Fresh Hope – Day 295

I’m sure that every one of us today would love to attract the right kind of people into our lives; people that will have a positive influence on us, people that will pull us up and not drag us down, people that we would be truly glad to call friends.

One of the things that I personally pray each day is that God would bring the right people into my life…nd I also pray for the kind of qualities that I want in a friend. Which I don’t think is a bad thing, however, one quote that really changed my perspective is this: ‘You attract what you are.’

Suddenly, my thought process shifted. No longer did I focus fully on the kind of friend that I wanted to attract, but I began focusing more on the kind of friend that I was to others.

Can I encourage you today? If you’re looking for a generous person, be a generous person. If you’re looking for a positive friend, be a positive friend to others. If you’re looking for kindness, show some kindness. Be what you want to see!

When you begin to have this kind of mindset, you will be amazed at the kind of people that you will attract into your world.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 294

Yesterday, I wrote about how I was, at one time, bound by fear. 

Maybe, since then you have told fear where to go, but today it has come knocking at your door once again. 

I personally didn’t get set free in an instant, but God gently restored me back to life over a period of weeks.  

I know what that ‘knock’ sounds like, as it wants to invade your life and seize you in its grip once again. 

Let the words of this song help you today, as they have done for many thousands all over the world…

In my moments of fear, 

Through every pain, every tear, 

There’s a God who’s been faithful to me. 

When my strength was all gone, 

When my heart had no song, 

Still in love he’s proved faithful to me. 

Every word He’s promised is true, 

What I thought was impossible, I see my God do.

He is being faithful, faithful to me, 

Looking back, his love and mercy I see.

Though in my heart I have questioned ,

Even failed to believe, 

Yet He’s been faithful, faithful to me.

When my heart looked away,

The many times I could not pray,

Still my god, he was faithful to me. 

The days I spent so selfishly, 

Reaching out for what pleased me,

Even then God was faithful to me,

Every time I come back to him,

He is waiting with open arms, 

And I see you once again.

He’s been faithful, faithful to me…

Carole Cymbala – Director of Brooklyn Tabernacle choir.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 293

Fear had taken hold of me one Saturday morning, as I attended the emergency clinic at the Doctor’s surgery. 

One night, some weeks earlier I had experienced what I thought was the onset of a heart attack, which had resulted in Gillian calling for the emergency Doctor. 

I lay on our couch that night, shaking and perspiring as the Doctor did a thorough examination and gave me his verdict. 

He told me that I was having a panic attack, brought on by stress. This was all new to me, and after he had gone, it was life back to normal again…or so I thought.

We were in our first few years of married life and I was  just 30 years old. 

A few days later, I was driving and experienced the same symptoms all over again; it then escalated with me being scared to be in crowded room, as I was afraid that the same thing would happen in public. 

Heart palpitations started to occur every night as I put my head on the pillow. 

I honestly felt that I would never break free, and so decided after yet again feeling unwell, that I would attend the surgery on that Saturday morning, driven by one of my leaders.

There were just three of us waiting for a consultation and I nervously waited my turn, when all of a sudden I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say these words… “What are you doing here, man of God?”

I was shocked and almost wondered if anyone else heard it, but obviously not, so I simply stood to my feet and walked out, without saying a word to anyone. 

As I walked back to the car, nothing had changed, but everything had changed.  God had spoken.  

His voice was so clear that I knew that He was telling me to get out of there.  I knew there and then that I was looking in the wrong place for my healing and that my problems weren’t physical at all, but in fact were brought about by anxiety and fear. 

I told the Devil that day in no uncertain terms that if I were to die, I would be going straight to Heaven anyway, so he could no longer bind me with fear, as either way he would lose…I was on the winning side. 

I never did go back, and lying in bed one night some weeks later, I realised that the palpitations had ceased and I was healed. 

As I recall my story today, I know that someone else will be experiencing what I had gone through all those years ago. 

Fear is such a powerful force that it is literally able to form your future, if you’ll let it. 

Remember that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.

Today, be strong and walk out on your fear – tell it that you are no longer in a relationship with it. 

Be set free. 

1 John 4:18 ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 292

No matter how much you think you know, you should always be willing to take another step of growth towards your destiny. 

Failing to put yourself into new possibilities can keep you from experiencing some of life’s richest adventures. 

Over 15 years ago now, I had the growing desire within me that I should go to Seattle. I had no idea where it was or how to get there, but I just knew that it was to be part of my destiny.

After 10 years had passed, I asked the Lord why I had not yet been to such a place. His answer simply stated that it was because I hadn’t made the plan to go. 

I’d been waiting for God to open the door and He’d been waiting for me to walk through it. 

Within 12 months, and with our three small children in tow, we boarded the 10 hour flight and arrived in North-West America, not knowing where we were staying or who with. 

All these years later, I can safely say that that one trip forged something in our hearts and has helped shape us, and our church, into something beyond what would have been possible if we had not gone with the leading that I had felt deep within me.

Today, we still have great friends in that part of the world; they have enriched and stretched our lives and we still remain in contact to this day. 

If we resist moving into new horizons, then we become like a plant that’s outgrown its container.

Have you ever noticed something when you remove such a plant from its pot? The roots only ever grow to the size of the environment that it’s in – they will only grow further when moved to a new environment. 

That happens with us too; if you feel that you need to be stretched, then make a plan to put yourself in a new environment with bigger people. 

As someone once said…”If you want to fly with the Eagles then you must stop messing around with the turkeys.”

Add someone to your life who is smarter, more knowledgable and wiser than you are.

Go somewhere that will stretch you in your field of work. 

Make friends with someone that you look up to and ask them if you could occasionally learn from their lives over a coffee.

With the right mentor, you will expand and grow faster than if you’d tried to go it alone. 

If you could ask a person just one question to help you grow, what would it be?

Write it down…and God will help you to ‘collide’ with such a person. 

Keep the growing going.  

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 291

Smith Wigglesworth was born on 8 June 1859 to an impoverished family in Yorkshire.

As a small child, he worked in the fields pulling turnips, alongside his mother.

He was illiterate until, at the age of 23, he married Polly, who taught him to read. He often said that the Bible was the only book he ever read.

He was a successful plumber by trade, but had to abandon it after he became too busy with an amazing worldwide ministry of preaching and healing.

There are accounts of at least a dozen people being raised from the dead after he prayed for them, one such person was his wife, who complained to him that Heaven was far too wonderful to come back.

He said on one occasion that he would rather see one person come to know Jesus through his preaching than 10,000 healed.

Life was not always easy for Smith Wigglesworth. He went through some very hard times. He wrote, ‘Great faith is a product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.’

The Bible is very realistic when it comes to describing how we all have to go through hard times, stating that it is these very trials that make us rather than break us.

Smith Wigglesworth’s life inspires us to understand that out of some of the most difficult beginnings, an amazing plan can unfold if you will simply hand your life over to God.

Stop thinking that something is wrong when you go through difficulties; stress and strain are all part of life’s rich tapestry of forging something deep inside of us that can never be bought.

What does an obstetrician say when a pregnant mother
complains about morning sickness and her clothes getting too tight? He simply says that it’s all part of the process of giving birth to something very special.

Today, don’t try to escape the pain, the conflict and problems of your life, instead embrace them as your best teacher and your best life coach.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 290

‘I am H.A.P.P.Y

I am H.A.P.P.Y

I know I am, I’m sure I am,

I’m H.A.P.P.Y’

Remember that song?

It’s wonderful to know that you’re happy and to be sure that you are. But happiness is based on happenings…

‘The sun is shining, I feel happy…’

‘The kids are behaving, I feel happy…’

‘We had my favourite dinner, I feel happy…’

‘I won that contract from work, I feel happy…’

‘I had a great weekend… I feel happy.’

The problem with that is, when you don’t have a great weekend, or when things don’t go your way, or the sun isn’t shining (which is often in England) then you may not.

Happenings aren’t always great. So what should be our story instead?

When you have a relationship with God, the way you feel shouldn’t depend on happenings, but something far greater. It’s called JOY.

Joy comes from within, not without. 

That wonderful knowledge that all is well, even though it seems like it isn’t. 

Joy comes from knowing God and that He has a great purpose for my life. 

Don’t let your life or your state of mind or your face depend on happenings. Instead, know that wonderful joy in your heart that only God can give. 

Joy each day will come through your relationship with God and your prayer life. Talking with Him and allowing Him to speak to you. Sharing your thoughts and concerns, and letting Him replace them with His peace. 

I learnt this simple illustration many years ago

J = Jesus

O = others

Y = yourself.

It’s still accurate today.

Here’s a great verse from 1 Thessalonians 5. 

‘Always be joyful, never stop praying and be thankful in all circumstances, because THIS is God’s will for your life.’

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 289

Have you ever received a gift that you’ve never used? For whatever reason, it’s still in your wardrobe, or it’s in a drawer beneath your bed and you haven’t seen it since it was given to you…

I am of course referring to a physical, tangible gift. But I wonder how many of you have done the exact same thing with the gift that God has given to you…

You see, God has placed something on the inside of each one of us, and that something is a gift. Now, you have two choices when it comes to what you do with that gift – you can either hide it away or you can put it to work.

God has put something in your hand that has the power and the potential to make a difference in this world, but for many of you, your gift still has the tags on (speaking figuratively).

Can I encourage you today to take a hold of the gift that God has given to you and put that thing to work? Whether it’s a gift to play sport, or to be a doctor/nurse, maybe right now you are a barista at Starbucks…whatever your gift may be, God wants to use you! Be the best you can be, give it everything you’ve got, and watch how God will elevate and promote you to higher levels in the process.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 288

We all want to live a stress-free life without having to work at it, but it can’t be done. 

Here are a few simple things that we can remind ourselves of from time to time, so that we can live a longer, more balanced and blessed life. 

  1. Make time each day to spend time in prayer and reading God’s word.
  2. Eat right – a balanced diet isn’t having a biscuit in each hand.
  3. Exercise 3-5 times a week for 30 mins – it’s the great stress reliever.
  4. Develop better time management habits for home and work.
  5. Make room in your life for fun.
  6. Get enough sleep – 6 hours is a recommended minimum.
  7. Start counting your blessings.
  8. Maintain your sense of humour.
  9. When you talk to yourself, say nice things.
  10. If you look like your passport photo, you probably need a holiday.
  11. Forgive. Grudges are too heavy to carry.
  12. Don’t just be blessed…be a blessing wherever you go.   
Pastor Mark
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 287

There is not one single person reading this today that will be exempt from temptation. In fact, everyone at some time this week will be tempted.

Someone right now reading this will be battling with the most severe temptation of their lives and you are doing everything you can just to stay afloat.

Temptations are like presents – they come gift wrapped, in all shapes and sizes, right to your door. The urge will be to open them as soon as possible.

Temptation also brings with it many misconceptions, so that it gets you down on yourself, even if it can’t get you to open the whole parcel.

Here are some misconceptions about temptation:

  • Temptation is sin – No it isn’t! Jesus was tempted but never sinned. Temptation’s job is to lead us to sin, but it is not sin itself.

Hebrews 4:15 ‘Jesus…has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.’

  • I’m the only one struggling with temptation right now – No, you’re not! Temptation is common to all people.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.’

  • There’s no way that I can overcome this temptation – Yes you can!

1 Corinthians 10:13 ‘…But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’

  • I’m a very strong person, so I’ll never get pulled down by temptation – be careful!

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

  • I’ll be glad when this phase of my life is over – This phase will pass, but beware that temptation will be part of your life until the day that you die!

Luke 4:13 ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [Jesus] until an opportune time.’

Whatever you’re going through right now, be sure to know that you are not alone. Jesus has gone through it all for you, so that you can overcome. Ask Him to strengthen you right now.

Remember – there’s always free cheese on a mouse trap…so walk on by.

Ephesians 6:10-12 ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 286

A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but a certain set of attitudes.

I was recently bought Sir Alex Ferguson’s book titled ‘Leading’.

It’s an exceptional book.

It’s well worth the read, especially for anyone leading anything – even if you have no interest in football. 

In the early pages of his book he says these words…” If I was starting out again as a manager, the thing I would focus on the most is a players attitude during training sessions.”

Today, it would appear that too much emphasis is placed on an individual’s ability or gift. People get drawn in by charisma not realising that they are very short on character.  When this happens, the person’s life becomes ‘top heavy’, and it’s only a matter of time before he or she is going to topple. 

Ability and gift, when you think about it, don’t originate with the person, as they have little to do with it – it was given to them to use and is on loan; yet over-emphasis in that department leads to a person feeling superior, just as if they had done something to deserve it.  

Focusing on character and attitude brings with it a humility that can sustain natural ability and gifting, so much so that when person with a great attitude gets to the top of his game, they are able to remain level-headed and in most cases understand that the gift that they possess is just that – a gift. 

A great attitude brings with it a certain appeal that in itself brings promotion. 

Attitude determines three very distinct things, much like in an aircraft taking off; the speed of the plane is important, but the plane can only take off when what is called ‘altitude’ is correctly achieved. Altitude is when a plane’s nose is pointed up at the correct angle. Once speed is achieved, then attitude determines whether or not the plane will climb. 

Everything on a flight can be set correctly, but if a plane’s altitude is set wrong it will eventually crash. 

  1. Attitude determines altitude – how high you climb in life is determined by your attitude. 
  2. Attitude determines how quickly you will get there – getting to your destination in life, on time, is determined by your attitude. 
  3.  Attitude determines your success when you get there – just because you may feel that you have ‘arrived’, that’s no guarantee that you will make it when you are there – that is left in the hands of your attitude. 

Time and time again, I have watched gifted people come crashing down because their attitude was wrong, but equally so I have watched far lesser gifted people rise because their attitude was right. 

The message is simple: ignore the importance of attitude at your peril. 

Numbers 14 v 24 ‘But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.’ (NLT)

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 285

A lady had been married for many years to a very controlling husband.

Each day, she would have to work through the list of jobs that he would leave for her to accomplish while he was out at work. 

Checklists were written out on pieces of cardboard for each day of the week, so that he could keep an eye on the endless jobs. 

Her whole life had become a painful drudgery of going through the motions of a loveless marriage. 

Some years after her husband died, she married the man of her dreams. 

He loved her, and placed none of the expectations on her that she had gotten so used to.   

One day, as she was cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, she stumbled upon one of the old lists of ‘things to do’, left over from her previous husband. To her amazement, she was doing every one of the things on the list, but this time without any feelings of drudgery. 

Instead, she felt quite the opposite, in that she was happy to do them for a husband that loved her. It became obvious to her that doing things out of love was so different from doing things because she had to. 

Have you ever got yourself into a position whereby you know exactly what it feels like to do things because you feel you have to rather than because you want to?

Often, our lives can become just a list of never ending chores…take the kids to school, clean the house, go to work, cook the tea, wash up…the list is endless and repeats itself on a daily basis. 

Sometimes we can lose sight of our own personal happiness in doing all these tasks because we start to see them as a drudgery, rather than being thankful that we have a home, we have children, we have food and we have a job. 

Today, I encourage you to take a look again at your life, and rather than seeing it as a list of negatives, see it as a positive in that you are blessed to be able to do them.  

See what happens this week when you start to do things out of a grateful heart.  I can guarantee that you and everyone else around you will notice a big difference in the atmosphere of your home. 

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 284

For the past few years, my wife has come up with an ingenious plan to create more wardrobe and drawer space in our bedroom.  

At the end of the winter, we pack all of our winter clothes neatly away in plastic bags, label them and put them up in the loft. 

Now that we have just gone into the autumn and we know that there’s no turning back towards a very late summer, we have just done the reverse and have put all our summer stuff in bags, up the loft and in turn have filled up all the empty wardrobe space with our winter clothes.  

Gillian, you are a genius; everyone is now planning to do the same to gain that all year round wardrobe space. 

With the onset of each season, we have known instinctively when it’s time to reach for that extra layer and pull out that thicker jacket. 

Not so easy to distinguish are the seasons of our lives, whereby we have to gauge and discern when a new season is upon us. 

For instance, if you don’t know you’re in a new season, you won’t be dressed correctly for it, and equally so, if you don’t realise that one season has turned into another, you can miss its beauty.

Life for all is made up of differing seasons. Some of them are warm and summery whilst others are cooler and bring with them a sense of loss, just like leaves falling from a tree. Greater still is the cold long winter days that see everything lying dormant within the ground. 

The key is to understand the season and therefore understand the appropriate response towards it. 

Take for instance the springtime, where everything is bursting into new life. You may well have a friend that is in springtime right now and everything shouts life, health and growth. However, you may well be in the winter season of your life, where everything is seemingly dead or dying. If you don’t know your season, then the tendency will be to compare notes with your friend and walk away feeling that God has deserted you and favoured your friend. 

That’s not the truth at all, as it’s just a simple matter of seasons. 

Don’t try to live in a constant summertime, as it’s never going to happen, but understand that if you’re going to have an amazing and fruitful life you have to appreciate and go through each distinct season. 

Today, I encourage to ask God to show you which season you’re in, so that you know how to respond. 

Hebrews 10:35-39 ‘So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’ And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 283

We talked a few days ago about learning through hard times.
I want to continue that thought today with this…

The hard way will often be your best friend.

Life is all about learning and I’m glad I went through a lot of ‘stuff’, many years ago.
I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if it wasn’t for those difficult times.
Hard times can often be our best times, because they shape us.

The times when we had no money were hard times, but they taught me so much. They taught me to trust God, because He will never let me down.

Whatever hard time you are going through today, it may become your best friend. It may help you to become the person you need to be.
I say ‘may’ because that’s up to you.

What is a best friend?
Someone who won’t let you down.
Someone who will tell you as it is.
Someone who wants to get the best out of you.
Someone who will make you see yourself as you really are.

And those are what hard times can actually do for you.

James 1:2-4 says that we should ‘count it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, because it will produce something in us.’

Pure joy? Is he joking?

No, he knew the secret of the trial and that it is actually for your good.
Let something great be produced out of your trials today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 282

Prayer shouldn’t be a burden but a privilege – a privilege God has freely given to us because He wants to spend time with us. 

Jesus died to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God, and when we give our lives to Him, we have a personal relationship with Him. In fact, we only have access to God because of what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection. 

He opened the way for us once and for all to come freely to Him. 

Central to any relationship is communication. A father that never talks to his children, or a married couple that never speak to each other is a recipe for defeat in any relationship. 

In a far greater way, our relationship with God involves communication – not just a brief hello, but a much deeper level of sharing our cares, concerns and requests with Him. 

Prayer is simply talking with God – it’s a two way street just like any other relationship. 

God could of course simply do everything on His own. He could make every problem go away, sort all your burdens out, and then just shower you with everything you need exactly at the time you need it – so why doesn’t He? Because that wouldn’t be a relationship; it would be a completely one-sided acquaintance.

God has given us the privilege of prayer so that we will have a moment-by-moment friendship and relationship with Him. 

There are some things that my children have asked me for over the years that I haven’t been able to supply, but then there are times when I’ve sorted things straight away.  

Often my phone will ring and the voice on the other end is saying, “Dad…can you…?”  The truth is that any Dad loves to be asked for things or to do things by his children. It’s the stuff of relationships.  

At other times the call comes from me to my children. Maybe I need to address them about something or give them some information; and so it is with God, He wants you to not only communicate with Him, but He also wants to communicate with you. 

Jesus demonstrated the importance of prayer by His own example, where we are told that ‘He got up very early in the morning, while it was still dark, to pray.’ (Mark 1 v 35).

Today, I encourage you to engage with God in the privilege of prayer. 

1 John 5:14-15 ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 281

I was taught a very simple bedtime prayer by my parents who prayed with me from the earliest recollection of my childhood. 

I don’t remember the transition from being prayed with, to me being left to pray by myself, but I do remember the feeling that I must never go to sleep without going through the little prayer ritual that I was taught. 

Even at a young age, I can recall thinking that I wish that I could now pray with a little more meaning, rather than just go through the motions, but I didn’t know how to escape the same old phrases that had been ingrained into my young mind. 

Although not a Christian at the time, in the truest sense of knowing Jesus in a personal way,  I was around 15 or 16 when I felt the urge to move forward into praying each day for other things that bothered me.

I kept a secret prayer folder that I would even take on holiday, and at certain times in the day I would find a quiet spot to go through my prayers. 

It was quite a burdensome thing really when I think about it; I was praying to God…but I didn’t know Him. 

Now, more than 40 years later from those early teenage prayers, I am still learning about prayer, and today I share with you my following experience…

At around 17, I had become a follower of Christ and many years later, having seen many answers through my daily prayers, I started to feel that the little ritual of praying as a child had now become a bigger ritual as an adult. 

Feelings of guilt would come over me if I would even so much miss a day without praying in a morning. Every prayer list that I kept over the years had to be prayed through systematically. I had countries of the world to cover, children’s names in Africa and beyond, problem people and people’s problems, not to mention personal things only known to myself. I would cover a whole array of things and to be honest, I was trapped into believing that if I didn’t pray daily for them,  the whole world might come to a standstill, well not quite, but at least the people that I prayed for might. 

It has only been in recent years that I realised that prayer is often a burden for people and circumstances, but prayer isn’t a burden in itself. It’s a wonderful daily two way conversation with God. 

Every morning, I’m still keeping my appointment in prayer, but instead of feeling that the weight of responsibility was all mine, it is now fairly and squarely on the one that gave His life for me – Jesus. 

Prayer is not just a ritualistic working through a set of requests, but is so much more; it’s an hourly, moment-by-moment relationship with God. 

Smith Wigglesworth, a plumber from Bradford that was used mightily by God in early 1900’s, said that he rarely prayed for more than ten minutes at a time, but there was rarely ten minutes that passed where he hadn’t prayed. 

Today, I still love to focus my prayers by having very definite names and circumstances to pray over every week and I’d encourage you to do the same. However, be mindful that you don’t get caught in the trap of going through the ritual of prayer without the relationship of prayer. 

John 15:7, 13-15 ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.’

Philippians 4:6-7 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 280

There’s an old saying that we all know: ‘time passes quickly when you’re having a good time.’

It’s an accurate assessment and is very true. 

We can all remember that week away on a family holiday, where we saw everything just fall into place.  The accommodation was great, the food was great, the weather was great and the icing on the cake was that no one argued and fell out.  The down side was that the whole event came and went in what felt like an instant. 

No matter how you tried to slow the whole thing down, time would not stand still. 

However, there is another truth and it’s this: ‘time passes quickly when you’re having a bad time.’

Now I know that you’re going to argue that this is not true, as you’ve experienced the worst month of your life, and it’s felt like it would never end – I do agree. 

You want time on these occasions to hurry up don’t you, but it seems as though every hour is like a day. 

Think about this: whether in a good time or a bad time, time passes at exactly the same rate. It’s quick.

Another old saying becomes reality: ‘time stands still for no man.’

I was wanting to give a wake up call to a group of young leaders some weeks ago, and so I asked them how many remembered the Millennium celebrations.

Some were barely out of nappies (at the Millennium that is) but many recalled the events of that night.

That night was almost 16 years ago now. How incredible that time has raced on for every single one of us, no matter what. 

I went on to tell the group that if we take that same amount of time again from today, then I will be turning seventy years of age; I will be the age that my grandparents were when they were really old!

For everyone today that’s living a dead-end life, doing a dead-end job and feels no passion to get out of bed in the morning, then I remind you that ‘time passes quickly when you’re having a bad time.’

Why keep doing that which clearly isn’t working?

Why keep being miserable doing what you hate doing, every day?

Why keep merely surviving when there is a life to be had that will see you thriving?

Someone once said that ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again whilst expecting to get different results.’

There comes a time in life when you need to give yourself a check-up and ask those searching questions like ‘why am I doing what I am doing?’

Don’t be afraid to change careers. Go with your passion. 

Maybe you need to change your set of friends that are holding you back?

Maybe you are resisting the spiritual element of your life and are refusing to surrender your life to God?

Is fear holding you back from a great future? Then take a step of faith today.

Always remember: fear looks, but faith leaps.

Luke 13:6-9 Then Jesus told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” ‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down”. 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 279

Take a moment to read this passage from the New Testament…

1 Peter 4:15-16 ‘If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.’

We could well find ourselves asking the question…’what is a meddler?’

Is there such a thing in the 21st Century?

Why is it in the same category as murderers, thieves and criminals?

Whatever it is, it must be bad.

Here we go…

A meddler is a busy body- someone that interferes with, or concerns themselves with something that is none of their business.

It’s basically a word that sends out a loud and clear message: mind your own business

I have to admit, I don’t think that I’ve heard anyone ever talk about this in such a serious way, so why would the Bible make it out to be such an offensive thing and list it amongst criminal activity?

Is it not because you have your own life to live and take responsibility for, and therefore to use up your energy trying to poke your nose into everyone else’s business is like playing God with other people’s lives?

God is wanting to send us a clear message that what other people do with their lives should never take away your focus from what you’ve been called to do. 

A modern day classic illustration would be found in the realm of social media. 

Right now we are able to view people’s pictures, where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We can see what they’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner and who they are eating it with. We become party to their party and to top it all, we’re even invited to comment.

Self-esteem nowadays is subject to how many ‘likes’ we get on our statuses, and if it’s less than 10, our whole world crumbles around us. 

People’s lives have never been made so accessible to so many.

We can spend hours everyday trawling social media to find out the latest gossip and info on anyone’s life that we so wish. We can’t go to sleep at night without mentally rearranging everyone’s lives first. 

Is it any wonder that meddling is such a modern day curse?

We are using up so much of our energy to internally fight over why they shouldn’t have said that to that person and why Paul shouldn’t be dating Lucy, and why that selfie is so unflattering.  

Just think of how free you could become to use your energy and focus doing good with your own life, if you’d simply mind your own business.

Murderers, thieves and criminals have one thing in common in that they are all facing a prison sentence. 

Sadly, being a meddler is just the same; you are chaining yourself as you meddle with so many people’s lives that you are no longer free to sort yourself out. 

When was the last time that you consciously stopped trying to live everyone else’s life for them and took care of your own?

The only time we should engage in other people’s lives in this way should be for the common good – to lift them, to care for them, to support them and to pray for them.  

Meddling is a meaningless and energy-sapping mental distraction. Stop playing God and be content to practise leadership on your own life.

Make a conscious effort today to pull away from meddling, and use all that freed up time to make your own life count for the good of others. 

Freedom!

Happy day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 278

There is a longing in every human heart to belong.
Wikipedia says ‘there is a strong and inevitable feeling that exists in every human heart to belong.’

A couple of years ago, a boy called Dorion Only, who had been in foster care all of his 15 years, made a heartfelt plea at his church at the end of a service for someone to adopt him. Within a few short weeks, over 10,000 people enquired and two years later he was adopted into the family of his case worker that had known him since he was seven years old. A wonderful happy ending to the story and a new beginning for Dorion.

Wherever you are from and whoever you are, you have a desire to belong. You may not recognise that right now, but it’s true.

You may belong to a great natural family, or you may not, but God wants you to know there is a greater family – it’s called the Family of God, that you can belong to.
When you come into relationship
(not religion) with Jesus Christ you belong to HIS family.

God wants you to belong. Get into His family. You’re invited.

Join a great church, get planted and become a part.
Do it today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 277

We all have to learn and keep on learning.

However, learning can often come the hard way.

Wouldn’t it be great if learning was all easy?

Learning takes time, energy and can even be painful.

Like teaching a child to ride a bike – for some it comes easily, for others not so easily.

Some learn well and ride almost instantly and others fall off time and time again before they get it. As a parent, your patience is tested. I wonder how God feels with us?

Do you keep making the same mistake…like burning the dinner?

Something is wrong.

Or more serious mistakes? Something needs to change.

In life, there are some important lessons to learn and often we fall down whilst learning.

Here are some trustworthy sayings…

‘It’s ok to fall, as long as you fall forward.’

That means, learn from it and be a little further down the road because of it.

‘It’s not how many times you fall, but getting up again that counts.’

Don’t give up learning to do whatever it is you need to learn. Get back up stronger and more determined that with God’s help, you will do it.

‘The quicker you get back up, the more chance you have of finishing the race.’

I love those races where someone trips and falls, but then they get up and go on to win the race! Way to go!

That’s how it should be with us.

Ask God to help you.

Seek forgiveness.

Ask for His wisdom.

Get back up stronger and go for it!

Have a great weekend.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 276

Have you ever hosted a social event at your home and had a guest that didn’t figure out it was time to leave?

You’ve started to put away the food. The music has been turned off and everyone else, apart from the people that live there, have gone home. 

You try to be polite because you don’t want to ask them to leave.  

You drop hints about being sleepy and needing to get up early the next day, but the person remains oblivious to your subtle comments. 

You dim the lights and consider leaving them to lock up. You even think of excusing yourself so that you can get your pyjamas on, but fear that they still may be standing there at breakfast time.   

When they eventually do go, you’ve already made up your mind that they won’t be invited back again for quite some time, if ever!

Just like that party wasn’t meant to go on for ever, so it is with the current situation that you’re in – it’s not here to stay and neither are you. 

Maybe you’ve been relying too heavily on the comfort of your current life, thinking that this is how it’s always going to be, not taking the hint that it’s time to move on and trust God for the next party of your journey. 

Letting go is especially hard for some people, particularly fearful people.

Holding onto stuff will eventually block you from going to the next level in your life. 

We all hang on to things- people, relationships, jobs, houses – because we are afraid that nothing else will come along.  

Don’t limit your life with tunnel vision – it’s making you outstay your welcome in that safe place; instead, be prepared to fully trust God for the next part of your journey, knowing that He has greater things for you ahead.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 275

There’s a reason why people employ personal trainers. When you become serious about staying or getting fit, you recognise that you need a plan. 

A personal trainer helps you to establish an order for your workout, according to the health goals you have set and the results you want to achieve. 

Once you have a plan in place, getting to the level of physical fitness you want will take time. 

Setting your priorities in order in an area of your life, becomes like having a personal trainer.

When your life is not in order, you feel discomfort. A little speck of dust can give you unbelievable pain, and so can an area of your life in chaos. 

How many times have you looked at the clutter that’s gathered in your spare room and have vowed to do something about it for at least the last two years, but have now opted to just keep the door closed so as not to make you feel bad about the junk?

Your life may be in total chaos right now, but that just means now is a good time to start setting some priorities. You can’t change everything at the same time and you can’t change everything quickly, but you can make a start.

Our bedroom had been in major need of re-decoration ever since we moved house, a few years back. Every time I walked in there, I would promise that it would get tackled…but it never did; that was until last year when  I made a plan and took the time to choose the wallpaper and paint with my wife. I then took a few days holiday to get it looking beautiful again. The truth is that no amount of thinking, praying or good intentions was ever going to get the job done. I had to make a plan and then plan to carry it out. 

Today, for instance, you may want to start a financial plan by setting a budget, cutting up a couple of your credit cards or getting someone in that’s good with budgets and finance. 

The key is to start. 

Ordering your life doesn’t happen by magic, but by sheer dedication to staying on top of things every day. 

Human beings function best when there is structure in their lives, but it often takes time to get your life in order. 

Ask yourself today: what chaos in my life needs to be given priority, so that I can focus my energy on that one thing before moving onto the next?

Often, we get paralysed by the amount of things that we need to address, so much so that we end up doing nothing. Everyday we just get more and more overwhelmed with the clutter in our lives. 

What do you need to give your attention to today?

Here are four simple steps…

Focus. 

Plan. 

Work. 

Done. 

Proverbs 24:30-34 ‘I went past the field of a sluggard [habitually lazy person] past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 274

There are several times in our lives, when how something looks isn’t necessarily how it actually is. Living our lives dictated by how something appears can stop blessings and lessons, if we don’t overcome that habit.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, for instance…

1)…when you fall into the trap of comparison.

We live in an age where it is all too easy to compare our behind-the-scenes with the highlights reels of someone else’s life. That person that has a sparkling existence is facing their own personal battle. Don’t be disheartened because others appear to have what you may want.

2…when you’re being obedient.

In The Bible, before King David became a king, he was just a boy, doing as he was told. When he took Goliath on and went on to defeat him, he didn’t look like the obvious choice. Yet he was God’s choice. When you are living out your calling, not everyone will understand. When God has chosen you, that won’t matter.

3…when you’re waiting for your miracle.

In Genesis, we read the account of Noah and the Flood. You probably haven’t thought too much about how scary the great flood was but imagine relentless rain for 40 days and 40 nights and looking out to see the same thing, day after day. When we are waiting for our breakthrough, we may find ourselves in circumstances that have been the same for a long time. If Noah had been become impatient and left the ark before the water had left the Earth, he’d have drowned. Remember: the flood and the ark preserved Noah and his family; its purpose was never to destroy them. When you find yourself in a flood, wait on God.

Remember, God sees beginning to end in all seasons and situations. Don’t lose heart, when things don’t appear to be going as you had hoped. Take heart and know that God is working things out for your good.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 273

I want to ask how many of you suffer from back ache?

You may say “me!”

A lot more of us have a different kind of back ache. It’s called carrying too many burdens…

You get weighed down with heavy stuff, you carry too much worry and anxiety.

You get concerned about so much this and that…and it’s HEAVY.

There’s nothing I like more than my husband to be with me when I’m shopping. Why? So he can carry my bags.

Why do we carry around stuff that is heavy when there is one who wants to carry it for us?

I would not struggle home from the supermarket with heavy bags, if there was one more able than I to carry them.

Yet we hang on to stuff that’s heavy and cumbersome, so much that it makes our back ache.

You can carry something for so long that it gives you permanent back ache – it affects the whole of your being.

Let it go today. There is one who not only wants to take it, but He is able.

You can be free.
Free from burdens. Free from back ache.

Let it go. Give it up. Feel the release.

1 Peter 5v7 ‘Cast your burden onto the Lord, because He cares for you.’

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 272

Occasionally, Gillian and myself get a takeaway on a Friday or Saturday night.

Sometimes, it’s just the two of us or for specials, it’s with one or more of our kids.

We all know that feeling, when you can’t face cooking yet again, especially when your taste buds are saying…’give me Chinese or Indian.’

Sometimes that takeaway is just what’s going to hit the spot, and it’s as easy as picking up the phone, ordering your favourite dish and popping out to pick it up.

As you sit there eating, you feel satisfied not only with the food, but also with the fact that you didn’t have to prepare it and there are no pots and pans to wash.

There are also times in our lives when we need a spiritual takeaway.

We sit down on an evening and feel that we crave something good and wholesome to satisfy our spiritual craving.

Just last week I began to think, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow recommend, and then provide instant and easy access to some of the finest spiritual food outside of being fed at Church on a Sunday morning?’

What if your craving is in the middle of the night as your problems keep you awake, or during the day when you may feel spiritually low? In reality, are you really going to flick the God channels and find just what you need right there and then?

Well…here is the perfect solution to offer everyone of the 1500 strong family of Fresh Hope. (A special welcome to the 70 folk that have joined us for the first time in September).

Below is a link to  what I consider to be one of my top 5 teaching videos by the legendary John Maxwell. I know it will greatly inspire and feed you. You just need to set aside 40 minutes to watch it and skip to 35 minutes in.

Click here to watch the video.

If it works well for you, then please look out for a fresh takeaway each month.

Enjoy.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 271

There are times when you may say, “it’s not fair”. Sound familiar?

There are times when your desire for what you want, is greater than the desire for what He wants.

There are times when you cry out “what about me?”

There are times when your own hardship and inconvenience becomes too much and you back down from what you really should be doing.

When God sent Jesus to the cross, what if He had said “It’s not fair.” or “What about me?”

What if His desires had been greater than the greater purpose or     what He was asked to do was too much of an inconvenience?

His actual words were, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”

 

Thank God that Jesus is not like me.

We are called to a much higher calling than ourselves.

It’s not about me. It’s about Him.

Commit yourself afresh today to a greater cause than you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 270

I read an article in the news recently about a man who had sued his newly wed wife after waking up next to her the morning after their wedding thinking she was an intruder…

She had been wearing so much makeup for her big day, that when she washed it all off the next morning, she looked like a totally different person.

Thinking it was a burglar wanting to steal from their apartment, the man jumped out of bed, about to call the police until he realised that it was actually the woman he had committed his life to. This lady had become unrecognisable overnight.

I was reading the book of Colossians a few days ago and a particular verse stood out to me. It’s found in chapter 3 and it says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

What this verse is saying is that when you accept Jesus into your life, God no longer sees you for who you are, but for who Jesus is – you have become hidden in Christ. You’ve taken on a whole new identity. No longer are you recognisable to those who once knew you, you are now a new creation!

If you want to experience this new way of living today, then all you have to do is simply ask Jesus into your heart, and in a moment, the old has gone, and the new has come… Welcome to this new life of living with God.

It seems too good to be true, but the best thing about the Gospel (the Good News) is that it really is that good, and it is absolute truth, that can transform our lives if we allow it to.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 269

We live in a culture where everyone wants to live a long life but no one wants to grow old. 

Unlike our great- grandparents’ generation, it’s considered much easier to live a long life – at least in this country with freely available medical aid.  

However, the primary goal of our life should not be longevity, but should be that of giving significance and value to our years. 

Most of the products we buy at the supermarket have an expiry date.  If ever I go food shopping on my own, the last words that my wife utters as I leave the door is…’make sure you get the best sell by date’.

None of us knows our expiration date, but we do know that it’s coming. 

Since we know that this is true, how should we approach the days that God has given us?

A mother eagle gets her eaglets out of the nest when she senses that it’s time to fly. She does so by unpacking the nest of all its comfort, sending a signal to her babies that the discomfort that you are facing is a sign to get out and do what you were created to do. 

The day comes when every person must leave the security of their nest and pursue their destiny. However we all know people, and we could be one of them, that never come out of their nest. They always have an excuse for why they haven’t accomplished anything or why they’ve been hindered from fulfilling a dream. 

Today, I want to encourage you to get out of the safety and comfort of your nest and live the life that God has intended for you to live. 

Anne Frank lived only about 5,700 days, but the diary she wrote about her days in isolation during World War Two would touch the world.

Martin Luther King lived only about 14,300 days. But he changed history during his thirty-nine years. 

Seize the day…today. 

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days,that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.