Fresh Hope – 30th June 2016

Mirrors are being removed from changing rooms in some of Britain’s biggest shopping centres after new research revealed they make customers feel more ‘ body conscious’.

Almost three-quarters of British women are put off buying clothes after they have tried them on in front of a changing room mirror, a survey found.

More than 52% of women surveyed stated that they were left feeling down after seeing themselves in the mirror.

As important though this information is, especially for men trying to protect their wallets, there is a much higher truth lurking behind this one, and that is, the truth about how we hate looking in the mirror when needing to face up to the faults and traits in our own lives.

‘Take a look in the mirror’ is an expression that we use when we are wanting to help someone face up to the reality of how they come across to others. It’s hardly surprising therefore that there are few that do it, as who really wants to walk away feeling down about themselves.

In reality though, one of the best ways of improving your character is to actually take regular check ups in front of that imaginary mirror, in order to see yourself as you really are to others.

Think about it for a moment, just because you refuse to take this simple yet effective advice, doesn’t make the problem go away no more than refusing to face up those extra bulges that you’ve gained over the last year, when you try on that new item.

I’ve never met anyone that likes to hear themselves on a recording, even moreso watch themselves on video or see themselves in a photo, yet time after time, the most improved people are those that looked at themselves and said ‘I hate what I see’ and then went on to make the necessary changes…they are now way ahead of the game.

If you know that you need to face up to some character flaws today, and we all do, take a deep breath, face up to what you know is lurking beneath the veneer of your life and deal with it. This time tomorrow, next week or next year you’ll have already made massive steps to becoming a better you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2016

As we’re now into the summer season (unless you live in England), me and my Dad have been playing table tennis in the garden quite often. Every time we go outside to play, both our dogs come and join us, sitting right underneath the table.

For the past several days, one of our dogs has been consistently jumping up the tree beside where we play and it became pretty evident that he knew something was in there, however we couldn’t find a thing…

As days went by, he would keep going to that same tree, hoping that we would be able to help him out, when eventually, we found what he had been looking for; the insides of an old football right in the thick of all the branches.

We then went and found a long pole that would help us reach the ball, however the dog grabbed hold of it and wouldn’t let it go. For at least a couple of minutes, we fought in an attempt to win back the very thing that we were trying to use to help him.

I thought to myself, I think that’s how God must feel sometimes when He tries to help us achieve what we can’t accomplish for ourselves. I imagine God thinks that we’re pretty cute trying to help him out, but at the same just wishes that we would move out of the way and allow Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

I want to encourage you with this simple thought today: Let Go and Let God.

By all means, play your part and do what you need to do, but ensure that you then step aside and let God do what only He can do.

You need to understand that God has an amazing plan for your life, and often the best thing that you can do is relinquish your control and allow God to take full control, and when you do that, you can watch His plan be fulfilled in your life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th June 2016

There will be times when you get ‘cold feet’ – in fact we all do.

Having ‘cold feet’ is usually a phrase relating to someone having second thoughts just before getting married, but to me, it can apply to anything that involves you stepping out into the realm of the unknown.

Feeling afraid is pretty normal when you have no idea as to how things will work out.

When God instructed the leaders of the Children of Israel about crossing the River Jordan, He first of all told them to stand still in the river, just at the edge.

In other words, the first people to get cold feet were those leading the way for everyone else.

Having cold feet doesn’t mean that you are a doubter or an unbeliever, it just means that you are the first to initiate things with no guarantee of success.

I’ve had many cold feet moments as I’ve led the church into new territory and broke new ground over the years. Cold feet will always cause you to ask questions like…’Have I done the right thing…?’ ‘Will anybody follow?’ ‘Will it work out okay?’ ‘Will God bless it?’

For the leaders standing ankle deep in the river that day, they would never know if the waters would part until they stepped deeper. In reality, the waters only parted when they ignored their cold feet and stepped out.

If you have cold feet about going forwards today, it is not a sign to go back, it’s a constant reminder that you are leading the way and breaking new ground.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2016

I read this quote the other day and it grabbed me.

‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.’

I always want to be generous, but often wish I had more money to be generous with. I think this quote can help us understand not to worry about what we can’t give but look at what we can.

As Christians, we’re often keen to look for opportunities to reach people by talking about our faith. In reality, if we want to impact people around us, it’s not what we say but how we make people feel.

There’s no worse feeling than talking to someone who is clearly distracted – it’s a statement that there are more important things than you.

The reality is no matter what pressure you’re under in your life, there is nothing more important than people.

Sometimes we live with the pressure of wanting our lives to count, to be part of something great, to create or do something significant. We often overlook the opportunities everyday to invest in people’s lives around us and all it takes is for us to stop and listen.

Let someone waffle and talk rubbish. Don’t correct them, be generous. Is your correction going to save them or could your generosity change the course of that person’s day?

I challenge you today to look for an opportunity to really impact someone, not by chewing their ear off, but let them chew yours off. Look for an opportunity to be generous and make someone feel the wonderful emotion of having someone care enough to stop and listen. When we do, we’ll be surprised at the impact and the doors that can open into people’s lives!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th June 2016

‘For I know whom I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I’ve committed, unto Him against that day’.

An old hymn with a very strong meaning; whatever you face, whether it be personally, as a family or even as a nation, just commit your way to Him and He will watch over you and make it all right.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your future is bleak. My Bible tells me that if God is for me, who can be against me?

This week, I’ve seen the power of God at work. I’ve seen two situations when so-called experts said that there was ‘no way’ and I’ve seen God have HIS way.

I’ve seen a man who we know, survive and beat cancer when he was told he wouldn’t and I’ve seen a lady who was told she would never have a child, get pregnant naturally. Both situations after prayer and trusting God.

God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants and with whomever He wants.

Lift your eyes off your circumstances today and put them onto God himself – the ONE who can really do something about it.

Now that should be a newspaper headline today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2016

Recently we heard the sad news that the sporting icon Muhammad Ali had passed away. Known as ‘the greatest’, he lived the last 30 years of his life suffering with Parkinson’s disease.

You couldn’t fail to notice that this once invincible warrior now couldn’t keep his hands from shaking, as the disease took its toll on his health.

The bible states in Hebrews 12: “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”

The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Hebrews here tells us that what can be seen will always be shaken. That’s why the Bible also tells us in Colossians 3: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

No matter how great we think we are, or the things around us are, our hope cannot be in them. Things can seem pretty fixed at times, like houses and people, but the truth is, everything you can see with the eye will pass before you know it.

But this isn’t a sad message of time but a great message of hope in Jesus Christ, who cannot be shaken, who was and is and is to come!

I encourage you today; if things are being shaken in your life, put your hope in Him!
He will not let you down.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2016

Ecclesiastes 11:4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

If you wait for perfect conditions to sow seed…you never will!

Just imagine if a farmer woke up one day and said it was too hot to sow seed.

The next day…too windy.

The next day…too cloudy.

The next day too wet and the next day too cold.

If he waits for the perfect day, he will never plant, and if he never plants he will never reap.

How much is that like us when we wait for the perfect day to sow our time, talent, money and energy into something?

We think thoughts like these…”When my account finally gets into the black, then I’ll do it.”

“When I get a raise, then I’ll start giving.”

“When I get more time, then I’ll start serving more.”

Solomon, when he wrote these words was considered to be the wisest person on the planet. He was saying, ‘if I were you, I wouldn’t live life always waiting for the perfect moment, no, instead sow your best seeds in season and out of season, in good times and in bad, when you feel like it and when you don’t, because once that seed is sown, God alone has the power to make it increase for you, no matter what the conditions are like.’

Our part is the letting go of the seed.

It’s a seed of trust and faith, and once sown, becomes God’s responsibility to make it grow.

You can sleep after you’ve sown seed or you can worry, but irrespective of what you do, that seed is now out of your control; however, if that seed remains in your hand, one thing is guaranteed…it will never produce a harvest.

Not so long ago, a 2000 year old pot was discovered containing several seeds.

It was decided that the seeds should be planted to see what would happen, and yes you guessed it…they started to grow.

They had literally been waiting to be sown for 2000 years.

If you want to live a blessed life, then don’t wait any longer to start sowing.

Honour God with your wealth, your life, your time and your energy.

He’s waiting to bless you with an amazing harvest.

Mark 4:26-29
Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2016

It was not until we moved house several years ago that I had to learn a new skill…that of lighting a real fire.

It looked simple to me, and I couldn’t wait for the winter nights to draw in, so that we could have our very own coal fire that brought back so many fond memories from when I was a young boy.

A few pieces of newspaper, a bit of tinder wood and then finally the logs and coal…what could be difficult about that?

Several failed attempts later, I sought the advice of an experienced coal seller that I knew.

I soon learnt that it was all about having thoroughly ‘seasoned’ wood to start the fire -otherwise you would actually be putting the fire out more so than getting it going.

I’d never heard of seasoned wood before, but soon gathered that it was wood that had stood outside in all weathers for at least 12 months and then kept really dry before use. Seasoning wood effectively ensures that the sap is dried out and the wood is crisp and dry.

Since I’d learnt that lesson, I’ve never had a bad fire. Well, that was until last week when it dropped particularly cold one night, and I threw some unseasoned wood on the fire to get it going in a rush and hey presto….it went out!

Ever wondered why your life seems to just smoulder and continually keep going out?

Take a look at the people that you’re surrounding yourself with and that will be your biggest clue.

They all look much the same, just like pieces of wood, but if they are not well-seasoned, they are simply going to dampen the most positive spirit around.

Ask yourself at the start of this day: how many people around me are unseasoned, damp spirited people that keep causing my passion to die?

Finding the right people can sometimes take time, as they often all look the same, but when you find the right ones you will see such a difference; that passion, that vision, that dream, that fire burning in you will be ignited and become red hot.

Ask God to send well seasoned people into your life today and then be willing to take them on board.

One of those people may be right under your nose everyday, but you’ve never noticed them in the wood pile.

Don’t just align yourself with the newest friends on the block – they haven’t yet been seasoned, and could well put your fire out. Instead, embrace those whose lives are lived with passion, and you’ll soon discover the effect they have on you.

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st June 2016

I was watching the movie, ‘Spectre’ last week and in one particular scene, James Bond had been led to a hotel, believing there to be some kind of clue in that location to help him accomplish the mission that he was on.

While he was sitting in his room, thinking that he’s not going to find what he’s looking for, a mouse appears just a few feet in front of him, and looking at it, James says, ‘Who sent you?’ and ‘Who are you working for?’ At this, the mouse scurries through a hole in the wall, leading James to find a secret room next door, containing everything he needs to further the mission ahead.

That reminded me of how in life we can appear to have reached a dead end, feeling like there’s no way forward and that the dreams in our heart will never be fulfilled. However, it’s in those moments that God will send something or someone, seemingly out of nowhere to get you to the next level on your journey.

You’ve got to trust that God knows what you need, when you need it, and how to get it to you. If it’s a God vision that you’re pursuing, then you can rest assured that He will supply the provision to make it happen.

Keep moving forward, keep going after the dream that God has placed in your heart, and know today that God will be with you every step of the way, and that He is more than enough.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2016

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This was a quote from Einstein – we can trust it to be true, as apparently he was clever.

As life goes on, we all surely hope to progress, grow and change – to be in a different place than we currently are. A bigger family, more finances, promotion at work, new house, better holidays etc…

But what Einstein is saying here is, if our actions are always the same, we will only ever get the same results.

We can apply this to our spiritual lives.

Do you seem to struggle with the same habits, sins, doubts, fears and disappointments,  repeatedly?

One thing I’ve learned, is to change, always! Life cannot be static – you’re either increasing or decreasing, moving forward or backwards.

Einstein also said ‘life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.’

This is a key to a life of progress. Aim to live a life of motion, moving forward, challenging your thinking and actions!

We have to examine our routines and what we do all the time. If you are dissatisfied with the results your life and actions have brought so far, then guess what? You’re going to have to change what you do.

A well-known saying is ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’, but with faith anything is possible. We sometimes may feel ‘but this is just me’ or ‘l’ve always done this, and struggled with that!’ Challenge that thinking today and say ‘no!’

You may have struggled with a certain sin all of your life and you’ve accepted that that’s it now, until you pass into the next life. You can change today!

There is always time to change what you’re doing to get different results. Stop today and ask yourself, ‘what areas do I want to be different, in my life? What and how am I going to have to change?’

Now go and do it.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th June 2016

I want to encourage you this weekend to sow a seed.

A farmer will never produce a crop without first sowing a seed.
You may say “but I have a need myself”… perfect.
The farmer has need of a crop and that’s why he sows.
Why is it, that the human heart says “I have a need, so I’ll keep my seed?” – that’s what the enemy wants you to think, to stop you getting blessed.

Change your thinking. Realise that when you have a need, you sow a seed.
And even if you don’t have a need, you should be a sower anyway.

The Bible is full of great reminders…

A generous man will prosper, when you refresh others, YOU will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11 v 25)

When you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. But when you sow generously, YOU will reap generously. (2 Corinthians 9 v 6)

For with the measure YOU use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6 v 38)

Even if you have no money whatsoever, you can sow time or friendship or a cup of tea and a listening ear.

I challenge you to be a sower this weekend.

It’s a win-win situation :)

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2016

I was watching a TV programme a couple of nights ago and was fascinated by a couple that had spent every week since they got married, more than 40 years ago, traveling to a car park near the runway of Heathrow airport just to plane spot.
Now, I have to admit that that would be a great day out for me too, but not every week for 40 years!

As they sat in the car with a packed lunch and binoculars in hand, the lady described in great detail how she looked forward to sitting there all day, every week and if she felt low or was having a bad week she would insist that they travel to their favourite car park, as a pick-me-up.

She spoke of how the overhead planes made her dream of going to far away destinations, and that they gave her a tonic just thinking about them where they were heading.

The sad thing about the whole interview was in the fact that this couple had never travelled much further, or so it seemed, from the car park.

The car park that was meant for parking your car, in order to travel to your destination, had in fact become their Barbados.

Watching others travel had become a form of transportation in their own minds.

I couldn’t help but think with sadness, of how that happens on a daily basis in many people’s minds, as they only ever think about, and watch others do incredible things with their lives, yet without ever leaving the car park of their own disabling thoughts.

In a way, I became that person just this week as I was warning our eldest son Joshua about travelling to watch England play in France. The reports of violence were stirring me to warn him several times to not only be careful, but to even consider not going.

I watched, as I’m sure that you did, the very same match without ever moving from the safety and comfort of my arm chair. However, the difference was that he had experienced the real atmosphere of the winning game, whilst I just looked on in my pretend stadium called ‘the lounge’.

It becomes so easy to let life pass us by without going anywhere and achieving nothing, because we fear moving from our comfort zone that was never meant to be our destination.

Identify today, anything that you feel is keeping you from the limitless skies of your destiny. Stop merely dreaming of those plans that you wish for and instead get up and start to make them a reality.

Many years ago, I dreamed of going to Seattle. I didn’t even know where it was or how to get there at the time and when I asked God 10 years later why He had not taken me there, He simple spoke into my heart the words…’because you never made a plan’. Ouch!

From that moment, I not only made a plan for myself, but also for my wife and three children, and 12 months later we were there.

Proverbs 26:13-15
Loafers say, “It’s dangerous out there! Tigers are prowling the streets!” and then pull the covers back over their heads. Just as a door turns on its hinges, so a lazybones turns back over in bed. A shiftless sluggard puts his fork in the pie, but is too lazy to lift it to his mouth.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 and 6 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2016

Just recently, I was preparing lunch at home and as per normal, both our dogs came and sat by my feet hoping that they would get in on the action.

As I’m at the counter cutting up some chicken, one of the dogs is intently looking up at the food, waiting to see if he’ll get some, while a piece accidentally drops onto the floor right by his feet. Amazingly, he never notices as he hasn’t broken his stare.

I thought to myself, ‘how true of a picture that is for many of us who are waiting for something in life.’ We’ve kept our eyes fixed on the prize, hoping that the thing we want will come our way, while all along it’s been right in front of us and we haven’t even stopped to notice.

I want to challenge you around a simple thought today… Stop waiting for the ‘chicken’ when the chicken may already be where you need it to be.

I know we’re told to look forward in life, but maybe some of you need to look around to see that the breakthrough you’ve been hoping for has already taken place, but you didn’t even know it!

Reassess your surroundings today, and you may be surprised to find that the thing you were looking for is already in your hand.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2016

If you’re going to go forward in life, you must quit looking backwards.

Some people are always dwelling on their disappointments.

Some people have lived so long in self-pity that it has become part of their identity.

We’ve all had negative things happen to us; you may have gone through things that no one deserves to experience in life.

Maybe your dreams look more like a nightmare as they look so far away from ever working out.

I don’t mean to minimise what anyone has gone through, but if you want to live in victory, you can’t let your past poison your future.

Feeling sorry for yourself will only push people away from you long term, so it’s time to let go of your victim mentality as nobody, not even God, ever promised that life would be fair.

Make a fresh start today by forgiving those people that did you wrong, but equally so, forgive yourself for the mistakes that you have made.

If you’re not willing to let go of the old, don’t expect God to do the new. You’ll never be truly happy as long as you harbour bitterness in your heart.

If you’ve had some unfair things happen to you, make a decision that you’re going to stop replaying those things in your memory. To constantly focus on all the negatives and the mistakes that you have made, only perpetuates the problem.

Let the promise of God to you sink deep within your soul today – why not repeat it over and over again until it becomes part of you:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Today can become a new beginning.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th June 2016

If we’re honest, we all tend to gravitate to where we are most comfortable.

We continually wear those old slippers, even though we have brand new ones in the cupboard.

We play it safe in the kitchen, as we continually roll out those old trusty recipes, year after year.

We may have several options of chairs to sit on in the lounge, but it’s almost guaranteed that you will have claimed your right to sit in your favourite one, and woe betide anyone that dares to take it from you.

You can even move house and live in a new area, but still have our old thinking and take our old habits with us. The house may be new bit we still decorate it with what we are most comfortable with.

Our tendency to want to keep going back to the familiar is often a trait that will keep us from experiencing new things that God may want to bring to our lives too.
I’m convinced that you would surprise even yourself if you broke out of the mould of the same old, well worn patterns of living.

I tend to stick to the familiar when it comes to decorating, whereas Gillian is always looking for and willing to try a new look.

I decorated our bedroom some time back and she insisted that we should go for a particular wallpaper. I argued that it wouldn’t look right, solely based on the fact that it was something different for us.

Like any good husband, I went for her suggestion and ended up admitting that the finished job completely transformed our bedroom.

How many of us are missing out on a life transformation, simply because we can’t pull ourselves away from the comfortable and the familiar?

If you want something different you have to do something different.

If you want to be someone different then you have to open yourself up to new possibilities in order to experience life transformation.

If I told you that Jesus held the key to becoming the new you, you may of course reject that as nonsense or simply as something that you don’t believe would suit you; but how do you know if you’ve never tried it?

Open up your heart today and get ready to change.

Yesterday, I was told of a lady that started to attend our church a couple of years ago. She had decided that it was time to change and reinvent her life. She wrote down 12 things that she wanted to accomplish in the not-too-distant future, one of which was to attend church, maybe once a month. She describes the first day that she came, and describes being overwhelmed by the love and the atmosphere.

She came the following week and felt so inspired that she has missed only three times in two years!

It appears that the other 11 things that she wanted to accomplish became unimportant as she took this brave and bold new step towards God.

Why not take a pattern out of her book today, and promise yourself to put at the top of your list… a quest after God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2016

There is power in prayer.
We receive not, because we ask not.
If we prayed as much as we worried about the need, then our need wouldn’t be a need anymore, it would probably be answered.

The Bible teaches us to keep on asking, it tells us to seek, it tells us to knock, it tells us to be persistent.

When you really want something, you will be persistent until you get it. You may not be your husband until you receive those new shoes.
When you fall in love with someone, you will be persistent in chasing their affection.
Why is it that we say we really want something or need something, and yet we pray very little about it?

As you start your day – or maybe you’re reading this at the latter part of it- pause, take a moment and pray again.

When you’re driving somewhere, pray – it’s like having a conversation with someone in the car. You wouldn’t sit in silence with someone in the passenger seat would you? So why don’t we use that time to talk to our Heavenly Father?

Every time a worry or concern enters your head, stop and pray about it, the Bible says to give your burdens to Jesus.

If you go to bed at night burdened by something, I challenge you to get out of bed for a few minutes, kneel down and give it to Jesus. Why go to bed burdened when you can give it to the one who cares for you?
He loves to hear you pray and He will always answer.

Tonight as a church, we come together to bring needs and requests before God, to believe for breakthroughs, to see mountains moved.
If there’s something that’s not getting answered, bring it before God together – there’s power when two or more agree on something.

Take time out of your day today to pray. In the same way that you take time to eat or drink a coffee, realise that your day and your life will be far better when you take time to pray.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th June 2016

Do you ever look at the photograph of a loved one and wish that things could be different?

Do you long for that child to come home and get their life sorted out?

Do you want your marriage to get back on track?

Is there a prayer that you desperately would like to pray in the hope that things in your life could get turned around, but haven’t yet made time to seriously pray about it?

Is there a miracle that you are seeking for a sick relative, friend or even for yourself?

Would you just love a place where you could go, where no one is going to frown on you, judge you or think that you are stupid for praying to an invisible God?

Then look no further…

This coming Monday Night (13th June) at 9.30pm, Champions Church auditorium is opening its doors so that hundreds of people can come and bring all these special requests to God.

Bring a photograph of that loved one, write out that special prayer request, bring a handkerchief or item of clothing for that sick friend that can’t make it, and take just one hour to pray or to receive prayer, knowing that God is interested in your deepest needs for any or all of the above.

Here’s what to do…

Plan to be there

Tell a friend

Turn up

Sit down

Quietly pray

Expect a miracle

Go home.

I look forward to welcoming you to this very special evening.

All things are possible…only believe.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2016

Some people find it difficult to be happy.
They may get happy for a brief time, but then they slip into unhappiness again.

In the Bible in Nehemiah 8 it says, ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’
The enemy of our souls will attack our joy, happiness and contentment. Because in doing so, we lose our strength.

Try to identify what is robbing you.
RECOGNISE it. Name it and shame it and don’t be intimidated by it. Pray about it and declare that God wants me to be joyful, not intimidated by something that is making me unhappy.

Then you should RESIST it.
Nehemiah was rebuilding for God when people tried to stop and intimidate him. He refused to be intimidated by them and he resisted them telling him to stop. He said, “no, I’m not coming down.”
Confront that which is making you unhappy and resist it.

REJOICE anyway.
Make a choice to rejoice today. When you start to thank God (even if you don’t feel like it), it’s amazing how that will have a big affect on you.
Your unhappiness will turn to happiness and your sadness will turn to joy.

When you are joyful, you are STRONG. Don’t let the enemy rob you today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2016

Even the simplest of problems get God’s attention.

Every detail of your life is a matter of concern to Him.

A couple of days ago, I felt that I should pop in to see my Mom and Dad. Although I’m very close to my parents, who are fast approaching their mid-eighties, I don’t really pop in unannounced very often.

A couple of days ago, I was passing by their house and strongly felt the desire to go in and have a few minutes with them.

As I walked down the side of the house, my Dad was fixing a new gate around the back.

I asked him if everything was okay, to which he replied that he was frustrated at trying to drill a hole through the new gate in order to fit the lock.

“I can’t understand it” he said, “I’ve used two drills now and the wood is so hard that I can’t get through it.”

I asked him if I could lend a hand, and started to hold the door in place for him. As the drill started to get up to speed, I immediately spotted the problem.

“Dad”, I shouted over the noise of the drill, “the drill is going backwards!”

Sure enough the drill was in reverse and the cutting edges of the blade were unable to do their job.

I took the drill from him, put it into forward gear and drilled a hole in seconds; before long the new lock was fitted and we were laughing together as we cleared up.

“I’d have been here for hours”, he said to me, to which I replied, “God cared enough about you struggling with the lock on your gate to send me to help you out.”

That story helps us to appreciate the level of detail that God goes to, in order to look after His children.

If you’re not convinced then take a look at these verses from the Bible…

Matthew 10:29-30 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.

Now that’s what you call attention to detail!

Are you caught in a world than only values size and significance? Today, learn to appreciate that God not only sees your seemingly insignificant need, but He is able to send someone to meet it too, no matter how small it may seem to you.

Worried and troubled about so many little issues?

God’s got it all in hand.
Philippians 4:5-7…The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2016

I’d put it off for long enough and the day came last week when I could delay no longer.

The upstairs windows needed cleaning on the outside, and because of the sunshine of the last few days, I was embarrassed at how dirty they actually were.

Out came the ladders and as I got on the top rung, the feelings that I knew only too well started to kick in.

I clung on for dear life as I started to speak out loud to myself the words…”Mark, you can do this.”

Growing up, I had battled majorly with a fear of heights – that was until God really touched me and ever since, I’ve been able to climb a ladder. Simple for some, but not for me.

The old fears still creep back in once staying on the top rung and a few days ago was no exception.

One of the things I’d found helped me combat my fears was only to focus forward and to never look down or look back.

The more I kept my eyes fixed forwards, the more at ease I became until my fear vanished once again, and the windows were sparkling  clean.

We can often gain wisdom through the simple everyday things of life and at the same time learn to appreciate the power of what the Bible has to say at the same time.

When Peter asked Jesus if he could step out of the boat and walk on the water to him, he received a positive YES – however, the moment he started to look down and look around him, he started to sink with fear.

How often do we mistake fear as a sign that God is saying ‘no’, when in reality God has already said ‘yes’, but fear is holding you back?

Today, fix your eyes upwards and forwards and stop allowing fear to paralyse you by looking down and looking back.

I had to make up my mind that those windows had to be cleaned, so I had no choice but to feel the fear and do them anyway.

If you’re scared by what Jesus has said yes to, then do it scared, otherwise you’ll start to drown in your own doubt, fears and inadequacies.

What is holding you back today?

What’s stopping you fulfilling your purpose in life?

Take courage from these words and move on.

John 6:16-21 (MSG) In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th June 2016

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

I remember the day that I started primary school, aged 5.

For some reason, I remember standing outside my Nan’s cake shop on the day of my 11th birthday.

I remember at 21 leaving home to live in Bournemouth for two years.

I remember at 23 getting married and then at 27 becoming the pastor of Champions Church.

I remember the feeling of being 33, knowing that it was the age that Jesus was crucified.

The big 40 came and went, and before I knew it the even bigger 50 was right on my doorstep.

This may sound strange to some, but I’ve actually loved being in my 50’s.

Today is my 55th birthday and I just can’t seem to slow this age thing down; and that’s the point, no one can.

Life flies by when you start looking back, and before you know it, you’re approaching an age that you once looked on in your youth as being old.

No one can slow the process down, but everyone of us can ‘number our days’. In other words, we should each make each day count rather than just let it pass us by.

Wisdom is knowing what season you’re in and understanding what you should be doing during that season; making sure that you’re living in it, rather than watching it happen to you from the sidelines.

It all starts when we start thanking God for the life He has given you and not taking it for granted.

No matter how hard you may try to run and hide from your age, it’s going to catch up with you sooner or later.

Face up to your age today…enjoy it…use it…and above all, number each day so that you don’t lose track of time and squander this precious commodity called life.

Young, old or middle aged?

It’s just a number.

One life.

Live it.

John 10:10…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2016

One of the programmes that I enjoy watching on TV is ‘Dragon’s Den’. I was watching it a few weeks ago, when I saw something that I had never seen before.

Typically what will happen on this show is a person will pitch their product or business idea to several multi-millionaires, either to receive an investor or be turned away. But on this particular occasion, neither of those things happened…

The person presenting their idea had been rejected by 4 out of the 5 dragons and then the camera panned to the 5th. He looked across the room at the entrepreneur and stated how he wasn’t interested in his idea, but he really liked him as a person. The dragon turned down what was being presented to him, but then went on to offer him a job working for an existing company of his.

In that moment, I saw a picture of what I think it would look like if we were to pitch our dreams and goals to God. We would stand before Him and say, ‘This is what I want, and here’s how You can help.’ And I think God would look back at us, with great love and compassion and tell us that He isn’t interested so much in our ideas, but He’s crazy about us.

God would flip the script and say to you, ‘This is what I want, and here’s how You can help.’
God isn’t looking for you to involve Him in what you’re doing, He wants you to involve yourself in what He’s doing.

God admires your dreams, and I’m sure He enjoys seeing your ambitions, but He has a far greater plan for you than you have for yourself. If only we would submit and surrender ourselves to Him, then we would experience a life that is above all we could’ve ever hoped, dreamed or imagined.

Today, lean into what God is doing, it’s the only thing that can bring true satisfaction in this life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th June 2016

I have a lovely patch of garden that I enjoy tending to (the rest is up to my husband).
It’s amazing how one day it can look so pretty, and the next, it’s overcome with weeds.
If the conditions are right, weeds will spring up virtually overnight.

I decided that I would take five or ten minutes (yes, just that long!) to tend to it and get rid of the weeds. In no time at all, it was looking beautiful again.

Our lives need constant checking. What has sprung up overnight that you don’t recognise from yesterday?
A little depression?
A bad attitude?
A spirit of despair?
Confusion?
Fear?
Doubt?
Bitterness?
Sadness?
The list is endless.
But whatever it is, it has no place in your life.

The longer you leave it unattended, the worse it will get and the harder it will be to get rid of.

Take five/ten minutes today and deal with it.

Prayer, God’s word and a little worship will go a long way to getting it like it needs to be.

Do some personal weeding today and get your life back to beautiful.

Happy Saturday.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2016

Someone asked me recently what my favourite genre of film was. I responded, ‘good films.’ A few weeks back, I watched what I considered to be a very good film, and that was the newly released, Jungle Book.

Amongst the familiar characters and the classic songs, one particular part has remained with me since watching it and that is a phrase that was quoted many times throughout the film:  ‘The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.’

Simply put, the strength of your life is found within the people in your life.

As God was creating the world, He identified that all He had made was good. However, there was one thing that was lacking. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”

It’s interesting to note that Adam wasn’t actually alone because God was with him. However, what God was saying is ‘I am not enough.’ You need to be surrounded with people.

I want you to consider today who you are surrounding yourself with, for ultimately, the heights you reach will be determined by the people you’re walking with.

The strength of your friendships is found in each individual, the strength of each individual is found in their friendships.

Understand that life is better together, and your existence on earth will go from strength to strength when you live from that knowledge.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2016

Always trust what God says to you…His voice is 100% accurate.

Have you heard from Him lately?

Did you obey what He told you to do last time around? If not, why would He give you more instructions to disobey?

I’ll never forget the day some years back when I was preparing to go and speak at Church down south.

I clearly heard God speak to me and tell me to give away 100% of whatever gift the Church gave me for speaking that night.

I had already been told by the Pastor to only expect 35 people to be present, and upon arrival at the service, his estimation was spot on.

Giving away a few pounds that I’d envisaged coming as a result of that night would not be a problem to me, or so I thought; that was until the ‘extra special’ offering taken for me was way beyond any figure that I’d ever received.

I had without questioning, agreed to obey the voice of God and now I was faced with obeying Him, which meant I had to let go of the much needed £350, given to me in a brown envelope.

There was no going back, even though I was desperate to get my hands on that kind of money for my own personal needs at that time; I had made a decision that meant that that money did not belong to me.

As I was leaving the Church to return home that night, a man walked up to me a placed an envelope in my hand with the strict instructions that it was not to be given away.

All the way back home, many thoughts passed through my mind as to why God would test me like this especially when He knew I was in need. I started to reason the sense of it all and even had thoughts about the probable few pounds in the other envelope given to me.

It was after midnight when I walked into the house that night, and having battled my conviction to give away £350, I made sure that I tucked it away in a safe place in order to give it away the next day.

I boiled the kettle and decided to sit down for a cup of tea, whilst tentatively opening the other envelope, knowing that the few quid in there was mine to keep.

I coughed and spluttered with a mouthful of tea, as I read, and then re-read the cheque with my name on it….Two Thousand Pounds!

In a tiny little church with 35 people, God had provided me with a much needed miracle and in turn I had supplied another family with a much needed weeks salary.

I’ve often thought about what if I’d have disobeyed God and not given my gift away before I’d received it. Would I have ever been given the £2000?

I will never know for sure, but I think I know the answer.

Whenever God asks you to sow your best seed, He’s preparing you for a harvest.

Trust the voice of God…He’s always 100% accurate.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2016

WD-40 is a household name.

For as long as I can remember, it’s been the blue can with the little red pipe for every rusty occasion. A creaking door hinge, a seized-up lock or a bicycle wheel that needs to run more freely…WD-40 is the answer to a thousand and one problems.

Just last week, I was getting frustrated as I was sure that I had a can of the stuff somewhere, but it just could not be found. It’s just one of those items that every home needs to have in stock at all times.

I don’t think I would be too far out by saying that a man doesn’t feel a real man without his trusty can; but have you ever considered the story behind that little can of WD-40?

WD-40 literally stands for ‘Water Displacement 40th attempt’.

That’s the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who created it in 1953.

The chemist, Norman Larsen, was attempting to concoct a formula to prevent corrosion, a goal that is achieved by displacing water. Eventually, his persistence paid off when he finally perfected the formula on the 40th try.

Do you have that same level of determination? Do you have what it takes?

If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal, and you definitely qualify for membership among the ranks of the world’s most accomplished people as they learn most and best through their successive failures.

Your next attempt at your dream could be the greatest day of your life.

Today, resolve to be persistent, keep getting back up, be determined, have faith and be patient.

If you fall in the process, don’t fall backwards, but instead fall forwards and gain new insights and new ground.

Determination is the pathway to victory.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.