Fresh Hope – 30th September 2017

I’m writing today stranded in Amsterdam airport, due to heavy fog on the return journey from Rwanda.

Throughout the week, we have visited some of the poorest homes I’ve ever seen. A whole family are often found living in one room the size of most people’s bathrooms here in the UK.

The ‘home’ of a young lady and her baby, was one such visit we made. She told us that she had one meal a day but often there was not even that.

We chatted to her through an interpreter and enquired about her life. She was an orphan and her baby came as the result of being taken advantage of by someone she trusted. We prayed for her before we left, but then felt that we couldn’t leave without putting into action what we had prayed for.

There was an appalling looking shop nearby, from which we were able to purchase a whole sack of rice and a few other provisions for £19.

It struck me that one man’s means is another man’s miracle.

We worked it out that our small contribution from our means, will actually now feed her once every day for a whole year.

Praying for a person’s need is often the easy thing to do, as it means we can walk away without any personal responsibility or cost.

She was praying with us for God to meet her need and yet the answer wasn’t found in Heaven, but in our pockets.

There comes a time when we have to see that it’s time to stop praying about things and start to act on things.

What ‘means’ do you have today that may be someone else’s ‘miracle’?

Make it your goal in life to find a need and fill it! You may be the answer to their prayers.

James 2 v 14 -17.

What does it profit, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th September 2017

Last night I went to bed and ate two packets of Malteser. One wasn’t enough at the time, and yet two turned out to be too much.
Then I got up this morning and ate two croissants for my breakfast… now I am going to the gym to try and rectify the situation.

You may laugh at me, or even ‘tut’ at me, but I bet we have all done something similar. We think, tomorrow I’ll put it right, tomorrow I’ll start my diet, tomorrow I’ll make a change.

You know what the best thing to do is? To make the right choices in the first place, then you don’t have to correct what you’ve just done wrong.

Life can be like that, we blatantly make wrong choices and we think it’s okay because tomorrow we can sort it. Surely it’s far better that you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit at the time (who is your guide) or even your conscience and don’t make the wrong choice in the first place?

Yes, God’s grace is amazing, yes God’s forgiveness is total and yes tomorrow I can put things right because of HIS mercy.
But usually people who continue to make wrong choices, will never get very far in life. It’s almost like a circle that goes round and round and round. And then we wonder why we are not where we should be.

Often the easiest choice is the wrong choice (like the Maltesers) and right choices take strength and determination.

Today, make a fresh decision to make some good choices So that your life will head in the right direction and you will take new ground and I guarantee you will feel great.

Now…off to the gym…

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th September 2017

In the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament of the Bible, we see Jesus asking His disciples a question… ‘Who do people say that I am?’

His disciples respond by saying, ‘Some say you’re John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets.’

Then Jesus poses an all-important further question. ‘But what about you?’ He asks. ‘Who do you say that I am?’ At this, Peter, one of the disciples steps forward and says, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

I then want us to see what happens next… Jesus responds to Peter and says, ‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…’

What’s amazing to me about this story is that we find Peter confessing with his mouth exactly who Jesus is. Then two verses later, we see Jesus confess with His mouth exactly who Peter is.

You see, whenever you verbalise who Jesus is, you get a revelation of who you are.

When you begin to confess that He is your saviour, when you begin to confess that He is your healer and that He is your provider, you realise that your identity is not found in your circumstance, or in what people say about you, it’s found in what God says about you!

Never again do you have to experience an identity crisis, but you can know today who you truly are – a son or a daughter of the most high God.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27th September 2017

Romans 4:19-21 Without weakening in his faith, Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

God has the power to pull off whatever He has promised you and a whole lot more. No sweat.

The question is: are you living a fully persuaded life or a fully defeated one?

Are you waking to the news flash, playing inside of your head, that this is never going to happen for me or are you waking up to live fully persuaded that God has the power to do it?

I love the story of this old couple Abraham and Sarah, who still believed the promise of God for their lives way into their nineties; the thing that impresses me about Abraham is that it says ‘he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, YET, he did not waver through unbelief.’

Many peoples faith is actually not real faith, it’s just a denial that anything is wrong.

There is a difference.

God cannot fix what you cannot face.

Denial is a game of pretence. It pretends that you are well when you are actually dying, but faith says, ‘I’m actually dying, therefore I need God to make me well.’

God is not going to be surprised by your admittance that things aren’t good…He knew it long before you did.

Is it time for you to get honest with yourself and God today? When you do, it will put you on the road to the very breakthrough that you need.

Be honest about the way things are for you today.

Now…be fully persuaded that God can change them.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th September 2017

‘One would think that the opposite of love is hate, but the Bible says otherwise. The opposite of love is actually fear!

Fear’s number one objective is to compete with the truth that God loves us, is for us and with us. Fear and love are enemies. They come from two opposing kingdoms. They have different strategies and agendas. Not only are they not on the same team, fear’s number one mission is to compete with the truth of God’s love for us.

Fear isn’t always just a random thought – it is a pattern of thinking that can hang around for years. It can be carried from one experience to the next. It can even go from generation to the next!

Fear comes in many forms. Usually people’s biggest fears involve; fear of losing freedom, fear of the unknown, fear of physical pain, fear of disappointment, fear of misery, fear of loneliness, fear of ridicule or rejection, fear of death or fear of failure.

Fear is false evidence appearing real. Reality is the love of God and the power of the cross! When you live in the reality of the cross, you don’t need to be fearful of losing your freedom – you’ve found ultimate freedom at the cross. You don’t need to worry about the unknown – Jesus knows, and he is in control. Physical pain is finished with the healing power of the cross. Disappointment is gone – you found hope at the cross. Misery is replaced with joy – you know He loves you. You don’t need to feel lonely – you are in perfect union with Jesus and He loves you with a perfect love. You need not feel ridiculed – Jesus took all that ridicule at the cross, and your identity is in the fact that He loves you. You need not fear rejection – the perfect love of God sees all of you and accepts you fully. You need not fear death – at the cross you found eternal life. You need not fear failure – your victory is found at the cross!

There really is no competition. Fear only has the authority you give it.
Scripture says, ‘We are more than conquerors through Jesus’!

Fear only causes you to shrink and retreat. Love actually creates open spaces in our lives! When you know you are loved, you are empowered to be you, you feel powerful, and you are bold. Like WIFI, when we are fully connected to the love of God, we are fully functioning our best!

Romans 8:35-38

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th September 2017

Often we can find ourselves in life in a difficult situation and say or think that God is testing us.
Maybe our marriage isn’t what it should be, or our finances are very tight. Maybe our children are away from God or our Manager at work is making life very difficult. Maybe even a serious illness like cancer has come into our world, and we find ourselves saying “God must be testing me.”

Maybe you are waiting for an answer to prayer and you are feeling like you can’t be patient any longer, or you feel like giving up.

The Bible teaches us that God never allows anything to come into our lives that we cannot bear. God is never the author of bad things, but He does allow things into our lives to help us grow and develop and trust Him more.

When you experience difficulty, don’t say “God is testing me”, No, He’s not testing you, He’s TRUSTING you.

He’s trusting you with a situation that He has allowed into your life for a reason.
He’s watching for your attitude, your heart response, your actions, your words and He’s looking for your hope to be planted firmly on Him.

So thank God in every circumstance, that He is trusting you with.
Thank Him that He is trusting you in the waiting, in the being patient.
Thank Him that you can come out better and stronger than before and those around you will see God at work in and through you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd September 2017

Having a power cut is very inconvenient. Recently, I was cooking soup and I was halfway through blending it when we had a power cut. So I was left with half blended and half lumpy.

We don’t realise how much we rely on power until it’s gone. Ladies, how much do we rely on our hairstyling appliances like straighteners and dryers? Imagine going out the house with unstyled hair. For some of you, that would be a crisis. For some, we wouldn’t know any difference!

Praying gives us power.
Every time you leave the house not fully charged, you’re leaving short of power. There’s an old saying that says, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.” Think about it for a moment…prayer charges you up.

I wouldn’t leave the house without ‘doing’ my hair. So why do I think it’s okay to leave without praying?

Prayer IS a luxury. God gives us a fantastic opportunity to connect to the greatest power source ever. And unlike other luxuries, this one, we can ALL afford.

Being without the electricity affected my day and I didn’t like it.
Don’t take His power for granted.
Get plugged in today.
You’ll be glad you did.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd September 2017

A few years ago, I felt to have a journal dedicated to thankfulness. At the end of the day I would write down all the things I was grateful for in that day. I did this every day for an entire year. As you can imagine, by the end of the year I had thousands of things – big and small to be grateful for.

Something happened in the process of writing down all the things I was grateful for. It became a habit to be extra aware in my day to day, of things that were good in my life. I didn’t focus on what I lacked anymore, my attention was on the small gifts in the every day.

Did I have things during that time that I was contending for and trusting God with? Of course! But I trained my perspective to focus on the goodness of God amidst the things I was waiting on.

There is always something to be thankful for. Scripture says, ‘Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18). ‘Give thanks ALWAYS for everything …’ (Ephesians 5:20).
Do not be anxious about anything, but IN EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God’ (Philippians 4:6).

Scripture is quite clear that difficult circumstances do not excuse us from the need to cultivate a grateful heart. In fact often the encouragement to be thankful is married with the acknowledgement that you are having a difficult time.

Thankfulness is a gateway for the goodness in your life. God is attracted to a thankful heart. It tells him that you aren’t ruled by external circumstance, and you trust His nature. Ask Him to show you what the gift is in it the midst of pain and disappointment.

If you have absolutely nothing in your life, but have Jesus, you have everything you need!
Look at the Apostle Paul, chained in prison for the gospel and still he says, ‘everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Philippians 3:8).

What can you thank God for right now?

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st September 2017

As I’ve got older, I’ve noticed that I pay far more attention to what ingredients, additives, carbs and saturated fats are present in a food product. Why I didn’t do this years ago when I could actually read the label without my glasses on I’ll never know.

I’m sure you’ll agree, that it has become far more of a trend to know what’s in something than ever before. You only have to spend a little time around the supermarket to see people trying to decipher what’s actually in their favourite ‘healthy’ snack bar.

Amongst some of the most amusing small print found on food packaging, has got to be that found on a packet of salted peanuts…’warning – contains nuts.’

What about the sleeping aid capsules – ‘may cause drowsiness.’

Reading labels has led to a far more positive move towards food manufacturers being vigilant with their products, knowing that the public are now casting a health conscious watchful eye over everything they now consume.

Growing up, I never ever remember one time my parents reading the back of the box of ‘Cadbury’s Smash’ (dehydrated potato flakes) that we would be served for tea, after adding boiling water.

In much the same way, people have failed to read the ‘small print’ of the Bible and have assumed that to be a Christian meant to have a problem free and cosy life, not realising that was far from the truth if you’d only take time to read what’s on the packet.

Many people have backed away from following Christ when hard times have hit, or when God hasn’t seemingly got them out of a tough spot, often because they never bothered to read the contents of what it meant to be a true Christian.

The verses below have long since been buried under our convenient Christianity, but now there is a new move in the Church where people actually want to know the truth..

1 Peter 4:12-16 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Reading that makes you realise that trouble is part and parcel, and not foreign to, following Jesus.

God never promised us a pain free, problem free easy ride, in fact He promised us trouble…

John 16:33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

…this reassures us that He is bigger than any temporary trouble you may be facing. What better way to start your day with these words which literally mean…CHEER UP!

Often I’ve found that God doesn’t take away my problems, but He takes me through them. That way I learn to battle through, learn from it, and then see victory.

Are you going through a dark time right now and didn’t think you would have to when you signed up to follow Jesus? Then here’s His promise to you today…

Psalm 112:4-8 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. 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.

Yes…’even in dark times’.

Remember: you are meant to shine. The darker it is, the more you’ll stand out.

Philippians 2:14-16 ‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life’.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th September 2017

1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, ‘…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you’.

Contrary to modern day, western culture, scripture actually tells us that we need to be intentional about seeking peace and space in our life.

Constantly generating and celebrating a busy lifestyle is not God’s way. Often a busy life can be created in an effort to appease something in us. Maybe it is trying to prove something? Or keep people happy? You can even be busy with really good things!

Jesus made rest and time alone a priority. He understood that you cannot generate anything in your public life that you aren’t cultivating in your private life.

Just a few examples of Jesus making space in scripture are:

‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed’ (Mark 1:35).

‘But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed’ (Luke 5:15-16; see also Mark 1:45).

‘Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed’ (Mark 3:7).

‘Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake’ (Matthew 13:1-3. See also Mark 4:1).

‘When Jesus heard (that John the Baptist had been beheaded), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13).

‘Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, (Jesus) said to (his disciples), ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place’ (Mark 6:31-32).

‘After (Jesus) had dismissed (the crowds), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was (still) there’ (Matthew 14:23).

There was always a demand on Jesus. There were always people after Him. He could have easily burnt out trying to please people, but He knew the value of tending to His own soul, before he would tend to others.

If the son of God made getting alone to recharge a priority, how much more do we, in an age where being busy is glorified, need to be okay with cultivating rest? Become comfortable with drawing away to make space in your life without feeling guilt. To unplug and refuel is a Godly principle.

Just incase you are still thinking you are beyond rest, don’t forget that God Himself of the seventh day of creation rested!

Referring back to the verse I started with, when we are encouraged to ‘mind our own business’, it is an encouragement to focus on what is yours for this season. Don’t get caught up in everything you could be doing, involving yourself in all sorts of business. Rather, steward what is yours to do for now and do it well!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th September 2017

On our recent family holiday, everyone was complaining about how thirsty they were in the hot weather, especially as any drinks that they had packed for a day out had become luke warm within an hour or so. After a couple of days, I decided to freeze a few small plastic bottles of water over night and then fill my back pack with them the next morning along with enough drinks for everyone…problem solved!

Not only did everything in my back pack keep ice cool, but the water itself lasted all day as it began to defrost and become everyone’s best friend.

Not an new idea I know, but it certainly is a good one and into the bargain a great life lesson in the power of association.

Anything that was placed alongside the freezing water was effected in just the same way. Snuggled up together in the back pack for a few hours guaranteed that everyone’s  previously luke warm drinks would now come out ice cold.

Have you ever wondered why your life is playing out like it is? The answer lies inside that back pack. Who you hang around with, you become like. Sadly for many, their lives have become ice cold with apathy, but you don’t have to look too far as to why…simply look at who they are mixing with.

The opposite is also true. People who have great faith and have ‘red hot’ lives are usually found to be mixing with really great passionate and positive, faith filled people.

Solomon has been known throughout history as one of the wisest guys that ever lived. He wrote many of the saying in the book of Proverbs. Here’s his simple take on it…

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Whoever you associate with you eventually become like, so if you want to change the way your life is panning out, you probably need to look at changing your friends.

Don’t keep complaining that you have to keep dealing with so many issues in the circles that you mix with when you have the power to get out.

Not everyone in your life is there for the duration, in fact one of the greatest signs that you are moving in the right direction is that you will start leaving people behind.

Think about all of your peers at your first school that you pledged allegiance to for the rest of your life. How many of those are still in your life today? The reason that you each went your separate ways was mainly because you each grew up!

Now we all have to work through relational difficulties and many times it will be right to keep those relationships in tact, but never lose sight of the fact that moving on is often a necessary and natural part of life and maturity. Emotional attachments are not a good enough reason to hold onto everyone in your life.

Ask yourself today, ‘who am I influencing for good?’

Now ask yourself, ‘who is influencing me for bad?’

Change is here to stay.

Move on.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th September 2017

Several years ago, I was invited to sail on a Schooner in Greece.

A Schooner is a sailing ship with two masts, and needs a lot of team work and skill to sail it accurately.

Please understand…I had never sailed before or had any knowledge of how to do so, so to find myself on the third night of the trip, steering the ship at 2am, in pitch black waters, was pretty scary.

The sleeping quarters for the 15 or so of us were below deck and consisted of wooden racks which were mounted half way up the side of the boat.

As the waters got pretty choppy from time to time, some of the team started to get sea sick, so the Captain taught us the way to trick the body in order to overcome it.

He would say…’look to the horizon and fix your eyes on something unmovable and keep looking that way.’

As soon as the instruction was put into practice, the sickness subsided and all was good again.

That simple yet very effective piece of advice has been part of a sailor’s life for centuries: when in turbulent waters, fix your eyes on something that’s fixed.

In just the same way, the turbulent water of our lives and the circumstances that come our way need to be addressed in just the same way; if you want to stay on your feet and get through the storm, then fix your gaze on what’s permanent.

For many, there is no known focal point and therefore life takes them down, but the centuries’ old truth in the Bible informs us that Jesus can be the unshakeable, unmovable and constant in our lives, if you’ll just look to Him.

We live in a world that tends to look down, never lifting our heads to crack even a smile nowadays, so I encourage you to be different and apply the remedy – look up to the one who can save and steady the most turbulent and windswept life reading this today.

Take courage my friend from the one that says ‘I’ll never leave you or forsake you.’

Take your focus of the waves right now and look to Him.

Mark 4:35-41 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th September 2017

How many times do we let trials and hardships take us down?

Do you ever throw yourself a pity party?

Do you ever feel sorry for yourself and hibernate because ‘Life is too hard’?

Today I want to challenge you to not let circumstances take you down.

You see, trials do not mean that God has left us and they do not mean that He doesn’t have a plan for us, or that He has forgotten us.

I love the story of Ruth in the Old Testament.
In a nutshell…her husband died, this alone was tragic.
Then her father-in-law died and so did her brother-in-law – what a difficult, devastating time.

Then she went through a time of famine to go hand in hand with the hardship and devastation.

BUT God was with her! And hers is one of the greatest stories ever recorded in scripture.

Her story and life turned out amazing.
Boaz was waiting for her and the rest is history.

So if you’re going through it today, learn from Ruth

1. Stay faithful
2. Have a great attitude
3. Trust God
4. Believe that your best is yet to come

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living

Fresh Hope – 15th September 2017

We all know people who have selective hearing, but did you know that most people have selective seeing too?

Selective seeing is more commonly referred to as ‘having a blind spot’, where you are blind to some of your own character traits.

If you’ve ever been surprised by someone’s critique about you, then you probably have a blind spot.

If you’ve found yourself justifying yourself with the words ‘I didn’t realise that I came across like that’, then you probably have a blind spot.

Blind spots enable you to see things clearly in other people’s lives, whilst seemingly causing you to be blind to your own.

There are any number of blind spots, but here are just a few of the most noticeable ones that you can check yourself by:

– Blind to your selfish side. If you admit it, you can deal with it

– Blind to your limitations. You are not as good at everything as you think. Ask others what you are hopeless at. Open rebuke is better than hidden love.

– Blind to your ego. (Ego is the latin word for I) The greatest fault is to not realise that you talk about yourself all of the time.

– Blind to your emotions. You don’t realise you are angry, jealous, insecure, aggressive. When you RECOGNISE an emotion, it’s the only time you can deal with it. ‘I’m just emotional’ is not good enough.

– Blind to your strengths. On a positive note we can also be positive to the very things that we are good at. Pretending that you’re not good at them when you know that you really are, is false humility and pride.

Gain respect and give respect by taking a look in the mirror more often and seeing the real you that others see.

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.

There is one other blind spot that we should mention too; Relationship blind spots keep us from recognising good people that God wants to send into our lives; we will often trade them off for poor and damaging relationships that look good on the surface. Open your eyes to see who is really entering and exiting your life.

A friend of mine that was quite often speaking in front of a camera thought that he had a really happy and smiley face, that was until he decided to watch himself on TV one day. He suddenly realised that he didn’t come across anything like he thought he did.

Could it be that you think you come across as welcoming and friendly yet in reality you are actually driving people away from your life simply because you come across as judgemental and angry?

Give yourself a check up from the neck up today!

Matthew 7:3-5 ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th September 2017

God wants to teach us how to be powerful and not powerless. We are designed to reign in life. In fact, we should be the most powerful people in the world because we have the power that raised Jesus and conquered death living in us!

The opposite of living like a powerful person is living like a victim. A victim mentality is feeling small, with the sense that everything in life has control over you.

David facing Goliath is an incredible picture of living with the internal conviction that you are powerful person and not a victim. David stood before his giant, with the mindset that it was smaller than him.

We cannot be powerful in our external world, until we have order in our internal world.

Some indicators that you are living in a powerless way of thinking are:

• Things easily take away your hope, peace, love and joy.
• You can’t say ‘no’ or set boundaries.
• You feel like life is driving you, rather than you driving life.
• You have a lot of anger. (Anger is counterfeit power).
• You feel stuck and hopeless.

Practically speaking, when you visualise things, your brain cannot tell the difference between a memory and a visualisation. When you picture things in your mind, you are actually setting truth into your heart. If you spend a lot of time visualising how big your problem is, your mind doesn’t recognise that it’s not reality and the problem actually gains power in your life.

Take your power back from the things that you have given it to. God has made us more than conquerors! He has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of POWER, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

In the story of C.W Lewis` ‘Narnia’, everything was dead in the kingdom until the rightful kings and queens came to their throne. Likewise, come to the throne of your life, and take your place as a powerful person made to reign with the authority of heaven backing you!

Romans 5:17

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th September 2017

Have I mentioned the fact that I recently signed up to my local gym? Yes, I thought so.

I’ve now been going there for around two months and have to say that I feel much better for doing so. I can now even get close to touching my toes – something that I’ve not done for around 25 years.

Left to my own devices, I’ve found myself using the equipment that I personally liked. Something not too strenuous and outside of my comfort zone. I would kind of walk round aimlessly and be guided to each piece of equipment that I fancied going on during my hour long visit. There was hardly any rhyme or reason for what I was doing, that was until my son suggested that we work together and that way it would be more productive. Now of course, he is much fitter and stronger than I am, and to my initial displeasure had me lifting weights and doing exercise that were well beyond my natural limits. No matter how much I told him I couldn’t do it, he insisted that instead of lowering the weights to make it easier, that we should actually higher them to make it more difficult. When I completed a round of successfully lifting heavier weights, I fully expected to stop, have a Mars bar and celebrate, but instead he suggested that I was lifting them without too much difficulty and so the weight was increased again until my face turned bright red.

I’ve soon realised that lifting and exercising in my comfort zone has very little positive effect on my muscles, but as soon as I lift beyond my comfort zone then I quickly start to see results.

How many reading this, identify in life, that you have successfully got stuck in your comfort zone and are therefore no longer making any progress? You walk around the gym of your life every day and yet have no purpose or goals and therefore nothing changes.

When was the last time you invited someone into your world that could stretch you and help lead you towards being a better you?

Maybe you’ve just got complacent with life and therefore really see no point in trying to get better. You just keep things ticking over in the hope that no new challenges come your way.

A mentor or coach is someone that gets you to do things that you don’t want to do in order to achieve the results that you’ve always wanted to get.

Who do you have in your world that pulls you up?

Who do you in your world that stretches you and makes you a bigger person?

Who do you have in your life that’s forcing you to face your failures and fears in order to move beyond them?

Remember: your mentor is not your friend, as they only tell you what you want to hear; Your mentor is someone that’s not afraid to tell you the truth for your own good.

Who do you have?

Find someone…invite someone…ask someone, but don’t except to like everything they say to you, but do expect to grow in ways like never before.

Finally, one of the best and quickest ways to grow is to find someone that is further down the road from you and is willing to tell you the truth; once you’ve found that person, ask that them every at least every six months….”is there anything you need to say to me?”

Keep the growing going !

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th September 2017

We recently rented a house for our family holiday. Included in the package was the use of the family clubhouse which had an outdoor pool and lazy river complete with large rubber rings for you to float around on to your heart’s content. At the mouth of the lazy river was a children’s spiralling water flume that deposited you into a small pool.

Apparently, one dad had decided to spice things up a little and show his kids how he could go down the water flume on a rubber ring, not realising that as he approached the bottom, the tubular slide narrowed and he got well and truly stuck just two metres from the end.

With gallons of water gushing behind him, he became like a cork in a bottle. As I was paddling close by with my grandchildren, I was aware of people pointing at the water slide, laughing at the fact that a grown man had got stuck inside, and was frantically trying to get himself free. As much as I wanted to mind my own business, I somehow felt compelled that I should do something to help. I can only say that I felt an overwhelming urgency to pull myself up out of the water and climb into the end of the slide and then crawl the two metres up into the slide to where his feet could be seen poking through the rubber ring.

He was well and truly stuck. Fortunately there was a handle on the rubber tyre that was on my side and after a few moments of tugging, I managed to pull him free. What happened next must have been a sight to behold; as soon as he was released, he took me with him and as many as a dozen children all trapped behind him aswell. With the full force of the water built up behind us, we got spat out of the end of the flume, landing on top of each other in the pool.

I didn’t think too much of it as I picked myself up and carried on paddling. It wasn’t until I overheard one of the children that had been trapped, telling his dad that the water had come up to his neck and felt that he was about to drown inside the slide.
I then realised that my ‘compulsion’ to do something was actually a life saving mission prompted by God. The story that day could have been so different if I had ignored the feeling to act whilst others stood by and laughed.

Everyday of our lives, we are, to some greater or lesser degree, called upon by God to help save lives. We may feel that we should mind our own business or see the request as a non event, but be sure that if you feel ‘moved’ then you must obey. Not only is one person’s life at stake, the greater truth is that several other people’s lives are at stake too.

When I stand on the platform of our church each Sunday, I take very seriously the fact that I am about to help set people free, and not only that, I am about to save a whole host of other people in the process too.

No-one even knew that day that I had bothered to help, as they all thought that they had worked themselves free; but the truth is we can do so much to help people in this life, if we don’t mind who gets the credit.

The next time you sense that you should do something, say something or go somewhere, then simply obey…you never know how many lives you may be saving when you do. What others see as something to laugh at, you may need to take very seriously.

James 5:19-20 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th September 2017

The very beginning of scripture, in fact, the very beginning of time and all creation, started with ‘…and God said’. All life started with words being spoken.

The word of God carries creative power. Scripture reminds us many times, that as His people made in His image, our words also carry creative power. By creative power, I mean you can literally create with your words.

We can easily underestimate the power of our spoken word. When God urges us to monitor the language of our life, it is because we have the incredible ability to either build or destroy our lives and the lives of others, simply with our tongue. ‘A small part of the body, but like a tiny spark, it can set the forest of your life on fire’ (James 3:5). No one would ever feel intimidated by a match, but face a wall of raging fire that is threatening your home and life, and you wont question the potential of that first spark or lighter ever again. Likewise, don’t underestimate your conversations and declarations.

Jesus over and over again brought people into wholeness and freedom through his words. He spoke a deaf man into hearing, blind men into sight, and lame men into walking. He even commanded creation to stand still in the midst of a storm, and with words He casted out demons tormenting people. He also empowered people with His words of encouragement and conviction, so they left his presence totally transformed from the inside out.
I love it when science finally catches up to the truths that have always been in scripture.

Physiologists are well aware that new pathways in the brain are created through constant spoken words. Negative words create negative pathways that are reinforced every time you speak out words of negativity. Equally, you can rewire and renew your mind by speaking positive truths over and over.

Scientists have in fact discovered that our words carry either positive or negative sound frequencies and when other objects encounter these frequencies they react accordingly at a molecular level. Even science says our words influence our surroundings.

I have first hand witnessed deaf ears opening because of the declaration of Jesus. I have first hand seen people receive unexpected favour over finances as the truth of God has been spoken over their money. I have watched relationships restored as words of faith and hope have been spoken over and over, rather than words of criticism and bitterness.

This isn’t theory. This is reality. Let us operate in our God given authority and use our words to bring the order of God into our lives and the world around us!

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

 

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th September 2017

Many people are feeling the catastrophic after-effects of a storm right now. Hurricane Harvey has hit Texas in a huge way and many homes and lives have been destroyed. Right now, hurricane Irma is wreaking havoc on a different part of that nation .

We were in Florida several years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit the US and we have just left Florida, where Irma is just about to.

Sometimes God lets you escape a storm and other times He allows you to go right through one.

Whether your storm today is a real hurricane or a personal storm in your life, know this: God is always with you and He can bring good out of a storm if we let Him.

I may not have been in a hurricane, but I have been in and experienced many storms in life. Over those years, I have noticed this, that although at those times, you can feel like your world is being rocked and even over, God can and will bring good out of them.

I was travelling in the car last week, through a very bad thunderstorm, the motorway had all but come to a standstill, it was so severe, yet through the window, I noticed a beautiful change in the sky. I took a poor photograph of what I saw. Beyond the rain and the thunder was something beautiful…a pink and colourful sky. It was in that moment that God reminded me, that if we stand firm and hold on to Him, something beautiful and new and fresh will ALWAYS come our way.

Storms are there for a purpose and even though they may not be nice, God will bring good out of them.

Whatever your storm today, wherever you are in the world, know this: God has you safe. Keep trusting. Keep believing for a better day.
He will never leave you and He will never forsake you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th September 2017

Growing up, my brother and I were allowed to pick one big item that we wanted for Christmas from our parents.

I’ll never forget the one year, ripping off the gift-wrap to find THE Barbie car that I had been dreaming of! Finally it was mine! Only it was in a box, and all compartmentalised. It had to be put together. (This was obviously Dad’s favourite part of Christmas morning– spending hours agonizing over instructions on a how to assemble a Barbie car).

The hardest part for me was giving the gift back to Dad to sort out, but I did it because I knew it had to be done so he could give me back something better. There is only so much a girl can do with a deconstructed Barbie car. I needed to give it back to the giver, so I could use the car for its intended purpose – to drive Ken and Barbie around!

One of the best parts about being a Christian is learning what it means to be a son and daughter of God – not an orphan or a slave, but his CHILD! A child trusts their Dad. I gave my Dad my gift because I fully trusted that as I gave it back, I would get something better.

The same concept goes with our money, time, and talents for that matter. Everything good is from God, and we must live open handed, giving it back to Him, trusting Him that He knows best. This is true stewardship. When I give my money to God, it is because I am His child, not His slave. I’m not trying to impress my master or persuade him to be good to me. Rather, as his child, I know He knows what is best, and He will return the gift in an even better package than it was given!

One of the Bible’s most extravagant pictures of giving back to God was the woman who poured an alabaster jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus. Religious onlookers thought this act of worship was too much. It was excessive and ridiculous. After all, this wasn’t just a 200 pound bottle of Tom Ford, this was worth more than a year’s wages. Furthermore, this would have been this woman’s only chance of getting married. This would have been her dowry one day. In pouring it on the feet of Jesus, she was literally letting go of her dreams and future. It was the ultimate sacrifice. She gave everything back. Jesus in return celebrates this complete sacrifice and addresses the religious for assuming she was foolish!

Jesus isn’t interested in behaviour modification, He wants heart transformation. He doesn’t want us to give back to Him because it gives us peace of mind that we are in His good books. We give because we trust Him as our Dad. We are overwhelmed by His goodness to us, so we in turn extravagantly give it back without hesitation.

Luke 7:36-50

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th September 2017

A couple of months ago I was on my way to a friend’s house party. Late to the event, I pulled up at the front of the house, rushed up the driveway, opened the front door and walked through the house to the backyard where I assumed all the guests would be. I passed two people watching TV in the lounge room and waved. When I finally made it out to the back, I encountered only four people sitting around a table… and I didn’t recognise any of them! “Who are you?”, said one of the strangers looking at me in complete confusion. The penny had now dropped that I had in fact walked into the wrong house! There was no party going on here. I had just opened the front door to a random person’s home and walked right on inside.

One of my favourite qualities about Jesus was how counter cultural He was. He sliced through years of rabbinical law and cultural norms with extreme and outrageous expressions of love. He went where no Rabbi had gone before.

To those at the bottom of the social heap, Jesus met them where they were at. He didn’t just tolerate people, He celebrated people. He saw beyond surface appearance, discerned with precision, and pulled out the gold in people. He used his power, not to abuse, but to raise up those around him. Not to dominate, but to empower.

Jesus didn’t shy away from those in authority either. In fact, He intentionally ruffled the religious feathers of those who cared more about following the rulebook, than loving on people. He was often direct in approach, but people responded because they could sense that His motivation was always love and His truth ignited freedom.

Nothing has changed. Jesus’ approach to people is still counter-cultural today. Our natural tendency is to want to befriend those whom we feel comfortable with. We don’t look for uncomfortable relationships. Popular culture tells us to be around those who make us look good and feel good. To befriend for what we can get. To invest into people who will give something back in return. We are trained to be attracted to what looks appealing on the outside, and dismiss what could be going on inside. BUT this is where the church steps up and we powerfully, counter-culturally love people with the very same heart as Jesus!

Go where you have never gone before. Open doors to new encounters, venture beyond your comfort zone, walk right in to where you think you can’t go, and seek out ways to serve and radically love on ALL people. This is the heart of Jesus – to rule with the heart of a servant, and serve with the heart of a king!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th September 2017

In the Bible, we see Jesus led into the wilderness to be tested by the devil over a period of 40 days and 40 nights. During this timeframe, we see Jesus tested on three separate occasions.

If you read this story in Matthew 4, you will notice how on all three occasions, Jesus uses the same thing to counteract the temptation He is up against… The Word of God.

Every time that Jesus is tested, His comeback is The Bible. He quotes Bible verses and eventually by doing so, causes the devil to flee.

You see, the Word of God is your weapon and the answers that you need to the struggles that you will face are all found in this same book – The Bible.

This story encourages me, as I see Jesus face then what I still face today, and that is, temptation. Not only am I encouraged to see that He faced it, but I’m more so encouraged to see that He conquered it. And the best part is that not only do we see that He conquered it, but we see how He conquered it too.

It’s very apparent to us that Jesus was prepared for this test… And how did He prepare? By spending time with God and familiarising Himself with what God said about Him.

Temptation’s goal is to get you to act in accordance with who you’re not, so it’s vital that you know who God says you are.

Make a commitment to spend time with God and His word, preparing for every season of life, so that when you face moments of testing and temptation, you are so full of God’s Word that you don’t have room for the devil’s lies.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 5th September 2017

About a year ago, I was looking after my brother and sister. We decided to head over to the park, and on our way back, a man was walking on the opposite side of the road. My brother (who is incredibly extroverted) began shouting ‘hello!’ ‘hello!’ ‘hello!’ across the road to this man, who was quite embarrassed about a small boy shouting at him.

Confused by the entire situation (my brother clearly thought this man should know who he is), I began to quiz my brother about what he was doing and why he’s heckling this poor man. I was ready to give him a lecture about not talking to strangers and the dangers that it involves when I asked him ‘Why are you talking to that man?’ His answer astounded me. ‘Lucy, if I don’t say hello to someone, how can we ever become friends?’ Whilst, yes a child shouldn’t talk to any random person, my brother actually spoke some truth on that day.

Every person that you know in your life, you know them because at one point or another, someone decided to say ‘hello’. As a result of that ‘hello’, you are now acquaintances/friends/family/maybe even husband or wife. Often, I think we can over complicate situations that are actually really simple. God wants to use your everyday conversations and situations to point people to Him. However, God can’t do that unless you begin the conversation.

Today, who can you talk to? What new relationships can you build that help point people to Jesus? Don’t overcomplicate things. God can take the most simple things and use them to change someone’s life.

Lucy Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th September 2017

Today most people find themselves living for position, or maybe even fighting for it.

Our careers are usually built on what position we can obtain and life outside work can easily be built on looking for a greater position in life – be it a better car, bigger house or more stuff!

God has called us all with a plan and purpose, and it is here where we can find our true position in life.

Let us take encouragement from the life of King David, who on his journey through life always held onto God and found his position in Him.

Whether during his time as shepherd boy, watching his family’s sheep and protecting them from predators or as a boy who defeated a giant, a soldier serving his king or the king’s personal musician, he knew where to find his true position in life.

Many times David writes in Psalms that God was his helper, his protection, his shield, his father, his hope and refuge.

I believe it was this confession and understanding that gave David his position, which allowed him the ability to endure great trials and battles, knowing that whatever he faced, he knew that God was his strength and source as well as his place of security.

Today, let us remember that God wants to also be our shelter, our protector and our safe place. Once we accept this then our lives will be in a much greater position – firmly in God’s hands.
He will always set us on the right path in life.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd September 2017

In 1 Samuel, we read about how Hannah was desperate for a baby…and I mean desperate.
Her husband, Elkannah had two wives, The one wife had children, Hannah didn’t.
But Hannah was his favourite and she cried out to God in total desperation and against all odds, God gave her a son, Samuel.

Now I could speak today about Samuel and how God had a great plan for his life (because he did), because even though Samuel was born, he should never have been, because Hannah was barren. God’s plan will always be fulfilled, no matter how strongly the odds are against you.

Here’s 3 things to learn from Hannah
1. She had to get desperate.
Get yourself to a place of crying out to God for your dream to become a reality. Because when you do, God hears. God heard her cry and He will hear yours.

2. She gave back to God.
Hannah was so thankful to God for blessing her with Samuel, that she offered him back to God to be mightily used ( and he was). When God blesses you, don’t forget to give back.

3. God blessed her more than before.
She was blessed eternally for what she had done. She actually gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Wow!

You may not see the future right now, but God does.
You may feel desperate like Hannah.
God has a plan and a purpose. Trust Him. Give yourself fully to Him and His plan will not only come to pass through you, but future generations.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st September 2017

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV).

The only thing in all of creation that worries is a human being. Plants don’t worry. Animals don’t worry. Only human beings act as if we don’t have a heavenly Father. When you worry about your finances, you’re basically saying, “I think God is a liar. I don’t really think he will meet my needs.” But God will, if you meet the conditions.

When I was a child, I’d go to my dad and say, “Dad, I need some money.” Not once when I was growing up did I ever wonder, “Where is he going to get it?” It’s kind of an unwritten rule about money: Dads and moms make it, and kids spend it. Kids never wonder, “Where are my parents going to get this money?” I never worried about it.

Worry is really a form of atheism. Every time you worry, you’re basically saying, “I don’t believe there’s a God who is going to take care of me.” If you’re a Christian and you worry, you’re acting like an orphan. You’re acting like you don’t have a heavenly Father who has already promised over and over again in Scripture, “I will meet your needs if you will obey me and do what I tell you to do.” Trust forces you to live by faith.

Worry is a warning light. Every time we worry about our finances, it’s a warning that we doubt God loves us and will take care of us. We always get into trouble when we doubt God’s love. Always.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (NLT).

As long as you love anything more than God, that thing is going to be a source of anxiety. There was one thing meant for first place in your life, and it’s not your family. Anything you put first in your life besides God will create anxiety, because that thing can always be lost.

Your bank account is not your security, no matter how big it gets. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:17, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (NIV).

Put your hope in God, because he will assume responsibility for your needs if you’ll trust him.

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