Fresh Hope – 30th April 2016

Having a power cut is very inconvenient. Today I was cooking soup and I was halfway through blending it when we had a power cut. So I was left with half blended and half lumpy.

We don’t realise how much we rely on power until it’s gone. Ladies, how much do we rely on our hairstyling appliances like straighteners and dryers? Imagine going out of the house with unstyled hair! For some of you, that would be a crisis!

Praying gives us power.
Every time you leave the house not fully charged, you’re leaving short of power. There’s an old saying that says “seven days without prayer makes one weak.” Think about it for a moment…prayer charges you up.

I wouldn’t leave the house without ‘doing’ my hair… So why do I think it’s ok to leave without praying?

Prayer is a luxury. God gives us a fantastic opportunity to connect to the greatest power source ever. And unlike other luxuries, this one, we can ALL afford.

Being without the electricity affected my day and I didn’t like it.
Don’t take His power for granted.
Get plugged in today.
You’ll be glad you did.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th April 2016

In 1838 Charles Dickens wrote the novel Oliver Twist, which later became a famous film.

The story is of a young boy, Oliver Twist aged 9, who was orphaned and ends up doing forced labour in the workhouse to exist. He is fed three bowls of gruel a day.

Oliver Twist is most remembered for being bold enough to ask for more food, but ends up being refused and punished for his insolence.

For many people their perception of God is more Charles Dickens than it is Bible, in that we are afraid to ask for more and feel that if we should dare to do so we would be punished by God.

Having that kind of belief doesn’t make you more Holy, it simply makes you more ineffective, as you look at what you have and believe that that is all you are entitled to.

Instead of taking what you have and believing for even greater things, you simply settle into a life of mediocrity and rarely ever break out of your comfort zone let alone break out into a sweat.

A bowl of ‘just enough’ is what most of us settle for in life.

Just having enough for you, can sound so spiritual but is actually so selfish, as you become content in looking after only you.

When King David sinned by having an affair with Bathsheba and subsequently killing her husband, he was challenged and rebuked by Nathan the prophet…

2 Samuel 12:7-8 Then Nathan said to David…This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.”

In other words, God is saying to David that I gave you everything you wanted and if that wasn’t enough you could have asked for more, but instead you decided to take what wasn’t rightfully yours.

The Bible is full of illustrations that tell us that we should not be afraid to ask for more of what is rightfully ours.

James 4:2-3 You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Asking for more can of course be a selfish act, if it’s simply to line your own pockets, but asking for more can be a selfless act if you want to do more, help more, reach more, build more and influence more.

Don’t be content today to just accept what you have for you; ask for more so that you can multiply God’s blessings to everyone that you meet.

Ephesians 3:20-21 …Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

James 4:1-3 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th April 2016

One of the questions that I get asked most as a Pastor, is how to know the direction that your life should take.

One of the answers that I frequently give is to look for signposts along the way. These are pointers that may not mean much at the time, but are valuable indicators as your life unfolds.

I remember not long after passing my driving test, that I drove down an unfamiliar busy road, only to find that I was driving the wrong way down a one way street; I had missed the signs whilst trying to focus on my driving.

Signs are pretty obvious when you look for them, but often we are so preoccupied with looking for the right road to take, that we fail to spot the signs to help us along the way.

Our youngest son Caleb recently passed his driving test, but the one he failed before that, saw him travelling too slowly in a 60mph stretch of road, simply because he was so focused on the road and not on the signs.

The God that is revealed to us in the Bible, is a God that speaks, directs,communicates and wants to connect with ordinary people like you and I.

I never did very well at school, but sitting in one of my final exams, I was strangely aware of ‘outside’ help when writing the essay for my English literature paper. I had never ever been a writer and yet on this day of all days, it was if my pen was being directed by the hand of God as words flowed like never before.

The results confirmed a few weeks later that I truly had been helped, as it was the only exam that I received the very highest mark achievable.

All these years later, I now look back and realise that that experience was a powerful signpost as to how God might want me to be used in the future, in that I would need to know that a fairly uneducated teenager, could and would actually spend much of his time writing as part of his destiny.

I would have never have believed that when called upon by God to write my first book years later, that I would need to trust that God would hold my pen as I sat down to write hour after hour.

Today, over 2000 people will be reading Fresh Hope which requires several hours of my time (and others) writing inspirationally each week.

The seemingly insignificant signpost in my exam many years ago, was there to give me a glimpse of my future.

Don’t get so preoccupied with the road, or the journey – simply ask the Holy Spirit to show you the signs along the way.

Psalm 37:23-24 The Lord makes firm [orders]the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall,for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th April 2016

I’ve been taught many times that the first rule of leadership is self-leadership. You see, you cannot lead others if you can’t firstly lead yourself.

I wonder if you’ve ever heard people complain about certain areas in their lives. For instance, their level of fitness. They tell their trainer that they aren’t losing weight, their muscles aren’t getting any bigger and that there has been no great improvement in their level of fitness.

Chances are, that person is looking for the trainer to take responsibility for their results as opposed to themselves. They become reliant on that hour long session to get them to where they need to be, yet fail to realise that the majority of their time is spent away from those that they have become reliant upon.

In order to be successful in any area, you must understand that there is only one person responsible for the outcome of your life, and that person is you!

Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of being able to teach people how to play the drums. One of the things that I remind each person of often is that I am only partly responsible for their growth and improvement. “What you do outside of this lesson is what counts most…you must take responsibility for you.”

Today, make a decision to take ownership of your life. In your health, your achievements, your productivity, your finance, your feelings, in everything, understanding that one day, you will be made accountable for you, so choose to take full responsibility for your life from this moment forth.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 26th April 2016

Afford yourself the luxury of having time to think.

Busy-ness is what seems to give us our identity.

When asked how you are, the standard answer always seems to be ‘busy thanks, how are you?’ … ‘I’m busy too, really busy.’

It’s as if the 21st century has inbred a sense of failure or weakness into us, 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.’

Is it possible that you are a busy fool? Or maybe you are pretending to be so busy so that you don’t come across as unsuccessful, without any purpose.

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 always goes like this: “if you feel guilty about stopping, then you have a problem.”

Every one of us needs to be guilt free when it comes down 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 23v7 ‘As a man thinks… so is he.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th April 2016

We recently had the privilege of having Pastor Charles Nieman come and speak at our church. His message will live on in people’s minds for many years to come.

Away from the platform, he told me the powerful story of the city where his church is based, namely El Paso, Texas.

El Paso has been nominated as the safest city in America for several years running. As wonderful as that is, the most amazing thing is that El Paso is situated right on the border of Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico and is known as one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the world.

How incredible that the safest place stands literally metres away from the most dangerous place, and yet all that divides the two is a border control fence.

What makes the difference? The fence? Of course not, it can only be one thing and that is the people.

A fence, a barrier, a country, a city, nor a name has the power to make a city bad or good, but the people and the spiritual atmosphere holds the key to this mind-blowing statistic.

Charles Nieman’s church has around 30,000 members and has stood the test of time in that great multicultural city and has for over 30 years led people to know and worship Jesus – what a difference to the atmosphere it has made.

Just over the border, drug trafficking and violent crime are the order of the day…what a difference to the atmosphere they too have made.

You and I alike, can have unseen borders in our lives that make an incredible difference in the atmosphere wherever we go.

If you have resistance to God in your life, you will find unrest and lack of peace, and yet a person living in the same town, the same street and even the same house can have incredible peace because they have chosen to cross the border from death to life by faith in Jesus.

Are you confused today, as to why your work colleague that sits at the next desk across from you, has got such a contented and happy life while you are struggling to find anything close to that by living for yourself?

Could it be that they are living on the right side of the fence…the fence of freedom, forgiveness and peace with God?

Today, you can be so close and yet so far. Take a few steps today across the border…your passport is issued when you open your heart to Jesus.

Don’t draw any more lines of division between you and God, instead, step into the circle of His love.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd April 2016

Gordon Ramsay – love him or hate him – is a great chef and a good leader.

I remember one of his TV shows that we used to love to watch called ‘Kitchen Nightmares’.

People in the restaurant business who weren’t happy with their failing businesses would call him in to help them turn their business around.
I used to love to see his courage and honesty at going into the restaurant, that in many cases had been in their family for years and completely slate them and tell the truth. Sometimes, his honesty and bluntness would make you cringe.
He’d confront the owner, the menu, the décor, the staff, the rubbish cooking, even the personal cleanliness of the head waiter.

He’d get many different responses. Some would embrace the change and ‘lap it up’. Others would resist change but would eventually take on the advice and then there would be those who clearly said his advice wasn’t welcome and proved to be very difficult.

I found that final response very confusing. Why ask a professional personal with loads of experience to help you, and then hate him for his advice?!

The great thing about the show, was those who took the advice, saw their businesses turn around and flourish. A happy ending.

A wise person said “if you want to see something you’ve never seen before, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before.”

Confronting issues in your own life is never easy.
Yet today, I encourage myself and yourself to have the courage to confront stuff that isn’t right and to set about making those changes that will get you to where you need to be.
Ask someone who you respect for help, to be honest with you and to encourage you.

Surely, there is nothing worse than getting to the end of your life and wondering how it could have been different.

Have the courage to confront today! Tackle that issue head on.

The Bible says “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd April 2016

Most mornings, I ask my children if they had any cool dreams in the night; and this morning my daughter said with a frown, ‘I had a scary dream’ then she smiled and said ‘but I still enjoyed it!’

It made me laugh, but also made me think of other things in life that we can be scared of, but enjoy…rollercoasters! They scare you, but in the main we can enjoy them because we know ultimately we will be okay.

Often, our enjoyment of life is cut short by fear and commonly the worst type of fear – anxiety!

I believe anxiety is the worst type of fear, as it’s subtle and often goes undetected, secretly working in our lives robbing us of happiness and taking away hope. We end up unaware that we’re living in fear!

Anxiety is an enemy of what God wants in our life; always whispering financial family and health problems. It can ruin weekends, holidays and life generally.

Jesus said some amazing words in relation to fear.

Matthew 10:28-31 (NIV)
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Think about these words. Jesus goes straight for the jugular of fear!

Don’t fear someone who can kill you! Surely if you do have grounds for fear, it’s when something can potentially take your life! Cancer, accidents, terrorism, violence?

But Jesus says we should only fear God who at the end of the day, dearly loves us and wants the best for us. He looks after the needs of the sparrow; how much more will he look after us?

This morning, do you have anxiety about the day ahead? Do you feel fear might be robbing you of enjoying life? Do you want to be braver, like my daughter who had a scary dream but could still enjoy it?

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

There is nothing wrong with feeling anxiety or fear, it’s how we deal with it that matters and I encourage you this morning to give it over to the one who cares for you and enjoy your day.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st April 2016

Have you ever tried to build something, without following the instructions fully? What did you end up with? We can have a tendency to do our own thing sometimes – it’s normal to be impatient but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good habit.

There is a reason that good things take time. There are many things in life that we have to wait for, even if it makes us uncomfortable; great food, couture clothing, cultivating pearls, constructing a building.

Of course, there are quick ways to do almost everything but quick doesn’t always equate to quality.

In Jeremiah 29:11, which is a very famous verse it says… “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There’s a temptation at times to follow shortcuts, especially when we want something right now. God is definitely in the business of sudden breakthroughs but  greatness takes time.

This isn’t to say that without God, you won’t have a great life but there is ‘good’ and then there’s God’s best. We limit ourselves, when we grow impatient. God is working on your life all of the time. He never sleeps. There are opportunities and breakthroughs coming your way, if only you’ll hold on. Not only that, but when God opens a door for you, nobody can close it.

Building a great life is a process and I know that in my limitations, there’s only so much that I could do. Whose plans are you reading from today?

What a shame it would be to have built myself a little pop-up tent life, when God had been holding the blueprint for a palace, the whole time. Choose a life that is built to last.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th April 2016

I’ve been reading a book recently called ‘Leadership Axioms’ by a man named Bill Hybels. There is a chapter in there which I love entitled ‘Values Need Heat’. The premise behind this teaching is that whatever values you heat up in your organisation will eventually define your culture.

Whether it be in your school, or at home or in your workplace, you are constantly playing a part in creating a certain kind of culture. The question is: what kind of culture do you want to create?

Do you want your organisation to be known for its generosity? Then you must make much of generosity. Do you want your home to be a place of peace? Then celebrate those who play a part in cultivating that culture. Whatever you give power to, you’re ultimately giving permission for…

Often when people come to our church, they point out how friendly our staff and volunteers are. People are overwhelmed by the genuine, kind-hearted nature of our teams. There’s no coincidence that this is the case. Why? Because our Pastors make much of friendliness. This is a value that they hold highly. And as a matter of fact, they’re the most friendly people you could wish to meet.

Your home or your organisation will never get a value so right unless the leader diligently heats it up.

Today, decide what values you want your life and the lives of those around you to be founded upon, and then make much of those values, heat them up, and watch how they define the culture that you’re creating.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th April 2016

It’s not always easy to trust, when you can’t see the outcome.

A lot of the time, walking with God is a case of
moving one step at a time, trusting that what you’re doing is right.

When I was younger, I used to love watching a programme called Art Attack. There was a segment on the show called ‘Big Art Attack’, where the presenter would create a masterpiece in a very large area, such as a warehouse or a field. He would collect seemingly random items and place them together. From the ground, the masterpiece wouldn’t make much sense. However, when the camera zoomed out, he would have made something like a peacock or a juggling clown.

It used to be frustrating, trying to guess what
these small items, carefully positioned, were eventually going to become.

Life can be much like this. Sometimes, where we
found ourselves or what God asks us to do just doesn’t make sense to us. Our life is made up of many small elements; different relationships, conversations, challenges and victories. It can all feel a little bit random.

Remember today that God sees beginning to end. Not only that but He has a purpose for every experience. You may find yourself asking ‘why?’. When we’re ‘zoomed in’ to our lives and living the day-to-day, we can’t always understand what is going on around us.

Be encouraged that when you ‘zoom out’ and look at your life from Heaven’s perspective, God has been creating a beautiful masterpiece, all along.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th April 2016

In 2009, I was at a crossroads in my life after just giving birth to my firstborn, Noah. I knew that in a few months time, I would need to go back to work, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and my previous job had come to an end whilst I was pregnant. I had always dreamt of one day owning my very own traditional sweet shop, but I had no plans or means to do it until much later in my life. With a lot of prayer, and advice, I took a giant leap of faith and launched ‘Polly’s’, in April 2010.

It was everything I ever imagined it would be, and I was proud of what I had created. It was a great place to work, didn’t feel like a job, and it was a dream I was so happy to be fulfilling. Business was blessed, and I was loving being my own boss. A few months after opening our second location, things became increasingly difficult and we faced huge challenges on a daily basis.

For months I prayed, sought advice, and believed that circumstances would get better and things would change. They didn’t.

We closed the doors with 18 months of a lease left to pay, and I was heartbroken.

I felt like a failure, and I felt that God had failed me. Why hadn’t he turned up and saved my business that I had worked so hard for and dreamed about for so long? I had prayed and He hadn’t answered.

I felt sad for a long time, but I vowed that people would not see my smile disappear.

I felt my faith waiver, but it didn’t crumble. Instead, I firmly planted my feet on His word, and built the next few months of my life on Proverbs 3v5-6.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.’

I didn’t know what else to do, so that’s what I did. I put all MY understanding aside, and I trusted like never before.

I didn’t know how I could have been more planted in God’s house, but I pushed my roots down further. I was going to flourish again.

I didn’t know what was next for me, but I firmly believed that He did.

C. S. Lewis once said:

‘Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.’

I chose to let go of the negative emotions that I knew could have easily taken a hold of me, and I moved forward, holding onto His promises, while all the time He held my hand.

Life doesn’t always go the way that we imagine, or hope, or dream. Sometimes life sucks.

But it’s what we do in those moments of disappointment that determine what happens to us next. Just because we have salvation in Christ, doesn’t make us sailors of smooth seas. But it does give us hope that is eternal.

In the years that have followed, I have found some amazing opportunities in front of me – opportunities I know that can only have been God. I learnt that just because things didn’t work out how I imagined, didn’t mean that He had forgotten me. His plans are always higher.

And every single time something new falls on the horizon, I hear his whisper: ‘Esther, I told you I’d got this.’

I’m still believing for miracles on a daily basis, life will never be perfect; but be encouraged today in knowing that He has your back. Give Him your hurt, your disappointment, your failures, because He promises that there are far far greater things lying ahead, than any we leave behind.

Esther Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th April 2016

I’m writing this sitting in the Dentist’s waiting room.

I’m not one of those people who totally freaks out at the thought of going, but I certainly don’t enjoy it.

The last time I attended the dentist (the expert) he recommended that I did something that would help me.

The truth is, I’ve been very lazy in fulfilling that request and I honestly haven’t seen it through.
So guess what? The results this time are probably a little worse, because I didn’t take the advice.

Like life really isn’t it!?
We like to ask for advice, but don’t always like what we’re told or we think the advice is okay at the time, but really don’t do anything about it.

Sometimes, we can even pray about stuff and ask God for wisdom and then ignore totally what He says and then wonder why things don’t work out.

Today, I had to apologise to the dentist. I will put it right.

What do you need to sort today?
Do you want things to be better and different or are you happy to mess up or at the very least, stay the same?

Listen to the expert. He knows best.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th April 2016

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase, ‘practice makes perfect’. I understand the logic behind this, as in theory, if you work at something for long enough, you should get better at it. However, I would like to suggest something different; practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.

For many years, I’ve been playing the drums. Now if I work on my technique daily, however, and I’m not doing so correctly, it won’t result in me having perfect technique. It will simply cause me to have a longer uphill struggle to correct my wrongdoings.

I wonder what kind of habits or patterns of lifestyle that you’ve been practicing that aren’t producing the right results in your life…

Maybe you’ve set yourself targets and goals, but in the process of trying to achieve them, you’re actually moving further from them as opposed to closer to them.

Today, can I encourage you to readdress things in your life, that you’ve been under the false impression are producing perfection, but instead are just creating permanence?

You can consider yourself faithful in your persistence, but are you fruitful in your results? Faithfulness without fruitfulness is meaningless. But combined, they’re powerful. Choose both today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th April 2016

A couple of weeks ago, my credit card was broken and needed replacing after years of being constantly sat on, tucked away in my wallet and kept in my back pocket.

Waiting for a new one to come meant that the old one would now be cancelled and therefore could not be used.

A few days later, I couldn’t believe it, when I went out one evening and lost my wallet, complete with debit card and driving licence, amongst other things.

That night, after a thorough search, my wallet seemed lost forever, so I was forced to cancel my debit card and realised that I had literally nothing to go out with the next day – no credit card, no debit card and no cash.

‘No problem’, I thought, early the next morning, until I realised that I was going to be somewhat embarrassed later that day when I turned up to a lunch time meeting with no means to buy anything.

I started to pray at my usual time and began to explain to God, as I had done many times in years gone by, that I needed a miracle of money to see me through the day.

Now of course, being married to a wife with a purse or two, I could have raided her bag and found enough to get by, without a problem I’m sure; however I felt no, this is my problem and I need God to come to my rescue like I know that He could and like I’d witnessed countless times before – especially in the early days of being completely broke.

As I finished praying specifically that God would meet my need before I left the house, I went to get the post and found that there was an envelope with my name on it and inside was £40 in cash.

I thanked God for His faithfulness to me that morning and pondered how he had already sorted it long before I even prayed. He saw my impending need and met it even as I slept.

God knew on that morning that I would be completely out of supply, so He spoke to someone else to come to my home without me knowing and drop money in my post box.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray He simply said to address God as ‘Our Father’.

When you know God as your Father you can know him as the God that takes care of your needs too, just like any good father would – and remember, He has limitless supply.

Have you ever brought your needs to God?

Have you ever trusted Him and believed that He would supply?

Do it today…He’s waiting to hear from you. In fact, He’s more willing to give than you are to ask.

Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th April 2016

Determination is rarely found nowadays amongst people – yet it is perhaps one of the most important traits that separate those that just get by, from those that are truly remarkable.

People that place great value on determination refuse to retreat in the face of setbacks, opposition and disappointments.

Determination is the willingness to give it all you’ve got when you feel at times like throwing in the towel.

A person with determination will do whatever it takes to overcome the obstacles in their path and to rise above life’s challenges.

Life is often a struggle, but in every battle your mental outlook will be the key to your success or the key to your failure. The person with mental toughness, resolve and willpower will be the person that will eventually triumph.

I have found in my own life that when I’m facing the most severe oppostion and disappointment, that I actually thrive in the face of it and push through with greater determination.

Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, but that is why I’ve succeeded.”

What he was saying was that he’d bounced back every time he’d failed, and through sheer determination kept going forward until he succeeded.

I remember many years ago, just after becoming the Pastor of the church, that an older and wiser man spoke to me about leadership. This is what he said, “the first thing you need to remember is that you’re going to have to be mentally strong.”

I didn’t think his words were at all spiritual at the time and dismissed them as of no use. Now, all these years later, I realise that he was right.

Feel like quitting today? Be mentally strong and determined to carry on…your future depends on it.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th April 2016

We have two dogs, Snoop Dogg and Percy.

Snoop is a chocolate Labrador that we have had and trained from a puppy. I can almost get that dog to do anything that I want with a one word command, apart from, that is, just one thing…

Labradors are known for their appetite, in that they will literally eat anything as if it were their last ever meal. We often joke that food to him is never tasted or chewed, it’s just swallowed as if there were no tomorrow.

Occasionally, he is given the leftovers from a Sunday lunch. The food is scraped into his bowl and on the command he is allowed to eat it. However, because he is so consumed with a passion for food and knowing that there is also another little dog around, he picks the dish up in his mouth and runs with it so that he makes sure that he gets it all to himself. What he doesn’t realise that as he’s running with it, the dish is tipping up and emptying all along the route, so that when he gets to his private eating spot, there’s very little left in the bowl.

His selfishness means that he actually gets less, not more, for himself; Percy then runs along behind him and does an amazing clear up job.

Holding on to your stuff may seem like that there’s going to be more for you, but actually you get less.

God has set generosity into the laws of the universe, so that you reap in proportion to what you sow – you never reap if you don’t sow.

Ask any farmer how much he reaps each year, and he will tell you that he reaps in proportion to what he has sowed; but he will also tell you that the quality of the seed that he sows brings a greater harvest.

How many times have we given away stuff that’s really our junk? We have a clear out and give away what we should have thrown away; we then think that we have done a good deed for someone less fortunate, In fact, we do exactly what Snoop does – we want to keep the best stuff for ourselves.

If you’re wondering why your dish seems almost empty when it should be full, take a look behind you and you’ll see what selfishness has caused you to lose along the way.

Proverbs 11:24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th April 2016

Occasionally, I have to baby sit our two grandchildren, Noah and Hudson. We always end up having lots of fun, usually centred around play fighting and slam dunking them onto the sofa.

This week we ended up playing my old favourite game of battling tops. Hudson, being the youngest, couldn’t quite get the hang of spinning the top fast enough so I ended up being on his side, that was until Noah shot into the lead. With a likely win from Noah, and with only one point in it, Hudson announced that he was going to switch sides and join forces with the winning side. He and Noah left me to suffer defeat all on my own.

Even as adults, we are prone to take a look at the winning field and decide to join whatever is trending at the time. Being on the winning side is great, but sometimes you just need to battle through with what you have been called to do even though you may not be flavour of the month.

At times, someone else’s life, career and calling may seem so attractive that you feel that you need to be part of what they’re doing and where they’re going, but remember, the worst possible nightmare is trying to live your life through someone else’s dream.

You may not be seeing all that you want in your own life right now, but remember you will come into a harvest if you don’t give up.

Stick with it and God will come through for you too.

Hebrews 10:36-39 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 pleasurein 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 – 9th April 2016

When you get to know someone well, you often know what they’re thinking before they say it.
You can ‘pick things up’ or ‘sense’ things.

The more that you get to know God, the more you will discern His will and know His heart.

The Holy Spirit reveals things to us that we couldn’t possibly know. How amazing is that!

Ephesians 1 v 9 says “He makes known to us the secrets of His will, His plan and His purpose.”
“He lets us in on the plans that He has delight in making.” (Message Bible).

Often you can know things before you ‘know’ things. It’s God speaking to us through His Spirit.

To live a successful Christian life, you need to know God’s will and guidance in any and every situation.

There are times that you’ll know things in your spirit that you can’t figure out in your head. You may feel a breakthrough in your spirit, before you see it in the natural (when you’ve prayed much about something).

So today, I encourage you to seek God more in prayer. Ask Him for wisdom about a situation where you need it.
He will reveal to you the secrets of His will (Ephesians 1 v 9) and you will be able to step out in faith, knowing that God has spoken and that He is with you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th April 2016

Leadership is something that we often think is reserved for the elite few. However, we’re all leaders. Whether it be in your place of work, at home, or within your friendship circles, you are a leader because you carry influence.

Often, leadership is seen as a platform to encourage others to become like the person they’re following. And to an extent, that is true,  as a leader should be someone whose life can be followed and emulated, a person who is leading the way.

However, as leaders, when it comes to our circle of influence, if we can understand ‘I don’t have to teach you to be me, I have to teach you to be you’, then that is where I believe we will be most effective in our leadership.

We ought to better ourselves by learning from those around us, but let’s not become someone or something that we weren’t created to be…

How much of a difference could we make in our world if we each fulfilled our God-given potential and were empowered to be the very thing we were created to be?!

Today, choose to be the best version of yourself, and encourage those around you to do the same.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th April 2016

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 talk to 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 when 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 – 6th April 2016

Centuries ago, wine was stored in leather wine skins rather than bottles. When the wine skins were new, they were soft and pliable, but as they aged they became hardened and couldn’t expand. If new wine was poured in an old wine skin, the container would burst and the wine would be lost.

When Jesus wanted to encourage His followers to enlarge their visions, He reminded them, ” You can’t put new wine into old wine skins.” (Matthew 9:17). He was saying that you cannot have a larger life if you have an restricted attitude.

Just because you are young it doesn’t mean that your thinking hasn’t already got old and hardened.

It may be right now that you’ve already developed a mindset that says that you’ll never do anything successful or enjoy the good things in life that you used to dream of.

Today, I encourage you to stretch your faith and vision and get rid of that old restrictive thinking that’s holding you back from all that God has got for your life.

Start making room in your thinking for what God has in store for you. You must conceive in your mind and heart before you can receive it.

Ask yourself a simple question: If God poured a dream into your life today would it just quickly disappear through the cracks of your old attitude?

The key today is to allow your heart to become pliable and supple again to all of the great things that God has in store for you. He’s never short on ideas for your life, but you may be short on space to contain them.

Expect God’s favour to help you break out of the rut that you’re in and expect to excel in whatever you do.

Expect great things from God…attempt great things for God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th April 2016

Yesterday, we spoke about allowing Jesus to be the Lord and leader of our lives.

One of the ways of thinking about that, in simple everyday terms, would be to think about Jesus as the steering wheel, rather than just a spare tyre of your life.

Today we look at another analogy that we can all relate to – the place where we live.

How many of us today are quite happy to have Jesus sit in the lounge of our lives, where it’s pretty clean, neat and tidy; but what about the attic where things are out of sight, or the garage where everything is just thrown in and the door kept firmly shut?

It’s those very ‘private’ areas that no one gets to see, He wants to have access so that he can bring order to your chaos and declutter all of your private thoughts – including the secrets that no one knows about.

If you would hate for anyone to know about what you view on the internet, then that’s a sign that you need to allow the Holy Spirit into those areas, so that you can be set free to live a pure and holy life.

Holiness is often seen to be a word associated with boredom and being a killjoy, but actually it’s about living a wholesome life, that has fulfilment without filth and laughs without being lewd.

Jesus had the most attractive life on the planet,  as people of all ages flocked to be near Him, yet He was 100% pure.

Stop living an unattractive life that is sitting on the fence and of no use to God nor the Devil.

Make your choice and be sold out for Jesus.

Put the welcome mat out today.
Don’t keep Jesus on the doorstep any longer or treat him just like a visitor; let him run the household. He knows best.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th April 2016

Self-drive hire is a great way to transport your goods from one place to another.

Maybe you’ve done exactly that when you moved a piece of furniture or moved to a new house.

For a relatively small charge, you get to hire a van for a day. You get to drive something new that has really cost you a fraction of the price of the vehicle and then hand it back when you’re done.

It makes me think of the way we often treat Jesus. We want Him for a day when we need Him, but not so much when it’s costly over the long term.

Taking Jesus as Saviour means that you receive Him into your life because He has paid the price for you…but what about making Him Lord?

Lord means master or leader. Comfortable now? Maybe not. We kind of want a self-drive hire arrangement, in that we don’t want to bear any substantial cost, but we still want to be in the driving seat; a kind of arrangement that says I want to be saved, but I still want my own way.

Maybe you’ve never been challenged about giving up your own ways, desires, habits thus allowing Jesus to take full control?

Let this verse from the New Testament become something that you allow to speak into your life today and everyday.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd April 2016

It’s very easy to become envious of people that you perceive to have already ‘arrived’ in life, seemingly without the effort and frustration that you are having to go through right now.

They seem to have become an overnight success and are gifted way beyond you, but remember, they too had to endure a process to get to where they are today.

Every success has a process that often you cannot see, or maybe you weren’t around for at the time.

I have come to realise, and to be at peace with the fact, that I am not accountable for the gifts that God has given someone else.

God does not expect me to produce beyond the level of the gifts given to me; instead, my only obligation is to use my gifts to the best of my ability.

Why look at someone else’s life and then belittle what God has done in your own life? The gifts that God has given to you are not the same as the gifts given to someone else.

If you compare yourself with others, you’ll never be at peace. Someone else’s life will always look better than yours; they’ll have more degrees, more money, a bigger house, a better physique, a better singing voice -the list goes on and on.

Today, I encourage you to celebrate the gifts that God has blessed you with and then use them to the very best of your ability.

Remember: every time that you focus on what others have, you start to lose sight of what you have been uniquely blessed with.

Don’t bury your gifts and talents fearing that you are useless compared to others, instead, use what you have been given and remember that there is always someone out there that would love to be in your shoes.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st April 2016

I went to the cinema a few days ago with my two nephews to watch Kung Fu Panda 3. I thought it was a great film, and throughout the duration of it, I found myself taking several notes from statements that were made by various different characters.

In a heated battle between two talking animals, one said to the other, ‘The more you take, the less you’ll have.’ I thought to myself how God can use anything to speak to you!

The world that we live in wants to tell us that the state of how blessed we are is determined by how much we possess. However, the Bible makes it clear that you aren’t blessed based on how much you have but based on how much you give.

Acts 20:35 (NIV) ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Can I encourage you at the outset of this day to change your perspective from focusing on what you can possess, to thinking about what you can release? Don’t be so consumed with what comes to you, but be more concerned about what comes through you.

Understand the way that God works. The more you give, the more you have. That’s the kind of life that I want to live and I hope you share that same desire today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.