you want to see changed in your lifetime.

Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’

Ask yourself…’do I have faith?’

Here are some signs that will help you to know whether you have faith in God or whether your trust is only in man.

1) Whenever you face all of your problems alone and trust only in yourself to get you out of difficulty, it’s a sign.

2) Whenever you face obstacles, crisis and dilemmas and your confidence is only in the people around you to sort it, it’s a sign.

3) Whenever you are faced with a financial crisis and you only ever reach for your credit card, it’s a sign.

4) Whenever you are sick and the first thought is the Doctor, it’s a sign.

5) Whenever you don’t know what to do and the first thing you do is to pick up the phone and ask six people for advice, it’s a sign.

Jesus never told people to have just plain faith – but faith in God.

Today, I encourage you to build your faith muscle by stepping out in total trust that God will come through for you – do it right now by simply praying this prayer…

Lord Jesus I bring my need to you right now. I ask you to help me by providing a miracle for me. I can’t sort this on my own, so I turn to you with complete confidence that you can help me. Amen.’

And remember…all things are possible, only believe.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 230

Nicky Gumbel writes, ‘Everyone influences someone’. Therefore, in a sense, everyone is a leader. Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted individual will influence 10,000 other people during his or her lifetime.

As I look back on my life, I have been influenced by so many people – my parents, teachers, friends and family. Just as I have been influenced by others, inevitably what I do and say will influence others for good or ill.

As the African proverb puts it, ‘If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.’ The mosquito makes a difference in an annoying way, but the principle is the same. One person can stop a great injustice. One person can be a voice for truth. One person’s kindness can save a life. Each person matters.

History is in many ways a story of influence. In reality, we all influence one another in all sorts of ways – from what to have for lunch and what films to watch, to more important matters of truth and ethics.

What we do as individuals, as a community or a nation affects others.

How do you use that influence for good?

How do you maximise your influence?

As we all start out today on the adventure of a brand new working week, make a decision to make your life count for good.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 229

One day, I was looking for my hairbrush. I was so frustrated. Where was it? I looked all over, then I found it…in my hand!

Oh dear. Sometimes, we really can’t see what’s right in front of us.

In Exodus chapter 4, Moses was concerned about the future. How was he going to lead the people?

God said, “What’s in your hand, Moses?”

Too often, we worry about what’s to come and we concern ourselves with that. God doesn’t want us to be worried about that.

What do you have right now?

A farmer may be concerned about his harvest. Is it going to be big this year?

Is it going to be enough for him and his family to survive?

The answer is in his hand. How much seed he sows now.  

Don’t worry about your bills or your future or your blessings to come.

The answer is what you do with what’s in your hand now. The little bit you have will multiply when you sow it.

God wants to shift your anxiety away from the future and get you to see what you have access to right now.

That’s what God did with Moses; he averted his focus off the anxiety of what the future may hold and told him to look at what was in his hand at that moment.

Moses had a simple staff, but he used it for mighty miracles.

Thank God for what you have right now. It may seem small and insignificant, but when you sow what little seed you have today, that’s what will determine your future harvest.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 228

I’ve just got back from the dog cutters.

Not me personally, I should add…I was accompanying our new dog – Percy.

We’ve re-housed Percy, after he wasn’t get along too well at the previous family’s home that had had him since he was a puppy.

He was just eight months old when we decided to take him in a few weeks ago and he’s become a most welcome addition to our family.

Unfortunately, his coat has grown long and because we didn’t know how to brush him properly, he’s developed quite a few knots, suffice to say that after two hours at the dog cutters, he’s come home looking like a sheared little lamb.

I asked the dog cutter how best to keep his coat from getting knotted again; she showed me a special brush and said that we needed to use it every two days.  ‘Once the knots develop’, she said, ‘there’s no way back apart from having him cut very short again.’

It’s amazing what you can learn from a dog and today’s trip was no exception.

Keeping well groomed relationships will definitely keep you from getting into a tangle with no way back.

Here are a few healthy relationship pointers…and by the way, I’m still a novice and therefore learning too…

  • Comb out any issues that you know will become irreversible knots if you don’t address them.
  • Relationships take time and effort, to keep them healthy and happy.
  • Tangled and complicated issues don’t get better but worse, if left by themselves.
  • Have difficult conversations that need to be had, no matter how painful, in order to prevent further knots.
  • Don’t let things fester – the longer you leave them, the worse they become.
  • Don’t wait until things get so bad that the only way forward is to go back to square one all over again.
  • Daily love, care and attention may feel like hard work with some people at times, but the pay back is massive.
  • Don’t just wait for a crisis – start brushing now.

Colossians 3:12-14 ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 227

Is there anything worse than walking into a room full of people that are all chatting away to each other, but when you arrive they all go silent?

They each look up simultaneously for a brief moment, and then go back to their conversations.

They said nothing, but to you they said everything.

Of course, there are lots of worse things than that, but we all have to admit that that’s a fairly difficult pill to swallow.

The thought that you are nothing more than an inconvenience or even an annoyance to everyone else’s perfect lives is pretty degrading and even damaging.

Now we’re not asking to be the centre of attention, because for some that could actually be just as bad as being ignored, but what we really crave is to be accepted for who we are.

We don’t expect to be a conversation stopper because we are so important, but we would like to be included and accepted in the conversation.

Life can be cruel and so can people.

Today, I would ask you to consider the name of just one person that not only accepts you, but acknowledges you and even wants you to be a vital part of his world – that one name is Jesus.

Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples had messed up big time.

After spending three years with Jesus, he then, when coming face to face with the crucifixion, decided to run, but not only run, he would leave a trail of denial and profanity in his tracks, as he turned on the only one that had been his closest friend.

As he hid from Jesus’ haunting words that had previously announced that he would deny him three times before the night was out, he wept and saw no possible way back.

Fast forward now to the day of the resurrection.

An angel announces that Jesus wants a meeting with his disciples in Galilee, but knew that Peter would no longer feel worthy of being included. (‘Too right’, you’d say…after all, he really showed his true colours).

But that’s not how Jesus does life.

Instead of beating people down further, he lifts people up higher, yes, even after they treat him with utter contempt.

Look at the Angel’s invitation closely…

Mark 16:6-7 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

The one that had made a right hash of things got a special mention on the invitation…and so do you.

Feeling dreadful that you haven’t lived up to name Christian?

Lost faith?

Denied Jesus?

Bad language issues crept back in?

Anger problems?

Jesus says to you today, ‘Let’s meet. You are included in my plan.’

Today, if you only understand one thing then understand that Jesus sees beyond our failings and includes us in His conversation.

Proverbs 16v24′...for though the righteous fall seven times, the Lord will lift him up.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 226

Last week, my wife received a new mobile phone.

After getting used to it for a couple of days and making sure that she had successfully transferred everything across from her old phone, she started to complain that she was having trouble hearing anyone speaking on an incoming call.

I advised her to go into ‘settings’ and see if the volume needed tweaking, but all to no avail.

“Let me have a look at it”, I said, as we sat down over a coffee, and on that I simply peeled off the plastic protective cover.

She can now hear perfectly – say no more.

One of things that I’ve had people say to me time and time again is this…’I’ve prayed and prayed, but I’m still not hearing from God. My prayers are simply not getting through.’

Did you know that God is unable to hear you unless you first receive His forgiveness?

You see, our sins block the very communication line that we are meant to talk to God on.

The very first prayer that we must pray in order to open the communication line is the one that says ‘Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and connect me back to God.’

Once the blockage of our sins has been removed then we can clearly hear and be clearly heard.

Let’s say that a couple have had an argument and you sense that you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Although they may still live in the same house and sleep in the same bed, there is a great invisible divide and separation.

There is only one way to move forward in their relationship and that is to humble themselves, say ‘sorry’ and forgive.

In much the same way, in order for the great divide between us and God to be rectified, we too need to humble ourselves, say ‘sorry’ and receive His forgiveness.

When that happens, we become a brand new person, God becomes our father and we belong to His family. So amazing.

It’s just like having a father – son/daughter relationship…you can talk with Him at any time and all the time.

Open up your heart today and open up the prayer line to God.

‘…There’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that he doesn’t hear.’  Isaiah 59:1 (The Message Bible)

1 John 1:8-9 ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 225

Ethel Lang from Barnsley recently died; she was aged 114.

Her daughter is just 91!

She lived through six monarchs and 22 Prime Ministers.

She was around for the Wright brothers first flight, the Titanic and two World Wars.

She saw the first ever TV, the creation of the mobile phone and the introduction of the credit card.

The day after her death, a national radio station was talking about Ethel who had lived to be the eighth oldest person in the world.

What came next was a shock…or was it?

The Radio presenter said this…’why would you want to live that long…I’m 41 and I’m bored already.’

Maybe he was speaking on behalf of you too?

Boredom in life comes from a lack of purpose, and a lack of purpose comes from not understanding that there is a reason why you exist.

Maybe you’ve never comprehended this before and therefore it may come as a shock…but it’s a necessary shock and ultimately it’s a shock that we all need.

Here it is….our ultimate wake-up call is when we understand that God has a plan for your life.

You are on this planet today for a reason. You may feel that you were born by mistake, but you are not a mistake.

When you popped out and was held for the very first time, God had already designed and destined you for a very special reason.

You are here on purpose, for a purpose.

Don’t waste your life wondering why any longer.

The two greatest days of your life are the day that you were born and the day you find out why.

Let these moving words inspire and challenge you to know the God that decided that He wanted you to be alive; not just to survive, but to thrive.

Psalm 139:13-16 ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’

The rest of your life is the best of your life.

Make a connection with God today through His son Jesus. He’s only a prayer away.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 224

If there was a cream on the market, or a power drink, or a medicine that promised to bring you prosperity and prolong your life many years, we’d all be taking it, drinking it, or rubbing it all over by the pot full.

Yet, what God’s word says, is simple “My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life by many years and bring you prosperity.” (Proverbs 3 vs 1-2).

‘Wow, so I can have long life and prosperity then?’ Yes.

In our modern society, people think they have every right to please themselves, with no thought for God or His word at all. What they forget is that God made you, God designed you and He has a plan for your very life.

If you operate within that, your life will be long and blessings will be many.

Simple isn’t it?

Many times we think we know a better way, but we don’t. God’s word stands right EVERY time.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 223

In the TV programme ‘Kitchen Nightmares’, the famous chef Gordon Ramsay, gets to tell the truth to restaurants that aren’t successful. He has the ability to tell the truth and not be frightened to do so.
When the truth is told, everyone deals with it differently. Some warmly embrace it, some take time to digest it and some downright refuse it.

The only time however, when there is a happy successful ending, is when the people take on the advice and apply it.
It may be about the rubbish food, the dirty restaurant, the tired decor or the wrong personalities of the staff. But one thing is for sure, Gordon Ramsay has the courage to confront and get the results.

There is a truth that what you are unwilling to confront, will never change.

What you keep putting off, even though you know it not to be right, will always stay the same.

If we are all honest with ourselves, there are things in our lives that we are not happy with and wish were different and some of them could have been like that for years.

Surely there is nothing worse, than coming to the end of your life and wishing it could have been different?

Today, have the courage to confront yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to tell you what needs to change and be done…and then simply DO IT.

You won’t see the change until you do.

Pastor Gillian.

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 222

When you hear the name David Beckham, you think football.

When you hear the name Andy Murray, you think tennis.

When you hear the name George Clooney, you think good looking actor, or some of you ladies may have once thought future husband!

When people hear your name, what do they think?

What do they associate your name with?

What describes you? Loyal, trustworthy, faithful, generous? Or is it gossip, lazy, liar, cheat?

For many people, little attention is given to their character, meaning that they don’t think about the importance of the way that they come across or act.

More time is spent on looking good than in being good and more time is spent wanting to gain money rather than wanting to gain a good name.

The power of the words of Solomon are still as meaningful today as when written…

Proverbs 22:1 ‘A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.’

Getting yourself a good name is not just about becoming known as a nice or good person, it’s much more than that. It’s about being a person of great character so that when you want to step out and do something significant with your life, you will be a treated as a serious contender, someone that’s credible and believable, because your character has already spoken for you.

People will only buy into your life if they can see that you are a person of transparency and integrity.

When talking to others about your faith, one of the first unsaid things that will come into focus for them will be, ‘does your life add up?’ In other words, are you walking the talk or are you talking the Jesus talk, but walking the devils walk?

One of the most overlooked aspects that adds weight to a person’s life is found in Luke 16:10-12.

‘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. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

Don’t keep blaming others for not trusting you – it’s not their problem, they are just saying what they see.

Make it your ambition in life to get yourself a good name…it’s worth more than all the money in the world.

Proverbs 22:1 ‘A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 221

How much do you love yourself?

Now I know that there are people out there that love themselves in a way that makes you feel sick.

That kind of self love says…’look at me’…’look at how amazing I am’…I’m so wonderful and I know it!!’

I’m not talking about that kind of self love, but what I am talking about is the healthy love and balanced respect that you have for yourself.

A good question to ask would be this…’What kind of relationship do you have with yourself?’

It’s likely that you’ve never been asked that question before, mainly because we’ve been trained by our upbringing, our culture or our Church to think little of ourselves.

But I have never yet known one person that fully loved others, whilst at the same time fully loathing themselves.

You’ll have heard these words before I’m sure…Mark 12:30-31 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

These words from Jesus are a healthy reminder that the way we love and respect ourselves, will eventually spill out and become the way we love and treat other people.

The moment the penny drops on this one, will be the moment that you become well-balanced and relaxed about who God has made you, and in turn be more focused on how you can live your life for others.

Stop telling yourself that you are no good and that nobody likes you and that you’re ugly and that you’re stupid and you’ll never be of any use on this planet.

Replace your self talk today with words of healthy respect for yourself and start to believe…that though many may be able to do what you do better than you, there’s no one that can do what you do just like you.

You are unique.

Your are loved.

You are needed.

You are one in seven billion.

Start loving yourself and you’ll start to see people through very different eyes.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 220

One of the greatest mistakes that we can make is to talk too much, when we should be listening.

For the last three days, I’ve had the privilege of spending time with one of my heroes, Pastor Tommy Barnett, known fondly as America’s favourite Pastor.

As well as leading a church of over 10,000 for much of his life (recently handing over to his son, Luke) he is also the founder of the Dream Center in LA.

As we’ve sat together, I’ve been very conscious that this was not my opportunity to talk, but my opportunity to listen.

I was very aware that the words that he has imparted to me, I may never have the opportunity to hear again.

Many people make the mistake of meeting with someone for advice, and then feel that it’s their big moment to off load everything that’s going on in their world, when really it’s their big opportunity to listen to the wise words of advice being given.

Getting the balance right between these two things is of utmost importance for your personal growth.

Over the years, I’ve taught that one of the simplest and yet most life enhancing questions that you and I could ever ask another person that you look up to, or even aspire to be like, is this one…‘Is there anything that you need to say to me?’

When that question comes from you, and you are willing to not only hear what is said, but also to take on board what is said, then you will be on the fast track to change and growth like no other.

Now, only ask the question if you’re willing to take on board the answer; and only ask the question if you’re serious about change and personal growth.

I’ve observed this…the people who have some serious character flaws don’t change, because they only ever talk about themselves and their problems, but rarely listen to what needs to be said.

Make a conscious decision to seek out wise counsel from those that are ahead of you, and determine to spend 75% of the time listening and just 25% talking.

Don’t waste your life talking about yourself, instead enlarge your life by listening.

Proverbs 20:19 ‘…avoid anyone who talks too much.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 219

Did you know that every miracle starts in much the same way?

I don’t mean that all miracles are the same, but I do mean that more or less every time a miracle occurs it occurs because of one thing.

You would do well to ask what that is, because when you know the answer, you will know whether or not you qualify.

So here it is: yes, the one thing that qualifies you for a miracle is…need.

How many of you in wanting to come up with the right answer, immediately thought the answer would be spirituality or church attendance or more prayer? Surely that’s the qualifier? No.

Every miracle starts with zero, nothing…a desperate need that drives you to your knees.

I wonder how many of us today feel that we  disqualify from God’s help simply because we haven’t got it all together?

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I was at secondary school, each pupil was asked to read something as part of a speech development exercise.  I was handed a Bible, of all things, and asked to read from Psalm 46.

The first few words I have never forgotten…

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

God is attracted to and not repelled by trouble.

Whatever you are going through at the start of this day remember: every miracle starts in the same way.

Got trouble with a capital T? Then that’s the very reason you need one today.

Call on Jesus –  He’s waiting to hear from you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 218

There are some things in life that we don’t realise are important, until they’re not there anymore.

Take labels and signs for instance. They are everywhere in our day to day lives; on doors, the pumps at the petrol station, our food and drink, our luggage in the airport…the list goes on and on.

Now imagine that someone has come along and removed them all. We would make all kinds of mistakes, it would cause mass confusion and it would take a lot longer to get anything done.

Many of us wear labels and they affect us in many ways; they influence the decisions that we make, the dreams that we pursue (or don’t pursue). Some labels are put on us as children – we inherit them. Or maybe you’re labelled ‘poor’ or ‘broken’, through circumstances. The list is endless; we all deal with them at some point.

We are surrounded by people in society who feel like failures because they didn’t meet an expectation that was put on them. Maybe that person is you.

How do we become free of all of this? By looking at what our Creator calls us. The labels that God puts on us include ‘free’, ‘redeemed’, ‘healed’, ‘accepted’…and most importantly ‘loved’.

These are labels that we can wear and not be ashamed of. He gave us amazing purpose and we should share that. He loved us so much that He gave His everything (Jesus) to show it.

 

Hebrews 12 tells us to ‘throw off everything that hinders.’ Sometimes that can be our circumstances, other times it’s a mindset and the things that we have said about ourselves for so long that were never even true.

We are always on God’s mind. Be encouraged today. Be unstoppable.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 217

For many years now, I’ve motivated myself to get up and believe that today is going to turn out to be a good one, and if it’s not a good one, I’m going to turn it into one.

Some of those days have started out and even ended up as some of the most painful days of my life.

Some of those days I’ve felt totally inadequate for what lay ahead.

And some of those days were some of the greatest days of my life.

But no matter what, we all have to be motivated to keep going and breakthrough with faith and a smile.

Here are some simple yet helpful pointers to help kick start everyday…no matter what lies ahead.

1) Set the start time of your day…otherwise everyone else will.

Instead of racing around the house getting ready, having no time to eat breakfast or to compose yourself, ask, what would the ideal time be for me to get up in a morning, so that I can find peace before the day kicks off?’

That’s the ideal time then for you to rise. Get up!

I bet you charge your phone over night…every night.

That’s because you know you’re going to need it to be on full battery when you leave the house.

So why do we leave the house emotionally and spiritually empty most days of the week?

Get up in the morning at the time you have set as and once you’ve done it for a month, you will form a new habit for the rest of your life.

2) Prepare in advance for everything you do.

Eg. If you’re going for a jog when you get up, then get your running gear out the night before so that you remove the excuses that will be impacting your mind when you wake. Just a thought!

If you have a meeting the next morning, prepare for it the night before.

Anyway…most importantly, when you wake, make a cuppa and prepare a special quiet spot in your home that you get into the habit of being drawn towards. Spend ample time in reading the Bible and in prayer. If you run out things to pray about then make lists of concerns and needs that you can bring before God each day.
Don’t be afraid of the silence. Enjoy it, and allow God to speak to you.

Don’t just hope for the best…pray for the best.
3) Have an ‘I can do’ attitude towards everything.

Do everything with enthusiasm.

At the same time be flexible when unforeseen problems come your way. See them as opportunities, rather than hindrances.

Every difficulty is an opportunity in disguise.

Let your attitude determine the atmosphere, no matter where you go and what you do.

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.