Fresh Hope – 30th September 2016

I had arrived far too early for an appointment a couple of days ago, and so decided to grab a coffee at Starbucks and reply to some emails that had been pressing for a day or two.

As I sat there minding my own business, I glanced up and saw a young person that I knew from our church making their way towards me – I nodded as I took out my headphones and said hello.

There was a seat close to mine and they seemed quite happy to sit nearby so that they could talk as I tried to carry on working.

My mind kept trying to take me back to my emails and naturally I was thinking about the inconvenience of having someone sitting closely that would disturb my work, but a conversation played out inside my head that reasoned that the real work was actually to be willing to talk to someone that may just be sitting nearby for a reason.

My ‘wasted’ time turned into an opportunity to encourage a young person in their faith, and not least of all find out all about what the dream was for their life, as they were actually sitting waiting to go to a job interview.

Inconvenience and ‘killing time’ are often the very moments that God salvages for someone else’s good.

The next time you find yourself sitting somewhere with time on your hands, look up and ask the Holy Spirit if there is anyone that you should be talking to in that very moment.

You never know…someone may just be needing a 30 second encouragement to get them through the day.

God never wastes wasted time.

Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th September 2016

I have to admit that I’m very much a creature of habit.

Now of course, we all know that habits can work both for you and against you, depending on whether they are good or bad.

A bad habit can be your down fall, whereas a good habit can be a life saver.

A simple habit of brushing your teeth regularly can keep you out of the dentist’s chair later in life, whereas a life of eating unhealthy food can send you to an early grave.

Many years ago, I chose to give the very first part of every day to God. It’s a habit that I believe keeps me on the right track and means that I can live each day in the fulfilment of what God has for my life.

Not every day is good, in fact some are just the opposite, but no matter what, I know that God has a plan and that He is good.

There are also days when I don’t feel like praying and days when I don’t know what to pray, but my habit of spending time reading the Bible and in prayer have been a constant in my life that keeps my feet on a firm foundation – in fact, I feel underdressed if I don’t start the day in this way.

The principle of leading the way in prayer and praise is at the centre of every part of the Bible; it indicates that if you want to win your daily battles, the first thing you should do is focus on God.

There is an incredible story in the Old Testament in which the Israelite army was under attack and certain annihilation, from a vast army that was advancing against them.

Jehoshaphat the King, knowing that his army was about to be defeated did something that sounded completely backwards, but brought about supernatural victory to his troops.

Here’s what he said…
2 Chronicles 20:21-22 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures for ever.’ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

Victory was secured by allowing a chosen group of worshippers to lead at the front of the army; they carried no weapons, just musical instruments, and all they sang was a simple worship song that declared that God was good.

That powerful lesson leads us back to where we started…let prayer and praise lead your day to victory.

There will still be days where God doesn’t seem to take your battles from you, but He will certainly enter your battles with you – which ever way it happens you will still get the victory.

So, don’t just pray and praise God when you feel like it, as good though that is, but make a habit of doing those very things right up front from now on.

At the front of each day, declare that ‘GOD IS GOOD AND HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.’

Victory!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2016

I was driving to an appointment yesterday when a large banner strewn across the front of a shop caught my attention. It was announcing and celebrating that the takeaway premises had been awarded 5 stars for cleanliness and hygiene by the local authority.

As wonderful as that was, my attention was now not drawn to what food the shop sold, but only to the fact that the shop was nice and clean.

As I drove by with my wife, I pointed it out to her and we chatted about how commendable their hygiene standards were, but the big question that was left unanswered was this: is the food any good?

Somehow the 5 star award for hygiene had caused the owner to lose sight of why the shop existed, which was of course to provide a great takeaway. Both are very important.

I started to ask myself the question…’would I go there just because it’s clean and sterile?’ and the answer was no. Gaining a hygiene certificate was one thing, but serving great food was another.

The reality is that I fully would expect the shop to be clean, but I would never walk in one night whilst starving and ask the owner if I could have look around just to make sure that I wasn’t going to catch anything.

I wonder how many times in church we have lost sight of what really matters in favour of what should be expected.

Many people have chosen a church based on its clean and almost sterile spiritual environment. Everything in its place and no ungodly, unruly people, especially children and youth, to mess it up.

Sterile can not only mean that all germs are dead, but that no life at all exists there either.

I made a decision many years ago that I would aim to raise up a 5 star church that would be open to all and serve up the very best ‘spiritual’ food through the message that it sends out week by week; however, I’ve observed that when you do that, it can be a very messy business and the furthest thing from a nice clean sterile environment. Give me that any day over neat and orderly systems where there is no life at all.

If you’re thinking of what’s most important when looking for a great church, choose a 5 star church that prides itself in serving life giving hope for all, more than keeping a nice clean image.

A church alive is worth the drive.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2016

One of the most famous characters in all the Bible is Jonah. You may be familiar with his encounter with a whale, but what happens previous to that is a lesson for us all to learn.

God asks Jonah to travel to the city of Nineveh and address the people there, however Jonah doesn’t want this assignment and so decides to get on a boat that’s heading in the opposite direction. Following this, a great storm comes upon the boat and death is inevitable for all who are on board.

When it becomes evident that Jonah is responsible for this storm, the sailors come to the conclusion that the only solution is to throw him overboard. They do so, and the raging winds and waves become calm.

Sometimes the storms that you go through in life are not your fault, but they are as a result of the people that you’ve allowed into your boat. You may currently be facing the consequences of someone else’s disobedience, and this can all be avoided by making the decision to throw some people overboard.

Yes, it is our responsibility to love all people, yes, it is our responsibility to show grace and forgiveness towards everybody, but you were never called to allow everyone into your boat.

I want you to notice how each person on that boat had a destination, and the same is for you today – you have a destiny. However, no one would have made it to where they were going if they hadn’t have made the choice to lose someone along the journey.

You need to come to the realisation that your destiny is too precious and that the call of God upon your life is too great for you to have the wrong people in your boat…

Jonah’s gotta go.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2016

Good morning?

You hoped so, but then you decided to get out of bed.

Bad morning?

Shouted at the kids, took it out on the dog, found your work shirt in the ironing basket, late for the school run, no time for breakfast and it’s still only 8am.

Here’s the good news …things can only get better.

Fresh Hope is here to lift you, encourage you, help you, direct you, teach you and give you a God perspective.

History records for us how ancient cities were always built around a constant flow of water.
They’d figured out that no matter what battles they’d face on the outside, they could survive and even thrive because they had their own supply and would never die of thirst.

No matter how long you live, there will always be a problem. Once one problem is solved then before too long, another will rise up. If you don’t build your life around an inner supply then you will always fall at the first attack.

Taking care of the externals is what we do most in life, but without taking care of our inner selves we will have no resources to draw from each day; let’s face it, driving a nice car doesn’t help you one bit in a day of trouble.

When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 9, He asked her for a drink, and then replied with these words…”Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus is like having living, thirst quenching water springing up within you so that at anytime and in any circumstance, He can be an everlasting source of hope to you.

Do you have some battles that you are facing right now that you feel want to take you down? Then draw inner strength from Jesus with the words of this old song…

‘Got any rivers you think are impossible?
Got any mountains you can not tunnel through?
God specialise in things thought impossible
And He can do what no other can do.’

However your day has started out, stop right now and give it over to God, by simply calling on His name.

He may not get rid of your problem, but He’ll certainly give you the inner strength to get through it.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th September 2016

I want to encourage you today not to give up on your dream – not to give up on God’s promise to you.
Just because things don’t go as planned, that is no reason to give up.

I love the story of Joseph, it teaches us that no matter what goes wrong, keep believing for God’s promise and God’s best for your life.
He was misunderstood by his family, thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his own brothers.

Then he ended up in a strange country far from home, where he was wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison through no fault of his own.
He was forgotten by the chief butler when he asked him to remember him and he had to stay in prison for a few more years.
But then…He interpreted a dream and became ruler of Egypt!

He had lots of reasons to give up, lots of negative things happened and nasty surprises came along the way – yet he realised that every time, God was still with him. Even when things made no sense, God was all over Joseph’s life.

Be encouraged today, whatever your circumstances or situation, God is watching for your persistence and patience, and He is looking for your heart and attitude even in the midst of your troubles.
Your promise is just around the corner, because God never forgets a promise.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2016

When a successful person retires from their profession, you will often find them being interviewed about their career. They will relook over the highs and the lows, the successes and the failures, and almost every time, you will find them being asked one question…’Do you have any regrets?’

Now, one thing that every human being has in common is that we all make mistakes. We all go through challenges. We’ve all done something that we wished we hadn’t have. However, we have a decision to make – whether we live in regret of these things or not.

Mistakes will either cause you to become better or bitter. I do believe that in every mistake, in every challenge, and in every trial, there is something within it that can teach you a lesson.

I read an article recently with Bear Grylls and he said, ‘You control whether or not you fail.’

You can either allow failure to knock you down and keep you down, or you can allow it to be the catalyst that brings you back better and stronger than before.

I want to encourage you today to get the benefit of the lesson without having the burden of the regret.

There is nothing in your life that God won’t work out for your good and so you don’t have to wait for the mountaintops of life to arrive, for we understand that our most fruitful days may well be in the valley.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd September 2016

I’ve been interested this past week in reading how many people ‘ran’ to Jesus.

In Mark 5, the man who was in desperate need because he was in mental torment RAN to Jesus because he knew no one else could help him, but maybe Jesus could.

In Mark 10, a young man with many questions RAN to Jesus to get his questions answered – questions about eternal life, that were very important to him.

In Luke 19, the story of Zacchaeus is a very famous one- his life wasn’t right, he was involved in deceit and wrong doing, but did we know that he actually RAN to that tree so that he could see Jesus?

Whatever your situation today, whether desperately in need of a miracle, or you have questions that need answering or you want to get your life right…RUN to Jesus.
HE has your answer and HE is there waiting for you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2016

J.K. Rowling, author of the phenomenally successful Harry Potter series, was once clinically depressed and living on welfare in Scotland.

She later shared, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, that she was still having trouble coming to terms with herself since her newly found fame and fortune.

It had been many years since she had to fight to scrape together enough money for her and her child to live on, but she recalled how her poverty mentality was still causing her to live like a pauper.

One day whilst trying to write her last book, her concentration was continually broken by noisy workmen in her apartment, which was already filled with children and pets. Suddenly she realised that she could afford to travel anywhere in the world to finish her book, but her old poverty mindset had gotten the better of her.

She recalled the days when she would write sitting in a local coffee shop just because it was warmer than her flat and didn’t cost her any money. Now, in reality she could afford to go anywhere, but her mind still told her to watch every penny.

How many reading this today have recently come to faith in Jesus, and yet are still held back by that old mindset?

It may well be a poverty mindset that still grips you, not realising that the God that you now serve can meet your every need daily from his abundant supply.

Receiving Jesus’ forgiveness means that you can now live totally free from the sins of your past, but how many times a day does your past life come back to haunt you, causing you to live like you did before?

Freedom from guilt is a massive weight off the shoulders of any man or woman and yet how many days do you still spend trapped by those old reoccurring feelings that want to pull you back into your old life?

Don’t let your thoughts rob you for even one more day, by wanting to take you back to that old life that Jesus has once and for all taken you out of.

When those old thoughts want to invade your mind, then take a hold of them and tell them that you are a child of God…forgiven and set free.

Live today in all that Jesus has done for you.

Don’t give the devil credit he doesn’t deserve for authority he doesn’t have.

Be blessed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2016

Half of being smart is knowing what you’re useless at.

Do you ever feel frustrated that you are hopeless at doing certain things? No matter how hard you try, you don’t seem to improve and end up feeling frustrated.

Maybe you should consider the thought that you weren’t ‘wired up’ for such things.

Many people want to feel that they are high achievers in every area of their lives, but it actually creates unrealistic expectations.

I’ve known people that have had lessons on piano for more than 10 years and yet still couldn’t play one piece that wouldn’t annoy you.

Some men have tried to be good at DIY and yet have frustrated their wives with their total incompetence.

You may be great running a small business, but the moment you try to do the invoicing you come unstuck.

All this tells us is that whilst we may be brilliant at certain things, we will also be pretty useless at lots of other things.

We are told that the average person can be competent at around four or maybe five things, leaving them incompetent at tens of other things that they can’t do. So, feeling frustrated at the things that we can’t do, we set about putting all our energies into them, not realising that we are wasting precious time that we should be devoting to the things that we are already gifted at.

As someone once said, if you try to teach a pig to sing you will annoy the pig and waste your time.

Why not write down today the handful of things that you feel you are good at, and then set about devoting all your attention to those few things?

Within a short space of time, you will notice how you have increased your skill in that area, taking you from good to great.

Stop trying to be good at everything. Instead, be master of a few things that God has entrusted to you.

Matthew 25:14-15 ‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 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 are 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 every day 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 – 17th September 2016

We all like to wear different shoes –  some of us live in training shoes, and some of us would not be seen dead without our heels on.

Whatever your taste in shoes is,  whether you would consider them to be boring or exciting, whether you wear expensive or cheap, the Bible tells us to wear shoes that carry the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6 tells us to have our feet ready to take peace wherever we go.

We are meant to be peacemakers and whatever situation you may be in or whatever you may face today, I would encourage you to wear shoes of peace. The world and those you meet today need God’s peace, and you are that person to take it.

Today, I walked around London in a pair of broken shoes! They weren’t broken when I left home, but half way into my day trip, they completely broke.
The rest of my day was spent wearing those shoes. I had to keep going.

Whatever life has in store for you today, you can do it. Wear those peace shoes today – that’s God’s purpose for you.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” (Isaiah 52 v 7).

Be that person today and wear those beautiful shoes.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2016

I love the verse in the Bible found in Proverbs 11:24. It says,
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”

One of the things that amazes me about God is that He lets us choose what size life we live.
In this verse we are given a choice – to live big or to live small. Now, if I were to ask you today which kind of life you’d prefer, I know which one you’d choose.

Not only does God give us a choice, but He also provides a way for us to experience both outcomes. If you want your world to decrease in size, then it’s simple: don’t live a lifestyle of generosity. But for those of you who want your world to continually enlarge, then it’s also pretty straight forward…learn to be generous.

You need to know that God’s promises never fail and so when you make the decision to live a generous life, watch how your world will grow.

Not only will you see financial growth, but you will see growth in your relationships, growth in your joy, growth in your sense of fulfilment…

The size of life that you get to experience is down to you. Make the choice today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th September 2016

How many of us have been turned down for a job with the words ‘needs more experience’?

If you consider yourself to be a young person today, then those words will be some of the most frustrating words you will hear during this season of your life.

Time after time those well-meaning words will be spoken over you, carrying with them the sentiment that you are being told to wait your turn.

As I started out leading in my early 20s, I was disappointed to find that the ‘well seasoned’ older leaders around me, were actually none the wiser from getting older – in fact, they seemed to have learnt little from the passing of the years. Some behaved worse than small children, which led me to the conclusion that experience is not the best teacher after all.

I couldn’t understand why experience had helped a few, but the vast majority it had not.

If experience was supposedly the best teacher, then why wasn’t it working with the more experienced older people surrounding me?

The great leadership coach, John Maxwell, gave the answer: “experience teaches little, but evaluated experience teaches everything”, he said.

All of us gain experience throughout our lives, however, what we learn and evaluate from that experience is what changes everything.

I passed my driving test more than 35 years ago and therefore have bucket loads of experience. However, that does not make me a good driver.

I could well be a lousy driver, never having learnt from experience; in fact what I may have done, is simply repeat 35 times what I learnt in year one.

Be careful not to grow old with the thought that you are automatically gaining more experience than people younger than yourself, when in actual fact you are standing still and in many cases going backwards.

I encourage you to evaluate today what you are learning from the lessons of yesterday.

Growing old is automatic, growing up is optional.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2016

Most of us feel that there is never enough time in the day to do everything we need to do…there are just too many things pulling at us.

Why do we feel this when all throughout history, men and women alike have accomplished incredible things with just the same 24 hours a day that we have?

The issue therefore, is not the time that you have or the busyness of your life, but whether or not the activities of each day are leading you to your destiny, or are they simply the priorities of others that want to live out their own agenda through you?

Is the time spent each day being busy actually hindering you from living out what God created you to do?

I realised many years ago that the security of the career that I was pursuing, was no longer leading me to the life that I should ultimately be living. I had a choice to make and the choice went like this…’I am willing to surrender my life, my dream, my career for the higher purpose that God has for my life.’ Instead of seeing that the choice was too expensive to make, I realised that not making that choice was the most costly decision I would ever have to make.

In 2006, the then senator Barack Obama, gave to a group of college students these wise words about success: “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realise your true potential.”
Your future is not rooted in how you feel, but in how you act each day.

See each day from now on as something that is either leading you towards or away from your destiny.

Make your choice.

Seek God.

He knows the way.

Remember: destiny is not something we decide, but something we discern.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2016

3 simple rules to live by:

1. Don’t live for what’s URGENT…live for what’s IMPORTANT.

If you live every day for what’s urgent, it will mean that you live chasing around after everyone else’s demands on your own life.

It’s amazing how quickly everyone else will fill your diary for you if you let them, leaving little or no space for the things that you need to accomplish with your life.

I’m not talking about living selfishly here, as in fact living for what’s important can be the most unselfish thing you ever do.

Make a choice today to take back control of your life, rather than allowing everyone else to live it for you.

There will be times when you have to drop everything and run to someone’s aid, but that should never be the everyday norm.

2. Don’t live for SUCCESS…live for SIGNIFICANCE.

Being successful should never be frowned upon, but it should never be the ultimate goal of our lives. Significance, on the other hand, should be something that we embrace at all times.

If success says ‘I’ve made it’, then significance says ‘I’ve changed it’.

Success is what you achieve for you, but significance is what you achieve for others.

If you desire success, then do so in order that you can live a significant life.

3. Don’t live to BLESS…live to BUILD.

At first glance, this seems wrong, considering that we all know how good it is to be a blessing, right?

However, too many people get caught up in what I call ‘Honey bee’ mentality, which is to go from one flower to another and leave no space in their lives to build something that will last. A dear friend of mine that I looked up to many years ago, was totally consumed with this kind of living. There was never a day that went by where he was going here, there and everywhere in order to bless someone or something.

At first glance, his life looked so appealing, but when it came to an abrupt end, he left the planet with his marriage and family in tatters and little to show for all the years of racing around. He had blessed so many at the expense of building so little.

Making these small increments of change in your life can be quite painful and will take time, but the rewards will be out of this world.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2016

The story of Ruth is a great example of how being resolute in your decision to follow Jesus can simplify your life and bring you into greater purpose.

In the first chapter, we read…’Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.’

Ruth actually proclaims that she should be punished if even death should separate her from what she so resolutely has decided to do.

This challenges our comfortable western lives, where we have so many options, so many eggs in so many baskets, distractions coming out of our ears! Imagine being so set in a decision that even death is no excuse. ‘Sorry Death, you’ll have to come back another day. I am doing something else!’

If you read the story of Ruth, you hear a lot of sorrow from Naomi,  her mother-in-law about her loss. “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

Yet, we never hear Ruth complain. She must have struggled – after all she lost her husband and made a decision to stick with her bitter mother-in-law and went to live as a complete stranger in a foreign land.

Ruth doesn’t have time for pity, if death isn’t an excuse to slow her in her pursuit, then she certainly isn’t going to entertain the pointless emotional distraction called ‘disappointment’.

At the end of the story, we read how incredibly blessed she is by marrying a wealthy businessman;  her great grandson is King David and she becomes an ancestor of JESUS!

I truly believe that when we ‘make our mind up’ and fix resolutely to our faith without flinching, despite what we face, God is faithful. This is easier said than done as we can’t see Jesus but we can see our problems. So it’s not easy but that’s no excuse; there are no excuses – not even death!

The minute we start to compromise, we lose peace of mind which leads to being bitter and complaining. It’s not about being right. Naomi was right to be upset, but Ruth was awesome to be resolute!

Either Jesus is the answer, the way and the life or He isn’t. Make a resolute determined choice today and simplify many of the battles you face. Even death is a battle already won.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th September 2016

You won’t ever become anything great in life without a challenge.
How often do we want to be better? Yet we don’t actually like the challenge.
How many times have we prayed “Lord make me more like you?”- yet when God challenges us, we don’t appreciate it and decide not to change.

Growth will only ever come about when we are challenged. Start to see challenges in your life not as an enemy but as a friend.
If you are going through a storm right now, a difficulty, or even a bump in the road, take that challenge and ask God ‘what is it that I should be learning right now that will help me through this time and make me come out stronger, more mature and better than when I went in?’

Our eyes and focus should not just be on the destination, but on that which we are going through right now that can help us, mould us, change us, and make us more like we should be. Too often we want to get out of the situation so quickly, that we don’t learn from the difficulty.

Start to see challenge as a good thing. As long as your attitude is right (and that is a big key), you will embrace this process and most importantly, grow through it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2016

The gifts that God has given to you are not the same as the gifts that He has given to anyone else.

Why do you keep being frustrated by looking at what God has done in someone else’s life, and then belittle what He has done in yours?

If you compare yourself with others, you’ll never be at peace; somebody out there will always be great at something you’d just love to be good at, but maybe you weren’t supposed to be good at that, instead, you were supposed to be great at something else.

One sentence, just one, was spoken to me many years ago, after trying to succeed at being someone that I wasn’t created to be. As I looked around at those that were doing amazing things with their lives, subconsciously I’d try to emulate what they were doing.

I’d listen to those that preached amazingly and tried to be like them, but all was in vain.

That one sentence went like this…’why don’t you just be you, because we like you just the way you are.’

In a moment, I realised that I was putting all my effort into being who I wasn’t, rather than using my energies to make a difference through who I was.

I was almost 40 years of age when that happened, but you don’t have to wait a day longer than necessary to have that revelation – be who you were created to be.

By all means change and be inspired by others, but don’t try to be a copy…you’re an original.

When you live happily in your own skin, the pressure to prove and to be approved of lifts off you, and you become free to be you.

Remember: there will always be someone that can do what you do better than you, but there’s only one person that can do it just like you – YOU!

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th September 2016

It’s a new season!

As regular as clockwork, the first week in September is taking us into our beautiful Autumn season here in the UK.

As you hang out the washing in an attempt to keep the central heating off as long as possible, you realise that the Autumn dew is soaking through your slippers.

The chill in the air each morning is signalling to us all that its getting time to change your wardrobe and put on that long awaited vest, or in my case, the vest I’ve been wearing all through summer.

No matter how much you want to hang on to the warmer days and the light nights and warmer days, there’s no holding back the fresh new climate that’s coming our way.

Maybe this week you’ve joyfully or tearfully sent your children back to school; with each new term, there comes the expense of buying the next size uniform.

In just the same way that we start to pack away our summer clothes and replace them with the ones more suited to the temperature, we have to be aware of the differing seasons in our spiritual lives as well.

The truth is that we each need to discern what to wear in each season of our lives, and not just feel that we only have one set and one size of clothes.

There comes a time in our walk with God, that we have to be willing to wear the bigger jacket.

It’s so easy, and so comfortable for that matter, to keep pulling out last year’s fashions, knitwear and styles in the hope that you can just slide straight back into business as usual.

My son Caleb, doesn’t have much money, but he’s always going through his wardrobes seeing what he can give away in order to make way for his new stuff as well as being a blessing to someone else.

In life, it’s so easy to keep wearing those old well worn things that in reality don’t fit or even suit where we are at anymore.

Is it time to embrace this new season in your life by getting rid of your out of date, restrictive thinking, by replacing it with a new mindset?

I well remember going back to school after the long summer holidays in my ‘next size up’ uniform.

My mom used to say every time I moaned about it being too big that “you’ll soon grow into it!”

She was right – I always did, and so will you.

Thinking bigger and behaving and believing like a winner may feel strange at first, but you’ll soon grow into it.

Wear the bigger jacket.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2016

What conversation do you need to have today in order to bring about change? Your voice has the power to usher in something new.

History is littered with great speeches that have literally changed the landscape of our world.

What we leave unchallenged, we are actually giving permission for.

Challenging our children, our colleagues, our spouses, our friends or even ourselves, is never an easy business, but it brings with it the rewards of change.

I well remember sitting as a young Pastor in a group of ‘stuck-in-mud’ people, far more senior than myself, and challenging the way they had run things in the children’s department for years. I was instantly met with opposition and basically told that they wouldn’t be buying into my new ideas. I informed them that they could each stand down if they didn’t like it, but I would be moving ahead whatever their decision.

My one challenging conversation that night resulted in quite a bit of upheaval, but the results were far beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, as a brand new era was born. Within months the transformation of a children’s department that had been running at around 30 for decades took place, and saw it replaced with a new model that bought in five times that amount.

One conversation was all that it took to get the ball rolling.

I urge you today to have that one conversation that you know you need to, but are scared to do  – don’t let fear hijack you any further.

Right now, identify that one conversation and plan to have it within the next week.

Trust me…it’ll be worth it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2016

When our lives are lived unchecked and unchallenged, we tend to fall back into the familiar.

We feel safe doing what we’ve always done, knowing that we won’t have to think differently, plan differently or be different.

Take a person that has only ever been to one or two familiar places on their family holiday. Each year, the desire to go somewhere different is quashed by the fear of the unknown.

My parents, both now in their mid-eighties, had never been to Scotland until they were taken by us when they were 70, simply because their parents had told them it was too far.

There are so many new things out there today for you to explore, if only you would stop being conditioned by the thoughts and feelings that keep holding you back.

When John the Baptist was about to be born, his father was given strict instructions by an Angel that his name was to be John.

Eight days after his birth (Luke 1 v 57-66) came the naming ceremony in which the relatives felt he should be named Zechariah, after his father.

When his mother and father both separately spoke out, and said that his name was to be John, there was a family uproar, in which they all said “there is no one among your relatives who has that name.@

Think about it for a moment; the family couldn’t even think beyond the familiar names that they’d been accustomed to and seemingly got pretty annoyed when a new name was introduced.

I wonder if today you are clinging onto that which you are familiar with when God has something new for your life today.

Stop listening to those that hold you back and want you to only play it safe and do the familiar.

Remember: if you want something to happen today that has never happened to you before, then you have to do something that you’ve never done before.

John became a household name as he literally made way for Jesus. It was an unfamiliar, unpopular and ‘never been done before’ pathway that he had to walk, and yet his footsteps paved the way for the saviour of the world.

I challenge you today, to stop walking in the same old paths that lead to nowhere and instead be willing to go where no man has been before.

Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2016

Matthew 6:34 says ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

It’s completely normal to worry but it is not something that God wants you to live with.

At the beginning of a new week, it is quite possible that you have already thought ahead to how the next few days are going to pan out. You may be wondering where you will go, what you will do and who you will encounter.

If you are anything like me, you plan your week and make a note of things that you need to get done. There will definitely be things on your list that you would rather avoid.

Don’t allow worry to spoil the day that God has for you. We can live in the peace that no matter what, God goes before us. We can’t go ahead in time to make sure that everything will be okay… but He can. Matthew 6:34 is a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient for every single
day of our lives. He has everything that we need ready for us, if only we will ask. So replace your worry with prayer.

Today, I encourage you to take your day and invite God in. It may be something that we only do in passing but God is in the detail and cares about even seemingly insignificant things. Worry does not add one second to our lives but when we hand our cares to God, He steps in to
do what we can’t.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd September 2016

Have you ever tried to cut something with a knife that wasn’t sharp? Have you ever tried to cut a tree down with a blunt axe?
Have you ever tried to write with a blunt pencil?
If you have, you’ll know that it’s hard work.

The knife doesn’t always need throwing away, it just needs sharpening.
(You can actually sharpen it on another knife that is already sharp – ask a chef).

In life, whatever you try to do, if you’re not at your best, you won’t do a great job. If you’ve not been training lately, you won’t play great football. If you’ve not been practising lately, you may not play that instrument as good as you’d like.

We all need to be sharp, we all need to keep on top of the game. We all need to do whatever we need to do to keep ahead.

If you’re a leader in any area of life, you have a great responsibility to stay sharp.

Your relationship with Christ needs to be sharp in order for you to be effective as a Christian.

Keep praying, keep reading God’s word, keep reading great books, keep listening to great messages, get involved and connected in a great Church. Whatever you need to do to keep sharp, you must do it.

In the same way as the knife needs another knife to sharpen it, you need to have great people around you to keep you sharp. Watch out for people who will cause you to be blunt, dull and useless.
The world doesn’t need blunt Christians, in the same way as your team does not need a blunt player, or your company a blunt salesman.

It’s your responsibility to sharpen yourself!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2016

One of the most well-known stories in all of the Bible is the feeding of the 5000. It takes place after a large crowd has followed Jesus, and as the day draws to a close, He wants to give them something to eat before they head for home.

One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, approaches Him with a suggestion as to how they could possibly achieve such a task. He says, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (‭‭John‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I want you to notice how Andrew’s approach changes mid-statement. He goes from confidently making this suggestion to retracting what he’s just said. It’s as if Andrew realised what a dumb thing he was presenting before Jesus.

What happens next is pretty astonishing… Following Andrew’s suggestion, Jesus puts the miracle into motion and begins distributing to the crowds that same, little boys’ lunch. For some time, this messed with me as I couldn’t understand why Jesus would use Andrew’s faith, or lack thereof to perform such a huge miracle.

Until I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “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.”‬‬

God loves big faith, but you need to be encouraged to know that He’s willing to work with small faith. He is able to take your small suggestion and put a miracle into motion. God is not intimidated by your mustard seed sized faith nor your doubt. But if you bring them to Him, watch what He is able to do. Just ask Andrew.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 1st September 2016

Many times people have asked me is there is anything they can do in the everyday life of our church.

The answer has always been, and always will be just one word…PLENTY.

There’s always plenty to do.

However, the question back to them is always the same and goes like this…”so what are you willing and able to do?”

Being used and being usable are two different things.

When I was just a young boy, I developed a desire to play the piano.

I started bashing out a few chords on an old honky tonk piano that was given to my parents for me to practice on.

As I listened day after day to the brilliance of our school music teacher that played for the hymns in the assembly, I couldn’t wait to get home to sit at the piano to try and copy the way she played.

I got totally consumed with every tune that we sang in the school hall, and set about learning each one from memory.

Day after day I would attempt to play each intricate part of the songs including key changes. I found the whole thing fascinating as at last I could achieve something in my young life.

I’m not sure how anyone got to know about my playing, but the day arrived when the music teacher was off sick and no one was sitting at the grand piano high up on the stage.

After a few exchanged words between the head teacher and another member of staff, my name got called out in front of all 400 pupils.

That day I was asked to play the grand piano, and instead of the highly talented Miss. Richards, it was Mark, aged 8.

I was able to be used on that and many other occasions, because I not only wanted to be used and useful, but it what it really came down to was this…was I useable.

Asking and wanting to be used would have been one thing, but also highly embarrassing if I wouldn’t have been useable.

I encourage you today to stop just praying…’Lord use me’, but change the prayer to…’Lord, make me useable’.

Start to prepare yourself for the passion that God has placed within your heart, so that when it comes to your turn to step up on the stage, you won’t have to face the embarrassment of not being ready.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.