Fresh Hope – 30th November 2017

Gratitude develops your faith when times are tough — when things don’t make sense, when you can’t figure it out, when your prayers are unanswered, when life stinks, when everything is going the way you didn’t want it to go. Anybody can thank God for good things. But when you can thank God even in the bad things, your faith grows and your spiritual roots go deeper.

In the Bible, the prophet Habakkuk was going through tough times. He said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).
Habakkuk wasn’t thanking God for all the things that had gone wrong in his life. What was his cause of gratitude? “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk could say, “Everything else stinks in life, but I can be grateful, because the Lord is my Savior. He will pull me out. He’ll bring me through this. I’m not on my own. He hasn’t abandoned me. I will still give thanks to God.”
This is the ultimate test of faith: Can you thank God when life stinks? That’s the test of how deep your spiritual roots go.

When you’re going through tough times, you need to look at what’s left, not what’s lost, and be grateful for it. No matter how bad things are, there are always thousands of things you can be grateful for. And no matter how bad things are, there is always the fact that you can be thankful to God just for being God. He has promised to see you through, to help you out, to strengthen you, to care for you, to do miracles, to answer your prayers. He’s promised that even when things don’t go your way, he can work it for good in your life.

Rick Warren

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th November 2017

Do you have a boss that treats you unfairly? Parents who you regularly disagree with? Leaders who don’t operate the way you believe they should?

It is easy to honour people when we agree with them, or they treat us the right way – but what do we do if they don’t? How do we respect those in authority even when they aren’t operating like you believe they should?

Let’s look at the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph was deeply loved by his father. So much so that his own brothers grew jealous of Joseph’s favour and sold him to slave traders. The cruel journey of walking through the wilderness in chains wouldn’t have compared to the emotional pain of rejection from his own flesh and blood.
The slave traders then sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt, where he would serve Pharaoh. Still dealing with the injustice from his family, he had to quickly adapt to a whole different culture. From farm boy to palace slave, this was a true test of his character.

Despite unfair circumstances, Joseph faithfully did his job. He never tried to prove himself, he just remained honouring, and in turn, God honoured him. So how did Joseph survive? The answer is that he was really serving God, not man. His identity was immersed in his relationship with God, not the treatment served to him. This is where he found his strength.

At request, Joseph was asked to use his God-given talent of dream interpretation, which he faithfully did. Eventually this gift would unlock the destiny of a country. In his faithfulness ‘Joseph found favour in his master’s eyes’ (Genesis 39:4). As Proverbs 18:16 says, ‘A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great’. Pharaoh was a pagan loving man, yet his life was greatly moved by the humble service of Joseph. God used Joseph’s spiritual gift and character to rock Pharaoh to the core! From his honouring heart, Joseph would soon be recognised as a powerful leader.

The story doesn’t end there. The injustice towards Joseph continued and the testing of his character tried yet again. After refusing Potiphar’s wife’s attempts to entice him to bed with her, she falsely accused him of sexual harassment and destroyed his reputation. Now talk about unfair!

Yet the favour of God continued to rest on Joseph as he again chose to honour despite circumstance. Even in prison he remained faithful to God and man. Genesis 29:1 tells us that, ‘The Lord was with him; He showed kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in prison.’

Joseph was eventually reunited with his brothers years later. Only now, Joseph was a powerful man – he had gone from prisoner to prime minister. Despite his position, he remained true to his heart of honour and was still gracious, humble and forgiving towards those who wronged him, and in-turn the favour of God on his life grew.

God certainly didn’t condone the Pagan leadership of Pharaoh, or the unjust treatment of Joseph from various characters in the story, yet Joseph was blessed for his ability to honour despite the behaviour of those in authority. Let this be the point for today – it isn’t our job to manage our leaders/parents/boss – that is for God to handle. Our job is to steward our own heart and honour the person, despite their actions – for there is blessing in honour.

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’ (Colossians 3:23).

Genesis 39:5
“From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th November 2017

In the words of C.S Lewis, ‘Hardships often prepare an ordinary person for an extra ordinary destiny’.

There is something to be said for people that embrace life’s challenges as an opportunity for growth, a time to develop character, and ultimately glorify God. Submitting to the process of the potter’s wheel may rarely be comfortable, but the finished product is beautiful. Like a mess of clay in a potter’s hand is the beginning of something wonderful, so a submitted mess of a life is of more value to God than a polished pieace of perfection.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’.

The hard fact is that it is not reality to embrace a promise for your life and expect there to be no process involved.
When you exercise your body properly and have muscle pain the following day, that pain is actually a product of ripped muscle fibres that then repair, building muscle stronger than ever, thus giving you more strength and definition. After a deep cut, the scar that then forms in repairing the wound, is actually far stronger skin than the skin that was originally there. A bone when it breaks and reforms is stronger than ever after the healing process. Likewise, when we undergo the pain of process, we are becoming stronger, wiser, sharper and more powerful than before.

Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith. You may feel like God has moved you to a road that you didn’t see yourself on, but just wait and let patience do its’ work. It is often the difficult road that leads to a beautiful destination. Keep on moving and trust the potter!

2 Corinthians 1:8

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 27 November 2017

Do you have a dream in your heart? Are you in need of a miracle? Do you find yourself in a situation that you need to see turned around?
Be encouraged today knowing that God is more eager to perform miracles than you are to see them.

If you and I want to see the miraculous in our lives, we must first understand that we have a part to play in our breakthrough as much as God does…

When we establish what we’re supposed to do, and then trust God to do what only He can do, you can be confident of seeing God do something incredible in and through your life.

Consider the role of a farmer… He sows the seeds, he then waits for growth, and then he goes back to work when the harvest has come.

That right there gives us a picture of how we’re supposed to work with God in order to see the supernatural in our lives.

We’re responsible for sowing seeds. We’re responsible for doing the legwork. We’re responsible for creating an environment that is conducive to growth. And once we’ve done what we’re capable of doing, we can then rest and allow God to do what we’re incapable of doing, which is bringing about the growth and change.

But also note that your work doesn’t end there… You must then make preparations for the harvest.

You see, many people only take care of one area. They either sow seeds that they aren’t prepared to handle once they’ve sprouted, while others are waiting on a harvest that they haven’t sown seeds for.

If today, we can recognise that God is looking for us to take care of the before and after, we then give Him something to work with in the middle.

You will be amazed at what happens in your life when you do your best and watch how God takes care of the rest.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 25th November 2017

We should never dwell on disappointment, because if we do, we will never get to where we are going.

We will always get disappointed in life, that’s a fact, but choosing to stay in that disappointment is up to us.

God has a great future for each of us, but life’s journey will always throw things at us and the enemy of our souls, the Devil himself, will always try to convince us it’s not worth moving on.

In Genesis chapter 11, we read that God asked Terah (Abraham’s Father) to take his whole family to Canaan (the promised land) and they set out, but on the way it says they settled in Haran and Terah died there, not reaching his destiny.

In verse 28 we read that Haran, Terah’s other son, died.
When Terah got to the place called Haran and settled there, maybe it was because all the old memories of his son, Haran, came flooding back.
Maybe, just maybe, the disappointments of the past caused him to stop short of his destination.

Today, beware of disappointments. They will come.
But choose to learn from them and get over them quickly… and then move on.
Do not stay in disappointment.
Do not pause where you aren’t supposed to.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th November 2017

Once, a young guy observed a man in his eighties planting an apple orchard. The old man lovingly and painstakingly prepared the soil, planted the tiny saplings and watered them. After watching for a while, the young man said, “you don’t expect to eat apples from those trees do you?” “No”, the old man replied, “but somebody will”.

As I get older, the more I realise that my actions today will either help or hinder all those that are following on behind me. How often do we have an attitude that just wants to please ourselves? We live in a day whereby it seems like for most people that as long as it’s not hurting anyone else then ‘it’s ok for me to do it.’ When you think about it, it’s a totally backwards way of living. What we should be saying is: “how can I ensure that what I’m doing today is going to help everyone else around me and behind me?”

The decisions, plans and even the culture you are building into your life and that of your family can literally shape the generations to come.

Living a life of integrity may seem old fashioned nowadays, but anything less will always come back to bite you.

When you serve people and influence them positively, you literally create a chain of impact that can outlive you.

Some people want to put restrictions on themselves according to their talent, intelligence, or experience. Others worry about their age. But with God, one person can always make a difference, regardless of circumstances or situation.

When Jesus fed the five thousand, a little boy provided the food for the miracle. When Noah was six hundred years old, he provided a boat for the miracle.

You’re never too old or too young to make a difference, and it’s never too late to start.

Make a difference today and change a generation tomorrow.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd November 2017

There is power in praise. Praise means ‘to commend, to applaud or magnify’. It is expressing who God is, what He is done, and what He can do.

Isaiah 61:3 speaks of the goodness of Jesus and that He would come ‘…to give you a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.’ ‘Garment of praise’ suggests that like clothing, praise is something that you put on. Praise isn`t always a feeling, it isn’t always just there, It’s a choice to remember the truth of God and speak it out.

Praise shouldn’t be reserved for just Sunday – it should be a lifestyle. Our declaration of the goodness of God cannot be determined by our mood or circumstance. In fact, it is in times of trial, that we should declare the goodness of God all the more! In Acts 16 Paul and Silas were in prison and began praising God. The doors of the prison they were in were opened, their chains fell off, the jailer and his family were saved, and they were released! This is a physical picture of the power praise. Likewise, when we are in an internal prison, praise lifts us out of the oppression, and helps us out. Praise is a powerful weapon against the strategy of the enemy to let our circumstances overwhelm us and question the goodness of God.

Even if we lost everything, we would still have reason to praise God. The price He paid for us is alone enough.
Habakkuk understood this when he said, ‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

The Bible says that God inhabits in the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3). Since praise manifests God’s presence nothing grates on the Devil more than rising above our feelings and choosing praise, declaring our victory, and speaking out the goodness of God.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd November 2017

God always does the right thing , even if it takes a long time.

When much time passes between when God promises something and when He eventually fulfils it, we often behave like small children who can’t wait for Christmas. We don’t like waiting, and we fear we have been forgotten.

It’s easy to see why Abraham in the Bible became impatient. When God sent him out from the area where he lived, he promised him that he would possess the land of Canaan, have many descendants, and his offspring would become a great nation. The fulfilment of that promise would bring him great joy, but after ten years, God had still not delivered on His promise.

Let’s take a look at what that decade looked like for Abraham:

-he left his family and his country, even though he didn’t know where he was going.
-he lived through a famine.
-he feared Pharaoh and lied to him.
-he experienced family conflict.

And after all of this he still had no son, and so he wanted to know if the deal was still on, or had God forgotten what He had promised.

God then spoke to him again…

Genesis 15:1, 5 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’

Even after this reassurance, he started to take things into his own hands by sleeping with his maidservant and producing their ‘own’ version of what God wanted to do supernaturally. Big mistake.

God’s ways, and his sense of timing, are not like ours even though it may seem like a long time to us. God always does what is right, and He always does it at the right time. He always comes through.

The promise came to pass when Abraham was in his nineties.

As a young man of nineteen, I experienced what I can only describe as the audible voice of God. My encounter with God informed me that I was to be the Pastor of the Church that I had been taken to as a child and was still attending.

This came as a complete shock and surprise, so I decided to keep it to myself. I told no one for fear of seeming to take the matter into my own hands. As I waited for the promise to come to pass, there was absolutely no sign that it could be possible. After a few years I questioned God as to why he had forgotten what He had said, and while He still wanted me in my career at that time. His simple answer came back and told me ‘it’s all good preparation!’

God was preparing me and eventually I was asked eight years later to become what God had told me that I would. I was appointed as the Pastor of the church and the rest is history.

God’s promise to you is real. He may even be ready right now for you to receive it, but is unlikely that you are…and so He waits.

Don’t lose heart today. God never forgets.

My prayer for you today…

Lord, I ask that you help my friends have patience when it seems like a long time since they have heard from you. Help them to be obedient when your leading seems so strange, to ask questions when they do not understand, to trust you when they do not find answers, because you always do the right thing. Amen.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st November 2017

The Devil will do whatever it takes to stop you from walking into all that God has for you. Pride is one of the subtle strategies of the enemy to delay your growth, shift your focus, slow you down, and hold you back from receiving and producing fruit!

Pride is dangerous! Some of the greatest men and women of God throughout history, with once powerful ministries, have quickly come to the end of fruitfulness, because of their pride. Even if you are doing a good thing, it is important to have regular heart checks. Pride comes right before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Don’t treat pride lightly!

Pride is actually a characteristic of the enemy and not a trait in our God-given design. Look at Lucifer, the Devil himself. He was an angel made for worship. His purpose was to magnify God, but his desire shifted to himself. He then wanted to become the one being worshipped! Pride was the very thing to rock heaven (Ezekial 28).

God would be foolish to entrust a prideful heart with more. God knows that such character cannot sustain a greater gift, more blessing, and produce fruit. On the contrary, God can do amazing things with a humble heart. With humility comes honour (Proverbs 18:12), wisdom and grace (the ability to do what you have to). In a position of humility, you will always be fruitful, growing, and moving into greater things. As Proverbs 11:2 says, ‘when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom’. Why do we become wise when we are humble? Because we have positioned ourselves to learn, we are teachable, and soft-hearted toward the voice of the Lord.

Quick heart check: Am I open to correction? Am I teachable? Do I judge others, often thinking I am better than them? Am I self-focused most of the time? Do I honour authority (even if I don`t agree with them)? Do I struggle to say sorry? Do I struggle to associate with people of low position?

If you have an area of pride, then you are sadly missing out on the more that God has for you. But there is hope in surrender! James 4:10 says, ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up’.

Jesus is the ultimate picture of humility and whom we are called to imitate:

‘…Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name (Phillipians 2:6-9).

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th November 2017

Do you ever get frustrated that your prayers seem to go unheard? Do you wish you could see even just a small breakthrough in your prayer life?
I believe that the answer lies here, in that there’s only one kind of prayer that God answers…the prayer that’s prayed in faith.

Could it be that the reason we see so little in our lives, is because we expect so little in our prayers?

What is faith?

You may say, “I believe God can do it!” But that’s not faith; that’s just a fact. God can do it whether you believe it or not.

“I believe God might do it” is not faith either. That’s hope.

“I believe God will do it” — that’s faith.

Some people are praying, and they think because they’re asking for good things that they want, God will answer their prayer. But desire is not faith. It can lead to faith, but it’s not faith.

If I take a seed and plant it in the ground and in a few months, it sprouts and I get a tomato plant from it, is that a miracle? No. I simply cooperated with the laws of God’s universe, and it happened. When I pray, believing and following the conditions laid out in the Bible and God answers, is that a miracle? No. It is simply in line with the universal laws of life that God has ordained.
The Bible says, “according to your faith,” not according to your ability, your education, or how good a person you are. If you have an honest relationship with God, have forgiven others, and you’re asking God in faith — you have every right to expect God to answer your prayers.

Ask and you will receive.

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 November 2017

You often hear the phrase “in the meantime”. What exactly does that mean?
The meantime is a place between two places,
Often when one thing has finished and before another starts.

Sometimes we can have a ‘meantime’ in our lives and here are a few things that happen….

– We get a lack of decision, we cannot decide

– We suffer from procrastination, we keep putting things off

– We compromise, we go with the flow instead of waiting

– We settle for a quick fix, a quick answer instead of the real thing

– We get involves in wrong things , we try to find fulfilment in lots of different areas.

– We get anxious about our waiting.

Use the meantime wisely. Let God use it as a time to teach you and for you to grow.

Maybe, you are having a ‘meantime’ because you are not quite ready for the next phase or maybe God wants to bring something out of you and work something through you.

God promised Abraham that he would be a Father of many, yet he couldn’t quite wait for God’s promise. It was during that ‘meantime’ that he took matters into his own hands and made quite a mess of things because he couldn’t wait.

Make sure that during your ‘meantime’ you do the following
– Stay focused
– Shut out all the negatives
– Know that He has a purpose for you
– Keep trusting
-Keep your channels open by praying and reading God’s word – that way you will be open to His encouragement
– Learn quickly – the quicker you do, the sooner your meantime will end and you will be on to the next season of your life.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th November 2017

If I asked you where the richest place in the world was, I wonder what you’d say?

For some, our minds would immediately think of some of the cities that we’ve seen on TV or even been to ourselves. New York, Los Angeles or even London would probably be high on the list, but they would all be wrong. The richest place in the world is in fact…the cemetery!

It’s not because people are buried with their earthly valuables, but because they die with their greatest treasure, which is their unfulfilled dreams.

In the graveyard, there are songs that were never written, cures that were never developed, buildings that were never built and lives that were never changed, all because of the fear of failure. So many dreams are taken to the grave unrealised. Just imagine how different the world could be today if we were able to dig up all of the dreams buried in every cemetery and bring them to life.

We know of course that we can’t do that, but one thing that we can all do is to be determined to live out the dreams that we have while we are alive.

Let’s not make the graveyards any richer by being afraid to ever fulfil the reason that God placed us on this planet.

You are alive today to make a difference, so be determined from this day forward, to live FULL and die EMPTY.

Proverbs 24:30-34 One day I walked by the field of an old lazybones, and then passed the vineyard of a lout; They were overgrown with weeds, thick with thistles, all the fences broken down. I took a long look and pondered what I saw; the fields preached me a sermon and I listened: “A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, with poverty as your permanent houseguest!”

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th November 2017

On a recent four-day canoe expedition, I noticed massive trees that obviously once stood strong on the side of the river, now with exposed root systems, collapsed in the river. Upon questioning the tour guide as to what happened to the trees, he explained that the constant flow of the river water on the trees’ root system, compromised the strength of roots, and eventually caused the tree fall. This is a picture of the power of consistency. A once well-established tree is totally undermined by the subtle, but steady flow of the water, that then falls dead in the river.

Doing the same thing over and over can be exhausting and sometimes disheartening. We can be waiting and waiting for results. Praying day in and day out. Hoping and seeing nothing. Serving with no apparent fruit. Doing the right thing, with no evident reward. The fact is though, that consistency does eventually pay off. That is a promise from God. In Galatians 6:9, ‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up’.

God honours a perseverant spirit and obedient heart. Just because people may not be paying attention to what you are doing, it doesn’t mean it is not what God asked you to do. Just because there hasn’t been breakthrough, it doesn’t mean God isn’t at work. Just because you are still waiting, it doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. Sometimes we just need to do what God has asked of us, and trust that there is fruit in following His kingdom principle.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never taught us how to deal with unanswered prayer? That is because Jesus never thought about prayer going unanswered! He knew that the answer would come, but consistency was required of our character. Character means you remain consistent in seasons when you aren’t seen, you can’t see, and you don’t feel like it, so you can reap in the season to come. In the words of Paul, ‘Be patient in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’ (Romans 12:1).

When we demonstrate consistency, we actually display the nature of God. Hebrews 6:19-20, describes the faithfulness of God as a ‘steadfast anchor for the soul’.

Don’t give up! Those giant trees of your life will eventually fall, keep your steady stream of consistency going.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th November 2017

Psalm 27:4 – ‘One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple’.

David’s heart and affection was fixed solely on God. After removing Saul, God made David king. He testified concerning David saying, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22).

What an amazing thing for God to say of you! The heart of David should be the pursuit of our lives. God is looking for people who are after His heart. Whose affections are fixed on “one thing” – wholly seeking Him.

A mind and heart that is not on one thing is divided. Division of mind and heart is a life of confusion, delayed growth and unstable ground. Philippians 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.

Racehorses are often given blinders – for the purpose of keeping them focused when racing round a racecourse.
Blinders keep the horse’s eye focused on what is ahead, rather than what is at the side or behind. Likewise, as we run our race we need to put blinders on our heart and “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). We cannot have a fixed focus on multiple things if we are running for the win. Matthew 6:24 says, “…no one can have two masters”.

When we are confused as to where to fix our affection and focus, God simplifies things – ‘…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you’ Matthew 6:33.

Mark 3:25 “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 14th November 2017

I was a typical teenager when I constantly pestered my Mom and Dad for my first moped. They were pretty much against it from the start, but I can only presume that my argument about all my mates having been allowed to have one had suitably worn them down.

I was amazed when they both came home together one day and announced that they had been to a motorbike shop and put a deposit on a second hand 50cc bike.

The day to go and collect it couldn’t come quick enough as far as I was concerned, however, the look of concern on my parents’ faces meant they had very different feelings.

It wasn’t the most handsome of bikes; It was bright yellow, had only three gears and struggled to get over 35 mph.

I’ll never forget the very first night that I officially took it on the road. A new helmet, jacket and leather gloves were part of my new life as a biker and off I went to meet a friend that had also been allowed to get such a piece of equipment.

As we teamed up, I informed him that I’d lead the way and he should stay close behind. We’d hardly gone down the road, when I couldn’t see him through my rear view mirrors, so I decided to start to look over my shoulder to see where he was. Without knowing it, the more I looked behind the more I was steering of course, and without any warning the next thing I know was that I was flying through the air, landing on the pavement with my bike beside me. I couldn’t believe it; I’d been a motorcyclist for all of 10 minutes and my parents worst nightmare had come to pass.

Thankfully, myself and the bike had just a few scrapes. With a great sense of embarrassment I quickly brushed myself down, straightened the bent mudguard and mirrors and pretended like nothing had happened. Safe to say that I never repeated that incident ever again, even though I rode much bigger bikes as the years went on. I always told myself…never look behind you for too long.

That story is a powerful life lesson in how to stay focused on the course that God has got for your life. Having a preoccupation with those behind can often end in disaster.

Are you on a collision course today, simply because you keep concerning yourself with everyone else’s business? Yes, we should be concerned for others, that’s what we do, but when you feel the need to keep your eyes on them, rather than on the road that you are supposed to be on, you will never have a great future.

God has got a very specific course for your life and will differ to everyone else’s. You’re unique in who you are and in what you will be asked to do. Don’t spend your time worrying as to whether everyone else’s is staying on course, you could well be losing your own life in the process.

Make a fresh decision today to stay focused on the road ahead, so that you will get the destination that God has especially called you to.

Feel like you’ve gone off course?

Lying in a heap right now because you’ve been paying too much attention to what’s behind you?

Preoccupied with everyone else’s journey?

Don’t give up…pick yourself up, dust yourself down and get back on track.

Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

I love that the Bible never hides from us the fact that we may fall, but then it assures us that we will be lifted up again.

Get back on track today!

Hebrews 12:1-3 …And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th November 2017

I want to talk to you about your name.
In the Old Testament we read how God told Abram that He was going to change his name.
‘Abram’ was not who God intended him to be. So God changed his name to Abraham. (Which meant Father of many).
When his name got changed he wasn’t even the father of one!

God has a name for you that is where you are heading to, not where you are now.

God speaks over your life your future, not your present or your past, but what you WILL become.

We think our name is hopeless, no good, sick, depressed, broke, misfit, failure , loser. We base our names on our past and our past experiences and on our present situations.

Often we can be too consumed with others names, like ‘whose name’ I am wearing. Don’t place too much store in whose name you’re wearing, be more concerned with who you are becoming.

Change your thinking today to see your name as
Blessed.
Successful.
Healed.
Prosperous.
Preacher.
Champion.
Difference maker.
World changer.

Did you know you can change your name by deed poll many times if you’d like, for a few pounds on the internet? You can change it ten times if you want. But it won’t make any difference to you whatsoever.
You will still be the same.

The only one who can make a difference to your life is ‘The name that is above every name’ – Jesus.
He is the one who can change your name today.
He can change your name and your situation.

HE is the difference maker. HE can give you a name of where you are going and who you are going to be.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th November 2017

Today I received a message from my friend, telling me she was at the airport and that she’d see me in a few hours.
Now that was interesting, I thought, maybe she knows something I don’t?
Is she coming to see me from the other side of the world as a surprise?

Within a few short moments it all became clear, the message she’d sent to me, should have been for her husband. She was on her way home from an overseas trip and would see him shortly.

Sometimes, in fact often, we can send the wrong message to the wrong person. Maybe you have done just that, sent a text message to the wrong person. Oops! Sometimes that isn’t good.

But also, we can download our concerns, our worries, our complaining, and even too much information to people, when in fact, it’s God we should be bringing it to.

The Bible is very clear about some things, and one is this… “if your brother offends you, go and see HIM”. Don’t take your ‘gripe’ about someone to someone else, they are now affected by your words, when really you should have gone to the person concerned.

Or how often have you become burdened and concerned about someone else’s burdens and concerns, when they should have taken them FIRST to God?

My experience is this: when I get the message to the right person then it will always be dealt with correctly. When someone comes to me with a concern or burden, I will say “have you prayed about this?” Because I know that God has the power all on His own to deal with their request.

For a few moments, I was left confused by my friends message…you may be left affected by someone’s complaint…
BUT God can take it all. His shoulders are big enough to carry your burdens and your cares at any time of day.
The great thing about getting the message to Him is that He has the power to deal with the situation and with you.

Make sure your message gets delivered to the right person today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th November 2017

I took my wife out for a meal last night, and after the main course we decided to share a dessert sitting in two nice comfy arm chairs by an open log fire. It had already been a full on few days and we had left the house at 7am that morning. I was ready to close my eyes for a few minutes while enjoyed the heat from the fire. It was the perfect moment to escape and spend time together doing nothing.

Within a few minutes the silence was broken as a couple sitting nearby obviously wanted to engage in conversation. If I’m honest I was trying to look disinterested, but then the guy addressed a question to me believing that he’d met me before. In trying to establish where he may have seen me, he asked if I worked at an engineering company that was just down the road from where he lived! Well, one thing led to another and before long they were playing a guessing game as to what we actually did do with our lives. As the gentleman was a salesman, he spoke with a loud voice (as did I) and before long another couple on an adjacent table joined in too.

Five minutes later I was up out of my chair and sitting with the first couple at the table. Their eyes were wide open as we described all that God was doing in our lives and those of the people that we reached each week. They asked me how I’d come to ditch my dream as a chef and end up pastoring a Church. I explained how I’d heard the voice of God calling me to give everything up to follow His dream for my life.

Within a matter of minutes this lovely couple both agreed that they wanted to come along to our Church and try it out, even if it was a 35 minute drive for them.

The last thing they expected last night was an encounter with two people that loved God and that wanted to point the way for them too. In fact the last thing we expected, and actually wanted, was to bump into anyone that needed a conversation with us.

We left the restaurant knowing that we were in the right place at the right time. I privately thought about how different their night would have been if we’d have refused to engage with them in simple conversation just because we just needed an hour or so to ourselves.

You never know whose life you are going to influence just by being available to have a natural and relaxed chat.

Opportunity is walking right by us all everyday, and in many cases just like this one, its sitting right next to you. The question is…are you ready to engage with that opportunity?

I am convinced that most of the boredom that people face in their very ordinary and mundane lives is due to not making the most of every opportunity.

Spice up your life…grab a hold of the next opportunity that comes your way.

Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th November 2017

If I told you that you would get £1000 if you held your breath for 10 seconds, you would do it without thinking twice.

If I told that you that after 9 months of pregnancy you would birth a child that would delight you well into your old age, you would endure the short-term pain (assuming you’re a woman).

If I told you that after 13 years of education you would be qualified to earn a salary for the rest of your life, you would commit to the task of study.

If you knew that after four years of gruelling training, you would win gold at the Olympics, you would keep your eyes on the prize through the pain.

Why then do we struggle to live for eternity?

Our time on earth may be about 80 years long, but that is literally a breath in comparison to our eternity. The investment we make on earth now, we reap for all eternity! Matthew 6:19 says, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven’.

This life is a short opportunity to make an investment for forever. David the Psalmist put it, ‘You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; each of us is but a breath’ (Psalm 39:5).

Eternity is a concept that our finite minds can struggle to fathom. Yet God says ‘He has set eternity in our hearts’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Every human has a desire for more, and that more is heaven! People who don’t know their true home, try to cover, fill, ignore and hide their longing with temporary, superficial things. But this doesn’t appease the inbuilt desire for more than this earth has to offer. Scripture says that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:10). That means our true identity and home is found in eternity. If we find ourselves deeply unsatisfied with the things of earth, this could be why – we weren’t made for it!

This life isn’t the show. It is the dress rehearsal. This isnt the main meal, it is the entrée, the warm up before the real game. Life is not the destination of our being – we are heaven bound.

Let eternity shift your perspective, and let me ask you, in light of forever, are the things you worry about worth robbing you of your joy today? Is that grudge you hold really worth robbing you of your ability to love when you have such a short time here? Is that relationship issue you have really worth the lack of peace? Is that which you really want going to count for eternity or just temporary gain? What am I doing today that is an investment for my eternal future? What am I doing today to help others find home? How can I change my use of time? How can I change my thinking?

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th November 2017

Emotions are not bad. God made us with emotions. They enhance our life, tell us what we need, and allow us to navigate the world around us. When we align our emotions with the heart and voice of God, we feel emotions like empathy, compassion, passion, righteous anger, and love, which God can powerfully use as tools to minister to others.

Kris Vallotton puts it like this, ‘emotions make excellent servants and terrible masters’. In other words, your feelings have a place in your life, but they cannot rule your life. What you should do isn’t always what you feel like doing. You don’t always feel like going to the gym, you don’t always feel like speaking with kindness, you don’t always feel like forgiving, but we do the right thing because we know what is good for us. I’m sure Jesus didn’t feel like dying on the cross, but he said, ‘…yet not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42).

Feelings aren’t always truthful. They aren’t always in touch with God’s reality. Thankfully, God also made us with a will to manage our emotions – this is the ability to choose our behaviour, despite how we feel. Don’t let your feelings manage your life, let the word of God manage your life. Ask God to strengthen your will. Managing your emotions means recognizing why you feel what you feel, and bringing it to God for processing.

King David was a very emotional man. He was a musician, so I assume that God made his temperament more of a “feeler” than a “thinker”. You just have to skim through the Psalms to notice his rollercoaster of emotions. I believe God left everything from David’s praises, to his complaints, in scripture so we could see that even as ‘a man after God’s own heart’, he still experienced the weight of heavy feelings.

Becoming emotionally healthy is a God journey. It is a process, and it is a skill. In 1 Samuel 30:6, scripture says, ‘David was greatly distressed because men were talking of stoning him…BUT David found strength in the Lord his God’. This emotional man also leant how to encourage himself in God.

Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37). The soul of your personhood includes your feelings and emotions. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to love God through your emotions today.

Ephesians 6:11-17

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th November 2017

I was at the gym recently and was about to work out on one of the machines. As I was choosing what weight I wanted to use, I noticed something about that stack of weights…
All of the lower numbers, indicating how heavy the weights were, had been worn off, however, the higher the weight got, the clearer they became to read.

The reason for this was that the lighter weights were more commonly used, but the heavier weights weren’t used so often, meaning that they had received less wear and tear.

The same illustration can be applied to life… The choice is yours as to how high you climb, but there are a couple of things you may want to consider before making your ascent.

The higher you go in life, the lonelier it becomes. Things become harder, struggles become more difficult, and the route to get there is anything but easy. If you want your life to soar, you’re going to have to lose some people along the way. Not everybody will be able to cope with where you’re heading.

Now, if moving upwards in life seems less attractive, allow me to remind you of the views that await you there – the higher you climb, the clearer the view becomes. It’s less polluted, because much fewer people have managed to reach such heights.

If you find yourself making the decision as to whether the climb is worth it, know that what awaits you when you get there will have made the process every bit worth it… Keep on going!

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th November 2017

2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Friday night in our house is usually date night!

It’s a practice that we have held onto for the 33 years of our married life together and it works. Spending one night a week together over a romantic meal, usually at home, means that we get to stay connected and that our love for each other is kept alive.

As the winter draws on, so does the need for the wood burner to be lit, and although Gillian is okay at lighting it, there are a few things in life that make a man feel more manly, one of which is lighting a fire. I know what you’re thinking, but apparently it’s the ‘hunter’ instinct that we possess!

On Friday night, I lit the fire and retreated to the kitchen to conjure up something special for our meal, leaving Gillian to enjoy TV in the lounge.

Admittedly I was gone quite a time, but when I eventually went back in to inform her that the meal was almost ready, I found her surrounded with smoke as she was desperately trying to relight the fire that was now just a pile of smouldering ashes.

After a few choice words with her about my man fire, I couldn’t help but mention the fact that she had only one thing to do, alongside watching TV, and that was to keep an eye on the fire. She made several excuses but none of them valid. She had got so engrossed and focused on her relaxation that she had overlooked the fact that you have to tend to a fire to keep it going. I asked her why she hadn’t noticed it, but she seemed to be totally oblivious.

That episode between us, helps us all to gain perspective on our lives, when it comes to keeping alive the gift that God has given you. How many of us have become so consumed with our own agendas, that we fail to see a once burning fire now just giving off a load of smoke, something that neither gives heat or light and leaves you with a dirty pile of ash?

As we start this week, I wonder if I can challenge you as I challenge myself to ask, where has that fire and passion within you gone?

As Paul in the Bible wrote those words above, he recognised how easy it was to allow the passion for the things of God to start to grow cold; but he also gave us that age old practice of how to get it going again, and that is to ‘fan it into flame’.

All I had to do on Friday, in order to rescue the fire, was to open the door on the log burner and allow more air to get it going again.

Just because things have been burning low of late, don’t let that be the end of it. Simply open the door of your heart and allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to breathe on you once more. Be open to what God wants to do with your life today and instead of being so preoccupied with your own pleasure, start to delight in giving God His rightful place once more.

The gift of God is in you.

Don’t let it go dormant because you couldn’t be bothered to take care of it.

There’s a fire and passion on the inside of every follower of Jesus… if only you’d recognise it.

Be careful not to lose it, just because you weren’t careful to use it.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th November 2017

In the New Testament, we read the account of the feeding of the 5000. Jesus did a miracle and fed thousands of people with just 5 loaves and 2 small fish.
There was a need and they needed provision!
It didn’t just go from need to provision, there was a seed sown in between. It was the seed from the young boy of his lunch, he was willing to give it up and let it go.

In the Old Testament, we read the story of a widow who was in need during a famine. She had enough oil and water for one last meal before she would die. The man of God saw her need and that she needed provision and he asked her to sow a seed.
She was to give her last to him by making him something first.
Her need plus her seed resulted in her provision.
For the Bible tells us she received a miracle and her supply did not stop.

Too often for us it looks like this
Need + worry = Need
Need + complaining = Need
Need + crying about our need = Need

God wants us to see this principle.
Need + Seed = PROVISION

Ask the farmer. He has a need of provision for the coming year, it won’t help him to worry or complain about it, or even just pray about it, he needs to sow his seed.

Remember for your need to get to your provision, there has to be the sowing of seed.
It’s the law in the natural and it’s the law in the spiritual.

Watch it work in your life today.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd November 2017

I was so moved by a testimony a friend of mine shared over the weekend. He was filling up his car with petrol on his way to church on Sunday. As he went to pay at the counter and elderly lady with a walking frame approached him asking for 50 cents towards a bus ticket. “Of course!” he said and asked where she needed to be. She mentioned her destination and my friend kindly offered to drive her there. So he packed up her walking frame, helped her into her car and began the journey. He was going to be late for church, but this was no doubt a God-ordained appointment. As they sat in the car together he began asking this woman about her life. He quickly learnt that she was not only poor in money, but in love. After listening for a while he said quite directly, “you need God!” They reached the destination and this woman, who he had only just met minutes earlier, accepted Jesus with tears rolling down her checks. He then left her with far more than 50 cents cash and an invitation to church the following week.

There is so much about this story that I love. I love that it was in the ordinary and mundane events of my friend’s day, that God used him. I love that he was willing to put aside his schedule for God’s agenda. I love that Jesus was shown in his act of service, listening ear and generous hand. I love that this woman is forever changed because someone stepped out to love. I am challenged by this story too. I am reminded to not get so caught up in the structures and routines of my life, that I miss the whole point – which is to LOVE.

There are three different versions of the same story of Jesus healing the blind man – Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:51 and Luke 18:41. Jesus had crowds following him, and the blind beggar was shouting for his attention. People shunned the beggar. Despite the three varying accounts of this encounter, there are two things that remain the same in all three accounts. It is noted that “Jesus stopped” and that Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”. I believe that these details are mentioned by each of the authors, because it matters that Jesus stopped. He stopped His agenda and He stopped for the one to help and the blind man was healed.

There are many other stories of Jesus stopping for the one. The world today promotes the crowds, chases the thousands of followers, listeners and friends, but let’s just take a minute to stop, and ask, “What can we do to help?”

Luke 15:4-7 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
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Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 2nd November 2017

Proverbs 13:20…’Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.’

You and I can never be the kind of person we were intended to be by doing life on our own. Some of the craziest and most dangerous people on the planet are loners. Having various ‘layers’ of relationships in our lives keeps us from going off the rails.

Last weekend we all had to change our watches and clocks to fall in line with daylight savings. So many people got it the wrong way round and instead of putting the clocks back, put them forwards, with some forgetting altogether!

As you woke on Sunday morning, how did you know that the time you had on your watch and phone was the correct one? What if you believed the time you had was right, but in actual fact you were wrong? Everything from thereon would be wrong. You’d either be early or late for everything. It’s almost guaranteed that you relied on someone else close to you to make sure that you had the right time.

In the same way, we all need people who are teaching us, sharing their lives with us, investing in us, and encouraging us, otherwise we could easily be going off on a tangent, believing that we were right when actually we were completely wrong. In fact, to be all that God calls you to be, you need to learn from at least four different kinds of people.

Mentors – These are your coaches. You can have more than one. No one can teach you everything you need to know. One person will teach you in one area. Another person will teach you about something else.

Role models – These are people who are already doing or have already done what you want to do. Many of the skills you’ve learned in your life, you’ve learned by watching others.

Partners – You need co-workers and colleagues who are in your profession, people to support and challenge you to stay on track through your life.

Friends – Friends don’t necessarily help you with your goals. They’re just friends. They love you no matter what you do. You can mess up, and they still love you. A friend walks into your life when everyone else walks out. That’s when you know who your friends are.

Trying to live life solo isn’t just lonely. It works against God’s design for us. On the first pages of the Bible, we read that after God created man, He said…’it is not good for man to be alone’.

Loneliness is not just something that you experience because you don’t like your own company, but is a sign that being alone is not right for you. You weren’t created to do life alone.

The craving you have for others in your life is there for a reason, but many people make the mistake of waiting for people to come into their lives, and although that does happen, relationships at each level are there to be pursued. I pursued my wife!!

For example, invite someone that you respect to be your mentor. When you find that person, buy them a coffee, respect the hour that they give you occasionally, and then ask questions. Don’t fall into the trap whereby you feel it’s your chance to talk to them about you for a full 60 minutes. A mentor doesn’t need to hear about you so much as you need to hear from them. In the main, keep quiet, make notes and learn.

Make your goal in life to have ‘layers of relationships’.

Who do you need right now in your life? Pursue that relationship and allow God to bring about some amazing connections to take you to another level. It may take time, and not everyone is the right ‘fit’ for you, but God knows who you need, and when you need them, just be open and He will make sure that the right people come your way.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st November 2017

Are there certain people in your life who bring up feelings of anger in you when you see them? Do negative feelings toward them arise when you so much as think of them? If your answer is yes, then chances are forgiveness might be in order! If you think holding a hidden grudge or attitude doesn’t affect you, you are wrong.

The King Brown Snake is native to Australia and ranks as the world’s second deadliest snake. I’ve encountered several in my lifetime. I saw one on a walk just this weekend been. Once, I found a baby Brown under a towel in my bathroom! Baby snakes are more poisonous than an adult, unable to control their venom, they can kill up to 20 men! That is a pretty potent poison! Were you to get bitten by a snake, you would need to lie as still as possible, minimizing blood flow and therefore the poison getting into your glands. You would also tightly bandage the bite with any clothing available, again restricting the flow of poison throughout the body until you could get some anti-venom into your system.

Like the poison of a snake, unforgiveness starts with a small bite of offense. Left untreated, the venom of bitterness is all consuming and destroys the person.

Forgiving someone who has wronged you is rarely what we feel like doing. Rarely is forgiveness a one off decision, sometimes it is a daily choice, maybe even an hourly choice until we find freedom!
Forgiveness doesn’t make what they did right. What it does do, is free you. It frees you to love, frees you to enjoy life, and frees you to live in peace and wholeness.
If unforgiveness is the venom, then it is Jesus that is the anti-venom. For it is He who gives us the ability to forgive. It is He who forgave us, and therefore empowers us to do the same for those who have robbed from us, slandered against us, and knowingly or unknowingly bought us pain.

Forgiveness involves letting go. It means we trust God to serve justice, and take care of the perpetrator of our pain.

Jesus then takes it up a notch by not only asking us to forgive, but to ‘bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you’ (Luke 6:28). Why on earth would Jesus ask us to not only forgive, but to BLESS those who have wronged us?! The answer is because in the process of prayer you are healed, and your heart is positioned for freedom. When we are praying for blessing on someone who has hurt us, we don’t have time to harbour offensive, and we then move forward free and powerful, no longer enslaved.

Matthew 18:21-35

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.