Fresh Hope – 31st Aug 2017

Australia has salt water crocodiles that weigh well over one tonne, whose heads alone weigh over 30 stone. In India, over 100 people each year are killed by Bengal tigers that tip the scales at over 35 stone. While the grizzly bears of Canada when standing on their hind legs stand over 9 feet tall!

The largest carnivore in the UK?

The badger!
They can weigh as much as two and a half stone.  It’s never killed anyone but it can administer a nasty nip.

That sums up life in England – safe and comfortable!

Now forget tigers and bears, there is nothing more dangerous and life threatening than being comfortable.

Comfort single handedly destroys hopes and dreams whilst at the same time being the enemy of progress, achievement and success. We can easily think that doubt and fear is the enemy of faith, but not at all, doubt and fear are vital for faith, comfort on the other hand is all we need to stop us stepping out in faith.

Satan loves us to be comfortable, sedated and harmless.

In Philippians 2:12, Paul encourages the church to ‘continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling!’

He doesn’t mean to live in fear of losing your salvation or having to earn it, but he’s saying if it’s true that Jesus is the ‘way the truth and the life’ then work out what that actually means in your life, in your family and in your finances.

Basically Paul is saying ‘don’t be comfortable’ in your approach to life as a Christian.

One problem we have is that the antidote to comfort is often the trials and challenges we face. The life saving treatment that can wake us from a deadly slumber is often what we tend to moan about and try to avoid at all costs. But God uses our circumstances to shape, wake and move us.

I encourage you today, evaluate your approach to your Christian life. Are you laid back and comfortable or do you live with the life and death in recognition of the significance of who you are in him and what you can achieve?

We live in a very physically blessed country that is in desperate need of the church to wake it up from its comfort to the amazing reality of Jesus Christ. Let’s wake up today and stir those around us, you are more significant than you know.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th August 2017

There’s a story in the Bible known as the parable of the talents where a master entrusts three of his servants with his wealth before he goes away for a certain period of time. To one servant, he entrusts five talents, to the second, he entrusts two and to the third, he gives one.

Upon the master’s return, he discovers that the first two servants have doubled his investment, but the third servant buried his in the ground and therefore saw no multiplication attached to it.

This story is a reflection of us and God. He is the master and we are His servants. I began to see that maybe the talents in this story are not simply a representation of money, but of people. After all, God’s greatest wealth is you and I…

You see, everyday we are entrusted with people. Some of us have influence over more than others, but whether it be one or 1000, God has made you responsible for somebody.

It’s so easy to be like the third servant and decide to bury people in the ground. The reason being is that we don’t see potential in them and don’t think they could ever grow beyond who they currently are.

But I want to encourage you today to be like the first two servants, who saw great potential in what they had been entrusted with.

Who has God placed in your world that you need to take care of, that you need to invest in, that you need to speak life over? Because when you do those things, watch how God will bring multiplication into their life and yours like never before.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 29th August 2017

‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’
1 Thessalonians 5:18

We all have a bit of a crisis plan, don’t we? Have you prayed a panic prayer? I know I have. We know what to do when things go wrong. However, I’ve been thinking about what we do when we’re in seasons of abundance; work is amazing, your marriage is the best it’s ever been, you’re seeing a record number of breakthroughs etc.

I don’t know about you but when I feel as though everything is going right, I praise God for it and go on with what I’m doing.

Today, I’m challenging us to take a slightly different approach. I wonder how our circumstances would look, if we really opened them up to God. It’s easy to shut God out of areas of our lives where we feel that everything is just right and there’s nothing more He can do for us. We say things like “it just doesn’t get better than this.” Or “I don’t need God to bless that more than He has. I don’t want to be greedy.”
Let me remind you that God has a limitless supply of whatever it is you need. Don’t let contentment trick you out of seeing God do more in your life.

Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
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See the word ‘generations’ in that verse? There’s always more to your blessings than just you. Let’s start to imagine and believe for greater today. God is able.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th August 2017

In some parts of Mexico, hot and cold springs are found side-by-side. Local women often boil their clothes in the hot springs and then rinse them in the cold springs. Recently, a tourist said to her guide, “these people must think that nature is amazing to supply them with hot and cold water side by side, all free of charge.” The guide replied, ” not really, they grumble because it doesn’t provide the soap too; and not only that they have heard that there are machines that do this kind of work in other parts of the world!”

Contentment isn’t getting what you want, it’s enjoying what you’ve got.

If you want to be miserable, focus on what others have and forget what God’s given you. Comparing will always leave you feeling left out, rejected or short changed. If you don’t put the brakes on your negative emotions, you will become bitter and critical. Comparison is the biggest joy killer in anyone’s life. An entire generation died in the old Testament because they were complainers. They went round and round in circles and never entered the promised land, whereas those with an attitude of gratitude enjoyed every moment of it.

How has your attitude been these days?

Hasn’t God been good to you?

Where would you be today without him?

Before you go a step further today check your attitude, and then spend some time giving thanks to God.

Remember: attitude determines altitude.

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th August 2017

In the Old Testament, we read about Abraham.
The story of Abraham reminds me of how we should trust God.

We read how God called him to a new place. He called him to a brand new start and He called him into the unknown.
Maybe God is calling you to something new, maybe He is calling you to something that is unknown for you. Know this: if God is calling you, then you don’t need to worry or fear.
God has a great plan for you. TRUST HIM.

We read how God promised him a son.
Unfortunately, Abraham waited a long time and because it didn’t happen in his time frame, he took matters into his own hands. (This can be dangerous).
God will always turn up with His promise, even if it’s later than you expected. Be encouraged from Abraham’s life.
God always fulfils His promises. TRUST HIM.

We read how God then asked Abraham to give up his only son. Yes, the son that he had waited years for!
This was a great test. Huge.
Maybe God is testing you right now, maybe He’s asking you to do something that’s a sacrifice. Whenever God does, He always has a reward for obedience. He always has blessings in store.
God was just testing Abraham and sometimes He tests us. TRUST HIM.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 25th August 2017

One of the greatest desires of the human heart is to be part of a team. We want a squad of champions around us!

I’ve never met an emotionally healthy person who doesn’t want friends or that sense of family. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’d really like to figure out this tough situation all on my own without love and support please.”

God designed us to crave community. As a teacher I once underwent some training on how to recognise if our students have been groomed for radicalisation. When you get to the essence of the radicalisation of young people, it is really a young person looking for a sense of belonging. They want to be a part of something, even if it is a distorted version of community. It is the same with gang culture. At our very essence, we are not designed to do life on our own – we crave being a part of something.

We need team mates, community, people encouraging us, leading us, showing us the way, and in turn, we are wired to want to invest into others, and make a difference for someone else.

A few years ago I was in church service in America. It was just a week before Christmas and the pastor asked any single mothers who wouldn’t be having Christmas unless God provides to stand up. All across the congregation single mothers stood up. Without any force from the pastor, more than half of the church (of about 1000 people), pulled out their wallets and went over to the standing single Moms, and handed them piles upon piles of cash. As the sobbing mothers took the offerings, I was overwhelmed with this powerful picture of community. It was such a profound moment for me. This was a true picture of family and community. Actively looking after each other, a heart to meet each other’s needs, and championing them in life. We are designed to figure out life with other people.

What is the opposite of teammates? Competitors.

Competition with those around us violates our God-given design. We aren’t made to ride solo and be in it for ourselves. We are made for family. We aren’t made to win and make ourselves look good so others feel bad, we are made to inspire, to lead and encourage others to win in life too!

There is life-changing power in a community where we look after one another’s needs instead of merely thinking about our own.

This is what we are made for.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th August 2017

Proverbs 12:2 ‘Good people obtain favour from the Lord…’

Today God wants to give you great favour.

When was the last time you expected God to bless and favour you?

No matter where I go, I fully expect God to favour my life.

Being the forgetful person I can be at times, I got to the checkouts in the supermarket the other day and realised that not only had I forgotten my credit card but into the bargain I had no cash in my wallet either. All the items had already gone through the checkout and a long line of people were waiting behind me. For a few seconds, I was embarrassed and flustered as to what I should do, but then I reminded myself that I should trust God for His favour right there and then.

As I looked up, I recognised a lady walking through the shop and after a brief conversation about my dilemma, she not only came to my rescue with her credit card, but insisted on paying for my shopping in full and refused to have me give her the money back at a later date!

Here are some of the things that may prompt you to trust God in one or all of these areas:

– Doors to open supernaturally for me

– Promotion and success in my workplace

– Restoration of everything that the enemy has stolen from me

– Honour, in the midst of adversity

– Increase in land and mortgages paid off

– Greater victories in the midst of greater impossibilities

-Recogniton, even when you seem to be the most unlikely person to succeed.

– Prominence and preferential treatment

– Petitions granted to you even by ungodly civil authorities and councils

– Policies, rules and regulations to be overturned to your advantage

– Battles won in which you won’t even have to fight.

Stop speaking negative outcomes over your life and start today to believe that God is on your side and is about to give you favour.

Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me…He has sent me to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd August 2017

With whatever you’re currently experiencing in your life, you need to know this – it is either God sent or God used.

God is a good God and everything that He does has to be in alignment with who He is. Therefore, whatever comes into your life that is good, you can trust it’s from God.

However, the reality is that not everything that we experience in life is good. But don’t think that that means it’s out of God’s control… He might not have sent it, but He can still use it!

Romans 8:28 says, “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.”
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You need to know that what was meant for your harm, God is going to work together for your good. Nothing you’re currently faced with is out of His control, and He will have the final say over it.

Today, you can live from a position of rest and confidence, knowing that everything in my life has either been sent by God or is going to be used by God, and therefore, all we do is win…

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd August 2017

“It is better to be poor and honest than to be foolish and tell lies” (Proverbs 19:1 NCV).

God does not bless dishonesty. Proverbs 16:11a says, “The Lord demands fairness in every business deal” (TLB). That includes wages, salaries, and taxes. If you want God’s blessing on your finances, you must be honest about them. The Bible also says, “It is better to be poor and honest than to be foolish and tell lies” (Proverbs 19:1 NCV).

Why is this an important principle? When you’re going through a season of financial stress, the temptation is enormous to toss out your integrity and to cheat in order to make ends meet. It may mean you shade the truth on a sale or exaggerate or deflate the value of something. It may mean you claim a false deduction on your taxes. You always lose in the long run when you lose your integrity. And that’s what you are taking to Heaven — your character, not your money. You always lose when you give up your integrity.

The Bible says in Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it” (NIV). Profit that is made dishonestly brings trouble with it. Why? If you rip off people, other people are going to rip you off. If you cheat — including the government — you’re going to get cheated in life. What you sow, you will reap.

This decision to be honest in your finances is not something you make once for all. It’s a daily decision. You’re going to be tempted to lie. Sometimes honesty costs you. Have you learned that? Sometimes it costs to tell the truth on a form.

But God says that if you’re faithful to him in this, you’ll never have to worry about your financial needs.

By Rick Warren
A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st August 2017

When God asks you to do something extraordinary, it’s because He wants to do something extraordinary.

Several years ago, I was preparing to travel to a church on the south coast of England where I had been invited to speak at a midweek service. A day or so beforehand I heard the Holy spirit speak clearly to me these words…”whatever they give you when they take up an offering for you is not to be touched by you. It’s for that couple you know that has no money. Send it straight to them. Do not touch it yourself.”

It was very clear what I had to do, and if I’m honest I thought it was a very simple thing for me to do. After all, the church was pretty small and I knew that anything they gave me would probably just cover the fuel to get there and back.

“No big deal”… I kind of said back to God, inside my head.

The evening at the church went well and as I was leaving I was given an envelope with the largest amount of cash that I’d ever received for speaking. I looked down and saw a total written on the outside of the enevelope…£350! ‘Oh drat’, I thought as I was trying to sound grateful. I had needs myself back at home and now I’m about to send the whole amount to a couple I hardly know. Part of me was mildly annoyed, but every bit of me knew that this was a step of obedience that I had to take.

As I got in the car to leave, the pastor hurriedly handed me a further envelope and gave me strict orders from the person that had given it to him. “This must not be given away…it’s yours.”

It was just after midnight when I got home and in a cynical and tired manner I began to think about sending the largest gift ever in the post the next morning. I found myself musing over the other envelope and began to think about what was potentially in there. A gift of maybe £10 or even £20, but whatever it is, it’s probably not even going to be anywhere near what I’m just about to give away. I admit, I was completely down sizing God’s ability to meet my needs after taking such a chunk of money off me when I most needed it for my own family.

You can imagine my surprise, not to mention my remorse for thinking such thoughts, when I found myself staring at a cheque for £2000!

When God asks you to sow the seed you have, He’s setting you up for a harvest that’s on its way to you.

Don’t be afraid today to obey God, nor should you be afraid to give him everything you have. He knows exactly what He’s doing. Never doubt it – just do it.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th August 2017

I have always been an impatient person. I like things done now. But I also like things done right.

After being married to my wonderful husband (who happens to be a great chef) for 33 plus years, I know that good things take time. I know that if i want a great meal, or even a good one, I have to be patient and wait.
Microwave and instant are not favourites in our house when it comes to food or drinks. I don’t like microwaved food or pot noodles or instant coffee. I much prefer to wait (even though it’s hard at times) and get something worth waiting for.

So why is it, that it’s any different when it comes to God?

Good things take time. GREAT things take longer.
Breakthroughs don’t always happen overnight.
To get a break through, you have to ‘break through’. Yes, I do know that God can suddenly do something, but usually it takes time.

There will be a resistance to your breakthrough from the enemy of your soul. That’s why we have to be people of prayer, pushing through, being persistent AND patient.

So keep praying, keep believing and even make fasting a part of your life style and in doing so, see your life go from good to GREAT this year and see and experience God doing some amazing things in and through you.

The best my friends is yet to come.

Ephesians 3. 20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th August 2017

The human heart – we don’t see it, but if it stopped, we would drop dead!

In the scriptures “the heart” is mentioned over a thousand times. This isn’t talking about the physical heart actually, it’s talking about the spiritual heart – the centre of emotional, intellectual and moral activity.

I’m guessing if God mentions our heart that often– it might be important in life. In fact scripture says, ‘…all life flows from the heart.’ That means that how I think, how I feel and all my values for living life start in the heart. That’s a big deal! So anything negative that gets into my heart will directly influence how my life looks! Equally, anything positive that I feed in, will directly influence how my life looks!

A few years ago I went to New York city around Christmas time and my parents gave me some money to purchase a piece from the jewellery shop, Tiffany and Co. on 5th Avenue. I treated myself to a necklace with a heart pendant. I wore this piece almost everyday for three years. I intended to pass it on to my daughter one day. It was precious to me and held sentimental value. Recently, I lost that heart necklace. I was using a changing room in a local shopping centre and it hasn’t been seen since! Naturally, I was so upset.

I felt God tell me something in the process of trying to find it. How much more should we value and protect our spiritual heart and be careful not to lose it?

Scripture says we have been given a new heart through God, but it still interacts with a world that tries to tell it how to think and feel and live. We need to be vigilant and intentional about protecting it. If I have something as precious as a heart in which all life flows from, I would want to guard it like a royal jewel! I would want to protect it, check it, only let the good stuff in, figure out what makes it sing and fight to make sure nothing taints it!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th August 2017

Mark 11:24-25 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’

I read these verses 40 years ago. At that exact moment I decided that if God were God and the Bible true, then I would dare to believe what was said.

I started out by taking tiny steps of faith. In fact it seems almost nothing now, but I well remember asking God to supply my need of £5! It was a seemingly small step, but it was a very real need to me then. I re-read the Bible verse again to check that I’d read it correctly and yes…I was to ask, believe and then receive.

That day, I simply brought my need to God and then thanked Him for providing my need. Within a day or so, I was holding my answer to prayer in my hand. An old couple that I visited that day called me back as I was leaving their house and insisted on giving me a £5 note. My faith grew stronger and I started to trust God for more. Faith is just like a muscle; it has to be used and stretched in order to grow stronger.

I didn’t realise that all those years ago that I would be called upon by God to trust Him for so much more. The next challenge was to trust Him for thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, and today as I write, I have been privileged to be able to trust Him for millions. Please understand, that none of this was to line my own pockets; I was simply to believe so that the finance could flow to me so that it could flow through me.

If you’ve never believed that God is able to provide for you and through you then make a decision to start right now.

I find that having specific prayer targets is the most helpful thing that I’ve ever done in helping me to pray. I write things in a prayer diary and will pray for them each week until I see the answer. On some occasions, I’ve prayed for more than four years for something before seeing an answer. The key is to never give up.

Right now I have a prayer list of more than 35 items on it. Each one is broughy to God in prayer on a regular basis. Sometimes daily and sometimes weekly.

The list contains people’s names, impossible situations, my children and grandchildren, my church and even myself. I pray about specific things and never leave things to just vague requests. Right now I’m trusting God (again) for a million pounds so that we can move forward in building the children’s annexe at the church.

I find that most people run out of things to say after they’ve prayed for a few minutes. That’s usually because they haven’t started to make lists of requests in order to bring them to God each day.

Always remember that the biggest reason for unanswered prayer is un-prayed prayer.

Start to make your list of requests today. You may only have one or two things to ask for right now, but that list will soon grow and before long you’ll be praying for 20 minutes and more.

Unsure as to whether you should ask?

Philippians 4:6-7 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 – 16th August 2017

There’s rarely a day goes by, but that I start it with a good half hour in what I call my ‘quiet time’. I get up early, make a cup of tea and sit in the same seat. On one side of me I have my Bible and on the other I have my prayer list. That list is filled with requests for people and situations, as well as my own needs, that of our family and of course our church.

Some people would consider it a waste of time so early in the morning. They prefer to use it lying longer in bed and then racing around, getting themselves ready for work; but I know from more than 30 years of doing this that my life would not be the same if I didn’t spend my first moments with Jesus.

If you think of life like a merry -go -round, then you are not too far away from what each day feels like when it gets going. Taking a few moments with God, before the ride starts, sets you up properly for the day. You may well wake up some days frustrated, tired, bored, confused, annoyed, anxious, and even at odds with yourself, and yet in this few quber moments you can lay it all out before God and realign your life as to what really matters and find peace even in the midst of the worst storm.

I like to read the Bible as if it were a three course meal; It feeds me spiritually before the day starts. I read it through consecutively, so that I don’t just randomly stumble on something that takes my fancy each morning. I’ll read a little from the Old Testament as my starter; then a little from the New Testament as my main course; then a little from Psalms or Proverbs as my dessert, washed down with spending a few moments with God in prayer.

I find that diet to be tried and trusted; one that will help form a daily habit in keeping you not only well balanced, but well nourished too.

In just the same way that your physical and emotional health is important, then so is your spiritual health, in fact, it’s more important in that you are involving and including God in your every move. If anyone can help you…He can.

If your life is out of control from the moment you wake, then why not make a decision starting right now to plan for a ‘quiet time’ each day?

Set your alarm clock for tomorrow morning just 30 minutes earlier and start the day with Jesus.

Join me again tomorrow morning for more practical hints on how to pray and see answers everyday.

Psalm 46:10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th August 2017

You’ll never see an eagle mixing with a chicken. Why? Because they weren’t meant to. Chickens can’t get very far off the ground and yet eagles are the ones who fly the highest.

Yesterday, we talked about how God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours.
Here are some positive steps that will help you to get higher in your life.

1. As an eagle and chicken weren’t meant to mix, there are possibly some people you need to let go of too. Certain relationships can keep us where we are not meant to be.
The right people will take you higher.

2. Jesus often went to high places to pray. Why? Because He needed to be alone and get away from the crowd. Take time to get alone and pray. Prayer will take you higher.

3. When you spend time alone with God, He will start to reveal His plan for your life. That will get exciting and maybe even scary at times. But His plans will aim us to reach higher.
Get some purpose in your life. Purpose will take us higher.

4. Don’t give up. Don’t settle for second rate living and a second rate experience. God has some awesome plans for you. His word tells me that he has an abundant life planned just for me. (John 10 v 10) Persistence will take you higher.
With prayer comes purpose.. with purpose you’ll need persistence … and with the right people in your life, you’re aiming HIGH.
GO FOR IT.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th August 2017

In Isaiah 55 vs 8&9, it tells me this: “God’s ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than mine.”
Which means there must be a higher way of thinking than how I usually think and a higher way of doing things than how I usually do them.

The longer that I’ve been a Christian, the more I realise that where I am today in my life is actually up to me.
Thinking makes up a large part of your life.

“As a man thinks, so he is.” – Proverbs 23 v 7

“You are what you think” is a popular quote.
God’s thinking is higher and He wants yours to be too.
Start to understand that there is a higher way for you to reach for, believe for, attain to and experience.

You may not feel that you are reaching for higher things, because your life is way down low at the moment and it seems too hard to get anywhere higher. One small thought can make a BIG difference. Start to declare positive things over your life, even if you can’t see it happening right now. Start thinking and saying “It will and can be different.”

God doesn’t control our thinking – we all have free will, so choose to think differently today. And when you do, your life will start to change also.

You may be faced with a sick child, a huge bill you can’t pay, a difficult person in your life, no hope of a job, a problem you can’t seem to solve. Don’t think how you used to, how you always have, but think bigger and differently today.

Change your mind and change your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th August 2017

Everyone has a plan and purpose for their lives.. It’s a God given plan. Yet, we all have free will as to whether we choose to live it out or not.
God is the one who made us, whether you believe that or not, He did. He knows you better than you know yourself and HIS plan for you is IDEAL. He is your Maker.

You can buy a new car and totally ignore the manufacturer’s instructions if you’d like. You can try putting Coca Cola in the fuel tank, instead of petrol or diesel, but you won’t get very far. Because the maker knows best.
It’s like that, with the life God has planned for you.

Some time ago, I went to speak to a group of women who had in the world’s eyes ‘made a mess of their lives’. Some had made mistakes that had life altering effects on them. Yet, the beautiful thing was, they had all got one thing in common – they had realised their mistakes and returned to ‘The Maker’s Instructions’. Each one had devoted their lives to God and now it was as if their lives were brand new. They were living out purposeful and rich lives.

You see, God isn’t fazed by where you’ve been and what you’ve done. He welcomes your return with open arms.

The sooner you realise that God’s plan is actually perfect, the sooner you can live fulfilled and purposeful.

Refer to the Maker’s instructions.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th August 2017

Hebrews 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

There are two kinds of people that you will meet in life: confidence-makers, and confidence-shakers.

Which are you?

The story is told of a man who sold hot dogs on the road side. He was hard of hearing, so we had no radio. He had poor eyesight so he didn’t read the newspaper. But his hotdogs were great. He Put up signs on the side of the road advertising them everyday and people came from everywhere. Eventually he branched out, became prosperous and was able to send his son to College.
Unfortunately, his son came back with just enough education to make him dangerous. One day he said, “Dad, haven’t you heard the radio or read the newspaper? There’s is a big recession. The stock market is down, unemployment is up, things in Europe are terrible and it’s getting worse every day.”

Whereupon the man thought, “well, my son’s been to college. He reads the papers and listens to the radio-he ought to know. “So he cut down his meat and bread roll orders, took down the signs and no longer bothered to stand out on the roadside. Overnight his sales fell and within a month he was out of business. “You’re right,” he told his son, “we certainly are in the middle of a big recession. ”

Be careful! The words of confidence-shakers can become self-fulfilling prophecies if you buy into them.

So how do you overcome them?

Firstly, read the Bible and let it strengthen your faith and resolve for the things that God has asked you to do with your life, And second, remember that there will always be confidence – shakers, so make sure you surround yourself with confidence-makers.

Whether you believe you can or you can’t – you’re right!

Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’

 

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th August 2017

Hebrews 10:35-37 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’

What are you believing God for today? Healing? Relationship? Promotion? Freedom from addiction? God has promised all these things to you in His word. He wants you to live in blessing and wholeness all the days of your life. But in order to experience his promises, we have to do our part. We have to keep believing and trusting in him. That’s what today’s verse is saying: if we will keep in faith, if we will keep believing and trusting in Him, if we will keep doing the right thing, Gods promises will be there as a reward. I like how one translation of the Bible puts it, “Don’t get discouraged. Pay day is coming.”

When you’re tempted to get down, when things aren’t going your way, just say to yourself, “this may be hard, it may be taking a long time, but I know God is a faithful God. I’m going to keep believing because my reward is coming.”

Today as you trust Him and stand in faith, and as you boldly declare His promises you are positioning yourself to receive his blessing. No matter what your circumstances look like, remember payday is on its way – and you will experience the blessing He’s promised all the days of your life!

2 Corinthians 1:20 ‘
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th August 2017

There was a time not too long ago in which we enjoyed the more simple things of life.

I remember as a child going out to play for hours on end without any thought of having to report back home to let them know things were ok.

In my early teens, I would go out on my push bike on a Saturday and travel for miles with my mates and never think about the fact that we ought to be going home or at least finding a phone box, as someone may be worried about us. Nowadays, there’s hardly an hour that passes by between kids and parents when a text isn’t sent to find out where they are. Rightly so, in most cases.

Then there were the holiday photographs, which would remain in the camera for months on end until you’d finished the roll of film. You could hardly wait to get your full colour pictures back to show everyone what an amazing holiday you’d had six months earlier. Now it’s instantaneous and a minute by minute account of your daily life for all to see.

With the rise of social media, which can be an incredibly positive thing, we now can find out what many people had for dinner last night! This used to remain a private affair, but now the whole world can see exactly what you had, where you went, and who with.

As human beings, we are drawn into the fascination with other people’s lives, but sadly the power of comparison is the biggest joh killer on the planet.

Their family is better than mine…their figure is more toned than mine…their food is better than mine…their holiday was more exotic than mine, and before too long you have downgraded your own life to a miserable existence, simply because you are busy bodying yourself with everyone else’s life rather than focusing on the life that God gave to YOU.

Remember that most of what you see on social media is filtered and staged and is not so real as you think. Every great pouting pic is the very best shortlisted shot from a hundred awful ones.

Have you ever wondered why the Bible says this…

‘We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.’ 2 Thessalonians 3:11

How many people find themselves trapped in an existence of being a constant busybody, simply by trawling through endless Instagram and Facebook updates on an hour by hour basis?

Give yourself permission today to get off the band wagon and make a decision to either greatly reduce your social media intake or dare I say…stop it altogether. It’s making you lazy and the judge and jury over stuff that in the past you would have never known about anyway.

You will get back to living a far more productive life if you will simply set yourself free from being the ‘media police’, and get back the joy of doing what YOU were created for.

I have enough trouble managing my own life let alone trying to ‘manage’ thousands of other people’s lives across the world, most of whom couldn’t care less about what I think anyway, and quite rightly so.

God has not called you to give an opinion on anyone else’s life apart from your own. The only exceptions to that are those in your family, those who are closest to you, and those who you may have been given responsibility over to lead. These people value what you may have to say to them in a gracious and loving manner. Apart from that…keep your nose out of other people’s business.

It’s a modern day choice, but a very necessary one.

Get your joy back today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th August 2017

In tennis, the time spent positioning yourself to serve can win or lose the match. Often when a player is winning on their serve, it can point to the fact that they could well win the match. If an opponent ‘breaks’ the other player’s serve, it’s a sign that things are now going the other way.

How you position yourself to serve in life, is also an indicator of whether you will be a winner or a loser.

For some people serving is beneath them. They say things like “I don’t feel cut out to serve”, which is really an excuse for being lazy or simply having a wrong view of what it means to serve.

Other people won’t serve because they feel called to much grander things and therefore don’t want to serve in small ways just in case they miss out on the big things. Again, a completely messed up view on what serving is all about.

Serving is not beneath us, but above us. It is a ‘high calling’ for every person on the planet. You have to step up, not down, to serve.

Take a look at the following passage of the Bible…

Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs AMONG the people.

For many, that’s the very kind of thing that you would love to do. You only see yourself being recognised on the centre stage of life and so you would prefer to skip the serving stage and go straight for the ‘power for the hour’ stuff.

Let’s ask the question: How did he get there?

Just three verses earlier, we find that the leaders of the early church were looking for seven men that they could trust to ‘wait’ on tables. This was a role that was important for the daily distribution of bread to the poor and needy of the area. Anyone could have been chosen surely, but after a brief discussion they came up with a list of names and guess who was at the top of the list…

Acts 6:5 They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

Stephen, the guy that was mightily used by God was being asked to wait on tables, and he said YES.

When God looks for a person upon whom he can place His grace, power, great signs and wonders, He doesn’t look for platform person he looks for table person. Someone that is willing to serve.

Could it have been that very act of serving released him three verses later in the power of God?

Our serving today will win the match.

How good is your serve today?

Never think that serving is beneath you, as it’s the very doorway that all of us must walk through if we are to win in life.

Where are you serving this week?

Remember…find a need and fill it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th August 2017

Each of us has a certain level of demand on our lives. Everyday, there are many different things wanting to pull on our time, our energy and our resources, leaving us to decide what to say yes to and what to say no to.

There is a tendency in many of us to be people pleasers, never wanting to turn down an opportunity, always trying to avoid saying ‘no’ at whatever the cost.

However, there comes a time in your life when you must decide if you are going to be managed by your opportunities or by your priorities.

There will be many good opportunities that will come your way in life that will prove very tempting. You can either chase after those or decide to give first place to what matters most.

Take some time today to establish what your priorities are and devote the majority of your time, energy and resources to these… and when you do so, I do believe that the quality of your life will go to another level.

Understand that your ‘yes’ is only as powerful as your ‘no’. If you find yourself saying yes to every opportunity and request, your yes loses value. But if you carry the ability to say no, when you do say yes, people will have a far greater appreciation for it.

Decide today, am I going to be a person dictated by opportunity or priority… the choice is yours.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th August 2017

You were created to serve. Jesus Himself gave the greatest example
Matthew 20 v 28 – Jesus came not to be served but to serve.

If it’s good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.

We should never think serving is too lowly, or that it’s not for us, or for those with nothing better to do. Serving is for everyone.
Serving is actually the highest calling. See Jesus the Son of God as the perfect example.

We should all see serving as part of our lives, we were never called to fill a seat, whilst everyone else serves us.
Get up, if you’re sitting down and make a difference!

What does serving bring? It brings honour. We humble ourselves as we serve and God promotes the humble. That’s honour. When God promotes me.. that’s a great place to be.

John 12 v 26. My Father will honour the one who serves me.
WOW. To be honoured by God is surely the best place to be.

Romans 14 v 18. Anyone who serves Christ, is pleasing God and receives human approval.
WOW. A double whammy. God is pleased and people will be pleased too.

No one likes a lazy person. Or one who thinks they are too important to serve. Or one who says “I’m too busy to serve.”

Let’s take on the example of Jesus today and be a blessing to those around us. Serve in our churches and communities. Serve in our home. Serve those around us who we are called to do life with.

Then see what an amazing difference that will bring to your life.
Purpose, peace and blessing to name just a few.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th August 2017

The story is told of a singing parakeet named Charlie. The bird’s problems began one day when the old lady who owned him decided to clean the dirt and feathers out of the bottom of his cage using a vacuum cleaner. Suddenly the phone rang and as she turned to pick it up, there was an awful sucking sound and and a WHOOSH …Charlie was gone!

In a panic, she turned off the vacuum cleaner, opened the dust bag and there was Charlie…stunned but still breathing. Seeing he was covered in thick black dust she rushed him to the bath where she turned on the cold water full blast and held him under it for a few seconds. At that point, she realised that she’d made things even worse, so she quickly cranked up the hairdryer and gave him a blast. Suffice to say…. Charlie doesn’t sing much any more.

How often do we allow circumstances to suck the very life out of us so that we don’t sing anymore?

Don’t let life steal your song!

Isaiah 54 gives us the secrets of what to do when nothing is happening and everything seems to be against us. Listen to the words it uses to help us get over ourselves…SING – BURST INTO SONG – ENLARGE – DO NOT HOLD BACK- LENGTHEN – STRENGTHEN – SPREAD OUT- THINK BIG!

When going through some of the darkest places and times in your life, the first thing that happens is that you lose your song. You stop thanking and praising and you stop believing for bigger and better things to come.

Take a hold of your self right now and start to worship God. Thank Him and praise Him, for though you can’t see a way forward, He is about to super size your life. He does it when you make a decision to sing and shout aloud. Praise opens your heart for all that God wants to bring to your life today. See it as a doorway through which your future has to travel.

The secret of your victory is found also in the words of David…’ His praise will continually be on my lips’. Psalm 34 v 1

Praise is not just a ‘Church thing’ – it’s a lifestyle.

It will change your approach to life…problems…your attitude towards people…your future…and the atmosphere around you.

Go ahead, start to schedule times of praise into your day and watch what happens!

Isaiah 54:1-5 ‘SING, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. ‘Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd August 2017

At 18, George Frederick Handel was the harpsichordist at the Kaiser’s Opera house in Hamburg, Germany. By 21 he was a keyboard virtuoso and a celebrated composer by appointment to the king of England.

Yet despite all this, he faced terrible adversity. First, there was the fierce rivalry of the English composers. Next, there were the fickle audiences who often didn’t show up for his performances. Several times he was on the verge of bankruptcy. Finally, he suffered a stroke on his left side and temporarily lost the use of four fingers on his right hand. At 56, deeply discouraged, fearing he’d land in the debtors prison, he gave what he considered to be his farewell concert. To him, life had become one big rut and he didn’t know how to climb out of it.
Then something incredible happened. That same year, a wealthy friend visited him and gave him what was called a ‘libretto’, (the text to an opera or other musical piece) based on the life of Christ. It intrigued him and stirred his emotions, so he began writing. Immediately the floodgates of inspiration opened and for the next 21 days he wrote almost non-stop. During the following three days, he created the orchestrations. In just 25 days, George Frederick Handel, the man who had decided that his life is over, created the 260 page masterpiece known to us as Handel’s Messiah!

Royal protocol demands that all Kings and Queens stand for the playing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Fearing that you may be too old and past it for God to use you in the same great way?
Take heart today and make a decision to…

  1.  Forget your past

2. Confront your fears

3. Seize your God-given opportunities as they come knocking on your door.

The best is yet to come!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd August 2017

If you’re making a difference, expect to be criticised!

If you’ve never been criticised, don’t take it as a compliment, but more as a sign that you are not doing anything.

Criticism is just proof that your influence is being felt. You are also in good company…Jesus was always coming under heavy fire from His critics.

When gospel singer Carmen held a concert at Mardi Gras he was severely criticised for mixing with unsavoury people. But he answered, “isn’t the darkness supposed to flee from the light, and not the light from darkness?” So he held his concert and 100’s came to faith in Jesus.

It’s impossible to keep every body happy all of the time, in fact don’t even waste your time trying. Just concentrate on pleasing God.

When a hawk is attacked by the crows, it never counter-attacks. No, it simply soars higher and higher, until the pests live it alone. Stop trying to please your critics, but rather circle above them on the wings of faith and don’t let them bring you down to their level.

Remember…you attitude and example will do more to change people’s minds about you than all the arguments you put up against them.

Romans 12:19-21 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st August 2017

Criticism will either crush you or energise you. The same wind that threatens the turkey on the ground, will lift the eagle above the storm. If you’re facing criticism today, consider these things carefully: First, what’s the source? Where it’s coming from is initially far more important than what’s being said. Second, is it destructive or constructive? Often we view critics like this…constructive criticism is when I criticise you, but destructive criticism is when you criticise me! You may smile, but we have to learn to detect the ‘spirit’ behind the words. Third, is it judgmental or gentle? If words are spoken in kindness, they’re probably meant to be constructive.

None of us like to be criticised, so we each have to be careful with our attitude towards the critic. You will usually find in even the worst criticism against you that there is a nugget of truth in what is being said somewhere, so always take it away and sift through it until you find it.

If you get bitter towards your critics, you will end up far worse than they ever knew how to be.

If you’re facing criticism today, take another look at how Jesus handled it, and ask Him to help you do it His way.

1 Peter 2:21-23
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.