Fresh Hope – January 30th 2016

Living the Christian life is not difficult …it’s impossible! That is, unless you know Jesus.

For many people, their understanding about Jesus is really a mis-understanding.

The idea of living in a Christian country or being a good and kind person means that you may consider yourself to already be a Christian and yet there is nothing to show for it.

Trying your best to live out that kind of a ‘good’ life is frustrating to say the least and lacks the power to do so at the best of times; not only that, but where is the peace and joy that you so desire but never experience by just tinkering with religion?

There are 3 ‘types’ of Christian…with only one of them being the real thing.

Nominal Christian – Meaning by name only, or ‘supposed’ to be a Christian. When anyone asks what religion you are, you maybe broadly say you are Christian because you or your parents went or go to church.

 
Religious Christian – When you go to hospital and they ask you to fill out a form, one of the questions will be ‘what religion are you?’ What answer do you give? For many people the answer will be ‘Christian’…even though you may not even believe in God!
This is also a person that believes that being good is all that it’s takes – not so.

 
Real Christian – this is someone that has understood that the Gospel is not about good works or trying your best or being born in a Christian country but about placing your faith in all that Jesus has already done when He died on the cross for your sins. Christianity is not spelt DO but is spelt DONE. It’s not about TRYING, it’s about TRUSTING.

If you’ve ever wondered why there’s still a missing piece in your life even though you have everything in place to satisfy you, then it’s because you need to become a ‘real Christian’ by inviting Jesus into you life as leader and Lord.

If this sounds pretty foreign to what you’ve always believed, then take time to read these amazing verses and experience the real deal.

Titus 3:4-5 “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy….”

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

Why not pray a very simple and sincere prayer right now and ask Jesus to reveal himself to you in a real and personal way?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2016

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

In Proverbs 3 verse 1-2 it says ‘my son do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.’

God’s teaching and commands are there for a reason – why are they there?
To bring you prosperity and to prolong your life.

In our modern society, people think they have every right to please themselves with no thought for God or His word.
What people forget is this: God made you, God designed you, God has a perfect plan for your life.

If you operate within that, then your life will be long and your blessings will be many – choose to do the opposite and you do so at your own peril.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th January 2016

When it comes to technology, I’m an Apple guy. I love my iPhone, however as of late it’s been playing up. It reaches around a third of battery life before it suddenly shuts off with no pre-warning. Now, of course in order for the phone to once again reach its full purpose, it must be plugged in, or in other words, reconnected to the source.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 22, we find Jesus being asked what is the greatest commandment in all the law. Meaning, if you had to summarise the meaning of life in a sentence or two, Jesus, what would you say? And Jesus’ response was that we are to love God & love people -that’s  what life is truly all about.

Now can I suggest to you that we simply cannot accomplish such a thing without first being connected to the source, who is Jesus? You see, love comes from God. God is love defined. And unless we first receive His love, we cannot fulfil our purpose on this earth, which is to love God & love people.

Just like my phone has to be connected to a power socket, which allows power to flow through the charger and into the phone, so must we connect ourselves to God in order that His love may flow to us and also through us.

If you want to reach your full capacity, if you want to fulfil your purpose, then let me encourage you today to lean into and receive God’s love, a love that will transform your life from the inside out.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2016

We are almost one whole month into 2016 and if you are anything like a majority of the population, you will have made New Year’s resolutions or at least set some goals.

Statistically, 30% of us will have abandoned those resolutions by now. I want to encourage you today with words from Lamentations 3:22 & 23: ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.’

There is still time to decide to form new habits this year and see God change and shape our lives, in amazing ways that only He can. No matter what you’ve set out to do this year, whether it’s to get fitter, deepen your relationship with God, progress in your career, or something else entirely, here are some things that will help us today…

1) Commit your plans to God
Proverbs 16:3 says ‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.’

2) Be accountable
Find someone who will encourage you on tough days and celebrate with you on great days.

3) Be thankful
A spirit of gratitude is essential, when you are pushing towards something new. Reaching a goal can be painful at times but it is near impossible to be grateful and discontent at the same time. Choose an attitude of gratitude.

4) Bless others
We are not blessed merely for the sake of it. Be generous with your time, your kind words, your love; the more you grow, the more God can use you to enrich the lives of others. A year spent entirely focused on ourselves would be wasted. Sow good seeds; God already has plans to take care of what you need.

There will be times when we let ourselves down but God wants to equip us afresh every single day.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th January 2016

Over the last couple of days, we’ve looked at growing up.

Here are some good points that will help us in our growth.

‘Do I have to grow up?’
Unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb – the answer is ‘yes’.
Unless you want people to look at you and think that behaviour is strange – then yes.
If you want to advance in life and take hold of what God has for you – then yes.
If you want a good level of responsibility – then yes.
If you want God to trust you with great and exciting things – then yes.
If you want to do awesome things for God and make a significant difference – then yes.

Here’s some testers to see if you are growing…

From time to time, life throws difficult circumstances at us.
When I am faced with ‘stuff’ – how do I react?
Do I handle it differently to how I used to?
Does it affect me negatively?
How is my attitude when it is happening?
When you see people who you are mentoring grow in different situations, it’s very rewarding.
When your child learns to ride a bike, or write their name, it’s a great feeling.
How much more does God smile on us, when He sees that we are growing in certain areas?

You are never too old to learn or grow.
You are never too young to learn and mature.
Take responsibility for yourself and keep the growing going.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2016

“I wish I knew at 18 what I know now” is a phrase you will hear often. It speaks of the fact that since that time, people have not only gotten older, but wiser. They have learnt more things, gained more wisdom and ‘grown up’.

Like I said on Saturday, age is not always about ‘growing up’.

If you are healthy, you will grow. A healthy child grows and so does an adult.

A child walking to school sucking a dummy, may make you take notice and think that shouldn’t be.
An 8 year old drinking milk from a baby’s bottle, will identify that something is not right.
A 10 year old with Huggies ‘pull ups’ on will indicate that there is a problem.
Because when we grow, these things will change.

Yet, some adults are fully grown physically, yet not fully mature.
Certain areas of our lives are not fully developed, because we haven’t taken responsibility for ourselves.
Some people consistently make the same mistakes, fall into the same traps and seem to go round in circles, all because they don’t learn.

Paul in The New Testament addresses the Christians and tells them that ‘as a baby craves milk, we should crave God’s word.’ (1 Peter 2 vs2)

Things that will help you to grow up:

Prayer – a daily relationship with Jesus will change you and help you to become more like Him.

Reading the Bible – you will learn God’s ways and God’s truth and get guidance.

Being in a great church – will be a great environment for growth (like a greenhouse) where you will be taught and encouraged.

Being with God-centered people – They will help and encourage you on your journey and spur you on to greater things.

Happy growing!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2016

I wonder how old you are? I wonder how mature you are? For maturity has nothing to do with age. We can be 70 and immature and 17 and very mature.

Once we get old enough to not have to rely on an adult to feed us, clothe us and look after us, we have to learn to take responsibility for ourselves.
Unfortunately, some of us don’t.

We can be weak in areas in our lives, yet never take responsibility for ourselves.
A great time of prayer and fasting can reveal areas in our lives that need working on.

In 1 Timothy chapter 4, Paul is instructing the young Timothy to take responsibility and not to let anyone look down on him because he is young.

People who are mature and well-respected even at a young age, are so, because they are taking responsibility for themselves and have decided to get onto a road that leads to their growth.

Here are some things that Paul told Timothy – use them as a checklist to see how you are doing…

YOU have to set the example
YOU have to devote yourself
YOU have to develop your gift
YOU have to be diligent
YOU have to give yourself wholly
YOU need to watch YOUR life closely
YOU need to persevere in your calling

Let today be the day that you start to grow up!

Happy Saturday :)

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2016

You would expect that the very first public miracle that Jesus performed in the Bible would be quite the spectacle. And in many ways it was…He turned water into wine. But I want to turn your attention to what He used to facilitate that miracle… six stone water jars.

These water jars contained up to 30 gallons of water, the very same water that Jesus turned into wine at His friend’s wedding. Now, at the beginning of the day, nobody thought that these water jars would play any significant role at the wedding. They most definitely weren’t expecting these jars to facilitate a supernatural miracle. In fact, to most people, they were considered pretty worthless and useless. However, they were the very thing that Jesus decided He was going to use.

Can I suggest that at the beginning of this day, you too, feel pretty worthless and even useless? You consider yourself to be the least likely thing that God would want to use…HOWEVER, you’re just what God is looking for.

You see, when others see no hope in you, God sees potential. When you feel insignificant, God calls you a world changer and difference maker. Of little value though you may feel, you are God’s most prized possession. When God looks at you, He doesn’t just see you for who you are, but He sees you for who you could become.

And like the water jars, you may think that you have nothing to offer, but choose today to make yourself available and watch what God can do in and through your life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 365

I was driving overseas last year and I noticed that there was a warning etched on the rear view wing mirrors of the car. It said ‘Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.’

It was a warning based on a perception that things behind appear to be bigger than they actually are.

It got me thinking about how true that is.

When I’ve tried to look back over my own life on a bad day, I always tend to see a picture of the ‘good old days’, to which my wife quickly reminds me that they weren’t as good as you remember them.

My perception of what was behind is far too grand for what actually happened back then.

I forget that we were stony broke.

I forget that we had a lot of bad days made worse by bad people that wanted to take us down.

When I think about it now, I realise that what I saw behind me was completely the wrong picture.

I wonder if it’s the same for you?

For just as many people that look back with regret, there are those that look back with a desire to go back to the good times. It’s completely the wrong picture, in fact, no one that looks back has ever made a success of their lives.

Jesus had a fair bit to say on the subject too…

Luke 9:57-62 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’

Make a decision today, to only look forward but with great faith and anticipation of all that God has in store for you.

If you feel like stopping and glancing behind, then be reminded that a runner only does so near the finish line to ensure that he has won the race.

If you’re in any doubt about the past appearing to be far greater than it actually was, then take the warning from Jesus and keep moving forwards in faith.

Hebrews 10:39 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 364

There are three things that the Bible brings together under one roof, and invites you to participate in each one of them.

You are not commanded or forced to take part, you are simply invited.

To be invited, means that you are privileged -more privileged than someone that does so because they feel obligated.

Participating in any one of the things will reap its rewards, but I do believe that if you will participate in all three on a persistent basis, then your life will never be the same again.

What are those three things you may well ask?

All three are found in Matthew chapter 6, and they go like this:
Giving
Fasting
Prayer

At the end of the invitation to participate in each one of these, there is the same promise attached…”and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Giving, fasting and prayer brings with it a reward from God – it’s a promise on all three.

Just imagine what could happen if you consistently participated in not just one of these, but all three;

Don’t just decide to take up the invitation on special occasions, or when you feel like it, but let each one become ingrained into your lifestyle.

If you’ve chosen to fast and pray with us over these last 10 days, then I want to thank you for helping make a difference, but more than that, watch out, God is about to reward you – His words…not mine!

Take a few moments today to read Matthew chapter 6.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 363

I don’t know who you are, but I know that I’m here today to say to you…be strong and courageous.

You only have to delve into a few chapters of the Bible before you start seeing some much needed words.

In the 5th book of the Bible, God himself is giving a pep talk to Moses…
.
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Deuteronomy 31:6
V 7-8 Then Moses summoned Joshua…And said to him in the presence of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’

A short time later, God himself spoke to Joshua, the very same sentiments…

‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ Joshua 1:9

Why did they have to be told the same thing time and again?
Was it not because they, and we all need to be strong and courageous?

We all have to fight fear and discouragement.

No matter who you are, you’ll be battling through something today.

You may be fighting back the tears…fighting for your life. Wanting to give up. Your strength has gone.

Marriage is under pressure.

Kids have gone off the rails.

Battling sickness.

House is being repossessed.

Cheated on.

Talked about.

Criticised.

Life needs a non-stop flow of courage every day.

Old fashioned bravery is what we need, to live in this world.

You’re like the disciples in the boat in the fiercest of storms, and they say to Jesus who is asleep in the boat…’don’t you care that we are drowning?’ He gets up and says, ‘don’t be afraid…have faith…Peace be still.’

Don’t give up…your life matters more than you know.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 362

I love how God can speak to you through His word. You can read the Bible many times and each time you can receive something different from it.

Sometimes, the simplest of verses can bring us great truths.

In Genesis chapter 1 and verse 16, God is creating the Heavens and the Earth, it says that He made a great light for the day (the Sun) and a lesser light for the night (the moon).

I began to think about this: darkness and night time is natural, it’s all part of life, yet even in the dark times, God provides a great light.

That’s just like life; we all experience dark times. But just remember this: in the same way that He has provided the moon, He also provides light for your situations. God is always there, He will never leave you, and He will never forsake you.

The moon may not be as bright as the Sun, but it’s definitely there, and in the dark night sky it shines even brighter.

We sleep and rest during dark times naturally, so rest in your own darker experiences knowing that He has it covered.

Don’t ever think that God has left you. He hasn’t. In your dark times, He has provided everything you need to see your way through.

And remember this: the darkest time always comes before the dawn.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 361

Unfortunately, many people rely on happenings for their happiness. If things are going great, and if there is something to look forward to, they will be happy.

I was speaking to someone yesterday, who said that they were sad that Christmas had come and gone so quickly (aren’t we all) but now they have booked a summer holiday in August, everything is alright again because they have something to look forward to.

Although I understand what they were saying, I also feel sad that this is how people live… from  one happening to another.

God has something special for each one of us, and it’s called joy. Joy does not depend on happenings, it’s something far deeper, that even in difficult circumstances and hard times we can’t still be joyful.

JOY
JESUS – when you put Him first in your life and when you serve Him, He will bring great joy into your life.
OTHERS – when you put other people first and do your best to help encourage and lift them up, this brings great joy into your life.
YOURSELF – when you put yourself a little bit further down the line and when you put Jesus and others before you, you will receive great joy.

The Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5 16-18 tells us to be joyful in all circumstances, because this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.
When you know Him, this becomes your reality and joy will flow out of every situation – you won’t need to wait for happenings.

Be full of joy today!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 360

I remember hearing the story of a man who kept a private list of 15 men that he prayed for every day of his life.

Each day, he would pray for all 15 by name.

Some of them alcoholics, some of them criminals and some of them just plain old atheists.

His prayer was simple…”JESUS, I want each of these men to be transformed by you and for them to acknowledge you as their Lord and Saviour in my lifetime.”

The years rolled by, and one by one, he was able to tick the names of the men off his list as they surrendered their lives to Jesus.

As he lay dying, he was perturbed that his prayer for just one remaining hardened man had still been unanswered.

Would it be that this man would escape his prayers? Sadly, he never lived to find out.

However, the day of his of funeral came and at that very service, the man that he had prayed for almost all his life, surrendered his life to Jesus.

Fifteen out of fifteen.

Sometimes you can pray for something, but you don’t see the answer right away or maybe not even in your lifetime.

It maybe that the thing that you’re praying for is not ready, or is not God’s perfect timing yet.

Your prayers will not be ignored or discarded.

Prayers don’t have an expiration date, so keep praying for that loved one that seems a million miles away from God; keep praying for that impossible situation, keep believing for God to move.

He is doing much more behind your back than He is in front of your face.

Keep praying.

All things are possible…only believe.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 359

One of the longest times that I had ever prayed for something, happened in 1985.

I had started to make prayer lists of things that I was believing God for.

My list would have very specific content based on this verse of the Bible…

Philippians 4:6 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’

Each time that I made a specific list, I would place a date at the top of the page, so that I would know how long it took for the prayer to be answered.

I would only remove something or someone from the list when I saw the answer to prayer.

On this occasion, it was four years from praying to the time of receiving the answer.

Since then, I’ve prayed for much longer times before seeing God move in a situation.

‘P.U.S.H…is a great acrostic that will help you to grow some serious prayer muscle during this time of prayer and fasting and beyond.

Pray Until Something Happens.

Jesus told a great story to show us how important this is…

Luke 18:1-5 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’

Feeling bad that you keep asking God for the same thing time and time again?

Often, God wants to test you to see if what you’re asking for is really important to to you.

Remember: pray consistently, persistently, and pray specifically.

God loves you to communicate with Him about everything.

Don’t hold back…PUSH.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 358

I love the story in the Bible found in the book of Mark, chapter 11. It says, “The next day as they were leaving Bethany (speaking of the disciples), Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.”

In this story, Jesus demonstrates a principle that we must each apply to our own lives…’It either has to grow or it’s got to go.’ Upon approaching the fig tree, Jesus identified that what should have been bearing fruit was showing no signs of doing so and therefore was taking up valuable space. He then cursed the tree so that it would never bear fruit again.

I wonder today what’s taking up valuable space in your life. Maybe it’s people, maybe it’s old ways of living – whatever it may be, you must make the decision at the start of a new year to no longer carry dead things around with you.

Address that thing in your life and let it know, if you aren’t growing, you’re going! You only have one life to live, and you can’t afford to spend it surrounded by things that aren’t bringing increase into your world. Understand that God did not design you to live a small existence, but He intended that you live BIG.

I pray that you will experience that kind of life today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 357

As we continue to fast and pray today, remember:  some prayers are like space rockets and some are like tortoises.

A ‘space rocket’ prayer is answered almost immediately after being prayed; You light the touch paper and within seconds, it’s reached its target.

If you’ve ever had one of those quick answers, you could be forgiven for thinking that that’s the norm and therefore you will always expect immediate answers to prayer.

It’s not the norm!

In much the same way, if you’re a parent, you will not always give your child everything they want as soon as they ask.

So it is with God; He will often allow us to wait, in order to help us grow in the process.

The waiting prayer is what I like to call the ‘tortoise’ prayer.

It’s painfully slow, but eventually gets across the finishing line.

With this kind of prayer, you will often be tempted to give up, but think of it like this, when you stop praying the tortoise stops moving.

How many of us have failed to see our prayers come across the finishing line because we gave up thinking it would never happen.

As you continue to pray specifically today, remember the tortoise of your answered prayer is closer to the finish line than you think.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 356

I was watching the show Dragon’s Den last week on TV. A young man came into the Den to put forward his business, hoping for an investment from one of the multimillionaires sat in front of him.

Mid way through the conversations that were going back and forth, one of the Dragons said something that was quite profound. They looked at the young man pitching his product and told him, “I can open a door for you in a second that you could spend your entire life trying to open.”

For me, this instantly painted a picture of how our relationship with God can look. We spend weeks, months and even years trying to pursue certain things, trying to take different avenues, hoping that they will lead us into places where we want to be…

While all this time, God is waiting for you to put your trust in Him and to watch Him do in a moment for you what you could spend your lifetime trying to accomplish.

At the beginning of a new year, can I encourage you to give your life, your dreams and your desires into God’s hands? Don’t try to do everything by yourself, but instead, allow Him to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – Day 355

We all have a subtle tendency to think of ourselves better than others in some way.

 
Maybe you walk into a room and look down on everyone else?

 
Do you regard those that don’t possess the kind of material things that you are blessed with as just unfortunate human beings?

 
Is it possible that because you’re better educated, live in better house and drive a nicer car, that you walk around with a feeling of superiority?

 
Perhaps the job that you do is in management, leading a team or owning your own company, and without even thinking, you have already formed an opinion that you are above others in lesser jobs or those that are unable to find work?

 
Could your salary level dictate how you treat others; rather than seeing yourself in a position of blessing, do you simply view others as losers in life?

 
If the answer to any of these applies to you and I, then we need to get back to a better way of living and thinking; to put it simply…get off your high horse.

 
Whoever and whatever we may have become in life, we are privileged to be there. Could it be that the reason you are higher up the ladder than others, is because God wanted you to help those ‘beneath’ you?

 
One of the greatest honours in life is that of being a blessing to people of all walks of life.

 
It’s not ours to judge, condemn, frown upon, criticise, make small or put people in their place.  Yes, you may have been privileged to be where you are today because of your hard work, or because you are gifted in some area more than others, but ultimately you have been blessed to be a blessing.

 
I watched a TV show about Prince Charles a couple of days ago. It was made to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the ‘Prince’s Trust’. One of the things that stood out from the ‘behind the scenes’ documentary featuring Ant and Dec, was the way that Prince Charles, from the age of 27, used his privilege, prominence, position and power to help people in all walks of life. He amazingly has lifted thousands of people to a better place in life.

 
Today, I encourage us all to treat others better than ourselves as we humbly thank God for everything we have and own, no matter how great or small.

 
Look for an opportunity today to do something for someone that could never repay you.

 
Philippians 2:3-4 ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 354

There are certain things in our lives that we all go after, that we crave, that we seek, that we strive for…those things may be good, but what will they bring us?

My Bible tells me in Matthew chapter 5 that if I hunger and thirst to be right with God (righteousness)…then I will be filled.

If I desire to be a peacemaker, I will be called a son or daughter of God.

If I am pure in heart, I will see God.

If I am meek, I will inherit the earth.

If I am merciful, I will be shown mercy.

What wonderful promises to live by.
Strive after the right things and reach for God’s ways.

His rewards and blessings are endless.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 353

We have a little dog called Percy. He has some funny little ways…however, one of his most endearing would be that first thing in a morning, when he sees you for the first time, he can’t come straight to you unless he ‘brings’ something. Anything will do, whatever is on the floor at that particular time – a slipper, a piece of clothing, he just has to bring you something.

What a lovely gesture, he knows that he is going to receive a big love and a lot of fuss and so he wants to bring a ‘gift’, as his way of showing appreciation.

In the Christmas story, the wise men brought gifts to Jesus. They knew that they couldn’t enter into the presence of the KING of KINGS without showing their appreciation.

It’s polite and good etiquette, that when you go to someone’s home for a meal, or supper or even a coffee, to take a gift – whether it be flowers or chocolates or some other small token, it’s your way of saying ‘thank you for having me, I appreciate it.’

Every moment of every day, we have an opportunity to enter into the presence of the King. Every week when we go to Church, we are together having an audience with God himself.

Be a bringer, don’t come empty handed.
Bring your best worship, your best attitude, your best offering, your very life itself…

Deuteronomy 16 v 17 says ‘we are not to come to the Lord empty handed.’

Be a bringer today. A bringer of good things.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 352

The start of the new year always brings with it a flurry of activity, usually in the department of major lifestyle changes. No doubt, on day six, you already have a sneaky feeling that you won’t be sticking to the new plan.

One of the most important things that will be, and of course should be high on our agendas, is the question of: what I should do with my life?

Do I look for a new job?

Do we try for another baby?

Do we move house, change the car or buy a new kitchen?

Can I make something more of my life by serving in the community?

Can I survive with watching less TV and restricting the use of my electronic devices?

The 2016 checklist is pretty substantial when we pool all of our thoughts, dreams and desires together, but in reality, after all is said and done, more will be said than is done.

The whole thing really all boils down to one thing…what is God’s will for my life?

Of course, there is no one person that could ever answer that for everyone, as what God wants for the direction of your life is different  from what He wants for mine.

But what I love about the Bible is its simplicity in informing every follower of Christ that the will of God for the discipline of your life, is the same for everyone and goes like this…

Be joyful always.

Pray continually.

Give thanks in all circumstances;

This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When you think about it, it’s just three pretty straightforward instructions…be happy, prayerful and thankful.

I look forward to being a better person living in a better world because we all took these three simple things to heart.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 351

What you do today matters.

What you say today matters.

Someone’s life may be dependant on what you do and say today.

Be a difference maker.

I have to admit that one of my low points in 2015 happened in November.

Gillian had been asking me for some time to go to Dudley Market to get the batteries replaced in a couple of our watches that had been lying around useless for months.

The guy we had used for years was always pleasant and was known for his ‘while you wait’ service, let alone being cheaper than anywhere else.

On the afternoon that I managed to get to him, I noticed that he was not his normal self. He seemed to have lost his spark and his usual smile had disappeared. As he tended to my watches, I asked him what was wrong. He simply looked up, smiled and carried on. I felt compelled to persist with him, and so I repeated the words twice more. As he handed over the watches in a small bag I asked him what had happened for him to look so sad.

Reluctantly, he leaned across his work table and told me that it was family problems. He went on to explain that illness that had not only taken his mother-in-law, but was now about to take his mother.

I offered him my condolences and asked him if I could add his name and that of his mom to my daily prayer list. He agreed, and in doing so his face seemed to brighten and a smile broke out.

Four days later, he took his own life.

I asked myself many questions as to why I didn’t say and do more on that day, but whatever answers I came up with could not change the tragedy that I had been so close to maybe doing something about a few days earlier.

My story I’m sure can be repeated in different ways by thousands today all over the world. The truth is we all have missed opportunities to save precious people’s lives.

Today is a not only a new day, but for many the first working week of a brand new year. It is my hope today that my story can inspire you to join me in understanding that what we say and what we do today matters.

Let’s go all out in 2016 to be difference makers and not just people with good intentions, which, if we’re honest, is an excuse for doing nothing.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 350

A couple of days after Christmas, I visited a local shopping centre.

Two days after all the turkey, all of the presents, all of the wrapping paper and gifts given, and in the midst of all the parties, the games and the dancing, people were taking a shopping break.

But for a few men, no one had been forced to go shopping, but strangely enough no one seemed happy to be there in the slightest.

I heard parents shouting, couples arguing, and people looking generally down in the dumps.

People were scrambling after items marked CLEARANCE – things they neither needed nor wanted, things that quite frankly no one should have normally considered as they had been trodden on, damaged, or heavily discounted for a reason and people were still queuing in crazy long lines to buy them.

I was saddened, but once again reminded, that people are constantly looking for something to fill the hole in their lives. There’s a constant need for ‘stuff’ to help find contentment.

What many sadly fail to realise is that the emptiness they feel can’t be filled with material things. The fun of the party is temporary, Santa Claus comes and goes, the food gets eaten, and the gifts given are quickly forgotten.

John 10v10 tells us that Jesus came…’so that they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.’

I’m thankful that I personally know that He is the only one who will ever truly satisfy, but let’s be people that don’t keep this good news to ourselves as Jesus is the only one who never fades, never goes out of fashion, and He doesn’t cost – He’s a free gift to all.

Esther Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 349

At the start of this brand new year, I would like to challenge you to look at your priorities and make sure you have things in the right order.

One of my favourite Bible accounts has to be found in 1 Kings chapter 17 – where the man of God met a widow who was about to die because she had no food, he gives her some clear instructions and then in verse 13, he tells her “go home and do what’s been said, BUT FIRST make a cake of bread for me.” That didn’t seem like the ‘sensible’ thing to do. She was about to die…yet she was being asked to give her last meal away?!

In every area of your life, what you do first is important.

Sunday: the first day of the week – but first go to church

Have a meal – but first, give thanks.

Get up in the morning – but first commit yourself to God.

Don’t worry about something – but first pray.

Don’t fear about anything – but first trust.

Don’t withold what you shouldn’t – but first give.

Don’t be a person who ignores what God says. He believes in first things.

This story in 1 Kings 17 ends with the woman doing what the man of God asks and then receiving her miracle – I love it!

Put God FIRST.
You won’t be disappointed.

Happy new year xo

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – Day 348

A few weeks ago, I was doing some online banking. I went onto the Internet, typed in the website address and attempted to login. After several attempts, I couldn’t get into my account, even though I had checked that my details were correct.

A few minutes had passed until I suddenly realised that I was on the wrong banking site…I had recently changed banks, and forgetting this fact, I repeatedly tried to login with a bank that I no longer had an account with.

At the start of this brand new year, it is possible that you may have set yourself new goals and new targets, maybe you’ve drawn yourself up a list of New Years resolutions. But despite all of that, there is a high temptation to return to old behaviours, old ways of living, and doing things that no longer reflect who you really are.

In the book of Isaiah, chapter 43 it says, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.”

Can I encourage you on the first day of a brand new year to keep your eyes fixed forward on the new thing that God wants to do in your life… Understand that the old has gone and the new has come! Embrace 2016 with a fresh perspective, knowing that what you once did is not a reflection of who you now are…God’s doing a new thing – lean into that today.

Happy New Year!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.