Fresh Hope – 31st March 2017

What is your crisis management plan? Sounds like a bit of an odd and heavy question for a Friday but bear with me.

When something happens to a brand or company that could potentially tarnish their reputation, a PR plan is in place to limit the damage.

When a bad day comes along, or a time that is testing you, here’s how you can manage your situation and come out stronger on the other side:

1) Know who to speak to

Who is the first person that you speak to in a ‘crisis’? The spiritual answer is obviously God but if we’re really honest with ourselves, that’s not always true.

I encourage you, go to Him first. Let Him work on your behalf. The sooner you hand your troubles over to Him, the sooner you can celebrate those answers to prayer.

2) Watch what you’re saying

The Bible says that ‘death and life are in the power of the tongue.’

You may not have the victory just yet but…speak it out. Every negative conversation, every harshly worded social media status, pushes us further from breakthrough.

3) Listen carefully

When a company is facing bad press or a PR disaster, the best thing that they can do is listen to the experts and do as they’re told.

In every situation and season of our lives, God wants to speak to us. In James 1, we learn that God gives wisdom generously. We can only receive it if we’re willing to pause and figure out what He is saying to us.

Whatever you are facing,  no matter how overwhelming it may seem, be encouraged today. You have the victory.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th March 2017

We can ask God for many things and then decide we don’t believe what we are asking for.
We can call out to Him for help and then think ‘is He actually going to help me anyway?’
God is always looking for a response from us. He’s looking for a response of faith and of belief in Him and of what we are asking for.

There are times when God asks something of us.
He is looking for our response to be positive.

When the angel visited Mary and told her that she was going to give birth to the Son of God there were three responses…

1. This is impossible. Her response was “I am a virgin”. In other words, she was saying, this is impossible.
God may ask something from you. Don’t think it’s impossible. Instead, believe that if that’s what God has asked then “All things are possible for him who believes” and “With God, all things are possible”

2. I’m not worthy. She wondered why she had been chosen to do this incredible thing that God was asking of her.
You may feel like that today, why would God choose me? Well He has, He does and He will. So remember, God has a great plan for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future”

3. It’s very improbable. I’m sure people around her thought this probably wouldn’t happen and she herself said “How can this be?” God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants and with whoever He wants.

Make sure you respond correctly today to God, because He wants to do something great with you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th March 2017

‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ is a well known proverb that can be difficult to understand.

It goes against the grain of believing in a God that’s a loving father to then be told that we should fear him.

What can help us to understand this is to put it alongside another well known verse in Matthew 6:24:

‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.’

In the same way ‘you can’t serve two masters’, you can’t also ‘fear two masters!’ We can’t fear paying the bills as well as fear the all-sufficient and powerful God who is more than able to pay those bills. It doesn’t make sense – which one is right?

When we’re anxious about anything, it’s a declaration we fear man (or the consequence of needs not being met) more than God’s ability to meet those needs. We can’t fear both lack of provision and the God who is our provision.

Fear and anxiety though are a normal part of life – don’t ever feel guilty, it’s what we do with them that counts.

Philippians 4:6&7 helps us…

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

I encourage you at the beginning of every day, deal with your anxieties; don’t let them rob you of enjoying your days, but learn to hand them all over to God, then He will give you peace that is, contrary to your circumstances. This is called living by faith. This then allows God to ‘show off’ in our lives as He reveals His love for us in meeting every one of our needs and then some.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2017

In the Bay of Naples, there’s a jellyfish that loves to swallow a certain snail. But the snail has a hard shell, and the jellyfish can’t digest it. So the snail fastens itself to the inside of the jellyfish, and slowly begins to eat it. By the time the snail is fully grown, it has consumed the entire jellyfish. Now, the point is, a lot of the things we think we can handle finish up consuming us. Things like alcohol, worry, greed, or simply the aimlessness of our lives: there’s  a real killer.

Fred Smith, the author of Learning to Lead, once sent all his friends a letter with these three questions:

  1. Am I enjoying what I’m doing?
  2. Am I happy with where I’m going?
  3. Am I satisfied with what I’m becoming?

One of his friends, a top Wall Street broker, called him and said “When I read the question ‘Am I satisfied with what I’m becoming?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not!’ I’m tired of grabbing the Wall Street Journal first thing every morning like its my Bible. My life has no meaning outside of my investments, so, today I liquidated them all – I’m quitting! Tomorrow, I’m beginning a new life, and I want to thank you for giving me the courage to do it.”

Don’t end your life feeling empty, having your insides eaten away by  a quest for things that can’t satisfy. God has a wonderful plan for your life. (Jeremiah 29v11).

Get into His presence today and let Him tell you about it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th March 2017

Dr Alexander Maclaren attributed everything he knew to one habit: ‘spending an hour each day with God.’

Sometimes he allowed others into the room where he prayed, but they were never allowed to speak.

Maclaren would sit in a well worn armchair with his big Bible lying across his knees. Sometimes he’d read its pages, but mostly he’d just sit with his hand over his face. During that hour he wouldn’t read it as a student or study it for sermons; one of his assistants noted, “he read it like a child would read a letter from an absent father, or like someone deeply in love that was separated from their loved one”. To know God you must spend time with Him.

One night a famous orator recited the 23rd Psalm to a packed theatre and great applause. Afterwards he spotted a Pastor in the crowd from his local church. He called him up to the stage to say a few words, and to his surprise, he too read the 23rd Psalm. But when he was through, there was silence. People dried their tears all over the audience. Afterwards the great orator asked the Pastor why he thought that he had prompted such a powerful reaction. The Pastor simply said “the difference is, you know the 23rd Psalm, but I know the shepherd!”

Do you know Him?

Join me each day this week and I’ll tell you how you can.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th March 2017

I wonder how many of you today feel like you are limping through life? You know, life is hard, storms come, situations make us feel down, circumstances pressure us…etc etc
Life can sometimes make us feel like we are limping, when in fact we should be LEAPING.

Today I want to encourage you, that no matter what is going on in your life…
GOD IS FOR YOU . Yes that’s right, my Bible tells me that if God is for me, who can be against me? He’s on my side.

GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE. Yes He does, you may feel right now that you don’t know what it is – stop and ask Him to reveal it to you. He has a special plan, just for you. He made you unique and no one can do what He wants you to do, quite like you.

GOD IS WITH YOU. He’s your friend, your protector, your portion. You never need to be afraid, He (THE KING OF KINGS) is always with you. His word says, He will never leave me or forsake me.

HE WANTS TO PROSPER YOU. Yes, He wants every area of your life to be blessed. Your family, your health, your finances, your career, your relationships. When you acknowledge Him to be the Lord of your life, you can be assured that He has great favour and blessing for you.

So, stop limping today and rejoice in the great things that God has in store for YOU.
Thank Him and Believe His word over your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2017

There’s a story in the Bible where we see Jesus enter a town and there is met by a man whose daughter is at home, sick in bed. He pleads with Jesus to come to his house and heal his 12 year old girl.

Jesus agrees to go with the man and while He is on His way, a woman who has been faced with an illness for 12 straight years, comes up behind Him, touches the edge of His cloak and is instantly made well.

Jesus then proceeds to turn around and converse with this woman, and while doing so, hears the news that the little girl who was at home sick, is now dead. Nevertheless, Jesus continues on to the home, walks into the room where the dead girl is lying and raises her from the dead.

These are two outstanding miracles that we see recorded here, but I want you to see the order in which they take place…

We see two females in this story, one who is 12 years old and the other who has had a 12 year old issue. One represents the future generation, the other represents the present generation.

I believe here, Jesus wanted to send a message to you and I that says, ‘before I can resurrect the future, I first have to heal the present.’

You need to know that before God can bring your future back to life, you first need to let Him deal with whatever hurt or pain you’re dealing with at present.

What is it that you need to let go of today and allow God to heal, restore and redeem in your life? When you make a choice to hand over the discomfort of today, you can be assured that the resurrected God Himself is resurrecting your tomorrow.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2017

Do you have any idea how effective you could be if only you were totally committed? The difference between the masterful and the mediocre is focused effort. At 55, I’m convinced that my best days are still ahead of me, and am totally sold out to being all that God has designed and destined for my life.

How about you? When are you going to roll your sleeves up and get moving towards the purpose that God has for your life?

There’s a difference between talent and purpose. God calls you according to His purpose not according to your talent.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

If you’re just talented, but unaware that you are called, you’ll be happy to go anywhere and do anything, even if it de-rails your life.

Talent, like love, is sometimes blind. But if you’re conscious of your God-given purpose, then you will know there are some things you are not meant to do, because they may defeat God’s purpose for your life.

Knowing God’s given purpose for your life means that you will only focus on your talent if it relates to your purpose.

Think about it for a moment…every domestic appliance has been created to fulfil a specific purpose. Just imagine putting the dirty dishes into a washing machine just because it’s supposed to clean things. Disaster. It does clean things, but they are very specific things! They only clean things ‘according to their purpose’.

Instead of just asking God to bless whatever you are doing today, ask Him to reveal to you His purpose for your life.

Have you discovered God’s purpose for your life yet?

If not, get into His presence today and stay there until He reveals it to you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd March 2017

How do you handle correction? By taking offence? By hearing it as rejection? By getting defensive? All of us need people who’ll be honest with us because we’re easily blinded by our egos. When God sends someone to correct you, it’s because he loves you. He only does that to those He values. Listen: Hebrews 12:7-11 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

So how do you handle correction? By killing the messenger? By making sure that he or she never gets to you again? By giving in to self pity and saying, ‘people do not understand or appreciate me?’ Your life needs to be sharpened constantly, so stay close to those that God sends to you.

Accountable people always exhibit 4 qualities:

Vulnerability. They are capable of knowing when they are wrong and admitting it, even before they are confronted.

Teachability. They are willing to hear, quick to learn and always open to counsel

Availability. They are accessible. They don’t avoid you.

Honesty. They hate anything phoney and are committed to the truth no matter how much it hurts.

Pride and ego has to fall when you are willing to be make yourself accountable, so when God sends good people into your world that love you enough to challenge you, then try to be an open book…you’ll not regret it in the long run.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2017

Do you feel like you are in a hopeless situation today?

Is there no sign of change in the natural?

Remember, we serve a supernatural God.

What looks impossible with man is possible with God.

In the Bible, God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations, but in the natural this looked impossible. Both he and his wife were beyond child-bearing years. They had no reason to hope or believe that it would happen. They had nothing to go on in the natural, but one translation of this account says “hoping in spite of hopeless circumstances, he believed”.

…And the rest is history as we say. Abraham finally had a son, Isaac, and his son, Jacob, had 12 sons who became the original 12 tribes of Israel, whose descendants outnumbered the grains of sand on the sea shore.

Today, I encourage you to do what Abraham did and believe against all the odds. Keep believing. Keep praying. Keep moving forward. Don’t focus on the impossible circumstances but focus on the God who makes the impossible possible.

Keep looking through the eyes of faith because HE has blessing and victory in store for you.

Romans 4:18-21 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th March 2017

There is a common saying that goes ‘cart before the horse’ to suggest something is done back to front. Imagine how difficult it would be for a horse to be pushing a cart? Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle backwards? Unless you’re in a circus, it’s impossible.

This often is a picture of how we are in relation to God. We serve and live to please him, to achieve something? This is back to front, we should serve and obey because of what He has already done for us.

Life conditions us to work for what we get, work hard at school and get good grades. It makes perfect sense but this thinking hinders our walk with God where, thankfully, he treats us better than we deserve.

Jesus helps us in John 13 where he’s about to wash the disciples’ feet.

Jesus  knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

Here is a great example where Jesus ‘knew’ who he was in God ‘so he’ served. He didn’t serve to obtain who he was, or work it out.

How often do we serve etc because we’re working out who we are, where we’re meant to be, what’s our calling?

Life is a lot easier when we know who we are, not because of our strengths or what we have to offer, but because of his strength and what he has to offer, for us to be children of the living God.

I encourage you today to assess whether your bike’s back to front? Do you get frustrated and easily hurt by people as you try and serve God? It’s a sign we are trying to work towards something instead of from the assurance of knowing who we are, his children.

1 John 3
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th March 2017

1 John 5 v 14 says
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Have you ever tried to send a text message to someone and it says “message failed to send”? What a pain that is. Maybe the wifi connection is down or there is something the matter with yours or their phone.

I’m glad that when I come to God in prayer, my message never fails to send.

That’s right…every word spoken audibly or in my heart ALWAYS reaches the throne of God.
This verse says that He hears every prayer.

The next verse says:
And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.

So He not only hears me, He will answer too.

Sometimes my text messages go through, but the recipient doesn’t answer – that can be frustrating too. But not with God. He always answers.

His answer may be ‘yes’ or ‘wait’ or even ‘no’… but HE ALWAYS ANSWERS.

His network is never down, my prayer always gets through and the minute I pray, He’s working on the answer.

Get messaging today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2017

One of my favourite people in the Bible, is Zacchaeus. We meet him in the New Testament, whilst Jesus was passing through Jericho. Zacchaeus, being a guy of short stature, climbs up a tree to gain a better view of Jesus. Jesus spots him in the tree, and commands him to come down; Jesus is going to stay at his house today.

Why I love Zacchaeus is because in this moment, he had every odd stacked against him to meet Jesus. In fact, the words “passing through” indicate that Jesus did not even intend on stopping at all. However, he made a decision to step out of the crowd and make himself available to meet with Jesus.
I saw a great quote which reminded me of Zacchaeus: “Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.” Sometimes, we have to get out of the crowd and go the extra mile because that’s where the amazing stuff happens.

Maybe, you need to step out of the crowd to meet with Jesus. Find a space within your day, where you can step out and meet with Him. Make yourself ready and available to meet with God.
On the other hand, maybe today, you need to go the extra mile for someone else. Buy someone a coffee, send someone an encouraging text, do something kind for a stranger. I’m sure we can all think of times when someone has gone the extra mile for us, and how good that makes us feel. Without realising it, we can miss several opportunities a day to step out and do something for someone else.

If Zacchaeus hadn’t have stepped out on that day, he wouldn’t have met with Jesus and his life wouldn’t have been changed. Today, step out. Step out to meet with Jesus and step out to do something for someone else. Both, have the power to change your life and the lives of those around you.

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 15th March 2017

We all face different challenges and circumstances – it’s the nature of life isn’t it?

Whether you feel alone and isolated, like it’s the middle of the night and sunrise seems a lifetime away. Or maybe you’re having to face your worst fear and it’s the darkest time of your life.
Perhaps you’re walking through a valley in life, where you can’t see a way forward or maybe you’re climbing a mountain – and whilst the view may have improved, it’s a struggle to keep going up the incline.
Let me encourage you to trust in God’s unfailing love, and rest on His grace.

God is always with you, He never leaves you.
Remember that in Jesus, you will find all you need. He is our source and supply.
God is a light in our darkness.
His words provide light to see a way forward.
We have a hope in Jesus that means we do not need to fear.

When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he defeated the grave, which means He has won it all! Don’t forget that Jesus is all we need.
He is everything!

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2017

If you want your future to be bright, what you’re doing NOW matters.

Think about it. The decisions you make today will affect your tomorrow. The choices you make today will shape your tomorrow.

We are our choices.

Sometimes we can be in a place we don’t like. But if it’s God’s will for us we have to stick with it, because tomorrow can be different.
If I don’t like my weight or fitness level, I need to start making changes today, in order for tomorrow to be different.
If I don’t like my relationships today, if they’re not propelling me towards a greater future, then today I have to make some decisions to change them.

David was a great harp player. He was not only good but anointed. He found himself playing the harp for a demon possessed king, Saul. Yet all the time he was anointed for something far greater (to be a King himself) . He chose what God placed in front of him right then, allowed God to use him in that and in doing so, was getting ready for a greater future.

You see what we choose to do today, and how we choose to do it, WILL affect our future.

You may wonder why you are doing what you are doing today, yet what you do today will affect your tomorrow.

We all have an opportunity for a bright future, just choose wisely today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th March 2017

For Christmas, my Nan was given a 1000 piece puzzle. She recently told me how for the first six weeks, she had spent every single day working on it and was now nearing completion.

Myself and a few of my family went to see her one night and decided to help her finish it. In order to be of as much assistance as I could, I decided to adopt a method of picking up a piece, seeing if it fit, and if didn’t, putting it back down and repeating the process. I think I contributed two pieces during the 45 minutes we were there…

The reason I share with you that story is because I believe that many of us take that same approach with life. We identify that there is a missing piece on the inside of us, a gap, a hole, a feeling of emptiness. So we begin picking up different pieces, hoping that they will fill the void in our lives.

However, I want to save you a lot of time, energy, effort and resource by telling you that this missing piece on the inside of you is a God-shaped hole and only He can fill it.

Relationships can’t fill it, substances won’t do it, nothing in this world can eliminate that sense of emptiness, that lack of meaning and purpose that’s on the inside of you, apart from the One who created you – God Himself.

Today, make a choice to put down all of the pieces that were never intended to complete you and turn to God. He’s everything you’ve been looking for and more.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 11th March 2017

Whenever we come to God and come into His presence, we should do so with a great expectation.
Anyone who comes to God with an expectation, will never go away disappointed.

The blind man wanted his sight, he expected Jesus to do something about it and He did .
The woman with the issue of blood expected that Jesus could help her and He did. Jairus came to Jesus for help with his daughter…and guess what He did? He raised her from the dead.

Our expectation is always God’s invitation.

You expect and He will reply to your invite.
God will give the quickest RSVP ever.
He won’t have to think about it, check His calendar, or see if there’s anything else He’d rather be doing.
He’ll be right there.

What’s your expectation today ?
That God will speak to you as you spend time with Him?
That God is going to help you with your situation?
That God is going to do something new in your life?
That God’s will is about to be done?
That God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants and with whoever He wants?

You invite Him and He’ll be there.
You expect and God will not disappoint.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2017

A Chinese tour guide found himself in deep trouble and risked losing his job after he realised that he had forgotten his passport en route to the airport.

The coach they were all travelling on, had to be turned around resulting in all 30 tourists in his care turning up late for the flight.

When they did eventually arrive at the airport, the group were enraged when they were told that their pre-booked seats at the front of the plane had now all been given to other passengers, resulting in them having to be seated at the very back of the plane.

During the flight, the tour guide took the brunt of the group’s anger again and again, as they threatened to report him.

As the hours rolled by,  en route to their destination, he was forced to sit in silence as he thought about the cost of his actions to all of the group and ultimately to himself.

What no one could have known is that his ‘forgetfulness’ was actually a gift to the group that they could never have seen coming.

As the plane prepared for landing, it went off course and slammed into a mountain – killing almost all on board. The only people to survive the crash were 90% of the tour guide’s  group, including the tour guide himself. Changing their seats because of him, now meant that they literally owed their life to him. He turned from zero to hero in a few short hours.

Have you ever been annoyed at the inconvenience you have been put through simply because of someone else’s actions?

Have you ever wondered why the plans that you made were diverted by the seeming thoughtlessness of others?

Could it be that God saw what disaster was about to come your way, and took immediate action to inconvenience your steps in order to save you?

We may never know these things at the time, but one day we will look back and realise that my ‘detour’ was ordered by God.

When Joseph in the Bible was left for dead by his brothers, and then sold into slavery, he could never have known as his life was in free fall that his ‘set backs’ were actually sent to catapult him into one of the greatest ‘comebacks’ in history.

Feel like you are on a detour to nowhere right now? Believe today that your life is in HIS hands and He is taking you to exactly where you need to be.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2017

In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He ate nothing for 40 days and during this time, was tempted by the devil.

Although we may not be wandering around the desert, there are times in all of our lives where we find ourselves in the wilderness. Maybe you’re waiting on God for an answer to prayer or a promise from Him. The wilderness can feel like a lonely and uncertain place.

When Jesus was in the wilderness, He did things that we can learn from:

1) He clung to God’s word

40 days is a long time to wait. No matter how long your wilderness season lasts, God’s word never expires. When the devil tempted Jesus, he fired back at him with scripture.

See, when you’re feeling lost, having scripture to draw on is vital. Psalm 119, verse 1 says ‘I have hidden your word in my heart’; in your moments of desperation, there’s no time to look verses up.

2) He resisted temptation

This one is tough. Absolutely none of us are above temptation.
Jesus was shown ‘all the kingdoms of the world’ by the devil. It was of course, all an illusion.

When you’re waiting on God, you will often be faced with a quick fix, or an easy way out. The longest route out of trouble often comes in the form of a shortcut. If it looks too good to be true, or you know it isn’t God, flee.

3) He endured

Jesus’ resistance and obedience brought great reward.
In verse 14 it says ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him.’

Did you catch that? God got the glory. Jesus was faithful and he came out of the wilderness ‘in the power of the Spirit.’ Not only did He see great things happen, following his time there  but He was more powerful and effective than ever.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th March 2017

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

Maybe you’ve woken up today with a plan. You  know exactly what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it and when you’re going to do it. Or, you’ve woken up today with no plan and nothing to do; you’re just going to see where the day takes you.

We can often get so wound up in ‘the plan’; in knowing what the next day, week or year holds. We want a plan for every area of our life and if we don’t know, or it doesn’t happen, that stresses or worries us. As humans, we get so consumed by knowing. I read Jeremiah 29:11 and asked God to give me a new perspective – what more can I learn from one of the most famous verses?

I was so drawn to the word KNOW – ‘For I KNOW the plans that I have for you’. It’s already common knowledge that God has a plan for us, but we never focus on how or when that plan was made.
God’s plan for your life isn’t something He creates day-by-day as you live your life. He doesn’t struggle to set out a path for you at the beginning of each new day. God KNOWS. He’s got it all sorted. Before you existed, before you were a thought in your parents’ minds – God knew the plan He had for you.

Today, don’t get caught up in ‘the plan’; don’t stress about not knowing – rest in the knowledge that God knows. And more than that He knows BEST – ‘plans to PROSPER you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE.’

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2017

In the book of Genesis, we see God creating the world over a six day period. He continually recognises that His work is good until we reach Genesis chapter 2, where God has identified one thing that is not good…that man is alone.

From the very beginning of time, it becomes evident that God’s intentions for humanity are not that they should do life alone, but together with other people.

Adam was in the most beautiful environment, surrounded by the most amazing scenery, and yet God wanted to send a clear message to him and to us: what is life without people to share it with?

You can have all the success, all the resource and be living the life you always dreamed of, but what does it count if you don’t have anyone to enjoy the journey with?

God knows what you need and He knows who you need. After all, He created you. God knows that in order for you to live the life that He created you to live, then you can’t be secluded, you must live surrounded.

Make a choice today to surround yourself with people who are going to take you closer to your destiny and the fulfilment of God’s plan for your life.

For life is not about what you do, it’s about who you do it with.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th March 2017

When each of our children were growing in the early stages of their lives, they each would complain of a similar type of pain that they were experiencing. When we took them to the Doctors, we would hear the familiar words…”these are simply growing pains.”

As we grow in life we cannot avoid pain, but what we can do, is identify it.

Craig Groeschel is Pastor of one of the largest churches in the world. What he has to say on the subject of pain is far too valuable to keep from sharing…

‘The longer I avoid a problem, the bigger it generally becomes. If I summon the courage to endure small amounts of pain and do what’s right early, I will avoid larger doses of pain later on.
Pain is part of progress. Anything that grows experiences some pain. If I avoid all pain, I’m avoiding growth.
Often the difference between where I am and where God wants me to be is the pain I’m unwilling to endure. Doing what’s right – no matter how difficult – is a rare trait. Most chose easy. We must always choose right over easy.
God is always faithful. Even when life is hard, God is working for our good. Pain teaches us to depend on Him. It purifies our motives. It keeps us humble and moves us to pray.’

‘We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey’ – Kenji Miyazawa

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th March 2017

Don’t ask me how I know that my dog Percy knows when it’s Wednesday, as I have no idea. He must have a calendar in his room, that he marks off every night with a Sharpie and says “yippee, it’s Wednesday tomorrow.”

We can have a different sequence of events in our home and yet he still knows it’s Wednesday.

‘What’s with a Wednesday?’, you ask?
Well Wednesday is the day I often take him to the office for a couple of hours to see the staff. It started when we first had him, so I took him to meet them all. It’s developed from there, now every week he cries on a Wednesday morning waiting to go. Because for him it’s exciting, he gets to see good people, have a little treat (often just leftover lunch) and yet he comes home happy, content for another week.

Today as I write this, it’s Wednesday, but it’s different.
I’m not going to the office, as I’m home preparing the message quietly for Sunday. So I haven’t got dressed in my ‘office’ clothes, I’m not following any normal Wednesday pattern, yet he’s still showing that ‘Wednesday’ reaction of excitement and anticipation because today he might be going!
As I sit here writing, he’s crying and trying to get to the front door. Because somehow, that dog knows it’s Wednesday.

As you read this, tomorrow is Sunday, the day when we should have the exact same anticipation and excitement of “get me to church.”

Make sure you have it…make sure your heart is right…and like Percy, don’t settle until you get there.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2017

Matthew 14:22…Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side…

More lessons from a storm (continued from yesterday)…

Trouble doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you. The disciples learned that Jesus may be out of sight, but He’s never out of touch. To ‘walk by faith, and not by sight’ means that sometimes you’ll walk in darkness without visible cues. Someone put it this way: ‘when you can’t trace His hand, you can trust His heart.’

When the disciples were being tossed around in the boat, Jesus was up on a mountain praying for them. He was totally aware of the problem and was working on the solution. Just because He’s not present, it doesn’t mean He’s not there.
Between the command to ‘go’ and your safe arrival on the other side, there’s often a crisis. Jesus commanded them to cross to the other shore, but before the trip was completed, their world experienced upheaval.

What’s buffeting your life today – loss, guilt, loneliness, financial pressure, illness, addiction, rejection?

Instead of sinking in fear, ride the waves by faith. Those very same waves will carry you quickly to exactly where you need to be.

‘We must embrace the pain, and burn it as fuel for our journey’ – Kenji Miyazawa
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2017

Matthew 14:22…Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side…

No sooner had the disciples followed Jesus’ instructions, then they found themselves in a huge storm.

When you find yourself in trouble, is the first thing that you think…’have I done something wrong…Perhaps I’ve missed God’s will and He’s punishing me?’

Yet, the disciples weren’t in a storm because they’d disobeyed God, but because they’d obeyed him.

At times you’ll find yourself in troubled waters because you did what was right, rather than what was popular, easy or selfish.

When that happens, here are some helpful lessons from the disciples’ experience:

Obedience doesn’t guarantee there will be no storms. The disciples had just been part of the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. Shouldn’t their faith have been strengthened, yet they forgot it completely when fear came knocking at the door. Jesus had told them that He would meet them at the other side of the lake, yet they forgot His miracle working power and His promise gave way to their fear.

Remember: sometimes God doesn’t SOLVE your problem, but He will SHOW UP in your problem.

Fear doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s just a reminder that you’re human, and, like the disciples you’ve forgotten who has the power and who’s in charge.

More lessons from the storm tomorrow, but in the mean time…

Trials turn to triumph when you know who’s holding your hand.

Trust Him again today.

No matter what.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st March 2017

Cripple him and you have a Sir Walter Scott.

Lock him in prison and you have a John Bunyan, author of Pilgrims Progress.

Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge and you have a George Washington.

Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln.

Subject him to bitter religious prejudice and you have a Disraeli.

Strike him down with infantile paralysis and you have a Franklyn D. Roosevelt.

Deafen him and you still have a genius composer called Beethoven.

Have him be born black in a society filled with racial discrimination and you have a Martin Luther King, Jr.

Persecute him for his faith and you have an Apostle Paul that wrote two thirds of the New Testament.

If that doesn’t challenge you, consider Benjamin Franklin: at 25, he founded America’s first library. At 31, he started its first fire department. At 36, he designed a heating stove that’s still in use today. At 45, he founded the nation’s first university. At 79, he invented bifocals. He had exactly two years of formal education and yet he wrote and spoke five languages.

As you start out into a brand new day today, ask yourself what excuse do you have for not trying?

And remember: what started out looking like it was really bad, God can turn it around for good, even to saving of many people’s lives.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.