Fresh Hope – 28th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 10

Don’t worry if nothing of any significance has happened for you, to you or through you during the last ten days…they will.

There is no promise whatsoever that during a fast that you will get the breakthrough that you needed or wanted, but that breakthrough will come.

Remember, Jesus didn’t fast for a breakthrough there and then, but fasted so that He would always be prepared for whatever came his way at any given time.

Ultimately, we know from the Bible and from experience, that God openly rewards those who privately fast.

When we fast and pray, supernatural occurrences start to take effect. They may well happen today or they may be gearing you up for your breakthrough in 12 months’ time, so don’t be discouraged; in fact most of what happens during a fast is done ‘in’ you rather than ‘for’ you.

As we come to the last day of this particular time of fasting, I encourage you to keep praying daily for the things that have been on your heart at this time, until you see them come to pass.

God does not finish His work when the fast finishes, in fact this is just the start of Him decluttering your life, so that you can receive everything He has for you this year.

God is a supernatural God, and can and will do supernatural things for you, in you and through you.

Only last night, myself and my wife went to bed with heavy hearts about a complicated visa situation that our daughter-in-law was facing back in Australia. Having only been married to our son for a few weeks, they now found themselves living apart at opposite ends of the world.

For some reason, the visa application was still stuck in Australia after two weeks, meaning that time was being lost for no apparent reason.

As we lifted our request to God before we got into bed, we expected Him to move on our behalf.

At 2am, my wife woke me up to tell me that she had received a text from our daughter-in-law to say that the visa application had now arrived in the UK and by 11am we received word that it had been delivered to the correct office.

When we pray and fast, stubborn things begin to shift. Sometimes, faster than we could ever imagine!

Make a plan to have fasting as a part of your lifestyle from now on.

Stay strong in faith.

Never give up.

Matthew 6:16-18 ‘When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’

Thank you for journeying with us.

Breakthroughs are on their way!

Champions prayer focus – 2020 vision – completion of all building programmes.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 27th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 9

Isn’t it interesting how we are willing to follow instructions from people without hesitation? Yet, when it comes to following instructions from God, we either question His wisdom or we think about it for so long that we end up not obeying Him anyway.

Take for instance a typical visit to the Doctors.

We walk into a room to be examined by someone that we don’t know, with a name we can’t pronounce, who has handwriting that we can’t decipher, that prescribes tablets we can hardly swallow. We pay close attention to the label on the bottle and follow exactly the instructions to take twice a day for three months.

If we forget to take one dose we worry and quickly do our best to get back on track. If we go away on holiday or even for the day, we make sure that we have them with us and we expect them to do us good.

What faith we have in man – yet what doubt we have in the one who created us in His own image.

When was the last time that you felt God speaking to you about something, and you willingly abandoned yourself to His instruction with no questions asked?

Prayer and fasting is one of God’s amazing prescriptions for a blessed life. It’s a prescription that will draw you closer to God and give your spiritual life a real tonic.

As we embark on these last couple of days of our fast, don’t be tempted to just go through the motions of skipping meals, but take time out to spend time in prayer over the things that really matter.

Maybe you’ve resisted fasting, because you felt it was unnecessary or too hard for you to do?

Why not start again today and join hundreds of others for the remaining days?

None of us understand how a prescription works, but that never stopped you from taking the tablets; in the same way, just because we don’t understand the power of prayer and fasting, don’t let it stop you obeying God’s prescription for a breakthrough in your own life and those around you.

I encourage you today to make this week a real focus to pray honest and specific prayers, remembering to give thanks no matter how bad things appear.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Champions prayer focus for today – MAN.kind men’s conference and events in 2018.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 8

One of the longest periods of time that I had ever prayed for something to happen occurred in 1985.

I had started to make prayer lists of things that I wanted to see happen.

My list would have very specific content based on this verse of the Bible…

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Each time that I made a specific list, I would place a date at the top of the page so that I would know how long it took for the prayer to be answered.

I would only remove something or someone from the list when I saw the answer to prayer.

On this occasion, it was four years from praying to the time of receiving the answer.

Since then, I’ve prayed for much longer periods before seeing God move in a situation.

P.U.S.H…is a great acrostic that will help you to grow some serious prayer muscle during this time of prayer and fasting and beyond.

Pray

Until

Something

Happens.

Jesus made up this great story to show us how important this is…

Luke 18:1-5 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’

Feeling bad that you keep asking God for the same thing time and time again?

Often God wants to test you to see if what you’re asking for is really important to you.

Remember: pray consistent, pray persistent and pray specific prayers.

Vague prayers – vague answers.

Specific prayers – specific answers.

Make a plan to join us for prayer, communion and worship tonight at 7pm – Champions auditorium.

Champions prayer focus for today – health and growth of Church.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 24th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting Day 6

Daniel in the Old Testament teaches us a lot about prayer.
He set himself aside to pray and fast, he was a man of prayer.
We read that he prayed several times a day, even though it wasn’t easy for him to do so, as there was much opposition to anyone who wanted to communicate with God.

His life was truly disciplined and he stood out on many occasions because he was a man of faith and prayer and fasting.

Here are 3 things that happened because he prayed…

1. He stood out. Daniel 6 v 3 reads… “… but Daniel brimming with spirit and intelligence, completely outclassed the other vice-regents and governors, that the King put him entirely in charge of the Kingdom.”

When you make a sacrifice and choose to set yourself aside and make that commitment to prayer, you will be a STAND OUT.

2. He was protected. Daniel 6 vs 17-22 tells us how Daniel was thrown into a Lion’s den due to his faith YET he was totally, supernaturally protected by God. “…My God sent His angel who closed the mouths of the lions, so that they would not hurt me.”

Supernatural protection came his way. That story is told all over the world to this day – the truth is, God was his protection.

3. He was an influencer. Daniel 6 vs 25-28. King Darius issued a decree to every nation that Daniel’s God was to be worshipped and honoured. That God was the One to be worshipped because He had saved Daniel from the lions den. Vs 28 “…from then on, Daniel was treated very well during the reign of Darius.”

Prayer brings influence. You’ll be an influencer and things will change.

God will turn around situations because of your praying.

Keep going!

Champions focus prayer point – Sunday services and families.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd February 2018

Prayer and fasting – Day 5

Fasting is not just going without food for a period of time. That may be dieting, or starving yourself, but it’s not fasting.

Simply stated, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose.

From the very beginning, fasting has been a normal part of a relationship with God. The Bible never says ‘if’ you fast but ‘when’ you fast, and in the New Testament it is placed in its importance alongside prayer and giving. (Matthew Chapter 6). Each bringing its own reward.

Spiritual fasting alongside prayer brings a person into a deeper, more intimate and powerful relationship with Jesus.

When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly sensitive to the things of God.

Once you realise what can happen during and after a fast, you soon begin to realise that fasting is an overlooked and forgotten source of power.

Matthew tells a story of a father who had a demon possessed son. For years, he watched helplessly as his son suffered with severe convulsions. Having exhausted every attempt to cure the boy, he took him to the disciples for prayer but all to no avail.

When the boy was bought to Jesus, the Bible says …”And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17 v 18-20)

Now we all like to focus on the statement ‘nothing will be impossible for you’, but the main thrust of this miracle is found in what comes after the word ‘however’; the key to this stubborn problem was prayer AND fasting.

If that’s the case, we have to ask what blessings are not being released…what answers to prayer are not getting through, and what bondages are not being broken?

If Jesus could have accomplished all that He came to do without fasting, why would He fast?

He knew that there were supernatural things that could be released only that way.

Let’s press into fasting and prayer today and see God unlock some supernatural things that have yet to be part of your life.

Champions prayer focus for today – ‘UNITE’ youth and young adults conference/events.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 4

Are you in a desperate situation today?

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah was.

He found himself surrounded by a powerful enemy army – annihilation was certain without God’s intervention.

The Bible records in 2 Chronicles 20:2-4 …Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar”. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

He desperately needed to know God’s plan in order to defeat this great army and so asked everyone, even the children, to fast and seek God.

As they did this, God spoke and said…“Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)

As the people fasted and prayed, God told them exactly how the enemy would approach and exactly what they should do in response.

As they obeyed what God had said, they not only defeated the enemy in just one day, they then took a further three days to carry off all the riches that the enemy had left behind -now that’s what you call a victory!

Do you want God to tell you what to do at this time in your life?

Fast, worship and pray.

Be still and see Him work on your behalf – they didn’t even have to fight…God fought for them.

The promise of God for you today is…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He will fight for you, and not only that, you will take back everything that the enemy has stolen from you too.

Your prayers and fasting WILL bring a reward.

Stay strong.

Champions prayer focus for today – SHINE ladies conference/events

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 21st February 2018

Prayer and Fasting – Day 3

When you are praying and fasting, you will easily feel like quitting at times, but remember that your persistence breaks resistance. It brings you to a place where you can feel God more powerfully in your life – but it also positions you so that HE can hear your heart’s cry too.

So many times throughout the Bible, Jesus was passing through a city or passing right by a person. He didn’t stop until the people or person cried out to Him in order to get His attention. He would then immediately stop, turn and help them, often resulting in a miracle.

Prayer and fasting says to God… “I’m serious about this. I want you to come and help me. I am desperate for you to deal with this situation in my life.”

As we continue to push through in this special time, be determined not just to limit your prayer and fasting to special seasons or for a limited period each year, but make it a part of your lifestyle in the future.

When you persist in prayer, you will notice that you start to see breakthroughs that no-one else sees, simply because…’persistence breaks resistance’.

Many of the prayers that I have seen answered in my own life have not come quickly, but as a result of week in and week out prayer for that very stubborn problem or situation.

Don’t be disappointed if nothing seems to have happened yet…your prayers and fasting have been stored up by God, and no matter where and no matter when, God will answer at the right time.

Stay strong in faith.

Hebrews 10:35-36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Champions prayer focus for today: financial breakthrough in all areas.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 20th February 2018

Prayer and Fasting- Day 2

There are three things that the Bible brings together under one roof and invites you to participate in each one of them.

You are not commanded or forced to take part, you are simply invited.

To be invited, means that you are privileged; more privileged than someone that does so because they feel obligated to do so.

Participating in any one of the things will reap its rewards, but I do believe that if you will participate in all three on a persistent basis, then your life will never be the same again.

What are those three things you may well ask?

All three are found in Matthew chapter 6, and they go like this:
Giving
Fasting
Prayer

At the end of the invitation to participate in each one of these, there is the same promise attached… “and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Giving, fasting and prayer bring with them a reward from God – it’s a promise on all three.

Just imagine what could happen if you consistently participated in not just one of these, but all three.

Don’t just decide to take up the invitation on special occasions, or when you feel like it, but let each one become ingrained into your lifestyle.

If you’ve chosen to fast and pray with us over these next ten days, then I want to thank you for helping make a difference, but more than that, watch out, God is about to reward you – His words…not mine!

Take time today to read Matthew chapter 6.

Champions prayer focus for today: construction of our new children’s facility starting in two weeks.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th February 2018

Thank you for journeying with us today, as we start out on 10 days of prayer and fasting.

Fasting is a private affair, however talking about it helps us to draw strength, inspiration and encouragement along the way.

This may be your first fast or it may well have been part of your lifestyle for years, but wherever you are at in your journey, you are not alone in your fasting today. Literally hundreds of thousands are joining you in prayer and fasting today, from all over the world.

We have one thing in common: we all want God to move in our lives and in our land.

When you decide that you are going to fast for a day or a week or more, food becomes more attractive than ever. A plain piece of bread that you would have normally thrown out for the birds seems almost irresistible.

The first thing that JESUS got tempted with when he was fasting came directly from the devil…

Matthew 4:1-4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’

The first natural response to fasting is of course hunger!

YOU WILL BE TEMPTED TO EAT MORE THAN EVER!

Listen to JESUS’ reply…

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’

As much as He was hungry, He makes it clear that ‘the reason for not eating today is so that I can listen to the voice of God more clearly.’

Jesus later called Himself the ‘bread of life’.

Here’s a thought to take us through the day…

Fasting dethrones our normal appetite for food and replaces it with an appetite to hear clearly from Jesus.

Declare as you start your fast today that ‘I don’t need to eat to stay alive today, I’m chewing on the words of God instead.’

Fasting sensitises you to hear more clearly what God has wanted to say to you for months.

Be still.

Read your Bible.

Listen to his voice.

He speaks.

He guides.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Champions prayer focus for today – MONTH OF MONDAYS CONFERENCE (to include Champions Kids ‘LEGO’ themed conference) every Monday night in March – 7.30pm.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th February 2018

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back” (Rick Warren).

With that in mind, how much time do we give God; the one who created us; each day? In order to have a relationship with Him, just as we do with our loved ones, we need to spend time with Him.

We all live such busy lives with our work, children, families, hobbies etc. but we should also make time in our busy lives for God who created us. How about aiming to spend not less than 15 minutes a day with God, in quiet time and daily devotions? Out of the 168 hours we all have in a week that will only add up to one hour and forty-five minutes. That seems very little when you consider that we were created to have meaningful fellowship with God.

We have nothing to lose but a lot to gain by spending time with God. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. When we spend time with Him, He takes care of our daily needs and wants.

The good thing about God is that he is omnipresent so we can spend time with Him anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t matter what activity you’re doing, you can always pray. If there’re people around you, you can pray silently inside your head; remember, God can read your mind. Thank God for every good thing that you receive. Praise Him for all the wonderful things He is and does. Ask Him for all the things you want, including all the changes you would like to make in yourself and your relationships. And pray for everyone you know, for all the things they need or want. Listen to worship music, listen to messages from your favourite bible teachers, make a conscious effort to dedicate a proportion of your day to Him.

Even Jesus often retreated from the crowds to spend time with God. Matthew 14:23 “After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.”

Time with God is like that: the more time you spend with Him, the more you’ll want to spend time with Him.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th February 2018

Often during these cold winter mornings the sun is very low; it can take you by surprise as you drive around a corner and encounter it head on.

A quick fidget in the glove box or in the door and on go the sunglasses.

I don’t know what colour the lenses are in your sunglasses, but the pair have a subtle or not-so-subtle tint.

When I wear mine, no matter where I look, everything has a purple tinge to it.

Of course, in reality nothing is purple (that is apart from purple things) but to me everything is tainted through my lenses.

My glasses don’t just block out the sun, they colour my world.

Throughout our lives, we will subconsciously be handed various pairs of glasses to wear. Each pair will give us a different outlook on life.

If you spend too much time around negative people, you will start to wear negative glasses. No matter what you look at or where you go you will find yourself having a negative opinion.

If you’ve been exposed to the thoughts that ‘life doesn’t get better’, but is just on a downward spiral from now on, then you will see everything through decrease glasses.

The lenses you wear on your mind determine not only what you see, but how you see what you see.

I was often the last one to be picked on a team at junior school; I was the one that you were left with.

This coloured my mind and led me to a belief that I’d always be at the bottom of the pile.

I lived with those thoughts for many years until I came to know Jesus and started to read the Bible for myself.

I began to read so many great positive truths that I slowly began to take off the glasses that had subtly become part of the vision for my life.

Words from the Bible were a massive change in my thinking and by the Grace of God I changed the way I saw things by changing the glasses on my mind.

Remember: you can’t change the output of your mind until you change the input of your mind.

Take just these two passages of the Bible and imagine them as sunglasses that you need to put on today.

Let them become part of your thinking and watch how they tint everything that you do today.

Proverbs 4:18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Deuteronomy 28:13-14 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Have a blessed day.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th February 2018

Don’t give up on your dreams.

For more than 17 years, I had dreamt of building a church building that was fit for the 21st century.

A place that people of all walks of life would be proud to call their spiritual home.

A place where people would be attracted to in order to find God.

A place that future generations wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring their friends to.

A place where excellence reflected the very nature of God.

I never realised that my dream from God would take up so many of the years in my 30s and 40s.

By the grace of God I refused to give up, when on many occasions I wanted to.

Today, that dream stands as a reality, with hundreds of people now calling it their spiritual home. Today it’s time to dream again!

Everyone’s dream, including yours, can become a reality – just don’t give up.

Interestingly, Joseph (the dreamer with the multi coloured coat) had to hang on to his dream for 23yrs.

His story is one of twice as many days of ‘give – ups’ than ‘go – ons’.

Every dream can contain twice as many negative surprises that can greatly discourage you, but the key is to realise that the Lord is with you and He won’t let you down.

Take a look at the headlines of Joseph’s 23yr journey from Genesis chapters 28-38 and be encouraged to keep going….

Misunderstood by his family – give up?

Sold into slavery by his brothers- give up?

Found himself in a country far from home- give up?

Given favour in Potiphar’s house – go on!

Wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife- give up?

Thrown into prison – give up?

Put in charge of all the prisoners – go on!

Forgotten for two whole years – give up?

Remained in prison for two more years – give up?

Interpreted Pharaoh’s dream – go on!

Became second in command of Egypt and ran the whole country – dream realised!

Today I’m dreaming again. In fact, we must never stop dreaming of a better tomorrow.

If you don’t have a dream, ask God to give you one.

If you’ve run out of dreams…dream again.
Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th February 2018

There are two types of people that we come across in life.

The first one is the ‘thermometer’ type.

They feel that their role in life is to take the temperature of every situation.

Typically a thermometer type person doesn’t change anything…they just comment on what is already taking place.

Maybe they walk into your work place and tell you that it has a negative feel or they come to your home and tell you that your kids are unruly.

They can walk past the end of their own street that is strewn with litter and comment on how horrible it looks…but that’s where it ends.

As useful as a thermometer is, it actually doesn’t change anything, it only measures what needs changing.

The second type of person is the ‘thermostat’.

This person is the one that changes what they see.

If it’s too cold, the thermostat feels it and then sets about turning things around.

It doesn’t stop until it gets what it wants.

It doesn’t click off until it achieves the desired effect.

Gillian and myself were in a situation some time ago whereby we could have looked on and said ‘how terrible…how unfortunate…how blessed we are that we are not living in that situation’.

But instead, we decided to help change the situation.
Sometimes change can occur by notching things up by just one degree.

After all, the difference between hot and boiling water is just one degree.

We had the means and the desire to turn that situation around for good…so we did. We did so, because we could so.

Looking without acting is easy, however, I want to encourage you today to be a difference maker.

Be a thermostat and set the temperature in any and every situation that you become part of.

Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbour ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’ – when you already have it with you.
Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 13th February 2018

Turbulence can be scary, however it’s not the time to get off the plane and abandon the flight. Just fasten your seat belt, sit back and listen to the pilot; he’s in control and though it may feel uncomfortable, it’s not the end and to the pilot it’s not even considered dangerous. Turbulence is just part of the journey. It’s what comes with flying high.

If you’re going somewhere significant with your life, you should expect times of turbulence. If you don’t want turbulence, then the only thing you can do is sit at home.

Knowing that there will be turbulence, the pilot doesn’t sit on the runway and go nowhere, instead he flies in the direction of his destination and takes it as it comes.

Too many people, fearing the strong winds of adversity and criticism, stay on the ground opting for an easy life. The truth is you are actually robbing yourself of a fulfilling life that God has prepared for you.

If you are thinking that you never go through anything like this, then ask yourself a simple question: ‘am I really fulfilling God’s plan for my life?’ Turbulence is a sure sign that you are climbing higher and going in the right direction.

Always remember in life…

– the higher you climb the colder it becomes

– the higher you climb the riskier it becomes

– the higher you climb the more doubts will bombard you.

– the higher you climb the more you have to lose.

Facing a bumpy ride right now? Hold on, the pilot has everything under control and you’ll soon arrive at your destination.

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

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th February 2018

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ― Melody Beattie

What are you grateful for today? This question can make many of us think long and hard but yet we find it easier to complain about things. That’s human nature, but every day we have a choice, we can live thankfully or we can live dissatisfied. We can be grateful for all the blessings God has brought into our lives, or we can murmur and complain about all that we don’t have. Gratitude is an attitude that comes out of the habit of giving thanks. All through the Psalms, no matter what David was facing, we read his outpouring of gratitude to God. As he encountered good times and bad times, David always turned back to the truth of God’s goodness. This attitude often carried him through the hardest of situations. Psalms 100:1-5 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations”.

A friend recently told me how her and her other friends had decided to create a ‘gratitude jar’ – where each day each one writes down one thing that they are thankful for on a piece of paper and puts it into their gratitude jar. The idea is that at the end of the month or year, they will each have a jar of remembrance which they can read through. I thought this was a great practical way of always remembering the positive we have around us and counting our blessings one by one, because so often we lose count of what we have been blessed with. They do not have to be big hair-raising, show-stopping moments, they can be the simplest smallest things, like an answered silent prayer for a parking space, it shows that God is at hand in our lives and he is interested even in the smallest details. Don’t wait another day to begin thanking God for all the good things He has done for you…even in the midst of your pain. 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

If your focus is on being thankful to God for the good things in your life, then the words you speak are going to be more uplifting—and the result is more joy for you.
Consider making it a daily activity, just as we teach our little ones to say please and thank you through repetition and relentless reminders, we also need to learn to express our thanks to the Father through consistency. The more we meditate on God’s goodness and practice our thanks no matter what our circumstance, the more it will naturally flow out of our hearts. Regularly expressing our thanks to the Father is one of our best weapons against all of life’s battles.
The bible instructs us in Psalm 107:1 to “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” –There truly are so many reasons to be thankful.

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th February 2018

Someone is most likely to rise to their destiny under the power of encouragement.
We all need daily encouragement.
“Thank you for that meal, it was great.”
“Thank you for the lovely welcome.”
“Thank you for your great teaching today.”
It’s not that hard is it?

Encouragement will always make us better…however, discouragement can take us down and even out.

Sometimes we have to fight discouragement.
We have to be on our guard against it.
We have to recognise it and not allow it into our lives.

In the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament, Nehemiah was given the task to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He had a lot of discouraging voices telling him to give up and stop what he was doing. He said to them that he wouldn’t come down and stop what he was doing.
He had to be strong against the discouragement.
Nehemiah 6 vs 2-3 “I am doing a good work, I will not come down.”

In the story of Moses leading the people into the promised land, 10 people’s discouraging report stopped 3 million people reaching their destiny. WOW! That’s the power of discouragement. Sad isn’t it? But it’s also very real.

Be careful who you listen to and be ready to be guarded against it. For the enemy will use discouragement to stop us from fulfilling our purpose and sometimes he will use people to do it.

Dare to stand up against that discouraging thought.
Watch out for discouraging and negative thought patterns.
Slap that discouragement right out of your life.

Sometimes you have to encourage yourself if encouragement is short.
When you spend time with God, He will encourage your spirit.

I pray today you will RECEIVE encouragement and that you too will GIVE encouragement.
For what you sow, you will reap.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th February 2018

Did you know that there is one question that God will never ask you?

He will never ask you the question…’can you?’

But there is one question that God will always ask you, and that is…’will you?’

There’s a world of difference between the two, as one is connected to your ability whilst the other is connected to your availability.

The reason He will never ask ‘can you’, is because he knows what you can and cannot do, so the only thing left to ask is…’will you’.

Think about it for a moment…why would God ask you to do what He knows you cannot do?

If he commands me to do it, then it must be within my power to do so.

Here’s a great story that Jesus told to highlight this very issue…

Matthew 21:28-31 (NIV)
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, `Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ” `I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, `I will, sir,’ but he did not go.  “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.

How often do we make excuses as to why we cannot do what God is asking of us?

There is only one issue here, and it’s not can you or can’t you, but will you or won’t you.

It’s a simple question of obedience.

Maybe you’ve said NO in the past, just like the one son that we’ve read about – if so, change your mind, and say YES!

There are people’s lives right now that can only be reached by your YES.

They are depending on you.

If you will…you can.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th February 2018

For anyone who has built a house before, you would know the importance of laying down a good foundation, before you start with the other structural features of the house. When there are issues with the foundation, there are likely problems elsewhere in the home. Buying a house with foundation issues means you’ll have more household repairs to contend with down the line. Things like cracks in the wall, crooked doors and windows, broken tiles (which can lead to water leakage), and the list goes on – what a nightmare!

Even a perfectly laid foundation can be laid on poor soil. If the ground begins to shift under the foundation – the house isn’t going to last long! Most builders perform a soil test to ensure that the foundation will stay in place. This process can take some time, and you can get impatient when you just want to see the house come together, but in the long run, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to lay a secure and sure base.

The same is true of our lives. Perhaps you are constantly trying to plaster over the cracks, straighten crooked doors, manage water leakage and the broken tiles of your life. The issues of your life will only perpetuate until you lay down a solid foundation. A good foundation will influence the strength and security of your life. You can have a beautiful and impressive home, with all the trimmings, but if the foundation isn’t right, there will be problems when pressure is put on the house, or the foundation moves.

The bible is clear that in order for your life to have stability, it must be built on Christ alone. You can’t have a life built on the security of money, or power, or even people. It won’t last, and will cost you down the line.

Multiple times in scripture God is referred to being ‘a rock’. Jesus uses this metaphor in Matthew 7:24-27 when He says, ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it’.

Jesus is also referred to as “the Cornerstone”, such as in Isaiah 28:16-17, ‘So this is what the sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed’.

The most secure, and sturdy foundation to build your life upon is on the word and nature of God. Test the soil of your life. Examine the quality of your house, and if you have to, knock down what you have already built, and start again with the right foundations.

Psalm 62:2 “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
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Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 7th February 2018

The poet wrote, ‘Beware of those that stand aloof, and greet each venture with reproof, the world would stop if things were run, by those that say it can’t be done.
Refuse to let the word impossible stop you.’

Jesus said, “with God all things are possible.”

If those who’ve changed the world had left every impossibility undone, we’d still be living in the dark ages.

More of us are persuaded into believing for too little than believing for too much. Vision is essential for survival.

A God-given vision is conceived by faith, sustained by prayer and fuelled by God’s word.

It’s not about what you can do, but what God can do through you when your life is fully surrendered to Him.

Faith encompasses things outside the realm of the impossible, the predictable, the safe and the normal.

When God gives you a vision, pursue it and believe for great things.

Remember: without faith it’s impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6).

Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 6th February 2018

Jesus had a popularity problem.

Everyone wanted a piece of Him wherever He went. Crowds would rush to Him in order to have their needs met, and His only way of keeping ahead of them is found here…
Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Most of us don’t have that kind of a popularity problem, but all of us have the need to get alone with God in order to re-charge our spiritual batteries.

Being intentional about solitude was fundamental to His life. His example serves as a pattern for everyone of us, no matter how popular or unpopular you may be.

The truth is this: you can’t help people, unless you get free from people. One needy person can shut you down for weeks.

If you don’t give yourself some space, you will end up being controlled by the very people that you want to serve.

Solitude was the key to his survival. Solitude allowed him to say in the midst of the crowd ‘who touched me?’ Solitude sensitises you to the needs of the people around you and allows you to effectively discern them.

Solitude gives you the ability to understand people and put things into perspective.

Solitude re-tunes your heart to the right frequency.

Most people mistake solitude for loneliness, and yet the two things couldn’t be further apart. Solitude is a choice, loneliness isn’t.

Solitude is a choice to come apart before you fall apart.

Solitude breeds creativity.

Solitude is a way of saying that you can’t handle life on your own. It says loud and clear, I need to get alone with God in order to figure this out.

Most people only listen to people. It’s not good to listen to the folks, folks.

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

Every great leader throughout history withdrew; so even if you’re only leading yourself, learn to embrace solitude as a daily part of your life.

Mark 1:35-37 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th February 2018

I often find that the answer that I need is right under my nose. Sometimes people who need help and advice cannot see their way through, even though to others it’s pretty clear.

The Bible is full of simple instruction. It’s clear and straight forward and yet we can fail to see it OR we choose not to like what we read, so we ignore it.

Everyone likes to think that they are right. I’m like that, I somehow like to think that I must be right all of the time, when in fact of course I’m not.

Yet God is right all of the time and the Bible is always right and will always give you the right way of living and the wisdom you need for any and every situation.

Take for instance being fruitful. We all want to be fruitful. We all want to be blessed and prosperous in different areas of our lives and yet we fail to see that to be fruitful, we have to be seedful.

A couple who want to be fruitful in their marriage and have children, need to have good seed in order to reproduce.

A good marriage will require you to be seedful and invest good time and love and energy and finance into that marriage, in order for it to be fruitful.

A farmer will need to sow good seed and be seedful, in order to be fruitful.

Do you get the picture? In order to be FRUITFUL you have to be SEED-FUL.

When it comes to finance and wanting to be blessed, remember the same principle. If I want to be fruitful, I have to be seedful.

God has given us all seed. It may be a lot or it may be a little…but you won’t see a harvest until you sow.
So get sowing today and your life will be fruitful.

It’s no good in your pocket, your wallet or your bank account.
The farmer’s seed wont reap a harvest until it’s in the ground and the same applies to you.

This truth is God’s instruction. Don’t presume that you know best, you don’t. His ways are higher and His instruction is correct.

If you want a blessed life, follow God’s ways and be fruitful be being seedful.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd February 2018

I recently read the expression ‘worrying is like praying for something that you don’t want to happen’. Worry goes to war against our faith every day, life’s ‘what ifs’ will beat us down and steal our attention if we let it. Worry can be crippling and blinding so much that it can take away our strength and causes the things that are outside our control to control us. One of the main contributors to our worrying is that we don’t have the answers. We want to know timing, dates or reasons behind everything that is happening in our lives. We know that God tells us that ‘His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts’ but still we secretly wish God’s thoughts were like ours or at least in sync with ours . In this age of Google, Siri and Alexa, answers seem to be at our fingertips for everything else but when it comes to our lives we do not know what the next minute brings and no one or nothing can tell us that.

In the book of Acts, we read about Paul’s life and how he went through many trials. At one point he was shipwrecked, beaten and left for dead and even his enemies vowed they would not sleep until he was dead. Paul had every reason to worry about his life but instead he chose not to and instead whilst chained in his prison cell, he decided to write a letter to the Philippians on how to wage against worry.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The battlefield for worry is often in our hearts and minds. Therefore we must guard our hearts as Proverbs 4 tells us to ‘guard your hearts above all else for it determines the course for your life’. We often worry so much that we end up doubting how big our God is and forget that the same God we serve is the same God who spoke the universe into existence therefore the things that surprise us and phase us do not phase Him. Worry in other words tells God that we do not trust him, and it’s as if we are saying to him, “thank you for all the wonderful things you have done Lord i.e. creating this universe, providing the air that I breathe etc. but when it comes to this matter, it’s ok Lord, I can handle it myself.”

God’s peace defeats our worries. True peace is accessible through Jesus Christ, He is the Prince of Peace, and it is the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds. Paul describes this as the peace that surpasses all understanding. How do you survive the loss of a loved one, how do you have hope when you hear that diagnosis from the doctor? How do you survive through a divorce when you do not have hope in Jesus? Many turn to other temporary things but Paul prescribes the one thing that will get us the peace of God and that is through prayer, and he doesn’t just say prayer but adds thanksgiving. Maybe sometimes we get so worried and consumed about the things that we don’t have or that are not going well that we forget to even be thankful to God for the things that he has done. An attitude of gratitude has a healing effect on the heart. Sometimes when we are empty of worship and thanksgiving, worry creeps in and steals our joy.

In verse Philippians 4 vs 8 Pauls clearly tells us what we should feed our minds when he says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”

Christine Mudenha

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd February 2018

Are you praying with authority or with fear? Are you praying “from” strength or “from” a position of weakness? Most tend to pray passive and ineffective prayers, but we don’t need to stay that way. The story of Moses showcases how God wants us to pray. When God is sending Moses to Pharaoh to help with freeing the Jewish people, you see the way that God tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.”” —Exodus 9:1 NIV
This is incredible! And shocking if you’re Moses. God tells Moses to “command” Pharaoh to let his people go, but Pharaoh is the supreme leader and Moses is nothing, humanly speaking. What you see is that God didn’t have Moses “ask” the enemy to let the people go, rather he tells him to command the enemy to give up what he’d taken.

Stop being polite with your enemy.
Stop speaking to the enemy like he’s more powerful than you. Because you’re a child of God, you carry the authority of God with you. This means that you have the authority to speak boldly with the enemies that come against you. When you’re lesser in authority then you ask, but when you’re greater in authority then you make a demand.
Pray from your authority not your insecurity. Pray from your position in your heavenly family not your earthly position.

When the enemy tries to mess with you, your family or your city, then step up and speak direct and with authority and COMMAND the devil to leave! When you’re in Christ, the enemy will have to leave! Recently at church we were praying for people to be delivered from any demonic oppression of any kind. A young woman came for prayer that had been involved in the satanic church and ever since that time she’s been sick and in and out of the hospital. So, I had her reaffirm her allegiance to Jesus as Lord and renounce any ties and declarations to satan. Then I didn’t ask the devil to leave her and I didn’t ask God to please kick the devil off her life… no, I stepped into my God-given authority and commanded satan to leave her life in Jesus name! The demon shook her, threw her down and then left her, then great peace came over her life!
Do not fear the enemy!
Pray from your authority!

Samuel Deuth

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st February 2018

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.

Think of something that you really love doing. How would you feel about giving that up? It would be tough, right!? Now imagine how Abraham felt when he was asked to give his only son Isaac up?

Abraham actually had to take the test that no parent would ever want to take. Abraham had waited years and years for his son, Isaac. The very fact that Isaac was conceived was a miracle in itself. Not the mention that it was prophesied that he was a “child of promise” and the son through whom God would bless all of Abraham’s future generations. When God asked of Abraham to give up his son by sacrificing him on a mountain-top, it just didn’t make sense! Yet so deep was Abraham`s trust in God, he did just as God asked. In Genesis 22, we see Abraham getting up early, gathering the necessary equipment for the sacrifice and travelling for three days up a mountain. So great was Abraham’s faith that God would come through on His promise that Abraham said to his servants, ‘We will worship there, and then we will come right back’. By ‘we’ he means Isaac and himself.

Just as Abraham trusted his heavenly father, so did Isaac trust his dad. Isaac would have been old enough to know what was going on. He made the three day journey with his Father, and he would have noticed there was no lamb to sacrifice like usual. He would have gathered pretty quickly that he was in fact the sacrifice. Nevertheless, he submitted to his father’s will, trusting him fully.

In the ultimate moment of suspense, God did provide another sacrifice for Abraham. Abraham and Isaac passed the test with flying colours. As a result, nations and generations were blessed and the promise of God was fulfilled.

The purpose of this powerful story is two-fold.

Firstly, through this story we see a foreshadowing of the passionate love of our heavenly father giving his only son as the ultimate sacrifice, and Jesus obediently submitting to the will of the father for us.

Secondly, we are challenged to ask ourselves, ‘Am I willing to give something up if God asks me to, even when it doesn’t make any sense?’ Do you trust God enough? Is my heart always in a position of surrender?

Genesis 22:1-18

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.