Fresh Hope – 31st October 2016

If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you will have heard the air steward informing you that in the event of severe turbulence, oxygen masks will become available. They warn parents though to put their own masks on before helping children with theirs.

This, at first hearing, can sound back to front. Surely children should come first? But the reality is, if a parent is trying to put a child’s oxygen mask on, it only takes seconds for they themselves to pass out through lack of oxygen, then potentially, both can perish!

This can be a helpful picture to our lives.

We naturally want to help our children, friends and work colleagues. We’re concerned and pray for everyone, always looking to help where we can. We can have a mentality that being a Christian means putting ourselves at the back of the queue when it comes to everything.

This isn’t right. Firstly, the number one thing to you and me is Jesus! He wants our attentions before anything or anyone. He died for us so we could be in a relationship with him, not just so we could ask for stuff even if it’s not for us.

Also, in reality, people often don’t need what we think they need but by putting first things first –   your relationship with Jesus- we’re in a better place to be sensitive to people’s actual needs. The best way of helping others is to make sure everyday we have first got ourselves right – by placing our own oxygen supplies on.

Matthew 6:33-34 says, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

We all go through turbulence but I encourage you today to first and foremost seek Jesus. Put him first and enjoy the peace that throughout the day you will be safe and better equipped to help those around you!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th October 2016

How many times has someone promised you something, and then not followed through with their promise?
How frustrating that is, and even hurtful at times.

A business can promise you something and never follow through. A company can promise you a certain service, yet never follow through with the goods. Even someone you know, or even love can promise you and never follow through with what they said they would.

Our ‘say’ and our ‘do’ should be the same. They should be identical. Which means, turn up and fulfil what you say or promise you will.
And if you can’t fulfil it, shut up!

Let’s be people who follow through on our word. It’s better to be honest and say no, than to let someone down.

The Bible says ‘let your yes be yes and your no be no.’

Promises and your word are important to God. They’re also important to other people.

People who follow through, have great reputations. How is yours today?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2016

There’s a story in the Bible in the book of John where we find a group of people known as the Pharisees and teachers of the law bringing to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. They state that the law requires that this women be stoned for such a sin, but they first want to know what Jesus has to say about the matter.

Jesus’ response is one that I’m sure they weren’t expecting… He says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (‭‭John‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NIV)
Following this, the Bible says that one by one, they each left the scene until only the woman and Jesus remained.

I want you to notice that there was indeed one person there that day who could have thrown a stone. For there was one person present who had never sinned, who had never messed up and who had never made a mistake… and that person was Jesus.

Yet, instead of throwing stones, He chose to extend grace.

The story goes on to say, “Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”” (‭‭John‬ ‭8:10-11‬ ‭NIV)

Every day, you and I have a choice. We can either respond to people who mess up by throwing stones, or we can respond by extending grace. But remember, you and I are in the same boat as they are and therefore have no right to throw stones…but we have every right to extend grace.

Choose the right response today.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27th October 2016

Just imagine a record being kept of your sins!

My record would be pretty big…what about yours?

But what if that record could be accessed by all in order to read it aloud, or to privately torment you and eventually take you down?

What if the Bible were true in that it tells us that there will be a judgement day in which all will be laid bare before God?

What if a giant screen showed our faces to the world one day in eternity, and all would get to see and hear of everything we ever did and said; but more than that, what if it revealed our very deepest thoughts? I know that I for one would be deeply embarrassed, not to mention the shock on people’s faces as they got to see for themselves what actually went through my mind.

If anything could torment us every single day of our lives it surely would be this: the guilt and shame that we had said, done and thought some pretty horrible stuff during our life on Earth.

But pause for a moment…what if all of that were true and yet there was a way that it all could be erased and never ever seen again?

There is a way. His name is Jesus.

Psalm 130:3-4 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

His death on the cross means that all who come to Him in sincere repentance can be forgiven and the record of your past wiped clean once and for all.

We no longer have to serve God out of religious duty because we are worried that he will reveal all, but because we are forgiven, knowing that we have been freed from the guilt, shame and punishment of all we have ever done, or will do.

Receive His forgiveness.

Your records have been destroyed.

You are free to live for Him.

Don’t look back.

Serve Him now with all of your heart.

Be thankful for His death and resurrection.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2016

I well remember the feelings that overwhelmed me when our children were very small.

I’d come home some days, after being the Pastor of the church for not too long, feeling like I’d been beaten up by people’s problems and problem people.

As I walked through the door, the warmth of the welcome committee would be waiting as my wife would kiss me and the children jump into my arms. They knew nothing of the day that I’d had or of the things that I was facing, they just knew it was a safe place to be in Daddy’s presence.

As good as that was for them, the feelings I’m describing are the ones that I too felt when being surrounded and welcomed by pure love that I knew couldn’t hurt me.

Those hugs and kisses sometimes would be my salvation as I would face yet another difficult day that wanted to take me down.

There was something about those warm embraces that melted my soul and made things feel alright – even when I knew they were far from it.

In Psalm 131, it describes how we today, no matter what we’re facing, can bring peace to our very soul by receiving the warm embrace of a Heavenly Father.

Psalm 131:2 …I have calmed and quietened myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.

The message Bible translates it like this:

‘I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content’.

In order to know what that feels like, you need to re-order your life so that you spend time with God, knowing His warm embrace and hearing His whisper that no matter what is going on around you, all is well with your soul.

Cuddle up today.

Feel the warmth of His love.

Let Him melt your heart.

All is well again.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2016

Life can get pretty complicated.

Complex situations make up part of our every day existence.

There is no such thing as any easy life without problems.

Problems form part of who we are as human beings, trying to do life with others that have their own set of issues.

Trying to stay fresh in our spiritual lives takes great tenacity on our part at times, as it feels like we are being weighed down with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

The reality is that although our problems may seem insurmountable, they are no bigger than those of thousands of others going through very similar stuff all over the world right now.

The answer to our daily living has therefore got more to do with the way we see things, than it has to do with trying to avoid problems that keep coming our way.

In Luke chapter 8, Jesus is being asked by a man named Jairus, to go and heal his 12 year old daughter who is dying but as He’s on his way, He gets stopped in His tracks by a lady that has a 12 year old problem. She also has a condition that’s sapping the very life out of her.

Jesus heals the lady, but then hears in the mean time that the young girl has died. It’s too late. The moment for healing has been missed and the only thing left to do is plan for her funeral.

Talk about a complex day with no happy ending.

It is into this situation that Jesus speaks and shows us what uncomplicated faith looks like…

Luke 8:50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’

Today, Jesus still speaks to the complex issues of our lives with great simplicity and says to you…’don’t be afraid, only believe.’

With all of life’s complications that you may be facing right now, why not let Jesus unravel them all as He speaks those very same words of reassurance…

Don’t be afraid.

Only believe.

All will be well.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2016

When you consider what might be the greatest compliment you could ever wish to receive, typically your mind will wonder to compliments regarding what you do. For instance, ‘you’re an amazing employee’, or ‘you’re so talented’. Possibly, you think about compliments aimed at who you are. ‘You’re such a great friend’, or ‘you’re so generous’.

Now, they are certainly great compliments to receive and are things that you should want to be said about you. However, can I suggest that they are not the greatest compliments you could ever receive. For the greatest compliment that you could wish to receive is not connected to what you do, or even who you are, but it’s connected to who you’re with.

There’s a verse found in the Bible in Acts 4:13 and it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Right here, Peter and John (2 of Jesus’ disciples) received what is, in my opinion, the greatest compliment that you could wish to receive: for people to acknowledge that they had been with Jesus.

I want you to notice how the people around them recognised that it wasn’t their education that stood out, nor were they extraordinary people, but something about them spoke volumes to those in their proximity, and that was that they had been in the presence of God Himself.

If there’s anything that you want to be said of you in this life, let it be this…that you had been with Jesus.

Nothing else will have a greater impact on the world around you and nothing else will produce greater change within you than when you get around Him…
It won’t go unnoticed.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd October 2016

I’m going to ask you today who can you encourage?
You may say, “stop there, I need encouraging!”
Well if that is true, then you certainly need to encourage someone else. Because whatever we sow we will definitely reap.

When you encourage someone, you can actually be that person’s lifeline without even knowing about it.
Many a person has been saved because of a timely encouragement.
You can pick up the phone today and say something lovely to someone. You can write them a card or buy them some flowers, you can even take the easy option and send them a text message, even so, your words can be powerful today in encouraging someone along their journey.

What if someone is crying out today for someone to care about them? What if someone wants to give up today? You may just be that person they need.
Don’t ever be too busy to encourage, don’t ever be too selfish to encourage, don’t ever see it as too insignificant.
Encouragement doesn’t have to cost money, but it is powerful.

Be an encourager today!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of loving.

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2016

When you think about it, we spend a whole lot of our lives waiting.

The question is: are we going to wait the right way or the wrong way?

If we wait the wrong way, we’ll be miserable, but if we decide to wait God’s way, we can become patient and enjoy the wait. It takes practice, but as we allow God to help us in each situation, we develop and grow the fruit of patience in our lives.

Often when stuck in traffic and getting frustrated with the wait, Gillian will often say to me, “you may aswell sit here and enjoy the journey rather than sit here and get high blood pressure.” She’s right. Whether patient or impatient, the wait is still the same length of time.

Having faith in Jesus offers no buttons to push for quick service. The man in a hurry must learn to wait for God’s perfect time, otherwise, he will give up and move onto something else without having learnt a thing.

If God decides to prolong an answer, are you willing and secure enough to trust Him and wait?

Allow patience to do its job, which is to make you more mature and complete.

Keep working through your current apparent set back, knowing that it will lead one day to your come back.

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6 v 9)

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th October 2016

If there was one place that I wouldn’t want to show you if you came to our house, it would have to be the loft.

It is crammed full of stuff, most of which should have been thrown away long ago, but we have just never got round to it.

A conversation that Gillian and myself have at least once every six months indicates the level of our good intentions, as we speak of the need to spend a day clearing things out.

In reality, all we actually do is put more stuff up there, and me being the one that goes up most sees what was once a neatly laid out place that has now just lost all semblance of anything apart from a junk shop.

The main culprits that are out of sight and out of mind are the boxes from which electrical items came in. From TVs to hairdryers, you name it, they are all there ‘just in case’ we should need to take the item back; however the item is now up to five years beyond its guarantee.

Your loft space in your home is a pretty good likeness to the loft space in your life, namely your brain or to put it more bluntly, your thought life.

How much junk from the past is still gathering dust up there and more importantly taking up too much valuable space for things that really matter?

How many things are there for one reason only, and that is because you are emotionally tied to them? They can range from old patterns of thinking that you were taught as a child, right through to feeling the need to hold onto friendships that in actuality dissolved years a go.

How much mind space are you filling with the old you just because you may need to fall back on it some time in the future?

Listen carefully…you will not need most if any of the stuff that you are hanging onto from your past.

Today is that day to make a decision to let go of all the junk that’s being stored up top – let it go.

Let go of those bitter and unforgiving thoughts that keep invading your mind space.

Let go of that old way of doing things that’s not working anymore.

Let go even of those friendships that God has wanted to kill off but you keep breathing life back into them purely because of emotional attachments.

The Bible encourages us…
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The word ‘renewing’ here, literally means to ‘re-do’ your mind.

Stop conforming to that old way of thinking that keeps taking up valuable storage space in your life, instead, clear out and then re-do your mind by replacing it with good and godly thoughts, values, friendships and commitments.

Declutter today and start to enjoy all that freed up space made available for the current things that God wants to deposit with you today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2016

The words that you and I speak are not just communicative but creative.

Communication is our way of relaying information that has happened, or a way of announcing something that is about to happen. Both ways are factual in nature; for instance, there is no doubt in your mind that the meeting you have announced for tomorrow morning will take place. It’s called planning.

However, God has not just restricted our words to announcing the inevitable, but also to proclaiming the impossible.

Some of the very first words that the Bible records are of God speaking things into being followed by the words…’and it was so.’

Now I understand that you may think that it is only God that could do such a thing, but I want you to see something for yourself here today; speaking things into being is also now given to us as we determine by our words of faith what should be and what shouldn’t be.

2 Corinthians 4:13 It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.’

Speaking with a spirit a faith is something that every believer in Jesus can and should do.

Self proclaiming prophecies are spoken out by the bucket load every day, without even a thought that we are speaking powerful words of doubt over our lives.

Do any of these sound familiar? “…that’s totally impossible…it will never happen…I can’t possibly do that…there’s no way I’ll be able to get over this.”

So powerful are these ‘proclamations of doubt’ that they become reality, to which we then throw in a disclaimer that says…”I told you so!”

If only we would harness the power of our words by adding faith to them, we would see an incredible difference as we declare affirming words over lives, our families, and those we have opportunity to speak to and pray for.

When was the last time you spoke creative words of faith over a situation and saw it come to pass?

Don’t know where to start?

Start by declaring the promises of God as declared in the Bible; here’s one that I have written down and declared over my children and grandchildren for many years now;

Psalm 112:1-3 Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures for ever.

Start today to use your faith filled words to create the very future that you believe that God wants for you.

Go for it!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2016

Life is like a race.

It’s not necessarily about how fast you run, but it’s more about staying in the right lane in order to run with maximum effectiveness.

Crossing into a lane that is not yours means that you are trying to run in someone else’s shoes – something that you were not designed for.

Wanting to be someone else, or do what someone else does, is a common desire that is found in everyone’s life, yet being the very best at being totally you is the most effective way of living. Not only does it take away the pressure of trying to be someone else, it also allows you to flow naturally in what God has uniquely gifted you in.

‘Stay in your lane’ is the best advice you could receive, if you want to accomplish your God given dream and destiny; simply try someone else’s lane if you want to fail.

Yes, the grass does often seems greener on the other side, but remember…it still needs mowing.

One simple piece of wisdom that the Bible offers is this…’So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.’ (Deuteronomy 5:32).

Looking to the left and the right is the enemy of focus. How easy is it today to look around and lose sight of the most important thing that begs the question, ‘what has God commanded ME to do?’

If you’ve strayed off course, be determined today to do whatever it takes to get back on track.

By God’s grace, be the very best you today.

Hebrews 12:1-2 ‘…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th October 2016

There are many verses in the Bible that tell us to ‘come.’
“Come unto Jesus all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” – (Matthew 11 v 28)
“Come all you who are thirsty and drink” – (Isaiah 55 v 1)
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” – (James 4 v 8)
The onus is on us.
We have two dogs, Percy and Snoop. Percy can get called to “come” but he only will, if he feels like it. He has to be in the mood.
Snoop however, will come the moment he is called, he’ll come when you call Percy or anyone else for that matter. He never wants to miss out on any love or potential food.

We can be like that with God. We can take His presence for granted. We should be different. We should crave His presence, knowing that when I get there, I’ll be refreshed, burdens lifted and just the opportunity to sit at the feet of the King of Kings is an awesome opportunity.

I’d encourage you today to get into His presence, linger a while and give Him the devotion He deserves.

Your soul will be fed and uplifted when you just “come”.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th October 2016

Someone once said, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

How true. Too many times we don’t do what we should do, or what we want to do, or what we dream of doing, because we are too frightened to fail.

Our fears can take us to places that don’t always exist and often the things which we fear, will never ever happen.

God has called you and I to be a champion. Do you think the enemy wants that to be the case? Of course not! He would rather you fail in every area of your life and he would rather you believe that you will fail.
And when you believe that you’ll fail, you probably will.

What many people fall for, is believing the lies of the devil. Lies that say “you’ll never do it”,
“you’ll never succeed”, “you’ll never be any good, so you may as well give up now.”

Don’t believe it!

Today, your desire to succeed has to be stronger than all those feelings of “what if I fail?”

What does it matter if you fail? At least you tried. Get up and try and try again.

Have such a great desire inside of you today of success, of making it work, of making and being the difference, that very soon you WILL believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts!

Go on, you CAN do it.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2016

I was recently reading the book of Jonah in the Bible and one thing that stood out to me in particular about Jonah’s life was how he went around in circles.

In chapter 1, God calls Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh, he declines the assignment and the story continues. Skip ahead to chapter 3, and God calls Jonah a second time, and this time he accepts.

What happened in between these chapters was a very costly period for Jonah. In an attempt to run away from God, Jonah lost valuable time, he lost finance as well as possessions, and most of all, he nearly lost his life. Yet, he eventually returned back to square one, however, with a lot less than when he first began…

I want you to notice how the plan of God still prevailed in the end, despite Jonah’s desire to not be a part of it. And you need to know today that God has a plan for your life and you have the choice to either run from it or submit to it.

Can I implore you today to not spend your days going around in circles, but to instead say ‘yes’ to God, say ‘yes’ to His plan for you? Don’t waste your time, don’t waste your resources, don’t sacrifice your relationships in an attempt to try everything that the world has to offer, only to realise one day that God was everything that you had been searching for and more.

Yes, you get a second chance…but you only get one life.
Make the choice to start living it now.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 13th October 2016

Have you ever bumped into someone that you haven’t seen for a while and been asked ‘so, what have you been up to lately?’ For many of us, that question can conjure a sense of dread, as we scramble our thoughts together, to think of something impressive to say.

The trap of comparison is one that is all too easy to fall into. We can find ourselves looking at other’s lives, their whereabouts, their successes and feel discouraged.

I want to encourage you today with this thought: you are not the sum total of all of your achievements.

We can all too easily put pressure on ourselves to do more, have more, be more; much of the time, simply because we feel that others are watching. It is not bad to desire ‘more’ for our lives but it should never come at the expense of our peace. No matter who you are or what season you are in, you may at some point feel inadequate.

Today, I want to challenge you to surrender those feelings to God and take on your day knowing that God has a completely unique plan that is yours and yours only. There are people that only you can reach. There are situations that need your prayer. There are broken people who need your encouragement.

Change thoughts of ‘am I enough?’ to ‘Lord, what will you have me do in this season?’ Walk confidently in the knowledge that God has something special for you and whatever He means for you to have, He will find a way to get to you. No matter how you feel, you are chosen and you are loved.

Live boldly today and remember (Philippians 4:13) ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2016

I love watching DIY type programmes – especially where they renovate people’s homes in order to sell them.

One of the common underlying factors that keeps houses unsold is the fact that the owners become ‘blind’ to what needs updating and renovating.

We can get so used to living in the same house and looking at the same four walls that we don’t see what needs doing. A fresh pair of eyes usually reveals the full extent of anything that’s been overlooked.

Living a life of faith also means that we need to have a gentle nudge from time to time, in order to show us where our faith needs renovating.

The word NOVATE means to replace with something new.

Here’s what one man said in the Bible…Mark 9:24 ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’

He was saying…’renovate my faith.’

Here are some signs that you need to renovate your faith and overcome your unbelief:

– When you say ‘it can’t be done.’
– When you’re overwhelmed by problems.
– When you feel that you’re trusting only in your plans.
– Whenever you’re faced with a financial need and you reach first for your credit card.
– Whenever you face a crisis, obstacle or dilemma and your faith is more in the people around you than it is in God.
– When you continually talk to yourself in a language called doubt.

Remember, Jesus didn’t teach people to have faith, but to have faith in God.

Mark 11:22 ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered.

It’s worth noting that the actual translation is this…’Have the faith OF God.’

Ask yourself, how much faith does God have for your situation right now? 100%!

Start to see your situation through the eyes of Jesus and you’ll soon start to renovate your faith in God.

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 – 11th October 2016

There is something very satisfying within our human nature when we uncover other people faults.

We all have an tendency to get a kick out of it when we hear of someone that’s just messed up.

It certainly sells newspapers and definitely grabs people’s attention, not to mention it becoming hot gossip in any office, and an instant hit on social media.

Good news travels fast, but bad news travels even faster.

Part and parcel of this fascination with the sordid details of other people’s lives is inbred within us, knowing that if we can make others look bad, we can make ourselves look better.

Here’s the question: are you an exposer or a coverer?

Are you one of the first people to dish the dirt, or are you the one that covers a person’s shame with your love for them?

We are not talking about sweeping stuff under the carpet here, but we are talking about our motive for wanting to expose other people’s downfalls.

When Noah was asked by God to build the ark in the midst of a God forsaken world, he was chosen as a righteous man of faith.

Yet, not so long after the flood, we find him naked and drunk in his tent.

One of his sons walked in on him and decided to expose his shame, whilst the other two sons decided to cover his shame; they walked into the tent backwards and lowered a blanket over their father’s nakedness in order to cover him rather than expose him, not even daring to look.

Each of us today, carries with us the ability to expose or cover someone else’s shame.

The question is: why would you want to make a person feel worse than they already do? Would it not be better to take the higher road and cover them with your love? Here’s the crunch question…what would you want someone to do for you, if you messed up big time?

Jesus modelled something so powerful for us when an adulterous woman was thrown at his feet. Crowds gathered to see her get her just penalty, which was by law, death by stoning.

Fully expecting Jesus to pronounce that very harsh judgment on her, he simply asked those that were without sin to cast the first stone; no one dared move.

Jesus then made a remarkable statement in order to set her free…John 8:11 ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’

God’s grace is so powerful that even when we may mess up, he covers us, and never exposes us.

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever would foster love covers over an offence, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2016

A few years ago, we were renovating the upstairs of an old night club that we had rented as a space for our church.

Rewiring had required that some of the floorboards be taken up during the day and had been just been placed back down after the electrician had finished for the day.

That night, I went upstairs with a couple of guys to see how the work was progressing, and before we could switch the lights on, I walked onto the end of a floorboard and got the shock of my life…my one foot went straight through the floorboard and appeared through the ceiling tile in what was a shop beneath; what made it worse was the fact that the shop opened late at night and had several customers that also got the shock of their lives, as a leg appeared above the cash till.

If was not only a very painful experience in that I was bruised for weeks afterwards, but also a valuable lesson in taking note of where you’re walking.

Paying attention to where you walk in life is important to the degree that many people fall down holes that they never get out of. Maybe that hole is something you never saw coming, but now you feel embarrassed and trapped by the sin you’ve gotten yourself into. All sin and failure starts off pretty innocently and looks much like this:

Tempting

Fun

Exciting

Frequent

Habitual

Sin

Misery.

Don’t ever say that you are beyond falling because you think you are so strong…that’s exactly the time that you become vulnerable.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

If you’ve stopped walking in the light and fallen into the clutches of sin, then remember there is a way back and you need to take it right now before you leave it too late to be rescued.

Ask a close Christian friend to help you get out the mess you’re in.

Face up to the truth about your situation and confess it.

Ask Jesus for His forgiveness and receive it.

Forgive yourself for making such a hash of things.

Turn to God and get back on track.

Don’t walk in the dark any longer, but bring everything out into the light.

Walk on firm ground again.

Live a forgiven and blessed life.

Thank God that His forgiveness is total and complete.

Start to live again.

Remember: it’s not only how high you jump in church on a Sunday, but how straight you walk on a Monday.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th October 2016

The Israelites were God’s chosen people and yet we read that for seven years, they did evil and went away from God. (Judges 6)
I think God was angry with them, because it says that God had given them over to the Midianite army (which was their enemy).
Every seed that they had sown was destroyed and everything they had, got stolen – not a good situation to be in!
They went through a time of severe famine.

There’s always a cost if you take your eyes off God and a cost if you disobey Him.
Why is it that we can sometimes get into a mess and blame God?

When they disobeyed repeatedly, God gave them into the hands of the Midianites.
Disobedience will bring you into a place where you don’t like it and you won’t want to be. Disobedience is not worth it.

God is a God of love and a God of grace and a God of mercy, but when we go our own way and do our own stupid things and shut God out, then expect there to be consequences.

You may not be living in disobedience, but you may be disillusioned with life. You may feel like giving up, walking out and throwing in the towel.
You may have taken your eyes off God.
My advice to you today is DON’T.

Have I ever been disobedient? YES.
Have I ever been disillusioned? YES.

But the key is repenting quickly and getting back on track. Asking God to reveal Himself again to you and get into His presence.
Don’t let it go on for years, like the Israelites.

Live in God’s blessing. Stay in God’s blessing. Crave God’s presence in your life and live a life of honour to the King of Kings.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2016

One thing that I’m sure we’ve all faced at some point in our lives is fear. Fear is a very real emotion, however, have you ever considered what fear really is?

I read a quote this week that totally changed my perspective on this emotion that we face.
It said, ‘fear is faith in the enemy’.

Now that really got my attention, because I realised that the time I spend in fear, is actually time spent believing that the enemy has power over my life.

There’s a verse in the Bible found in 1 John 4:18, and it says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”

The phrase ‘perfect love’ here is speaking of Jesus. You see, love is not just something that Jesus does, it’s who He is. And in Him you can find freedom from fear.

Whatever you’re faced with today, or this week, choose not to put your faith in the enemy, who is the source of fear, but make a decision to put your faith in Jesus, the One who drives out all fear.

And know that because God is for you, no one or no thing can be against you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th October 2016

Let’s talk today about the significance of serving.

Many years ago, I trained to be a silver service waiter; it’s not something that you see much of today, apart from in some exclusive restaurants and even then it’s pretty rare. I may have left that kind of serving behind years ago, but I’ve tried since then, to devote my life to serving others. There is something very special and very significant about serving others.

When we look at Jesus’ life, we see that He lived His entire life with other people in mind – He was always teaching, healing, leading and even correcting, so that people’s lives would be lifted to a higher level. Jesus was the ultimate example of serving.

Serving is simply giving of yourself to make life better for someone else. If we want to be like Jesus, serving will be a way of life for us.

It all starts with having an attitude and perspective on life that looks for opportunities to be a blessing – it always asks: what can I do to make a difference for someone else?

Being part of a life giving church is fundamental in that it gives us opportunity to become part of a serving community. Being available and having a willing heart is all it takes.

It’s a spiritual principle that when we sow good things, we’ll reap the benefits in our own lives too.

Matthew 20:28 ‘…just as the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2016

Prayer is another spiritual discipline that is vital to our spiritual growth. When we pray, we receive direction, strength, comfort, encouragement and so much more. Prayer doesn’t have to be fancy or overly spiritual – prayer is simply talking with God.

Communication in any good relationship isn’t one-sided. It’s interactive with both sides participating; part of prayer is talking to God, with the other side hearing from Him. Hearing God’s voice can be a thought that the Holy Spirit drops into your mind, or an inner conviction that’s similar to a ‘gut feeling’.

Prayer makes the power of God available to us in the situations we’re facing. It also keeps us trusting in and relying on Him for all that we need – that’s why it’s essential that prayer becomes part of our everyday life.

Here are some practical guidelines about prayer:

• Set aside a special time in each day to pray. Try and stick to the same room, chair and time so that it becomes a special place to be looked forward to.

• Morning prayer is good because it gives God priority in your day and prepares you for the day ahead.

• Better to pray for a short while and be consistent rather than try and break a record and do it only once or twice.

• Open your heart wide and ask God to speak to you.

• Deal with any attitudes that might keep you from effective prayer – anger, unforgiveness, pride, jealousy etc.

• Alongside the things that you will want to pray for that are unique in any given day, make a list of ongoing needs and requests that you can pray for until you receive an answer.
James 5:16-18 (Message Bible)

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t – not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2016

Our confidence needs to be in God, not in ourselves. The biggest part of being confident in God is being confident in His Word, the Bible.

God’s Word plays an incredible part in our lives, in fact, nothing can replace the power that it has in strengthening us on the inside.

Being spiritually confident means knowing what the Bible says about you.

When I first became a Christian, I began to read the Bible like I’d never read it before. In fact, the little Bible I read from was the one that was given to me by the Gideon’s society when I was at secondary school.

As I read it, I made up my mind to believe what it said as the truth, and would therefore rely on every word to be trustworthy; I decided to write out in a notebook, any verse that stood out to me on faith.

Here’s one of the very first ones that I can still instantly recall…

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I then started to live my life as a new Christian just as if the Bible was totally trustworthy, and guess what? I’ve proved it to be just that, every day of my life since then.

Reciting verses became an excellent way of remembering them and becoming a natural part of my life.

So much of what God has enabled me to do over the years has come from knowing and believing verses just like that one.

From believing for my first £5 that I needed when stoney broke, to trusting Him for several millions in the last few years, has come because I chose to believe God’s Word.

Take some time today and every day to read it for yourself and when you come to a verse that stands out for you, underline it, highlight it, or write it out in a notebook and you’ll be sure to remember it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2016

We let too much stuff consume us. Worries about this and that. They take our focus and our energies.
We get consumed with our jobs, we get consumed with our health, we get consumed with our families, we get consumed with lack and we get consumed with what we want. We get consumed with people and their problems … and before we know it, we are so consumed by things and people, that all our life and energy, even our joy and peace, goes.

Lamentations 3 says “because of the Lord’a great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…great is your faithfulness.”

Because of God and his love, we should not be consumed by anything else. His compassion for me is not stale, out of date, weak, neither is His love for me tired or weary.

Whatever your need today, God has it covered. You don’t need to worry about it, just commit it to Him.

Great is HIS faithfulness

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st October 2016

Every crisis in your life can bring about a great deliverance if you let it.
What do I mean by that? Everyone at some point or another will go through a crisis. It’s what you do in that crisis that will enable you to either get out barely alive, get out victorious, or not get out at all.

Here are some things to do today if you’re in a crisis.

1. Thank God anyway. The Bible tells us to thank God in all circumstances, that doesn’t mean you have to thank Him for the circumstances but you thank Him in the circumstances.

2. Have a great attitude. Don’t think ‘why me?’ Don’t blame God. Understand that God has everything in control and He hasn’t forgotten you.

3. Give Him praise. Yes, praise, sing, worship your heart out.
You probably won’t feel like it, but it’s the best thing you can do. Praise breaks chains and praise changes things.

The next time you’re in a crisis, think about Jonah…he came out better and not bitter and it was because of what he did when he was in the belly of the fish that got him out victorious.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.