Fresh Hope – 31st October 2017

I’ve only been sailing once, and like camping…once was enough.

We set sail on an old fashioned wooden schooner around the Greek islands and although the sun shone and there were moments of enjoyment with the rest of the group, the hard work to keep that thing going both day and night took its toll on everyone.

After a few hours of sleep each night, we would be woken from the bow of the ship in order to take our turn to be on night watch up on the deck. I had no idea what I was doing and although I could see the dim lights of the shoreline and hear the engines churning through the waves at the dead of night, there was no sense of moving forwards as progress was so slow.

There’s something quite eerie about being out at sea in the pitch black, and no matter how inexperienced I was as the waves crashed onto the deck, I just held one piece of simple information upper most in my mind while the others slept; I just knew that I had to make sure that there was more water outside of the boat then there was inside of it! With that being the case, we survived!

Often in life, we will find ourselves in stormy waters. Waters that feel like they are going take us under, and yet we just have to adopt that very same principle…keep the water outside of the boat.

You can’t sink a ship, no matter how fierce the storm, unless you allow the waters from the outside to get on the inside. If the storm keeps coming, the lightning keeps flashing and the thunder keeps thumping all through the night, what matters is that you keep all of what is going on around you, out of you.

The disciples were caught in a raging storm on the lake one night and Jesus was fast asleep down below. They were sure that they were going to drown, that was until they woke Jesus; He simply addressed the storm and said ‘peace, be still’.

Today, Jesus wants you to know that He’s right there with you and no matter how bad it is right now outside of the boat, he says to you…be at peace. Be still.

No one can promise you that life is going to be plain sailing, however if you will simply allow Jesus into the boat of your life he will keep you in perfect peace.

Why not call on him right now?

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th October 2017

When God prompts us to surrender, it isn’t always what we feel like doing. We might even find ourselves ignoring His whisper to “lay it down”, and carry on despite a lack of peace. Yet the sense of freedom and release that comes when we give up what we know we should, and submit to the authority of God, is like no other.

In Romans 12:1 Paul appeals to us in saying, ‘…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship’. The words “living” and “sacrifice” don’t really go together – in fact they have almost opposite meanings. “Living” means, “to be alive” and the word “sacrifice” means to “give up” or “kill”. How can you be alive and killed at the same time?

When sacrificing an animal according to God’s law, a priest would kill the animal, cut it in pieces and place it on the alter. Sacrifice was important, but even in the Old Testament, God made it clear that sacrifice and surrender from the heart was much more important (1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 40:6, Amos 5:21-24).

God wants us to be fully alive, but fully surrendered. Living, but choosing to daily let go of those things we hold tight and put to death that which we know we should.

Don’t simply incorporate Jesus into your life, rather than fully submit. When you aren’t submitted you are open to influence of other things that want to distract your mind and heart, and rob your peace and inheritance.
Will God love us any less if we don’t surrender that thing we know we should? Of course He won’t love us less! But will we walk into all that God has for us if we surrender? Yes! Will we find peace in surrender? Yes!

Whatever heavy weight you are carrying, precious thing you are holding tight, or burden you keep pulling, find true peace and freedom in surrender.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th October 2017

David was faced with a giant and a giant decision…

Did he go back the way he came and ignore the taunts of the enemy? Or did he do something about it?

What could he do? He was only a young teenager and Goliath was a GIANT.

Thankfully, he decided to do something about it…and with what he had, and what he knew…a sling shot and a few stones, he took down the mighty Goliath and the rest is history.

You see, David slew Goliath because he saw injustice and something that wasn’t right.

When you and I get passionate about something that’s not right, then we are in the right place for God to use us.

How many times are we faced with situations of injustice and things that aren’t right – but we choose to walk away, bury our heads, decide it’s too much trouble, and certainly not wanting to lose our popularity we choose the easiest option, which is do or say nothing?

David took on a mighty force with God on his side and defeated the enemy. You can make a difference today wherever you are and whatever you face.

If you can’t be bothered, you won’t get your David versus Goliath moment and the injustice will continue.

Stand up today and be strong. Take courage. For God is surely with you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th October 2017

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

You may not reap WHEN you sow, but you will definitely reap WHAT you sow.

Pick up an apple and take a bite; now eat the whole thing. I can guarantee that there is still some remaining. The part that’s left is of course known as the core. Have you ever wondered why that even an apple has a protection system built around its seed? It’s there to stop you eating it. The core of the apple is shouting out to you as you eat it….’don’t eat my seed…sow it’.

By eating the seed you not only realise that it’s not that tasty, but you actually take away its future by doing so. Eating any kind of seed means that it’s very life has now been extinguished, whereas keeping that seed in order to sow it means that it has the ability to multiply.

For most of us reading this today, it comes as no real revelation, but what amazes me is how little do we practice what even the fruit and vegetable kingdom teach us, let alone the Bible.

You can always tell what a person will be growing in their life by looking at what they’re sowing in their life. You don’t get oranges by sowing apples and you don’t get something by sowing nothing. The law of sowing can never ever be erased or bypassed in any area of your life.

That seed holds for that one apple the promise of multiplication.

To receive love you first have to give away love.

If you want to have lots of friends then you first must sow friendship seeds.

Even money is multiplied by giving it away and is spoken of more in the Bible than even Heaven!

Whenever you hang on to stuff hoping that you will be better off by doing so, you will always fall flat on your face, simply because you tried to keep your seed rather than sowing your seed.

Recently a earthenware pot was found and was dated back to being around 2000 years old. Inside the pot they discovered a handful of seeds. Those seeds had sat there from the time of Jesus. They had never amounted to anything, yet someone decided to sow them in the right conditions and within weeks they had started to sprout and turn into what they always been intended for. The problem was never with the seed, only with the sower.

What is that you are lacking today? What’s stopped growing in your life? What harvest are you waiting for? Then my question is simple: what are you sowing?

Start right away and then let that seed produce what it was always intended for.

You could carry a packet of seeds in your pocket for the rest of your life, but would never see them bloom into the picture on the front. You could show everyone your seeds and believe that your seeds have the power to grow into something beautiful, but they never will…until you sow them.

One thing is for sure: no farmer that knows anything about sowing and reaping would be foolish enough to keep looking over his fields every day unless he first sowed his seed.

Start to sow today and watch this space.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th October 2017

One gorgeous summer I went surfing during a beach day out with some friends. I was using my Dad’s surfboard. I tied the leg rope around my ankle at the shore and paddled my way out to where the surf was breaking. I waited on the water. A good-looking wave came and I paddled my hardest until I caught a sense of the wave carrying me. As I stood up, I quickly fell off and plunged into the sea, but the wave was still pulling the heavy surfboard along! Being a lightweight youth, I quickly sped through the water by my ankle. There was no way I could come up for air. The underwater drag was so strong and the mass of water overwhelming. It was scary. Somehow in that moment, I knew the only way to survive this was to ride it out under the water. To hold my breath, and know that the wave wouldn’t last forever, and the calm was inevitable. Of course I lived to tell in the tale!

We can also feel that underwater, gasping for air – type drag in our in day-to-day life. Overwhelmed and pulled by our worries, and just waiting for a break! Even the mundane expectations of life can collate, build and become an all-consuming wave. The temptation to worry about all the “What ifs” and unknowns of tomorrow is real.

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus says, ‘Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

I love this scripture for three reasons:

1) God isn’t naïve to the fact that life has struggles that pull us under. He acknowledges them and tells us to let the wave of today’s troubles come and pass.

2) I love that Jesus frees us by commanding us to just be present and focus on today, despite our worries. He calls us to leave the future to Him. Focus on being present, using what you have today and being faithful with now! One step at a time, you will get where you need to.

3) God doesn’t want us to view tomorrow’s potential issues with today’s grace. Wait for the fresh grace and ability when you get to tomorrow! Of course you feel under-equipped for the circumstances of tomorrow, because you aren’t there yet and He has promised to give us all we need for today and will give us what we need for tomorrow, tomorrow. That isn’t a maybe, that is a promise!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th October 2017

Right from the opening scene of day one on the planet, the Bible records for us the classic line when it comes to temptation…”did God really say”.

For anyone today that’s reading this and feeling pretty smug that you would never ever be caught out by temptation, then take heed, you are a prime candidate to slip and fall…

1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Being tempted is something that every person on the planet faces; Temptation, said Oscar Wilde, is like birds flying over head, but sin is when you allow them to nest in your hair.

Temptation isn’t sin, it’s just part of our every day experience, but you do have to recognise and deal with it, otherwise you could lose your life, job, family, future and your reputation.

Here are four statements for you to keep fixed in your mind, in order to help you stay strong and avoid being caught in its trap;

The PURPOSE of temptation is to get you to do what you vowed you never would. It will never come in an evil disguise but will always appear as sweetness and light.

The POWER of temptation is such, that you actually believe that what you counted as totally unacceptable, is now thoroughly acceptable.

The PREFERENCE of temptation is that you continue to serve God, but do so as an outright hypocrite.

The POISON of temptation is so strong, that those that challenge your lifestyle, who you once held dear, will now be treated as enemies rather than friends.

The greatest truth that you need to know today is that you can say NO to temptation.

Remember: there’s always free cheese on a mousetrap.

Don’t lose your whole life for one quick moment of pleasure.

Walk away..say no!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th October 2017

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Sitting in an airport is not something that anyone really likes doing, but it is a must if your are going to travel anywhere of any distance. The wait seems never ending, but I must admit on the occasions of rushing through customs and then running to the plane that’s just about to leave, and on one occasion did, is an option much less preferred.

Having gone through customs and secuirity, a couple of weeks back with my wife and son, we decided to find a seat, grab a bite to eat and at least pass the time away. No sooner had we settled down in an already crowded area, when we watched a meticulously dressed man drop his plastic bottle of Coke on the floor and see it explode and spray all over him. No one even moved as he sat there in sheer embarrassment all alone. I got up and told him to stay there while I found a member of the cleaning staff and at the same time Caleb ran and got some tissues, started to mop it up and help the guy get cleaned up. I felt so sorry for him.

As he was getting sorted, Caleb arrived with a new bottle of coke that he’d decided to buy from WHSmith.

The guy was so taken back by the gesture, that at first he refused to accept, but after realising our insistence, he gratefully received. That small gesture of kindness opened the door for us to chat further with him and I said that I would like to guess what he did for a job, being so smartly dressed. After the first guess of ‘businessman’, I quickly changed it to ‘Church Pastor’. He couldn’t believe that I’d guessed what he did and proceeded to ask how we even mention such a thing. I told him that we too were Pastors and that we could see it in his eyes that he too was a believer in Jesus. (When Jesus lives in you, then the light shines out of your eyes).

He told us how he was travelling from a conference all alone and was on his way back home several thousands of miles away. He was the pastor of an amazing church. He left me his email address and we parted company.

I have never since contacted him, but I couldn’t help but think out of all the thousands of people in the airport that day, that God allowed us to be a blessing to a man of God in need.

Friend, you never know who you may need to help today, but remember whoever it is, you are being sent to make someone’s day.

Ask yourself, if you were in need, wouldn’t you like someone to treat you with respect and kindness? Then do to others what you’d wish for them to do to you…and you never know…you could even be entertaining an angel and not know it.

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd October 2017

Joseph was a dreamer, in fact God gave him some incredible dreams. Joseph also had people who tried to crush and decry his dream.
Joseph was his Dad’s favourite and his brothers weren’t impressed with that at all, especially when he told them that one day he was going to rule over them (not wise maybe). God told Joseph that he was going to be a great leader one day and Joseph went after his dream.
On the way to that dream, things didn’t turn out as Jospeh had thought or planned. He first found himself in a pit, sold into slavery and ended up in prison. But his dream, God’s dream for his life, was fulfilled and Joseph became a mighty leader and indeed he did rule over his family.

On the way to your dream, you will have people who will discourage you, laugh at you and even physically try and stop you…watch out for dream killers.

On the way to your dream, you will encounter circumstances that will be opposite to what you thought they would be… watch out for those too.

Make sure that you hold firm to the dream that God has placed in your heart. Go after it and don’t turn from it.

Great plans never happen without great sacrifices and great victories are never won without great battles.

Don’t let the negative deter you from what God has for your life. Be an overcomer.
And remember, just like Joseph, nothing great ever came easily.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st October 2017

In the Old Testament, in the book of 2 Kings, we read about Naaman the commander of the army who had leprosy.
He was told to see the man of God in a certain country who could help him and on the way he went to visit the King of that country and took gifts.

I love this story for various reasons, but here is a great thought: when you are about to receive something, take a gift with you in anticipation of what you are about to receive.
It may be a physical gift, like flowers etc when you go to someone’s house for a meal – it’s a wonderful way of saying “thank you for having me, I really appreciate it.”
Naaman took gifts to the King, which was a great custom, because he was about to receive something FROM the King.

When you go to Church, when you enter God’s presence, bring that same attitude of gratitude with you, that says “I am thankful for what I am about to receive.”

Never come with a selfish attitude or a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. But come humbly and gratefully.

When you go for a meal to someone’s home, they have lovingly prepared something (that has also cost them something) and so go gratefully. When you go to Church, someone has prepared something for you that has cost love and time, go gratefully.

A lot of us struggle with being grateful AFTER the event, let alone before.
“I’ll be thankful IF I’ve enjoyed the meal, I’ll be thankful IF I’ve enjoyed the service…”

Come on, let’s change that culture and be grateful ON THE WAY to receive.

When I sit down for a meal, whether it be a simple breakfast or a nice dinner I always thank God for what I am about to receive. Put that culture into your own heart and family. Teach children at a young age to be thankful for what they are about to receive.

It’s amazing how much better your experience of Church and all aspects of life will be, when you come with a grateful attitude.

By the way, Naaman received his miracle of healing…and God will surely always bless a thankful heart.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th October 2017

‘… In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it…’ Isaiah 40: 3 -5

Preparing a straight highway means removing obstacles and rolling out the red carpet for the coming of the Lord. The desert is a picture of life`s trials and sufferings. Isaiah told people to prepare to see God work.

Often as Christians we can be lazy in the wait for God to breakthrough. We can have an attitude of “I`ll have faith, when God shows up”, or “when the breakthrough happens, then I will make myself ready”. “When my non-Christian friend finds God, then I will talk to him about God”. “When I find out I`m pregnant, then I will prepare the baby’s room”. “When God provides the finances, then I will bless others”. “When I lose weight, then I will finally feel happy about myself”. “When they decide to be nice to me, then I will talk to them”. “When the leaders ask me to lead, then I will make myself ready”. “I`ll thank God when He brings my miracle”.

Stepping out in faith, means making a way in assurance that God will come through. I believe our breakthrough is often on the other side of showing God that we are prepared and ready for him to fill the space we have made. This could mean making space in our hearts, minds or quite literally, making a physical space in our lives.

Our mentality should instead be, “I will tell my friend about God, so he finds God”. “I will make a physical space in my life in expectation of a miracle”. “I will bless others in faith that God will provide for me”. “I will learn to love myself, so I look after myself”. “I will be kind to others, in faith that they will come to find friendship with me”. “I will prepare my heart and life for the call that God has in store for me, so when I am released, I am ready”. “I will praise God now for what I know is coming”.

What things are you anticipating God to do in your life and how you can practically make a way for their arrival?

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 19th October 2017

Matthew 9:27-30 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’; and their sight was restored.

I want you to see something here today that will help shape the rest of your life. If you don’t get this, you will somehow miss out on some of the greatest adventures that God has got lined up for your future.

Jesus didn’t say according to MY power; He said according to YOUR faith.

God’s power is always ready and available, and yet we find that we have to activate that very power with our faith. He wants you and I to participate with Him otherwise He would randomly give it out all day without anyone asking.

Charles Spurgeon called it the rule of God’s kingdom; If you believe God a little, He will bless you a little. If you believe Him for much, He will bless you with much.

All of God is everywhere all of the time, yet His unlimited power is restricted and released ‘according to your faith’.

When I first read the Bible as a new Christian, I was blown away by this verse and decided that if it were really true then it would stand up to any test that I put it through. That very first test was when I was a student and really wanting to go to a Christian concert. It was a ticket only event and I was pretty much broke.

I managed to scrape just enough money to purchase a ticket at the concert hall, but when I arrived, to my dismay, there was nowhere to park except on a pay and display car park at the arena. There were huge signs everywhere that threatened heavy fines and wheel clamping should you fail to purchase a car park ticket.

My dilemma was to pay for a ticket OR pay to get into the concert, but I couldn’t do both. Then it came to me, that if God’s word were true then I had to trust Him one way or another. I decided to use my money to buy a car park ticket and then figure it out from there.

Without any money left in my pocket, but faith rising in my heart, I went and stood in a long line to get into the concert. This was easy I began to think, as there were at least 50 people in front of me; but as the line grew shorter and I got nearer the entrance, my faith started to get tested.

I was now almost at the entrance with only three people in front of me waiting to pay, so I let up a quick nervous prayer asking God whether to bail or stand my ground, but whatever needed to happen needed to happen fast.

I was just about to face the inevitable, when the security doors in front of us flew open and a guy came out, waving a ticket whilst shouting, ‘does anyone need a ticket to get in?’ – I simply reached out and took the ticket and as I did so, I was next in line and walked straight through.

Phew…that was close or was it? It happened ‘according to my faith’. When God saw me standing in line without money, I was making a faith statement that was more powerful than any prayer, and said to God, ‘I’m fully expecting you to turn up for me.’

That night my heart exploded with gratitude at the faithfulness of God. I have ever since then tried to live a life of simple faith and trust that God would turn up according to my faith in any and every situation.

As you start this brand new day, I challenge you to believe God by placing your trust in Him in much the same way. What are you expecting God to do today?

Remember: your expectation is God’s invitation.

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.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th October 2017

What is manna? The Israelites asked the very same question when it started falling from the sky! On their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Israelites faced harsh conditions and were desperate for food. God then miraculously provided them with “bread from heaven”, called “manna”. The manna appeared fresh each morning.

It could be collected each day, but only for that day alone, and only as much as could be consumed in one day. Out of fear of lack, the Israelites began storing one day’s manna for their future needs. This strategy didn’t go as they planned however! The manna would grow wormy and foul if left for a single day!

Why would God provide manna, only to have it turn stale when people tried to collect and store it for later on? Why couldn’t they live off of yesterday’s manna? The answer is simple – God wanted them to be in a position where they had to seek daily dependence on Him, and source out fresh hope from Him. In the manna going off after a day, it was impossible for the Israelites to not seek total dependence on God. They had to relinquish their effort to become self-sufficient. They had to trust God daily.

In John 6:32-35, Jesus says, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”’.

The ultimate bread of life is Jesus. Like the manna from heaven, we cannot solely live off of our past experiences and encounters with Him. We need daily, fresh sustenance, grace and dependence. God wants us to be needy for Him. In a day and age where self-sufficiency and independence is celebrated, God requires us to desperately want Him. If you need God today, this is exactly where he wants you and you are where you should be!

Perhaps you are still living off of yesterday’s revelation of God, or last year’s miracle, or last Sunday’s connection with Him and you are waiting for the next church meeting before you collect the next lot of manna. Mature Christians know how to eat of the bread daily. They can cultivate intimacy with Christ throughout the week. They keep things fresh and don’t grow stagnant.

Be encouraged that God has all your needs for this very day. See what provisions and spiritual sustenance He has for you right now. Don’t live off of old bread!

Lamentations 3:22-23
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.
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Fresh Hope – 17th October 2017

What got you here…won’t get you there.

My first 50cc moped just about got me to college every day. College was just three miles away.

My first ‘real’ motorcycle just about got me to my first real job in London every week. London was a 260 mile round trip once a week.

With my first car, I never knew if it would start or not, and would never trust it on a long journey. Today I never have to stop and think about pushing, bump starting or abandoning the car I have – it will get me to places that I would have never dreamed of travelling to before.

Even with having a reliable car, I still know it’s not a suitable form of transport to take me across the world. That’s going to take a whole different form of travel.

In much the same way, your primary school education got you only to your junior school. Your junior school then got you to your secondary school and then your secondary school got you into college, university or a job.

As absurd in their simplicity as all those things are, we do have a tendency to think differently when it comes to our lives. We feel that what got us to where we are today, is able to get us to the next level tomorrow.

Even the miracle that you experienced from God to get you here is not necessarily going to get you to where you need to be next week or next year.

Moving forwards in life requires this very basic understanding, otherwise we would all go straight from the nursery to the workplace.

In the Old Testament (1 Kings v 17), Elijah announces that there will be no more rain until he says so. He was a pretty amazing and accurate man of God.

When the drought kicked in, God told him that he would be fed meat by ravens every day and then he would wash it down with water from the brook.

One day the brook dried up and the ravens stopped coming, so God gave him a further instruction. This time, his provision would come from a different source – that of a poor widow in a small village a few miles away.

Elijah had a choice to make. He could either stay and keep believing that what supplied his need to that point would continue to sustain him, or he could heed God’s further instruction and set off for the next level of provision.

One would see him die and the other would see him live.

Could it be today that you have mistaken the initial instruction from God in your life as one of permanence rather than one of short term provision to get you to the next part of life’s journey?

So often we make the mistake of staying where we were sustained only to find that we are dying there, simply because we believed that that was the only way God could and would provide for us.

Ask yourself at the start of this brand new day…’have I stayed here too long, when I should have moved on to my next level miracle?’

Don’t get too cozy, complacent and comfortable with where you are right now. Just because God did it that way before He may not do it that way ever again.

How many times do you read in the Bible about Jesus spitting in the eyes of the blind so that they could see? The answer is twice. He never repeated that miracle ever again as far as we know.

Maybe God moved powerfully in your life some time back and you are waiting for the exact same thing again. God rarely does repeats, instead He prepares fresh miracles everyday.

There’s one waiting for you right now if you’ll just open your heart to what he wants to say.

Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th October 2017

Many times we are in need of an answer to prayer and even a miracle. At those times, it’s important to remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. “If He’s done it before, He will do it again.”

In Matthew chapter 14 there is a big need. 5000 men plus women and children need food and Jesus feeds them with just 5 loaves and 2 fish.
Just one chapter later there’s a similar situation, 4000 plus people and a little more food this time, seven loaves of bread.. and Jesus performs another miracle.

Yet in verse 33 of this chapter the disciples are asking “where can we find enough food to feed all these people?” Hello! Haven’t they just witnessed a similar miracle, one with more people and less food? Why are they doubting and asking how it can possibly be done?

Whatever your need today, don’t focus on it – focus instead on the faithfulness of God.
Whatever miracle you need, don’t focus on that need, focus on the miracle working power of God.
Whatever your problem today, don’t focus on the problem, instead focus on the Almighty power of God.

You see, we would think the disciples were stupid here, they’re actually with Jesus and witnessing His miraculous power first hand, yet they’re still doubting!
We are so like that at times.

Failure to see God’s past goodness will limit your faith for your future miracle.

Remember – if He’s done it before, He can do it again!

Rise up in faith today and get ready for your miracle.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th October 2017

I read this quote recently… “If you ignore the urgent it will kill you today, but if you ignore the important it will kill you tomorrow.”

Unfortunately too many people live for what’s urgent and not what’s important .
Busy people can sometimes just deal with urgent stuff, stuff they have to deal with, because it’s ‘urgent’ and therefore they seem to go from one crisis to another.

Some of us wait for something urgent to happen before we pray or before we give or act or love.
Yet, we shouldn’t be urgent people.
We should live and build into our lives good and godly principles that deal with the important things.

Here’s the better way…
Don’t live for what’s urgent. Live for what’s important.

Prayer. Make it a daily part of your life. Make time for prayer. Take time for prayer. Pray consistently. Talk to God often.
Don’t just pray in a crisis, make it part of your daily life.

Give. Don’t wait to be in need, to sow a seed. Make giving part of your lifestyle. Be generous on all occasions and see God’s blessings flow into your life.

Act. Acts of kindness and serving God should be big parts of our day. Don’t live for self, live for God first and others next. Be a person of action not just of words.

Love. Don’t just love when it’s urgent. Love daily. Give yourself in loving ways and see the love flow back to you. What you sow you will reap applies to love also. Be a lover of God and of people.

So today, I urge you to live for what’s IMPORTANT, not what is urgent.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th October 2017

If you’ve ever been to the gym before, you’ll know what I mean when I say it can be one of the most discouraging places to visit. The reason being is that you only have to walk through the front door to be met by someone whose right bicep is the size of your right thigh.

Typically, our first reaction is then to want to walk back out the door saying, ‘what’s the point?!’

I’ll be the first to say that I often allow other people’s journey to discourage my own. I see where they’re at, whether it be on their journey of fitness, or even on their journey of faith, and I become intimidated by where they find themselves in comparison to where I find myself.

But instead of allowing other people’s journey to intimidate us, why don’t we allow it to inspire us?

Let’s realise that they were once that person walking through the front door for the first time, overwhelmed by what they saw, but instead of turning around, they kept on coming back…
They decided to get around those who were further down the road than they, ask questions, learn from them, and believe that one day, they too could get to where they want to be.

Today, don’t resent nor covet what stage of the journey somebody else finds themselves at, but with a righteous contentment, be grateful for where you are, and also possess an eager desire to keep moving forward to be where God wants you to be.

Life was not designed to be a journey that we race in against one another, but one that we embark on together.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 12th October 2017

We don’t have to be a CEO, celebrity, or even a church leader to be a person of significant influence and leadership. It is a lie to believe that we need to have high profile roles in order to change the world.

God has a history of often using unassuming and unlikely individuals to do the greatest things on earth. Take Peter for example. Peter had a bad reputation. Yet Jesus said, Peter will be the one on whom the Church is built. Noah was a drunkard and God used him to repopulate the earth. Abraham was an old man who became the father of Israel and ultimately, the modern Jewish nation. It was through his lineage that many other great heroes came, including Jesus. Moses was a stutterer and God used him to bring his people freedom. Rahab was a prostitute, but would be part of the bloodline to Christ. David was just a shepherd boy, who murdered and committed adultery, but he conquered Goliath, and was made king. Jonah ran from God, and then eventually led the people of Nineveh to repentance. Matthew was a despised tax collector, who left his work behind, followed Jesus, and wrote one of the four gospels. Saul persecuted Christians, and was transformed to write much of scripture encouraging Christians! And then there is Jesus himself – born in an animal feeding trough, to unassuming parents. God sent the king of kings, the saviour of all, in the most humble of ways. The list goes on and on, from the past to the present, of impossible people God has used to change the course of history!

We all have a degree of influence and leadership in our personal world. Every person we connect with is an opportunity for influence. The Devil can’t take away our given call to influence, so his only weapon is to get us to doubt we have the ability, strip our confidence, and get us to question our identity.

Let me encourage you in perhaps your sense of inferiority and insignificance. If we want to be the history makers we are called to be, let us not chase the fame, power and wealth with think we need in order to have influence. Let us first steward well the one or two people we have already been given. God is simply looking for humble people, who own their story. People who acknowledge their weaknesses and find strength in God. People who ‘seek first His kingdom’ (Matthew 6:33) and ‘delight themselves in the Lord’ (Psalm 37:4).

2 Corinthians 12:10

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th October 2017

I was invited to MC a large event a few years ago. I’d received a phone call from the organiser of the event and was told that they thought I was the man for the job. I tried to reason with them that they should choose someone else but they were having none of it.

The event was to be held on a Saturday evening in a local town hall that seated 800 people and was going to be filled with Christians from all over the area; they were coming to hear a high profile speaker from across the world and it was to be an incredible night of worship, prayer and teaching.

I was to lead the service, welcome the people and then introduce and welcome the speaker.

When the night arrived the place was buzzing and even though I would not normally go out late on a Saturday night because of getting totally prepared for services in my own church the next day, I’d made an exception.

There wasn’t a spare seat in the place as I stood to welcome people from all over the area and then lead them into a time of worship. I was seated on the front row with my brother in law and several other church leaders, as we listened to the well seasoned and much loved speaker. Expecting the event to finish at around 9.30 at the latest, I was getting agitated as it was now approaching ten o’clock with no sign of ending soon. At around 10.15, the speaker started to wrap things up and then announced he would like to pray for people at the front. Time just kept rolling by and so I turned to my brother in law and said that I wanted to make a quick exit when people started to come to the front, as it would be less inconspicuous.

The plan worked a dream and we darted out a fire exit with no one knowing that we had even left.

It wasn’t until the next day that I received a phone call from a friend to let me know what had happened after we had left. Apparently the service was almost at the end when the speaker asked me come back to the stage to pray and conclude the night. As I didn’t appear after an embarrassing silence, someone shouted out…’he’s gone home!’

All 800 people now knew that I had rudely taken off for bed. I felt humiliated to say the least.

It’s a funny story now, but I can assure you that it took me quite a time to get over it.

My story is a painful reminder to each of us of what it feels like when you exit something prematurely.

Sometimes we exit relationships too early and sometimes with more serious consequences, we exit our dreams too early. Quitting never happens when things are going great, but the temptation is always there to quit when we don’t like the season we are in.

I’ve wanted to quit a number of times over the years when things got difficult, but I never have and I never will. That event from all those years ago helped to teach me that the dishonour of quitting early is far more costly than going through the temporary pain of staying the course.

Whatever pain you may be facing right now, I implore you not to quit.

Don’t quit on your marriage, your church, your team, your family and especially don’t quit on your dreams.

God has placed a dream within so that you can be a world changer. He is relying on you today to hold fast to the course and see your dream fulfilled; not only that, there are people waiting for your dream to be fulfilled, so that their lives can be changed too.

Don’t be a quitter…be a conqueror.

Habakkuk 2:3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th October 2017

There’s a phrase used in the world of fitness, ‘don’t skip leg day’, that speaks to the idea that there are many people who work out, but have a tendency to want to avoid any exercise that involves their legs.

Why, you ask? Because it’s painful.

Exercising your lower body can be quite a painful process. But, speak to any personal trainer and they will tell you that leg exercises are some of the best exercises you can do.

It’s true in the world of fitness and it’s true of life in general, that some of your most painful experiences can also be some of your most beneficial experiences.

Our human tendency is to skip what’s painful, and I’ll be the first to say that that includes me too. But allow me to encourage both you and I by saying, don’t skip what’s painful, because often what’s most painful is most fruitful.

You see, pain is often the thing that produces the greatest purpose in our lives. We don’t often believe that pain and purpose can be present both at the same time, however the presence of pain does not equal the absence of purpose. In fact, the two may be a lot more closely connected than you think.

So today, don’t run from pain, embrace it. Because chances are, if it’s hurtin’, it’s helpin’.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 9th October 2017

Living in a very natural world, with demanding realities like our jobs, families, friends, finances, and limited bodies, we can very much feel like we are only human.
Reality is that we are in fact spiritual beings having a human experience here on earth.

In fear of “being over spiritual” or “spiritualising everything”, we can disregard, the fact that there is another greater realm always operating. ‘…Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12).
In short, this scripture tells us that our difficulties aren’t always as natural and “normal” as they appear to be. There are often spiritual dynamics at play in our relationships, workplaces, and heart.

The Bible and experience testifies to the fact that the spiritual world holds a greater reality than our natural world and what we simply see on the surface.
This does not mean that we live life on constant look out for demons and the Devil. In fact, it means that the reality of heaven is greater than the reality of the natural. It means that the reality of our supernatural God, surpasses the natural realities or problems of our day to day.
A person is healed from back pain. In reality the person had back pain, but the GREATER REALITY is that Jesus heals.

The reality is that you have bills to pay, but the GREATER REALITY is that God is the ultimate provider with unlimited resources.

The reality is that we may have relationships that are damaged, but the GREATER REALITY is that God is the master of reconciliation and can heal all relational rifts.

As Christians we have to be the first to live in a world of GREATER REALITY, not just reality.

Last night, I spoke to a friend who has had ongoing problems with another mom at her daughter`s school. The rift in the relationship was weighing heavy on my friend and she spent a lot of time asking God for the restoration of their friendship. She felt that she needed to ask the Holy Spirit to restore their connection, rather than intervene in her own effort. Just this week she finally received a text message from the other mom asking if they could meet up for coffee because she wanted to apologise and just couldn’t shake the constant feeling of wanting to restore things between them! Had my friend approached the issue from a ‘natural’ perspective, their rift would have become wider and wider, but in dealing with the issue by the Spirit and not the flesh, breakthrough was made!

Let’s not be ignorant or passive in our faith. It is amazing how your perspective on problems shift when you approach issues with “spiritual eyes”.

Rather than seeing things just on surface level, and how they appear in the natural, consider what is going on at a deeper level, at a spiritual level. Look at the greater reality!

Romans 12:2

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th October 2017

In Luke chapter 8 we read that Jesus instructed His disciples to take a boat journey.

Please note that HE took them that way and it was straight into a storm.
Sometimes God leads us that way.
We may not think God can possibly be with us during those times and although He isn’t the author of bad things, He can often allow us to go through them.
He knows what is going to happen. He’s the author of my faith. He wrote my life. He leads me…”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me.” (Psalm 23)

Here’s three things to remember

1. The presence of problems, doesn’t mean the absence of God.

2. God can lead you into a difficult time. He’s trusting you with it. They were in the boat probably thinking Jesus was testing them. No, He was trusting them. Whenever God leads us into something, He’s obviously trusting you with that situation. Watch your attitude, your heart, your speech, your actions, watch your serve.
The disciples were in the boat with Jesus and there was a storm. He was asleep and they got scared. They didn’t think about Him.
They said “WE are going to drown.”

3. Sometimes when things aren’t good we can forget about Jesus. We can be so consumed with ourselves and our worries and with the situation and the outcome that we forget WHO is actually in the boat with us.

Today remember, He is with you, He’s watching you and He wants to help you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th October 2017

Galatians 5:22-23, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…’

I used to always think this scripture was just sweet and lovely. I have recently come to understand that the fruits of the Spirit aren’t just these pleasant things we try and produce as Christians. The fruits of the Spirit are POWERFUL.

One thing is for sure, fruit cannot be forced out. So often we can find ourselves stressing over producing the fruit. Question: have you ever seen a tree forcing fruit out? I think not! Fruit is an effortless product of a tree that is grounded in the right conditions. When the source of the tree is well nurtured, the product is naturally fruit!

How are we as Christians any different? We can’t beat ourselves up until we manifest joy or guilt ourselves into being more self-controlled. Sure, it may work for a bit, but it isn’t sustainable. The fruit of God is a product of the Holy Spirit, not a fruit of me! As I submit to Holy Spirit, the fruit is a natural occurrence.

Too many of us, try too hard, too often, to become righteous FOR God, but it is actually Jesus who made us righteous and the Holy Spirit that brings it into fruition. He is at work IN us.

The Holy Spirit is the ultimate counselor, refresher, strengthener, teacher and comforter – so what is the fruit of submitting to good counseling, guiding, teaching and comforting? A life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control!

Christianity is far more than a self-improvement and self-behaviour modification program. Christianity is about heart transformation through the work of Holy Spirit, which then produces tasty fruit!

We live in a world that is CRAVING the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and as these are produced in your life, people will come to taste!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th October 2017

The Sustain pedal on a piano is a wonderful creation, it helps to create a beautifully smooth sound. When pressed, the sustain pedal works by moving all dampers away from the strings and allowing them to vibrate freely.

Psalm 55vs22 says to ‘cast all your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you’. The idea that God wants to remove the dampers on our life is such an amazing thought.

Let me ask you, what ‘cares’ are you carrying around with you, or what are you holding on to that you need to ‘cast upon God’?
Just like a great-sounding piano, God wants our life to be free and resound – sounding out the notes of His Love, joy and peace.

Psalm 55 goes onto say that God will never let you down, so today make the choice to give your troubles to God and allow him to sustain you and your life can sound amazing!

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th October 2017

Much to the surprise of many…God uses unclean things.

Just think of how many of us would ever be able to come to faith in Jesus if we had to clean up our act first; and yet so many people desperately try to get better before they feel worthy enough to reach out to Him. That kind of thinking is the furthest thing from the Gospel; even on our best day we never can make the mark.

Listen to what the Bible says…

Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

One of the most prominent women mentioned in the Bible was Rahab the prostitute. She was rewarded for helping hide some men of God in her home from certain death and as a result is mentioned in the ‘halls of faith’ in the New Testament, alongside some of the Bible greats. All of this happened before she cleaned up her act.

The grace of God does not ask that we change and then come to God, but it enables us to reach out to Him first, just as we are, and then allow Him to change us.

If you could change yourself then why not do it right now?

Zacheus was frowned upon as a tax collector and was hated by society for ripping people off, and yet out of all the crowds that were following Jesus that day, Jesus singled him out and told him that He wanted to come and stay at his house. That day Zacheus changed, not before, but after allowing Jesus into his home.

Today, that story is also a picture of our hearts. Jesus wants to come to live within us and if we welcome Him, salvation comes to us and radical change begins.

Have you ever thought why Jesus earned himself the reputation ‘friend of sinners’, and yet never was once called the friend of the self righteous or friend of nice people?

Don’t wait until you become a better version of who you are right now, as that day will never come, instead come to him just as you are.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd October 2017

A couple of years ago, I bought a fascinating book on the life of Walt Disney.

He was one of the great dreamers of the 20th century.

Anyone that could create the first sound cartoon, the first all-colour cartoon and the first animated feature length motion picture is definitely someone with vision.

His two great masterpieces of vision were Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Both Disneyland and Disney World started with just a seed – a seed that was sown when he used to take his young daughters to the amusement park on Saturday mornings.

His girls loved it and so did he… but when the bright lights faded and the carousel stopped, he just saw shabby horses with cracked and chipped paint.

His disappointment inspired him with a grand vision for an amusement park where the illusion didn’t evaporate.

His dream became Disneyland.

The seed for most people’s dreams naturally springs from their everyday experiences, but ultimately all dreams flow from God’s creative heart that flows through a man or a woman.

If you have not yet identified your dream, just keep your eyes and ears open, listen to your heart and be open to every possibility and even every impossibility.

‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ – Walt Disney.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd October 2017

One of my favourite parables in the Bible is that of ‘The Prodigal Son’. It is the story of a loving father, who has two sons.

I have always thought that this parable should actually be called ‘The Extravagant Father’. Jesus uses the father in this story as a metaphor for God our father.

To summarise the parable, the younger son, rudely asks for his inheritance early. This was basically like saying, ‘You are dead to me, Dad!’. The son then left the protection of his father’s house, and, wasted his wealth on wild living. He soon found himself with the pigs where he then had a revelation that even his father’s servants were in a better position than he now was. Feeling worthless, he returned to the father in the hopes that he just might, maybe get a position back in the house hold even as a mere servant for his Father.

And this is my favourite part!… ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’

In the culture of that time, to run as an older man was quite the undignified thing to do. It would require you lifting up your long tunic, to reveal your ankles, which was seen as being inappropriate. What a beautiful picture of the love of God for US! God doesn’t care about etiquette, when it comes to loving us. Even when we are far off, He is undignified, uninhibited and wholehearted in His affection toward us. Before we even get to Him, He has run to meet us!

Understandably the son felt unworthy, and struggled to accept the love of the father. Yet the father didn’t stop. He put a robe, a ring and sandals on His son. These seem like lovely gifts, but do you know what they actually represent? These presents had a powerful message.

The robe represented restoration of the son to his original position, the ring a sign of both affection and authority – allowing the son to make continued financial transactions in his father’s name (what a gift of grace after the son had only just wasted everything!), and finally, the sandals a picture of sonship. Only slaves and servants were barefoot and this son needed to be reminded of who he really was. He wasn’t to think like a slave, he was to think like a son!

What an overwhelming picture of the love of Father God for us. When we fall short, we feel worthless and find ourselves trying to claw our way back to God, full of timidity and shame. Jesus shows us that in fact the Father only restores. When we step away, He reaffirms our sonship and our place in Him as we repent. He celebrates our reconciliation. He meets us! And He doesn’t walk to us, He runs! God reminds us that we aren’t slaves trying to regain approval, but we are given authority again, and the beautiful affection of the Father.

Luke 15:11-32.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.