Fresh Hope – 30th November 2016

There was a terrible smell of burning coming from the upstairs of our home one day. Everyone could smell it, but no one could work out why.

I started to shout and get everyone out of the house as the smell intensified and smoke filled the air.

I ran upstairs, and there it was…a feather lined winter jacket had been hung to dry by my son over a light fitting in a bedroom that we had designated as the ‘ironing’ room.

“Why on earth did you do that Josh?”, I said, you “could have burnt the house down.” Then came the explanation.

He’d seen me on numerous occasions hang damp shirts on a coat hanger and hook them on the centre light fitting in order to dry, and without thinking he thought he’d follow suit; instead of hanging it on a hanger, he hung it directly onto the open bulb. No problem, that was until someone turned the light switch on and left it on. As the bulb got hotter, the coat started to melt.

A rule was made by my wife that day and went something like this…’lights are not to be used as anything else apart from giving light.’ Enough said.

That almost catastrophic event teaches us a life lesson too…doing and being something that you were not created for only leads to disaster.

We all live under constant pressure nowadays to be someone that you’re not and to do something that you were never cut out for; today I encourage you not to give in to the temptation and learn to be comfortable in your own skin.

God has blessed this world with your uniqueness, and although He needs and wants to change you to be more like Jesus everyday, He still wants your unique gifts and personality to shine through.

When you start to allow yourself to get into things you were never created for then not only will you be frustrated, everyone around you will be too.

There will always be people who want to hang stuff on your life that has no business being there, so you must have the courage to hand it back, in order for you to be free to do what God has created you for.

Write down today just five things that you feel that God has gifted you in and then ask someone else close to you if those things match what they see in your life. If they don’t match what others see, then go back to the drawing board until you get a real feel for what you are good at. When you do get a good match on your gifts and talents then start to give everything you have to them.

Don’t spend the rest of your life trying to be a clothes airer when God created you to be a light.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th November 2016

Call me old fashioned, but there is still something special about holding a door open for someone, even though you may not even know them. Is it me, but have those days of just being kind at no real cost to yourself, passed us by?

On the occasions that I get to do it, I get met with a grunt, nod or even no response at all, but it’s worth it just for the reactions, especially the ones that appreciate it and give out a heartfelt ‘thank you very much.’

Being thankful to someone that opens a door is one thing, but being thankful is also the key that opens doors.

I meet many people that cannot fathom why they don’t seem to get on in life. Questions like, ‘why does it feel like no one likes me?’,  ‘why don’t I get that promotion?’ or ‘why is it that I cant seem to get a breakthrough?’ Many of these questions and thousands more can be answered with one simple word: thankfulness.

It appears that we have become totally ignorant  to the power of thankfulness.

The Bible puts it this way…1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’

Giving thanks may seem odd when things are against you or you find yourself in a bad place, but the key is not to focus on giving thanks ‘for‘ the circumstances but ‘in‘ the circumstances.

Having a grateful heart, no matter what today brings, is your key to the next door of blessing opening for you.

I have watched so many people over the years develop a bitter and critical spirit because of things that have gone wrong, only to find that they become angry at life and God, and get nowhere apart from to a self-assigned prison of hurt. On the other hand, I’ve watched people that have been dealt a real blow in life, but have kept a thankful attitude and have gone on to soar.

Whatever is going on in your world today, be thankful.

It will open the door to God’s best for your life.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2016

If you’ve ever played the game of Monopoly before, you will have experienced the feelings of resentment when you find yourself being sent to jail. As you stand there, helpless, watching as your opponents get free run of the board, you’re looking for as much sympathy as you can get, especially if someone else has possession of the get out of jail free card.

However, the tables can so quickly turn, because the moment you get out of jail and somebody else finds themself in it, that same compassion that you were once looking for, you aren’t willing to give to anybody else.

That analogy, I believe, describes how we often live our lives. When we make mistakes, when we find ourselves in the ‘jail’ of life, we’re looking for help, sympathy and compassion. Yet the moment we find ourselves back on our feet, and feel as though we’re beginning to get things back in order, someone else finds themself in a struggle and the same help that we were looking for just moments ago, we aren’t interested in extending to them.

I want to challenge you today; don’t forget where you came from. Don’t forget that you once found yourself in a pit and God pulled you out of it, and that same forgiveness that He extended to you, He’s looking for you to extend to others.

God presented you with the get out of jail free card at no expense, yet it cost Him everything. Who are we therefore not to offer it to others time and time again?

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th November 2016

Nearby where we live there are some horses in a field. I always feel sorry for those horses. The field they are in doesn’t appear to be a good space. The ground is all churned up and rough. There never seems to be any grass and at this time of year, it’s like a complete mud bath.
I always think that those horses seem quite neglected, have a poor quality of life and would probably love a different home.

Today as I drove the same route, I looked to the other side of the road and saw a completely different scenario. Yes, almost directly opposite, are some horses in a different field. The grass is very green and very lush. There’s a shelter for them and you can see pales of water and food containers scattered around.
Two very different situations right next to each other.

‘What’s the message here?’, I thought.
It’s not the fault of the horses, they had no choice on their conditions, the answer lies in who their owner is. Boom! There it is, as clear to see.

Whoever is your ‘owner’ will determine the quality of your life. How many people do you see who don’t have the Lord in their lives?
They can make a decision that will change their future.
How much more at this Christmas season should we be taking every opportunity to introduce them to our ‘owner’,  Jesus?

Isaiah 43 v 1. “I have called you by name and you are mine.”

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2016

A few days ago,  myself and Gillian were taken to a restaurant by some friends. The food was great, the conversation was stimulating and the time to leave came all too quickly. I noticed that the wife of the couple who were entertaining us had only eaten half of her lunch and asked the waiter for the rest to be boxed up for her to take with her.

As the bill was paid, she decided that it was just too much trouble to bother taking the leftovers with her and as the food had been untouched, asked if we would like it, knowing that we were travelling and far from home. Everything within me said there was no point, as we would barely have the time or opportunity to eat it.

In that split moment I felt an inner nudge to pick up the neatly packaged box and put it in the car, even though it almost seemed like an inconvenience, with what to us were merely leftovers that could have easily been discarded.

As we waved our friends goodbye, we had not traveled more than a few minutes when we came across a man on the side of the road that had nothing to eat that day. Everything about him said ‘please help me.’ I knew immediately that what I had considered waste was going to be to him like gold.

As we presented to him the nicely packaged leftovers, his eyes brightened with thankfulness and he excitedly tucked into his one meal for that day.

For us that day, we had been well fed at no cost to ourselves, and eating, like many other things, is something that we do without even stopping to think or to thank.

I remind myself today that one man’s means can be another man’s miracle. Food, clothing, love, warmth, acceptance, kindness is often part of our everyday lives yet there are those close by that have no such luxury.

Make today, and the rest of your life, a day of making a miracle out of your means…there’s someone praying right now for what you freely are able to give.

James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th November 2016

I know the Lord is speaking to me when I stop listening to sounds from the world that feed my sense of pride and ambition.

Instead I fall quiet, tune in to God’s great world around me, and actively listen. Sometimes nature speaks, telling me of God’s majesty and glory. Sometimes God’s word speaks, reminding me of what God wants me to know. And sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks, awakening my conscience, reminding me of failures, stirring my compassion and sense of justice, aligning me with God’s will.

I cannot control the voice of God and how it comes. I can only control my ears – my readiness to listen and my quickness to respond.

Phil Yancey

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2016

If you’ve ever travelled by plane you will know that it’s reported to be one of the safest forms of travel. However, if you have a fear of flying (like I used to) then it can seem far from safe, with every bump and creak playing out as a potential disaster inside your mind.

A friend of mine that flies frequently, tells how on one plane ride that the passengers were shaken from their seats as the aircraft fell for a few seconds. Passengers screamed, overhead compartments opened and bags flew across the aisles.

After a few moments the pilot explained what had happened. The control tower had radioed to tell him that they were on a collision course with another aircraft and if he had not taken evasive action, people would have been hearing about an air disaster on the evening news. The pilot apologised to everyone but explained it was his only option to keep them safe. The control tower’s ability to see the whole picture and the pilot’s willingness to trust and obey saved everyone’s lives.

The Holy Spirit is God’s control tower. He sees the end from the beginning and wants to guide you accurately through your life.

Each day He may speak to you and instruct you about things that you don’t understand and even things that you may question. However, if you’ll just trust and obey you’ll find out one day that He was saving you from a potential disaster.

Many times over the years I have watched people ignore the sound advice of the Holy Spirit, only to find themselves in a disaster that they could have averted if only they would have trusted His voice.

Trust His voice.

He’s looking out for you.

Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2016

As I write today, I am listening to the heavy downpour of rain falling onto some plastic sheeting outside my office window.

As the forecast promised, we have had several inches fall over the weekend…they were right.

In most cases, the rain water drainage system at the side of each road is adequate, but as it coincides at this time of the year with the autumn leaves falling, several roads are flooded due to being clogged up.

Being around people each day as we all are, reveals that some folk are prone to be like drains. They take on everyone else’s problems and then get clogged up themselves. Over time this leads them to be so consumed with stuff that they start to drain every relationship that comes their way. We all know what this feels like when on the receiving end of such a draining relationship…we want to run as fast as possible.

Being a drain can appear to be a kind way of living with your fellow man, but if you allow everyone to drown you in their despair, then you must quickly realise that that’s not the way it should be.

The higher way of living is to be a fountain. A fountain doesn’t receive everyone else’s waste, but instead gives out fresh and life giving water.

People that are like fountains are such a pleasure to be with as they give life rather than drain from it.

If you’ve allowed yourself to get clogged up with everyone else’s problems that means you can no longer live in freedom that Christ came to give you.  Start  to live a different life with a different approach…be a fountain that refreshes, rather than a drain to just get dumped on.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2016

Colossians 1:15-17 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

For the universe to exist and be sustained, everything must be perfectly aligned.

If even one element of creation was out of sync, there would be catastrophic failure and we would be no more.

If the pull of gravity or the speed of light was wrong, then all would be wrong. If the sun was closer than intended we would be fried, but further away and we would freeze.

Each planet along with millions of galaxies are set and held in their perfect place without variation throughout the centuries.

Someone has taken the time to calculate the odds of how everything came to be perfectly lined up – this is how they expressed it:

“The odds would be same as a person buying just one lottery ticket twice a week and getting the numbers right every single week for 50 years!@

If that happened you would say it was a fix.

You’re right, it is.

God fixed it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th November 2016

What are you doing to move your life forward?

I read this today, ‘You’ll never achieve what you’re capable of, if you keep hanging onto things or people you’re meant to let go of.’

Remember this time last year? How much further forward are you this year?
How much have you grown, developed and moved forward?

Here’s the thing, life definitely moves on, time flies. Yet the question has to be: are we moving forward?

You are either moving backwards or standing still or going round and round OR moving forward.

Give yourself a great reality check and ask yourself which direction are you moving in.

Are the people that you mix with forward-movers? Or are they same old, same old?

Don’t get stuck in a rut today, crave after something fresh.
When you’re planted in a great church that’s moving forward, you will have a head-start.

Isaiah 43 18-20 “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? The old has gone the new has come!”

My challenge to myself and you today is: TAKE STEPS FORWARD.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th November 2016

In the New Testament,  we read the story of the death of Lazarus.

Watch this…Jesus asked Mary and Martha to take him to the place where they had buried Lazarus.
He needed to be involved at that moment.
Jesus wants you to take Him to the place where you have buried something so that He can resurrect it.
Have you buried a dream? Take Jesus to where you buried it and let Him resurrect it.
Have you buried your courage and faith because of something that happened to you? Take Him right to that place and let Him resurrect it.
Have you buried a sin, hoping that no one will find or discover it? You certainly need Jesus to visit that place with you, so that it can be forgiven and dealt with.
Have you buried your love? Take Him to that place where it once burned bright, He has the power to resurrect it.

I’m asking you today what have you buried?
Until you let Jesus visit your burial place, He cannot resurrect it.

When Lazarus had been there a few days, he started to stink and what you have buried will stink also, until you allow Jesus to resurrect it .

Remember this: Whenever God reveals a mess in the Boboe, it’s always to reveal a message.

So let the resurrection power of Jesus take hold of you today and see and experience the miracle for yourself.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th November 2016

We have spent the last few days in Seattle, staying with our good friends Lin and Lanita Miller, before heading back home before the weekend.

We first of all met them 18 years ago, when we were invited to make our very first trip to The States. We have made that same trip several times over the years and it has become one of our favourite places to get refreshed and recharged ready for another great season in our church.

I find it hard to believe as I write, sitting in front of the log fire at the Millers’, that those years have passed so quickly.

That first trip saw us armed with pushchairs and nappies and now we have grandchildren!

The smell of their home where we stay is exactly the same today as when we first walked through the door, and brings back wonderful memories of those early days where we would go to get stretched, and our lives enriched and enlarged.

We still stay in the same basement from 18 years ago and many of the things that our kids remember are still in just the same place, creating a feeling of nostalgia.

Throughout our lives we will each have many constants that we need to be there; the warmth of a loving home, friends that we can love and be loved by, a place to find refuge from the everyday storms of life to name but a few, but as we look back on life the big question has to be, ‘have I changed?’

To say ‘no’ can be a positive, if it carries with it the sense that I’m still living and standing strong, however, that’s not the question; the point to consider is ‘have I just stayed the same and never grown bigger in faith and closer to the Lord, or am I satisfied with being just in the same place as I was all those years ago?’

Are the pictures hanging on the wall of my life unchanged ?

Is everything still just as it was, because I’ve never moved forward in life?

Am I still thinking the same old thoughts, having never allowed God to enlarge my life over the past years?

I remember for 10 years even before our first trip to Seattle, that God had spoken to me and told me that one day Seattle would be part of my destiny. I had no idea even where it was on the map, let alone knowing how to get there. I then remember asking the Lord years later as to why I’d never been when He’d clearly spoken to me about it; He simply answered that I’d never been because I’d never made plans to go. Within 12 months of that conversation, we were there.

Desire, plans and passion play an enormous part in our lives, and are the very driving force behind moving our lives forward towards change and destiny.

Take a quick glance back over your shoulder today and see if you’re still stuck in the very same rut that you were many years ago.

If so, take on board this passage of scripture…

Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Today, start afresh to hope in the Lord and take steps to move forward and regain your strength and passion.

Often, soaring means that we have to move from the environment that keeps us strutting along in the dust of our everyday life.

Take a little time today to ask the Lord to lift you to a new place where you can live a bigger life for His glory.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2016

I remember a couple of years ago when I made a decision to not eat any unhealthy foods for seven days. On day one of this week-long commitment, I had an invite to go round a friend’s house, and as I walked into the living room, there in front of me was a long table lined with all of my favourite sweets and chocolates… I thought to myself, ‘why couldn’t I have been invited last week?!’

It’s funny isn’t it how temptation always follows commitment. The moment you decide to do one thing, circumstances want to pull you in the other direction.

Temptation is a very real thing and if we were being honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that we are no match for it. In and of our own strength and willpower, we are not able to conquer the power of temptation.

But I want to encourage you today that Jesus Himself faced temptation, and not only that, but He also conquered it. And because Jesus has already won the battle against temptation, we too can overcome.

However, I would be lying to you if I said that you could do it all by yourself…
I do believe that the only way to overcome temptation is to involve Jesus in the equation. Ask Him to help you, ask Him to guide you through those areas of your life, and when you allow Him to lead, temptation can no longer have a hold over you.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2016

Have you noticed that we as human beings can often be inconsistent? One moment we’re this, the next moment we’re that. Consistent living is something many of us strive for but struggle to achieve.

However, I have some good news for you today: who you are doesn’t change who God is. Romans 3:3-4 demonstrates this for us; “So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth.”

In other words, when you are unfaithful, God is always faithful. When you are inconsistent in your ways, God never fails to be consistent. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

And although who you are doesn’t change who God is, you need to know that who God is changes who you are.

I want to encourage you today in all of your efforts and striving to become a better you, to instead make a choice to lean into God. Let everything that is good about Him begin to rub off onto those things that aren’t so good about you.

Allow His faithfulness and His consistency to begin to change you, and I believe that when you do that, you will begin to take your eyes off your own weaknesses and begin to focus them onto His strength.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th November 2016

The very first Starbucks coffee shop was opened in Seattle, Washington, on March 31st 1971, by three partners who met while they were students.

If you ever get to visit the establishment, you will be somewhat underwhelmed by its appearance; even though packed with people buying coffee, not to mention taking selfies in a shop that is still fully functional and 45 years old, it has become a Mecca for coffee lovers from all over the world.

In the same city, Starbucks have successfully rolled out their new flagship roastery, which allows you to watch the coffee beans being roasted, ground and packaged in a huge coffee shop setting that is pretty mind blowing.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks is known to drink there on most days.

Amidst all the razzmatazz of the experience when we visited there a couple of days ago, I was taken in by just one expression that had been engraved into a piece of wood near to where we were sitting; it simply said this…’unreasonable passion has led us here.’

It made me think back to the three students who 45 years earlier, had given up everything in order to pursue a passion for coffee and now have almost 25,000 Starbucks stores opened across the globe.

If people can do that simply being driven by a passion for coffee, then how much more could we do being driven by a passion for people?

Having no passion leads us to live ineffective and dormant lives, but just imagine what we could accomplish in our lifetime, if we had ‘unreasonable passion’ for what we cared about.

Let’s make it our prayer today for the Holy Spirit to give us unreasonable passion in order to influence and change the world with the love of Jesus.
2 Peter 1:5-9 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is short-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th November 2016

One of my earliest childhood memories was deciding that I wanted to be a teacher, when I grew up.

From then on, I seemed to devote most of my time to preparing. As I got older, I decided what subject I would teach, the age group I would teach it to and even which establishment I would teach it in!

However, when it came to the crunch, and I went on work experience, my passion for teaching had completely gone.

I was confused. How could I feel like this, when teaching had been my big dream, for over 15 years?

It was then that I realised that although my plan wasn’t going to work, God was still ready for me, with His plan.

One day, I simply asked him what I should do. Almost immediately, I experienced a shift in my life. I had completely new passions and interests. When I look back, I realise that they had been lying dormant  in me the whole time. I felt like a different person altogether. Suddenly,  things made a lot more sense.

Be encouraged today. If what you thought was going to happen in life seems to be heading in a different direction, know this: with God, nothing is wasted.

It’s okay to dream new dreams. He sees from beginning to end. Everything that you have experienced already has brought you this far.

Romans 8:15 ‘This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are…’

You may be feeling lost. You may feel confused about who you are and what you are meant to be doing but God knows the exact details – so ask Him. Rest in that thought today and don’t be afraid to be adventurously expectant!

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2016

If you Google the phrase ‘wisest man who ever lived’, you will find that, in the minds of most people, this distinction belongs to Solomon, the legendary king who ruled the ancient nation of Israel about 3,000 years ago. A thinker as well as a leader, an author as well as a ruler, King Solomon was responsible for compiling the biblical book of Proverbs. In that book, he wrote, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” (Proverbs 1:5, KJV).

One of the most famous stories from the life of Solomon was his encounter with God, where the Lord offered Solomon any blessing he desired, including wealth, honor, or power. According to the biblical record (II Chronicles 1:1-12), Solomon chose wisdom. And God was so impressed with this choice that God then rewarded Solomon with all these other blessings, as well.

So Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, knew that wisdom was the most important quality a person could possess. And according to the notation above from his own writings, he knew that mental growth was a process, not automatic; it was increased incrementally, not gained all at once. Solomon knew that today’s efforts in gathering wisdom and knowledge would bring tomorrow’s successes in life and enterprise, because wisdom is the land under our feet, the solid, immovable rock upon which everything else is built.

People pursue all kinds of things in life. They pursue wealth. They pursue long life. They also pursue lesser prizes, such as pleasure and fame. But the ironic thing about life is that one gains these things, not by pursuing them, but rather by minimizing their importance and pursuing wisdom. Then these other “things” make their way toward the wise individual. Like Solomon, therefore, learn to prefer wisdom. If you do, you “shall attain” all the blessings that life has to offer.

Dr Dave Martin

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th November 2016

Ever felt under attack?
Join the club. We all go through that at times.
Here’s a great thing to remember.

Say the enemy attacks your marriage…he’s not after your marriage.

Say he attacks your finances…he’s not after your finances

Say he attacks your health…he’s not after your health.

“What do you mean?”, you may say.

He’s not after those things, he’s after your faith.
HE’S AFTER YOUR FAITH.
Your faith is powerful, it’s the weapon we use and when we are strong in faith, he can do nothing.

So remember, stay strong in faith, and everything will work out just right.
His purpose for your life is perfect.

Pastor Gillian Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2016

Have you ever felt forgotten?

Forgotten by parents, friends, loved ones, your boss or even your spouse?

The Bible records in the book of Genesis that Joseph was not only thrown into a pit by his brothers, not only sold into slavery, not only falsely accused and sent to prison, but he was forgotten too.

After spending time in prison through no fault of his own, he started to make a positive impact on everyone that came into contact with him, so much so that people looked up to him and treated him with great respect.

On one occasion after interpreting the dreams of two employees of the king, he asked them to remember him and mention him to the king – something he hoped would get him out of prison.

You can only imagine how Joseph would excitedly wait each day for that prison guard to give him the news he had been waiting for, however it never came…

Genesis 40:23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Jospeh waited everyday for a further two more years before getting the attention of the King.

What a painful story, but what an amazing ending that saw Joseph rise to highest ranking position in the land.

Being forgotten is something that we all face for long periods in our lives without any explanation, yet it is those very times that forge our character and lead us to maturity beyond our years.

Feeling forgotten today? Don’t dismay, though everyone may forget you, God never will – you are always on His mind.

He is using this very season of your life, if handled correctly, to catapult you into a significant life.

Isaiah 49:15-16 ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th November 2016

Last week, we looked at the dreams that we have for our lives and the importance of small beginnings.

In Genesis, Joseph, in a moment of naivety, told his brothers about things that God had revealed to him in his dreams. As we know from the story, his brothers, (already envious of their youngest sibling) tried their best to be rid of him altogether.

Genesis 37: 5-8 ‘Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.’

There are two important lessons to be learnt from this story.

The first is to protect your dream. The reason that God communicates with you directly is because there are things that He wants to reveal to you and you alone. There is a time for everything. No matter how exciting, wild or wonderful our dreams are, wisdom about who we share them with is vital in keeping them alive.

The second is a warning to not be like Joseph’s brothers. I want to encourage you today with this thought: there is enough for everyone.

A calling on someone else’s life does not mean that there is no calling on yours. We will all face times where we feel that someone has something we think that we deserve. Do not let that consume you. Instead, know that there is a plan and purpose for each and every one of us – each one unique and important. God’s favour knows no favourites.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2016

I love a good American movie that goes like this:

Everyday ordinary man/woman is living a comfortable but unfulfilled life, struggling to get some big break so they can feel they’ve arrived.

Then disaster strikes! An alien invasion, a creature from the blue lagoon or a rogue shark on the loose in a quiet seaside town, breaks the peace and turns everybody’s lives upside down.

After lots of drama, ups and downs and maybe a car chase our hero/heroine and most of their family survive (maybe an uncle or irritating cousin are eaten). They are left with a deep appreciation of life.

Despite their actual situation being worse than at the beginning of the film (house and worldly possessions destroyed by a radioactive sea monster) they’ve never been happier because of a new perspective on what they do have, rather than what they don’t have.

There’s some kind of reconciliation between people, maybe even a wedding.

The end…roll credits.

This can reflect our lives. We may have family, a roof over our heads and food on the table but deep down we’re dissatisfied, frustrated and waiting for something we don’t yet have.

Let’s not wait for an earthquake or zombie invasion to break out before we realise what we have!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’

What a verse!

‘Light and momentary troubles’ is that alien invasion! Our very lives threatened is classed as light, in comparison with the eternal glory we will enjoy with Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what tragic situation you may be in the middle of, or maybe you’re at the start of the film, frustrated and feel a lack of meaning and direction. Stop and take stock today.

Jesus Christ is the meaning of life – the twist at the end of the film that suddenly makes sense of it all. When we start to live this way knowing it ends well while still fighting zombies, peace comes into our lives and we can relax and enjoy the action!

Every day, wake up and thank God, be appreciative of what you do have and make the most of the adventure. Above all else, keep your focus on He who puts perspective and meaning to the script of our lives!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th November 2016

I don’t know why God loves me but He does.
I don’t know why He died for me, but He did.
I don’t know why He’ll never let me go, but He won’t.
I don’t know why He would bless my future, but He will.

Awesome thoughts today. I’ve done nothing, absolutely nothing to deserve God’s love for me and His best for me, yet He constantly gives it to me.

It spurs me on today, to want to love Him more, serve Him more and make His name more famous.

He’s not only dealt with your past and with you in your present, but He’s got your future sorted too.

Today I challenge you – not to look at what you don’t have, but to look at what you do. The King of all kings and the Lord of all lords is on your side.
Your future is bright when you commit it to Jesus.

Let that be your fresh hope today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2016

There are different reactions to turbulence.
Some people are totally not fazed by it at all, it’s almost like they’re not aware it’s happening. They stay calm and really are not showing any signs of fear, concern or worry about the sudden shaking of the aircraft.

There are those maybe like me, who start to wonder about it, even write about it and pray a little through it, but deep down are knowing it’s only temporary and it will soon pass.

Then there are those who are really bothered by it and maybe although not outwardly shouting, are inwardly in great turmoil.

When life throws you some turbulence, be at peace. God has everything in His control. HE is the pilot. You couldn’t be in safer hands.
By all means, think it through and certainly you should pray and perhaps ask yourself and God “what am I to learn from this experience?”

But don’t freak out and get fearful, because if you do, you’ll affect those around you also in a negative way. Fear breeds fear.

God didn’t promise that the journey would always be easy, but He did promise to always be with you, and that’s the best promise anyone could hope for.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd November 2016

One thing that we all have in common is that we each have something to be grateful for. If you’re currently trying to think of something, the fact that you’re reading this, which means you’re alive, is one!

I read a quote this week and it said, ‘If gratitude is silent, it doesn’t help anyone, but your gratitude expressed encourages everyone.’

This statement issues us with a challenge: To identify that which you are thankful for and express your gratitude.

Whether it be through words or through actions, I want to encourage you today to not only carry inward gratitude, but to get that which is within you, out of you!

And when you maintain an outward attitude of gratitude, it inspires others to do the same. Not only does it have an impact on you, or the one that you’re thanking, but your gratitude will impact those around you.

Make a commitment today to not keep those thoughts of thankfulness to yourself, but understand that they are far more beneficial when expressed.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2016

People watching is a fascinating hobby.

Whether standing in a bus stop or sitting in an airport, there is always plenty to see.

People of all walks of life surround us every day, and I often look at their faces and wonder what lies beneath their expressions.

People of all shapes and sizes make up our world – from babies to the elderly, rich and poor, male and female, short and tall, yet one thing is for sure, they all have a heart. Not just a physical heart, but a heart that could be described as the very centre of who they are. Some would describe it as the soul.

It is the tendency of all to look at people’s outward appearance and make a quick judgement about who they are, something that I wouldn’t recommend if you don’t want to get it horribly wrong.

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is very old and wise advice but actually has its roots in the Bible…

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

Fashions and fads come and go with the passing of the years, as do the ever changing seasons of our lives, bank accounts, personal successes and failures.

People will become our friends often based on what they perceive about us, but God never does…He always only looks at our hearts.

Man looks at our intentions, whereas God looks at our motives.

The very secrets that we hold close to our chests may not be known by anyone, but be sure of this: God knows all of our secrets.

Many years ago, myself and Gillian befriended and old man that we regularly saw pushing a filthy old pram full of fire wood. We went to his home that was littered with old newspapers and junk. We dared not to drink the tea from the tea cups that he politely offered us each time we went to visit him with groceries.

As time passed by we stopped seeing the elderly gentleman and learned that he had sadly passed away.

You can imagine our surprise when we read of the amount he had left behind – it was thousands!

Thankfully, we had not judged him by his looks and appearance. We had looked into his heart and tried to help him for who he was.

It would be nice to report that he left us in his will, but that was not the case.

The next time we people watch, see each one as a person with a heart that needs to be loved and a soul that needs to find our saviour, Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2016

I want you to think about a dream that you have your life. Your dreams matter to God – not just because He wants to give you the desires of your heart but also because of the people that He wants to reach through your dream. They’re in your heart for a reason.

What do we do, when the big dream in our hearts doesn’t match our current circumstances? You may look at your life and feel very ordinary.

In the Bible, before David became a king, he did what was a considered a lowly job, watching over the sheep and fighting off bears and lions, here and there. Even his family refused to put him forward, when a great opportunity (to battle Goliath) came up. Yet, his ‘lowly’ job had secretly been preparing him for a moment of greatness. Do not be discouraged if what you are doing now has no great title or accolades attached to it. You are likely in a season of preparation.

In Zechariah 4:10 it says, ‘Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.’
Small beginnings sometimes come with difficult people, times where you may doubt that you discerned the right calling over your life at all and also disappointment. Don’t give up. God is always working on your behalf, behind the scenes.

Ask God for clarity for right where you are and He will lead your way, step by step. Trust Him, even when life makes no sense. Be encouraged at the start of this new month, that God is piecing things together for you.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.