Fresh Hope – 31st August 2016

God doesn’t just speak to a favoured few, He speaks to all that have a relationship with Him through his son Jesus.

When you receive Jesus to be your saviour and allow Him to be the Lord and leader of your life, you have to get used to the idea that God is now your Heavenly Father and as such, He wants to talk to you, just as any human father would want to.

God speaking into our lives is for EVERY believer and not just an elite few, however, hearing from God is another matter.

My wife speaks to me every day but I have to admit, I don’t hear some of what she says, because like most men, I’m not listening.

Allowing God to speak to us means that we need to position ourselves close enough to Him in order to recognise His voice.

I was totally surprised and blown away when many years ago I clearly heard God speak to me in such a clear way that it changed the whole direction of my life. At the time, I wasn’t kneeling in prayer, or in a church, but walking in a field.

The only two things that would maybe give a clue as to how and why I heard from God was: 1) I was open to hear from God, and 2)…I was quiet.

Ask yourself today, how much quiet time are you giving to God whereby you draw close enough to Him to hear his voice.

Turn the TV off.

Turn your phone off.

Get off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Find yourself a quiet place every day to read the Bible, pray and listen. It makes sense in any relationship, to spend time together.

When Jesus gathered His disciples together just before the crucifixion, He informed them that one of them would betray Him.

The only person that got the inside information on who it was, was the one that was sitting closest to Jesus; so close in fact that John was able to whisper to Jesus, enquiring as to who this was.

John 13:21-26 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

Think about it…the one that had a direct line to Jesus was the one that was closest to Him. All the other disciples were in the same room, but didn’t hear his voice, in fact it was Peter that ended up asking John for the information from Jesus.

Don’t keep saying that God doesn’t speak to you…He does.

Don’t keep asking other people for a word from God for your life…get your own.

The question is: are you close enough and quiet enough to listen?

James 4 v 8 ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th August 2016

If you’ve been wearing sunglasses over the past few days, you will know exactly what I’m talking about today.

No matter what glasses you chose to wear, whether Gucci, Prada or Tesco special, they may not carry the same trendy name tag, but they all do one thing – they colour and tint what you see.

For some brands it’s yellow, whilst others are more pink. Some are pretty clear with just a faint blue tinge, and then there’s those that make you look cool (some say) as they completely black out your eyes.

In much the same way, we each wear differing glasses on our minds, which affects the way we see and ultimately what we see.

I was walking into to Marks and Spencer just a few days ago and Gillian was commenting on how low the Euro had fallen against the pound, as she glanced at the LED currency board in the entrance.

For me, it was a totally different experience, as the very same board I was staring at was completely blank. I then realised that my sunglasses were masking the red LED lights, giving me the impression that there was nothing there.

The invisible glasses that you are wearing on your mind have the power to stop you seeing what others are seeing, but listen carefully, the ‘faith’ glasses that you can put on will enable you to see what no one else can see.

Why is that two people people can look at an identical situation, and one see impossibility, whilst another sees opportunity?

In the Old Testament (2 Kings 6) there is a story of Elisha and his young servant that were facing defeat as a whole army had surrounded the place where they were staying.

The young servant cried out to Elisha asking what on earth they could do, but Elisha looked out on the same army but saw something different; he looked up and saw a vast army of God coming to their aid, in order to defeat the enemy. Elisha simply prayed for the young servant…’open his eyes that he may see.’

You’ve heard the phrase…’beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, but today why not make a small change and say…’victory is in the eye of the beholder’.

You can look at your day today and depending on your lenses, you can will either see defeat or victory.

If you are only ever used to seeing through negative, and defeated lenses then why not trade them in for something that helps you to see things through the eyes of faith and possibility?

Make a decision today, no matter what your negative upbringing, to start to see every difficulty as an opportunity for God to do a miracle.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2016

The palm tree was created to live in very very hot conditions. Conditions that you and me might physically wilt in, yet the palm tree not only survives in that environment, it flourishes.

The large cedar trees can survive in temperatures that are so cold, they would kill me and you, yet the Cedar tree not only survives in such radical temperatures, it flourishes.

I don’t know what season you feel that you’re in today, but God wants you to know that He is giving you everything you need to not only survive this season, but to actually flourish in it.

You may feel that you’re in a great season right now, or a very difficult one. Don’t just see your life as surviving another day, but God wants you to actually enjoy every step of the journey, yes, even if the conditions are not what you want them to be right now.

The Bible says He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will be with us in every and any situation. It also tells us to give thanks in every circumstance.

Take a look at your situation today and ask yourself this “am I barely surviving? Or am I actually flourishing… ?”

What ever you’re experiencing today, know that God is with you. And that He will help you to flourish and grow in your season.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th August 2016

When you give the right thing to the right person, it’s amazing what you get .

If you gave me some tins of paint and expected something awesome, you’d be disappointed. Yet, give the same paints to an artist and you can expect something great.

If you give a pile of bricks to someone and say “build me a wall”, you may be disappointed, but give them to an experienced bricklayer and you’ll be pleased with the result.

How many of you remember the cookery show ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ ? It’s where you presented a bag of ingredients to a chef and said “cook something with that.” Whenever you give food to a great chef, you can expect something wonderful.

When you give God your life it’s amazing what He will do with it. It can be broken or abused, tired or worn, yet God will turn it into something beautiful.

When you give God your finance, it’s amazing what He can do with it.
When He took the five loaves and two fish, He turned them into a miracle, because the little boy was willing to trust Jesus with it.

The problem is that we give the wrong things to the wrong people, like the food or the bricks or the paint.

But we also trust the wrong people with things that really matter. Like our money…or our lives.
Trust Jesus with what you have today. You’ll be amazed at what He can do.

Start with yourself. That’s a great place to begin.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2016

I’m sure that we have all experienced innocently overhearing someone’s else’s conversation when sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant.

It is especially difficult to pull back, when what they are talking about is either really interesting or highly amusing.

Just last week, I was sitting next to a couple of ladies who were talking about their husband’s failings, and I have to be honest, I couldn’t help but tune in to find out what was making them so vocal.

The one lady was telling the other how much her husband irritated her every evening when it was time for him to go to bed.

She went on to say how every night for 26 years he would go to the four-way light switches at the bottom of the stairs and try them all before selecting the right one to put the landing light on.

The story not only made for great listening knowing that he hadn’t memorised the sequence of four switches in 26 years, but what came next made it worth being nosey for a few moments; her parting shot to the other went like this…”and to think he’s an electrician aswell!!”

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was to keep doing the same things over and over again whilst believing for different results.

We may smile at the conversation, but in reality, how many of us are doing the same thing in our day to day lives?

We keep repeating the same things, but hope that the outcome will be different.

Knowledge tells us that the four light switches turn on four different sets of lights. Each switch will never turn on a different light no matter how much you expect it to. Wisdom however, tells you which switch turns on which light. Once you have learnt that simple process, all you have to do is apply the same wisdom and you get light.

Two questions for today…

Are you trying every switch in the hope of somehow stumbling on the right one?

Are you willing to learn and get wisdom so that you no longer have to guess how to get success?

So many people have so much knowledge but they have know idea how to apply it, simply because they refuse to learn.

Knowledge without wisdom is still as ineffective almost as no knowledge at all.

Make some new choices today to break out of the same old patterns of ignorance and make it your goal to get smart.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th August 2016

How we ‘react’ to things is important, but how we ‘respond’ is vital!

How we react tells us where we are, like a thermometer, it shows by our knee jerk, off-the-cuff, immediate reaction, whether we are hot or not.

This is helpful but God’s not so interested in reactions, purely because he knows exactly where we are and so knew what the reading would be.

Our response however is different. The pre-meditated, fully thought through, conscious decisions we make, God is very interested in.

A reaction comes from feelings but a response has the opportunity to override feelings and circumstances to make a decision based on other reasons such as faith.

If ‘reaction’ is the fruit of where we are, ‘response’ is the seed of where we want to be!

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of living our Christian lives reactionary without realising it.

How we give and serve in the church can be based purely on our current funds, busyness or how we’re feeling that morning. This isn’t a faith life but a feelings-based life.

Today, I encourage you to really stop and think about your life. Are most of your decisions based on where you are instead of where you want to be? If so, look at how you can respond to God, make a decision to serve, give and get involved – regardless of the latest feelings and circumstances.

Irrespective of where you are ‘where do you want to be?’ Keep sowing the seed of response!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2016

I didn’t realise when we bought our first American fridge freezer (that’s just the name of the appliance – not where we bought it from) that you had to have it plumbed into the water mains; on top of that you have to fit a special water filter to the pipe work which no one ever gets to see.

The filter system provides perfectly filtered water from the water dispenser at any time day or night – no more continually filling a water filter jug several times a day.

Every six months, a warning light appears on the front of the fridge to let you know that it’s time to change the filter. The filters are not only expensive but changing them requires effort and time. I’m probably just the same as everyone else, but I have to confess that I wait for the warning light to annoy me sufficiently before I make the change, which is usually about a month after the light comes on.

Purity is something that you not only have to give attention to in your own life – it’s something that you have to actively fight for too.

I have discovered that one of the greatest ways of maintaining a pure life is to be accountable to others that you respect around you.

The people that I’m talking about will be usually further ahead and carry a greater level of maturity than you, although they will not always be older than you.

Accountability operates like a filtration system. If you’re unsure about something or if you find yourself in a difficult position that may compromise you, then by talking it over with a trusted friend, you are in effect passing your thoughts through their filtration system of wisdom and sound advice.

The benefit from accountability is that you get shielded from making unwise decisions and the decisions you do make are pure because of the process.

Accountability also means that you get warned when others watch you going head long into an unwise decision.

Don’t go it alone today, spending the rest of your life regretting the poor choices you’ve made, instead select some great people in your life to help filter out your impurities.

Life is better together.

Proverbs 15 v 22 – Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 4:5-6 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd August 2016

You have a choice of two scenarios.

Either, you own a business and you get an enormous tax bill. Or you own a business and you get a tiny tax bill.

You would I’m guessing go for the tiny tax bill.

Sorry, I forgot to mention the first company is a world wide incredibly successful business, creating so much money you can’t possibly spend it all hence the enormous tax bill. The second business is a local failing business and about to go insolvent and doesn’t even have the funds to pay the tiny tax bill.

I’m guessing you’ve changed your mind.

This is a great picture of life – where the tax bill represents trials, needs and doing things we generally don’t want to do. We don’t like it, so we naturally want to minimise it. The problem is: the smaller your needs, the smaller the possibilities. Less pain – less gain.

It’s easy to be jealous of the success in others and think it’s not fair that they seem to get all the luck but we don’t see the tax bills they have been prepared to pay!

It’s like being jealous of other people’s physique, but we’re never prepared to go to the gym ourselves.

The local church is the gym of God’s choice. It’s very costly but the results are amazing! We have been created, designed and chosen to do great things. If only we would trust God and allow Him to change our thinking when it comes to doing anything we don’t want to do in the natural.

So again, you have a choice of two scenarios.

Either, you own your life and get stuck in, go through tests and trials, but it’s fulfilling, rewarding and awesome, Or you own a life, avoid obstacles or doing anything you don’t want to do, but it’s small, empty and void of meaning.

You would, I’m guessing, go for the awesome life!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2016

Too many people quit right before success.

We’ve all heard the phrase: just before dawn is the darkest hour.

I was also told that when drilling through a piece of solid steel, the toughest part of the whole process is just before breaking through the other side.

Someone once said that you will know when you are about to get your breakthrough, as it’s uphill all the way.

If you’re faced with seemingly unending days of pressure and struggle, don’t give in or give up, because right on the other side is just what you have been waiting for, believing for and hoping for.

I well remember making an offer on our second house. We were living in a two bed terraced house for eight years and already had two small children. We had been praying for some time about moving to somewhere bigger and eventually made a very low offer on another property. We felt the house was for us and I even told the estate agent that God had told me it was mine. He quickly brushed me off and the offer was rejected. That house was sold not once, but twice over the months, but each time fell through.

It was after more than 12 months of prayer, frustration and continual pressure that on one Saturday morning, whilst feeling particularly frustrated about the whole thing, we received a call right out of the blue and informed that the house was ours.

We lived in that house for 15 years and now our daughter and son-in-law, along with our two grandchildren live there.

What if we’d have given up and decided to go for something smaller or in not such a nice location? We would have regretted it I’m sure.

Today, my friend, whatever you’re facing, have the tenacity to hang on in there and see God come through.

Your continual set backs in this season, can be your comebacks in your next season, if you’ll just sit tight, stand firm in prayer and see it through.

Luke 18:2-8 He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th August 2016

There’s a story found in the Bible where Jesus encounters a blind man sitting by the roadside. Hearing that Jesus is passing by, he calls out to Him, ‘Have mercy on me!’
Jesus then goes on to pose a rather interesting question to this man. He says, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

Now it’s pretty obvious what this man needed, and I don’t think for one moment that Jesus was unsure of what miracle this man required. But this question asked wasn’t for the benefit of Jesus, it was for the benefit of the man in need – Jesus wanted to be sure that this man knew exactly what he wanted.

I don’t know about you, but I often go through life knowing what I want, but for some reason I’m fearful to ask God for it, as if I’m asking too much of Him. If only we could understand that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask, think or imagine, I think it would change the way we talk to Him.

You see, God lets us choose what size life we live. But first, you need to know what you want and then ask God for it. Specific prayers lead to specific answers.

Today, know that no prayer is too big for God, no request is intimidating to Him, so be convinced of what you want and approach Him with boldness and confidence, believing that He is able & He is willing to do it.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2016

Several years ago, I was invited to sail on a Schooner in Greece.

A Schooner is a sailing ship with two masts, and needs a lot of team work and skill to sail it accurately.

Please understand…I had never sailed before or had any knowledge of how to do so, so to find myself on the third night of the trip, steering the ship at 2am, in pitch black waters, was pretty scary.

The sleeping quarters for the 15 or so of us were below deck and consisted of wooden racks which were mounted half way up the side of the boat.

As the waters got pretty choppy from time to time, some of the team started to get sea sick, so the Captain taught us the way to trick the body in order to overcome it.

He would say…’look to the horizon and fix your eyes on something unmovable and keep looking that way.’

As soon as the instruction was put into practice, the sickness subsided and all was good again.

That simple yet very effective piece of advice has been part of a sailor’s life for centuries: when in turbulent waters, fix your eyes on something that’s fixed.

In just the same way, the turbulent water of our lives and the circumstances that come our way need to be addressed in just the same way; if you want to stay on your feet and get through the storm, then fix your gaze on what’s permanent.

For many, there is no known focal point and therefore life takes them down, but the centuries’ old truth in the Bible informs us that Jesus can be the unshakeable, unmovable and constant in our lives, if you’ll just look to Him.

We live in a world that tends to look down, never lifting our heads to crack even a smile nowadays, so I encourage you to be different and apply the remedy – look up to the one who can save and steady the most turbulent and windswept life reading this today.

Take courage my friend from the one that says ‘I’ll never leave you or forsake you.’

Take your focus of the waves right now and look to Him.

Mark 4:35-41 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. 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!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th August 2016

Happily married or not so?

Single, looking and hopeful?

Engaged and getting ready for the big day?

Too young for all of this? You won’t be soon.

No matter who you are – advice that’s not appropriate now is always good to store up for a day when it is.

One of the secrets to a great marriage is to know the difference between a good fight and a bad fight.

The Bible doesn’t say don’t fight, no more than it says don’t get angry. It says fight the ‘good’ fight and ‘be angry and sin not’.

Bad fights lead to irreparable damage, unforgiveness, hurt and divorce and sound like this…”I’ll never forgive you”, “you always say that”, @you are never considerate.”

Good fights lead to us becoming stronger people, closer to our spouse, happier in our relationships and being well balanced in our marriage.

There is no such thing as a marriage without conflict.

If you’re going to fight, learn to fight good.

Ask what you can learn from your differences.

Start a competition today as to who can say ‘sorry’ first.

Instead of using words like ‘you always say that’ learn to replace them with words like ‘ when you said that you hurt me’, or ‘when you did that, you made me feel in that moment very unloved’.

Don’t generalise – be specific about things that get on your nerves.

Most importantly, don’t let one day turn into another whilst still carrying over anger about something.

Start each new day with a clean slate and refuse to go to sleep without dealing with it. Break the stoney silence with one simple word, no matter how difficult it is to say it – ‘sorry’; then follow through with the words ‘please forgive me’.

Fight good.

Ephesians 4:26-27 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2016

As we enjoy a few unusually warm summer days here in the UK, we are being told to keep out of the sun or a least cover ourselves with sunscreen -sound advice.

Yet, on the other side of that very same coin are the wonderful known properties that the sun carries to our bodies when exposed to its rays; not least of all vitamin D, which gives us healthy and strong bones.

Apparently the part of the body that receives the most vitamin D when exposed to sunlight is the inside of our arms.

Think about it and try it out yourself…there is only one way to expose the insides of your arms and that is to turn your hands upwards whilst extending your arms outwards.

This simple posture helps us to appreciate the value of placing ourselves in a receiving mode.

Think about how we receive a birthday gift or even a small child that’s running towards us to be loved – it’s always with extended arms and open hands.

What a great lesson for us all today in receiving from God.

You don’t have to be inside a church to lift your hands in worship, you can do it now right where you are and at any time of the day. It simply sends a message to God that says ‘I’m open to receive and that I’m wanting to receive.’

It also says ‘I’m open to give and that I’m wanting to give’. No one has ever given anything with hands turned down or in their pockets.

Send a signal to God today that you are humble enough to receive all that He has for you, and that you are humble enough to release from your hands anything that He may instruct you to today.

Psalm 28:1-2 To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I shall be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands towards your Most Holy Place.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th August 2016

One of the highlights of any family holiday has surely got to be the full English breakfast, served every day for a whole week, as you casually wake up to the thought of a relaxing day ahead.

Whether it’s a posh hotel, a B&B, a cheap caravan in a field, or a tent, the smell of a cooked breakfast is enough to encourage most of us out of bed.

Having someone serve you breakfast is a great part of anyone’s day, but of course if we’re honest, it only happens for most of us on special occasions.

How would you feel today, if you were at your lowest point, and you were asked by Jesus if you would like to join Him for breakfast? It would be a pretty special moment for anyone at the best of times, let alone for those that don’t feel like life is worth living; how humbling would it be if when you turned up to eat that Jesus himself was the cook?

All that seems pretty make believe, but it isn’t…it actually happened.

Peter and Jesus have not yet spoken since Peter denied Jesus, just before the crucifixion. Thomas had doubted the resurrection, four of the disciples had tried to drown their sorrows by going fishing all night and caught nothing- then right out of the blue, the resurrected Jesus tells them how and where to fish and then stands on the beach and says…”come and have breakfast.”

John 21:8-14 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred metres. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

In reality, at that moment in time, these followers of Jesus were each in their own right a bunch of losers, yet Jesus at their lowest point, cooked them food.

What’s your impression of Jesus when facing a low point in your faith?

Does your mind always take you down the road of condemnation?

Let me help you go down a different road today…at your lowest point, you get breakfast on the beach with Jesus.

Talk about loving the unlovely, talk about forgiving the guilty, talk about reinstating the messed up…wow.

Today, no matter what, come and have breakfast with Jesus.

He cooks.

He loves you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2016

Have you ever felt as though an area in your life has come to a standstill? It’s as if the thing that you’ve been working towards seems more of an impossibility than ever before.

I believe that it’s in those moments that God pushes pause on what you want to show you that He’s all you need.

It’s easy in life to lose your focus to people or to circumstances that surround you. But when you lose it, God wants to realign it back onto Him to show you that He’s more than enough, He’s above what you’re facing and He is able to work all things together for good in your life.

Sometimes, it takes a difficult place in your life for God to step in and regain your attention. When everything is going swimmingly, we can have a tendency to think that we don’t need God – that is, until the tables turn and we realise that we’re helpless without Him.

Whatever season of life you’re in right now, choose to put your focus on to God. The good news is that you don’t have to wait to reach rough terrain in order for God to retake centre stage in your life. Today you can choose to make Him the God of your valley and the God of your mountaintop.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 13th August 2016

This is what often happens when you call the Doctor’s surgery for an appointment…”we can get you in a week on Thursday.”

When you need to see a specialist at the hospital, you will often hear, “you are now on a waiting list and you can expect to wait 4-6 months for an appointment.”

I’m glad that when I need to talk to God, I don’t need an appointment and I don’t need to go on a waiting list.
So many of us place too much store in waiting for appointments with ‘professionals’, when we can go to God immediately.
Yes, we all need those professional appointments from time to time…but we all need an appointment with God every day. And guess what? You can have it immediately!

Maybe because it’s so easy, some people abuse it and take it for granted.
The most powerful thing we can do today is pray. And thank God that He is available 24/7… Day and night…Christmas and Bank holidays.

He never keeps us waiting, but how often have you kept Him waiting?

Talk to Him right now.
He’s the best professional and He has every answer you will ever need. He will give you wisdom, peace, healing and whatever need you have, He can meet.

Get to your appointment now, He’s waiting for you to show up.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th August 2016

If you pour a kettle of water over a tea bag and the colour of the water doesn’t change you instantly know what the issue is…you forgot to boil the kettle.

You can make tea with cold water, but the flavour will never diffuse out of the tea bag – heat is needed.
When water molecules are heated, they move about faster and so more effectively penetrate the tea bag, drawing out the flavour.

In our lives, we are all trying to make a good cup of tea (bear with me, if you don’t like tea).

You can spend your life making a weak insipid cold cup or you can make a lovely attractive hot brew!

It all depends on your heat. The thing is, no one really enjoys being in ‘hot water’, but it’s vital if we want to grow and be stretched.

There are many examples of how heat is used to refine valuable sought after items, such as gold in a furnace, and our lives are the same. If you really want to make the most of life and enjoy it (which I believe is important, why would God want us to be miserable?) I encourage you to embrace being in the hot water of the trials we face. Don’t just see them as a nuisance to be dealt with as soon as possible before you can even consider moving on and being happy.

See them as challenges to be won, be competitive in them, try and see that your capacity to deal with things and lead others in life is increasing as you go through that trial.

There will always be some kind of hot water. Imagine living a whole life where you are never stretched or come up against an obstacle? So the sooner we can change our mindset to see the positives of going through the trial, the better.

As you read this today, you may well be in hot water! Trust God and keep stewing, it is bringing (if you choose so) the flavour of God into your life, increasing your ability to carry loads and lead people in your life!

You can make tea with cold water, but who would enjoy it? Keep stewing!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 11th August 2016

I had porridge for breakfast today.

In fact, I have porridge for breakfast almost everyday.

My wife thinks it’s boring and has to be forced to eat it just once a week, and even then leaves half of it in bowl, which then gets fed to the dogs.

Now just to clarify, the porridge I’m talking about is not Ready Brek! This is real mans stuff…jumbo oats, cooked in a saucepan with milk, with added seeds, nuts and berries, then topped with flax seed and honey to give it a kind of crust.

Now here’s the great thing…because it’s a slow burn food it will feed me all day long, in so much that I rarely have to eat lunch, which in turn keeps me slim.

Let me ask you a question on several different levels – how hungry are you?

Your hunger will hugely depend on what you have eaten at the start of the day.

I hear many people say that they don’t have time for breakfast or that they just never bother; in our house, that’s a foreign language…in fact, last thing at night Gillian wants to know what we are going to have for breakfast!

I’m talking spiritual now; a you hungry spiritually?

Never satisfied with life, never full with everything you have no matter what?

Are you craving the quick fix of a sudden ‘sugar rush’ in your life, hoping that it will cure all your cravings only to find that it lasts for an hour before you want more?

Can I point you to the most satisfying spiritual food available to the human race every single moment of every day?

The breakfast of champions that will satisfy you there and then, and continue to nourish you throughout the day has a name…The Bible.

It is God’s spoken word direct to your soul every day. It’s fresh. It’s alive. It’s active. It’s powerful. It’s cleansing. It’s life changing. It’s sustaining. It’s challenging. It’s lifting and it has an amazing quality in that you can read it for the rest of your life and you will see something different in it every time your eyes meet its pages.

How’s your spiritual diet?

Overweight because you read books about the Bible and watch Christian TV about God and listen to podcasts about other peoples experiences of Jesus? That’s good but that’s not all.

When are you going to start feeding yourself a healthy spiritual breakfast at the start of every day?

Start to train yourself in the daily reading of God’s word and you will find that your day will become totally different.

I’ve tried to formulate a kind of ‘spiritual’ 3 course meal for people, and it goes something like this…

Starter – read a portion of the Old Testament each day.

Main course – read a portion of the New Testament each day.

Dessert – read from either Psalms or Proverbs each day.

My advice is not to read it randomly but to read it systematically – in other words, read it just like you would a book, that way you cover everything.

Get yourself a copy of a modern translation so that you can read it more effectively…and remember, the Bible is the only book in the world that when you read it, it’s greater effect is that you are allowing it to read you.

If you don’t have such a copy of the Bible then please email us at info@championschurch.org.uk and we will gladly pop you a copy in the post.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2016

Ever worn those new shoes and regretted it as you reach for the plasters?

I did, just a week ago.

It took me three days to walk properly again. I could not even wear my well-worn shoes, trainers or slippers, as everything rubbed on my blisters.

‘Why didn’t I wear them in a little at a time?’, I asked myself, as I limped around the place

Wearing the wrong shoes can affect the way you walk, just in the same way that wearing the ‘wrong shoes’ of your gifts and talents can effect the way you walk every day.

Trying to copy someone else’s gift and talent, just because you like their gifts more than yours can mean that you have the wrong fitting shoes in your life. You’ll walk strange and end up not being able to walk properly at all.

My feet are healed again now, but it’s a lesson that I don’t want to have to repeat.

Ask yourself how much you are trying to step into someone else’s shoes that were never made for you; or what about the shoes that do belong to you, but you just simply bought the wrong size because you liked them, even though they never did quite fit.

Your life is on loan to you from God, and He has given you the perfect size gifts, talents, personality, looks and shape that compliment who you were made to be.

Stop trying on the wrong fit for you and stop trying to be something and somebody that you’re not…you’ll only end up wrecking your daily walk, whereas if you’d really just settle into what you have been blessed with, you’d accomplish so much more in your life.

Are you walking in the wrong shoes?

Take them off right now…ditch them once and for all, and enjoy the snug feel of being what you really were created to be.

By the way…when that old pair is worn out and starts to leak, you’ll know it’s time to upgrade your life to the next level.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th August 2016

Have you ever felt like you are at the bottom of the pile in life?

Ever felt like you have messed up in some area, to the degree that God would no longer be interested in you?

Take heart…we have all been there at times, but the great news is that Jesus doesn’t cast you off just because you failed, in fact, He will go out of his way to include you in His plans today.

Take for instance two of His disciples that messed up.

The first one being Thomas; we know he had earned himself the name ‘doubting Thomas’ because he was adamant that he would not believe in the resurrection of Jesus unless he had proof that Jesus was alive. Instead of Jesus dismissing him as just another faithless guy, He appeared to the disciples in the upper room and specifically called out Thomas’ name, and asked him to put his finger in the nail prints of His hands, so that he could have his faith restored.

Then there’s Peter; He denied that he knew his very friend and saviour just before the crucifixion with unsavoury words and blasphemy, yet watch how Jesus looks out for him after the resurrection…

Mark 16:6-7 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

He knew how Peter would be beating himself up because of his actions, so He chose to single out his name so that he knew that he was still included.

If you are in any doubt today that your failure has made you exempt from God’s plan, then think again.

Jesus collects failures and turns them into winners on his team.

If you’ve fallen, get back up, dust yourself down, and fall right into his arms today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2016

Whenever I travel from one country to another, I’m always faced with a predicament: What shall I wear? The reason being, the country that I’m leaving is currently cold, however, where I’m heading is going to be warm. So which climate do I dress for?

You know that same battle, as small as it may seem, is one that we’re all faced with daily. Do I dress for where I currently am or do I dress for where I want to be?

Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

It’s evident here that God has a great future in store for you. You have to make the decision to allow Him to dress you for destiny.

You see, in life, you can arrive where you want to be, but not be the person you need to be.

I believe that the only way you can become who you were created to be is by having a relationship with the one who created you -God.

One of the key components in having a relationship with God is to give Him access all areas and allow Him to prepare you for what He has prepared for you.

Today, let me encourage you to submit your life to God, and say ‘make me the person I need to be in order for You to do what You want to do.’ And when you allow God to shape you and mould you, you will not only find yourself at the top of the mountain, but you’ll also realise that He’s given you the character to sustain you there.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th August 2016

I’m a dog lover. Please don’t switch off if you aren’t…

We have a very well behaved and well trained Labrador, Snoop. And we have a slightly unpredictable Shihtzu, Percy.

There are certain things that you can’t do with Percy, because if you do, he may react to you in a bad way.

Percy came from another home, where they said he had ‘behavioural problems’. Everyone deserves a second chance.
Wherever you’ve come from , and whatever your background, there is hope for you.

When you get planted into a good environment with people who are like you need to be, slowly but surely, you’ll start to change.

A strong and loving environment is what people need to help their change.
Yes, they’ll need discipline. Yes, they’ll need correction. But with the right amount of that and plenty of love and acceptance thrown in, sooner or later you’ll never know the difference.

Not everyone comes ‘ready made’. Most of us are in flat pack form.

We believe in making room for those from all backgrounds and circumstances, knowing that just as God loves me, He so loves them also.

Before you see gold, you’ll see a dirty chunk of metal and before you see a diamond, you’ll see a dirty piece of rock.

People may need your patience. They also need your love.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th August 2016

I dedicate Fresh Hope today to all those who are married, those thinking of getting married, planning to get married, wish they were married and those that wish they weren’t.

Get yourself a date night with your spouse!

Start planning now.

How many of you have outlived the honeymoon stage of your marriage and find yourself trapped in a mundane existence with someone that once excited you?

Have you ever thought about what life together will be like after the children have grown up and left home?

Will you have anything to say to each other, or will you have long since forgotten how to date each other again, with no hope of re-igniting the passions that once burned within you?

Take heart…get yourself a date night with your spouse.

Plan it weekly – just as you plan anything else.

Sit down together for a meal; a ready meal, a microwave meal, liver and onions…any meal.

Go out occasionally just the two of you. No kids, no friends, no in-laws or out-laws allowed.

Have a bath, do your hair and make yourself look like you’ve bothered, just like in days gone by when you were dating.

Watch a movie, read magazines, chat and snuggle up, but don’t answer the phone or the door bell.
With divorce rates so high, recent statistics show that only 4% of married couples have a date night once a week.

21% plan a night together once a month, with a further 21% prioritising their time with each other just once in every 2-3 months.

Every 4-6 months is enough for 18% of marrieds, but the biggest group of all it stands that 36% of marrieds have one date night less than twice a year.

You could well say ‘that’s plenty for me with the way my spouse is’, but maybe the reason it’s like that is because you no longer cherish what you did when you first fell in love.

The top 5 things that cause marriages to break down are:

Chores

Money

Sex

Work

Children

No one on earth can solve all those problems for you but I can help you to fall in love all over again, and to see what you now count as a curse that once you counted a blessing.

Stop treating each other just like some kind of inconvenient object that lives in the same house, and start to plan to fall back in love again by planning your next date night.

Someone once said ‘It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action.’

So, if you’ve lost those tingly feelings for each other, you’re normal…but now start to surprise each other by acting your way back into love again.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th August 2016

Each month I write a study for all of our small groups in Champions Church.

Along with the notes, I produce a 5-10 minute introductory video that gets played in the different locations across the area, before the Life group leaders take over the study for that night.

It provides for me a very simple yet effective way of interacting with all of the people on a much smaller scale.

This seemingly simple operation impacts on the time and effort of not just myself but on that of several other people too.

Generally speaking, it takes around two hours to set up and film a ten minute segment, which then has to be edited and burnt onto DVDs ready to be sent out to all our life group leaders.

For anyone that knows me, I’m pretty hopeless at remembering what I’m supposed to be saying in front of a camera, and it’s not unusual for me to do at least five takes whilst others would have done it in one.

As filming has increased and time pressures have got more, I decided that we should invest in an autocue for anyone to use in front of the camera.

It has now transformed the whole filming process, and what took so much stress for me and those trying to work with me, has now made the whole experience far easier and much more enjoyable.

I now simple read my script from the autocue and make it look like I have an amazing memory!

The whole process reminds me of the difference between reading from a script that God has prepared for your life, instead of trying to bluff your way through for yourself.

Now of course, you can do your own thing and please yourself, but to live an effective and amazing life you need to learn to read from God’s auto cue.

He has written the days of your life before one of them came into being and knows you intimately through and through. Your role in life is to find out what God has in store for your life and then get on and do it.

As you begin today, are you floundering in life, just trying to make it up as you go along, which inevitably leads to frustrating ‘retakes’, or are you taking your cues from God?

One of the greatest ways that God can steer your life is by reading from the Bible each day – a practice that I recommend to all and one that I have adopted now for over 35 years.

Start in the New Testament and just read a few verses each day, and you’ll begin to download God’ script for your life.

Don’t worry about the parts that you don’t understand, it’s the bits that you do understand that you need to take to heart.

If you don’t have a modern Bible then why not send us an email and request a free copy today?  Email info@championschurch.org.uk and we would be honoured to pop one in the post for you.

Psalm 139:13-17 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2016

When Jesus gave the disciples a telling off for their lack of faith, He then advised them that all they needed in any circumstance was faith the size of one grain of mustard seed.

Matthew 17:20 He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’

I love the fact that this very seed is amongst the tiniest seeds on the planet, and yet Jesus said that’s all you need to get started.

I’m sure that you and I would both be the same in thinking that if Jesus would have reversed what He said and informed us that in order to move a mustard seed you need a mountain of faith, we would have both walked away defeated.

Today, I want to encourage you to see that faith is for beginners. All you have to do is apply a tiny bit of faith for huge things to happen.

The thing about a mustard seed is obviously not in its size, but in its ability to produce and grow. It can quickly grow to a size so that birds can even nest in it.

Don’t go around thinking today about trying to obtain huge faith for tiny problems – no, set your sights on a huge God that comes to your rescue when you take even a tiny, and even a scary step of faith towards him; you don’t even need to see or know how it will all work out – that’s Gods business, yours is to simply believe.

Mark 4:30-32 Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd August 2016

Romans 4:19-21 Without weakening in his faith, Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

God has the power to pull off whatever He has promised you and a whole lot more. No sweat.

The question is: are you living a fully persuaded life or a fully defeated one?

Are you waking to the news flash, playing inside of your head, that this is never going to happen for me or are you waking up to live fully persuaded that God has the power to do it?

I love the story of this old couple Abraham and Sarah, who still believed the promise of God for their lives way into their nineties; the thing that impresses me about Abraham is that it says ‘he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, YET, he did not waver through unbelief.’

Many peoples faith is actually not real faith, it’s just a denial that anything is wrong.

There is a difference.

God cannot fix what you cannot face.

Denial is a game of pretence. It pretends that you are well when you are actually dying, but faith says, ‘I’m actually dying, therefore I need God to make me well.’

God is not going to be surprised by your admittance that things aren’t good…He knew it long before you did.

Is it time for you to get honest with yourself and God today? When you do, it will put you on the road to the very breakthrough that you need.

Be honest about the way things are for you today.

Now…be fully persuaded that God can change them.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2016

Is your life crying out for an upgrade ?
Is the existing one a little bashed, bruised and worn?

God is the God of the upgrade…
He is committed to not leaving us as He found us, but taking us to something better.

The thing about upgrades is this: you first have to let go of the old. When you trade in your old mobile phone and upgrade to a new one, you have to let go of the old in order to receive the new.
If you get upgraded on an aeroplane, you have to be willing to let go of that cheaper seat (Bring it on!!).

God can’t give you something new if you don’t let go of the old.
Maybe you are holding on to hurts, bitterness, wrong thoughts, sin, maybe even people.
Be willing to let go of the old and trust God for the new.

He wants to upgrade you from sickness to health…
Hurt to wholeness…
Fear to freedom…
Poverty to prosperity…
Death to LIFE

Ask for your upgrade today. He’s only a prayer away.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.