Fresh Hope – 31st January 2018

Can you believe that just over a month ago we were celebrating Christmas… and now February is just around the corner?

We are now well and truly settling into the reality of another year and the likelihood is that we have now long since got over the initial attempt at making those New Years resolutions.

For most of us waking up today it’s ‘business as usual’.

How sad though, that with all the opportunities that God affords us, that the best we can do is to expect a repeat of the previous years’ experiences.

Today, in order to make the very most of the year that’s quickly unfolding, I encourage you to cut out the rush and make some time to rest and hear what God is saying to you for 2018.

With rest comes restoration, which is a refilling of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual tank. Christ-followers should be experts at looking after their tanks.

I recently heard the analogy of eggs stuck on a pan being like that of spending time in the presence of God. Have you ever tried frying eggs and you didn’t quite get the temperature of the pan right, leaving burnt egg crustated on the bottom of the pan? Trying to get the egg off, you take the pan to the sink and scrub, and scrub and scrub…but the egg just doesn’t seem to come off! You then realise the only way this egg will be lifting off of the pan is if you let the pan SOAK in water for some time. The same is with us. We can be battling with all sorts in our personal life. We can try scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing in our own effort to deal with our crusty issues, but often what we need is simply to set aside time with God, just “soaking” in His presence until we feel those tough things lift!

Like a blank canvas ready for a fresh piece of art, cut the clutter, clear the crusty stuff of the year gone by, and get ready for a fresh word!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th January 2018

When you are young you tend to count forwards.

You want your time clock to race ahead. You can’t wait to be old enough to drive; then when you do, you want to be quickly over 21 so that your insurance premium will go down. Then you want to be old enough to settle down and get married.
Before long, your life has raced on so fast that you find yourself in mid-life, now having grandchildren.

When you get to that point, you start to count differently. You start to count backwards. You look back over your life and start to reminisce and live with regret that you haven’t made more of your life. You then want time to slow right down, but as the old proverb says ‘time waits for no man.’

You will also notice that at some point in the journey allotted to you, you switch from counting in hours and days and start to count more in decades; it’s a very sobering thought when you realise that the average person only has seven of them!

Nobody at 15 years of age worries about only having seven decades, neither does anyone aged 25. However as you pass a certain point you realise you may only three, two or one left.

The Bible says these wise words…

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

In other words, appreciate every day that you have and make it count. Don’t be foolish and wish your life away, but neither must we think that we will live on this earth forever.

If you and I are blessed with only 7, how many do you have left in order to make your life count?

Maybe you’re already on ‘borrowed time’ in that you’ve already exceeded your quota?

The decisions you make today will effect what you do with the remainder of your time on this earth but the biggest decision of all is whether or not you will place your faith in Jesus Christ, who in turn gives to you total forgiveness, freedom from guilt, a brand new start and the amazing promise of living for eternity with Him in heaven.

Wherever you’re at today on the scale of 1-7, make a decision to choose the abundant life that only God can offer you today. Tomorrow may not come.

He is only a prayer away.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
‘I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God , your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th January 2018

The Bible is far more than just mere words on paper. Hebrews 4:12 describes it as ‘living and active’ and ‘God breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture is also far more than a guide to moral living. It should be honoured in our lives, as the very voice of God. People have died for the word of God. It is not something we should take for granted.
The Bible has been and will always be relevant and applicable in all time periods, for every issue in life, and for every person in every cultural context.

The Bible offers us heavenly wisdom, guidance, insight, protection, strategies, purification, understandings, truth, and peace. It equips, steers, corrects, trains, anchors, encourages, shows us who we are, reveals the heart of God, and invites into an encounter with Him.

‘All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

If you struggle to get into your Bible, firstly ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your reading time. Get out of a religious, boring program you might be following and get creative with how you spend time in His word. Find a way that works for you. I know people that have to take their portable speakers, and get out in nature to connect with God when reading scripture. Others need to sit at a desk with coloured highlighters. Others take more in by listening to an audio version of the Bible. I know someone who takes one verse and meditates for a day per word in the verse, until he totally understands the entire verse!

Perhaps you prefer reading large chunks at a time. I know some who grab the Bible even in a five minute free slot they have during the day, because they are hungry for any chance they can get to feed themselves truth! The point is that there is no right or wrong technique – discover whatever works for you!

God is ALWAYS speaking through His word. If you are going through a challenging situation, ask God for a scripture that is specifically for that situation and stand anchored on it!

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th January 2018

The eagle is a mighty creature.
They are admired the world over for their power and freedom.

Here are a few ‘eagle’ facts.

It’s vision is 4-5 times better than that of a human.
Their eyes are angled off-centre to give them an even better view of their surroundings.

An eagle can get higher than any other bird.
By just spreading its wings, it can get up to 3 miles high above the earth’s surface by just using the warm air.

It has up to a 9 feet wing span. It was built to soar. Other creatures will run from the storm, but the eagle uses the storm to lift it up and to take it higher.

An eagle can take an animal larger than itself as prey.
An eagle can detect its prey up to two miles away.

An eagle doesn’t mix with other birds or animals, but only their own kind.

I want to challenge you in this first month of this year to decide “I want to be like an eagle.”
I want to soar higher, have greater vision and use the storms of life to lift me up, not take me down.

An eagle only resides in the right environment.
Get yourself in the right place with the right people and you will also have the opportunity to soar like the eagle.
You will never see an eagle with a chicken. Our relationships will most definitely affect our lives and how high we soar.

Isaiah 40 vs 31 says “Those who wait on the Lord will gain strength , they will mount up with wings like eagles. They willl run and not grow weary. They will walk and will not faint.”

The Bible talks a lot about the eagle. Maybe because God wants us to learn from one and take on its characteristics.

Decide today to go for new heights in your life… decide to learn new things and have greater vision. Decide to not let the storms of life take you down, but only lift you higher. Decide today to make some relationship changes that will take you higher and help you to soar.

 

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th January 2018

We have just returned from our son’s wedding in Adelaide. We’ve had a really wonderful time away, but it’s always good to come home!

Last weekend, we flew to Sydney for a few days. The harbour is a sight to behold, especially with the iconic Sydney Opera House sitting just there along the quayside.

Sydney’s harbour is also a famous stopping off place for many a giant cruise liner, and as we took the ferry across the water, one of the largest cruise ships in the world was docked right there. The amazing thing was that this ship weighing 168,000 tonnes and carrying almost 5,000 passengers was being pulled and guided into dock by what was best described as something the size of a fly in comparison to the size of vessel it was pulling. This tiny tugboat looked completely incapable of doing what it did, and yet no one could deny its pulling power in action.

Very small things, even though hard to comprehend, can and do have the potential to turn things around in everyday life.

One of the Bible’s greatest teachings on this is found in the book of James. It warns of the power and potential of one of the smallest parts of the body being able to steer the whole of a person’s life.

James 3:3-12 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

The best way of knowing how this amazing and yet potentially deadly organ is performing, is simply to listen to yourself in an unguarded moment. You’ll soon find out which direction your tongue is taking you.

Come to think about it, when was the last time you actually listened to the words leaving your lips? Reality is, we listen to everyone else, but never think to tune into what we say and how we say it.

If you find it hard to listen to your own language, then ask someone else that’s close to you to do it for you.

Ask questions like:

How do I come across in a conversation?

Do I seem upbeat or downbeat when I speak?

Do people perceive me to be negative, judgmental or critical?

Is there a reason why people don’t want to hear from me?

All those answers, whether negative or positive can be used to improve the way your tongue is steering your life.

Don’t settle for the lie that you can’t change the direction of your life; your tongue is your responsibility. The next time you open your mouth, put your brain in gear first and more than that decide only to build people up and not take them down. If you’ve got nothing good to say, then it’s best you say nothing until you’ve trained that piece of flesh in your mouth.

Proverbs 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th January 2018

If you have ever purchased a real leather item of clothing, you would have noticed a removable tag that reads ‘genuine leather’ on the piece. This implies that the item is not made of imitation leather or a plastic material, that looks like leather, or “pleather” as I like to call it, but is the real deal. There is nothing like an authentic leather item – the quality, the smell, and the feel. On the contrary, a fake leather item, wont last as long, can smell toxic and just doesn’t have the same feel.

God hasn’t called us to be “pleather” Christians – doing the right thing, looking the right way, but without a genuine love. Fake smells toxic, doesn’t last long and just doesn’t feel the same.

A simple value, but one that scripture speaks about over and over is that of ‘sincerity’. Romans 12:9 says, ‘love must be sincere’. 1 Peter 1:22, ‘…fervently love one another from the heart’. 1 Timothy 1:15 says, ‘The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith’.

One way to tell the difference between a real diamond and a counterfeit diamond is how it responds under the intensity of heat. Diamonds are one of the strongest materials on the planet and therefore they will be resistant to such heat. On a real diamond, heat will disperse quickly and the diamond won’t be affected by the change in temperature – on a fake, it will crack and break. A sincere person can withstand the pressure of trials and circumstance as their character and motive is genuine.

If we are going to change the world, people need to feel that we are the real deal. Fake is toxic and doesn’t last. Before you do something good, don’t just do it, ask God for a heart of sincere love as you go and do it.

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th January 2018

I’m sure we can all agree that ‘generosity’ is an attractive word, and that a lifestyle of generosity is something that we all want to attain.

But what does it mean to truly be generous? I believe that Jesus defines what true generosity is in the book of Mark, found in the New Testament of the Bible.

Here’s what it says…
“Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”” (Mark‬ ‭12:41-44‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Jesus makes a comparison here between those who gave much, as far as monetary value goes, and one lady who gave just a little.

He acknowledges that this lady in fact gave more than everybody else put together.
How could that be, you may ask…

Because she gave what she would miss.

Everybody else gave what they wouldn’t notice was gone, but this lady gave what would evidently be missing, because she gave her all.

Want to know if you’re living generously? Give what you’ll miss…

In your time, your energy, your talents, your resource, don’t just give in amounts that will go unnoticed, instead, give at a cost.

That way, you’ll know you’re living a truly generous life.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 23rd January 2018

People are the most valuable thing on the planet, and of all the things we are called to steward well, relationships are the most important.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is, love your neighbour as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these’ (Mark 12:30).

The attention and thought we give others should match that which we give ourselves. For some reason, many of us get this priority out of order. We order our lives in accordance to what is most productive, comfortable, and profitable for us. Yet our highest, most fulfilling purpose is to lay down our lives first for God, and second for others. We are called to leave a legacy, not short-term fulfillment of selves.

Jesus set the standard as He was always ‘looking out for the interests of others’ (Philippians 2:4), in everything He did, literally to the point of death.

Maybe you are good at putting others first in your job, but neglect the people closest to you.

You’re only as Christ-like as you are to those closest to you. How do you treat your family and close friends? What would those who see you at your best and worst say about you? It’s easy to be our best selves on public platforms like social media, and around acquaintances, but let those who know us thoroughly testify of our character and ability to love them! Listen to them carefully, and encourage them often, and don’t take them for granted.

Romans 12:10
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
‭‭

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 22nd January 2018

It was an amazing encounter with a Buddhist Doctor that came right out of the blue, 17 years ago. I had conducted the wedding for a couple and it was at the reception that I first shook hands with Dr Paul. Something drew me to befriend him, and two and half years later I led him in a prayer in my office, in which he became a follower of Jesus.

His life dramatically changed and he has been part of our church ever since.

Over the years, he has treated our eldest son like his own, and so it was no surprise to us that our son invited Dr.Paul and his wife to his wedding last week in Australia.

With nowhere to stay for the first few days in Adelaide, we asked if Dr. Paul would like to stay with us in a house that we had rented with our family in the lead up to our son’s wedding.

I was surprised when I got off the plane in Adelaide, to hear what I knew to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, that whispered to me that the reason we had Dr Paul staying with us was not by chance but because I would need him!

I brushed this notion off as jet lag and mulled over the fact that I rarely get ill.

Little did I realise that I was about to take a turn for the worse and two days before the wedding, I developed a chest infection. I got worse by the hour and every time I coughed I was in severe pain in my chest. I was hardly sleeping and was taking as many tablets and potions as I could to try and get me up on my feet again, but nothing worked.

When Dr. Paul arrived to stay with us I was already sick and with one day to go before the wedding, I couldn’t get out of bed.

God had arranged for my own personal Doctor to stay in the very next room to us and immediately he pulled out his stethoscope that he had decided to bring with him. On listening to my chest, he diagnosed that I needed antibiotics, and to my amazement he told me that he had the exact ones in his bag. I didn’t need to go anywhere to see a Doctor or to pay for tablets…God had got it all in hand.

Within an hour of taking the first antibiotics, I began to improve and by the very next morning of the wedding I was able to get up and go out for breakfast with my son.

By the time of the wedding service (that I had to conduct) later that day, I was completely well, and almost felt that I’d not been ill at all.

When you have a relationship with God in a personal way, he orders things for you, knowing that you will need them.

What if I hadn’t have had a Doctor right there to diagnose my condition?

What if I hadn’t have taken the antibiotics that I needed?

It’s likely that I would have missed my son’s wedding after travelling 12,000miles to be there!

The whole thing is testimony at how God knows knows all things and takes care of every minute detail of our lives if we will just allow Him to.

Don’t do life alone…open your heart today and allow him to become not only your saviour and your best friend, but also the one that takes care of your every need too.

Job 23:10 ‘But he knows the way that I take…’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th January 2018

Did you know that God’s plan for your life is perfect?
Yet unfortunately, many people mess up in life. They make mistake after mistake. Someone said “if you make the same mistake more than once, then it’s not a mistake, it’s a decision.”

The simple thing in life is to work out where you went wrong and try not to do it again. Ask someone to help you, ask God Himself.

If you left the tap on every time you left the house, you’d probably get a flood. You wouldn’t need a plumber to tell you that, it’s just common sense.
Sometimes the things we do are obvious and others can easily see them.
However, some of us don’t like to live by rules, yet when we don’t, we make a mess of things.

God has perfect rules for our lives.
You may say “I don’t like rules” – yet you should always listen to the One who knows best.

Like the plumber when he tells you to turn the taps off when you leave the house , or the electrician who tells you your wiring is dangerous, or the pilot who says we have to land in Ireland, instead of Canada, because there is some fault with the plane. We trust experts opinions and advice, so why do we have problems following the best guide book in the world – The Bible?

It doesn’t matter how much of a mess you have made of your life, or how many mistakes you have made.

Jeremiah 29 v 11 – God knows and has a wonderful life planned out for you, one to bless you and not to harm you, one to give you hope and a future.

As a parent you will give rules to your children, rules that they may see as ‘unfair’ at the time, yet you know that they are for their best.

Don’t be offended by God’s rules. See them for what they are. Ways for you to be blessed and successful in everything you do.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th January 2018

‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ is a common and sadly true saying. Basically when you are aware of a situation day in day out, we become accustomed to it and end up treating people or scenarios with indifference.

Imagine this scenario: you share your faith with someone at work or school, you plainly explain that you believe that Jesus Christ is God, and that he became human in order to do what we couldn’t, defeat sin and death, and now for all who believe in him they have eternal life and become children of God.

They respond by jumping around screaming ‘you what? Seriously! He did? For me? Eternal life? Why didn’t someone tell me sooner? Tell me more! Please come on quick – this is serious!’

You’d be excited for them, but maybe a little embarrassed and think ‘bless – they’ll soon learn to live a little more balanced.’

There is a common thinking with Christians that goes ‘you can tell they’re a new Christian because of their enthusiasm!’ But what’s really meant is, ‘they can’t live bouncing off the walls forever. They’ll soon realise it’s not easy being a Christian and they’ll settle down like the rest of us.’

How sad – familiarity sucks!

This is one of the many reasons that reading the bible daily and spending time in prayer helps us. It’s not about earning anything but re-positioning ourselves daily.

When we read the living word of God, it reminds us of the truth we are living with, that God loves us and whatever we’re facing, he has it in hand! When we pray, we’re reminding our spirit of the truth of our glorious and unbelievable eternal state!

Living as a Christian isn’t easy, but it should be exciting and life changing. And remember, conquerors don’t settle down!

Romans 8:37-39 | NIV
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that Is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th January 2018

Have you ever felt like you are at the bottom of the pile in life?

Ever felt like you have messed up in some area, to the degree that God would no longer be interested in you?

Take heart…we have all been there at times, but the great news is that Jesus doesn’t cast you off just because you failed, in fact, He will go out of his way to include you in His plans today.

Take for instance two of His disciples that messed up.

The first one being Thomas; we know he had earned himself the name ‘doubting Thomas’ because he was adamant that he would not believe in the resurrection of Jesus unless he had proof that Jesus was alive. Instead of Jesus dismissing him as just another faithless guy, He appeared to the disciples in the upper room and specifically called out Thomas’ name, and asked him to put his finger in the nail prints of His hands, so that he could have his faith restored.

Then there’s Peter; He denied that he knew his very friend and saviour just before the crucifixion with unsavoury words and blasphemy, yet watch how Jesus looks out for him after the resurrection…

Mark 16:6-7 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’

He knew how Peter would be beating himself up because of his actions, so He chose to single out his name so that he knew that he was still included.

If you are in any doubt today that your failure has made you exempt from God’s plan, then think again.

Jesus collects failures and turns them into winners on his team.

If you’ve fallen, get back up, dust yourself down, and fall right into his arms today.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th January 2018

I’m not much of a sports fan but I do like to watch big games like the World Cup, Olympics etc. mainly for the ‘buzz’ and general excitement it creates. I remember a few months ago staying up late to watch a boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Carlos Takam and being surprised at how much Anthony was set to win just for that fight alone (£10million to be exact). My husband jokingly exclaimed “I don’t mind being knocked about for a couple or rounds for that amount of money”, I thought to myself …I wouldn’t mind if you did actually!

That match just made me think about about an illustration that I heard of a boxing ring. The speaker told us to imagine being asked to get into the ring to fight for a couple of rounds but knowing full well that the referee had already declared us winners and the £10 million had already been deposited in our account – all we  needed to do was turn up in the ring.
We can liken this illustration to Jesus, knowing that we were not fit enough to beat the opponent on our own, stepped into the ring and took the fight on our behalf. He not only took the fight but guaranteed us everlasting victory so that when we stepped in the ring to fight, victory was already ours and the prize was already deposited, we just needed to turn up for the fight and the same power Jesus had would be transferred to us.

Life may knock us about in the few rounds we are to endure but in the grand scheme of things, these few rounds are nothing compared to what we stand to inherit (eternal life) and we are guaranteed victory, whether we are fit or not.

Grace means to get something that you do not deserve and biblically, it means unmerited /undeserving favour of God. It is freely given to us and our duty is only to believe and trust in Him and the Holy Spirit shall be our ever present help. God could not have simplified it any more for us.

(Ephesians 2:8-10). “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God’s greatest act of grace is the gift of salvation that is available for all people through faith and when the gift is accepted, eternal life is promised to the recipient. This eternal life is a promise of a home one day in heaven with God
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Let us have a new confidence that whatever round life throws at us, we are already victorious, all we need to do is turn up for the fight by stepping into the ring (through salvation) and believe and He will stand in the gap for us.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th January 2018

There are many reasons why we as Christians do not pursue our dreams or fully follow our purpose and one of those reasons is “Doubt”. Moses displayed this trait when God chose him to be the leader of the Israelites. In Exodus 3, God talked with Moses about the plight of the Israelites while they were in bondage to the Egyptians. In verse 10, God gave Moses his assignment but Moses showed signs of doubt when he asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

God was preparing a servant, Moses, who would help lead the Israelites out of Egypt but Moses did not see himself this way. By doubting God he showed a lack of faith. God knew what He was doing; He knew the person He was choosing had the potential to lead His people out of Israel. Moses felt insignificant such that he gave God so many reasons why he was not fit for purpose. At times we all do. We may have a burning desire to follow a dream that we have or maybe we have a gift that God has given us to use but we find the a list of excuses why we cannot do those things. When God called Moses, he came up with many excuses why he was not the man for the job, he doubted the people would listen to him, he reminded God that he had a stammer and even went on to ask God if he had anyone else in mind that could do the job, but God chose him.

There were reasons why God performed all the miracles that He did. One was to show Moses how great He was and that Moses had nothing to worry about. God could and would take care of him. Throughout Exodus 3, Moses still expressed doubt but God continually provided reassurance. For every excuse that Moses came up with, God gave a specific response. For every doubt that Moses raised, God provided him with reassurance.

Likewise, we should not doubt what God can do in our lives. Perhaps we have wondered as Moses did ‘why would God choose me?’ Each one of us can come up with a list of things that make us inadequate or unworthy but we must realise that God has called us all for a purpose and he is working with us and in us, we need only to have an open heart. Over time, Moses eventually overcame his doubts and accepted the position that God called him to, what a great man he turned out to be. We must endeavour to do the same. We can overcome our doubt if we rely on God. Our doubt can be replaced by faith just like Moses.

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.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th January 2018

On Saturday, our eldest son got married!

Pretty straight forward you would think, but not quite so.

Joshua met and a fell in love with a beautiful girl named Emma…from Australia!

’What are the chances of that happening?’ I asked myself. A young guy from the UK meets and marries a girl from the other side of the world. A Christian girl. One that had been praying for years for the right man to come into her life. Deciding never to date a guy until she found Mr Raught. She had never even kissed a guy until they met and realised he was the one.

You’ve probably all seen the two classic films, which are two of my wife’s all time favourites, namely, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve got Mail. In both movies, two people meet under extreme circumstances, leading us to believe that the hand of chance was on their side.

It would seem to be the case for Joshua and Emma too?
Think about it: they live in 1 universe, with nine planets, 204 countries, 809 Islands, seven seas and yet when they met, they knew that God had put them together.

So many people believe that stuff like that is down to chance, luck or fate, but I believe in a far greater and more meaningful personal touch than that, which is summed up in just one word…destiny. His plan is amazing and as long as you are willing to trust and to obey when that time comes, He will fulfil His plan through you, no matter how many miles may be between you. It’s the hand of God operating in the affairs of mankind.

Destiny has both rhyme and reason attached to it, and is not random at all. It is thoroughly God’s plan for a person’s life.

Both Emma’s parents and ourselves had been for years praying that our children would find the right partner for their life.

I like to think of it like this. Every time we prayed, Joshua and Emma were getting closer to meeting each other at a central point. Each prayer broughy Emma to London and each prayer gave Joshua a reason to be in the same place at the same time, namely a mutual friend’s wedding.

Do you have a sense of the plan of God for your life today or are you merely hoping that by some chance that fate will carry you along?

God is no respecter of persons. He wants you to know Him in such an intimate way that you can pray about all of the things that He may have for your life.

He cares deeply and dearly about everything that matters to you. In fact, if it matters to you, it matters to Him.

For both Emma and Joshua, it seemed like a long wait, and even at times like a fruitless one. Yet if you asked them this weekend , if it was worth it, I know what they’d both say.

Don’t trust in chance, trust in Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th January 2018

We were just called outside by our friend to look at the dark night sky and the beautiful stars. They seemed so big and were so bright (maybe it’s because I’m writing this Fresh Hope from Australia). “Wow”,we all said. We had never seen anything like it. They were so big and clear, I felt like I could touch them.
The southern skies , where air pollution is less and the sky is clearer? Whatever the reason, it was truly spectacular. I don’t see skies like that at home in England.

My eight year old grandson asked why she had noticed the stars and this was the answer “I went outside to bring in the laundry from the line and it was pitch black, so I looked up at the stars and took my light from there.”
Something so simple and yet so profound.

She needed light for a situation, so she got it from the stars. The wise men needed to find the King, they got direction from the stars.
As I stood outside in the pitch black of night I started to sing a song in my spirit… ‘and YOU who hold the stars, who called them each by name, will surely keep your promise to me and I will rise in your victory.’

I don’t know what you’re facing today.
Do you need light and revelation in a situation? Look up to the one who made the stars, He will help you.

Do you need direction and guidance? Look to the King of Kings, Jesus, you’ll find it there.

Or do you just like me, need assurance, that God is with you and He will never leave you? Get your eyes off your circumstances and onto the One who holds all the stars in place.

I pray you too will have a “wow” moment.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th January 2018

Have you every made a decision in a rush, and regretted it!? Often when we rush a decision, it actually costs us more in the long run.

In the spirit of being engaged to be married, I rushed into buying a wedding dress! Retailers told me I had to get a wedding dress as soon as possible. So I purchased a dress too quickly out of fear and impatience, instead of taking my time and looking around to find the right one. In the end I ended up scrapping the wedding dress, and buying a second dress! (Dress one is for sale if anyone is interested!).

Sometimes the price to pay for being impatient is more than just a dress. Sometimes it costs the generations that follow.

Look at the story of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was given a promise from God that he was going to be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4). But when things in the natural didn’t look like they were matching up with that which God had promised, Abraham became impatient and thought he would take matters into his own hands. He would get his servant pregnant instead of His wife. He wanted to rush the timing of God. The result not only delayed the promise of God, but caused pain, not just for Abraham and Sarah, but many generations to follow.

Not trusting the timing of God and taking matters into your own hands is a dangerous place to be.

Assess what motivates your decision making. Are you bored? Are you following short-term feelings, rather than thinking bigger picture?

God made us to be powerful people. He made it clear from the start that we are not robots and gave us the ability to choose. Look at Adam and Eve for example. Our choices have a domino effect on not only our lives, but generations following. Use the power of your choice in a positive way.

God is a generational God. You will find pages and pages of scripture that simply mention the order of generations. In Matthew 1:1-16 alone it mentions 14 generations 3 times, then in verse 17 it says again 14 generations 3 times for a total of 42 generations! Why would God bother mentioning all these names? Because generations are important to God. It takes more than one generation to accomplish the monumental work the Lord wants to produce. He wants to do great things in your family and with your family, but the victory of your children often rides on the choices you make for yourself today. Like children can spend many years having to work through that which their parents didn’t do right, let your children instead run even further with that which you did do right! Let the choices you make today be spirit led, not flesh led. Let them be governed by the voice and timing of God, not the drive of instant gratification. Live with a generational mindset and see that even your children and children’s children will reap the rewards of your lifetime of wise choices!

‘For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay’ (Habakkuk 2:3).

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th January 2018

I am sure we have all set goals or resolutions for 2018 and let me take a moment to encourage you to go for them, stick at it and do everything you can to see those goals realised.

However, inevitably life throws up what I would call diversions, those moments in our life that we don’t see coming, we don’t know about and we don’t know are going to happen. They end up diverting us away from our goal and causing us sometimes to break our resolutions.

Let me encourage you today to take God at His word…firstly, commit your plans to the Lord, for the Bible says in doing so, your plans will succeed. Secondly, trust in the Lord with all your heart, for when we trust in God, we allow him to guide us when diversions come our way. In doing this, you do not have to worry as you alow God to lead you and guide you and navigate your life through situations or circumstances that may divert us.

Remember God knows the end from the beginning, He knows all, He sees all, so take comfort in the fact that you can trust Him. God knows what is around the corner and can help us every day of our lives every situation.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th January 2018

How often do you find yourself thinking, ‘This is too hard for me. I cant do this’?

Did you know that God is attracted to weakness? In fact the Apostle Paul actually DELIGHTED in his flaws because He knew that this was where God had to show up and deliever!

‘And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

There is something about coming to the end of yourself and having to wait on God. Contrary to what the world often says, we can’t actually do anything we want, and we can’t actually be anything we want – in our own strength at least. Yes, Philippians 4:13 says that we can do ALL things, but only THROUGH Christ strengthening us. Where we are limited, we then add God to the equation and we then become LIMITLESS!

Grace is the ability to do what you need to do. When God says that His grace has been made sufficient to us, it means that we have what it takes to do what we have to do.

Imagine an iron. An iron is a fantastic and useful, household tool to get creases out of clothing. However, if the iron isn’t plugged into a power socket, it is totally weak and useless. The grace of God is the power that runs through us as His instruments when we plug into Him. Only by His grace running through us, and empowering us, are we able operate at the capacity he has called us to. Otherwise, we are honestly pretty useless.

I finish with this quote by Bill Johnson, ‘Live in such a way that unless God shows up, what you are attempting to do is bound to fail. This is the nature of the gospel’.

Stop speaking out of your emotions and speak out of the word of God. Start saying, ‘I can do this by the grace and strength of God in me’. If you are trusting in your own strength, begin to trust in God`s instead. Let His sufficentcey, be YOUR sufficiency!

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th January 2018

His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Matthew 25:21

To steward means ‘to manage’ or ‘look after’.

In the Parable of the Loaned Money, Jesus tells of talents that were divided among servants by a master. Out of fear, one servant hid his talents. He didn’t use them for anything, he just buried them, and let them safely sit. The other servant managed his talents and sought growth and fruitfulness from what he was given. This was also the servant who was given more again as he proved to steward what he was first given well.

There is a responsibility that comes when we are blessed with resources. Resources may be money, time, gifts, abilities or knowledge. God wants us to use these things, manage them well and seek to see fruitfulness from then.

A baby isn’t enrolled into university at birth. It is expected that they will learn and grow and master many levels of education before they graduate to the next challenge. Likewise, become a master of stewarding what you have now. No matter how small or big we feel our portion is, stop comparing and simply do your best today, until God moves you onto the next.

See Matthew 25:14-30 as an encouragement that you do have something to give, and like all good parents, God has given us His children responsibility to take ownership over our resources, before we move onto bigger and better!

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th January 2018

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the sun.”

Our lives go through seasons just as the year does, and each serves a purpose in God’s plan to make us who He wants us to be, and to prepare us for what He has planned in our lives
I love autumn; it is one of my favourite times of the year with the all so beautiful vibrant colours, the reds, oranges, browns and yellows. But for the plants it is usually the time when the green colour of life (chlorophyll) begins to disappear and the trees begin to shed their leaves. Likewise, we all go through this season in our lives. Every so often God begins to show us things in our lives that hinder our spiritual growth. He brings to light that which no longer feeds us spiritually. John 15:1-2 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” This means if we heed his guidance this will prune our soul and prepare us for the growth which is to come.

Any kind of pruning is a difficult process, it might be that we are cutting off some bad habits that we have or it could be our attitude towards something. I guess trees make it seem so effortless, but this is often a difficult season which sometimes sees a great battle and if we’re not ready to make these cuts, maybe we’re not ready to give up and submit to God.

We need to know most importantly that there will be different seasons in our lives, it doesn’t matter what season we find ourselves in, I have found that drawing close to God is the answer. So let us embrace each season of our lives as a part of God’s ultimate plan, and listen to His guidance in each. In Jeremiah 29:11, we are assured -“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plan to give you hope and a future”.

While seasons shift, we serve a God who never fails, he stands forever. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

For the farmer, Autumn is also a season of harvest, so it is good to remember that we always reap what we sow, sometimes we get discouraged and wonder if the seeds we plant will ever grow, but autumn assures us that harvest day is coming “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” —Galatians 6:9

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 6th January 2018

Today as I woke up, I had my first major decision to make… do I stay in bed, or do I get up?
I weighed up the reasons…

Reasons for me to stay in bed:

1.  I was enjoying it…

2. The warmth and comfort were very suitable to me…

3. I understood it to be cold outside, I had already looked at the weather report and I didn’t like what I read…

4. I couldn’t smell bacon OR coffee, so was it really worth getting up?

5. No effort would be required.

Reasons for me to get up:

1. It was right the right thing to do

Sometimes in life, we are faced with a difficult decision, everything within us wants to choose option 1, yet we simply have to go with option 2 beacuse “we know it’s right”.

God gave each one of us a “knower”. An ability to know when something is what we should do and when it is right.
Even when the reasons stack up against it…like my comfort, the ease of staying where I am, the temperature, what if it’s not as good? They all may be good and valid but when you go with what you know to be right, God will always bless your decision.

Don’t let the reasons for the wrong decision, convince you.
Don’t even let them take space in your mind.
Sometimes, you have to be strong with yourself and not even let your thinking go there.

I won’t experience all that God has for me today if I stay in bed and you won’t experience all God has for you if you don’t make that move that you know you need to.

Nothing good ever came from a comfort zone. So get up and move!

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th January 2018

The phrase ‘stretch or starve’ is something that was commonly used at family dinners. Once grace had been said, and the food was served, someone around the table would come out with this expression, simply meaning, ‘the food isn’t going to come to you, you’ve now got to reach out and get it’.

Have you ever felt starved of meaning and purpose in your life?
Have you ever experienced a sense of dissatisfaction?

Can I suggest to you that the reason being, is because you haven’t stretched in a while?

And what I mean by that is that you have remained in your comfort zone for too long.

The thing you need to know about comfort zones is that great things never come from there.

In order for you to discover lasting fulfilment and a sense of satisfaction in your life, you are required to step out of your comfort zone (whatever that may be) in order for you to step into your purpose.

I was playing a game of squash recently, and I came to the realisation that the times when I surprised myself the most, and as a result, played my best shots, were when I made a commitment to stretch.

When I decided to get uncomfortable, when I decided to choose the more difficult option, it was then that I experienced the best results.

You have a choice today, you can either stretch or starve…
I hope you’ll join me in making a decision to stretch, and in doing so, experience life the way you never thought possible.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 4th January 2018

Are you someone who prays for a car parking space at your local shopping centre? Or do you think God has more important things to think about? Are you someone who calls out to God when your favourite shirt goes missing in the wash? Or do you refrain from bothering Him with such meaningless matters?

Being very aware of all the bigger issues going on in the world today, we can quickly justify why we don’t get God involved in our comparatively petty issues. We can be so caught up in the bigness of God, that we disregard His interest in the details of our lives.

If the creator of the universe said that He wasn’t interested in the details of my day, I probably wouldn’t blame Him. I mean, He has already died for me, so I know He loves me – that’s enough is it not?

But the beauty of God is that He chooses to become intricately invested and involved in the finer details of our lives. The reality is that everything is small to God, even the things we think are big. Yet God’s greatest passion is us, so he cares about what is big to us. When you love someone, you know the details of their life. I know that my fiancé likes his eggs hard-boiled without the yolk and he has three every morning. I know that he has brown pasta and chicken almost every day for lunch. I know that he does his food shopping on a Sunday and he likes to get the trio packet of peppers and he is really happy if there isn’t any green peppers in there! Likewise, God knows the insignificant details of our lives.

Look at Luke 12:6-7, ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows’. The average person has an average of 100,000 hairs on their head! Of what purpose would it be for God to count your hairs?Yet He does! How much more is He concerned with your seemingly small requests to Him?

Have you ever watched a loving parent with their baby? They watch their child constantly! Every mannerism and every movement of the baby they study and take in. The parent learns the ways of their child. Psalm 139 tells us that God watches us in the same way, ‘…even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! … You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day’.

It feels good when someone knows you enough to remember the details. I remember when a friend in South Africa gave me a birthday present. She had wrapped it in a beautiful red, silk bow. I said how much I loved the colour of the ribbon and she replied with, ‘Yes! When I was wrapping the present and I had a selection of ribbons out and asked God which colour was your favourite and He told me, ‘red’!”. Ever since then, I have been so convinced that God cares about us. He knows us intricately and loves us in great detail.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd January 2018

Faith is visualizing the future. It’s believing before you see it. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

How will you see 2018 through eyes of faith?
A lot of people say, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” God says the exact opposite is true: “You will see it when you first believe it.” There are many things in life that have to be believed before they can be seen.

In 1961, the Soviet Union sent the first cosmonaut into space. When the cosmonaut returned to Earth, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev declared they’d been to space and didn’t see any god there.
About 10 months later, the United States sent John Glenn into space. He circled the earth three times on his Mercury mission, came back down, and told the world, “I saw God everywhere! I saw his glory in the galaxy. I saw his splendor in the universe. I saw his majesty in the stars.”

Which one was right? They both were. Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NLT). Before there is spiritual transformation in your life, you’re too narrow-minded to see the possibility of what God wants to do in your life.
Wernher von Braun, the leading scientist in the early stages of the U.S. space program, said, “There has never been any great accomplishment in history without faith.”

OIt is faith that causes the scientist to believe that we can put a man on the moon. It is faith that causes an architect to design a building because, first, she believes it can be done. It is faith that causes an Olympic athlete to practice and go to the Olympic trials because she believes she can achieve. It is faith that causes a sculptor or an artist to believe that he can paint a picture or attempt the sculpture. Someone has to believe it before you see it. It is a universal principle of life.

Let’s believe in God’s love and guidance as we enter 2018. Believe it before you see it. Trust God’s promises and trust his work in your life during the next year.

Rick Warren

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd January 2018

Yesterday I was driving a long distance home when I noticed a government-endorsed road safety billboard on the side of the road. The billboard had the words, ‘EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED’ shouting out in bold lettering for drivers passing by. The purpose of the sign was to increase road awareness. The sign was situated on a long and boring road. I am assuming that many drivers have encountered problems on this particular road as they have relaxed with the monotony of the road and lost awareness and then all of a sudden things like animals, or oncoming cars have appeared and caused an accident.

As I continued to drive, I thought about those words – ‘expect the unexpected’. The phrase suggests that we should have an expectation that something we weren’t planning on happening, will happen. It suggests that we shouldn’t live in a place where we assume what is ahead for us, but become prepared for a ‘suddenly’ moment.

God loves a good ‘suddenly’ moment. All throughout scripture we see God move in the most unexpected of ways.

Matthew 8:24 – ‘But suddenly there arose a great storm on the Lake’.

Matthew 17:3 – ‘And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them’.

Matthew 28:9 – ‘And suddenly they saw Jesus coming to meet them’.

Luke 2:9 – ‘…when suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of the Lord shone round them’.

Acts 2:2 – ‘Suddenly there came from the sky a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting’.

Acts 12:17 – ‘Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by him’.

Revelation 3:3 – ‘I will come upon you suddenly like a thief’.

2 Chronicles 29:36 – ‘Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, because of that which God had prepared for the people: for the thing was done suddenly’.

Isaiah 48:3, ‘I have declared the former things from of old; yes, they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them: suddenly I did them, and they happened’.

Isaiah 51:5, – ‘Suddenly will my righteousness come near, and my salvation will be shining out like the light; the sea-lands will be waiting for me, and they will put their hope in my strong arm’.

Maybe there are areas in your life that you assume aren’t going to change and you have lost faith for the ‘suddenly’ of God to breakthrough. Rather than getting stuck on a monotonous road, challenge your faith journey by starting to expect the unexpected work of God in your life. This may be by making peace with someone you have issues with, preparing your finances for a moment where you can give suddenly, or perhaps you need to prepare your heart for the voice of God to call you suddenly in a direction you hadn’t planned.

Don’t live with no expectation of God moving in your life. Live with the expectation that God can suddenly show up. The nature of the gospel is all about living in such a way that unless God shows up, what you are attempting to do is bound to fail.

Emma Montesi

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st January 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Last year started off pretty normal for one of my wife’s best friends; they met each other many years ago at their first job in the civil service. They were both just 17.

Sarah (not her real name) and husband enjoy frequent skiing trips every year and have become very proficient on the slopes all over Europe.

Sadly, in the early part of last year, Sarah had a nasty skiing accident which left her with a fractured sternum amongst other things. Her life suddenly went onto hold as she struggled to even sit up and eat. As the months rolled by with little signs of improvement, she went for more extensive tests to try and find out why she could not breathe or speak normally without a great deal of pain.

What they found was quite shocking as the specialist revealed the severity of the accident had actually split her vocal chords. As she sat in our kitchen a few weeks ago, she told us all about her recovery process and what further operations she is likely to need this year. To her amazement she was told that the best thing for her healing was to sing. “Singing will bring the best healing to your vocal chords”, he told her.

As she now understands more fully the extent of her injuries and continues on the road to recovery, the last thing that she feels like doing and the last thing she feels able to do is sing. Yet singing is what must happen.

It struck me as she sat there, that the advice that she was given is exactly the advice that we all need when we feel broken and beaten down by life. We need to sing!

We don’t know what this new year will hold for any of us, but what we do know, is that singing is one of the greatest remedies for our woes.

In the Old Testament we find these words given to a barren woman…

Isaiah 54:1 ‘Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord.

On the face of it, it seems like completely the wrong advice, but nevertheless is the best advice.
Singing is not just words and music but carries with it great spiritual significance.

Every wondered why a large portion of a church service is given over to worship? Well now you know.

The great thing about singing is that you can do it anywhere at anytime, and with it will come great breakthroughs in 2018.

The next time you’re battling through something in your everyday life, don’t go silent and clam up, start to SING.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.