Fresh Hope – 30th June 2017

Just a few days ago, 14 people died from a forest fire that ripped through the tiny village of Varzeas, Portugal.

The area was suddenly engulfed in flames, from what was described by villagers as an ‘inferno’, destroying the area in seconds.

As villagers became aware of what was happening, they started to flee their village in search for safety. Two families in particular managed to get into their cars and make for the main road. Ironically, they never made it, as not only the trees on either side of the road were engulfed, but even the road itself caught fire, killing those that were trying to escape certain death.

The only people that did survive, were those that made the decision to stay put in their homes. It may have seemed like their fate was sealed by doing so, but that one decision led to the survival of all that made that very same choice.

This incredibly sad story leads us to see a parallel in our spiritual lives. There is safety in another kind of home, namely the Church…our spiritual home.

Many people chose to flee the Church when faced with circumstances that threatened their very lives and their faith, not realising that their greatest protection during this time lies in the place from which they are fleeing.

I’ve seen and heard many sad stories over the years, of folk who have decided to run for their lives when depressed, offended, hurt, let down or just feeling the heat of the day, not realising they were fleeing the safe haven of their spiritual home…God’s Church.

If you’re going through the fire today and belong to a ‘life giving’ church, then stay put. If you have not yet found a spiritual home, then I encourage you to do so this very weekend.

Church is just like any family, it’s full of all kinds of people that range from incredibly amazing to incredibly annoying! It’s a family…warts and all. It’s those differences that make it what it is.

Running away from home is what many teenagers and even children do because of immaturity during tough times. No matter what is going on right now, don’t run away from home. God gave it to you for a reason.

Feeling the pull away from God’s house this weekend? Get to Church! Your spiritual life depends on it.

Success begins on Sundays.

championschurch.org.uk. Every Sunday – 9 and and 11.30am.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th June 2017

God calls us each day to a life of obedience without showing us the end result.

I’ve personally found that God will challenge me to do something that I had no plans for whatsoever. I can be starting the day off as normal, and just about to prepare breakfast, when I hear His still small voice asking if I will fast that day. It usually follows with a few questions from myself asking if this is completely necessary and for what reason. This is usually met with silence, not that God doesn’t want to speak, but that He wants to see if I will obey. Sometimes all is revealed that day, but it is often weeks or even months before looking back and finding out why I was called to obey.

There are days when we are all tired of the challenge of getting out of our comfort zone, but no matter how much we whine about it, God’s plan is to stretch us in order for our faith to grow. There’s nothing quite like stretching in order to help strengthen us. I have very stiff hamstrings and I know that at my age, if I don’t keep stretching them several times a week, they will potentially only get worse and never better.

I’m still learning that stepping out into an adventure of obedience, is God’s very best way of stretching us in order to teach us that He’s trustworthy.

It is a well known fact that when a mother eagle knows that her baby eaglets are ready to fly, she starts to dismantle the nest until there is only one option, and that is to get out! She literally pushes them over the edge into a totally unknown experience, knowing that that is what they were created for. They weren’t designed to sit in a nest all day, but to get out there and soar. Those first few moments for them is anything but soaring, but more like flapping for dear life. However, they soon realise that is what they were made for and it becomes the most natural thing in the world.

Feeling like God is ruffling your nest? Good – He’s simply preparing you for your future.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

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.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th June 2017

James Michener said he had a neighbour whose tree had stopped producing apples. So he hammered rusty nails around the trunk and that year he got his greatest crop of apples ever. He said ‘hammering those nails in was a shock to the tree and was a reminder to it that its job was to produce apples.’ Unscientific, maybe, but it worked.

Michener explained how heart bypass surgery, hip surgery and a bout with vertigo were like nails God hammered into the trunk of his life. It got his attention. Realising that he wasn’t going to live forever he got busy, and in five years, he wrote 11 books, including best sellers.

What pain are you going through today? Why not seize it as an opportunity to step up to a new and more productive level in your life?

Losing a job that you felt you were good at can force us to discover untapped talents that we didn’t know we had. The loss of some physical capacity can push us to develop other ways of being an inspiration to others that come our way. Having to let go of some of our material comforts can move us to simplify our lives.

Harold Sala says…’let’s face it, when those rusty nails get hammered in we take notice and our lives become more productive. When you get a ‘wake up’ call from God, it is His way of allowing us to get a jolt to get on with living the life that He has for us.’

Hebrews 12:11-13 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. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th June 2017

The well known Bible character, Joseph, was 30 when he became governor of Egypt. He was 17 when he was sold into slavery. For 13 years he dealt with pain and confusion, maintained both his character and commitment to God, and allowed his trials to make him triumphant.

Jospeh didn’t simply forget what had happened to him by simply pretending that it didn’t, but took positive steps to prevent his past having a hold over his life and his future. God gave Joseph two sons: he named them Manasseh, which means ‘God has made me forget,’ and Ephraim, which means ‘God has made me twice fruitful in the land of my afflictions.’

God helped Joseph overcome the memory of his painful past by naming the things that he would see everyday as reminders of God’s goodness. Everyday that he saw his children, their very names spoke volumes. Forget, and be twice fruitful. The other option would have been to name them ‘remember your pain’ and ‘never move on.’

He still had the memory, but he prospered in spite of it. When you walk with God, the promise before you will be greater than the pain behind you.

Here are five principles that Joseph taught us to live by:

Don’t try to ignore or pretend it never happened. God will give you the grace to handle it, not deny it.

Believe that God will more than make up the time, relationships and opportunities you’ve lost.

List the people that have wronged you. Forgive them and release them to God in prayer. Now tear up that list.

Tell God that you are ready to start over again.

Don’t look back, but keep moving forward into all that God has for you.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th June 2017

When booking a holiday, you do your utmost to find the best possible destination with the budget you have. Why wouldn’t you?

It’s normal to presume the success and enjoyment of that holiday will be based on how good a destination and hotel you manage to book.

Have you ever though, been to a great destination and had amazing weather, but it still wasn’t the best holiday? Maybe the dynamics of the people you went with didn’t quite work, or you yourself were just not in a great place?

Having dreamed and planned the vacation for so long you come home really disappointed and regretting spending so much money on the trip.

How true in life that we can seek success in the best possible destination, i.e. new job, better car, but it doesn’t make us happy because it’s the same us in the new job or car.

‘Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.’

How true this saying is; we’re always looking for the next event to bring us closer but we never seem to arrive. Learn to enjoy and make the most of where you are. Stop focusing on a change in circumstance but a change in your soul!

Luke 17:20-21
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

People have always been waiting for some future event to right the world. We can stop waiting, because the kingdom of God is in our midst.

I encourage you today in whatever your need or future dream is, make sure you’re not missing out on what God has for you right now, today!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th June 2017

The Bible teaches us that obedience brings blessing.
I’ve had to do some things this week that I didn’t feel like doing, or particularly want to do, but I knew that God was asking me to them.
I know that if God asks me to do something, even when I don’t understand it, He will bring blessing into my life because of it.
So thankfully, on both occasions I obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Deuteronomy 28 and verses 1 and 2 tell me that if I obey His commands and follow His ways, then all these blessings will come on me and overtake me.

Wow – if blessings come upon me and overtake me, that means I’m surrounded by blessing!

Blessing isn’t always about money. It can be beautiful sunshine, a good cup of coffee, seeing your children happy, meeting a new baby for the first time, seeing someone get well, getting a bargain from the shops, feeling a great sense of peace.

I want to live a life FULL of God’s blessings. Which means that each day I have to be sure I’m walking in His ways and doing what He asks of me.

It’s quite simple really, isn’t it?

Too many people don’t feel blessed. It’s sad.
God wants to bless us all.

For the best results, follow the maker’s instructions.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd June 2017

EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES.

10 reasons why I don’t wash.

1. I was forced to as a child.

2. People who wash are hypocrites – they think they are cleaner than everybody else.

3. There are so many different kinds of soap, I can’t decide which one is best.

4. I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped.

5. I wash only on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.

6. None of my friends wash.

7. I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.

8. I can’t spare the time.

9. The bathroom is never warm enough.

10. People who make soap are only after your money.

Have you noticed that when we laugh, we become more open to receive something more serious?

Every day, people make lame excuses concerning just about everything. Most of them fortunately don’t have too many serious implications, but some do.

The decision as to whether or not you will step out and fully trust Jesus with the leadership of your life, is the most major and most life changing decision you will ever make. That decision changes everything from the quality of your life right now, to the forgiveness of your past sins, right through to where will you spend eternity.

For many people, they are just one excuse away from surrendering their lives to God, and in a funny sort of way, those excuses usually sound like one of those listed above as to ‘why I don’t wash’!

Isn’t it time today to stop being so underwhelmed by God and allow HI’m to defeat every excuse you have with His very real love that He has for you right now?

Defeat your excuses – decide to follow Jesus.

Jeremiah 31:3 ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd June 2017

‘Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.’ Proverbs 29 v 25

Here are 10 things from my own journey that fear causes.

Fear causes us to reduce the size of God and elevate the size and opinion of man.

Fear causes us to go in the wrong direction – usually backwards.

Fear causes us to stay quiet when we should speak up.

Fear causes us to be passive about an issue that that God has clearly broughy to our attention.

Fear causes us to seek a consensus of opinions, rather than really seeking the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Fear keeps us from engaging with the broken, the hurting, the misfits and the neglected in our community, because we fear they will mess up our lives.

Fear causes us to refuse to embrace change because we care more about being comfortable than being conformed to Christ.

Fear causes us to control things and take matters into our own hands rather than trusting God and trusting others.

Fear causes us to conceal our sin rather than confess our sin.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Fear causes us to seek the easy decision rather than the right one.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st June 2017

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;  through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24 v 3-4).

Like a house, our lives are built brick by brick.

If each brick is made of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, then that house will stand the test of time, however, if that house is built out of any old stuff then you know what’s about to happen. The first time a storm comes to your life, you will collapse and have to start building all over again.

Wisdom comes in many forms; I chose to live by the wisdom of the Bible every day, but I also glean wisdom, knowledge and understanding from people that have successfully built something with their lives. Why would you trust the sayings of someone that’s never built anything?

Here are a few wise sayings that will help you build a successful life…
The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss, it but that we aim too low and reach it – Michelangelo

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty -Sir Winston Churchill.

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people – Peter Marshall

A fool is quick to quarrel…Watch out for quarrellers. Proverbs 20 v 3

You’ve heard it said ‘strike while the iron is hot’, but why wait for the iron to be hot before you strike it…why not strike it until it gets hot -Reinhard Bonnke.

People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be – Pastor Jentezen Franklin.

A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but a certain set of attitudes.

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he were never found out.

The only sure way to avoid criticism, is to do nothing and be nothing.

The truth always outlives a lie.

Happiness relies on happenings, but real joy relies on a real Jesus.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th June 2017

Since last Thursday evening, our lives have been turned upside down.

Early morning and late night phones calls have had to be exchanged.

Extra journeys at inconvient times have been made daily to ensure that life carried on as best as it could, even though to a much lesser degree than before.

Welcome to our world of having both a Mother-in-law and a mouse…or two.

My mother-in-law, Alice, had spotted the first one running across the carpet while she was reading in her lounge on Thursday afternoon. She is petrified of mice and although she could hardly speak on the phone through fear, we did get the message this was nothing more than a tiny little field mouse. To most a cuddly little thing that the cat plays with, but to Alice this was a giant rat.

For five days now, I and others, have had our lives disturbed and dictated to by this tiny little rodent that is cowered in some tiny space, probably laughing at how these huge humans are completely paralysed by its presence.

Rooms have been vacated, and on most days the house itself abandoned, as we have had temporarily housed and fed Alice for fear that she may have a nervous breakdown of sorts.

When you think of this whole scenario, you cannot help think how irrational this is – a tiny mouse takes control of a whole house and several people’s lives too.

How true it is though, that very small things can take over our thinking and create huge implications for our lives.

Little thoughts can be magnified in our minds and render us useless.

Little problems, once mulled over a few times can become insurmountable.

Little words spoken to us in jest can reside in our hearts for months at a time, and little actions that we perceive were personally done against us can bring us down and cause us to lose our way.

The wise words of Solomon make complete sense to everyone that feels the huge destructive weight of a very small problem. This is what he had to say…

Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

He noticed that it was the ‘little’ foxes that ruined the vine.

Often we can handle huge problems because we can identify them much more easily than the little ones that seem to run and hide when we try to tackle them.

What is it that is rendering your day useless? In reality it’s often such a small thing that really YOU should be chasing down and killing off with ease.

Ask yourself this question today: Will the seemingly mountainous problem that I’m facing today be a problem to me in a month or even a weeks time?

If the answer is no, then don’t even give it the attention it’s looking for right now.

Pick yourself up, get back on track and start to live your life again.

Let God be God in your life today and don’t give the devil credit for authority he doesn’t have.

Romans 8:31-39 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th June 2017

Romans 5:8 gives us a window into exactly how God loves people. In a matter of one verse we see the entire gospel (the good news of Jesus) on display.

The apostle Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The word I want to focus on contained within that verse is the word ‘died’. For those of you who are great students of the English language, and for the rest of us who just use Google, you will know that the word ‘died’ is a verb (a doing/action word).

I want us to notice how at the very centre of the demonstration of God’s love is action.

The Bible does not record that God demonstrates His love by telling us that He loves us, but by showing us He loves us.

You see, love cannot only be spoken, it has to be shown. And the way God’s love was shown was through sacrifice.

Now God already made the ultimate sacrifice by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that we don’t have to, but you and I have the opportunity to be sacrificial in someway on a daily basis…

Maybe it’s your time, or your talents, or your resource that you can sacrifice today. Whatever it may be, I want to encourage you to let your love lead to action.

Today, don’t just tell the people in your world that you love them, but do something to demonstrate that love.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 17th June 2017

Here’s a few thoughts to encourage your Saturday.

1. It’s not what you feel, it’s what you know.

If we only ever did what we felt like, we wouldn’t do a lot. I don’t always feel like brushing my teeth, taking a shower or getting out of bed, but it’s what I know to be good and right.
Sometimes we may not feel like God is with us, but He is.
Sometimes we may not feel like He loves us, but He does.
We may not feel like there’s a purpose to our lives, but His purpose is perfect for our lives, as long as we remain faithful.

Don’t always go on feelings, they made lead you up the garden path.
Go on what you know is true.

2. If you don’t learn it, you wont know it.

There’s a saying that says ‘what you learn in the light, you can practise in the dark’. That is saying, that in good times, learn as much as you can, because when you’re in a dark situation, you may have to call on that which you know to be true, to help you through.
But if you haven’t learnt it, you wont know it.

3. Learning often comes the hard way.

Oh yes it does. How often have you said that to your children?
But learning stuff often comes when times are hard.
This is what I’ve learnt through my many years as a Christian. That when I’m going through a tough time, I ask God ‘what should I be learning from this?’ Then if I’m mature, I’ll be happy to be teachable and learn quickly. (If I’m immature, I won’t want to know).

Learning may often come the hard way, but learn we must, If we want to become champions in life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th June 2017

I am convinced that resilience is a major key to achieving your destiny. The real test of who you are is measured by what it takes to discourage you. Some people talk a great game, but then buckle under the slightest pressure. Others function better under stress and pressure.
Pain, in any form is not nice, but it need not be debilitating, or even immobilising.

At 56, I’ve just decided to join my local gym. I’m just learning that body building is built on tearing down muscles through resistance, which sends the body’s healing systems into overdrive to repair and restore the weary muscles. It could well be that your current hurt is the secret to tomorrow’s strength.

There is one other important factor in this area of overcoming pain and hurt. That ingredient is having both the support and concern from and toward those around you. Significant relationships are what empower us to reach past our challenges and move beyond obstacles.

Children run with open arms to a Mom or Dad when they are afraid or hurt. Teenagers tend to hang around the house in order to send a coded message that they need support from you. Grown-ups seek mentors when trying to negotiate life’s challenges that come to us all.

It is in these significant relationships that we receive empowerment to bounce back.

I have personally had a life that was full of set backs, and naturally speaking I would have just given up, but with the support of people and the help of God I have turned each set back into a come back.

Champions Church is a place where you can find such great relationships with very ordinary, yet amazing people. Our Champion life groups exist all over the area with the aim that no one needs to do life alone. We continually make it out theme tune that ‘life is better together’.

If you are finding it hard to bounce back, then I encourage you to find your way to church on Sunday, where you will immediately feel at home as well as becoming part of a growing family.

You can also sign up to a local ‘Champion life group’ by attending Champions church this weekend at 9am or 11.30am.

I look forward to personally meeting you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th June 2017

Jeremiah is one of God’s major spokesmen in the Bible. His role, like any other prophet, was to declare what God wanted to say to a person or to a group in any given situation.

In Jeremiah 20, he is sent to speak to the leader of the temple, and to tell him that he needed to set things straight in God’s house or else. Everyone was doing their own thing and totally disregarding the laws of God.

As Jeremiah brings this strong word, he is rejected and the following day is beaten and chained.

Now you would think that Jeremiah would be really made of strong stuff as he was used to delivering pretty harsh words to bring people back to God, but notice what he says after delivering such words…

Jeremiah 20:7-9 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

It’s what I call the pain of speaking out.

Speaking out on God’s behalf brings with it a very real sense of pain and even insult and reproach at times. You can make a lot of enemies as well as friends for saying what’s right.

Have you ever felt like giving up because your words are seemingly always met with disdain?

Do you feel that the cost of being a mouth piece in this generation is too high?

Jeremiah certainly wanted to just bury his head in the sand and say ‘enough is enough…I’m not opening my big mouth again.’

But no sooner had he said it when he described a feeling of God’s word being like ‘a fire shut up in his bones’. He couldn’t stay quiet, he had to speak out. That is exactly what God had called him to do with his life.

If you feel like quitting from time to time, then jooh the club…you’re normal.
Jeremiah was no different to you or I today. One day you feel like speaking up with boldness and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks and then the next you are totally sidelined with such forceful negativity that you just want to die.

Listen to his further thoughts about his life, after communicating exactly what God wanted him to say…

Jeremiah 20:14-18 Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, ‘A child is born to you – a son!’ May that man be like the towns the Lord overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon. For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged for ever. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?

My friends, take a lesson from Jeremiah’s book; if you speak up, you may well get shot down by others, and if not you may well want to shoot yourself down.

If you can identify with this today, then don’t dismay. They are just feelings, and they will come and they will go. God needs your voice.

Don’t be silenced – speak up!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th June 2017

As I write today, I should be a very happy and blessed man. The reason being is that I have ten trillion dollars sitting right beside me!

It’s actually just one note, and before you ask, its not fake.

It’s real alright, however there are just a couple of problems…it’s in Nigerian dollars, and so its value is not great, but even more to the point is that it’s no longer legal tender. Drat!

It looks impressive, but has no value simply because it can’t be spent today.

That one crisp note speaks volumes about our lives.

Let me ask you a question: are you valuable, but not current?

You can look great, sound great and have everyone falling at your feet, but if your life is not relating to this generation, you cannot be spent by God. You’re just like an ornament that gets everyone’s attention when they walk into the room, but apart from that, you have no usefulness.

You weren’t placed on this planet just to look pretty, but to serve the generation in which you’re alive.

You may be doing all the right things and can’t understand why you are getting little or no results. Could it be that your good intentions and methods are just too outdated?

People often ask the secret of why we have so many people coming to church each weekend. The answer is no secret, but it’s often a surprise to many when they hear what we believe may partly be the answer – BE CURRENT. In the time frame that you’re alive, if you don’t stay current, you will be left behind and lose your usefulness.

I used to love wearing flared jeans that used to drag on the floor. They were so cool and so current…ten years ago. Today if I wore them I’d simply have no respect in the ‘cool’ department.

In the early 1900s, a revival came to Wales. At that time, thousands were swept into the Churches as a spiritual awakening emptied the pubs and clubs.

More than 100 years later, those same packed churches lie dormant and even derelict. Its leaders cannot understand what went wrong, yet the answer is so simple. Because the revival mainly hit the welsh speaking churches, they believed that the welsh language should be revered and still be the only language spoken in those same places of worship. However as the generations came and went, less and less people spoke the welsh language and so the chutches rendered themselves ineffective and irrelevant.

Are you hanging onto what God did in your life in the past, yet have failed to recognise that He wants to do something new today?

I love what it says on king David’s epitaph…

Acts 13:36 ‘Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.’

The key was that he served God in HIS GENERATION.

The modern worship in our church admittedly doesn’t suit everyone, but it’s not meant to. I have to make sure that it’s current in the generation in which I’m serving.

New versions of the Bible may not suit those who prefer the ‘thees’ and the ‘thous’, but my question is not one of what suits me, but one of who does this relate to today?

There’s nothing so sad as being alive and yet living a life that no one understands.

Looking pretty…but cannot be spent?

Find out what God is doing today and simply join in.

Are you valuable and yet not current?

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th June 2017

Continuing from yesterday when we were looking at the life of Daniel, and what happens when we take time to set ourselves apart and really seek God…

4. You will get great favour.
Daniel got many lavish things thrown at his life because he heard from God and helped the King.

Lesson:There will be times that God’s favour is obviously on your life. Don’t be embarrassed by it, just embrace it and be thankful for it. God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11 v 6)

5. You can’t be touched.
Because of some nasty schemes, by some nasty people, Daniel got thrown into the lion’s den. But God shut the mouths of the lions.

Lesson: God will be your protector when you honour Him.

6. God will sort your enemy.
Daniel walked free from the lion’s den and his accusers got thrown in!

Lesson: its not your concern to worry about those who come against you. God will sort it. Every time.
Learn some lessons from Daniel, set yourselves apart to honour God with your life and just see what He will do.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th June 2017

Often there are situations in our lives that don’t seem to ‘shift’.

When Daniel in the Old Testament was faced with a dilemma, he decide to fast and pray. He didn’t want to do what the others did and eat the choice wine and food, he decided to set himself apart, because he was believing for a breakthrough.

Here’s some things that will happen when you do.

1. He came out better than the rest.
He only ate fruit and vegetables and he came out looking healthier and better than all the others. So much so, that everyone noticed. He not only looked better, it says his gift was 10 times better.

Here’s the lesson: when we give up something for God, we’ll come out better than those who didn’t. God always rewards sacrifice.

2. When you earnestly pray, God will answer.
When no one else got the answer to the need, Daniel did! He didn’t panic, stress or say “oh no, what are we going to do?” He just said “guys, we need to pray.”

Here’s the lesson: When you focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. When you focus on Jesus, you get the answer.

3. God reveals stuff to those who seek Him
Yes, Daniel received revelation and answers, all because He had taken time to pray and fast. In this instance, it was the answer to a weird dream that he urgently needed.

Here’s the lesson: when you take time seek God and pray, He will give you the answers you need.

Continued tomorrow….

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th June 2017

We continue our journey from yesterday, as we look at more stories of how God prepared some of the greats in the Bible…

David was anointed king, but it took years of fight and flight to finally claim his God given throne. His faithfulness in the small things meant that he would be ready to step up to his destiny.

Daniel was an exile in Babylon, but was selected for the King’s court. He became the top ruler in the land, but first he had to be delivered from the mouths of the lions.

Peter made a grand proclamation of loyalty to Jesus, just hours before denying even knowing Him. After the resurrection, Peter gave up on the mission and went fishing, but Jesus found him and made him the leader of the first church.

Paul despised Jesus and all Christians. He set out with ferocity to destroy the people of faith, but Jesus met him and completely changed his heart. His passions were totally transformed and he became writer of two thirds of the the New Testament.

We could mention countless others, but we would have to conclude that painful experiences aren’t a mistake in God’s world, even if self inflicted by doubt and sin. Everything gets used by Him to usher us into the very reason for which we were created.

Many years ago, Erwin McManus, world renowned speaker and Pastor of Oasis church in LA, was helping serve behind the scenes at a Christian event organised by is wife. The event drew as many as 20,000 people. Erwin had been there all week and told this wife that he was too tired to go on the final night. After reasoning with her back and forth, she insisted that he should be there albeit under protest. On the way, he decided that he needed some new clothes for the event, so went to a store, but in the rush didn’t check the sizes and didn’t realise til he put them on later that they were all too big. All of a sudden, one of the main organisers came up to him and told him that the speaker for the evening had not been able to come, and felt that he was to ask him to speak. That night, Erwin Macmanus left his behind the scenes position and took to the stage in his oversized clothes to preach to thousands. What nobody knew that night is that the only crowd that he’d ever spoken to before was no more than 50 people.

Just imagine what would have happened, or not as the case may be, if he’d have not pushed through the pain!

God graciously weaves the strands of these experiences into something beautiful – if we’ll let Him.

*with special thanks to Sam Chand over the last 2 days, for insights from his book, ‘Leadership Pain’.

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th June 2017

Throughout the Bible and church history, we see a clear pattern emerging of how God works with people. No matter how gifted they were, God humbled them before He used them.

The humbling process is invariably painful for us, but is completely necessary in order for us to become pliable in the hands of our Creator.

God’s methods may vary of course, but He always manages to get a person’s undistracted attention to teach the most fundamental lessons of trust.

Let’s take a look at a few such examples over the next two days together as we see how God moved in the lives of some of the Bible greats…

God told Noah to build a huge boat on dry ground. The deluge didn’t come for 120 years.Noah had to trust God while all the other people around thought he was crazy.

Abraham was promised that he would be the father of a great nation, but he remained infertile for 25 long years before he and his wife had their son.

Joseph had two dreams that his family would someday bow down to him. His brothers resented his arrogance and their father’s favouritism. He was sold into slavery and ended up betrayed and in a dungeon, But after 17 years, when God saw that the time was right, Joseph was ready to rescue two nations – Egypt and his family.

Moses grew up in the luxury of Pharaoh’s palace. When he realised that he was a Hebrew, he tried to defend a slave by killing an Egyptian. He spent 40 years in the backside of nowhere before becoming a mighty deliverer.

Elijah saw God perform one of the great miracles of the Bible, calling down fire from Heaves to consume the water drenched sacrifice on mount Carmel. He then destroyed 500 false prophets. However, he then became so fearful because of just one demonised woman named Jezebel, that he fled for his life and became deeply depressed. In the depths of his despair, God met him.

Please join me again tomorrow for more stories of how God prepared some of the Bible greats.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th June 2017

Matthew (not his real name) had been married for five years when his marriage began to struggle.

He was a committed Christian and so he took his concerns to the Lord and asked him to supernaturally infiltrate his circumstances.

While searching the scriptures, Matthew was reminded of how God had given His life for him even when he didn’t deserve it. He knew God was asking him to love his wife in the same way he was loved by God – unconditionally and completely.

Matthew asked God to allow him to see his wife through the eyes of Jesus and after his time of praying, he started to notice a change. His wife was the same, his marriage was the same, but he was different. God’s voice had changed him. He saw his wife in a brand new way. 35 years later, this couple testified to the changing power of God’s word.

Often when things in our lives start to change for the better, we attribute the transformation to something other than God’s voice, as we assume that all our hard work has paid off, yet in reality, when we see things changing, we should consider that God has been moving on it all along.

If you’ve written off your situation, then start to pick up the pieces in prayer and allow God to have the final say in the matter. You never know, you may be surprised at the outcome.

One word from God can change your life forever.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th June 2017

Most of the time we don’t need to be told things for the first time, we just need to be reminded of things that we already know.

Think of a child being told to brush their teeth. They are literally told the same message hundreds of times during their formative years before it becomes part of their daily lives. They know what to do everyday, but just to be reminded.

Because my wife knows I can be forgetful, she will repeat the same things (much to my annoyance) every day. When I’m left to lock up the house, she will ask me if I’ve locked the house, even though we have been married for 33 years!

Living the Christian life is often one of being reminded about things, even more than receiving an amazing fresh revelation everyday.

As you read through Romans 12:10-12, 15-16 you will notice some very powerful reminders on how to live a great life.

I’ve broken the verses into 12 statements that you can easily take on board as you launch into this week…

1) Be devoted to one another in love.

2) Honour one another above yourselves (treat other people how you would like to be treated)

3) Never be lacking in zeal, (energy passion enthusiasm) but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.

4) Be joyful in hope, (happy about waiting).

5) Patient in affliction, (patient when things are not turning out right).

6) Faithful in prayer. (Never give up on believing).

7) Rejoice with those who rejoice; (be happy for others when things are going good).

8) Mourn with those who mourn. (Be compassionate with those when things are going bad).

9) Live in harmony with one another. (Don’t be the one singing out of tune).

10) Do not be proud.

11) Be willing to associate with people of low position (be a friend to the little man).

12 Do not be conceited. (Vain, egotistical and self centred).

We are all appalled again at the level of attack that our country has come under over the last few days. Let’s all make a decision today that we will fight back with love and by becoming the very best people that we can be.

Matthew 5:43-45 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…’
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th June 2017

Almost 11 million people in the UK tuned in on Sunday night to watch the Ariana Grande ‘One Love Manchester’ concert.

Once again our beloved nation rose to its feet to overcome evil by doing something positive. Ariana Grande may not be your cup of tea, but at 23 she made a decision to not just sit back and do nothing and turned a massive negative into massive positive for the nation. People from around the globe tuned in to see how we would once again react to the demoralising and demonised religious maniacs that have tried once again to take us down.

In the midst of this, who would have thought that a young Justin Bieber, would become a humble spokesman for the living God.

Whilst the world has been focusing on the radicalisation of young men for evil, God was quietly preparing this particular young man to take the centre stage on Sunday in order to speak out that our GOD IS GOOD.

Some will have thought it nice, whilst others will have been shocked or even offended for him to speak about such things, but unbeknown to many, Justin Bieber has been going through a radical transformation all of his own…a transformation to Jesus. Yes, this kind of transformation is radical too, but instead of being filled with a message of hate, he is filled with a message of hope; it is a million miles in the opposite direction to what many are seeing on our streets as religious fanaticism.

Who would have thought a few years ago that this wayward 23 yr old would be given the platform to speak about a God of Love to millions? Yet we should not just brush it off as something easy to do in front of a watching and highly sensitive world. He CHOSE to stand up and be counted. All of his mentors would be proud of him and so should we. Who better to convey the message of the Bible than this pop icon himself?

The only question remains, is not one of do you agree, but one of where, when and in front of who, will you stand today?

You don’t need to be famous, in fact you can just be plain foolish by all accounts…but God so wants to use you today.

The question then is are you willing?

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th June 2017

The resurrection of Jesus is of course an astounding miracle…God raises His Son from the dead after being in a tomb for three days. It doesn’t get any better than this.

I then began to think to myself, ‘why after performing such a phenomenal miracle, would God chose to leave the holes in Jesus’ hands, created by the nails that were driven through as He was hung to the cross? Surely God could’ve amended that issue…?’

But I think God knew something when He made that very intentional decision, and that is, what your words cannot show people, your scars will.

It is possible that you yourself have some scars. Maybe you’ve been broken and life has dealt you some pretty tough blows. What you need to know is that God can heal you and God can resurrect you, but often He chooses to allow the scars to remain, so that other people may see Him through them.

You see, God is not always found in your success, but He’s often found in your scars.

It amazes me that the very thing we would hide away, God chose to put on display.

And today, you may be embarrassed or even ashamed of your brokenness, but I want to encourage you that God has a plan for your scars. It is through your brokenness that God wants to reveal Himself, it is through your hurt that God wants to give other people hope, it is through your scars that God wants to set other people free, that they might recognise, if God brought them through it, He can bring me through it too.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 3rd June 2017

Did you know that studies show that 85% of us are wearing shoes that don’t fit correctly. Can you believe that?!

Some of us wear shoes that aren’t the right ones for our outfit, some wear shoes that don’t suit us, or are bad for our feet and some of us wear shoes that went out of fashion with the ark.

Our purpose in life is a lot like our shoes.
Some of us are still wearing some that we wore many years ago and are afraid to try new ones.
Some of us only wear slippers, because they’re comfy and we only want to be comfortable.
Some of us only wear training shoes, because life is all about playing and maybe we don’t take anything too seriously.
Some of us only wear black lace-up brogues, because everything is too serious.
Some of us only wear flip-flops because life is like one big holiday, where we have no responsibilities.

God wants us to live a life that is not like the one we lived years ago. He has something new for us every day.

He wants us to get out of our comfort zone and experience new adventures with Him.
Some of us need to understand that God has a great work for us to do, and whilst its good to play, we also have to work hard.
Some of us need more fun in our lives and to stop being so serious all the time. Be more serious about God and less serious about yourself.
Some of us need to understand that the purpose God has called us to is great and we have a responsibility to fulfil it.
To run this race called life and run it effectively, you need to make sure your shoes are correct. What are yours like today?
‘So let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us RUN with perseverance the race marked out for us.’

Check your shoes today and maybe go out and get some new ones.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd June 2017

One of my pet frustrations is with people that don’t text back. I just don’t understand how a person can completely ignore a message.

Now, there are those that text back immediately. There are those that text back later. There are those that text back within a week, and then there are those that don’t text back at all. (Maybe they didn’t get the text of course).

In my days of growing up, there were very limited ways in which to communicate with each other; most of the time it was by letter. If you remember those days then you will remember what it felt like to apply for a job or write a love letter, and then have to endure the long wait. Part of the excitement was in the waiting, but part of the major disappointment was in never receiving a reply. It made you feel worthless.

It’s just the same today, apart from the timing that is. Instead of waiting for days or weeks, we now have to wait for minutes or hours.

When I don’t get a text back, I’m prone to think thoughts like…’have I offended them…don’t they like me anymore…am I a nuisance…or worst still…am I so unimportant to them that I’m just worthy of being ditched altogether?’

The reality is, we have no idea what’s going on in their minds or their worlds for that matter, at the time. We are left either guessing or having to have the courage to ask point blank.

No matter how our way of life has dramatically changed over the years, thankfully God hasn’t. He still hears and He still answers.

The purpose of communicating with God in prayer, is not to ascertain whether or not He likes us, as judged by His immediate response or by His silence, but to bring us into a close relationship with HI’m. His silence brings about a more mature love as He draws us towards Himself, and is often more effective in doing so than an immediate ‘text back’.

Maybe some people are forgetful or just plain rude, but God never is. Your questions, prayers and concerns are immediately received and attended to…you just may not feel it at the time.

God is never too busy and He’s never too late – but He may not be early either.

Always remember when praying, that NO is an answer. WAIT is a much needed answer, and is often far more of a blessing long term than an immediate YES.

Feeling like you’re not getting a text back?

God is onto it right now…you may however have to sit tight for the answer.

It will be worth it.

Hebrews 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Philippians 4:5-7 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st June 2017

A few days ago, I asked to see a young man. I sent the message via someone that knew him well, as I didn’t have a contact for him. My reason for seeing him was simply to ask him an important question.

It wasn’t many hours later that I was face-to-face with him, however I was concerned as to why he seemed really nervous. He immediately launched into the conversation by asking if he was in trouble or had done or said something wrong. It became obvious that he had been fearing the worst. It took me a few minutes to reassure him that is was merely an important question that I needed to ask him, and had no negative connotations aimed at him at all. He’d simply jumped to the conclusion that it must be bad news.

Interestingly, a couple of days later I had someone come and tell me that a couple wanted to come to my house to talk to myself and Gillian; I was now on the other side of being the slightly concerned and nervous one.

I was asking myself questions like…’why hadn’t they told me direct that they wanted to see us? Why the urgency? Why do they need to come to my home? What could possibly be so bad that they want to see us without warning?’

As I thought through any number of things that it could be, the very last thing on my list was that they could be bringing us good news.

As they arrived on the doorstep and were welcomed through to sit with us in the garden, it became apparent from their huge smiles that this was to be anything but bad news, in fact they were having their first baby, and wanted us to be among the first to know.

Throughout my life, I’ve come to realise how much time has been spent believing that I’m going to be on the receiving end of potential bad news that’s going to come my way. How many times have the kids been late coming home and I’ve believed the worst, or how many times has my phone rang late at night believing it to be bad news? It appears that we live in a world that has conditioned our minds to always think the worst.

One of God’s promises to you today is about this very thing…

Psalm 112:6-8 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

If you are one of those people that wakes and lives in fear of what’s lurking around the corner every day, then you need to hold this promise close to your heart every day and begin to believe for the best.

That visitor that is about to arrive on your doorstep, may well be bringing to some wonderful news.

Stop fearing what may be, and start enjoying the goodness of our God.

His promise is to give you a steadfast heart everyday, if you’ll simply place your trust in Him.

Today…is a to be a good day.

Today…is to be a GOD day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.