Fresh Hope – Day 268

The Bible frequently talks about the’ fight of faith.’

1 Timothy 6:12 ‘Fight the good fight of the faith…’

2 Timothy 4:7 ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…’

At first glance, it almost sounds contradictory, in that faith suggests that we just trust God, and yet fighting suggests that we have to get involved. 

The best way of understanding this is to see that often we will be called upon to fight with our faith. In other words, we don’t just sit back and pray a little prayer and hope for the best, no, we battle in prayer with great faith believing that God will come through for us. 

When you have no resources or opportunities, no solutions of your own, nowhere else to turn, it’s then that you’re in a battle and you are forced to trust in God’s ability to provide and meet you in your time of great need. 

If nothing went wrong in life, then we wouldn’t need to trust in God. 

We all live in a world contaminated  by human sin and depravity – a world of temptation and disappointment. 

Sometimes it’s easy to have faith when everything is going great, but courageous faith is forged only when it is tested. 

 Today, don’t just sit back with a mindset that says ‘whatever will be will be’. NO – fight the fight of faith and battle over the things that matter most to you.  

Battling with sickness, family problems, finance, employment, trials?

…1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 267

Imagine that a bank credits your account each morning with £86,400. It’s carries over no balance from day to day. At midnight, the account resets to another £86,400 and deletes whatever part of the previous day’s balance that you failed to use. There’s no guarantee you will ever be given another  £86,400. If that were the case, what would you do? Draw out every last pound, of course!

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is Time. Each morning, you are given a gift that is credited to your life of 86,400 seconds. 

Every night, what you have failed to use is lost. 

Time carries over no balance from day-to-day. Time allows no overdraft and you cannot hold on to what you did not use the day before. 

If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. 

I challenge you today to take a long hard look at your life and ask yourself, ‘where does all my time go?’

How and where do I spend it?

How much time am I wasting?

How much time am I spending just on me?

How much time am I investing in others?

How much time am I spending with God each day?

Everything in life has to have a balance to it, but I’m sure that you will agree that it’s hardly a balanced life sitting in front of a TV every night.

Wake up.  We only have one life to live!

Make an important decision today to not waste another minute.  

There’s an old saying that says ‘time stops for no man’; today has already partly been spent. What are you going to do today with rest of your 86,400 seconds? 

Make your life count.

Pastor Mark

A dail devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 266

Florence Chadwick was a champion swimmer. In 1952, she attempted to swim a span of the peaceful Pacific Ocean between California’s Catalina Island and the state coastline. As she began the 26 mile journey, she was accompanied by small boats of supporters who watched for sharks and were prepared to help Florence if she got hurt or grew tired. Thick fog rolled in after about 15 hours of swimming.

Florence recalled that after already having spent so many hours navigating the waters with her body, she began to doubt her ability. She didn’t think that she could make it, but she kept going. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, physically and emotionally exhausted. She was tired and in her mind the Californian coastline felt like it was a million miles away. 

After she got into the boat, she learned she had stopped less than a mile short of her destination. 

She couldn’t see the shoreline and the journey began to feel impossible. 

“All I could see was the fog,” she told the new paper reporters the next day. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Today, you maybe closer to your destination than you realise.

Your next attempt could well be like Florence’s, who two months later actually made it, because she kept an eye on her destination albeit through another foggy day. 

When you’re in a struggle, keep your goal in sight. It may be physical, financial, relational or spiritual, and it may feel like you’re never going to reach the shore of a new day.

You may well ask “if this is my God-given destiny, then why am I battling to stay afloat with no sign of the destination?” 

Remember, don’t take a life-storm as the absence of God; no one can see clearly in the fog, that’s why we must walk by faith and not simply by what we can see. The storm can make you stronger and give you confidence to handle future challenges. 

When you get through battling, you’ll have more wisdom, more tenacity, more strength and more vision to take you forward. 

Today, don’t get so distracted by your circumstances that you lose awareness of Gods presence, instead, let this challenge drive you to your knees, where you know you can find help in your time of need. 

Hebrews 4:16 ‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 265

I had another birthday this week. I’m a little older than I was 10 years ago and there’s still some things I can’t do.

I can’t roller skate, ice skate, or dive.  That’s okay though, because I’m not bothered about doing either of those, even though I’ve tried (a little), neither of them will actually enhance my life.
I’ve never parachuted, abseiled or climbed a mountain either. I’m not sure if I’d be successful, as I’ve never tried to be.

There are some things you have to learn how to do, and there’s some things that you can get by without.

I had to learn to cook, clean and iron when I first got married. I had to learn how to be a Mom, I had to learn how to do laundry, I had to learn how to read and write as a child. Some things you need to learn to do, because you’ll need those things in EVERYDAY life.

There are some things we are still learning every day, life should be about learning. You are never too old to learn something new.

‘If you don’t learn something, you won’t know it’, is a simple phrase with a weighty meaning.

God’s word, is there for us to read and learn. We need it in our everyday lives. We need to know what His promises are, because you’ll need them every day.

I’ll never learn to ice skate if I don’t try and you’ll never know God’s word if you don’t read it.

When you read a short passage each day, ask God to speak to you through it.  Memorise a verse or a truth from what you’ve read.
What you practise in the light, you will recall in the dark. Knowing God’s word will enhance your everyday life. It will make you rich.

Read and learn today and you’ll know it for tomorrow.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 264

It was my wife’s birthday earlier this week.

We love to celebrate birthdays in our house, but I have to admit that I’m not very good at buying that amazing surprise gift.

If I’m honest, it usually works like this…Gillian sees something that she likes, tells me about it, and then I go and buy it. I take it home in a carrier bag so that she won’t see it, wrap it up and give it to her on the day. Hardly a surprise.

I have been known to really push the boat out and get her something unexpected, but then I usually end up taking it back as the wrong size, style or completely unwanted!

Whatever the case may be with the presents, she knows that it is always my intention to demonstrate my love towards her.

It’s quite possible today to wake up feeling very alone and unloved even though you may have many friends.

Maybe your birthdays have long since been forgotten by others or maybe you’re at an age where you prefer to forget them yourself.

The great news is this: it’s not just on specials that God loves you – every day His love remains the same and is the only true constant in our lives.

God’s unconditional love means that He doesn’t find it hard to love you right now either, no matter what you have done; He continually pours His grace into your life day-by-day.

Why not think on this verse during today until it’s ingrained within you?

1 John 3:1 ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’

I just love the word ‘lavished’ – it simply means generous and extravagant and is the very word God chooses to reveal the extent of His love towards you.

You are loved…today and everyday.

 

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 263

Many of you reading Fresh Hope today will be rushing to work.

The alarm clock did go off at the right time but the snooze button got pressed a few too many times to make for a relaxed start.

You’ve already had to battle with the daily chores that never go away, let alone the children that need feeding, dressing and transporting to school.

Your only hope is that the day will be kind to you and that you survive to repeat the whole thing again tomorrow.

Whether a single mom struggling alone, or a fully functional family, you live in a high-stress environment and as such, you need to know how to take care of yourself for the long haul.

Finding ways to distance yourself from the normal rat race is of utmost importance before you burn out and become of no use to anyone.

Downtime is not a waste of time.

Rest is different from laziness.

Rest rejuvenates while laziness deteriorates.

Your body’s cells need rest to rebuild themselves and fortify you for another day of challenges.

The problem with many hard working conscientious people is that we confuse rest with laziness and end up feeling guilty if and when we sit down and take time out for ourselves.

Rest is not an optional extra but an absolute necessity.

Find ways to rest your body and mind from day-to-day stress.

A walk in the park, a night at the cinema, a coffee with a magazine or a few hours at what my wife calls herhappy place’ (which is an hours’ drive from our home) are some of the sort of things you might like to do too.

Ever wondered why you crave these moments and feel so much better after even an hour after doing one of them?  It’s because your body and your mind is sending a signal to say ‘thank you’ for looking after me.

From now on, don’t just plan to work…plan to rest.

Mark 6 v 31…

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 262

My mother-in-law had a new washing machine delivered, and my promise was to install it for her.

I was a little pushed for time, but she was eager to get it in place, so I popped in with a few tools one lunchtime.

I secured the water pipes, connected the electric supply and carefully pushed the new machine into a very tight spot underneath the kitchen units.

Everything was seeming to work fine, as I quickly tested it to make sure that the power and water supply were all as they should be. Job done.

For the next three days, I had calls from her telling me that something wasn’t right and that every time the machine went into its spin cycle, the whole kitchen would shake.

Like a Doctor, I asked her over the phone all about the symptoms and advised her about overloading it and anything else that I thought may be the cause.

Eventually, I decided to go back, take the washer out and start again.

It turned out that it was completely my fault.  I had overlooked the fact that I should have taken the very long transportation bolts that come with a brand new washer to hold the drum secure during delivery.

The bolts meant that there was no flexibility in the drum when spinning, so would violently vibrate, potentially damaging everything around it.

As much as it pained me to realise that I could have badly damaged the machine, I also realised that it was a great life lesson too.

Sometimes in our lives we have to acknowledge that we are being held back by the things that have never been removed during transportation.

I love the story in the Bible about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; but then in the very next breath Jesus says…’take off his grave cloths and let him go.’

It wasn’t enough just to be brought back to life, until the bandages that held him tight in death were unravelled.

How many of us today have felt the effects, not of bandages but of bondages that have wrapped around us during transportation?

Unkind words spoken over our lives, bitterness about our past, unforgiveness over a broken relationship – the list goes on and on but what is true is that not only do these things hold us back, they also affect everything and everyone else around us. When we behave this way, we cause a ripple effect of negativity wherever we go.

We were not created to be restricted by our hang-ups, but to be set free to do what we were created to do by God.

Today, take a brief step back, in order to go forwards.

Ask yourself: what is it in my past that is causing me to behave in such a way today?

Identify the problem and then ask Jesus to be the solution. Allow Him access into your private world so that He can take off your grave clothes and let you go.

Be free.
John 8:36 ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 261

Psalm 18 v 2 says that God is our rock, our fortress and our deliverer.

He is our Rock – make sure you have a great foundation in your life. The best one is having your life based on a relationship with God.

That way, when storms and trials come your way, you will not be shaken because your foundation is strong.

‘The wise man built his house on the rock’, is an old Bible story that is very true, because when the wind and the waves came, his house stood firm. The foolish man, whose house was built on sand, was not so fortunate.

He is our fortress – He is a safe place, a refuge. He is strong and reliable. He will protect you from your enemies. You can feel safe with God as your fortress.

He is our deliverer –  what do you need help with today? A difficult situation? An impossibility? He can deliver you from it.

Do you need help with an addiction,  or need freeing from fear? He can help you. Are you surrounded by sickness? He can heal you.

Jesus wants to be YOUR rock and fortress and deliverer.  Give Him that chance today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 260

One of the great temptations, when life’s path becomes difficult, is to isolate yourself.

It is a natural instinct to try to pull back from your emotions and not feel the sharp pain caused by your crisis.

If you’re like me in such moments, you may also feel the need to retreat and become isolated. Even when you’re around people, you can withdraw emotionally.

Going through a trial, a temptation, or turmoil makes you feel quite vulnerable, so it’s natural to want to put up your walls and hide behind them. But that never helps the problem and it’s little comfort.

When you least feel like being with others, it is often a sign that you need them most.

Are you struggling through a difficult part of your path? The best thing you can do is get into a positive faith-filled environment.

Don’t skip church or a life group when you’re feeling dismayed…it’s there to lift you and encourage you – it’s your very life line.

Hebrews 10 v 24-25
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

*An excerpt from Pastor Brian Houston’s latest book  ‘Live Love Lead’

Fresh Hope – Day 259

Many things in our lives are based on feelings.

Women in particular like to feel nice, feel loved, feel happy, feel blessed, feel confident. In fact, we all do.

We can base a whole day, week, year or even our lives solely on how we feel.

How many of us have made mistakes in our lives, because we’ve gone on those present feelings?

Just because you feel like it, doesn’t mean you should do it and just because you don’t feel like it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

For example… ‘I feel angry, so I’m going to lash out at someone.’ No, that’s not right.

‘I feel hurt, so I’m going to hurt back.’ No, that’s not right.

‘I feel unloved, so no one loves me.’ No, that’s not right.

OR…’I don’t feel like brushing my teeth, so I won’t.’ That’s not right.

‘I don’t feel like cleaning up after myself, so I won’t.’ That’s not right.

‘I don’t feel like going to Church, so I won’t.’ That’s not right.

As you can see, feelings can take you all over the place. Be careful.

When it comes to making big decisions, don’t go on feelings alone; you could marry the wrong person, take the wrong job and move to the wrong house.

Here are 3 good rules…

  1. God’s word e.g. ‘I feel like robbing the bank’…no, God’s word says don’t do that.
  2. A trusted friend. Ask them to help and advise you.
  3. Someone who has a great relationship with God, who maybe further down the road than you, like a Pastor or leader.

When we aren’t in a great relationship with God we can make very wrong choices.

Just because you may feel God doesn’t love you today, doesn’t mean that’s right, in fact He couldn’t love you any more.

Feelings are great. God created them.

Just don’t rely on them alone, as you are likely to regret it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 258

In the book of Genesis, we see what is known as the creation account. Over a period of six days, God forms the Heavens and the Earth. How does He do this? Well, He speaks them into being.

Genesis 1:3 says, “And God SAID, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

In verse 6 it says, “And God SAID, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”” This same process continues all the way through the first chapter of the Bible.

I think from the very get-go, God is revealing to us that your words will form your world.

He’s letting us know that there is a direct connection between the life that you’re experiencing and the words that you’re speaking.

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose”, is a verse found in the book of Proverbs that really leads us to ask ourselves a question: What situations are you poisoning with your speech?

Maybe you’re struggling right now financially, maybe things at home aren’t going great, maybe life is not heading in the direction you’d have hoped. Is it possible that your words have created for you a world that you don’t like? Is it possible that your mouth has got you in to a mess?

“I’m never going to get this job” may well lead to you not getting the job. Why not instead try replacing words of negativity with words of faith… “I believe that God can get me in this job if that’s where He wants me.”

“Though things at home right now aren’t that great, I believe God can turn that around.”

“Though my finances are looking low, I believe a breakthrough is coming my way!”

Today, you have the power to not only change the atmosphere around you, but the world around you with the words that you speak. Choose to speak life and not death today and watch things begin to turn.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 257

London Community Gospel Choir, better known as LCGC, has sung at our church a number of times now and Bazil Meade, the founder and director, has become a friend over the years.

It was hardly surprising then on Saturday night that I was getting texts from people asking if we were watching The X Factor, as some of the choir along with Bazil were performing.

For anyone that saw it, I’m sure that like myself, you will have noticed something very special about what happened…

As the group of girls from the choir took to the stage and started to sing a well known pop song, the whole thing went flat to such a degree that Simon Cowell brought their performance to an abrupt halt.

One of the judges suggested that if they were a Gospel group then they would do much better coming back and doing something Gospel. Fair point.

With a sense of awkward disappointment they walked off, only to reappear with their heads held high, and what happened next almost took the roof off…they got into their own groove, simply sang a Gospel number and the whole place erupted.

Cameras panned around onto people’s faces that revealed wide open mouths, filled with amazement and pure delight.

On Saturday night, a huge lesson was learnt not just by LCGC but by us all…

Attempting to be popular by doing something that you were not created for is never going to win over others, but doing what you do best is going to have such a profound effect that people will not be able to contain themselves.

We should never be afraid or ashamed to stand on the stage of our lives and do what we were created to do and say what we feel we should say.

Sometimes the pressure to live as just another copy is only ever going to make you an echo and not a voice to a desperate generation looking for answers.

Saturday night proved to us all that the power of the Gospel is able to transform a dead performance into something so life-giving that anyone coming after would have a very difficult act to follow.

Don’t live your life attempting to blend in, in the hope that others will applaud you, but instead live to stand out – knowing that God will always give you a standing ovation if you will be willing to stand for Him.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 256

I’ve loved being with our grandchildren for two whole weeks, whilst on our family holiday.

Noah and Hudson are so different, but both of them adorable.

I love being around children and have always felt a deep sense of responsibility to help to make their lives better, by having fun with them.

I guess that the painful lessons that I learnt in raising our own three children has helped shape me as much, if not more, than it helped shaped them.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like to have small children around you all of the time, but this past fortnight has brought back to mine and Gillian’s remembrance those exact feelings.

Here are just a few of the things that I’ve learnt once again from being in the presence of children…

1) A mood is something that can be got over very quickly.

2) If you want something…be nice.

3) Run towards those that love you and believe in you everyday.

4) Don’t be afraid to take risks.

5) If you’re tired, take a short nap.

6) Be a pleasure to be around.

7) Have fun as much as possible.

8) Don’t be afraid to ask for something that you would like.

9) Get excited about every day.

10) No matter how good things are elsewhere, always look forward to the place called home.

Mark 9:36-37
Jesus took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 255

We all know that once we get past the second week of September we can usually kiss goodbye to the thoughts of anymore warm sunshine.

This morning felt like autumn had well and truly arrived with me moaning about the cold and a rainy start to the day, as I reached for my dressing gown.

I’ve never been one for cold weather and have never understood anyone that can walk around in a t-shirt in the winter. It’s a standing joke in our family about me always wearing a vest at all times.

We have friends that live in a climate of year round, wall-to-wall sunshine and they often say that they’ve had a bad summer, which means something totally different to when we say the same thing – I’ve learnt that it means that it’s been too hot and that they are longing for some cloud and a little cool breeze. Rain is a novelty to them and a cause to celebrate.

The truth is that we are blessed with four distinct seasons here, and we have to learn to enjoy what each one brings with it.

Seasons are found in each of our lives too and we have to be aware that they exist, otherwise we can be caught out and miss the beauty of each one.

Just like the natural seasons of our year, we have to know what season we are in in order to dress appropriately for it.

Maybe you’ve had a long summer of success in your life, but right now are troubled that the once flourishing financial trees are now shedding their leaves and things are looking bare – don’t dismay…it’s a season.

Maybe your life recently has been one of long, cold and hard times that seem to last forever – don’t dismay…it’s a season.

No matter what you are passing through right now, appreciate the season and understand why it’s there…you’re passing through it.

A farmer knows from experience that if he’s going to have a successful harvest then he’s going to have to remain positive and faithful during the cold winter days, where he’s looking out on nothing but barren soil – he knows that at the proper time his season of success is coming, if he’s been faithful during his planting season.

God has placed seasons in your life in order to bring about fruitfulness at the proper time.

You can’t be in a season of harvest all of the time. You have to recognise that there is a season to plant and a season to wait too.

Recognise the potential of each and every moment in your life and embrace them knowing that it soon will lead to the summer of blessing.

Galatians 6:9 ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 254

Autumn is upon us, a brand new season. The old has gone, the new is coming.

Maybe your child has just started a different school or college – a new season.
Maybe you’re about to start a new job or position in your company – a new season.
Maybe you’ve decided to start afresh with something – a new season.

New seasons bring many blessings. They also bring new challenges.

In this new season, make sure you are positioned correctly.
Are you in the game or just spectating?
Players participate and get on with winning, whilst spectators usually criticise.
Your positioning right now is very important, it will determine your importance and significance in this upcoming season.

Whatever this season holds for you, whatever faces you right now, be correctly positioned.  Be ready to be used by God for greater things.

Declare that this season is going to be better than the one before.
Declare that in this new season God is for me.
Be positioned in such a way that you are ready for all that God has for you.

I don’t want to miss anything that this new season holds. I hope you feel the same.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 253

I’m writing this at 4:30am. Not sleeping very well. Call it jet lag or too much coffee, I’m not sure.

I hate being awake in the night. I hate being awake in the dark. I like to wake and it’s morning.

Isn’t it interesting how things can seem worse at night, things can seem bad and we can get fearful?

The mind is a powerful thing. But here’s a truth, you are in charge of your own mind and thinking and although the dark doesn’t help, you can still take hold of those thoughts.

Don’t let yourself be told that things are really bad or that the situation will never get better. Instead, take your thoughts to good things and God-centred thinking.

A thought may enter your head, that you didn’t put there, but it’s what you do with the thought that counts. Don’t let it take you somewhere you don’t want it to go.

You can stop that ‘train of thought’ right now, before it takes you to the next station.

Philippians 4 v 8 ‘Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is honourable,  whatever is holy…think on THESE things.’ Your mind is strong, train it in the right way.

Why go somewhere that’s not good?

Live in pleasant places.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 252

We have just returned from our family holiday.

Days of sunshine turned quickly to the dead of night there within a few short minutes.

As the early evenings approached, it gave an almost eerie feel to the mountainous terrain surrounding us for miles around.

Driving through the built-up area of shops and restaurants at night, there was just one thing that stood out…an illuminated cross, way up on the top of one of the mountains for all to see.

It was a sight to behold, as this simple yet magnificent symbol of freedom seemingly hung in the sky.

The reality is that a church in the area had paid to have the cross placed and illuminated there as a constant reminder of Jesus’s love for all.

We’ve been to that area a number of times now and each time we have tried to find the cross in the day time, but all to no avail -it’s as if the cross is invisible in the light of day.

Every time I think about the significance of the cross of Jesus now, I’m drawn to this example of how total darkness provides the very backdrop for the cross to shine.

That’s exactly what God intended when His only Son suffered the cruelest of deaths at the hands of men.

On that day, history records that the earth went dark as this most incredible one time event illuminated the sky forever.

Today, no matter what dark time you may be passing through, remember that Jesus is there to light your way.

If our lives were all just plain sailing with no pain, sadness or difficulty then we have to ask how many of us would seek out Jesus.

Is it not the very presence of our current darkness that draws us to the light of Jesus?

Light will always shine brightest in the darkest places.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 251

I have attended a fitness boot camp for the past 12 months and one phrase they use has impacted me, not just on a physical/fitness level but it has permeated through my life.

‘If it’s hurting, it’s working.’

Those days you wake up after exercising your legs and you can’t bare to walk down the stairs, this saying rings loud with every step…

The nature of muscle building and fat stripping to push your body to its limit  and as it recovers, it grows and becomes more lean.

I love how this can help us in life. Circumstances or situations will and can push us to our limits – hurting on all sorts of levels, but as the good saying goes: ‘whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’ I believe we can grow in character and faith.

Paul writes about this in his letters; how as our character is matured and patience is gained, there our faith is built up too.

Whatever you’re going through today, ask God to help you grow and to help you see the work He is doing within you.

I want to grow my faith in God, so I have to push it to its limit…not always easy, like fitness – some days I just don’t want to! However, persistence pays off.

I encourage you today to keep running this race and press on to that goal…for our God is faithful!

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 250

Several years ago, I played for a local football team. We weren’t the best. To us, a draw was a win. In the few years that I had been a part of this team, I had played in almost every position, but for the most part, I was the goalkeeper.

I remember one particular game quite well, I was playing in goal and we lost 6-0. At the end of the game, I was ready to go home and eat lunch, feeling pretty down about our defeat, but not really surprised as we were used to this kind of loss. As our team came together following the final whistle, the referee walked over to us and announced to everyone that I had been awarded man of the match.

Now, I was as shocked as everyone else at that point. How could this be? I had conceded 6 goals. The reason given was that the scoreline could’ve been much worse had I not have been in goal. Suddenly, I felt somewhat better than I did moments ago.

When reminiscing about this occasion just a few days ago with a friend, I started to see that this story paints a picture for us of what it’s like to do life with Jesus. Because you see, Jesus has an amazing way of taking the negatives and turning them into positives. He takes the bad stuff, and through it, reveals the good stuff.

In Romans 8:28 it says, “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.”

This is good news for you and I today, because it means that although circumstances and situations in our lives aren’t always good, if you place Jesus at the centre, He will work them together for good.

You can live with peace, knowing that everything that God does is good, but most importantly, God IS good. ‘Good’ is not just what He does, but good is who He is… Be encouraged with that thought today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 249

How many times have you made a snap decision based on your feelings? I know that I have. Spontaneity can be a wonderful thing but sometimes, throwing caution to the wind can have consequences. We all have the occasional off day.

Sometimes, when our prayers aren’t answered how we expected them to be, we spend time trying to figure out why. It’s easy to think that maybe God just didn’t feel like giving us what we asked for and we should try harder to convince Him, next time.

We serve an amazing God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Every single thing that He does for us is out of His love for us which never changes.

Isaiah 55:8 says ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.’

God created us with emotions and the ability to feel. However, we don’t need to try to appeal to God’s feelings. We don’t need to convince Him that we are worthy, or to listen to us. We don’t always understand God’s ways but He is never careless with His children.

The more we seek Him, the more we learn His character and the better we know His character, the stronger our faith and trust in Him grows.

We can approach God in the confidence that the way He feels about us never changes, He always acts in our best interest (even if it doesn’t come packaged as we expected) and He never has an off day.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 248

Let’s talk labels.  

Everyone wants to stick one on you at some stage during your life time.

Here’s the problem…

1) They stick very easily

2) They don’t readily come off

3)When they do come off…they leave their mark

When we moved house a few years ago, we found the best way of transporting all our stuff was to put a sticker on each box that corresponded to the room that the items came from. Once the box arrived at its new destination, it was just a matter of reading the label and placing the box in the correct room – job done!

However, when we re-used the boxes to store different stuff in at a later date, the labels no longer corresponded to what was inside.

In much the same way, have you ever noticed how people readily want to label you from your past, but when you change, they still want to keep the old label stuck on you?

Jesus had the very same problem.

His family and friends that had watched him grow up had only ever known him as Mary and Joseph’s boy, but when He revealed himself as the miracle working son of God, they couldn’t get the old label off.

The old label meant that they couldn’t come to terms with who He really was – God in flesh. The label became a major blockage to their faith and resulted in them being unable to fully accept Him and certainly restricted His miracle working power in their own lives.

TODAY, you are where you are, either because you have survived the labels or that you are still living with an old label; it’s time to rip it off and take charge of who you have become.

If someone refuses to give you a new label, then simply refuse to stay where they want to keep you.

We all have the right to change and be changed by the power of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 247

There is a wonderful story in the Bible, in Acts chapter 8 about a man called Philip who was minding his own business when God called him to go out of his way to help someone else.

When you read the story, you will notice that the man that needed help that day was a very important, wealthy man who needed Christ.

We are all busy people. We have things to do and places to go. We have people to see and business to attend to. In your busy-ness, don’t be too busy to hear from God. He may need you that day, to do something very special for him.

We should be open every day, that no matter what we have planned, we are not too busy for God to reach us, in order that we can reach someone else.

You may say “but what about me? I’m supposed to be doing this and that.” I’ve learnt many things in my Christian life. One of the most important things is that when you put God first and His work, He’ll get you where you need to be.

This story finishes with after Philip helping the man and leading him to Jesus, Philip ‘gets to where he needs to be’ supernaturally.

Put God first, He’ll sort your business.
Look after His House, He’ll look after yours.

‘SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND EVERYTHING ELSE WILL BE ADDED UNTO YOU. ‘ (Matthew 6 v 33)

Yes, all your ‘everything else’s’ will supernaturally fall into place, when you put God first.

Try it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 246

I was really surprised the other day, when I saw one of our church volunteers drinking a Starbucks coffee.

That may not seem unusual to you, as we serve Starbucks coffee at church. However, this particular person was only ever known for drinking McDonald’s coffee!

(Now I do have to confess that I have enjoyed an occasional McD coffee, when desperate, and only with three sugars – it was the only way it would go down).

I couldn’t resist asking this person if they had been converted to Starbucks; to which they replied, “no…shhhh…don’t tell anyone but it’s a McDonald’s coffee that I’ve poured into a Starbucks cup!”

That simple story helps us to appreciate how easy it is to camouflage what’s really going on with a false image.

We all know that nowadays it’s all too easy to live a life of pretence and mislead people by telling just that little white lie, which by the way is just a camouflaged lie and is just the same as any other coloured lie.

How many times have you found yourself telling half the truth, or exaggerating something to make yourself look better? Yet again a subtle form of lying.
When it comes down to it, the truth has to be totally the truth -otherwise it’s a lie, no matter how you dress it up.

Whatever sleeve you put around it, it’s what’s on the inside that really matters.

If you are continually masking what’s true with flowery words meant to divert others from the real facts, then don’t be surprised when you find yourself in a position that few people ever trust you.

At the end of the day, it’s not only you that knows the real truth, but God does too.

You may fool others for a time, but you can never fool God for even a moment.

Before you go any further down this slippery slope, take these words to heart…

Proverbs 10:9 ‘Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.’

Always looking over your shoulder for fear of being found out?

Can’t understand why God seems to have withdrawn His blessing from your life?

Look no further…He upholds only those that walk in complete integrity.

Make a once-and-for-all-decision today, no matter what the cost, to be a totally trustworthy and honest person – God will uphold you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 245

‘Dance as though no one is watching

Love as though you’ve never been hurt

Sing as though no one can hear you

Live as though Heaven is on earth.’

I love this! Let me make this clear, I did not pen this verse, but I wish I had!

Why not live this out today?

Have you ever stopped to think how much we compromise because of ‘fitting in’ or because of fear of what people will think?

Jesus said we are the ‘light of the world’…the last time I checked, a light only does its job when it stands out and affects its surroundings.

Today, live life to the full, uncompromised and without fear…you will make an impact, I’m sure of it.

Even the smallest candle can light up the darkest room.

Go sing, dance, love and live your day to the max.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 244

Recently, I attended a football match at the stadium of my home team, Wolverhampton Wanderers. (Don’t judge me). At this particular game, there was a celebration for the life of Sir Jack Hayward, a former Wolves owner.

Sir Jack became the owner and chairman of Wolves after buying the club in 1990 for £2.11 million. It is estimated that he spent well in excess of £70m of his personal finance on redeveloping the Molineux Stadium, writing off annual debts, and purchasing players for the club during the 17 years for which he was owner.

Having sold the club in 2007, Hayward remained the life president of Wolverhampton Wanderers and was later inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame.

By the time he retired as chairman at Wolves, Hayward was recognised as one of a select group of football benefactors who had spent huge fortunes of time and money on rescuing their hometown boyhood club from obscurity.

As I found myself in the stands at this particular game, I was moved when I saw a large, hanging picture of Sir Jack inside the stadium and beneath that, a quote that read, ‘Glad to have helped.’

In that moment, I was amazed at how someone who had given so much to build what they loved, was not quoting the amount of money they had given, or the countless hours they had put in, but they were simply happy to have helped…

When it comes to the end of my life, I want to be able to say those same four words. I don’t want it to be about how much money I gave, or about everything I sacrificed, I just want to have made a difference with my life. However that looks, however much it costs, I want my life to contribute to something greater than myself.

‘Happy to have helped’ is a quote that carries great humility, understanding that what I am a part of is greater than the part that I play, and I pray today that this is something that you would want to attach to your existence on this Earth.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 243

In the New Testament, there is the story of the woman who had a medical issue, which caused chronic loss of blood and how she received her healing.

Matthew 9:20-22 gives us the account, ‘Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.’

There are some things that this woman’s healing can teach us…

One touch is all it takes – once she had touched Jesus, she was healed instantly. She had been on her journey for 12 long years, treated by medical experts. Many would have given up but her healing shows us that it is never too late to reach out to Jesus. Where man fails, God’s glory can be shown.

God sees it all– as weak and feeble as her touch may have been, Jesus knew immediately that someone had touched his garment. We may feel sometimes as though we have no strength to put behind our prayers, but no matter how weak we feel, God’s power can touch us all the same.

She received her whole miracle – we serve a God who doesn’t do half-measures. The scripture tells us that she was ‘freed from her suffering’. God’s promises are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’. She didn’t just feel a little bit better, she was completely free. Such is the nature of God.

Don’t give up. It only takes one step towards God to get his attention and one touch from Him can restore you fully.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.