Fresh Hope – 29th February 2016

Our son Joshua came round for Sunday lunch yesterday.

‘Dad’, he said half way through the meal (which normally means I’m about to ask you to do something for me)…’I think I need a new kitchen knife, as mine has gone blunt’.

I asked him how old it was and if he’d ever sharpened it, to which he replied that it was only 12 months old and that it had never been sharpened.

I explained to him that a knife was made to be regularly sharpened and would last for years if kept that way.

I wonder how many blunt knives you have in your kitchen?

I can almost guarantee that you will keep cutting through everything in the kitchen whilst complaining that you need to get a new knife, yet the truth is that 9 times out of 10, you only need to sharpen it.

The moral of this story is to invest into a good knife sharpener or ‘steel’ and hey presto,  your whole set of kitchen knives will come back to life in an instant.
My first experience of sharpening knives came as a result of working for four years in a butcher’s shop.

Knife sharpening since then has always been a habit that I do probably every couple of weeks.

Expecting a kitchen knife to stay sharp all by itself is totally unrealistic, but then so is expecting yourself to stay sharp without any outside help.

Listen to the wise words of Solomon…

Ecclesiastes 10:10 If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

If you need more strength to do what you used to find easy then it’s a sign that your life has gone blunt – you need sharpening.

Working at the butcher’s shop taught me that there were three ingredients necessary for a good sharp knife.

WATER – water helps cut down the friction on the knife as you are sharpening it, giving it a nice crisp edge.
Water in the Bible speaks of the word of God – the Bible. Read it daily and stay sharp.

OIL – oil keeps the blade well maintained and in good condition.
Oil in the Bible speaks of the Spirit of God-allow the Holy Spirit to fill you every day.

IRON – One of the great insights from the Bible on this comes from Proverbs 27:17:

‘…As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’

Iron in the Bible speaks of the man of God.

Iron speaks of allowing other men and women to challenge and mentor and sharpen you.

Without one of these things, you will quickly notice how difficult it is to maintain your cutting edge.

Don’t give up on yourself today just because you’re feeling useless – sharpen yourself instead.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2016

Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?
Jesus is my portion,
a constant friend is he,
his eye is on the sparrow and he watches over me.

They may be the words of a beautiful song, but they are true. There are times in life when we feel discouraged, when we can’t seem to lift ourselves up.

That’s the time to look higher than yourself.
You may feel lonely today – you have a friend in Jesus.
You may feel discouraged today– God is for you.
You may feel like nobody cares – Jesus couldn’t care more.

If he watches every sparrow and takes care of them, how much more does he watch over you?

Today, take your eyes off your circumstances, and turn them to Jesus. You’ll be glad you did.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2016

If I asked you ‘how you are today?’, I wonder what your reply would be?

The standard answer nowadays always seems to be…’busy thanks, how are you?

The reply comes back pretty much the same …’I’m busy too…really busy’.

The 21st century seems to have instilled into everyone a sense of failure or weakness if we are not constantly busy.

Being busy seems to be a way of hiding the real me. It’s a way of saying ‘I’m really needed’, ‘I’m important’, ‘I haven’t got a minute’, ‘I have a full diary’. ‘I’m successful’, ‘I’m indispensable.’

Is it possible that you are a busy fool? Or maybe you are pretending to be so busy in order that you don’t come across as unsuccessful or without a purpose in life?

One of the tensions in our house is trying to get my wife to sit down for a few minutes. Her standard reply is one of two things… “there’s too much to do” or “I feel guilty if I stop and sit down.”

My standard reply is always goes like this, ‘if you feel guilty about stopping, then you have a problem’.

Everyone of us needs to be guilt free, when it comes to making time to think.

Without thinking time, you lose your way in life.

Without thinking time, things get out of proportion.

Without thinking time, you lose perspective.

Without thinking time, you lose sight of God.

Without thinking time, you are prone to make wrong choices.

Dedicate a chair in your home as a ‘thinking chair’ and stop seeing that ceasing from work is wrong and start to see that thinking is a necessary form of work that helps keep our lives on track.

Thinking punctuates our lives and gives them greater meaning and effectiveness. Sit down today and allow yourself a little luxury thinking time.

Proverbs 23 v 7 ‘As a man thinks…so is he.’

…if you don’t, you won’t know where you are going.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th February 2016

One of my favourite verses in all the Bible is Romans 8:1 and it says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In other words, when you accept Jesus into your life, condemnation is eliminated from the equation.

I was contemplating this verse recently and I realised how even though I believe in Jesus and have accepted Him, condemnation is still a very real thing to me…Now, does that mean that Romans 8:1 is incorrect? No. It simply means that my feelings still want to run the show.

‘Go with your feelings’ or ‘Follow your heart’ has to be some of the dumbest advice we’ve ever received. Why? Because there is an understanding that is deeper than our feelings and there is a reality that’s greater than our heart, and His name is Jesus.

And in those moments of feeling unworthy, and when experiencing guilt, shame or condemnation, you have to choose to speak to your feelings as opposed to letting them speak to you, and remind them that Jesus has already removed such things from my life.

Today, lean into the Word of God and believe what it says about you instead of tuning your ear to what incorrect feelings would want to say about you. Understand that you are no longer seen for who you are, but for who Jesus is – perfect and pleasing in the sight of God.

I pray you’ll be encouraged by that today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2016

This week we have been looking at worship. (Read Monday & Tuesday, if you need to catch up).

Worship is being thankful and it’s about saying, “I trust you.”

Worship sometimes can also be about saying “HELP!”

Because worshipping is not about me. It’s about understanding that the one I worship is greater than me.
He is ultimately the only one who can help me.
I give Him respect and I call on His name.

In the book of Jonah, we read that through his own disobedience, Jonah ended up in the belly of a fish.

In Chapter 2 verses 7-9, we read that Jonah was about to die, yet he chose to worship.

What would you do with your last breath? That’s a very important question.

His worship was ‘thank you’, it was “I trust you”, “I’m sorry”…but it was also “help me”.

If you know the story, you’ll know that God did. He gave Him a second chance to start again.

God wants to help you, He’s your Father.
But maybe He’s waiting to see how you use your words and how your heart is tuned.

Be a worshipper. It’s powerful.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd February 2016

We looked yesterday at how we should be worshipping because we are thankful.
Today, I want to draw your attention to worship saying “I trust you”.

In the book of Genesis, we read the story of Noah and the annihilation of mankind.
(The ark is not just a Bible story alone, but also a scientific fact).
Imagine how Noah must have felt to witness such devastation? Some of us don’t like thinking about the Titanic; imagine this!
Yet, I love Genesis 8 v 20, because it tells us that Noah worshipped.

Worship is often this: “I don’t know what’s going on God and I can’t quite understand it.. but I trust YOU.”

Shortly after this, in verses 21-22, God makes a promise never to do that again and sent the rainbow as a reminder, even to this day, of the promises of God.

Your worship, even in extreme circumstances will bring a response from God.

Do you need to stop worrying today and trust Him over an issue?
Start to worship…it attracts His response.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2016

I’d like to challenge you today to have a worshipping heart.
I hope you wouldn’t say “why?”

But if you do, here are a few reasons this week for you to look at.

We should worship because we are…THANKFUL.

Thankful for all that God has done for us, thankful for dying for MY sins, thankful for giving me new hope and purpose.
Thankful for His peace and joy and love in my life. The list is endless.

If we only worshipped when we felt like it, we may not do it every day.
Yet, worship should be a daily good habit like showering, or cleaning my teeth. I may not want to do it, but I should, because it’s good for me.

When someone prepares a really good dinner for me, I’m thankful because I appreciate the time and effort and thought and money that went into making it special.
How much more should I be thankful to God for all the good things He has prepared for me?

When someone does something special and unexpected for me, I remember it for a long time for those very reasons.
How much more should I keep remembering what Jesus has done for me?

I may have a lot today, or I may have little. There is always someone not as blessed as you. Be thankful.

My destination, if I am a child of God, is Heaven. Let’s be eternally thankful for that.

There are plenty of people in the local cemetery who would like the chance to be thankful today.
The difference is, you do have the opportunity.

Make it count.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2016

Maybe you’ve heard the term ‘spring clean’.
For some of you that’s exciting, because you love to get rid of the clutter, all the dirt and dust that has accumulated in places, or just redesign everything after a winter season.

For others a ‘Spring clean’ fills you with dread, because you like to hang on to all of the above and maybe can’t even see why it’s necessary.

Have you ever felt that it’s time to ‘Spring clean’ your life?
In all of us, there are things that need to go, things that need tidying and things to be organised and certainly stuff that needs to be thrown out.

At the start of a new season that is approaching us, why don’t you let some things go? Maybe it’s people that are holding you back, maybe it’s habits that are holding you down, maybe even sin that is keeping you out of the will of God for your life.

Spring is a season of new life, it may not be physically here yet, but it is around the corner.
So get ready for it, prepare for it, and get excited about all that God wants to do in your life.

Make sure that you make room for it, by getting rid of some of the winter clutter.

It will do you good!

Isaiah 43 v 19 – Behold I am doing a new thing, see I have already begun, do you not recognise it?

Here’s to all things new.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2016

A beauty product company once asked people in a large city to send pictures, along with brief letters, describing the most beautiful women they knew. Within weeks thousands of letters came in.

One letter caught the attention of the employees and was soon passed on to the Managing Director.
It was written by a boy from a broken home, Who lived in a rundown neighbourhood. With lots of spelling mistakes, an excerpt from his letter read “a beautiful woman lives down the street from me, I visit her every day, she makes me feel like the most important kid in the world. We play draughts and she listens to my problems. She understands me. When I leave she always yells out the door that she is proud of me.”

The boy ended his letter saying “this picture shows you that she is the most beautiful woman in the world and one day I hope to have a wife as pretty as her.”

Intrigued by the letter, the Managing Director asked to see the woman’s picture. His secretary handed him the photograph of a smiling, toothless woman, well advanced in years, sitting in a wheelchair. Sparse grey hair was pulled back in a bun. The wrinkles that formed deep furrows on her face were somehow diminished by the twinkle in her eyes.

“We can’t use this woman” exclaimed the MD, smiling , “she would show the world that our products are not necessary to make someone beautiful.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, instead it should be that of your inner self.’

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th February 2016

I was travelling overseas recently, and the entire journey to get us from A to B was going to take us just under 24 hours. First, we had to travel in a car from our home to the airport, go through all the procedures before getting onto the flight, fly from this country to our destination, get off the plane and go through more security checks, then finally get into the car and travel from the airport to the place where we were staying…

At each stage of the journey, I was already thinking about where we were heading next. Whether we were in the car, or on a plane, my attention was directed towards our next destination.

The truth is, many of us live our lives with that very same mindset…’Where next?’ Now, I’m all for not settling for where you are and for dreaming bigger, but the problem begins when we focus so much on the next big thing that we fail to see the big thing that sits right in front of us.

It’s evident to us that the ‘big thing’ to God is people. And therefore, when God entrusts you with people – whether it be at home, at school, or in your place of work, He’s giving you big time opportunity…

Can I encourage you to be faithful with what God has placed around you, and more importantly, with who God has placed around you, and when you do that, God has a way of increasing your influence and enlarging your world like you could’ve never imagined.

Today, live with a perspective that understands the big time is where I’m at, and open your eyes to see that in fact, God has you right where He wants you!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2016

God travels!

He’s a fast mover.

He travels everywhere, all at the same time.

THERE ARE 3 WORDS TO DESCRIBE HIM:

He is all- powerful. (Omnipotent)

He is all-knowing. (Omniscient)

He is everywhere. (Omnipresent)

These three statements, when placed together, bring us to an amazing Biblical truth…all of God is everywhere at the same time.

Don’t get paranoid about your future. God has been there and done that already.

Psalm 139:4-12
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

THESE FEW VERSES ARE REALLY BAD NEWS FOR SOMEONE ON THE RUN FROM GOD, BUT REALLY GREAT NEWS FOR SOMEONE WONDERING IF HE’S WITH THEM!

Today, you may feel that you don’t want to bother God about your problems, as He obviously has a lot to do all across the world.

If you think like that then you have not correctly caught the truth about God.

God’s power is not shared out in small pieces to everyone wanting His attention all across the Globe, no, God is such that you get all of Him, all of the time.

The problem with the devil is that he is restricted in that he can only be in one place at a time, not so with God; millions of people can be calling on Him this very morning and yet He hears and attends to everyone at the same time.

His power is limitless and so is His presence; time and distance are both irrelevant to God.

Think about this too…God doesn’t need someone in close proximity to you to pray for you either.

He can call on anyone, anywhere, to get down on their knees for you.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was undergoing a major surgery. Because of distance I didn’t know the full facts or even know what to pray for, but on the day of his operation, I was prompted by God at 1.20pm to call him back from the dead.

What I didn’t know was that he had died on the operating table.

At the same time, yet 6,000 miles away, he was being raised back to life by God in answer to my prayers.

Today, he is healed and whole.

I don’t know why God called on me that day to plead for my friend’s life, but the truth is it didn’t matter that Ivwas on the other side of the world, so long as I obeyed and had faith to believe.

When you think of God today, don’t put Him in a small box that fits your understanding. Instead, let him break free and see Him as all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere – ALL at the same time.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th February 2016

Take a look on the side of your breakfast cereal packet this morning and you will find these words: please note that contents will settle during transportation.

How true that is for our lives too?

We have a tendency to settle as the years roll by.

Even Abraham on his way to the promised land stopped and settled half way.
Genesis 11:31 ‘Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.’

Interestingly,  Harran means dry and parched.

Today is a challenge to everyone whose life has become predictable, boring, dry, parched, too safe and too settled.

If your life is ticking along just nicely then watch out – you could be in for a wake up call.

Often our lives get so comfortable that we lose all sense of why we exist, AND BEFORE LONG LIFE HAS PASSED US BY.

As someone once said, ‘the only difference between a rut and the grave is the depth.’

A volcano can lie dormant for years, even centuries, but when it erupts it changes the landscape.

From the word ‘eruption’,  we get the word ‘interruption’.

The Bible is littered with divine interruptions whereby God erupts in people’s lives. He does it on purpose and for a purpose.

Take Mary and Joseph’s life…everything was going so nicely and so normal, yet God steps in and seemingly wrecks the whole scene by announcing the supernatural arrival of Jesus.

That interruption was in order to bring His purpose for mankind.

I want you to get ready…

Jesus wants to set you free from the mundane, by interrupting us, surprising us, and even scaring us with His plan.

You never know when it will be. There is no warning sign…you just have to be ready. If you are tired of same old same old, then be aware that God is an interrupting God.
Some of us need a good interruption in order to give birth to God’s plan for our lives.

Often it will be the ridiculous that gives birth to the miraculous.

God interrupted my planned out life and career and replaced it with a call.
What is the aim of your life? Comfort or destiny?

How many of you want to pray ‘Lord, interrupt my life?’

When Mary faced the biggest and most daunting interruption of her life she simply said …’For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her’. (Luke 1 v 37-38)

Why not open your life up to God today and ask Him to interrupt you?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2016

I don’t know how Valentine’s Day was for you? For some of you it may have passed by unnoticed. Either because your loved one forgot you or you forgot yourself!

Maybe you were disappointed yesterday, because you didn’t receive the love or was shown the affection you hoped for, or maybe you felt that you wish you had someone to love you.

In the book of Jeremiah chapter 31, Jesus tells us that we are loved with an everlasting love.

Don’t ever think that you’re not loved by anyone, He loves you more than you’ll ever know.

And the wonderful news is this: He has a great plan for your life. So even if there is no one right now who you would call your valentine, God knows your heart’s desires and He has a perfect plan mapped out for you.

Your job is to trust Him. When you seek HIM first, He will work everything else out.

So don’t start today disappointed. Declare over your life today…

“I am loved. I am special and God has exciting plans for my life.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2016

Faith says, “I believe that I have the money that I need,” even when it seems as though you can’t pay the bills.
Faith says, “I believe that my body is healed,” even when the doctor has a very negative report.
Faith says, “My children are obedient and faithful,” even when they’re acting up!
Faith says, “My marriage is getting stronger,” even when it looks as though you’re drifting farther apart.

When you’re standing in faith, you’re agreeing with what God’s Word says and with the words you prayed about a situation, even when it seems there is no change!

Stop advertising (making known and announcing) what is and start declaring what isn’t.

Stop advertising what is…

I’m sick.
I’m depressed.
I’m broke.
I’m lonely.
I’m sad.
I’m no good.
My life is full of bad things.
I’m a loser.
And start declaring what isn’t:

I’m healed
I’m feeling good.
I’m rich.
I’m surrounded by great friends.
I’m happy.
I’m gonna make it.
My life is surrounded by good things.
I’m a champion.
Speak out in faith today!
God loves faith.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2016

The poet wrote, ‘Beware of those that stand aloof, and greet each venture with reproof, the world would stop if things were run, by those that say it can’t be done.
Refuse to let the word impossible stop you.’

Jesus said…”with God all things are possible”.

If those who’ve changed the world had left every impossibility undone, we’d still be living in the dark ages.

More of us are persuaded into believing for too little than believing for too much. Vision is essential for survival.

A God-given vision is conceived by faith, sustained by prayer and fuelled by God’s word.

It’s not about what you can do, but what God can do through you when your life is fully surrendered to Him.

Faith encompasses things outside the realm of the impossible, the predictable, the safe and the normal.

When God gives you a vision, pursue it and believe for great things.

Remember: without faith it’s impossible to please God.  (Hebrews 11:6).

Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th February 2016

I wonder how many of you have ever purchased a ‘knock-off’ item. When I think about such things, my focus instantly turns to my iPhone charger. Now, I’ve had my current iPhone for around 18 months and am still using the original charger to this day, it works perfectly and does the job that it was designed to do.

However, at the offices where I work, we’ve had to purchase iPhone chargers for our staff off the internet, and it’s amazing to me how many times we’ve had to replace these and purchase new ones. The last instance was when we found some with a lifetime guarantee, and after a month, they broke. Why? Because they’re not the real thing.

It’s easy in life to be a replica, and to some extent, a pretty convincing one too. However, sooner rather than later, you will no longer be able to function to your full capacity because you’re trying to be something that you’re ultimately not.

The temptation to buy a ‘knock-off’ is great because it’s far cheaper than the real thing… However, don’t sell yourself short – God did not pay the ultimate price, which was His Son, Jesus so that you could die a copy, but so that you could live as an original. You’re a masterpiece… and the greatest advice that I could give you today, as well as to myself, is be you.

Embrace who you are, be the person that God has called you to be, and that is where you will find your true value and will begin to reach your full capacity and potential in this life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2016

The most watched sports game in the world is the American Super Bowl. A thirty second advert during the game costs a staggering £3.5 million.

Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was watched by an estimated 112 million people.

Now, here’s a piece of seemingly useless information: they predicted that more than 104.2 million pounds of avocado will have been consumed for the big game, which is enough to fill a football field from end to end, 40.2 feet high.

One of the great mysteries of the universe concerns this much loved, and hated fruit. Yes, it’s a fruit, or more technically a single seeded berry; and by the way, the avocado contains more potassium than a banana and are one of very few fruits that contain totally digestible protein – 4 grams per avocado.

Need to ripen your avacado? Sit it in your fruit bowl with apples and bananas – hey presto.

Now for the mystery…how to keep it from turning black once it’s been cut.

There are so many theories out there, some of which work but my only point today is to mention that the ‘stone’ or seed inside is what actually keeps it fresh.

At the very heart of this amazing fruit is a large throwaway, dull looking, seed that once removed will ensure that your avocado goes black within minutes.

This led me to think about what is going on inside of you today.

Jesus said that your heart is the determining factor for whether you live a good or bad life.

Luke 6:43-45 ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’

Keeping your heart pure and clean is one of the greatest ways of living a blessed and productive life.

If you store up bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart then it will eventually destroy your life.

If your daily focus is only on bad things then your life will suffer.

If you are consumed with watching pornography you will end up a very unhappy person with no ability to form proper healthy relationships, let alone be satisfied within marriage.

Your heart needs to be taken care of both physically and spiritually for you to remain in good health.

If you find yourself in outbursts of anger and fits of rage then it will be a sign that you need to deal with the issues deep inside your heart.

Today, don’t fool yourself in the same way that you try to fool others into thinking that you’re good when actually you know that you’re bad on the inside.

Confess your faults and turn from your sins.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to keep your heart pure and fresh, lest you become like the humble avocado that’s turning black because its heart has been removed.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th February 2016

Do you feel like you are in a hopeless situation today?

Is there no sign of change in the natural?

Remember, we serve a supernatural God.

What looks impossible with man is possible with God.

In the Bible, God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations, but in the natural this looked impossible. Both he and his wife were beyond child-bearing years. They had no reason to hope or believe that it would happen. They had nothing to go on in the natural, but one translation of this account says “hoping in spite of hopeless circumstances, he believed”.

…And the rest is history as we say. Abraham finally had a son, Isaac, and his son, Jacob, had 12 sons who became the original 12 tribes of Israel, whose descendants outnumbered the grains of sand on the sea shore.

Today, I encourage you to do what Abraham did and believe against all the odds. keep believing. Keep praying. keep moving forward. Don’t focus on the impossible circumstances but focus on the God who makes the impossible possible.

Keep looking through the eyes of faith because HE has blessing and victory in store for you.

Romans 4:18-21 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2016

As I’ve gotten older, the more I’ve realised that to have a title is really nothing.

To have a position is something, but the way you live your life is everything.

For me personally, I have made a vow that my preaching must never be better than my living.

Title and position only ever carries weight if it matches your life.

You can say things to people ’til you’re blue in the face, but no one will ever buy into what you say if you’re a hypocrite.

You can wear the biggest badge or have a huge sign on your office door that informs people of your title or role but that will never hold sway with people that don’t believe your life…

1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Basically…we practice daily what we preach – all the rest is religious froth.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2016

Did you know that God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants?
He can take you from nowhere to somewhere, in an instant.
When we look at the life of David, we can see how this happened.

One minute, David was looking after sheep, probably smelling of sheep dung and covered in sheep wool and the next moment he was killing a giant.

You see, God can take you from a nowhere to a somewhere in an instant.

David was faithfully fulfilling his role as a shepherd boy, when he was asked to run an errand and take sandwiches. He was willing to serve.
He had a great heart and a great attitude. When he arrived at the place where his brothers were, he heard Goliath coming against the army of God and a passion rose within him to do something about it.

When your good heart and good attitude is accompanied by a passion to belong to a cause that is greater than you, then just watch what God will do.

That day changed everything for David. Doors opened for him, his influence changed, his employment changed, his income changed and his destiny changed.

God can take you from nowhere to somewhere. Belong to something that is greater than you. Commit your life to God’s cause and watch!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2016

We have all heard the saying ‘so near and yet so far’ – how true it is.

This past week, I’ve been at a conference connected to the Dream Center in Los Angeles.

The Dream Center now houses 900 people that want to get their lives turned around – many of whom have lived a life of drug addiction, crime and prostitution.

Individuals and even whole families that had previously had no choice but to live on the streets, are housed and rehabilitated with amazing success.

I couldn’t help but notice that just around the corner from the Dream Center, literally a short walk, many people were living in cardboard boxes, tents or makeshift shelters underneath a bridge.

In reality, all they had to do was to make a decision to walk around the corner and they could potentially walk into the start of a brand new life. They could find a proper bed, warm clothing, daily meals and medical help, all free of charge and even become part of programmes to put them back on their feet…they are so near and yet so far.

For many, the effort of changing what they have always known is just too much for them, opting for a life of misery rather than asking for help.

Listening to this story, you could well say to yourself ‘how sad that people would live like this’, and yet how many of us in our very different and potentially cosy lives do a very similar thing?

Underneath our seemingly ‘I’ve got it all together’ lives, we refuse the very hand of hope that Jesus reaches out to us with.

We know that He exists and that He is able to help but we choose to live in the lifestyle that we have grown accustomed to.

Let me ask a couple of questions if I may today. Questions that you may not want to answer, in fact you may be offended by them, but nevertheless they need to be asked.

Are you happy and willing to live and die doing exactly what you are doing today?

Are you happy to carry on with the only life you know, or are you willing to get up and take a walk into a life that Jesus promises that’s ‘just around the corner’ right now?

We are all in the same boat, in that we need to know God’s hand of hope in forgiveness, acceptance and a brand new life of purpose.

The choice is yours.

God has already provided all of that for you and we simply have to accept His offer today.

Why not take the walk around the corner today and step into an incredible life that Jesus is offering to all that are willing to accept it.

John 10:10 (Message Bible)
Jesus said…’I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th February 2016

I was in a church service this week and as the Pastor was speaking, he gave an illustration using some Beats headphones.

This illustration got the crowd pumped and one guy in the audience stood for quite some time, encouraging the Pastor.

At the end of the illustration, the speaker threw the headphones into the crowd and asked them to be given to the guy who had been standing for the past few minutes…he had grabbed his attention.

At the outset of this day, I want to encourage you to get God’s attention. You get to make the decision today to either sit back and be a part of the crowd, or stand up and make yourself known.

I genuinely believe that God is looking for people who are willing to say, ‘Here I am, I’m available…choose me’. And when God sees that kind of desire within you, He will throw opportunity your way, He will throw blessings your way, and He will open doors for you that you couldn’t open for yourself.

When God looks for people who He can use, will He find you amongst the many? I hope that you’ll be the one to grab His attention.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2016

I was recently reminded of the Bible verse – Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ It had been graffitied onto a post at the top of a hill…a hill with steep paths, rocky ground and winding roads.

If you’ve ever climbed or perhaps you’ve watched a film about a mountain climb, you’ll know there are many moments where your mind or your body tells you to stop and turn around. It will even try and convince you that you are close enough to the top and you don’t need to go any further.

Allow me to encourage your heart today; don’t give up, don’t quit and do not turn around and go back.

As your pursue your dreams and ambitions, and as you follow in faith the call of God, keep your eyes focused on the goal, the prize – the summit!

And remind yourself: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd February 2016

I recently spoke at our church over two Monday nights about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Many people turned up and have since spoken of the impact of those two nights.

One of the things that was highlighted was that many people seek the more ‘spectacular’ gifts of the Holy Spirit (of which there are nine mentioned in the Bible); included in the nine are the gift of miracles, the gift of healing and the gift of faith. However, the Bible doesn’t just stop there as it says there are different ‘kinds’ of gifts.

It surprises many when they hear that amongst those other kinds of gifts are administration, encouragement, mercy, serving and giving.

I’m sure that you’ll agree that these other gifts hardly seem like supernatural, spiritual or spectacular, as on face value they seem to be pretty standard things that anyone would do.

The point is this: how many of us today are feeling that we don’t possess a spiritual gift because we don’t do spectacular things and yet we daily do mundane yet meaningful and significant things?

Did you realise that encouragement was a spiritual gift?

What about serving others? A person who serves at our weekly soup kitchen is using their spiritual gift.

Showing mercy to other seems a pretty basic thing to do for any Christian, yet here we find that a person that does so is actually moving in a spiritual gift.

Being in a position to be over and above generous, is given to some as a spiritual gift. They may think of themselves as just doing what they love to do, and yet here we find that it’s a gift that God has blessed them with.

I would encourage you today not just to look for the spectacular, but look to serve God and others in whatever area you find your gift in.

Take time this year to pray about, discover and discern what gift God has blessed you with…then use it!

Remember, an unopened gift is worthless.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2016

Have you ever driven close to a major airport and been amazed at how large planes taking off in the distance appear to be just hanging in the air and almost, at a standstill?

I was driving to Heathrow airport a few days ago and found myself asking the very same question that we’ve all asked: how does such a thing happen?

The truth is, the plane that has just taken to the skies is actually climbing steeply and is traveling at around 300 mph – otherwise it wouldn’t be airborne.

The illusion created is because of the distance between you and the plane. Anyone on the plane is sensing the speed and the climb whilst all of us looking on seem to be witnessing an image frozen in time.

I wonder how many of us have experienced that same slow motion feeling when looking on at our own lives…I know that I have.

It feels at times that nothing is moving; it feels like we are just standing still and that we are certainly not going upwards towards our destiny.

In all probability, God is moving you at speed in order to get you into position during your flight time or shall we say life time, yet for you and I, we are not experiencing the same sense of momentum.

Don’t be discouraged today at how slowly things seem to be going for you…God is simply preparing you for great things, all of which means it takes time.

Take a tasty stew that been placed in the slow cooker in the morning. If you went home at lunch time and tasted it, you’d find yourself thinking that it will never be cooked, yet come tea time, it will melt in your mouth – it’s all to do with timing.

I well remember the foundations of our church being laid. Every day as I watched from a distance, the sense of frustration was so discouraging as there was seemingly nothing to see for all the hard work, not to mention the money.

We all know that the higher and stronger the building is to be, the lower the foundations have to be.

The time spent laying the foundations of your life is all because God doesn’t want you to fail – He’s preparing you with success in mind.

At times, I’ve prayed for years for certain things to come to pass and at the time it all seemed to be to no avail. Yet looking back, I now realise that God was simply preparing me in the process.

Today, remind yourself that before every success there has to be a process.

Anything that will last into eternity, always takes time.
Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.