Fresh Hope – 31st May 2016

Imagine you’re back at school in the playground.

‘Heavy Eddie’ the school bully, has singled you out and is after your dinner money!

Seemingly with no hope, you spot Mr Jenkins the PE teacher on duty.

Do you…

1. Run to him and tell tales on Eddie? (The problem is of course that Eddie may get you after school).

2. Or do you just ask if you can stay near to him? You’re safe near to the teacher!

This picture helps us understand what King David was saying in Psalm 27 Though an army besiege me,my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:

King David shows us his playground situation. An army besieges him and war is breaking out against him. Remember, he isn’t being metaphoric, he was a king of a nation regularly at war. So what will he ask? Surely he will tell tales on his enemies and ask that they may be struck down? No, he asks this: ‘that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling.’

He’s approaching the teacher and instead of telling tales of woe he simply asks ‘can I remain in your presence?’ because then in the day of trouble when ‘Heavy Eddie’ is after him, he will be kept safe.

There is a way to live that means we’re not always dictated to by our circumstances. If circumstances being resolved are necessary for our happiness, we will always be up and down!

When we learn to realise God is sufficient and cares for us, we too like King David can reel off a list of problems and say ‘even then I will be confident!’

If you’re feeling crushed by needs and situations today, make a choice. Approach God and ask ‘one thing’ this only do I seek… not that my needs are met, but that I may have the peace that comes from knowing I’m in the presence of God and He will protect and lift me above the circumstances of life.

You will have troubles in this world but take heart, He has overcome the world!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th May 2016

I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of the feeding of the five thousand.

If I asked you how many loaves and fishes that Jesus multiplied to feed such a crowd of men, plus women and children, I’m sure that you’d have a pretty good idea.

Whether your answer is correct or not, the truth is that there just wasn’t enough to go around…it needed Jesus to step in and take care of things.

On this Bank holiday Monday, I wonder what shortage that you may be facing?

For the disciples, it was a lack of food to feed a vast crowd, and the question to Jesus when presenting him with a little boy’s lunch was…’what is this amongst so many?’.

Thankfully, God can do a lot with a lot less than you think.

There are so many things that could have happened on that day, mainly in the area of disappointment, but what did happen was astounding.

I still believe that astounding things can happen for you today, if you’ll just take the same simple steps that the disciples took with Jesus.

Step 1. Hand Him whatever you have, no matter how small and insignificant.

Step 2. Do as He says, no matter how unusual it may seem.

Step 3. Start to move out in faith, just as if you have the miracle in your hand, no matter how ridiculous it may appear.

There is also just one thing that Jesus did on that day, as He turned the meagre into the miraculous…He looked up and gave thanks.

No matter what you are facing today, don’t look down and complain, but start to look up and give thanks.

God has more than enough right now to take you from lack to supply.

Hand your situation over to Him and trust Him. He has the perfect solution to your imperfect situation.

Happy day.

Luke 9:16-17 ‘…Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th May 2016

The other day I was sitting quietly feeling a little bit sad and a little bit sorry for myself.
I was questioning why I felt the way I did and frankly, I didn’t really have much reason.

I then had this sudden thought. “Smile, Gillian, just smile”. So I did, and in that moment, my smile made me realise how good God is and how blessed I really was.

The power of a smile can not only change your day but someone else’s.

There are too many miserable people out there. Be different.
Every time you see someone in the street, smile at them.
They may be lonely and think no one cares.
When you walk into a store, smile at the assistant. They may feel like giving up.
When you see someone looking like they have no hope, go ahead and smile. You may save their life.

In the same way that your smile can lift you, imagine what it can do to someone else.

The Bible talks about how important it is to have a cheery heart. ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine.’ (Proverbs 17).

Sometimes you don’t need words, you just need a smile.

It costs nothing and EVERYONE can do it.

Try it on yourself and try it on others. You’ll be good medicine today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th May 2016

There is a story in the Bible known as Daniel and the Lion’s Den. The King at this time, Darius, promotes Daniel to be ruler over his kingdom, much to the dismay of those around him. In an attempt to finish Daniel, his rivals trick the King into making a law which states that no one must pray to any God or man except the King, or they will be thrown into the lion’s den.

Daniel, being a Christian, ignores this law and continues to pray, knowing fully the consequences of his actions. The King is then forced to stick by his word and sentence Daniel to death. However, I’m sure you’ve heard the end of the story…Daniel makes it out alive, without a scratch on his body.

What amazes me about this story is the trust that Daniel had in God. I was thinking recently how Daniel could’ve still prayed in his heart, and would’ve therefore never been caught. It’s a win – win. However, Daniel didn’t want to keep his faith private, but he wanted to take it public.

In the natural, it seemed as though Daniel’s trust in God was going to kill him, but instead, it elevated him. The story ends by saying that Daniel was treated well by the present King, and the by the King that followed.

Today, you may feel as though your faith is going to be the end of you.

‘If I keep giving, I’m going to have nothing left.’

‘If I keep trusting God for my kids to return home, they’re just going to go further away.’

Whatever you may be believing God for today, know that your trust in Him will not lead to death in any area of your life. God is getting ready to promote you to new heights, because faith elevates.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th May 2016

I went to a one-day leadership conference a couple of days ago with a few guys and on the way back, we were feeling really hungry.

It was almost 10pm and the best option seemed to be to stop at the first service station that had a KFC sign.

I would not normally eat late at night, but was pretty excited to satisfy my hunger pangs with some fried chicken.

As we approached the counter, there were just two people in front that were already being served. As I stood there for what seemed like forever, I started to get impatient. A member of staff then informed me that they were now closed and therefore unable to process any further orders.

I asked why she had not told us that when we arrived and I tried to explain that it was not after closing time when I stood in the queue, but because of the wait in line we were now refused a meal.

Into the bargain, I could literally see piece after piece of cooked chicken in the hot counter right in front of me; I could almost reach out and grab it.

No matter how much I tried to reason with the staff member, it become apparent that the lovely fresh chicken was going to go in the bin, leaving us with only one other option…McDonald’s.

How often have you found in life that some things always seem to be just beyond your reach and even when you can see something right in front of you, you are told that the ‘shop’ is now closed?

Thankfully, Jesus has come to the rescue and included everyone in His plan. There is no queue, there is no closing time and there is no shortage.

Right now Jesus’ offer of life is available to you.

You may feel that you’re too bad to accept His offer, or that for some reason you would be flatly turned away and told, “I’m sorry, we are now closed.”

Life and people often disappoint, but Jesus never will.

You may have been turned down for a job that was dangling right in front of you.

Perhaps you were refused credit on that new car your wanted, and it’s possible that the person of your dreams that you desperately wanted to spend the rest of your life with has just pushed you away.

Hungry and thirsty for something more in life, yet don’t know where to go and who to get it from?

Look no further…

Isaiah 55:1 ‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money,come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.’

John 7:37-38 …Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

John 4:14 ‘…but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

Come to God’s counter today…He’s open and ready to welcome you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th May 2016

‘…You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else…’ (1 Corinthians 10 v 12).

There are 3 important questions that you need to answer today:

Is your personal walk with God up to date?

If you’re not spending time with Him each day, then your relationship is going to suffer just like any other. Whatever you’re spending your time with has become more important to you, and before you know it, you will be unable to resist temptation and the pull of other relationships that can lead you down the road to disaster. Your relationship with Jesus will keep you from sin, but sin will keep your relationship away from Jesus.
Kind David, in the Bible, said these words…’your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

How is your heart towards God today?

Are you keeping your priorities in order? They have a sneaky way of getting out of line if you don’t keep an eye on them.

If ‘success at any cost’ is the most important thing to you, then it could cost you your relationship with God, your marriage and your children – you are therefore paying too high a price.

Are you accountable to anyone?

If your life suddenly fell apart, or you had some big decisions to make and needed some wisdom, who would you or who could you go to? If the answer is no-one, then you need to start to find and build that relationship now, before you self-destruct.

No matter how gifted you are, you need to have the advice and wisdom of others around you.

When a piece of coal or wood remains in the fire with other pieces, it remains red hot, but the moment it falls out of the fire and stands alone, it’s only a matter of time before it goes cool and eventually smoulders out.

Even your car has an inbuilt sensor to let you know when it needs someone to give it attention, so that it can run safely and efficiently; take time to give yourself a spiritual check-up today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th May 2016

Nobody likes confrontation, but we all have to confront from time to time.

If confrontation is handled properly, it can actually strengthen a relationship – if not, it can end it.

Because everyone of us at some point has to confront and because most of us are not very good at it, I thought that today would be a good day to give some guidelines as to how to handle yourself correctly when walking into a confrontational situation.

Firstly, bear in mind the advice of the Bible…

‘…take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…’ (James 1 v 19)

Once you’ve settled that advice in your heart, then follow the seven guidelines below:

Get the facts. Don’t rely on hearsay or general impressions or you will invite emotion-laden counter attacks.

Be precise about the offence. Don’t skirt around the real issues.

Never reprimand while you are angry. Delay any meeting until you’ve cooled off.

Get the other person’s side of the story. Give them a chance to explain and don’t interrupt. There may be circumstances you know nothing about and you may even be part of them.

If necessary, bring in other people involved or a mature person to listen to both sides of the story. This will help to bring a resolution and healing to the situation.

If it helps to know what was said, and to whom it was said, then keep notes, so that the whole thing will be more even-tempered and productive.

Don’t harbour a grudge. Once you have dealt with it then let it go. Offer to help and support them, reassure them of your love and then move forwards.

All confrontation should have two goals:

A) to solve a problem
B) to salvage the person

And remember…

-very rarely will a bad situation get better all by itself.

-If you’re scared to do it…do it scared.

-If both parties have a good heart about the situation, then both parties will be glad about the confrontation.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd May 2016

There are three powerful words in life. They are yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Most of us can be very consumed with our yesterday. Things that didn’t go right, things we wish we hadn’t done, things we wished would’ve been different. Our thoughts about yesterday can rob the peace and joy of today.
Many of us are consumed with tomorrow. What might happen, what may happen, what if it doesn’t happen? We can be so worried about tomorrow that we don’t experience today to the full.

God can deal with all your yesterdays, He can certainly deal with your tomorrows, but what He really wants to be involved in, is your today.

What you do with your today, will determine your tomorrow. The choices you make today will affect and shape your future.
The success of tomorrow will result in what you do today.

Be present in your ‘today’, thank God for it, live it to the full, see what God wants to do.

The past is gone, leave it with Jesus. Your tomorrows are in His hand, trust them to Jesus.
But give Him your today and see how much better it can be.

He came to give us life abundantly.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st May 2016

There’s an old but very true saying and it goes like this: let go and let God.
Life changes, times change, people change, fashions change, seasons change  -so our biggest challenge is to stay flexible.

We have to be willing to let go of something to embrace what is new.

I read an illustration about a ladyl who had a hot drink in her hand. She writes…”I’d made a very hot cup of tea and I was holding it in both hands, when through the door comes running my five year old nephew, heading right for me. I knew at that moment he wanted a big hug from his auntie. What I did in that split second was wise. I quickly gave up the tea in exchange for a hug. What I was hanging onto was not wrong, it was tea, but to experience what was coming I had to let it go.”

When you let go of what is in your hands, an exchange will take place…only when you let go will you get that exchange.

I can take UK currency to the USA but it won’t work. It’s only when I exchange my UK currency for USA currency that I can move on in my journey.
Some people hang on to relationships because they are too scared to let go. Don’t be with the wrong person when God has the right one for you. It’s only when you are willing to let go that you can experience God’s best for your life.

God has new opportunities to enlarge our lives, expand our vision and increase our influence.
We will never experience them if we are too scared to let go of the old.

Keep open to God today, listen to His voice and be ready to make that exchange.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th May 2016

Earlier today I was on the phone when the person on the other end went deathly silent.

I began to think that they may have been offended, or didn’t want to answer my request so they hung up on me.

The reality was that the phone call had been lost due to a bad signal; the reality was that for most of the call… I was talking to myself.

How many of us today are experiencing a ‘dropped call’ in prayer?

You felt that you were getting somewhere with God, and then realised that in fact you were talking to yourself.

Have you ever honestly faced up to the reality as to why it appears that you’re talking to yourself in prayer?

Why not take to heart today’s challenge, and settle the issue once and for all…

Do I have a relationship with God, so that I can rightfully and openly talk to Him in prayer?

Don’t presume yourself a Christian, because you live good and do good – the reality is that you need to give over your life to Jesus; accept his offer of life, love and forgiveness. Invite Him right now into your heart and open the direct prayer line to Him.

Sin produces a barrier between us and God and although He has the ability to answer all our prayers, we need the blockage to our relationship to be removed first.

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
I’m sure we all know today what it feels like to not be on good speaking terms with someone. It may be your spouse, your child or a once good friend; you may be living in the same house as them, and yet this invisible but powerful barrier fills the atmosphere, which gives weight to the expression…’you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife’. That invisible barrier is only broken down when the guilty party plucks up the courage to say ‘please forgive me, I’m sorry’.
Isn’t it amazing how those very small words can have such a massive impact and change everything in an instant?

Jesus has done His part in dying for your sins on the cross; He is now awaiting your response, so that you can be in the relationship with Him that He longs for.

Here is a prayer that you may like to pray right now…

‘Dear Jesus,

I come to you just as I am.

I ask you to forgive me of all my sins and failings.

I turn from own ways and ask you to come into my life.

Be my leader and Lord from this moment forwards.

I step out of the driving seat and ask you to take control of my life.

I truly want to follow you for the rest of my life.

Thank You that this is the very first prayer that I know you will answer.

Please fill me with you Holy Spirit that I may live my life daily for you.

In Jesus name.

Amen.’

Please write to us at info@championschurch.org.uk, if you have prayed this prayer today.

In return, I will gladly send you a free copy of the Bible, so that you can continue to grow in your new found faith.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th May 2016

Mark 4:35-39 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

As I read this passage, I was intrigued as to why Mark, the writer, would include the four words ‘just as He was’.

As you read it again for yourself, you will notice that it was in reference to the disciples taking Jesus along with them for the ride.

How could you take someone along with you as anything but just as they are or were?

As I thought about the significance of such words, I began to understand why Mark would include some seemingly throw away comments about Jesus.

It’s one thing for us to come to an understanding that we can get into Jesus’ boat just as WE are, but the equally great truth is that we have to allow Jesus to climb into our boat just as HE is.

How many times do we find ourselves wanting to change a little bit of Jesus? That part of Him that says ‘give everything up to follow me’, or that bit that says ‘don’t worry about anything’, when we know we’d rather fret about things.

How small is Jesus in your life, simply because you’ve shaved so much off Him that there’s hardly anything left?

You can’t make Jesus fit around your lifestyle and expect Him to simply downsize who He is to accommodate you.

He’s God…you’re not!

I encourage you today to take Jesus on board ‘just as He is’ and not make Him a ‘pocket sized’ version that you can pick up and throw in your bag like some lucky charm.

Jesus is either Lord of all or not at all.

Do you want Him with you on you journey today? Take Him just as He is…He’ll calm your troubled water, speak to your storm and make sure that you get to the other side.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th May 2016

If Jesus seems far away…guess who moved?

Luke 2:41-52 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’ ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

If you’ve ever walked with Jesus, you will know exactly what it feels like to lose sight of Him in your life.

The sense of loss is greater than any other.

It’s possible that you have cried out to God asking where He has gone, but in reality, it’s you that’s moved away.

The reason they lost Him, was because they presumed upon Him whilst busy in the hustle and bustle of the crowd. It’s so easy to get caught up in the crowd that you fail to look for Him.

They only noticed He was missing after a day, but took three days to find Him. How often do we make a wrong turn in our lives and lose a sense of His presence so easily, then find it takes longer to humble ourselves and get back to where we left Him?

Remember you moved away, and not the other way round, so let go of your pride and retrace your steps to where you walked on without Him.

At no time was Jesus lost. He didn’t go anywhere…you just didn’t take Him with you.

If you’re not sure where to find Jesus, then what was true then, is still true today. You will find Him doing His Father’s business. Look for where God is at work and you’ll find Him there.

If today is another day without Jesus, then stop, turn around and go back. You’ll find Him at the point where you decided to go it alone.

Whatever you do, don’t keep moving on without Him, the journey will only get longer and harder. Go back and all will be well again.

Jesus is waiting for you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th May 2016

I love the story found in the Bible in Mark 4, verse 35. It says,
“That day when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!””

Here we find Jesus and His disciples faced with a pretty big storm while travelling in a pretty small boat. It’s no surprise to me that the disciples were afraid, yet Jesus wanted to know why they were so fearful…

Now, I don’t think that He was referring to the storm when asking the disciples this question, but rather the statement He had made before they set sail. The first thing Jesus said before they got in the boat together was, “Let us go over to the other side.” Jesus had already declared where they would end up before they got going…

If the disciples would’ve recognised this, then I don’t think fear would’ve ever entered the equation because Jesus had already told them that it wasn’t going to end this way.

Today, you need to know that the same thing Jesus told His 12 friends is the same thing He wants to tell you…’You’re gonna make it.’
Whatever storm you may be faced with right now, whatever waves may be crashing up against your boat, you will reach the other side.

Though things may seem dull and death may be fast approaching, no longer do you have to walk in fear, but instead, you can live with confidence today knowing that Jesus has already declared the end from the beginning, and you will make it to the other side.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 16th May 2016

There are 7 billion people that occupy this world today, and yet you are totally unique.

You have a unique purpose and destiny that is distinct from anyone else that has ever lived.

You can have a dream, a plan, a role and a vision that will make a contribution to humanity.

Have the courage to be uniquely you…to be different.

Don’t just settle for an easy life, that requires no effort on your part; I know it’s much easier and far less stressful to be mediocre and to blend in.

Everything within you at times says ‘don’t make waves, just swim with the tide and go with the flow.’

No courage is required just to be normal, but all that does is neutralise what God has planned for your life.

Being courageous doesn’t mean you will never be afraid or doubt, quite the opposite; the one who has courage pushes through the fear and keeps moving forward toward the goal that you were created for.

Destiny is not only a destination, but a process taking place within you.

You need to see yourself doing what you were born for, before you actually do it.

Long before you get married you need to see yourself at the altar.

You need to get educated, if you are dreaming of that degree.

You need to see yourself as the supervisor before you get the title; but if you don’t behave like a supervisor you will never become one, even if you do get the badge.

If you believe you are called to be a communicator then start to prepare a little message that you can try out on the dog or even a tree before being let loose with a bunch of human beings.

If you are to become the musician that you believe you are called to be, then don’t wait for the stage, but become skilful with your headphones on, shut away in your bedroom, while all of your friends are out partying or watching TV.

A surgeon is only able to pick up and use the instruments that are already clean and at hand in the operating theatre. In the same way today, God is looking to use those that are prepared and ready to be used.

In 1982, I waved goodbye to my career in order to go to Bible college for two years. I did so in the belief that God was calling me to pastor the church, and therefore needed to train for the future. I didn’t want to get the point whereby God was ready for me to step into that role, but I was not ready myself.

Do I recommend that everyone does the same? Of course not, but I do recommend that you do everything you possibly can to become the best in the field that you are called to be in.
Did you know that if you read and study a particular subject for just one hour a day for 7 years you will become an international expert in that field?

Instead of just praying the prayer…”Lord, use me today”, why not change it to…”Lord, make me usable today.”

My prayer for you is that you will have the courage and determination to make a difference by being prepared for who God intended you to be.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th May 2016

I can safely say that almost everyone wants to surround themselves with the right kind of people. People who will influence your life in a positive way. The question is: how do you do so? How do you surround yourself with the right kind of people? The answer is simple…You must become the right kind of person.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘opposites attract’. However, I want to present to you the idea today that similarities attract. The foundational principles that you carry in life will attract others around you who also carry those very same principles.

For instance, generosity. Generous people attract generous people! Now, all of us I’m sure want to have generous friends. But we tend to just stop there, hoping that one day we’ll have friends like that. We have a list, whether physically or internally of the kind of friends that we’d like to attract. It may look a little something like this…

-Generous
-Loyal
-Trustworthy
-Honest
-Loving
-Joyful

I want to give you what I believe to be the key to having friends like this…Change the header above your list from ‘The Friends I Want To Attract’ to ‘The Person I Must Become’.

The moment you realise that you attract what you are is the moment that you move from focusing on what you want to see onto what you need to be.

Today, don’t wait for these kinds of people to enter your life, but instead, go and be this person to somebody else and watch your friendships go from strength to strength.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 13th May 2016

Are you teachable?

If the honest answer is ‘no’, then we can only draw one conclusion, and that is…you must be a know it all.

You will never reach your full potential if you don’t welcome the words of those that could actually teach you something new.

I’ve been able to wallpaper now for over 30 years. I was taught by my dad, who always did his own decorating. I listened, I watched, I learnt and then I had a go myself just before we moved into our first house.

Just a few weeks ago, I needed some particularly difficult wallpapering done in our lounge. There were two really difficult angles that I’d attempted before and got it horribly wrong, resulting in me having to live with my mistakes every time I sat in there.

This time round I vowed that I would find a professional. I decided that I would plan to be around when he did the difficult parts and would listen, watch and learn from a man that was doing it every day.

I was amazed after 30 years of decorating at how much I didn’t know and equally, how much I could still learn. As a result, I’m a much better decorator now – simply because I was prepared to be taught for about an hour.

There are two ways of learning and also two speeds at which you learn….

Firstly, we learn from our mentors, or from our mistakes. Being willing to learn from a mentor is far better than learning from your mistakes as a know it all.

Secondly, we learn quicker from our mentors than we do by our mistakes…

It took me a whole day of frustration to decorate those difficult angles all by myself, yet only took me one hour to learn how to successfully do them from a mentor.

Open yourself up today to learn something new.

Stop putting the barriers up when someone tries to advise you.

Don’t get so defensive when someone offers you constructive criticism.

If you find yourself closing your mind to new thoughts or a potential better way of doing things, then tell yourself that you are becoming a know-it-all.

Make a decision today to become a learn-it-all.

If you’re not convinced, then think of it this way: no-one likes a know-it-all, but a learn-it-all is always attractive.

Get wisdom at any cost…

Proverbs 4:1 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12 May 2016

Only go to work today if you feel like it.

Don’t go if you have a headache, it’s raining, or you haven’t had to tell the kids off.

Stay at home if you don’t like everyone at work and the stars didn’t line up the night before.

If the boss doesn’t appreciate you, and the sun isn’t shining, and it’s inconvenient, just go back to bed.

Now…phone the boss and give him any of the above as your excuse as to why you’re not coming to work today, knowing that he will completely understand – not.

The Bible records these words for us…

Malachi 1:8, 13-14 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?’ says the Lord. ‘Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Everyday we get up to go to work, knowing that our earthly boss is expecting us to be there, and yet when it comes to God we make such lame excuses as to why we can’t give Him our best, that he says back to us, ‘try telling that to your boss’ – exactly!

Why do we think that God deserves anything less than the very best and yet we give him our daily leftovers and that which costs us nothing?

The next time you promise God that you’ll go anywhere for Him and don’t turn up, the next time that you pledge something and then retract it, the next time you say that you commit to something and then never see it through, ask yourself ‘why do I do that to God and would never do that even to my earthly boss?’

Give God your very best and your all today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th May 2016

I have a cookery book stand in the kitchen that has a Nigella Lawson cookbook lying open on it.

Gillian subtly placed it on there some time ago and intentionally left it open on page 170.

Whenever she sees a recipe or picture of something she likes the look of, she craftily introduces it to the stand in the hope that I’ll cook it for her.

To be honest, I’ve been secretly looking at this picture on page 170 now for a couple of weeks and I’ve even studied the recipe, thinking, ‘I must do that one day.’

Every time I go into the kitchen, this amazing looking lemon meringue cake is shouting out, “cook me!”

On Sunday, after church, I finally gave in as the family were coming for lunch.

I found the 13 ingredients in the cupboard and quickly followed the recipe. I was pretty optimistic that it would turn out okay but had no idea what a great recipe it was and was amazed by everyone’s reaction to it.

It was an instant hit and even the one person that hates lemon cake had two slices and has now conquered once and for all his fear of lemons.

How often do we have the world’s best selling book, the Bible, open before us, knowing that it’s calling us to follow it, yet just like my cookery book, we continually excuse our selves from trying it out because we don’t have time and the patience to get on and just do it?

I must admit right now, now that I’ve tried it, I can’t wait for the next time to bake that cake again – in fact I could eat a piece right now!

The Bible says in Psalm 34:8 ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’

The recipes for the greatest life ever are waiting on the pages of the Bible, but you will never know what that life feels like until you try them out.

Everyone right now has two lives – the life we are living and the un-lived life within us.
Maybe you’ve read what a blessing it is to be generous, and yet you remain stingy. Why would you not want to try out the generous life?

Make a decision at the start of another new day, not to just hear God’s word but to be a doer also.

There’s a whole new life for you waiting on the pages of the Bible if you’ll simply put them into action.

Get cooking!

[By the way, you’ll find the recipe under ‘Lemon Meringue cake by Nigella Lawson’]

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th May 2016

Persistence, Perseverance and Patience are words that most people don’t like.

We do like the words Instant, Immediately, Now, Yesterday.

If you’ve been around for any length of time, you’ll know that you need to start liking that first set of words a little more in order to go anywhere in life.

Be persistent in prayer and you will receive. Jesus taught us that in the story of the man who went to get bread from his friend at midnight. “He won’t give you the bread because you’re his friend, but he will give it you because you persist.”

The dictionary says that perseverance is “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
Keep going, however difficult it seems. Sometimes results are slow. But you will get results.

Patience is a wonderful thing (which I’ve never had much of); to wait until the right time. To wait for God’s time. That’s the best time.
Waiting can be frustrating. Be patient.
Galatians 6 v 9 says “you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.”

If you want something instantly, now or immediately (like coffee or a microwave dinner) you will be settling for second best or a poor copy of the real thing.

Go after what is GREAT, not average.
Go after what will LAST, not what is temporary.
Go after that which will SATISFY, not which will give a temporary fix.

Start to see those words as your friend, not as your enemy.

Be persistent, patient and persevere.
Good things come to those who wait.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th May 2016

A well known verse is Proverbs 1:7 ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’

We often have the wrong image of knowledge or wisdom, like it’s just being clever and not the most valued trait we should seek. This is completely wrong as it’s not just about information but how to apply it to be successful, and a good steward of what we have been given.

Wisdom is vital if we want to grow, be successful and enjoy this life. We need knowledge, not so we can be a know it all but a know ‘what to do’ it all!’ The difference is having knowledge to help your actions rather than just intellect.

Think about the emotion you go through when in a situation where there’s a lack of knowledge. Buying a house, going through an airport, having a baby, you want to know as much detail as possible to help you get through those circumstances successfully and with as little stress as possible.

It’s the same in our lives but for some reason we often don’t value wisdom in the day to day. We don’t always feel it’s the same as going through an airport where we want to know, what terminal, what gate, what time! Why would we be so casual with what God has entrusted us?

In Luke 12.4-5 Jesus says “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

This helps us understand the beginning of wisdom as ‘the fear of the Lord’. Don’t live in fear of life and the temporary situations but live with the knowledge that God is the one we should fear.

But then it goes on in Luke 12.6-7 ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’

Living with this greater knowledge/wisdom of God and his love toward us gives perspective on our lives and makes sense of many things that used to confuse us. No longer tossed about on the waves of circumstance, we can instead keep our hope in him which becomes like a consistent steadying anchor in our lives.

I encourage you to pray for wisdom everyday, to help you know what to do, what to fear and what not to, and you will be surprised how you can even start to enjoy some of the things that used to terrify you!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Hope – 7th May 2016

You will never do anything great in life without a dream.
A dream is something that is far bigger than yourself.
All the ‘greats’ had a dream.
A dream to achieve, a dream to make life better, a dream to make a difference.

Nothing however, will ever happen if you only dream, there has to be a plan.
Start to plan how that dream is actually going to come to fruition.

Plan will lead to action. You can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. If you want something to be different, you have to do something about it.
Too many people have dreams in their heads, but aren’t willing to do anything else.
Let your plan lead to action.

All through the process you have to believe.
Believe that your dream will become a reality.
Believe that God can use you and wants to use you.
Believe that God wants to help you and that He will make a way.

Cover all of the process with prayer.
Proverbs 16 v 3 says ‘When you commit your ways to the Lord, they will succeed.’

To accomplish great things you must not only DREAM, but ACT.
Not only PLAN, but BELIEVE .

Never underestimate someone with a PRAYER and a plan.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th May 2016

Yesterday, I turned up to our church offices, knowing that a lovely married couple that we know, had rented one of the offices along the corridor from us.

It was nice to think that the office block would have more people that we knew coming and going.

I decided that I would pop my head around their door, just to say hello and welcome. As I walked inside to ask how they were finding everything, I commented on the fact that they were working at their separate desks whilst having no lights switched on.

They looked at me with a sad look on their faces and embarrassingly stated that they needed to save on the electric bills; I explained that the electricity was all included in the rental cost, to which they both jumped up and turned the light switch on!

As I was about to turn around and leave, I asked the husband why he was wearing his thick winter coat…you’ve guessed it, he wanted to save on the gas too, and yes, it was also included in the rental cost.

The truth was, that come day or night, all the offices are warm and well lit at no extra charge.

I started to think about how often we live our lives like paupers, not realising that Jesus has made us co-heirs of all that is His.

How many times have you decided not to do something because we felt it would be too much of a leap of faith, when in reality God has already decided to bless us far more than we could ever ask or think?

I heard about the man that gave his whole life savings to go on the cruise of a lifetime.

Each night, he would walk by the sumptuous restaurants on board, and would only imagine what it would be like to sit at the captain’s table and have fine dining each night, but then retire to his cabin to eat yet again the rationed cheese and biscuits that he had brought in his suitcase.

As he ended the cruise, the captain shook his hand and enquired as to why he had never seen him in the dining room.

The man embarrassingly admitted that he could not afford the extra cost of the fine dining. “Oh”, said the captain, “didn’t you realise that it was all included in the price?”

How that man must have felt to realise when it was too late, that he could have eaten at the captain’s table each night?

Today, Jesus spreads before you a banquet and expects you to come and partake in it.

Stop living life like Heaven is in recession. Jesus came to give you life to the full.

1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th May 2016

I’m by no means an expert when it comes to castles, but I remember the basics that I was taught during my time at school.

A castle is surrounded by a moat, a form of protection to stop the opposition from reaching those inside of the castle. The only safe way in or out was by using a drawbridge. The drawbridge is controlled by the gatekeeper who has access to the key, and only by his or her permission can you enter the castle.

I want you to imagine that your life is like a castle and you are the gatekeeper. The key is in your possession and only with your permission can people enter your life.

The problem many people face today is that they have either let go of their key or they are using it too sporadically to allow anyone and everyone into their lives. The end result? Calamity and chaos all around you.

You see, we are called to love all people and befriend all people, but we aren’t called to allow everyone in close proximity of our lives. You have to be intentional about holding onto that key and only allowing people in who are going to take you closer to your destiny, rather than further from it.

Today, choose wisely who you allow across your drawbridge, for your friendships will ultimately determine your future.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th May 2016

I have to admit that I occasionally put the dustbins out early on a Thursday, in my pyjamas.

My wife goes mad at me if she finds out, but my usual answer is that no one is looking my way at that time of the day.

Getting properly dressed to leave the house is something that most of us do everyday, without so much as a second thought.

Some of you would be amongst those that get your outfit ready the night before, so that you know exactly what to wear the moment you get out of bed, whilst others of you are the last minute type that open the wardrobe just before leaving the house and hope for the best. It’s pretty obvious to everyone when you turn up for work which camp you belong to!

It’s a sad fact of life that many of us disregard the advice of the Bible, when it comes to spiritually dressing yourself correctly right at the beginning of each day.

We walk around naked most of the time without realising it, yet trying to fathom why we feel so cold on the inside.

The Bible advises in the passage below that for a spirit of heaviness or despair we should ‘put on’ a garment of praise…

Isaiah 61:3 …’and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…’

If you feel that a dark cloud of depression or oppression are loitering around you all day, then you need to get dressed properly by putting on praise, just like you would your jumper or coat.

Remember: your were not born with a garment of praise…you have to be responsible to put it on yourself.

What does a garment of praise look like?

Thankfulness…Praise…Worship…Joy…being grateful to God in all circumstances.

These are all styles of the very best coat you can put on to keep yourself warm on the gloomiest day you may find closing in on you.

Have you left the house properly dressed today? If not, then pause to praise right now and just watch that heaviness lift off you as God’s peace and joy flood your soul.

Put your dancing shoes on.

Happy day.

Now.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd May 2016

Aesop the Ancient Greek story teller observed “After all is said and done, more is said than done.”

How true this is.

Another saying is ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

This sounds harsh, as though there’s something wrong with good intentions, but it’s saying that there’s nothing wrong with them but there’s nothing right with them either…if they don’t materialise into action.

At my place of work, we are always trying to move away from a ‘meeting culture’ where lots of people are involved in lots of discussion but there’s not always a lot of action resulting. A big danger to a business with a ‘meeting culture’ is a false sense of security that’s created as people feel something has been achieved but in reality nothing has changed. It’s the resulting actions being put into practice that makes progress.

The same can happen in our everyday life, we can feel better about ourselves and situations when we meet and talk with people about what we’re planning to do to move forward as if somehow by talking about it makes it feel like progress has been made. It hasn’t. We need to start moving, even if just little baby steps in the direction of what we want to achieve or do.

If you’ve been threatening to start a business venture for a long time I encourage you today to make preliminary calls, get quotes, scope out projects, create business plans, leaflet areas, make inroads, apply to banks, get the ball rolling and stop talking about it – just do it!

I’m not saying it will work, but you won’t know unless you try! Failure isn’t a problem, never trying is the problem. Failure leads to learning, lack of activity can’t lead to anything. If fear of failure is holding you back, let go, it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried.

Maybe you’ve been talking or thinking about putting some things right in your life, making a call to a family member you fell out with five years ago! Stop reading now and put a time in your diary to make that first move.

Maybe you know you need to start the day better creating time to read and pray but haven’t yet made a plan, stop reading right now and set your alarm.

Don’t procrastinate, plan, apply, apologise, move!

Jesus has done everything necessary for us to live an exciting life of authority, stepping out taking risks and making things happen! Let’s move today and see what great stories we can create for us to talk about, instead of talking about what stories we would like to create.

Just do it!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd May 2016

When Jesus rose from the dead, He not only broke out of the grave, but He conquered death and hell.

He defeated Satan, won our salvation and defeated everything that would ever come against us.

His resurrection took our bondage and smashed it.

What’s holding you down today? What’s holding you back today? What’s holding you captive today?
Jesus has paid the price for that.

The resurrected King has power to resurrect me.

Are your finances dwindling?
He can resurrect them.
Has your passion for life gone? He can resurrect it.
Does your situation seem hopeless and helpless?
He can resurrect hope.
Is your health dying?
He can resurrect it.
Is your marriage struggling?
He can resurrect it.
Are your relationships strained? Or your job and career on the way out?
He can resurrect them.

Nothing is over, ’til He says it’s over!

Claim His resurrection power over your situation today and see it restored, brought to life and rise up from the ashes.

Declare today: The resurrected King is resurrecting me.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.